‘Caddie’ takes sports to new levels
So what’s your favorite sport? Most people I know live and breathe football from August until the end of January. Others can’t get enough basketball year round. Hockey fans are rabid about their team. Baseball fans come alive with spring training. But what, exactly, makes a sport a sport? And why do we love sports so much?I often wondered that, which is why I was happy to read “The Caddie Was a Reindeer” by Steve Rushin (c. 2004, Atlantic Monthly Press). Turns out, there’s a sport for just about everybody. They just don’t know it yet, that’s all.Imagine taking almost a month of your life to ride a roller-coaster. Oh, sure, you get five minutes an hour on the ground to eat and take care of other necessary things. You learn to snooze on the spins and drowse on the drops. Your legs become bruised from the safety bar, and you get bragging rights for losing your lunch. There are people who do this all in the name of fun, and Rushin spent time riding with them.Up in the Arctic Circle, there’s a golf course where, if you’re a good golfer or even if you’re not you can hit a ball clear into next week. Conversely, you can also drive a ball into last week. You can simultaneously stand in two countries or tee off on a White Green. And yes, in the northernmost golf course in the world, the caddie is, indeed, a reindeer.When was the last time you thought about those baseball cards you had when you were a kid? Have you ever forgiven your mom for throwing them out, or yourself for using them to make noises with your bike? You’ll be glad to know that baseball cards are still sold, the gum still smells like summertime, and there are still duds to be had when you buy a pack of cards.The chapter I liked the best was surprising to find in a book about sports. Rushin writes about meeting pro Women’s Basketball player Rebecca Lobo, and how he fell in love with a woman he had once made fun of in a national magazine.Author Steve Rushin is a columnist for Sports Illustrated, and while most of the essays in this book are about “conventional” sports, there’s enough in this book to satisfy even the sports non-enthusiast. Most of these essays are playful and lighthearted, although there are two or three chapters that raise thoughtful questions about why we love sports and why we pay homage to the players we follow.Overall, though, I think you’ll enjoy reading “The Caddie Was a Reindeer.” I mean, you’ve got to like a book that starts out telling you what it’s like to interview a man who’s wearing a shirt, jacket, and tie, but nothing else. From there, you know that you’re in for a different kind of sports writing.Pick up a copy of this book. You’ll have a ball reading it. VT
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