Must-reads of 2012: sports

Lebron, Paterno, and fabricating race times

As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats.

Patrick Hruby did an exhaustive piece for the fledgling website Sports On Earth cataloging the myriad ways wealthy sports owners and leagues suckle from the public teat, noting that the surest way to cut the deficit would be to end welfare for sporting millionaires.

Marc Singer’s piece in The New Yorker about a runner who faked multiple marathon times was not only wonderfully detailed and funny, but also became timely when Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan B.S.’d his time.

The Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno scandal first broke in 2011, and Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News consistently bested her bigger name and budgeted competition on the story long into 2012. But for an individual piece of writing about the Penn State disgrace, I’ll take Jason Whitlock’s takedown of Joe Posnanski’s heavily-publicized biography of Paterno. Posnanski deserves sympathy for his ill luck concerning his Paterno project, which began long before the scandal came to light, but his failure to realize a hagiographic take on the newly infamous coach needed to be chucked out for a brand new book doomed him to the sort of criticism Whitlock masterfully delivered.

LeBron James has been a difficult target for magazine profile specialists over his heavily covered career, but Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated captured King James better than anyone since he took his talents to South Beach.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Robert Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Slate, and a television writer/producer based in Atlanta.