Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sleeping through quidditch

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You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:


  • Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general?
  • Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?
I am fairly certain that I have never read a book about the Olympics. As for sports in general, I have read Zen in the Art of Archery, but I would say that it's more about zen that about archery. If you count Hemmingway's stories about hunting, I have read some of those. Leila Hadley Luce does a fair bit of sailing in her memoir A Journey with Elsa Cloud, and Harry Potter plays in endless quidditch matches, if a fictional sport is allowed. I could say with certainty that I am unlikely to read a non-fiction book about sports unless is were something about the neuroscience of performance in golf or something like that. And that would be because of the neuroscience and not the golf. In fact, sports would generally encourage me to steer clear of any book, fiction or non, so I was quite surprised when I read and loved Joseph O'Neill's recent Netherland. It's affectionately known by those who haven't yet read it as 'Oh, that book about cricket.' It's not actually about cricket at all, but cricket figures prominently in it and is talked about for pages and pages and still it ranks among the best books I read this year.

And, Second:

  • Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
  • Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.

As you can probably guess from the first part of my answer, I am decidedly not a sports fan. I usually started nodding off during Harry's quidditch games and quickly paged through them to get to the next plot point. I hated playing almost any sport as a kid, except handball. Now I steer clear of pretty much any team sport but I do like to swim, walk, hike, ice skate and I play pool when there's a table around. We don't have television reception, only a screen on which to watch movies, so I wouldn't be able to watch sports on TV, and it's no loss to me. Although I would probably watch the occasional tennis match. That's the one game I like to watch. I have never understood the attraction of watching other people play baseball or football live or on television. Hit a ball, catch a ball, hit a ball, catch a ball. Okay, now everybody jump on and try to kill each other. Wow, sounds like fun. The last time I watched sports on television willingly was probably the 1969 New York Knicks - one of the great basketball teams - and that was probably because my father watched it. He was an enthusiastic fan and took me to a few games. Evidently I met the seven-foot-two Kareem Abdul Jabbar at a game once, but I have no recollection of it. That was probably because I was eye level with his ankles.


SmilingSally said...

You are an "exception to the rule" person. A male, who does not like sports, who lives in NY--amazing!

Ted said...

SS - It ain't the only way I'm an exception! Ha-ha-ha.

Anonymous said...

I like playing sports not watching them. Watching is boring. I've only been to one game in it life. It was with my job. My guy friend and I chatted about books during the game.

kristen said...

Glad to read you liked Netherland -- I'm patiently waiting for it to arrive... :)

Ted said...

Kristen - You're in for a good one.

Bluestocking - That's great! Ha-ha-ha. When my partner's father used to take him and his brother to baseball games, my partner would bring a book and read! His boredom with watching sports far outstrips my own.