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Why We Hate Sports Books Books by coaches? Trust us, they can’t help you run your business or your life.

Thanks, Delray!)

Most of these books start off with a gripping insider story. In Riley’s The Winner Within, he acknowledges, among others, Michael Eisner, Lod Cook (former Arco CEO, now a Global Crossing honcho), Teddy Forstman, and David Halberstam. No, I didn’t read them cover to cover. Witness Deion Sanders in Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan’s book: “He’s very intelligent.” (Thanks, Deion!) Former college player and University of Kentucky assistant coach Delray Brooks pens a note in Pitino’s book. (Can you imagine No Choking Matter by Latrell Sprewell?) The other problem is closer to home: Who in the world has the time to put up their feet and read a sports book for a couple of hours? Your spouse would kill you! Never mind, “Go cut the grass.” Nowadays it’s, “Shouldn’t you be buying that iMac online, dear?” or “Are you ready for the investment club meeting tomorrow night, dear?” (Uh, no.)

So what’s a sports junkie to do? Well, there is a solution, albeit a very imperfect one: coach books. But we still want to read about sports. And this has been no small boon to publishing executives who have been selling oodles of these books–many of them bestsellers–to business people. (Twelve is big, apparently.) Most of them are filled with celebrity testimonials designed to reassure the reader that the coach really is great. Pitino’s latest book, for instance (he has written three), is titled Success is a Choice. Except for the stories. We have two problems, though. I recently spent a few weeks flipping through a dozen or so of them. Others have a meaningful subtitle. Nothing wrong with this. We’re coping with families, mortgages, and careers. Nothing wrong with that, right? Just good, clean fun. Some have chapter titles that appear to be written by a Cub Scout troop leader: “Build self-esteem.” “Set demanding goals.” “Always be positive.” (I’m not making these up.) They always have a list of the coaches’ secrets to success, always bulleted: “The definite dozen system.” And “Twelve keys to managing team players, tough bosses, setbacks, and success. First, most of the athletes today aren’t worth throwing a rotten egg at.

Read Serwer’s column “Street Life” in Fortune and every day at FORTUNE.com. Feel Good, win-for-success gobbledygook. Kentucky, when Christian Laettner hits the turnaround jump shot with 2.1 seconds left in overtime), and your significant other tells you you’re wasting your time, you can say: “No, I’m not. While none of these coaches is ready for sainthood, at least most of them aren’t in jail. These were our sports heroes. So it isn’t just the Boston Celtics’ Rick Pitino telling stories about the old days coaching the New York Knicks and the University of Kentucky–which is all you really want to read about! It’s the peripatetic Pitino giving us lessons about life. First, because this is often the part that the coaches actually write themselves. I’m learning about ten steps to overachieving in business and in life,” which is the subtitle of the book. (Brooks was recently fired as head coach of Texas-Pan American and is being investigated over possible misuse of university money. How about Pat Riley? Doesn’t the Knicks’ Jeff Van Gundy have the upper hand these days? My point is that there are way too many of these dang books. What has prompted the explosion in coaches’ books over the past few years? Well, the dearth in compelling players’ books, for one. The thank-yous, in fact, are usually pretty good. (Guess who won that one?!) With Joe Torre’s Ground Rules for Winners, it’s a story about “the ultimate high-strung perfectionist” Paul O’Neill and the 1996 World Series. We wanted to read about them. Plus, thanks to ESPN, some of ‘em are actually famous.

It doesn’t get much better, trust me. (Pat Riley, get thee to a writing class!) And second, because they actually have some tasty tidbits.

Why We Hate Sports Books Books by coaches? Trust us, they can’t help you run your business or your life..

Actually, I discovered that one of the more interesting sections in the books are the introductions.

The books all follow pretty much the same format. As for those sections, well, there are no Ball Fours here. (Pitino’s means of attaining success, of course, is simply to change jobs every few years.)

So while you’re reading Pitino’s take on the greatest college basketball game ever played (the 1993 NCAA East regionals, Duke vs. We’re grownups now. (Remember Jim Bouton?) It’s mostly sanitized insider stories filled with a handful of locker-room yuks. See, these coaches’ books aren’t simply sports books. (Let’s see, any other famous people I know who I left out?) Joe Torre thanks George Steinbrenner (no kidding!), and Mike Shanahan thanks John Elway, Terrell Davis, and Shannon Sharpe (got that right!), as well as Nike. As I’ve said, if the books were filled with only this stuff, I would gladly read them. Texas A&M. But they quickly enough slip into that touchy-feely, Dr. Even a general manager of a team, Pat Williams of the Orlando Magic (he’s the guy with all the adopted kids), has written books–two of them! What’s next? Lessons on Winning: My Career as a Toronto Blue Jays Batboy?

In any event, most of these books really aren’t so bad–that is, if you like sports and are good at skipping or speed-reading. It was pretty straightforward.

(FORTUNE Small Business) Remember those sports books we used to read when we were kids? You know, read-’em-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight stuff like Gridiron Greats and Say Hey: The Willie Mays Story. (Great timing, eh?) Was it Shanahan? Or was it Elway? Perhaps we should all read Elway’s book? Or what about Lou Holtz and his book? His University of South Carolina Gamecocks haven’t won a game so far this year. And, of course, agents. That’s right, books by your favorite, winningest, dare-to-be-great, take-no-prisoner coach. In Lou Holtz’s Winning Every Day, it’s the 1988 Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame vs. Flash-forward to today. But for those of you looking for real help in managing your career or business, or actually improving your life, for Pete’s sake, you don’t want to go here. Most have a catchy title, sometimes with a pun here or there, like Reach for the Summit, by Pat Summit, coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. They have huge contracts. Very cleverly, they’re all done up in a self-help and managing-your-career wrapper.

Speaking of Shanahan, just how qualified is he to write a book telling anyone how to run his life? Yes, he has been a winning coach, and yes, he has won two Super Bowls, but look at him this year–he was 0-4 at presstime.

Best of all, the editors and publishers of these books have even solved the “How can I justify reading these things?” problem. I didn’t have to. Why? Because for the most part they were droll and repetitive exercises in the obvious

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