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Best Seat in the House: A Father, a Daughter, a Journey Through Sports Hardcover – May 9, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 57005th edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743254366
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Sopher on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In a world where male dominance in most sports is generally welcome and accepted, stories of women who defy the odds, dodge the criticism, and rise to success are indeed a rarity. The story of Christine Brennan is no exception. A successful writer for USA Today and The Washington Post, Brennan's ascension to a career in sports journalism and broadcasting, which was usually only reserved for men, serves as a role model for those who wish to follow their dreams despite the obstacles. However, the focal message in the book is a tribute to her father, the man who brought her up to love and cherish sports, and the man who continued to encourage her when things seemed impossible. Rather than the typical father-son journey through sports, the tide shifts, in essence, to reveal that daughters too can share that same passion.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book, I knew immediately that I'd be interested in it. I mean, Christine Brennan was the Washington Post beat writer for the Redskins in the mid-80s when I lived in DC as well, and as she jokingly puts it, being the Redskins beat writer was the second most important beat, after the White House beat, unless the Redskins played the Cowboys. So I remember well her byline in the Post Sports section from those days.

In "Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey through Sports" (283 pages), the author reflects back on how she got into sports writing, and not unsurprisingly, her dad played a major role in it. In fact, the initial third of the book, in which Brennan recounts her days growing up in Toledo, is the most intruiging and touching part of the book. Brennan's dad never pushed her into sports, but definitely supported and encouraged it, taking her to see their beloved Mud Hens AA basebal and the University of Toldedo football teams, and then later when Christine started playing high school sports (in the pre-Title IX days). The love and warmth for her dad shines throughout this book.

After graduating from Northwestern, Brennan went on to cover college football for the Miami Herald in the early 80s and then the Redskins. Brennan has plentyful of memorable anecdotes of what is was like to be a female sportsreporter in that male-dominated world. The latter part of the book drifts a bit, even though Brennan's love for the Olympics, her next big thing, comes through very clearly. But the book finishes on a high, recounting the hard times when first her mom, then her dad pass away, while providing a very moving tribute. If you like sports, and have a heart, this book will move you.
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Format: Hardcover
As Christine Brennan states in the book, writing the story was a "labor of love". She stated this in reference to her father and family. Of course, this comes through eloquently clear from such a talented writer. In reading the book, however, it's obvious she loves so much more in life. Sports, yes, but that's over-simplistic. How she ties sports into the context of history, into how our society has changed and not changed (for women, minorities, etc.) is truly insightful while, at the same time, beautiful. You can feel -- truly sense -- how Christine feels about these challenges, about the people confronting them, and about the leaders addressing them (or not). Her values show through. Many a writer, I think, would be all-too-shy about putting such personal points-of-view out there. I, for one, am very glad she did, for her values and points-of-view are truly admirable. They are all the more so because she, like her father, has acted upon and held true to them throughout her life while still making room to experience and learn.

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.
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