Sidecountry: Tales of Death and Life from the Back Roads of Sports
Date: June 2021
Duration: 10 hours 19 minutes
New York Times reporter John Branch's riveting, humane pieces about ordinary people doing extraordinary things at the edges of the sporting world have won nearly every major journalism prize. Sidecountry gathers the best of Branch's work, featuring twenty of his favorites from the more than 2,000 pieces he has published in the paper.
Branch is renowned for covering the offbeat in the sporting world, from alligator hunting to wingsuit flying. Sidecountry features such classic Branch pieces as 'Snow Fall,' about downhill skiers caught in an avalanche in Washington state, and 'Dawn Wall,' about rock climbers trying to scale Yosemite's famed El Capitan. In other articles, Branch introduces people whose dedication and decency transcend their sporting lives, including a revered football coach rebuilding his tornado-devastated town in Iowa and a girls' basketball team in Tennessee that plays on despite never winning a game. The book culminates with his moving personal pieces, including 'Children of the Cube,' about the surprising drama of Rubik's Cube competitions as seen through the eyes of Branch's own sports-hating son, and 'The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey,' about a mother killed in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting whose daughter happens to play on Branch's daughter's soccer team.