Business and Sports…by the Book

It wasn’t always the case, but in the last two decades some great business books have leapt from the sports pages of our local newspapers to the business book shelves of our local bookstores.

The marriage of sports and business in the book world was inevitable.

After all, the two have much in common. Both are competitive endeavors. Both have winners and losers, and both require hundreds of hours, scratch that, thousands of hours to become world class in each respective field. Once coaches and athletes started to write business books,  the similarities between the playing fields of each became far more transparent.

execs-at-the-starting-line

Of course, only a small percentage of  sports books are business books. For example, the legendary hall-of-famer Vince Lombardi wrote the now classic book Run to Daylight in the 1960’s as a behind-the-scenes, “week in the life” of the Green Bay Packers book. Ironically, three decades later his son, Vince Lombardi, Jr., would write the definitive business book featuring his dad’s leadership techniques in 2001. I had the good fortune to edit that book, What It Takes to Be #1 among other, shorter, Lombardi books in that same business genre.

The list of sports figures who wrote bestselling business books gets longer all the time. Many of the good ones were written by basketball heroes inthe 1990s, when writing about business and sports became all the rage. Rick Pitino (former coach of the Kentucky Wildcats), Pat Riley (former coach of the New York Knicks, Miami Heat), and Michael Jordan (legend of the Chicago Bulls) were but three of the authors who wrote one or more best-selling, inspirational leadership books.

One of the greatest business/sports book authors of all time is John Wooden. Once again, I had the chance to work on multiple books by Coach Wooden, who worked closely with first class, prolific writer Steve Jamison.  Wooden’s books have sold more than a million copies, even though he did not get started until many years after he won his record number of games and championships at UCLA. 

If you are interested in reading some of the best sports/business books of the last few years, you have the chance to do so by following a single writer. John Wooden sidekick Steve Jamison, who, in the interest of total transparency, is a good friend of mine, has mastered the knack of writing bestselling business sports books across several different playing fields. Steve is as prolific in tennis as he is in basketball and football.   In addition to the half a dozen or so Wooden books he wrote with Coach Wooden, he is also the co-author of Winning Ugly, the “phenomenon” book he wrote with tennis great and coach Brad Gilbert. And it is the same Steve Jamison that the late, legendary hall-of-famer 49er coach Bill Walsh turned to when he decided to write his leadership memoir. That book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, was written with Walsh’s son Craig as well, and released only weeks ago to great reviews and sales.

If you like business and sports and have not read many books that combine the two, now is your chance. These books may be just the tonic you need to inspire you and your organization to new heights in a time you can really use the help.

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