7 sports books that inspire

From the story of a long-distance ocean swimmer to a basketball player who turned his life around after regular run-ins with the law, these new titles offer inspiration and variety. 

7. ’The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory,’ by Julie Checkoway

Just as the bestseller “The Boys in the Boat” told the little-known story of the University of Washington’s working-class crew team triumph at the 1936 Olympics, “The Three-Year Swim Club” introduces readers to another surprising group that set their sights on the Olympics. There’s even an extra twist here, since the swimmers were the sons and daughters of Japanese-American plantation workers who came into their own as anti-Japanese sentiment grew before and during World War II. That didn’t stop Maui schoolteacher Soichi Sakamoto, however, who began a swim club in Hawaii for youngsters who first trained in the ditches that irrigated the sugar cane fields. Some of his charges went on to set national and world records, and after the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, one swimmer pursued the club’s deferred dreams at the 1948 London Games. 

Here’s an excerpt from The Three-Year Swim Club:

“On ‘kid race’ days, usually at the end of the school week, hundreds of Sakamoto’s beginning swimmers and lookers-on lined the 50 meters between two ditch bridges, and they screamed and screeched and applauded and cheered on their favorites, and sometimes camp families complained that the noise was worse than the Mighty #8 train or the whistle at the mill. Still, Soichi Nakamoto hadn’t the heart to quiet the kids or stop the races. There was just too much happiness; there was just too much fun.

“He kept up with chalk-practice and the races all spring of 1934; and by the end of March he saw that some of the kids were fast enough that maybe they ought to give it a try, for fun, and enter themselves officially, either as Scouts or as members of a church or school team, in the annual Maui Public School meet that took place every May.”

7 of 7

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.