The sports book has long since been the definitive longform answer to why sports are so important — that is, why people become so invested in other people they don’t know, have no relationship to, and cheer for some of the most deeply held and simultaneously arbitrary reasons. It also provides the author, whether an athlete or a writer, the opportunity to get around some of the conventions that the 24-hour sports news universe sets up; the binary good and evil of any given game, and the “resonant truths” that ring through it. Think LeBron as a choker after the 2011 NBA Finals, the Yankees’ permanent placement as the first Evil Empire, or why Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning (or vice versa.)
A book on sports allows for an extended riff on those kinds of cliches, and the chance to renegotiate the terms involved with the discussion, particularly when autobiography is concerned. The best example of this, by the way, is probably The Sixteenth Round. There are also the books by athletes that aren’t about sports at all — the cookbooks and such — that allow a wider breadth of a player’s being to be introduced into the discussion. That is to say, if Hank Aaron had released an eating guide, we’re sure it would have sold like hotcakes.
Here now are the top seven best selling sports books so far, according to The New York Times. Their book section is fairly well-known.