Books·How I Wrote It

Perry King's Rebound examines the role of community sports in diverse cities

The Toronto journalist and author spoke with CBC Books about why he wrote his debut book of nonfiction.
Rebound is a book by Perry King. (Author photo by Jalani Morgan)

Perry King is a Toronto journalist, communications officer and author. Named by CBC Books as a writer to watch, King's writing focuses on themes of sports, community, culture and education —  his work can be seen in Spacing Magazine, Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. 

King's debut nonfiction book, Rebound, examines the ties between sports, community, environment and the transformative power of urban communities whose residents are physically active and socially connected.

King spoke with CBC Books about why he wrote Rebound.

Getting the ball rolling

"Rebound began as a book about the history of basketball in the Greater Toronto Area. It was essentially going to be an exploration of local Toronto schools — such as, Eastern Commerce, Oakwood Collegiate, Bathurst Heights, Runnymede — and the impacts of coaches and parents and neighbourhoods within the GTA that have taken on this game, which is not a recent thing. 

"It dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. It lines itself up really well with Caribbean immigration and movements of Black Canadian people coming to Canada. 

"But as I continued to look at the city itself and what people actually do, it became so much bigger than one thing or one sport. I really became concerned about where we're going as a city in terms of our relationship to sports."

The change we see

"So it's a book about sports in the sense that it's about how we actively move — moving is so essential to humanity and who we are as people. So all those things kind of fit together to form a quality of living that we want and we want to try it out, something that we can respond to and grow, not just with ourselves, but with our neighbours and in different communities.

"Rebound is also about change. We live in constant change — we're constantly thinking about our lives and how to go about them. So the book is about a healthy, active living — and people think about their own and their families' health and well-being.

"Is not just about professional sports — and it's not just about 'Canadian' sports like hockey and lacrosse. Sports are political. It's about how we organize and socialize. Sports is about converging those two and having a better idea of how we want to set a better life.

Sports are political. It's about how we organize and socialize.

"I thought a lot about people. It's an idea that directed me throughout this entire book. A lot of the examples within the book are a reflection of where people are going. I thought a lot about where people are actually taking their energy and investing time and money. 

"Basketball has become such a movement in Canada — it's insane. I remember a time when that was not the case. I also talk about the sport of cricket, which represents a lot of history in Toronto and I explore that history in the book. 

"I was thinking about the city, particularly as more different kinds of people come to the city looking for opportunities and looking for a better way of living compared to where they were living before."

How we move

"We're in a bit of an inactivity crisis. There's a lot of young people and middle-aged and older people that are going through their own crises of movement — their relationships to active living is in crisis. The pandemic didn't help with that because we just couldn't go outside. We couldn't go to a public facility. So I thought a lot about those moments and because I've been reporting on this city for such a long time. 

We're in a bit of an inactivity crisis.

"I've always known that sports could provide something for us to think about — what it means to be a part of the Toronto Raptors community, for example, and what that signified. It's about how we can take those lessons into our own homes, into our own spaces and create a better city. 

"It made me think a lot about public and private space, made me think about the ideas that people have in terms of transforming things that they're doing in a local context and what those lessons provide on a larger scale."

Think bigger

"I would like to see people talking about sports in a deeper way.  I want people to put this issue in front of people that they care about. I want people who aren't in sports to think about this. This is not just about not just for people that care about sports. If you care about your neighbours, if you care about city… I urge you to to to think creatively, to think in terms of what's next? 

We all need to be physically active in order to create a better city.

"We need to think less selfishly in terms of collective action, because nothing will get done on a city scale without a collective force behind it. 

"We all need to be physically active in order to create a better city. And I hope that people have next great big idea or it inspires them to do something really different or engaging for other people"

Perry King's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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