Sport stories: Lit nerds and jocks unite for reading

Sport stories: Lit nerds and jocks unite for reading
Courtesy of Grantland

Nerds and jocks are finally joining forces.

With the publication and launch of long-form sports writing outlet Grantland’s second print issue — a team effort with the whimsical, hipster-lit McSweeney’s publishing house — the marriage of athletes and aesthetes culture is complete.

“I think we’re proving that sports fans can be literary geeks, and vice versa,” said Andy Greenwald, a writer for the sports pub who will emcee the launch of the Grantland Quarterly at BookCourt on April 23. “[Grantland founder] Bill Simmons was always one of the first people to mash-up pop culture and sports and prove that people could be passionate fans of both.”

Literary heavyweights such as Ernest Hemingway and George Plimpton once demonstrated that a respect for both letters and letterman jackets was not incompatible, but the nation’s writers are no longer thought of as sports fans — and try as hard as Phil Jackson might, jocks aren’t seen as well-read either.

In a borough that has been without a big league sports team since 1957, readings sometimes seem like the closest thing to a “national pastime” in Brooklyn. Still, Greenwald promises this book launch won’t become a long-distance sport.

“Sitting through readings can be a sport of endurance, so we’re definitely going to try and fight that,” said Greenwald, who will lead a question and answer session and an audience discussion with writers Chuck Klosterman, Rembert Browne, and Michael Weinreb. “The part of reading that people like the worst are the readings, so we’re going to try and keep it short and fresh.”

The second issue of the Grantland Quarterly features Simmons writing on Eddie Murphy, Chad Harbach discussing his experience in the last game of the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2011 season, and Charles Pierce detailing the abuse scandal at Penn State university, as well as reprint of a 1970s poster of George “The Ice Man,” Gervin.

And the folks behind the primarily Los Angeles-based publication, which scored a big coup with Simmons’s interview with President Obama in March, say their web-to-print formula for long-form writing is really getting attention.

“People who are passionate about sports are reading this longer and more insightful stuff, even in our Twitter age,” said Greenwald. “What Grantland is doing is almost old fashioned – assuming you’re a fan of good writing!”

Grantland Quarterly launch at BookCourt [163 Court St. between Pacific and Dean streets in Cobble Hill. (718) 875-3677] April 23 at 7 pm. Visit www.bookcourt.com.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.