SJA award-winner signs $1m book deal

Times sports writer Matthew Syed, the former table tennis international who last month was named Sports Feature Writer of the Year at the SJA’s Sports Journalism Awards, has signed a publishing deal with Harper Collins in the United States worth $1 million.

Syed is to write a Freakonomics of sport, according to US media reports. Over lunch on Friday, his agent Jonny Geller, MD of Curtis Brown’s books division, sold the book idea to Claire Wachtel of HarperCollins US, who was publisher of the global bestseller Freakonomics. The deal was sealed by Sunday, with Syed appearing at the HarperCollins fair opening party at Home House.

Syed’s book will cover how gender, race, politics and genetics impact on sporting performance, drawing on scientific research. Geller said that it would dispel myths about sport, and look at the underlying causes of performance, both team and individual.

“It’s very rare that a UK journalist goes for this much money – these deals are usually reserved for big name New York Times writers,” he said. The book, due for publication in 2010, will also be published in Britain.

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