Molly O’Keefe wrote one of my favorite books of 2012, and she continues to amaze me with her ability to infuse her stories with a heavy dose of realism.
Romance tends to, well, romanticize every aspect of life, especially when said life is already seen as desirable but unattainable. This is particularly true with sport romances that mostly feature perfection and an idealized version of reality that gets old when constantly repeated. So when I read a book like Crazy Thing Called Love, a story that doesn’t pull any punches in its portrayal of the negative consequences of sport glory and fame, and still manages to deliver a very romantic love story, I feel hopeful that more authors won’t hesitate to tell stories that are closer to reality.
She’s here today to tell us more about that uglier aspect of fame, and what makes it so fascinating.
Wherein Molly O'Keefe Tells Us How Much She Loves
Scandals Sports Journalism (And Michael Phelps' Body)
I love sports journalism. I love sports journalism way more than I actually like sports. I grew up falling asleep to the Cubs losing on the radio. Watching the grainy NFL films on Sunday afternoons. My dad was a wrestling coach and an amazing storyteller and the Dan Gable Hawkeye legacy was practically a bed time lullabye.
A good sports story shares all its best parts with a war story and it can make you forget that it’s just a game. It will make you believe that the stakes are actually life and death. And the men and women engaged in sports are heroes, like old Greek legend kind of heroes. And there are a few stories every year that live up that mythology. Jeremy Lin? Oscar Pistorious? Chris Kluwe?
But more and more our sports heroes are coming up tarnished. The stories being told these days might have heroic middles, but the last chapter is tragic. Between the doping, (Lance Armstrong, I so wanted to believe in you!). The rape accusations that go nowhere or mysteriously go away and the rape accusations that turn into horrible, cover-up revealing convictions. The millionaire players fighting with the billionaire owners –the examples of glory gone bad are piling up around us.
But we still want to believe in that glory. The promise of sports, of what sports can make of us, ask of us, the story it can tell – that promise is untarnished. It’s why every year sports fans of losing teams are hopeful. Why kids get up at dawn to go to practice. Why we all watch the Olympics.
But I often feel the story we don’t get is the stuff in the middle, between the glory and the failure. Thanks to amazing shows like ESPN’s 30 in 30, we’re beginning to really see the reality of what it takes to be a professional athlete. What it asks of a person and what it takes without asking.
One of my favorite sport stories of the year was Michael Phelps. Not so much his epic medal count – which is amazing. But the glimpse we got into what this sport has expected from him – he lost his adolescence to the pool. Which explained why he was skipping practice to go to Vegas and getting caught smoking dope, unsure if he cared enough to make a run for that epic medal count.
That reveal - that swimming wasn’t fun anymore to him, it wasn’t a passion or a drive despite his talent was totally fascinating. He seemed at turns petulant and sad. Bored and worried. Even Bob Costas couldn’t push away the shadow cast over Phelps.
That’s a story I can’t look away from.
When I started to write about hockey players, I was really interested in what the promise of sports glory meant to two different men. For one, Luc in Can’t Buy Me Love, the sport kept its promise. He found himself in the hard work, the discipline and camaraderie. And losing it, due to a career-ending injury throws him into some ugly places.
For Billy Wilkins in Crazy Thing Called Love the promise hasn’t come true. For every sacrifice he’s made for the sport it’s only asked for more. It’s rewarded the worst aspects of his character - his temper, his violence, his ability to push away anything that might distract him from the sport and in return it’s made him rich, lonely and full of regret.
I like the reality sports journalists provide to the mythology of sports. And I really like seeing that reality in sports romance. So, tell me, as a chance to win one copy of Crazy Thing Called Love – what was your favorite sports story of the year? Or your favorite sports romance?
Connect with Molly:
- Everyone who comments will be entered in the giveaway, you can answer one of Molly's questions, or just let us know what you thought of the post. If you don't feel comfortable including your email on the comment, make sure to come back and check if you won.
- Winner gets on copy (electronic or print) of Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe.
- Open internationally.
- Giveaway ends 01/27/13
- Winner will be chosen using random.org and announced here and via email and will have 72 hours to respond.
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