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/.

NPR

'Fightshark' Recounts His Struggles, In Kickboxing And Beyond

Mark Miller chose his nickname because when he smells blood, he attacks. His new memoir, Pain Don't Hurt, tells of the heart surgery and alcohol problems that temporarily derailed his fighting career.
NPR

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.
NPR

What Could $100 Million Buy You — Besides Campaign Ads In Kentucky?

Spending on the Kentucky Senate race might reach $100 million. So what else could that get you in the Bluegrass State? NPR's Tamara Keith finds out when she calls up some local business owners.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

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