Murphy, Austin 1961(?)–
Murphy, Austin 1961(?)–
Born c. 1961; son of Austin, Jr. (a steel company president) and Patricia (a journalist) Murphy; married Laura Hilgers (a writer); children: Willa, Devin. Education: Colgate University, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Mountain biking.
Journalist and writer. Sports Illustrated, New York, NY, senior writer, 1984—. Has also worked as sports reporter for Bucks County Courier Times and Chronicle, Batavia, IL.
The Super Bowl: Sport's Greatest Championship, Sports Illustrated (New York, NY), 1998.
The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
How Tough Could It Be? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines), Harper (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to magazines, including Via.
Austin Murphy has served on the staff of Sports Illustrated magazine for more than two decades, sometimes traveling as many as one hundred days each year to major sporting events in the United States and Europe. A top-level sportswriter's lifestyle is not necessarily compatible with marriage and children, but Murphy has been able to see the humor as well as the pathos in spending so much time away from his family. In his books The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University and How Tough Could It Be? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad, Murphy examines how one reconciles the life of a sportswriter with that of a caring, engaged parent. As Ron Kaplan put it for Bookreporter.com, Murphy's books teach readers "to appreciate the hard work that goes into every aspect of family life. Earning a paycheck outside the home is no excuse for abrogating responsibilities inside."
After a brief period as a reporter for small daily newspapers in Pennsylvania and Illinois, Murphy attracted an offer to work at Sports Illustrated by sending the magazine a freelance piece. His duties at the magazine have included covering professional and collegiate football, hockey, the Tour de France, and even working on the famous swimsuit issue. The Sweet Season and How Tough Could It Be? offer ruminations on the sportswriter's lifestyle from a personal perspective. In The Sweet Season, Murphy spends an entire football season in Collegeville, Minnesota, following the Division III St. John's Johnnies. The book is one part sports narrative, as Murphy dissects the successful coaching strategies of coach John Gagliardi and learns how true scholar-athletes perceive football, and one part autobiography, as the author reconnects with his wife and young children during their extended stay in the small town. To quote Stuart Shiffman of Bookreporter.com, Murphy's work "is a story of personal rejuvenation and rebirth for the author." A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Sweet Season a "lighthearted, enjoyable book," and John Maxymuk in the Library Journal found the work "by turns, funny, touching, and inspiring."
From February to August of 2003, Murphy took a leave of absence from Sports Illustrated to stay at home with his children while his wife, Laura, pursued her own writing career. As the title How Tough Could It Be? implies, Murphy thought he would find the duties of a stay-at-home father easy and rewarding. His humorous book suggests that the opposite proved true: Full-time parenting, housekeeping, and cooking challenged his wits, stamina, and patience. According to Wes Lukowsky in his Booklist review: "Murphy learns that domestic engineering is a tough job and that mixing love with discipline is even tougher." Murphy also learned that he had taken his wife's role in the family for granted, and in his book he reports that the experience of caring for the children has permanently changed his level of responsibility for household tasks. Heather McCormack in the Library Journal called How Tough Could It Be? "a charming tale." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the book exhibits "a sensitivity and homey humor that will be equally appreciated by men and women."
In his next book, Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines), Murphy provides the inside scoop on the University of Southern California Trojans and the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football teams as he follows the teams' 2006 season, including a game between the two in November of 2006. The author includes a look not only at the teams on the field but also at their coaches and what goes on in the meeting rooms. "I'd long wanted to do this book," Murphy told Ryan Ferguson in an interview for AOL Sports. "One of the adages for writers is write what you know. I played college football—badly—and it's my beat at [Sports Illustrated]."
In his book, the author also writes about the 2006 game between the Big Ten college football teams from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. Their clash on November 17 was just one of many between the two rivals, who typically rank among the top twenty college teams in the country each year. Murphy examines other teams and games as well, including the Boise State Broncos upset of the Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. Murphy does not ignore professional football completely as he offers comments on the professional game and some of its athletes.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Saturday Rules "a fun, frenetic memoir of one of the more volatile college gridiron campaigns in recent memory." Mary Frances Wilkins, writing in Booklist, noted that the book not only offers a look at the games and coaches but also "provides a beguiling glimpse of party-crazy fans doing what they do best."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Murphy, Austin, The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Murphy, Austin, How Tough Could It Be? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, September 1, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University, p. 37; April 15, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of How Tough Could It Be? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad, p. 1410; September 1, 2007, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines), p. 48.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of How Tough Could It Be?, p. 21; July 15, 2007, review of Saturday Rules.
Library Journal, September 15, 2001, John Maxymuk, review of The Sweet Season, p. 86; June 1, 2004, Heather McCormack, review of How Tough Could It Be?, p. 162.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2001, review of The Sweet Season, p. 69; April 12, 2004, review of How Tough Could It Be?, p. 51; April 12, 2004, Debby Waldman, interview with Murphy, p. 52.
Sports Illustrated, September 10, 2007, "A Fine Madness," review of Saturday Rules, p. 36.
AOL Sports,http://sports.aol.com/ (September 7, 2007), Ryan Ferguson, "Interviewing Austin Murphy: Saturday Rules."
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (July 4, 2008), Martin Brady, "Football Fantasy," includes review of Saturday Rules.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (December 16, 2004), Stuart Shiffman, review of The Sweet Season; Ron Kaplan, review of How Tough Could It Be?