Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The winter Olympics in South Korea proved once and for all that American sports fans are not the only ones who take off their shirts in cold weather. 

Why DO people tempt frostbite and other maladies to cheer on their teams?  Because they may be Superfans, a type of person examined in a book by that name by George Dohrmann. 

His sources range from sports psychologists to the man who gathered a huge cheering section for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. 

HopsonRoad, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Norwich, Vermont.  Name ring a bell? 

It's the town of fewer than 3,500 that has had a representative on every U.S. Winter Olympic team (except one) since 1984.  How is that possible? 

Well, winter DOES last a long time in that part of Vermont... but there are other factors as well. 

Karen Crouse explores those in her book Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence

Sonya Thompson, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Chicago Cubs won the baseball World Series just a year ago, and delighted fans who'd waited all their lives for a championship.  Fast-forward a year, and fans are back to disappointment: the Cubs didn't make it to the Series. 

None of this should surprise Ashland's Mark Scarpaci, who has learned to ride the ups and downs of Cub fandom. 

Scarpaci is the author of two books, including the novel Wrigley Sanders, about a boy born in the bleachers at the Cubs' home park.  It's not a typical sports success story, that's for sure. 


Exhibition games are already underway in the NFL, and college football is just days away now. 

Don't ask Steve Almond to watch a game with you.  He loves football, but hates what it does to the people who play it and the society that celebrates it. 

We thrill at great catches and long runs, but overlook the toll on brains and bodies.  As Almond puts it, "we want the bacon, but we don't want to see the slaughterhouse." 

Schyler at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Baseball has always been a game of numbers, sometimes to the distraction of its less-ardent fans. 

But even diehards are confronted by different SETS of numbers that are increasingly used to measure the capabilities of players. 

RBI (runs batted in) and ERA (earned run average) are moving to the back seat, giving way to OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and WAR (wins above replacement). 

Help!  ESPN Senior Baseball Writer Keith Law provides help in his book Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball

The Road To Reign As Champions

Nov 10, 2016

The college football team from Oregon went to the National Championship game, and lost. 

But this is about that OTHER game, and that other team. 

In 2014, both the University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University played for the top prize in college football.  In very different divisions, but a championship is a championship. 

SOU won, and yet the Ducks' efforts--albeit on a much larger stage--overshadowed the Red Raiders' victory. 

That team is the focus of a documentary already produced called "Becoming."  Former SOU player Michael Bryant had a hand in that, and is now working on a profile of a successful small-college team, in the film "MOmentum."

7 Marathons, 7 Days, 7 Continents

Nov 1, 2016

Running a marathon a month would be a challenge. 

And probably like a walk in the park for David Gething.  He ran a marathon a DAY for a week. 

Wait, there's more... he ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, in the inaugural World Marathon Challenge, winning first place. 

He tells the story of the agony and the jet lag in his book Relentless

Hey Kids! Time For "Recess"

Mar 23, 2016
Chronicle Books

Don't you miss the teacher sending us out for recess?  All that running around on the playground gave us a chance to forget about math and spelling for a little while, and blow off some steam. 

And you know, it's not like anybody's STOPPING us from running outside for a little while each day. 

In fact, Ben Applebaum and Dan DiSorbo encourage us, in a book called Recess

It contains guides to playing the games of recess, for those of us who can't remember the rules (or the games themselves). 

Abraxus Games

Just in time for Halloween, the card game that nearly scares you to death! 

Alex Williams and Patrick James are board game designers from the Rogue Valley, and the makers of the new card game "Don't Die!"

The name tells you the object of the game.  Actually, it's a shortened version of "don't die as much as the other players." 


Quick, name the most successful academic program at the nearest university.  No luck? 

Then try this question: how is that school's football team doing this fall?  That one is probably a lot easier, thanks to the American obsession with college football. 

Diane Roberts, who teaches at Florida State (6-1 through October 30) knows about the many issues with college football, but says she surrenders to her own "Inner Barbarian" on Saturdays in the fall. 

She examines the national obsession in her book Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America

Women's Wrestling Starts At SOU

Oct 14, 2015
Southern Oregon University

Wrestling season is highly anticipated at Southern Oregon University, every year. 

The wrestling squad is frequently among the top teams in the country. 

And now we have to say that's the MEN's squad, because there is a WOMEN's wrestling team as well. 

The Raider women's team hits the mats in competition for the first time this fall. 

And we get a preview of the team composition and its schedule, as other colleges also pick up the sports. 

"Bird Dream" Or Bird Brain? You Decide

Sep 14, 2015
Penguin Books

The response to "I'd like to skydive" is often this: "why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?"  Planes are optional for the current generation of aerial adventurers: BASE jumpers and wingsuit flyers and their ilk.

Their exploits are daring in the extreme, and do sometimes meet with tragedy. 

Freelance journalist Matt Higgins gets inside the pursuit in his book Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight, now in paperback.

Penguin Books

The sport of rowing gained a reputation over the years--largely deserved--as the snooty sport of wealthy people. 

But a scrubby crew of rowers from the United States held their own with the world's best in the 1936 Olympics, a tale told by Daniel J. Brown in The Boys In The Boat

The sons of loggers and farmers and shipyard workers bested the best in the eight-oar events, and transformed their sport in the process. 


Flinging a frisbee downfield could become an Olympic sport. 

It's not at all a sure thing, but the organizations that govern Ultimate Frisbee have been recognized by the Olympic powers-that-be, a step toward possible inclusion in future Olympic games. 

There's particular attention being paid in Oregon, where Bethany Kaylor is a major player. 

Next Steps For Civic Stadium Fans In Eugene

Aug 6, 2015
Friends of Civic Stadium

Fans of Civic Stadium in Eugene had grand plans for the old baseball park, vacant for years. 

The plans turned to ashes when the stadium grandstand burned to the ground in late June. 

But feelings about Civic run deep, and something may yet emerge, phoenix-like, from the ashes. 

Grinding Through The Long Baseball Season

Jul 28, 2015
Blue Rider Press

Even devoted baseball fans marvel at the length of the regular season.

At 162 games, it is twice as long--in number of games--as the NBA season, the next longest. 

Players can go weeks without a single day off, leading to their common name for the schedule: The Grind

Those two words are also the title of a book by Barry Svrluga, baseball writer for the Washington Post.

Chess Sharks! Coquille Cranks Out Champs

Jun 11, 2015

If a young person challenges you to a game of chess, find out where they're from.  And if it's Coquille and you're not very good, RUN! 

The Coquille Chess Club took five players to the national championships in April, a huge feat for a team from a small town. 

Brothers Aaron and Joshua Grabinsky took home some serious hardware. 

From Fan To "Against Football"

Sep 10, 2014
Random House

Where once we referred to baseball as "the American pastime," football is the game that draws the bigger crowds and TV audiences. 

But the game is a very big business now… a multi-billion dollar business at both the college and professional levels. 

And it hurts people; note the discussions of concussions in recent years.