Troy Patterson
December 08, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Beyond the Game

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Gary Smith
publisher
Atlantic Monthly Press
genre
Sports, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

”What makes them do it? What makes me watch it?” Smith wonders this while watching Larry Holmes batter the skull of Muhammad Ali. For the author, the sweet science is a branch of anthropology, and the 15 Sports Illustrated pieces in Beyond the Game amount to an empathetic field study. From Mike Tyson’s fractured psyche to Roger Maris’ shattered home-run record, he compellingly goes beneath the game, down to the urges that propel athletes and their admirers. Unlike hall-of-fame ironist Frank Deford, Smith is eager to indulge the sentimental, and there’s a gaudy how-I-got-the-story flourish to his delivery. Never mind — he’s got the goods. B+

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