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George Ames Plimpton

(1927—2003)


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(1927–2003)

A US writer whose forays into the world of competitive sports generated several best-selling books in which the culture of the professional sports world was laid bare. These included Out of My League (1960), on baseball; Paper Lion (1964), on American football; and The Bogey Man (1967), on golf. Combining diaries and observation, and appropriate commissions and projects for Sports Illustrated, in the mode of the new journalism, Plimpton crafted a distinctive mode of sports reporting that is of value as well to social scientists interested in the inner culture of the professional sports world. His knack was also to live the amateur's dream of contact with the stars, including sparring with world champion boxers for one of his journalistic assignments. Training pre-season with the Detroit Lions, he insisted that he should be ‘thought of as just another rookie, an odd one maybe, but no special favors or anything because I'm a writer. The point is to write about it first hand.’ In the more individual sport of golf, he wrote, almost all can aspire to a single moment of playing like the champion:High performance in the great spectator sports for the average man exists only in his daydreams; but the Olympian glory of a hole played in par, or a birdie, is always a possibility, even in the game of the direst duffer; all he must do (he keeps telling himself) is to put three or four shots together.This combination of bravado, experience, observation, and high-quality writing blended humorous reportage with serious commentary on the culture and practices of the sporting elite.

High performance in the great spectator sports for the average man exists only in his daydreams; but the Olympian glory of a hole played in par, or a birdie, is always a possibility, even in the game of the direst duffer; all he must do (he keeps telling himself) is to put three or four shots together.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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