The Top 100 Sports Books of All Time

By Pete McEntegart, L Jon Wertheim, Gene Menez, and Mark Bechtel

Originally published December 16, 2002 on

In the early 1900s editor Maxwell Perkins told anyone who would listen that Chicago sports columnist Ring Lardner was the most talented writer he knew, high praise given that Perkin’s stable included Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. It shouldn’t have come as a shock, though. Many of the country’s best writers have long been fascinated with sports, and that passion shows up in their prose. After all, when done right, sportswriting transcends bats and balls to display all the traits of great literature: incision, wit, force and vision, suffused with style and substance. Herewith the editors of SI’s favorite sports books, compiled with love and reason, out of intense and sometimes unruly discussions.

KEY Out of print New York Times best-seller Made into a movie Authors with other list-worthy books.

88. The Joy of Sports By Michael Novak (1976)

The Catholic Theologian, author of Belief and Unbelief and a Notre Dame football fan, muses on the religious underpinnings of sports, praising the “holy trinity” of baseball, football and basketball over “the illusory, misleading, false world” of work, politics and history. [Out of print]