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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

August 26, 2016  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Beyond sports: Local writer publishes collection of stories from long career

By DONALD H. HARRISON Special to the Jewish Press

Bruce Lowitt is an all-around sportswriter who covered the big NFL games for the Associated Press, and, later in his career, regaled readers with stories about sports of every kind for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times).

Most recently, he has been a part-time feature writer for the Jewish Press.

Lowitt’s new book, The Game Isn’t Everything: The Reality Beyond the Arena ($14.95, available on Amazon.com) is a collection of 42 stories from his long career. You’ll appreciate his self-deprecating humor, his nose for news abetted by his eye for detail, and the compassion with which he almost unfailingly writes human interest stories about athletes and their families who’ve celebrated good times and suffered bad ones.

Why do I say “almost unfailingly?” Well, his put down of the America’s Cup yacht races held just off the coast of my hometown was unsparingly proletarian about the whole sport. He proved that a guy from Brooklyn cares about 42-meter yacht racing about as little as non-writers care about the process of selection, deletion, and re-selection of stories to go into 42-chapter sports memoirs such as this one.

The title of Lowitt’s memoir is well conceived. The stories aren’t about individual sports contests; they are about the people – coaches, players and fans – who invest so much of themselves into their sports.

We read, among other stories, about coaches and athletes fighting through addictions; trying to live up to the reputations of their celebrated siblings or parents; showing their gentler nature toward family members with disabilities; suffering career-ending injuries; drawing inspiration from religion; risking their adult futures for childhood trophies; and continuing to passionately love their sport even after retirement.

Some of Lowitt’s stories are interviews with celebrities such as the motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel; while others focus on relatively unknown subjects such as Tom Garrett, the coach of a St. Petersburg baseball team whose players must be at least 75 years old before they can qualify for the team. Whether his subjects are famous or not, Lowitt takes the time to get to know them and to paint their word portraits in fine detail.

Lowitt also can be incredibly nostalgic about such subjects as listening to ball games on the radio, and imagining the action described by the announcer, or seeing the day-game-only tradition end as the night lights go up at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Although baseball dominates the sports Lowitt covers in this book, fans of other sports won’t be disappointed.

You’ll find his insight and wit in articles about basketball, boxing, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, horse racing, sailing, softball, tennis, and track & field.

All this is leavened with a few stories about his own career as a shy young man, awkward in his dating years around women, and nervous in his career-building years in the company of better known sportswriters whom he had admired from afar. Eventually, Lowitt conquered both sets of fears.

He married Arlene with whom he parented two children, now adults. The couple live in Oldsmar and are active members of Temple Ahavat Shalom.

Other sports writers, meanwhile, have come to know, and to enjoy, Lowitt’s unusual human-interest takes on the sports world. You will too.

Donald Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.


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