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The Renegade Sportsman: Drunken Runners, Bike Polo Superstars, Roller Derby Rebels,Killer Birds and Othe r Uncommon Thrills on the Wild Frontier of Sports Paperback – June 1, 2010
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So, "The Renegade Sportsman": Pretty good, nice read, and nice ideas. I agree with him about the death of real sport and the awful plastic nature of big league NFL/MLB/whatever. Most importantly, he's a good storyteller, he likes these stories and it shows. He draws you in to stuff you'd never heard of. Very readable.
The tone of the book is set early when he compares big money pro sports to big stadium rock concerts and wonders where the punk rock of the sports world is. That's the quest of the book, and that's his model for what's good or what's not, I think. So if you wonder why you didn't get a call from him about your lifelong skiing obsession, well, when you were a kid you would buy equipment, drive in your parents' station wagon to Aspen and take ski lessons, right? And now you're a good skier and you love it, that's nice. But it's not punk rock. In musical terms you took suburban piano lessons, now you play in a little classical ensemble. Nice, but not punk rock.
What about hunting? Fishing? Various hill climbs and car racing and so on? Sailing adventure races? Not really punk rock, is it?Read more ›
There are also briefer looks at darts, trans-continental car races, street bike polo, urban golf (played on city streets), the Kentucky Derby as a fairly unco-opted spectator activity, futsal, and falconry.
The author takes a swipe at arena sports and "videophilia," but he doesn't spend a lot of time constructing the case against corporate sports or forecasting the future of the alternatives. The book is mostly an enjoyable look at off-beat physical pastimes -- participatory, grass roots, self-funded, weird and unpredictable, and above all, fun -- and the people who pursue them.
Although Dundas makes a big deal about forays to D.C., Chicago, Austin, and rural Iowa to witness tournaments and talk to participants and organizers, much of the book centers on and celebrates Portland, which is part of its attraction for Portlanders like me, but also a limitation. It's something of a DIY report, by an experienced and adroit writer on a rather limited budget.
In other words, it's partly a love letter to Stumptown: "As one of America's postmodern, Left Coast cities, Portland's traditional jock culture is weak, while its willingness to sacrifice dignity in pursuit of a good time is strong."
Not particularly well organized or analytical, the book does make pleasant company. Where else will you see a roller derby team described as a "sentient meat blizzard"?
Eventually, the journalist stops observing and plunges in. Renegade sports culture teaches that "it's better to do things badly yourself than pay to watch other people do them well," he writes.
Zach Dundas has a very pleasing writing style, I was immediately drawn into the book and his descriptions of his adventures. It's a fun read!