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VOYA -This book attempts to tackle an enormous topic in a rather small volume. The preface wrestles with the question of what the term "sports" means: here it is defined as any competitive activity involving rules and athletic prowess. The strength of the book lies in its first chapters, which cover the earliest roots of sport. The Greek tradition of long-distance running has the distinction of being the first truly organized sport. Physical activities of many other past civilizations around the world, mostly associated with religious practices or preparation for war, are also covered. Much attention is given to the ancient Olympic games. What follows is basically a history of the growth of sports in Western civilization and the gradual acceptance of women as competitors.
Pages on memorable sports events such as Roger Bannister's sub-four-minute mile and the U.S. loss of yachting's America's Cup are interspersed throughout the book. While many of these stories are interesting, the overall history glosses over or omits many great athletes and events. A scanning of the chronology in the appendix reveals that from 1984 to 1997, only Jack Nicklaus winning his sixth Masters golf tournament is noteworthy. The true sports enthusiast will enjoy the book, but many readers may be disappointed in the slight coverage of their favorites. Based on the strong, early history chapters and the fact that there are few sports history titles to choose from, I would recommend this book. However, it certainly cannot do justice to the greatest moments in every sport, so keep stocking the individual sport histories. Index. Illus. Photos. Further Reading. Chronology.
VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).