Joli Sandoz, ed. A Whole Other Ball Game: Women's Literature on Women's Sport. New York: The Noonday Press, 1997. ix + 323 pp. $13.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-374-52521-7.
Reviewed by Michael K. Schoenecke (Texas Tech University)
Published on H-PCAACA (October, 1998)
A Whole Other Ball Game is the first anthology--prose and poetry--by women writers to address role of women and sport. As Sandoz notes in her Introduction, "sport frees one's authentic self," and this book truly celebrates "women's experiences and dreams related to organized competitive athletics... by focusing on women... and on competitive sport." The authors, including such well-known writers as Adrienne Rich, Toni Cade Bambara, and Ellen Conney, consider how women discover themselves not only through sport, but through competition. This competition, of course, means as assessment of one's own goals and desires as well as those of others. Excellent, transformative sports writing opens doors not only to ourselves but to our culture and to sport.
Several key themes permeate A Whole Other Ball Game. Chief among these are desire, determination, acknowledgment and acceptance of one's internal rhythms, personal pleasure and self-acceptance. Many of the fictional creations learn, as George Leonard notes in The Ultimate Athlete, that sports "can change the way we feel and live." Other characters, such as fifty-year-old Avis from All the Way Home, feels "her spirits clacking back to life" when she returns to the baseball diamond. The fictional characters in this fine anthology play sports for fun, but also to transcend themselves. Most importantly, sports becomes a life-enhancing discipline; as the participants run, shoot, throw, and jump, they discover that sports create a dialogue with themselves and with others.
This book is for those readers who enjoy good literature and who enjoy sports. The writing clearly suggests that people pursue sports as its own reward. In some ways, sports can never be justified; people play for the sake of playing, nothing more.
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Michael K. Schoenecke. Review of Sandoz, Joli, ed., A Whole Other Ball Game: Women's Literature on Women's Sport.
H-PCAACA, H-Net Reviews.
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