Tuesday, February 09, 2016

"This Is Your Brain On Sports"

I've read many baseball books in my life, on a various type of topics concerning my favorite sport. But I've never read one like "This Is Your Brain On Drugs: The Science of Underdogs, The Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn From the T-Shirt Cannon."

It was written by Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim (who recently co-wrote Al Michaels' "You Can't Make This Up" biography), along with psychologist Sam Sommers. They cover a plethora of topics you'd never probably think of, like why quarterbacks are (or aren't) the best looking players on a football team (and they back up their findings with statistics), why fans have an unhealthy obsession with t-shirt cannon shots at sporting events, and why athletes having sex before a big contest makes no difference to performance.

Yes, I've never read a book like this before.

I found it a rather entertaining read, and I knew there would be something in the section about rivalries in sports (and why they are necessary) about the Red Sox and Yankees. I always look for mistakes when it comes to that, and the one I found was that Enos Slaughter did not score the winning run of the 1946 World Series in the ninth inning (it was the eighth inning of Game 7). Small point, put I always look for these things, and did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Wertheim and Sommers cover a variety of sports, like boxing (why Floyd Mayweather makes untold millions and still feels disrespected) to tennis (Serena Williams' rivalry with Maria Sharapova). I did find their analysis of giving every kid a trophy to be spot on, as it only helps trophy sales throughout America.

"This Is Your Brain On Sports" is a very cerebral (sorry, I couldn't resist) look at professional sports, and I found it mostly a fun read.

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