Forum for Scholars and Publics
Old Chem 011
Join us at the Forum for Scholars and Publics for a wide-ranging discussion on sport and politics with celebrated basketball writer Alexander Wolff about his new book The Audacity of Hoop.
A light lunch will be served at 11:45.
While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate.
Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms. Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights. Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.
Sports Illustrated Magazine
Alexander Wolff has been on the staff of Sports Illustrated since September 1980. He began as a researcher and two years later, at age 25, joined the ranks of the magazine's writers. In 1985 he was named a senior writer, and today he serves as the longest-tenured writer on staff. In addition to covering basketball at all levels, he has written from the Olympics, the World Cup, the World Series, the NBA Finals, every Grand Slam tennis event and the Tour de France. SI story assignments have taken him to six continents and to such countries as China, Cuba, Iran and Russia, and dealt with such issues at the intersection of sport and society as race, gender, drugs, education, law, business, style, ethics and culture. Wolff is the author or co-author of six books about basketball. His first, The In-Your-Face Basketball Book (1980, Everest House, with Chuck Wielgus), chronicled the playground game, as did its sequel, The Back-in-Your-Face Guide to Pick-Up Basketball (1986, Dodd Mead, also with Chuck Wielgus). The Village Voice called Raw Recruits (1990, Pocket Books, with Armen Keteyian), a New York Times bestseller that examined college basketball recruiting, "the most important sports book in years." More than 100,000 copies of 100 Years of Hoops (1991, Oxmoor House), revised and reissued in 1995 as Basketball: A History of the Game, are in print. A March for Honor (1997, Masters Press) chronicled a small Indiana town in the grip of Hoosier Hysteria and Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure is an account of a year spent chasing the game around the globe to take the measure of its impact. The New York Times cited Big Game as a Notable Book for 2002, and Sports Illustrated named it one of the Top 100 sports books of all time. In 2011 The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Honored Wolff with its Curt Gowdy Print Media Award for Outstanding Lifetime Coverage of the Game. Wolff's work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, Best Sports Stories, Sports Illustrated's Fifty Years of Great Writing and The Princeton Anthology of Writing. In 1996 he and Hoop Dreams filmmakers Peter Gilbert and Steve James collaborated on Team of Broken Dreams, an Emmy-nominated documentary that detailed the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on basketball players from the Balkans. Based on one of Wolff's Sports Illustrated articles, Team of Broken Dreams won the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Media Award, the highest honor the IOC confers on the press.