By: Steve Dupont
Reviewed by: Van Newell
The Birmingham News Company, 2008
Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but, at least for me, it can allow the taking of things for granted. Having sixty-seven counties, Alabama still harbors many areas of interest that I still have not seen in the seventeen years I have lived in the state. One can feel, at times, that he has seen and done everything in the state once he has attended a football game, a Talladega race, DeSoto caverns, and the beaches at Gulf Shores.
Steve Dupont’s Alabama Sports: A Comprehensive Guide to Sports in Alabama illuminated my ignorance. Part travel guide, part historical record, the book offers ten chapters involving the exhibits, venues, sports, and sports legends that have made a mark on the state’s sports history. Giving extra gravitas to the publication is an introduction by Governor Bob Riley, a foreword by Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director William Legg, and stellar photography reaching back over a hundred years. This photographic portfolio, in fact, is one of the strongest I have ever seen in a locally published item, with at least one picture on nearly all of the book’s 128 pages.
Ironically, the only flaw I find with the book is that with all of the wonderful photography enhancing almost every page, the cover gets nothing better than a rather bland trio of illustrations of a baseball player, a football player, and a golfer. The cover notwithstanding, the book is a lot of fun and the chapters on exhibits and venues are great both for locals looking for something different to do over a weekend and for out-of-town visitors. (Rickwood Field, the oldest baseball field in American, is the first place I want to visit next.)
Besides the photography, the book offers great tidbits of information as well, such as the capacity of the Talladega Superspeedway (over 143,000 people) to the reminder that boxing legend Joe Louis was born ninety-five years ago in Chambers County.
With Dupont’s relaxed and intelligible style, Alabama Sports is a fast and enjoyable read. The book would be perfect reading for both older readers wanting to travel back to times nostalgic and very young readers hungry to learn about Alabama sports.
I found myself flipping back through the pages after I had finished the book. Be sure to check out page sixteen. You will definitely want to go to the Barber Motorsports Museum afterwards. May 2009
Van Newell teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama.