Friday, August 5, 2022

"Sidney Crosby The Rookie Year" by Sidney Crosby--Nonfiction Review

Today’s “book” is an audible original on one of the best to play the game of hockey, “Sidney Crosby the Rookie Year.”

Sidney Crosby

What I love about this book:

It’s a short book that gets you right into it; introductions are made, and then—bam—we’re back vicariously living out the day Sidney Crosby was drafted to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

How this program is presented, through some narration by Joe Manganiello and interviews with Sid himself and those closest to him during his rookie year, creates an intimate atmosphere. I found it interesting to see what this moment in time looked like from Crosby’s point of view because to say he was kind of a big deal in the league then and today—is a major understatement.

You get to learn what his life was like, to be one of the best to play the game from the very beginning, and to play with and live under Lemieux’s roof, literally. That mentor dynamic between Crosby and Lemieux is unique because—while I’m not an expert in the subject—how often does a sports phenomenon get to apprentice under one of the last generation’s phenoms?

What I don’t love about this book:

The pressure we put on people like Sidney Crosby to be “on” all the time is shitty and unfair. When he was drafted by the Penguins, he was still a teenager, and many of the city’s sports fans put their hopes and dreams squarely on Crosby’s shoulders. They were all counting all of the Stanley Cup wins before even that first playoff game—and when that did not pan out, Sid got a lot of the blame. As if one player, and one player alone, could change the trajectory of a team’s winning or losing season. That isn’t to knock the influence one player can have; leadership has a tangible effect on performance. I’m merely stating that the group is more important than the individual in a team sport. If the group can’t perform, that extra edge by having a few ringers can’t make up for the deficit.

This is more a thing I don’t like about the game of hockey than this book, and that is how often fights break out and aren’t immediately stopped. Which, I get, is an unusual stance for me to take because of all sports; boxing is probably my favorite. I don’t like it in hockey, though, because it tacitly makes it ok to counter someone skilled at the game, maybe even the best on the ice, like Sid, by just hurting him. I get that there is a difference between a hard hit and a fight. But think about any time anyone hauls off and straight up punches a guy in football, baseball, and basketball. It’s rare, and it isn’t tolerated.

Parting thoughts:

I’m not much of a sports guy—I know, shocking, right? So as exciting as some of this book is, a lot of it is wasted on me. Actually, I’ve been to a lot of hockey games over the years. I’m always excited to go, and I enjoy myself when there, that atmosphere, seeing incredible athletes be effortlessly amazing on the ice, and the concession stand… I might have an unhealthy relationship with food. In any case, of the several dozen games I’ve been to over the years, with one friend or another, I’ve probably only ever “watched” the Penguins game on TV, maybe just as many times over the years as I’ve been to games in person.

Anyway, the point I’m making here is that hockey just isn’t in the orbit of my life regularly. That’s important because I still remember the day Sidney Crosby was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins all these years later. I remember the conversations I had that day in 2005. Pittsburgh is that much of a sports town. It was the only conversation happening before and after it was confirmed that Sidney Crosby was coming to Pittsburgh.

Everyone was saying, “Sid is the next Super Mario,” and nobody was confused about who they meant, and it wasn’t the video game character.

I find it fascinating how the passion for some things, like when this Canadian kid about my age came to town, is so transcendent that it doesn’t matter who you are—you’re aware.

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