Excellence in Motion by Dave Tomlinson

Book Blurb:

As a sports fan, you know that in any genuine contest, there is a desperation to win. In the modern professional era of sport, a culture of winning at all costs has developed. Unfortunately, amid this intense pressure, the traditional sporting values of respect, civility and compassion are being lost. It’s for this reason, that genuine gestures of sportsmanship are so greatly acclaimed and deeply admired.

Whether you are a player, coach or fan, true acts of sportsmanship create a truly heart-warming moment. When you see an athlete or team having the courage and conviction to sacrifice what they’ve been striving for in the name of fair play it is something to celebrate. The match scores will eventually slip into obscurity but such moments endure as shining examples of how the human spirit is ultimately more powerful and important than a sporting contest.

These are the headlines you may know but the stories you don’t. In this book you will discover there is a sense of victory in the quality of competition and a supreme demeanour on the field of play. It reveals some of the greatest sporting champions, regardless of the scoreboard. Each of them realised winning through bad sportsmanship is no real victory. After all, to play is in the mind but to win is in the heart.

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.


I emailed Author Dave Tomlinson while I was mid-read and offered him a small piece of encouragement; one which I hope has helped sustain him as he’s patiently waited for this long overdue review. In the email, I used three words to describe his work: passionate, professional, and moving. Upon reaching the end of Excellence in Motion, these three descriptions still hold true. 

Tomlinson exudes a passion for sports in his writing. He brings the story of each game to life with vivid and detailed descriptions. It is a joy to read his work simply because of the genuine enthusiasm with which he writes. Tomlinson also demonstrates writing professionalism. His attention to the mechanics and structure of his work is a simple step that goes a long way in making Excellence in Motion a book worthy of praise and respect. 

Most importantly, Tomlinson’s work is thought-provoking and moving. While Excellence in Motion is a compilation of 25 individual stories, Tomlinson ties them together well by consistently highlighting the deeper meaning behind each act of sportsmanship. 

I also appreciate the great quotes that Tomlinson includes from athletes, coaches, and families involved in each story. Their words help grab the reader’s attention and transport him into the story. Additionally, Excellence in Motion sent me on an unexpected but exciting virtual scavenger hunt across the internet, searching for the famous photos and videos that accompany each act of sportsmanship. 

I have only one criticism of this book, and it’s more of a warning to readers. Some chapters can be difficult to follow if you are unfamiliar with the technical terms of the game. I struggled particularly with the chapters on rugby and cricket. Occasionally, Tomlinson takes the time to define technical terms, but when he doesn’t, be prepared to research terms or you might get lost in the technicalities of the game.

Though Excellence in Motion is a short book, it is hard to sum up everything I want to say about it in one review. It offers countless lessons to learn and points to ponder. Here are a few things it left me thinking:

  • Sportsmanship, or kindness in general, is not always universally praised. Don’t be surprised or discouraged when it isn’t. This doesn’t diminish its power.
  • The internet allows people all over the world to connect with and learn from acts of sportsmanship. We should utilize the internet to tell more positive stories like this. 
  • What would my gut reaction be in a time of sudden need? What actions can I take to change how I would react to seeing someone in need?

Excellence in Motion is not just a book for sports junkies. It is a book for anyone who wants to consider the power of genuine and instinctive kindness to build friendships, restore reputations, strengthen bonds, and uplift the human spirit.  

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