Now this is what I'm talking about!! Kudos to Andrew Luck for starting a book club! The idea that pro athletes are role models for reading is something I have been preaching here and in my profession forever. Leave it to Luck to be one of the first (and only) ones to figure this out!
Check out his site at www.andrewluckbookclub.com and get involved! The selections are cleverly organized into a "rookie" and "veteran" titles to reach various levels of reader. The target group is about middle school on up, which is exactly the audience that needs this attention.
I can't wait to see how the club is received and if it propels any other pro athletes to become involved in their own reading mission. If only these people realized the power they had.......well, I can only dream. Andrew, thanks for providing the spark. Perhaps we can meet and talk books the night before the Packers knock the Colts silly at Lambeau on November 6. In fact, we should just make a bet that if(when) you lose, I will pick the next two Packer books for the club read.
I tell you what though, I love the book club idea. To all my library friends, link this site up to your homepage and hang a sign for the club in your library. It's up to us to pass the word!
Andrew, remember-- Jockbrarian has your back!!
In the world of some NFL teams, players who read are dangerous.
Rashard Mendenhall: NFL team was worried about me reading books
By Jordan Heck
Sporting News April 7, 2016
Rashard Mendenhall is a player who retired early (26) mainly because of his interests outside of football. He likes to read, and especially likes to write considering he contributes to the HBO show "Ballers."Coming out of college, teams were concerned about his off-field interests. Speaking to MEL Radio, Mendenhall said teams were worried about him having thoughts that didn't always pertain to football."When I was going through the NFL Combine there was a team that asked me, 'If you have all these other interests — like reading, dancing or art — what makes you a football player?' There is this idea of what a football player is and what he looks like. Especially playing in a place like Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are such a part of the history of the town; the fans live, die and breathe it.
"While I respected that culture totally and knew that I was a part of it, it was tough for me personally. I would tweet a picture of a book that I was reading and there would be people who would write, like, 'Why are you reading books? You should be reading a playbook.' I was like, 'Dang, this is the offseason.' It’s just crazy that like — it was a bit much for me. I felt hemmed in; I wasn’t able to fully be me and express myself, because if I did, people questioned my love of the game. That was always a tough thing for me."
Maybe they were right, considering Mendenhall did retire early, but when he was playing he was all-in. In the three seasons from 2009-11, the running back put up 3,891 combined rushing and receiving yards and scored 30 total touchdowns. If he read a few books during the offseason, who cares? He was a solid contributor on the field when he was there. Host John McDermott pointed out how front offices often complain about players who are out all night at the clubs, but that's not always the reality. Instead, they're worried about someone who has other interests.
"As much as they say, 'We don’t want a guy who’s in trouble, blah, blah, blah,' that guy is familiar to them," Mendenhall said. "He is comfortable to them because they understand him better than a football player who has different interests. A guy with an expanded worldview, now that’s fearful."
What a modern-day Renaissance man.
It's pretty unbelievable that attitudes towards athletes displaying some intellectual prowess are like this! Reminds me of what some (un)wise English teacher colleague said to me when I first became a librarian: "It's unfortunate that you are a jock."
Yes, clearly anyone who dabbles in sports must be an illiterate idiot--and obviously unfit to handle literature. Welcome to Jockbrarian, ma'am. Athletes can and do read!!
The real issue with the Rashard Mendenhall story is the assumption that athletes SHOULDN'T read. Somehow, in a quasi Brave New World scenario, where people are kept stupid so they don't question authority, NFL teams clearly felt that an athlete who was educated and practiced the art of intellectual growth would be a threat to their order. Or maybe it was a time thing. An athlete should have his/her nose in a playbook, not a book book! Did we forget that reading is also a relaxing practice that clears the mind and increases productivity? Have NFL teams been questioning the Xbox gaming habits of their players? Perhaps one athlete's mental decompression comes from FIFA matches, and another's comes from cracking a book.
Whatever way you slice it, I applaud athletes like Rashard Mendenhall who wear their identity as a reader like a badge of honor. This is the message we should be sending our young athletes. As a librarian and coach, I constantly suggest and give athletes books to read. Heck, it's what makes being a jockbrarian fun!!
If you haven't done so yet, it's time to dust off the Villanova basketball books and put them front and center on display! You don't have any, you say? Well, for all the references people heard about the 1985 team this weekend, and all the TV shots of Ed Pinckney and Rollie Massimino nail biting their way to the buzzer, there might be more than a little renewed interest in Nova hoops lore! I would pay particular attention to Frank Fitzpatrick's The Perfect Game that details the mighty 1985 championship game upset. If you don't have this book in your library, it should be purchased. Pull it out every March. Display it next to the future book that will grace shelves about the great run this 2016 squad had! They'll inspire any kid with a March Madness dream.