What would a room of Canadian sports writers and publishers look like? I had my suspicions.
My curiosity simmered as I crawled sorely across King Street on the 504 streetcar. Inside The Jason George, I braced myself for an evening with tall stat-spitting men at the “Best Canadian Sports Writing” book launch.
I never imagined meeting Shireen. Shame on me.
I attended the ECW Press event at the suggestion of friend and sports writer, Morgan Campbell. As a contributor to the anthology, Morgan was invited and encouraged to bring guests. He knew I was eager to get behind the sports writing scene, so there I was. “I want you to meet someone. She’s awesome”, he beamed and gestured for Shireen’s attention.
I liked her. Before reading her well-crafted work, before following per Instagram page, and before I chuckling out loud at her business card, I liked her. A soccer-playing, child-raising, Muslim woman in the profession of sport writing? That spoke volumes; volumes echoed in three words on her business card. “I smash assumptions”. As Morgan said, she’s awesome.
So is her 2016 Sports Illustrated article, “Nah, Bro. All Muslims Do Not ‘Love’ Kobe Bryant”. Opening on page 277 of the anthology, Shireen’s article challenges another journalist’s tribute to basketball legend, Kobe Bryant.
Here’s what I appreciate about this article. It’s got nothing to do with plays and stats. I don’t follow basketball and can’t tell you any of Kobe’s numbers, but I remember the widely publicized sexual assault charges central to Shireen’s argument. The article is about rape culture and sport.
Shireen’s lens as a sport activist and Muslim woman makes for a refreshing read. You’ll find more of the same throughout this literary sports writing anthology. Editors, Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla have done a commendable job of compiling captivating stories that begin and end in the intersections of sport and culture.
Some of them written by tall stat-spitting men. Most of them not.
Learn more about Shireen Ahmed here.
Check out and purchase Best Canadian Sports Writing here.