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World Class: Purpose, Passion, and the Pursuit of Greatness On and Off the Field (Hardcover)

World Class: Purpose, Passion, and the Pursuit of Greatness On and Off the Field By Grant Wahl, Dr. Céline Gounder (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Grant Wahl, Dr. Céline Gounder (Foreword by)
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“This collection of Grant’s work is a great testament to not only what he did when he was here, but what he’s still doing to impact others.”—LeBron James

The definitive collection of beloved late journalist Grant Wahl’s work—a masterclass in the art of sportswriting

After Grant Wahl died of an aortic aneurysm at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, collapsing in his press seat during a quarterfinal match, tributes to Wahl poured in from around the globe. Wahl was beloved for good reason—he was kind, generous, and unflinching in the face of injustice. He was also one of the best sports journalists of his generation.

Spanning four decades of storytelling, World Class collects for the first time the finest writing of Grant Wahl, from op-eds for his college newspaper to twenty-five years of reporting at Sports Illustrated to his deeply personal work for Fútbol with Grant Wahl on Substack. Wahl was the multi-tool modern sportswriter: clear and direct; able to write long, short, or in between; cosmopolitan; socially aware.

Arranged thematically, World Class demonstrates how Wahl’s career aligned with the evolution of sportswriting. Included are explorations of soccer subcultures from Buenos Aires and F.C. Barcelona to the dusty sandlots of Nacogdoches, Texas, as well as accounts of trophy lifts that have a first-draft-of-history definitiveness. Some pieces capture prodigies early in their careers, like LeBron James and Landon Donovan; others lift the voices of the women athletes to whom Wahl paid early attention—stars like Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. The book showcases the daring and important positions Wahl took in Qatar in the weeks before he died, supporting migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people.

More than a collection of Grant Wahl's best work, World Class is a portrait of a journalist at the height of his powers, always evolving with the times, revealed by the stories he found and the unflinching way he told them.

About the Author

Grant Wahl was one of the world’s leading soccer journalists and the author of two previous books, Masters of Modern Soccer and the New York Times bestseller The Beckham Experiment. He created and hosted the Fútbol with Grant Wahl website and podcast after spending twenty-five years at Sports Illustrated, where he wrote more than three dozen cover stories. Wahl covered thirteen World Cups (eight men’s, five women’s), seven Olympics and 10 Final Fours. He was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame and awarded the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s Colin Jose Award for contributions to the American game. Grant Wahl died in 2022, and is survived by his widow Dr. Céline Gounder.

Dr. Céline Gounder is an internationally renowned internist, infectious disease specialist, and epidemiologist. In addition to serving as a clinical associate professor of medicine and infectious diseases at New York University, she cares for patients at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center and works as a podcaster and as a journalist and commentator for CBS News and the KFF. Her specialties include all kinds of epidemics, from Covid, Ebola, and opioid overdose, to mental health, gun violence, and disinformation. She and Grant Wahl were married in 2001.

Mark Mravic was an editor at Sports Illustrated for more than two decades. He worked closely with Grant Wahl on coverage of international and domestic soccer and in pushing for soccer’s integration into the American sports mainstream, and served as editor for Wahl’s Substack site from its launch in 2021. He lives in Noank, Connecticut.

Alexander Wolff spent 36 years on the staff of Sports Illustrated, overlapping with Grant Wahl for two decades. He is a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton and the author of many books, including Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure and Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home. The editor of the Library of America collection Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game, he lives in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.

Praise For…

“You can’t talk about the history of U.S. soccer without including Grant Wahl. His legendary career and fearless advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community will be a legacy that lives on through this anthology and beyond.”—Megan Rapinoe

“For me, Grant Wahl’s Sports Illustrated cover story was the moment everything started. The time that we shared when I was in high school for that story was pretty special for myself and my family. Wahl was always energetic, always had a smile on his face, and always wanted to do right by his interview subjects. This collection of his work is a great testament to not only what he did when he was here, but what he’s still doing to impact others.”—LeBron James

“Grant Wahl’s job was to write about sports, but his art was to reveal what matters most in life. This anthology is a collection of brilliant storytelling and timeless wisdom about excellence from a world-class professional. He was the best of us, and his work lives on to make us all better.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Potential and Think Again

“Some of the best, most compelling sportswriting I’ve ever read.”—Clint Smith

“I hesitate to call this collection sportswriting at its best, because I think it is just writing at its best. To me, Grant Wahl was an anthropologist, and sports was his lens for studying humanity.”—David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene

“Every word in this book surges with his energy and enthusiasm and love. I was one of the luckiest people in the world to get to know Grant. I miss him. But he’s here in this wonderful collection of his best work.”—Joe Posnanski, New York Times bestselling author of Why We Love Baseball

“A titan of the American game.”—Brendan Hunt

“Grant Wahl was—and his work and legacy remain—world class. Wahl was all class and tops in class, with few peers matching his quality, rigor, vigor, and unswerving honor. He also considered the entire planet his beat, going wherever the story took him. Damn, we miss him.”—Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated writer and 60 Minutes correspondent

“Not only are these informed pieces almost effortlessly readable to aficionados and newbies alike . . . the collection is suffused with both courage and humanity. . . . Recommended for any soccer collection.”Booklist (starred review)

“Far more than an ordinary sportswriter . . . [Wahl] did more than any other writer to elevate soccer in the national sports conversation. . . . A fine collection by a much-missed writer who was just rising to the top of his game.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593726761
ISBN-10: 0593726766
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English