SPORTS ILLUSTRATED BIO Updated 21 October 2009
Alex Wolff has been on the staff of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since September 1980. He began as a researcher and two years later, at age 25, joined the ranks of the magazine's writers. In 1985 he was named a senior writer, and today he serves as the longest-tenured writer on staff.
In addition to covering basketball at all levels, he has written from the Olympics, the World Cup, the World Series, the NBA Finals, every Grand Slam tennis event and the Tour de France. SI story assignments have taken him to six continents and to such countries as China, Cuba, Iran and Russia, and dealt with such issues at the intersection of sport and society as race, gender, drugs, education, law, business, style and ethics and culture. He has served as a contributor to CNN and as an analyst for the BBC's basketball telecasts at the 1996 Olympic Games.
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 SI.com. After winning two ABA titles in two seasons, the Frost Heaves moved to the Premier Basketball League in 2008.
Wolff is the author or co-author of six books about basketball. His first, The In-Your-Face Basketball Book (1980, Everest House, with Chuck Wielgus), chronicled the playground game, as did its sequel, The Back-in-Your-Face Guide to Pick-Up Basketball (1986, Dodd Mead, also with Chuck Wielgus). The Village Voice called Raw Recruits (1990, Pocket Books, with Armen Keteyian), a New York Times bestseller that examined college basketball recruiting, "the most important sports book in years." More than 100,000 copies of 100 Years of Hoops (1991, Oxmoor House), revised and reissued in 1995 as Basketball: A History of the Game, are in print. USA Today said of the original edition, "Basketball could ask for no better present on its 100th birthday. The photos ... are nothing short of magnificent... [and] Alexander Wolff's essays match the level of the photos." A March for Honor (1997, Masters Press) chronicled a small Indiana town in the grip of Hoosier Hysteria. In January 2002 Warner Books published 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. The New York Times cited Big Game as a Notable Book for 2002, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED named it one of the Top 100 sports books of all time.
A past president of the United States Basketball Writers Association, as well as a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the International Sports Press Association, Wolff has been honored more than a dozen times by the first two organizations, including with induction into the USBWA Hall of Fame in 2002. A past member of the honors committee of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he is a recipient of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame's Frank Queen Award and winner of two Women's Sports Foundation Journalism Awards; two National Sportcasters and Sportswriters Association Powerade Sports Story of the Year Awards; and the 2004 John Southam Award for sailing journalism.
In addition, his work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, Best Sports Stories, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Fifty Years of Great Writing and The Princeton Anthology of 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. Based on one of Wolff's SPORTS ILLUSTRATED articles, Team of Broken Dreams won the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Media Award, the highest honor the IOC confers on the press.
A former Sports Ethics Fellow at the University of Rhode Island's Institute for International Sport, Wolff was recognized by the IIS in 2007 as one of the nation's Top 100 Sports Educators. As a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University in 2002, he taught an undergraduate seminar called Writing about Sports and the Wider World. He has also appeared before many civic, youth and campus audiences, and on ABC's Good Morning America, ABC's Nightline and TODAY as well as on numerous national cable TV outlets and public radio news and talk shows.
Wolff attended Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y., where he co-captained the varsity basketball team. At Princeton, where he earned his B.A. in History with honors in 1980, he was campus correspondent for The New York Times and helped found a newspaper, Nassau Weekly. During a leave from college, he played basketball for a season with STV Luzern, a club team in Switzerland.
Wolff speaks and reads some French and German, and enjoys books, music, and travel in addition to playing pick-up basketball. He and his wife, Vanessa, a nursing student, live in Addison County, VT, with their young son and daughter.