Sports Illustrated’s Alexander Wolff lectures Dec. 8 about basketball in age of Obama

Alex Wolff

Alexander Wolff, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, will speak at Ripon College from 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. The talk in Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall, will be about his new book The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama (Temple University Press).

“In some ways, basketball has spoken to the Obama era in its own way,” said Wolff in a recent interview with The Tennessean. “It’s a multi-racial game and it’s a youthful game. You have this president who probably came into office celebrating his younger generation more than any president since, say (John F.) Kennedy, and by his second term, you have all these cultural political issues percolating through the NBA — Black Lives Matter and that stuff.” Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.

Wolff has been on the staff of Sports Illustrated since 1980. He has covered basketball at all levels and written from the Olympics, soccer’s World Cup, the World Series, every Grand Slam tennis event, and the Tour de France. SI story assignments have taken him to six continents where he has written on issues at the intersection of sport and society as race, gender, culture, the environment, doping, education, law, religion, business, ethnic conflict and ethics.

In addition to The Audacity of Hoop, Wolff is the author or co-author of six other books about basketball, including The In-Your-Face Basketball Book (Everest House, with Chuck Wielgus), one of the first explorations of the playground game; Raw Recruits (Pocket Books, with Armen Keteyian), a New York Times bestseller that examined college basketball recruiting; and Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure (Warner Books), an account of a year spent chasing the game around the globe to take the measure of its impact, and a New York Times Book Review Notable Book for 2002.

Wolff’s writing for Sports Illustrated has been honored many times, including with multiple appearances in The Best American Sports Writing. In 1996 he and Hoop Dreams filmmakers Steve James and Peter Gilbert collaborated on Team of Broken Dreams, an Emmy-nominated NBC documentary based on a Wolff article for SI that detailed the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on basketball players from the Balkans. In 2011, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honored Wolff with its Curt Gowdy Print Media Award for outstanding lifetime coverage of the game.

The event at Ripon College is free and open to the public and sponsored by Ripon College’s The Center for Politics and the People.