Sports From 'The Onion': A New Book Explores 'The Ecstasy Of Defeat' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Sports From 'The Onion': A New Book Explores 'The Ecstasy Of Defeat'

Play associated audio

I'm going to make a confession. I have enjoyed many of the same Onion headlines as everyone else over the years, from the exploits of presidents and Congress to the activities of store clerks and sad dads. But their sports coverage, while it's passed around somewhat less often and is a bit less well-known, is generally my favorite stuff they do. That's why I was delighted to see that there was a new Onion Sports book called The Ecstasy Of Defeat, which Onion Sports editor John Krewson and Onion head writer Seth Reiss talk about with Scott Simon on Saturday's Weekend Edition.

What makes the sports writing so special? Well, people are aggravated by politics; they're frustrated and impatient about it. But they're generally not passionate about it, with the exception of actual strong and important opinions, so it's hard to say they love it, exactly. It's easy to love sports, though, and the Onion sports coverage is done by people who transparently love sports. That gives the stories, and their angles, a nerdy obsessive's specificity, which the politics coverage doesn't always have, whatever its other wonderful qualities may be.

Any Onion story invariably has to include a parade of great headlines, so I will dutifully do my share: "Brett Favre Demands Trade To 1996 Packers." "Mickey Mouse Noticeably Avoids A-Rod During Trip To Disney World." "16,000 Diamondbacks Fans Killed On Complimentary Rattlesnake Night." And then there are the ones that have no business being as funny as they are, but nevertheless: "Hurdler Overcomes Many Hurdles To Win Hurdle Race."

There are themes that emerge in the book over and over: the merciless shellacking of Brett Favre (logical, given The Onion's long-ago Wisconsin roots), bafflement over the niceness/smarts of NBA star Tim Duncan (both "Tim Duncan Offers To Drive NBA Players To Polling Place On Election Day" and "Tim Duncan Forwards Story About Particle Accelerator To Spurs Teammates" appear), and a simmering frustration with both the steroid era and the denial-about-steroids era that leads to a less than excited response to Barry Bonds becoming home run king ("Destruction Of National Pastime Given Two-Minute Standing Ovation").

The stories in The Ecstasy Of Defeat balance straight-up comedy with fan-on-fan frustration ("Greatest Super Bowl Ever, Reports Incorrect Man"), and the result will make you want to sit right down and watch a hockey game.

That hockey game, you should know, would be covered in the chapter called "Lesser Sports." You may now begin addressing your angry e-mails. (But not to us.)

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, June 3, 2015

A play and an exhibit explore luxury, power and how women present themselves and are perceived.

NPR

Grass Gourmands: A Herbivore Food Mystery On The African Savanna

A new study sheds light on a longstanding ecological question: How do so many species like impalas and elephants co-exist when they're all feeding on the same limited foods?
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Lincoln Chafee

In 2002, Lincoln Chafee was the only Republican senator to vote against authorizing the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Some Republican colleagues referred to him as "the missing Linc."
NPR

Experts Debate: Will Computers Edge People Out Of Entire Careers?

Machines have been taking jobs forever. Computers and software are doing things people were paid to do. They are booking airplane flights. Filing our taxes. And they are getting better all the time.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.