Tonight, I will be one of the featured guests on the HR Happy Hour. The topic? "Social Recruiting, Sports, and Upside." As avid readers of this blog (all three of you) know, I have made a number of sports-related posts, including one about the research I am doing on team management theory and what happens when key top personnel leave the organization while the CEO remains intact.
With that in mind, here is a far from comprehensive list of interesting and relevant sports-related books and articles that has influenced the HR Happy Hour crew for this evening:
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis: Outlines the story of Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's, and how he tried to battle the significant disparity in payroll amongst major league baseball teams by looking for new talent metrics that allowed him to gain a competitive advantage over other teams.
The No-Stats All-Star by Michael Lewis: An interesting article about Shane Battier, a forward for the Houston Rockets, and how his significant contributions to team success can't be measured by current statistics.
Basketball on Paper:Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis by Dean Oliver: "A journey "inside the numbers" for an exceptional set of statistical tools and rules that can help explain the winning, or losing, ways of a basketball team. Basketball on Paper doesn’t diagram plays or explain how players get in shape, but instead demonstrates how to interpret player and team performance."
The New Bill James Historical Abstract by Bill James - As a kid, I looked forward to three things in March - , March Madness, the new season of Topps baseball trading cards and the publication of the Bill James Baseball Abstract. In the historical abstract, Bill James provides his unique perspective on many of baseball's debates, such as who is the greatest baseball player of all time.
The Wages of Wins by Dave Berri, Martin Schmidt, and Stacey Brook, and Stumbling On Wins by Dave Berri and Martin Schmidt: A Freakonomics approach to many sports issues that attempts to challenge many of the preconceptions fans have regarding sports.
Sports and Their Fans by Kevin Quinn: "Though Americans spend more than $25 billion on sports and sporting events, this book argues that the influence of sports on our lives is even more profound than this huge figure would seem to suggest. Exploring such topics as the role of sports in the creation of mass culture, cheating, the abuse of illegal drugs, the strange and fascinating role that numbers play in sporting events, and the future of spectator sport, this book surveys the outsized impact that sports have on American culture."
The Numbers Game by Alan Schwarz: A fascinating look at the growth of baseball statistics, from the origin of the box score, to today's box score innovations (BABIP or VORP, anyone?).
Mathletics by Wayne Winston: As the name suggests, a very math-oriented approach to sports (and we know how much HR people love math, right PunkRockHR?).
The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons: Bill Simmons writes the popular ESPN column, The Sports Guy, and if you attended HREvolution, his book was the major point of the session, "The Secret" led by Steve Boese, Tim Sackett, and Lance Haun.
Life on the Run by Bill Bradley: Former Senator and New York Knicks star details 20 days in a basketball season.
The Glory of Their Times by Laurence Ritter: An evocative look at some of baseball's early stars.
Chase the Game by Pat Jordan: This out-of-print classic provides a great story of 3 HS ballers from Connecticut in the 70s and a legendary game. This was 'Hoop Dreams' before Hoop Dreams.
Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam: One of Bill Simmons' favorites details the season of the 1979-1980 Portland Trailblazers.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud: A totally different ending than the movie, which you will either hate or love.
The Smart Money by Michael Konik: A fascinating, inside look at the sports gambling business.
"Federer as Religious Experience" and "The String Theory" by David Foster Wallace: Somehow I doubt that tennis will come up during HR Happy Hour, but the late, lamented author and former tennis player, David Foster Wallace writes two compelling pieces on the stringed sport.