Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories
|Genre||Young adult novel|
|Published||1991 (Greenwillow Books)|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories is a young adult fiction short story collection by Chris Crutcher. Most of the stories are related to Crutcher's early work. This book also contains the short story A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune which first appeared in Connections, edited by Donald R. Gallo, published in 1989 by Delacorte Press. It was adapted into the film Angus.
A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune
- Angus Bethune (narrator) is an overweight football player at Lake Michigan High School who, through dubious means, is nominated the King of the Winter Ball. The crush of his life, Melissa Lefevre was nominated Queen, and Angus is forced to either show up and risk embarrassment, or stay home and face humiliation. Angus goes to the dance and Melissa not only handles the situation with grace and kindness, but admits that she has her own body image issues and is in treatment for bulimia. Body image and social perception are strong themes in this short, upbeat story where the guy does get the girl. Advice from Crutcher through Grandpa Bethune is, “Screw ‘em. Anybody who doesn’t like the way you look, screw ‘em.” 
- Johnny Rivers is a wrestler at Coho High school, Coho Montana. His father, Cecil B. Rivers, was also a champion wrestler. Conflict between Johnny and his father leads Johnny to challenge Cecil to a father/son wrestling match. Johnny wins and instantly regrets humiliating his father in front of a crowd. Cecil loses control and slaps Johnny to the ground in front of everyone, then walks away. Later Johnny finds his father weeping in his den, and realizes that Cecil’s father was also a hard man, and that Cecil has some regrets about the type of man he is to his wife and children. Later, during the Winter Sports Award Banquet, Cecil frames somewhat of an apology to Johnny. (Johnny Rivers (narrator) and Petey Shropshrire (briefly mentioned) were originally featured as characters in Crutcher's YA novel The Crazy Horse Electric Game.)
The Other Pin
- Petey Shropshrire wrestles junior varsity for Coho High School mostly because he is encouraged by his friend, Johnny Rivers. Chris Byers is the best wrestler at the 119 weight class at Spring Hill High, and is also a girl. She is one of the best wrestlers in the state, and the ridicule that Petey faces as he prepares for the match is almost unbearable. He talks with Chris, who he has met with Johnny Rivers before under unfortunate circumstances. He discovers that the ridicule she faces as a female wrestler is something that she is tired of as well. They hatch a plan, and when it comes time for them to wrestle, they put on a World Wrestling Federation type performance that is entertaining but faked, and it costs the entire match for Coho High. Petey and Chris are possibly more than friends at the end of the story. (This story is in third person, and features Petey Shropshrire as the protagonist. Petey and Johnny Rivers were originally featured as characters in Crutcher's YA novel The Crazy Horse Electric Game.)
- Lionel “Lion” Serousek is a swimmer for Frost High School. His parents were killed in a drunk driving (boating) accident by his friend Neal Anderson which he has never been able to forgive. Neal, riddled with guilt over his actions, has been living on the streets and Lion spurns a heartfelt plea from Neal’s mother to forgive her son so that he can come home again. After three years of hating Neal, his friend Elaine Ferral convinces him that her friendship might be more important that his hatred for Neal. (Lion (narrator)and other minor characters are originally featured in Crutcher’s YA novel Stotan!. An older Lionel is also a minor character in his novel, "Ironman")
- “It is a story about how racism and bigotry are passed down through innocence. Telephone Man’s father is a racist at home, but quite civil in public. Telephone Man (so named because of his single-minded fascination with telephones) is an adolescent borderline autistic boy with no internal editing function. If he thinks it, he says it. His father’s racial slurs come out of his mouth fast and furious when he is angry, or sometimes when he is simply talking about any people of color. By the end of the story, with the help of a black classmate, he comes to some small recognition of his father’s errant thinking. Because of the incendiary nature of the language, I wrote a preface to the story stating among other things that ‘racial slurs mean nothing about the people at whom they are directed, everything about the person using them.’” – Chris Crutcher 
In the Time I Get
- The final story, "In the Time I Get," explores Louie Banks's encounter with a young, gay man who is dying of AIDS. Again, Crutcher is dealing with a controversial subject, but as with "Telephone Man" and all of the other stories in Athletic Shorts, he is doing so to teach the importance of acceptance. The man suffering from AIDS, Darren, divulges to Louie that since his diagnosis, no one, even people with whom he shares a close relationship, will touch him. This makes his life very lonely. At first, Louie, too, is afraid to be around Darren and avoids him at all costs, but after some reflection he decides to give Darren a chance, and eventually Louie goes as far as holding Darren's hand in the hospital. Louie understands the risks involved in daring to care for someone who is different, and even loses his best friend as a result. In the end, though, Louie knows that he has made the right decision in choosing to be there for Darren when he most needed a friend.
- 1992 – American librairan Association (ALA) Best Books for Young Adults
- 1992 – Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Best Young Adult Book Award 
- 1992 – School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
- Crutcher, Chris. Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories. New York: Dell, 1992. Pg.8.Print.
- Cole, Pamela Burress. Young Adult Literature in the 21st Century. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. Pg.77. Print.
- Michon, Susan. "Athletic Shorts: Teens CAN Handle the Truth". Grand Valley State University. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "Thumbs Up! Winners". Michigan Library Association. Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2010-03-03.