The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business by Wright Thompson
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The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  908 ratings  ·  101 reviews
The instant New York Times bestseller!

From one of America's most beloved sportswriters, a collection of true stories about the dream of greatness and its cost in the world of sports.

"Wright Thompson's stories are so full of rich characters, bad actors, heroes, drama, suffering, courage, conflict, and vivid detail that I sometimes thinks he's working my side of the street
...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Penguin Group
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Peter Boyle
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I first came across Wright Thompson's work in a Tiger Woods article he wrote for ESPN a few years back. It focussed mostly on Tiger's downfall and tied it into the death of his father - how he struggled to cope without his rock, how he emulated his old man in his womanising and even his military fascination. The piece struck me for its sensitivity and the way it revealed the man behind the mask: a socially awkward introvert who became the world's most recognisable sports star.

The rest of the pie
...more
Thomas Bodenberg
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To say that Wright Thompson is a sportswriter would be equivalent to saying that Macbeth is a travelogue of Scotland. Sports are merely a gateway to the human condition, and no one, repeat, no one, can open and mine it like Thompson. Easily the best sports book I've read in several decades. Any further verbiage on my part would not do him or you, the reader, justice. ...more
Patrick
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
As much as I love sports, I don't typically read sports writing unless it's about one of my favorite teams, and even then there's a lot that goes unread. That's what makes Wright Thompson so perfect for me -- while all of these stories had sports central to the theme, it goes so far beyond a book of just "sports stories."

Whether it's the inner demons faced by (and obsessive nature 0f) such greats as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Dan Gable, and Pat Riley, how teams and their communities interplay
...more
Alexander Kane
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wright Thompson is a great sportswriter, but the themes covered in these pieces go beyond sports. He asks what is the price of pursuing greatness for the people who have achieved it, been close to it, or fell short. Great stories about humanity, mortality, and the way we choose to live our lives.
M
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Craig Sisterson
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sport
I've long admired Wright Thompson's long-form sports stories, and so I had high expectations when buying this collection. It not only meets but arguably surpasses those expectations. This is exceptional reportage and storytelling, taking us into the minds, lives, and hearts of globally famous and lesser-known sports figures, and the impact the game had on them as much as they had on it. A book about life as much as sport. Terrific. ...more
Scott Wolfe Jr
So happy to have found this book - and it surprised me (pleasantly) to a significant degree. This is some of the best writing I've read in a while. Though "sports" is a part of these stories, it really just sits as a setting for something much more. Highly recommend this. I'll read everything Thompson gets in ink from here on out. ...more
Jasan Selaty
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Wright Thompson book, and I doubt it will be my last. I see what all the fuss is about, phenomenal story teller. And I did not cry at the end, you did. Didn’t see that coming.
Chip Redihan
Jul 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Rich and powerful stories. Wright Thompson is a master of telling incredible stories in vivid detail.
Tyler Henry
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wright Thompson’s ability to personify people, an oxymoron I know, is unmatched. He characterizes heroes and celebrities in a manner that’s honest and biting; empathetic and critical.
Boy Blue
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: america, sport
The Cost Of These Dreams


Sport can lift people up, it can alter the soul but it can also ruin lives. As a society we only ever hear the success stories, history is written by the victors and in sport every match or game we watch becomes the story of the winner. The loser is always forgotten, the minute they lose they become an extra in the winner's story. 


In The Cost Of These Dreams Thompson is not wrestling just with the dreams of sporting greats but also the mundane, everyday American Dreams th
...more
DT
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think Wright Thompson is one of the nine or ten best writers alive. This is a book compiling his work, which can be loosely defined as long form sports journalism. But I think one of the reasons great sportswriters are so indelible is that they’re not just writing about sports. So it is here. Fathers and sons is a recurring theme in Wright’s work, and it’s on full display here. A haunted and restless Michael Jordan at 50. A reeling Tiger Woods seeking . . . something following his father’s dea ...more
Tejas Sathian
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Thompson's ESPN writing for a long time - for his style, his self-consciousness about his identity as a sportswriter and the tradition that he is working to uphold, and for the deep human complexity he consistently unlocks in his subjects. I can say that just about every story in this collection taught me something new and often unexpected, whether it was about an athlete I'm familiar with or had never heard of. The intro and the final essay really made this collection for me ...more
Vince
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wright Thompson is the best sportswriter in the world because he doesn’t write about sports. His articles are about people who are famous because of sports, but that’s never the focus. I never understood Michael Jordan as well as I did after finishing Wright’s story about a man who just turned 50, grappling with the increasing realization that he’s not His Airness anymore because his body won’t let him be. I read and felt the panic that must have been going on in Tony Harris’ mind when thinking ...more
Bryce Pinder
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty amazing how similar and frankly depressing the lives are of many great athletes and coaches and also amazing how Thompson is able to dig into such a variety of stories. The book shows that these greats are really just normal people with monumental successes that have come at real costs that each of them live with.

This is sports journalism in a book and probably sports journalism at its best, but I had a hard time getting into it. Thompson does an amazing job of keying in on details and w
...more
Karen & Gerard
The Cost of These Dreams--Sports Stories and Other Serious Business by Wright Thompson is a collection of true stories about athletes and one story about fans of a team. I thought these stories were excellent because they were so interesting! They go beyond who won or lost and share about the personal lives of the athletes. I feel like I got to know the real person. Stories included their families and friends. There was a great mix of people and the stories were varied like the people who they w ...more
Woody
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book and the author are both gems. It goes far beyond sports stars to the challenges they face off the field of play and after their playing days are done. It reveals the dynamics of ultra-competitive personalities and how that affects relationships (usually negatively). It also reveals the frustrations people like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have when they are not at the top of their respective games anymore. Thompson is a perceptive, engaging writer who informs with his stories and pro ...more
Todd
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just an incredible collection of sportswriting, although it's only sportswriting in the loosest sense that all of the stories have some connection to sports, but they're really more just human stories. Thompson's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Some of these you may have read before, but the entire collection is so powerful. You really have to sit and let each one soak in before moving on. The Tiger and Jordan stories are definitely interesting looks at well-known greats, but for me th ...more
Zeke
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
I'd give six stars to some of the essays in here if I could. Thompson writes the kind of pieces I do in my dreams. He is curious, thorough and empathetic while writing about some of the greatest figures in sports and interestingly a theme through much of his work is how athletes handle their lives once that Apex of greatness is gone. It's writing that just happens to use sports as a way to talk about the things that matter most to all of us.

I've savored these and re-read a few before finishing
...more
Kale Harbaugh
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Cost of These Dreams is the perfect name for this collection of stories. Most of them are about a specific sports figure, diving deep into what they had to sacrifice to get where they are. Thompson's writing was good enough to keep me interested even in the people I wasn't very familiar with. Some of my favorite essays included here are about communities, though. The 1962 integration riots at Ole Miss coinciding with their undefeated football season, a Super Bowl victory's importance to a po ...more
Don Gorman
Dec 16, 2019 rated it liked it
(2 1/2). I am generally not one for collections of short stories but the reviews on this book drew me in. Wright Thompson was not an ordinary sports writer, he knew how to take a different look at people and events. With the exception of the long form piece here on New Orleans, Katrina, the Super Bowl and the Saints, all of these works are just the right length to dig your teeth in to. Stories on superstars and others. The final piece, written by his son, is a solid tear jerker. Pick and choose ...more
Denis Goulet
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This very entertaining and enlightening book is an easy read, or was for me until the last chapter. That one drained me as it concerned the time we think we have but really don’t.
There is cost involved in every success, but the price athletes pay can be extraordinarily huge. Often, the biggest dose of reality comes after all of the accolades, fans and hangers on have disappeared. I highly recommend this book, not just for sports fans, but for everybody with laser focus chasing anything deemed w
...more
Daniel Franklin
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
THE COST OF THESE DREAMS - WRIGHT THOMPSON 6/10
14 stories, mostly American sports icons, I read 2 of them and lost interest as I didn't know who they were, so this ended up being a DNF.
Only 3 writeups by Wright, a sportswriter who works for ESPN, kept me glued up the book.
Michael Jordan and his refusal to retire and accept his time is over.
Lionel Messi and the pain of missing his childhood that haunts him until today, still a 13-year old at heart. Like Michael Jackson.
Tiger Woods and the de
...more
Susan
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This was different than what I expected. It was part history - part bios. The stories of the individual sport figures/teams were interesting; however, I would have liked to read more of individuals overcoming obstacles to be successful. These successful sthletes were so focused on their sport for so many years that there was not much else in their lives to fall back on.

I do want to know why my taxi dollars went to provide Navy SEAL activities to Tiger Woods. You just have to be famous (or infamo
...more
Brandon Keel
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I remembered Thompson from reading his piece on Michael Jordan in ESPN the Magazine years ago, included in this work. That piece stuck with me since then in its sobering look at the inner life of one of our Solomons, wrapped in mountains of achievement and glory.

That’s a clear theme in these self-described “blues-riffs.” But the beauty of fatherhood, the humanity hidden behind cultivated personas, and the power of ordinary acts of love are what makes this collection great. That, and Wright Thom
...more
Brett Marcos
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Thompson has a unique writing style that grows on you. He tells stories, humanizing legendary sports icons to a place of curiosity and relatability.

I learned a lot of interesting details about each figure and enjoyed the story arcs of the majority of the chapters. The last chapter was a great reflection on him and his “daddy”, cutting straight to the heart, asking the questions many sons do as they grow up. After reading Thompson’s book I think I would enjoy grabbing a beer and talking sports w
...more
Dennis
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
A collection of feature pieces on some legendary sports figures. Thompson really looks at these athletes/coaches and peels back the layers to see what makes them who they are. He looks back at the upbringing of athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Ted Williams and Lionel Messi and how their environment and relationships shaped them to who they are today. He got some great interviews with those who surrounded some great coaches like Bear Bryant, Pat Riley and Urban Meyer.

A really enjoyable
...more
Stuart Rodriguez
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wright Thompson is one of America's best long-form nonfiction writers because his stories are never *just* about sports: He is far less concerned with box scores and Xs and Os than he is with the people behind those numbers, and how sports has affected them and the people they love. Thompson explores people in sports through the lenses of politics, regions, culture, and history with a deft eye, keen wit, and profound empathy, and delivers his stories in gorgeous prose. While this collection is a ...more
Brian Whalen
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I was a little disappointed in this book. I love all of the things that this author writes. However I thought the description of the book was a little misleading. Only a small portion of the book(and the only part of the book that I read) Told the story of very successful athletes and sports figures achieving at a high-level, and what they had to sacrifice in order to achieve level of success. Some of the other stories did not appeal to me.
Dave
There is probably not a writer alive today whose work I more relate to and enjoy than Wright Thompson. In fact, I had read many of these stories in this collection before when they were originally printed in ESPN the magazine, but I enjoyed each story again. The writing is phenomenal and Thompson is unparalleled in creating a larger social/cultural narrative for the subjects of his sports stories to where the stories are just as much about the human condition as they are about sports.
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