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Add these books to your reading list this year. They have lessons as applicable to the boardroom as to the playing field. (Photo by Aleksandar Mijatovic/Shutterstock)

Pursuits | Books

From Moneyball to Soccernomics: 4 classic sports books that you must read

These books have lessons as applicable to the boardroom as to the playing field

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Moneyball (2003)

The most iconic of the it’s-a-sports-book-that’s-really-about-business titles, Michael Lewis’s story of Oakland As’ general manager Billy Beane is about uncovering talent hiding in plain sight. He did it by researching the stuffing out of the subject, understanding the many blind spots entrenched in conventional thinking, and hiring without bias.

Soccernomics (2009)

Writer Simon Kuper and economist Stefan Szymanski bring the Moneyball approach to the beautiful game. Soccer’s catching up fast on big data—some obsessive video-watchers can predict players’ penalty-kicking styles, a critical edge for goalkeepers. Some club teams using analytics—led by France’s Olympique Lyonnais—are starting to punch above their weight. 

A Season on the Brink (1986) 

John Feinstein’s tale of Bobby Knight is the athletics case study in rogue CEOs. Knight’s tactical mastery came with a volcanic temper and authoritarian personality. He had huge success, until his act stopped working on an unhappy and restive team. He was fired in 2000 after reports of him choking a player emerged. 

The Game (1983)

Ken Dryden’s immersive memoir of his time with the Montreal Canadiens includes a portrait of a coach so many found inscrutable. Scotty Bowman’s leadership was a mix of hockey intellect and psychological insight he best revealed in what he told Dryden was the key to his job—making sure the players who fit the moment were the ones on the ice.