Our main goal is to promote the art of reading. While sports are not our particular field of interested, it should come as no surprise that we’re excited about Michael Bennett’s idea to start a book club with his teammates.
Traditionally, books are deemed to be nerdy, scholastic, and boring. While these thoughts are pretty much completelt outdated, such stereotypes exist more vividly in the world of sports. You can see it in movies and TV shows, such as in Jane the Virgin, when Jane is a teacher who tries to convince her athletic students that reading is as ‘great’ and ‘cool’ as sports. Or look at Dazed and Confused– no one is particularly interested in education, but the sports stars take a particular disinterest in it.
Athletes tend to see books as a waste of time; they very well may be when you are a full time athlete. Between two-a-day practices, weightlifting, eating, and spending time with family, the excuse of not having enough time to read is probably the most justified for the full time athlete.
This effect is exasperated by the business of the sport. When a team pays millions of dollars for a player, the last thing they wants to hear is that the athlete is spending half their day re-reading the Harry Potter series for the 10th time.
Despite all of the resistance to reading within sports, there is an element of motivation that exists in every locker room and every practice. If you are familiar with the Raven’s legendary linebacker Ray Lewis, you may be familiar with the role motivation plays on the field.
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There are tons of books about success in spite of obstacles and that is exactly what Bennett’s book club is focusing on. The first book on the list is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which is what NFL football players are, they’re outliers. Bennett commented on his choice in an interview with ESPN, he said, “I think Outliers is the perfect book for us because we are outliers… for us, everything that we built up, that whole 10,000 hours of doing what we’ve been doing to be great at this moment.”
This is how Bennett can keep his book club relevant. Instead of having political debates on the relevance of 1984 given the current election, or a deep literary analysis of the post-modernism in Infinite Jest, he will focus on books relevant to what his team is engaged in, overcoming obstacles. In his own words, “I think [Outliers] is really good for all these young guys to read something like that and all the stuff that Bill Gates has been through, Paul Allen.” The book club is focused on success, and that is a great way to introduce reading to a massive audience that may have never thought a book could help them be the best athlete they can possibly be.
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