If you’re an Oklahoma City sports fan, this is just about the best time of the year. First, there’s the excitement of the NBA playoffs in downtown Oklahoma City as the Thunder once again try to reach the NBA championship round. Signs hang in local offices cheering on our team, and everyone in downtown seems to be wearing blue and orange on game days.
If baseball’s more your thing you can always stroll a few blocks over into Bricktown and root, root, root for the home team as the OKC Dodgers gear up for a new season.
Finally, if you’re a soccer fan you’re in luck. The OKC Energy FC has just started their season following a 2015 campaign that led them all the way to the USL Western Conference championship game last year, while over in the suburb of Yukon a new NASL team, Rayo OKC, has just begun its inaugural season.
So get out there and get pumped up for some local sports (or at least read a few books about sports)!
Brave Dragons by Jim Yardley
In his book Brave Dragons: A Chinese Basketball Team, an American Coach, and Two Cultures Clashing, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jim Yardley chronicles a year in the life of a floundering professional basketball team in China. When a peasant turned steel tycoon decides to Americanize the professional basketball team he owns, he hires a former NBA coach to take the helm of his rag tag bunch of players from around the world. The result makes for a very interesting story.
Shooting Stars by Lebron James and Buzz Bissinger
Everyone knows Lebron James as one of the greatest basketball players in the world, but before becoming the NBA superstar he is today he was another kid playing basketball with his friends. Written with Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights), Shooting Stars is Lebron’s story of basketball, friendship, and growing up in Akron, Ohio.
The Yogi Book by Yogi Berra
You could say there isn’t much substance to this book, but at the same time you could just as easily say that it contains the keys to life itself. Comprised solely of the witticisms of not only one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game (and easily the most quotable), this book contains such gems as “Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel,” and “If I didn’t wake up I’d still be sleeping.” Most of the sayings are accompanied by anecdotes from Berra’s life as well as many candid photos. If nothing else these quotes are good for a laugh next time you have to stand up in a room and make a speech.
101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out by Josh Pahigian
If you love baseball and you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to take the ultimate baseball road trip but I just don’t know where to go,” then this is the perfect book for you. Filled with tidbits of information about baseball fields, museums, and monuments throughout the United States, 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out will take you to such great baseball locations as the Simpsons’ statue at Isotopes Park in New Mexico, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in South Carolina, and even the ball park right here in Oklahoma City.
The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
Remember that team you loved when you were young? Maybe it was the Detroit Pistons when Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman muscled their way to championships or the Chicago Bears when The Fridge threw a block as Walter Payton zipped his way into the end zone. For Roger Kahn that team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. In The Boys of Summer, Kahn chronicles the team he loved, the impact they had on his life, and what became of some of the great players that lead the Dodgers to win the 1955 World Series.
Coming Out to Play by Robbie Rogers
When Jason Collins came out as an openly gay athlete in a major team sport, it was news the world over. What a lot of people don’t realize, is that he was not the first openly gay male athlete to actually play in a major team sport. Robbie Rogers was. A former player for Leeds United and MLS champion with the LA Galaxy, Coming Out to Play is Rogers’ story of soccer, family, secrets and the freedom you find when you can be yourself.
Ajax, the Dutch, the War by Simon Kuper
If you’d like a little World War II history with your sports, Ajax, the Dutch, the War is the story of soccer in Amsterdam before, during, and after Nazi occupation. With stories from Dutch Resistance fighters, soccer players, and others that survived the occupation, renowned soccer writer Kuper, who lived in the Netherlands when he was young, weaves a historical tale from a view not often seen and shows the impact of Dutch soccer on the world.
Soccer FAQ by Dave Thompson
If you’re like a lot of people here in the United States, soccer may not have been your favorite sport growing up. The game is growing here in the US though, especially after the recent surprising success of the men’s team in the 2014 World Cup and the not at all surprising complete domination by the US Women’s team in the 2015 World Cup. So if you’re interested in learning a bit more before taking in your first Energy FC or Rayo OKC game maybe you should pick up a copy of Dave Thompson’s Soccer FAQ. The story starts with the origins of soccer, moves on into the history of some of the great teams, some of today’s greatest players, and even traditions like singing and chanting. So give it a read and then you’ll know a little bit about why everyone’s singing when you attend your first match.