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Best Seat in the House: A Father, a Daughter, a Journey Through Sports Hardcover – May 9, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Any girl who grew up with a father who told her she could do anything will appreciate Brennan's book as a touching tribute to her own dad. But as a memoir, this book about forging a career as a sports journalist doesn't rise above the ordinary. A lifelong sports addict, Brennan became the first full-time female sportswriter to join the Miami Herald staff in 1981. She moved to the Washington Post in 1984 to cover the Redskins and then the Olympics, and was offered a general sports column in USA Today in 1997. Her account is sprinkled with amusing anecdotes about learning to maneuver through a man's world, such as the secret to interviewing naked guys in a locker room. (Carry a large notebook, so when you look down to write, all you see is paper.) Her father's support is present throughout; when Brennan, along with a crowd of 90,185 girls and their dads, watched Brandi Chastain score the winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup, Brennan reached for her phone: "I called someone who... knew exactly what it meant to both of us. Of course I called Dad." Unfortunately, Brennan's book lacks the spirit and imagination with which Brennan accomplished her dreams. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pioneering sports journalist Brennan's memoir begins in Toledo, where she grew up rooting for the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit Tigers, and University of Michigan Wolverines. Her father introduced her to sports at age four, and she never looked back. By the time she reached high school, the six-foot-tall basketball player called athletics her "passion and diversion." She landed her first full-time job as a token (in her words) sports reporter at the Miami Herald in 1981. Among a handful of women allowed into men's locker rooms, she took the awkward moments in stride: "I was there to cover the team and report the story." Currently a USA Today columnist and occasional television analyst, Brennan continues to succeed in the cutthroat world of sports journalism. Devoid of sports gossip and written in a straightforward reporting style, this pleasing memoir pays tribute to Brennan's father, who encouraged her love of sports. Should appeal to sports junkies familiar with her work. Sue-Ellen Beauregard
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Brennan's journey begins in Toledo, home to the Triple AAA Mud Hens and the University of Toledo. The stories of catching a ball game at the Lucas Country Rec Center (aka Ned Skeldon Stadium) or the occasional drive to Tiger Stadium were heart warming and a bit shocking as Brennan was probably the woman in the 1970's that knew how to fill out a scorecard. Baseball brings families together and nothing in the world beats a trip to the ball park to catch a game with your old man. But baseball is one of several sports that the Brennan family endures throughout Christine's childhood. Tennis, swimming, golf, football, and basketball consumed much of their daily lives and it appeared that the father, Jim, was merely along for the ride for it seemed that he was not the one doing the pushing.
On a personal note, Brennan's account of the University of Toledo's Chuck Ealey's thirty-five consecutive victories and Steve Mix's stellar basketball career were nearly tear-jerking. As a Toledo alum and fan, it was about time that both of these remarkable men receive some extra attention for their amazing feats as collegiate athletes. From a university which sees very few of their athletes go on to the professional level, the celebration of perhaps their best two athletes in a nationally acclaimed book puts the icing on the cake.
Brennan admits that the idea to be a sports journalist began at those Toledo football games where Ealey and his teammates rang up win after win. Indeed, watching Chuck Ealey on a weekly basis from 1969-1971 must have been a privilege, an honor, and certainly a launching point for a prospective sports writer. From there Brennan begins the formal training as a journalist at the campus of Northwestern University, and with the summer internships at the Toledo Blade. Northwestern's journalism program was one of the best in the country, and alums Peter McCleery, Brennan, and Michael Wilbon backed up that recognition.
But Brennan's story of becoming a sports journalist is just a fraction of the larger picture. Title IX, the law that essentially gave women an opportunity to play competitive sports, is mentioned throughout the book. However, Brennan's argument on Title IX is not necessarily a cry for women to take over these heavily male-influenced games. Rather, it is advocating for equal opportunity. As evident in her debates with the controversial Hootie Johnson of Augusta National, Brennan refuses to back down to the opposite sex, and chooses to stand up for women's rights. After all, to get to her position in her field, Brennan has always had to fight an uphill battle. Hopefully this serves as a message to young women seeking a career in sports that even though the trail may be bumpy along the way, the end result is certainly attainable.
Now, I don't know Christine. I met her once, yes. She was uncommonly attentive and made me feel like I was the gold medal winner being interviewed (not that it felt like an interview at all; although, after reading this book, I wouldn't be surprised if she packed away some notes somewhere, dated them, and spelled my name right...).
Why is this such an important book? In addition to what I've shared I'll add this: Moving forward my wife and I will document the events of our kids' childhood even more diligently. Not only will this benefit our family with more memorabilia, but it will hopefully serve as an example for our kids so they, too, will log the experiences of their lives. Doing so, I believe, will help sustain their peace of mind (respect for whence they came), build confidence, as well as provide skills that will help them academically, professionally, and personally. And, no, I don't expect to rear little Christine Brennans. I do hope, however, my kids have a similar love for their father, their family, and for life that Christine Brennan does. This book has made me even more excited about being a parent and it's also allowed me to travel back in time with my father. Christine, thank you!