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At some point this summer I’ll go on vacation.
“Vacation?” you ask. “Your job is watching sports and talking about games. People go on vacation so they can do that stuff. Why do you need to go on vacation?”
The answer is that I’m reading books about baseball players recovering from addiction, old football coaches who have been insufficiently appreciated — at least according to the people who have written about them — and basketball players who feel basketball has been in decline since they scored 11 points in two minutes and 37 seconds to win a game everybody else has forgotten.
I’m reading books by academics endeavoring to explain the economics of our games, and whole books about a single golf or tennis match, and books about jockeys long dead and the horses they rode in on.
I’m reading about athletes who distinguished themselves by serving their countries in war, and wars that were interrupted by games, and games that were considered as serious as any war by fans rendered stupid and violent by drink.
I’m reading about athletes who cheated and athletes who feel cheated because other athletes cheated, and statisticians trying to figure out what the record books would look like if nobody had cheated. Ever.
And then there are the books about who should and who shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, and why. Almost all of them are baseball books, even though all the other sports have halls of fame as well. I don’t know why that is, but now that I’ve said that, somebody is certain to write a book about it, and then, if I’m not on vacation, I’ll read it.
I’m reading about board games and the computer games that have replaced them and contests and contestants and controversies that will never be allowed to die, as long as some publisher is willing to help keep them alive.
I’m reading about teams and teammates and about how there is no “I” in team, and I’m reading about how I could improve my golf swing, if I played golf, and how I could win money betting on sports if I were inclined to do that, and I’m sure others do, or there would be no books about it, would there?
But I am not reading about debtors imprisoned or how Barkus is willing. I am not reading of daughters who are true to their loving, if addled, fathers or grandfathers, and affable frauds certain that something will turn up.
I am not reading Dickens. And so, at some point, I will go on vacation.
Bill Littlefield comments on sports for WBUR and hosts “Only A Game” each Saturday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This program aired on June 17, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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