Twenty-two notable writers—including Bob Sullivan, Abby Ellin, Mike Pesca, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Louisa Hall, and Gay Talese—examine the untold stories of the losers, and in doing so reveal something raw and significant about human fallibility.
The reasons behind their shortfalls vary—some are faced with legendary opposition, while others simply deal with a bad day or bad luck—but all of them find ways to reflect the impact of almost. Some of these stories are funny, while others are sad and still others inspire, but all of them together paint a portrait of the truth behind loss. It’s a compelling journey through the competitive landscape, with all manner of sport and athlete represented. Considering the wide range of subjects covered, different readers will find different stories more engaging ... Losers is packed with insight; each essay brings a new and different perspective to the idea of losing. These stories aren’t the sort of triumphant tales that are inspired by victory, but the truth is that most stories of winning are markedly similar ... there’s a real empathy inspired by these pieces, whether we’re talking about Olympic gymnasts or heavyweight boxers or aging bullfighters. It’s about acknowledging that there’s a flip side to every victory and that there is value to those stories as well.
As in any collection, these stories can be very uneven. One about a soccer match between Greece and the Ivory Coast borders on gibberish for all but the most die-hard fans. Another piece, a self-indulgent narrative about an abusive marriage, with a glancing reference to horse racing, could be chopped in half. But many others are insightful and point to a critical fact: The focus on failure starts with an obsession with winning, an obsession that can bleed easily into sickness ... My favorite story in this book, however, is not about losing—or winning. In March 1981, American runner Dick Beardsley was competing in the London Marathon and running neck and neck with Inge Simonsen of Norway ... Somehow, they decided that winning was not 'the only thing,' that they would cross the finish line together.
A fascinating look at another side of sports, emphasizing those who lost games, matches, and tournaments, along with the pressures they faced and the ramifications of their losses. A wonderful choice for sports enthusiasts.