Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sports from Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition by Rick Reilly

The premise of veteran sportswriter Rick Reilly's narrative nonfiction title Sports from Hell is a simple one: after 31 years in which a sportswriter has covered every major sport event and is starting to get a been-there, done-that sort of feeling, what is he to do? Ah-HA! He can find something "mind-warpingly...dumb." Hence, readers are treated here to chapters including everything from the World Sauna Championships to Chess Boxing to Jarts. Reilly sets out his rules for covering these events, all of which are treated with utter seriousness by the competitors. He also participates in all of them.

Readers are taken around the world, as he starts off in the World Sauna Championships in Finland, tries Zorbing in Australia and ends up at the Homeless Soccer championships in Copenhagen. His comments on the social outcomes of this last championships, which does exist and which had profound outcomes not only on the participants during their participation but afterwards. This is a very funny book with a few hidden depths -- it would make a great quick pick. While this is not a great literary work it is a highly enjoyable book that will be popular with high schoolers, whether or not they are fans of sports, as the "sports" under discussion are debatable and the book does include a chapter that discusses why baseball is a 'sport from hell.'

Strictly as an aside, perhaps if Mr. Reilly is looking for more sports for another edition, he and his assistant, TLC (The Lovely Cynthia), might consider visiting The Masters of Library Science Croquet Tournament?

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