As much as I would like to pretend I’m a nerd, I am invariably a jock. I spent over a decade of my life playing team sports, mostly lacrosse, so it comes with the territory. And when I couldn’t play any longer (it is tough on your body, y’all) I became a coach, so I’ve spent time doing almost everything on the field. You spend a lot of time with the same people, all working towards the same goal and supporting each other on the field (or court) and sometime off, you end up creating a specific bond that wouldn’t be created otherwise. I was a lacrosse goalie. It takes a certain level of trust to sign up for your teammates throwing solid rubber balls at you at close to 90 mph during practice.
While I am a strong proponent of “don’t shit where you eat” because it can be so easy to mess up a good team dynamic, the idea of a romance blossoming in that environment is delicious. And well, fictional relationships are just that: fictional. No opportunity to ruin your chance at playoffs with a fall out if said fall out is entirely on the page. That’s guilt-free romance right there. So if you’re like me and enjoy a good romance that centers around some good points scoring, this list of sports romances is for you. There’s a variety of sports featured in these books too, so you’re sure to find something that will become the next MVP on your bookshelf.
The Offer by Becca Steele
Who doesn’t love the fake relationship trope? Especially when you add in a dash of opposites attract. Set against the world of London rugby, you have your standard bad boy type Jake, who needs a fake girlfriend to help clean up his public image. That is where rich girl Victoria comes in, who needs someone to help get her mom off her back about relationships.
Their agreement is mutually beneficial, and neither have any interest in a legitimate relationship. Except they have some oh-so-delicious chemistry, and things very quickly stop being for show. This one was initially in an anthology, so it is a bit on the shorter side, but don’t worry: there’s a series.
Unwritten Rules by K.D. Casey
I will admit it: despite it being labelled as the national pastime, I have absolutely no interest in baseball. But that wouldn’t keep me from reading this queer romance, and it shouldn’t do the same for you. This book features a second chance interracial relationship between Venezuelan (Eugenio) and Jewish (Zach) ex-teammates whose first go around ended because Zach is terrified to come out.
Except they’re no longer ex-teammates, because three years after their breakup they’re stuck playing All-Stars together. And their feelings are hard to ignore. If you’re a fan of baseball, you’re going to love this as the author puts work into incorporating the sport into the story.
Trigger warning for this one for some internalized homophobia.
The Passing Playbook by Issac Fitzsimons
Technically a YA sports romance, that doesn’t keep this book from hitting all the sweet spots like a good romance does. The story focuses on Spencer, a trans boy who just transferred schools due to bullying caused by his transition (obvious trigger warning for transphobia in this one). But at his new school, he’s doing great. He’s passing, in more ways than one, has a chance at a starting position on the soccer team, and has struck a possibly-more-than-friendship with a very Christian teammate. Great — as long as no one finds out he’s trans.
But an anti-trans law causes his coach to bench him, and now Spencer has a question to answer: should he out himself to potential danger and risk losing everything, including a cute boy, so he can fight for his rights? Or should he play it safe and keep his head down, cheering his team on from the sidelines?
Played by Jen Frederick
Do you love romances centered around two best friends that both want to be more but don’t realize the other feels the same? What about adding into the mix the fact that one of them knows that their relationship will end up in flames and due to that is content staying friends, despite how much she loves him?
Ara knows what it means to be related to a famous person in some way thanks to her famous father. Ty, her best friend and object of her affections, is about to be drafted into the NFL. Any relationship beyond being friends won’t end well. But after a drunken encounter, Ty, who has wanted her for years, now knows that Ara wants him too. With his personal life a mess right now, their relationship working out is one thing he’s certain of. Now he just has to convince Ara before they graduate.
Cheer Up: Love and Pom Poms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise
I honestly don’t know where to begin with this one. This graphic novel, a GLAAD Media Award Nominee, is freaking adorable and incredibly wholesome teen romance with a perfect grumpy/sunshine dynamic. Annie is an antisocial lesbian told to join the cheerleading team to pad out her college applications. Bebe, a trans girl and new cheer captain, says yes all the time to please everyone, including her parents so they will continue to allow her to transition. High school sports are hard enough without the microaggressions and trying to not become “one of the bad ones.”
But Annie and Bebe manage to rekindle their old friendship, and start to become something more. Despite dealing with some pretty heavy themes (what queer book doesn’t though) and a definite trigger warning for transphobia, this graphic novel is incredibly heartwarming. It’s even got the WLW makeup scene. I cannot stress enough how much this book deserves a spot on your sports romance shelf.
Huddle With Me Tonight by Farrah Rochan
Paige is a book blogger known for incredibly cutting book reviews. So when her review of a cookbook/memoir by a top star of the NFL goes viral…woof. Now Torrian, the football star, could not care less. He’s just publishing this book to help out his sister’s restaurant opening. But after meeting Paige on a local show for a cooking competition, he decides he does care. A lot. About making sure she ends up with him.
Cue the romance shenanigans and tons of chemistry, including a good friendship outside of the relationship they work to create. If you’re looking for a football sports romance with a cute couple that work to do better, you’ve found the book to read.
Right of First Refusal by Dahlia Adler
After playing lacrosse for 13 years, I can guarantee that it is very easy to make the sport sound dirty. You have a stick, shaft, head, butt, plenty of balls, and more. It makes for a bunch of jokes when you’re 13, and that doesn’t really change in college either.
That being said, all those suggestive words make it perfect for writing a sports romance with. Add in a second-chance romance and a want-but-can’t-have because the ex you want to get back together with is dating your roommate? And some fake dating?? That’s a good romance set up. With a heroine that feels incredibly real and relatable, who makes decisions for herself and not to impress anyone, plus plenty of supportive friendships for when everything inevitably hits the fan, this sports romance is a must have.
Man of Her Match by Sakshama Puri Dhariwal
Cricket is a big deal in India. Which means that when the country’s bad boy of cricket, Vikram, gets kicked off the team for disciplinary issues, he’s willing to do anything to get his spot back. Even if it means working with his once best friend, now sworn enemy Nidhi. And she’s not his biggest fan either. But that won’t keep her from doing her job and leveraging his good looks and fame to fix his image.
Their dislike of each other and constant jabs doesn’t stop their chemistry either, and in some cases just makes it worse. If it wasn’t for their issues in the past, they would have been together long ago. Those issues are quickly not mattering though, since old feelings are starting to come back, which means facing the past head on and moving past it.
If none of the sports romances listed here ended up being a home run , or at least scored some points with you, have no worries. We have a list of 100 must-read sports romances where you are sure to find something you fancy.