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Sports Illustrated journalist to give first-hand account of Olympics

MIDDLEBURY— Veteran Sports Illustrated journalist Alex Wolff will examine the recent history of the World Olympic Games on April 19, at 7:30 p.m. In “Five-Ring Circus: Why We Can’t Live With the Olympics — or Without Them,” Wolff will address the risks and rewards of the Olympic Games, and reflect on covering 10 of them, summer and winter, over 36 years with Sports Illustrated.
The talk, at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society at 2 Duane Court, Middlebury, is free and open to the public.
Wolff is a contributing writer with Sports Illustrated, having left the staff in 2016 as its longest-tenured writer. In addition to covering basketball at all levels and the Olympics, he has written from soccer’s World Cup, the World Series, every Grand Slam tennis event, and the Tour de France. Sports Illustrated story assignments have taken him to such countries as China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia, and dealt with such issues at the intersection of sport and society as race, ethnicity, gender, drugs, the environment, education, youth development, business, conflict and ethics, as well as cultural themes like style, food and the media.
Wolff is the author or co-author of seven books about basketball. They include “Raw Recruits,” a New York Times bestseller that examined college basketball recruiting; “Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure,” an account of a year spent chasing the game around the globe to take the measure of its impact, which the New York Times Book Review named a Notable Book for 2002; and “The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama.” He is currently editing an anthology of basketball writing for the Library of America that will be published next spring.
Wolff’s writing for Sports Illustrated has been honored many times, including with multiple appearances in The Best American Sports Writing. In 1996 he and “Hoop Dreams” filmmakers Peter Gilbert and Steve James collaborated on “Team of Broken Dreams,” an Emmy-nominated documentary that detailed the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on basketball players from the Balkans. Broadcast on NBC and based on one of Wolff’s Sports Illustrated articles, the film won the International Olympic Committee’s Media Award.
At Princeton University in 2002, he taught an undergraduate seminar called Writing About Sports and the Wider World. In 2010 he served as commencement speaker at Springfield College, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honored him with its 2011 Curt Gowdy Media Award for contributions to the game as a print journalist.
Wolff attended Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y., where he co-captained the varsity basketball team. He earned his B.A. in History with honors from Princeton after taking a leave to play basketball for a season with STV Luzern, a club team in Switzerland. In 2006 Wolff and his wife, Vanessa, founded the Vermont Frost Heaves of the American Basketball Association, whose birth and life he chronicled in SI and on the website si.com.
The Wolffs reside in Cornwall. When asked why they had chosen Vermont, he said:
“Both Vanessa and I grew up in college towns — she in Hanover, N.H., and me in Princeton, N.J. — and we knew we wanted to settle in one, ideally in Vermont, given that both sets of our kids’ grandparents lived in the Upper Valley. We moved to Cornwall when our son Frank was less than a year old, and our daughter was born a year after that at Porter Hospital.
“For me, it’s been a great base from which to travel to report stories and to come back to write them. Vanessa, who used to be a freelance film editor, reinvented herself as a registered nurse and works for Addison County Home Health & Hospice.”
Wolff’s presentation is the third such annual event jointly sponsored by the Henry Sheldon Museum and the Hawthorne Club.
The event is jointly sponsored by the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History and the Hawthorne Club.

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