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THE YEAR IN Sports Media
December 19, 2011
Where Sports And TV, Books, Films (And More) Clicked
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December 19, 2011

The Year In Sports Media

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  Narration Reminiscing Journalists Profanity Drugs Depression Home Videos Race Issues Death Threats NCAA Cheating Demonic Goat
The Fab Five [X] [X] [X] [X]   [X] [X] [X] [X]  
Catching Hell [X] [X] [X]   [X] [X]   [X]   [X]
Renée [X] [X]     [X] [X]        
The Dotted Line [X] [X]             [X]  
Charismatic [X] [X]   [X] [X]          
The Real Rocky   [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]        
Unguarded   [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]     [X]  
Roll Tide/War Eagle [X] [X] [X]     [X] [X] [X] [X]  
The Marinovich Project   [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]        

Where Sports And TV, Books, Films (And More) Clicked

The commingling of sports and media in 2011 was, to borrow from Woody Allen, both polymorphous and perverse. Take, for example, Kris Humphries's marriage to Kim Kardashian, which unfolded on blogs, on TV and on Twitter feeds over 72 days. (Roughly one NBA postseason!) Lesson: All sports media moments are not created equal. To find the really choice ones the media-minded had to trek to indie cinemas, dive deep into the Web, stick around for a few episodes. SI did just that and found 50 not to be forgotten.

1 Fielder's Choice

In the fall of 2000, Chad Harbach was three years out of college, working various copyediting jobs in Boston and trying to land a spot in a fiction-writing MFA program. The short story he submitted with his applications focused on a college president watching a baseball game on campus; the piece turned on an errant throw that sailed into the home dugout, striking and seriously injuring a player with whom the administrator had developed something much deeper than the typical president-student relationship. For the most part it failed to impress admissions committees; Harbach was rejected by five of the six programs he tried.

Ten years later the process seemed primed to repeat itself. Harbach, by then a cofounding editor of the highly regarded Brooklyn-based literary journal n+1, had expanded his short story into The Art of Fielding, a rich, textured novel exploring the on- and off-field universes inhabited by a circle of college ballplayers. The focus was on standout shortstop Henry Skrimshander, who, after uncorking that wild throw, suffers a debilitating case of Steve Blass disease. The manuscript was rejected by no fewer than five agents.

But those days are long forgotten. Harbach finally found a representative who was willing to take his calls (New York City--based Chris Parris-Lamb), and in February 2010 the manuscript touched off a surprising feeding frenzy among publishers before landing at Little, Brown for $665,000, a staggering sum for a debut novel.

In September readers found out why Harbach and the publishing industry believed so strongly in his book. The Art of Fielding (SI, Aug. 29) received glowing reviews after its release; it spent five weeks on The New York Times best-seller list; and Amazon named it the top novel of 2011. Now the year's biggest publishing phenomenon is about to go multimedia: HBO has optioned the book, and a Scott Rudin--produced series is in the works.

The Art of Fielding became something more than a treat for baseball and literature fans; who knows how many aspiring writers were moved to keep typing by the author's long road to success? The year, however, wasn't all happy endings for Harbach. The Wisconsin native got to attend his first playoff matchup: Game 6 of the NLCS at Miller Park—which Milwaukee lost 12--6, ending hopes of its first World Series appearance in 30 years. In life as in fiction, baseball can be beautiful and painful at the same time.

—Stephen Cannella

2 WTA Meets SNL

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