An Accidental Sportswriter

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As a self-described fat-brainy kid, Robert Lipsyte dreamed of becoming a novelist, not interviewing athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Mickey Mantle. In his new autobiography, An Accidental Sports Writer, Lipsyte describes how he fell into sports reporting while working for the New York Times. Bill interviews Lipsyte about his new book.

Bill offers his thoughts on An Accidental Sports Writer

Some people grow up wanting to be sportswriters.

According to Robert Lipsyte, he fell into the profession by accident. He fell out of it a bunch of times, too, and back in.

An Accidental Sportswriter is full of anecdotes about famous athletes: Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and others. But the memoir is less the story of these athletes than it is an account of Lipsyte's discovery of how the "jock culture" has become "a defining strand in American life." His examination of that process is thoughtful and provocative, and he finds in the phenomenon both positive and negative aspects. He is informative without being judgmental.

An Accidental Sportswriter is an engaging read thanks to Lipsyte's ease at story-telling, whether the stories are about stars, a youth basketball coach whom Lipsyte admires, or the author's father. Whereas lots of sportswriters and broadcasters have been cheerleaders and promoters of the games about which they write, Lipsyte has been something of a skeptic. But his skepticism is the product of curiosity rather than bitterness or anger. The games and those who read about them have been better served by Bob Lipsyte than by a press box or a broadcast booth full of cheerleaders.


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