Fueled by Olympics fire, this week’s subway reading is all about sports. Go behind-the-scenes into the hard life of an elite gymnast, read up on the history of Title IX, devour an epic tale of a kid who was saved by the boxing ring, and catch some quick recaps of the Games on your commute.
On Your Kindle
Chalked Up, by Jennifer Sey
In 1986, Jennifer Sey achieved the pinnacle of glory as an elite gymnast. At 17 years old, she claimed the title of National Gymnastics Champion. Poised for a potentially Olympic career, Sey retired from the sport before the 1988 Games, choosing instead to attend Stanford and pursue a successful marketing career.
In Chalked Up, Sey describes the years of toil—physical, mental, and emotional—that led to her Championship. Her writing is quintessentially bittersweet: She at once lauds the grace and skill necessary to become elite in this dangerous, difficult sport, and she implicitly chides the adults—both parents and coaches—that allowed her to compromise her physical and mental health to be a star. Above all, Sey depicts an overarching need for perfection—on the bars, on the beam, in the classroom—that makes the reader wonder: Did gymnastics spur her need for perfect 10s, or did this need lead Sey to gymnastics?
On Your Smartphone
Title IX Legislative Chronology, by Women’s Sports Foundation
If you played a team sport in high school or college, odds are you can thank the legislators who passed Title IX forty years ago for your participation. In this age of equality, athletic scholarships, and dominant female athletes, it can be hard to imagine a time when athletic opportunities for women were almost completely eclipsed by those for men.
Title IX arose at the tail-end of the Civil Rights Movement, and this small but significant part of the Education Amendments of 1972 indicated that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Effectively, this meant that women were suddenly able and encouraged to participate in sports and other activities that had previously excluded them. If the Olympics have you particularly eager to celebrate Title IX this week, then check out this quick chronology of the legislative events that enabled its enactment.
On a Podcast
Olympics Video, via NBC
This week, this one’s a no-brainer. After the much-anticipated opening ceremonies on Friday, Olympic fever is in full force. If you won’t be home during the day and just can’t wait to get back to the action on your TV screen after work, check out NBC’s video feature, which streams live and replay coverage of the games, as well as interviews, highlights, and photos. Check it out on your smartphone this morning, on your lunch break, and on your way home!
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
This epic coming-of-age story by Australian author Bryce Courtenay tells the story of Peekay, a small, ostracized boy growing up in South Africa in the throes of apartheid. The book begins with chapters-long descriptions of the systematic brutality that Peekay endures at the hands of his schoolmates at his boarding school, where he’s been sent after his mother suffers a nervous breakdown. For a while, Peekay seems like a lost cause, until he channels his sorrow and anger into a talent for boxing. The sport becomes Peekay’s salvation as well as a motor that drives the story—a complicated tale of race, humiliation, and maturity—to its climax.