Book #5 – A Sense of Where You Are by John McPhee
Subtitled A Profile of Princeton’s Bill Bradley. Which is exactly what it is.
I’m not a big sports fan. I didn’t grow up with sports. Attending UNL made me into a mild ‘Husker fan. I’ve never been to a Nebraska football game, and I had never watched a basketball game at all until Eric decided to take me to one on a whim back when we were still on campus in 1998-ish. Incongruously, I picked up a slight interest in non-collegiate tennis before I met Eric.
Moving to Arizona intensified my sports fandom. Partly because I am now "out-of-state" and sports are a means of maintaining allegiance to my home state. Partly because I now play a sport and am around more people who are sports fans, Eric included. And part of it is also because sports have become my seasons. The move from NE to AZ meant no more seasons as I knew them. No falling leaves, no snow, no thaw, no bloomin’ spring, but lots of what a Nebraskan might consider summer. It started with football season becoming my fall. Tennis (French Open, Wimbledon, US Open) became my respite from the heat of summer. And basketball has become my winter. I’m a newbie fan to all these things. My history/knowledge of theses sports only goes back a few years, so I pick up a sports book here and there.
Conversely, I’ve always enjoyed a good sports story. I’m a total sucker for overcoming the odds and triumphs of the spirit. A Sense of Where You Are isn’t one of those sports stories. It’s a profile. Bill Bradley was an outstanding player. While he himself might have downplay his physical abilities, he was not particularly handicapped in any manner. Growing up, he had support of his ideas and goals. From McPhee’s profile, it seems that Bradley took what ability and talent he had, worked damned hard and became an outstanding basketball player. While he obviously had passion for the game, it wasn’t his end goal and that’s an interesting story in itself, but not one told in my edition of the book.
My edition, published 1967, only includes Bradley’s collegiate career. It is assumed, at the end of this edition, that Bradley will go on to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, utterly leaving basketball behind. This older edition kind of leaves off in the middle of the story. But still, I came way with a slightly better understanding of basketball and bit of its history. That was worth the quick read.
I dove into the Nebula nominated short stories having already read three of them. I have a round up of my very shallow thoughts on them over at Reading Notes.