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Sports from Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition Hardcover – May 4, 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
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Dave Barry is a humor columnist. For 25 years he was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Many people are still trying to figure out how this happened. Dave has also written a total of 30 books, although virtually none of them contain useful information. Two of his books were used as the basis for the CBS TV sitcom Dave's World, in which Harry Anderson played a much taller version of Dave. Dave lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Michelle, a sportswriter. He has a son, Rob, and a daughter, Sophie, neither of whom thinks he's funny. His new book I'll Mature When I'm Dead will be published in May 2010. Read his review of Sports from Hell:
When you rank the greatest sportswriters in the world today, one name stands alone at the top of the list.
But this review is not about him. This review is about Rick Reilly, and his excellent new book: Sports from Hell (long subtitle alert): My Search for the World’s Dumbest Competition. Not only is it hilarious, but it also raises some important questions, the main one being: Reilly got paid for this?
Yes, he did, and I applaud him for it, especially if he also claimed his expenses as tax deductions. And there were a lot of expenses, because to write this book Reilly roamed the globe in a two-year quest to find the world's most idiotic sports.
"Wait a minute," I hear you saying. "If he was looking for idiotic sports, why didn't he just stay in America and write about professional lawn-mower racing?"
Because in the pantheon of international sports stupidity, lawn mower-racing is nothing. Reilly found sports that make professional lawn-mower racing look like the Indianapolis 500. The World Sauna Championships, for example. This is a competition held in Heinola, Finland involving saunas set to 261 degrees, which is basically your daytime high temperature on Mercury. Reilly was able to sit in one of those saunas for four minutes before his fillings started to melt. The winner made it 13 minutes, emerging victoriously to raise the stumps of his hands in triumph while Finnish firemen extinguished him.
Among the other highly entertaining, if not uplifting, sports that Reilly participated in were: ferret-legging, in which contestants put a live ferret down their pants and see how long they can keep it there without qualifying for a completely new section of the choir, if you get my drift; women's professional football (I don’t want to ruin it for you, but their idea of "holding" is entirely different than ours); and Australian nude bicycle-racing, one of the few sports in which you run the risk of Death By Chafing. (Warning to Australian citizens: Reilly's bike was rented.)
My point is, if you enjoy--And who doesn't?--reading about other people’s pain, then you are going to love Sports from Hell. It's the wittiest sports book out there. And if you don't agree, you don't know wit from Heinola.
Look Inside Sports from Hell
(Click to Enlarge)
|Bull Poker: |
The inmates of Angola (La.) State Prison engage in a healthy use of taxpayer money with a game of Bull Poker. The last man to jump out of his chair and flee the scene as the bull smashes the table is not just the winner of the jackpot but also separated from his pancreas at no extra charge.
|Chess Boxing Friends: |
In this deliciously dumb mishmash, Reilly observes that the best strategy is to play chess slow and box fast.
|Rock, Paper, Scissors: |
Reilly faces a momentary setback in Round One of the intensely strategic Rock-Paper-Scissors championship held annually in Toronto. There were injuries.
Reilly emerges--not victoriously but still alive--from a 261°F sauna after lasting 3 minutes and 10 seconds in the World Sauna Championships in Finland.
(Dave Barry photo © The Miami Herald, Sports photos © Cynthia "TLC" Reilly)
Top Customer Reviews
He goes throughout the world and writes about the oddest sports, such as rock-paper-scissors competitions, ferret-legging, and even baseball. The book is entertaining, passes the time, and really gives you insight into how crazy the typical sports fan is (in a good way!).
If you like his writing, I'd absolutely recommend buying it, you'll enjoy it. But don't expect a Pulitzer Prize-worthy book.
As much as I like offbeat sports (my siblings and I would create our own growing up), this book was just... bad. Very uninteresting. I felt like it was written just to throw something together. Mr. Reilly's writing did not feel like it had heart.
I hope, for his sake, he continues to write his columns, and find a different topic in the future to explore.
But to put all of these asinine and esoteric competitions in the same book as America's pastime is what makes the book reading. Until that point, that is. After hearing Reilly effectively and elegantly some of the more incomprehensible apocrypha of baseball, the rest of the book is just filler. But I guess it's a necessary evil.
Recommended audience? Sports fans who aren't afraid to laugh at themselves.
Reilly travels around the world looking for dumb sports competitions. He manages to find everything from extreme sauna championships, rock-paper-scissors, golf off a mountain side, Jarts, and ferret legging. The one thing I really liked is that Reilly competes in all of the events himself. His interviews of the contestants gives a good feel for what it takes to compete and why they would do it.
Mr. Reilly had eight rules in order for a sport to qualify for this book (and his participation):
1. It had to be a real sport - it had to be taken seriously by those who played it.
2. It could not be stupid for the sake of being stupid.
3. It could not exist mainly as tourist bait.
4. Mr. Reilly had to actually watch people participate (he took part in most of the sports).
5. It could not be slightly famous
6. He did not want to die covering it.
7. It could not have been something he had already covered professionally.
8. It had to at least resemble a sport.
Some of the sports were, by every definition, stupid, like Ferret Legging - wherein the participants put live, meat-eating ferrets down their cuff-sealed pants. The "winner" was the one who could stand the animal in such conditions the longest. Others were sublimely stupid, such as the World Sauna Sitting Championships - the person who can sit in a Sauna heated to 236 degrees the longest wins (a person died in the 2010 event). Some, however, were added just for fun - Baseball, I'll let the reader try to figure out the rules of THAT sport.
The book was written with sports fans in mind but anyone who enjoys humor, a good story, tales of travel and adventure or who likes the bizarre, would connect with this writing. Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting and funny.
If you like Ruck Reilly, you'll like this book.
There's two reasons why I subscribed to Sports Illustrated when I was in college. The Leading Off section of sports pics (I'm a photographer and I love sports, so that one's kinda... Read morePublished on November 1, 2012 by Jamie from Books and Beverages
Check out Zach Dundas' book. He wrote this in 2010 and it was highly entertaining. Screw Rick Reilly, who pretty much stoled Dundas' idea. Read morePublished on February 9, 2012 by Nick
saw excerpts of the book and they intrested me enough to buy it. glad i did. this is a great read that i would recommend to anyone, particually if they're a sports fan. Read morePublished on February 8, 2012 by Kenneth
Several reviewers have complained about Reilly's florid writing in this book. Personally, I have no problem with it. Read morePublished on October 15, 2011 by Danton M.
Yeah I could tell from the cover and title this would be a cheap thrill of a read but I felt absolutely robbed of my money. Read morePublished on October 14, 2011 by Paul Bunyan