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The Best Books Written by Sportsmen and Sportswomen

While it may come as a surprise to many people, sports celebrities really do have relevant, real things to say that don’t revolve entirely around sports metaphors. Some of the more surprising entries on this list are a young football star who also authors children’s books, a motivational book by a disgraced world champion cyclist, and a sports memoir by one of the most celebrated novelists in America. All of these books are penned by people who are or were athletes. Some are funny, some painful, and some just outright strange. Here are the top seven books written by athletes!

1) Paper Lion

by George Plimpton

This riotous memoir of a literary type trying to make the third string for the Detroit Lions football team (I’m not even going to get into all the problems with that idea) is not a boy makes good story by any stretch of the imagination. What makes this book great is Plimpton’s candid and vivid description of life in the locker room, a place most fans will never get to see outside of television.

2) The TJ Series

By Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has made a big name for himself in UK football as the youngest player ever to be signed to the notorious Arsenal team from the Saints. He quickly added being the youngest player, at only a couple of months after his seventeenth birthday, to be invited to the England national football team. Bringing his experience as a striker to a quartet of children’s books with lessons such as perseverance, physical fitness, and the power of friendship and teamwork, Walcott proves that athletic doesn’t mean unable to communicate.

3) It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life

By Lance Armstrong

When this book came out, readers and reviewers alike raved about the inspiring story of Armstrong’s fight against testicular cancer and his determination to win. However, the allegations of doping that have dogged Armstrong for a decade and a half finally exploded earlier this year, transforming an inspiring story into a punch line worthy of comedian Robin William’s sketch in “Live at the Met” supporting Armstrong and resulting in the stripping of numerous awards and accolades Armstrong had “earned.” It’s not about the bike, Lance? Truer words may never have been written.

4) Mary Lou Retton’s Gateways To Happiness

By Mary Lou Retton

In terms of sheer likability, impeccable personal conduct, and recognizability, Mary Lou Retton may well be the most popular female athlete ever to grace the planet, never mind the gym mat. Her transition from star athlete to wife, mother, and motivational speaker was capped off by gaining her author credentials. In Gateways To Happiness, Retton relies heavily but not entirely on athletic metaphors to discuss topics such as time management, adhering to a plan, and never giving up. This highly rated book is a must have not just for the content, but for the charmingly accessible way it’s written.

5) My Losing Season

By Pat Conroy

While the name may not mean much to you, odds are you and/or your wife have seen The Prince Of Tides, starring Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte and based on Pat Conroy’s book of the same name. Conroy takes a trip back in time to The Citadel, one of the most respected military academies in America, for an inside look at cadet life both on and off the court. Featuring a clueless coach and the stiff upper lipped command staff and cadets themselves, this book is an unflinchingly honest look at a place most writers consider taboo to write about.

6) I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan On The Pursuit of Excellence

By Micheal Jordan

Having a list like this and not giving a nod to the Duke of Dunk would be like talking about chefs and omitting Wolfgang Puck or Gordon Ramsay. In this short but memorable book, Jordan dissects the rules he lives (and plays) by, including tips on how to beat self-doubt and conquer fear, the importance of focus, and how to both lead and follow. This book is a must-have for anyone who’d like to get their team motivated by a man who has built an empire on doing exactly that.

7) You Cannot Be Serious

By John McEnroe

To round out the list comes this offering from the undisputed Bad Boy of Tennis. (Pre-McEnroe, the world thought there was no such thing!) This brutal, candid, funny, and honest dissection of his racquet-hurling antics on the court and his erratic behavior in his personal life is by turns savage and charming, just like “Johnny Mac” himself. While it’s not exactly motivational reading, this book is still worth giving an afternoon or two, especially on a day when you just “pulled a McEnroe.”

Article provided by Lovereading.co.uk/

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Lance Armstrong stripped of his Tour de France titles

Another hero bites the dust.

With Lance Armstrong, however, everything is much more complicated, because he is so much more than just a great athlete. His devotion to the fight against cancer makes him an iconic figure, and many of his fans will continue to support him. Nike and other brand sponsors are sticking by him.

Armstrong was known for being a fighter, but he gave up here as he was facing ten former teammates who were prepared to testify against him. He release a statement attacking the USADA, and he may have some points about the “vendetta” against him. But in the end, his unwillingness to face his accusers speaks volumes.

Do we care if Lance Armstrong doped?

Teammates Tyler Hamilton (L yellow jersey) and Lance Armstrong compete in the last stage of the Dauphine Libere cycling race in Sallanches in this June 11, 2000 file photo. Hamilton, who was allowed to keep his Athens Olympics gold medal despite failing a doping test, has finally confessed to cheating and accused other top cyclists, including Lance Armstrong, of doing the same. In an interview to be aired by “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Hamilton, ended years of denials by finally admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs but insisted he was not alone. REUTERS/Files (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

In an interview that was shot for “60 Minutes” and broadcasted on “CBS Evening News” on Thursday, Tyler Hamilton said he used performance-enhancing drugs with his former teammate Lance Armstrong.

“I saw (EPO) in his refrigerator…I saw him inject it more than one time,” Hamilton said. “Like we all did. Like I did, many, many times.”

Hamilton told “60 Minutes” reporter Scott Pelley that Armstrong “took what we all took…the majority of the peloton.” Hamilton went onto say that there was “EPO…testosterone…a blood transfusion.”

EPO is a drug that boosts endurance by increasing the number of red blood cells in the body, which obviously would help cyclists like Hamilton and Armstrong. This is now the second time that a former teammate of Armstrong’s has accused him of taking drugs to improve his performance on the bike, as Hamilton’s accusations come one year after Floyd Landis made similar allegations.

People are going to believe what they want to believe, but the fact of the matter is that Armstrong has never tested positive for PEDs. The question in my eyes is do we care?

The thing about performance-enhancing drugs is that they allow an athlete to perform at the absolute best of his abilities. Granted, if I were to juice for a year and tried my hand at professional football, I’d probably get killed – same as I would if I didn’t dope. If your skill level was low to begin with, sorry, but drugs aren’t going to turn you into a professional athlete.

But they will turn a special athlete into a superhero, which is where the problem lies. Barry Bonds was already one of the most gifted baseball players to have ever played the game, which people tend to overlook when his name is brought up. People forget just how good he was before he started taking PEDs, which only made an incredibly gifted athlete perform to the max of his abilities. He could already hit major league pitching, but thanks to the steroids his bat speed never decreased, he was able to hit the ball harder and farther, and was able to keep playing into his 40s.

It’s the same concept with Armstrong. He was already a gifted cyclist. If he took them, all PEDs did was make an already gifted cyclist max out his abilities on the bike (which includes being able to ride faster, longer, etc).

Here’s my take on PEDs: I actually don’t have a problem with athletes using them. I have a problem with the fact that they create an uneven playing field. Guys like Bonds and Armstrong are already special and if they use drugs, then they’re creating an even bigger gap between them and the next guy.

I don’t mind the alpha male when it comes to sports. Tiger Woods has been great for golf for over a decade. Lance Armstrong has been great for cycling. The pure act of watching Barry Bonds hit a home run every 10 at bats in 2001 was fun.

But in the end, I want to see athletes go toe-to-toe with only their God-given abilities and their dedication to their craft at their backs. If Tiger puts on an amazing display to win a major, I want to know that what I watched was an athlete performing at his best not because he was on drugs, but because he was more special than the next guy on that given day. The same goes for Armstrong, Bonds or whomever.

So if Armstrong did dope, he was wrong. Again, I don’t care that the best cyclist in the world used drugs to make himself superhuman. I care that what I witnessed wasn’t natural. I want my sports to be 100 percent pure.

2010 Tour de France: Armstrong misses out on sprint win

July 19, 2010 - Bagnieres-De-Luchon, FRANCE - epa02253649 Radioshack team rider Lance Armstrong of the US cycles to the finish of the 15th stage of the 97th Tour de France 2010 cycling race between Pamiers and Bagneres-De-Luchon, France, 19 July 2010.

Per Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

Lance Armstrong missed out on a Tour de France stage win today after being outsprinted at the end of the three-week race’s toughest day, which included four Pyrenean mountain climbs.

The seven-time champion finished sixth of eight riders in the dash to the finish in Pau, after helping drive the pace of the breakaway group for about five hours. Pierrick Fedrigo won the stage, the 16th of 20, while Alberto Contador kept an eight- second lead in the overall standings.

“It was full gas all day,” Armstrong, who hasn’t taken a stage this year, told reporters. “I’m not the best guy in the race but I still have the spirit of a fighter.”

Defending champ Alberto Contador continues to lead the race by eight seconds.

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Lance Armstrong says his Tour de France is “finished”

Radioshack rider Lance Armstrong (L) of the U.S cycles with team-mates during a training session during a rest day of the Tour de France cycling race in Morzine July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (France - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

An unlucky Stage 8 led to a resigned quote from Lance Armstrong:

Close the book on the Lance Armstrong era at the Tour de France. He has.

The record seven-time champion wrote off his chances of victory in his 13th and last Tour, signaling the beginning of the end of one of the most celebrated and controversial careers in cycling history.

The 38-year-old Texan’s hopes for yet another title were dashed Sunday after he got caught in three crashes — one of which brought him down — and struggled to keep up during two tough climbs in Stage 8, the race’s first foray into the Alps. He and his team said his hip got banged up, keeping him from pedaling hard.

“My Tour is finished,” said Armstrong, who fell to 39th overall.

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