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Talking a Good Game: A Guide to Sports Talk in the U.S. Workplace Paperback – May 15, 2013
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Top customer reviews
This book fills an important vacuum and it is written in an elegant and light language and the authors should take credit for this.
However, it is not only roses. There is some criticism that is justified, and, in fact, the authors anticipate that by stating it clearly in the book.
The bulk of the book, Chapter two, has an annual calendar of major sporting events, a list of the various leagues, including colleges and universities, followed by the main section called: "Key points to know to talk about sports"
Each section, Football, Auto Racing, Basketball, Baseball, Boxing, Golf, Horse Racing, Ice Hockey and Tennis, is based on a template: The Big Picture (the number of Teams, Divisions and so on), The Basics (the rules of the game), Timing (how long it takes to play and watch each game) Terms to Learn, Five Names to Know, and finally Five Key Facts.
The section called Five Names to Know is where I have biggest problem. In order to be "selected" (by the authors) as one of the Five you must have been an extraordinary player (or manager). Why else would you be included? If you are "just" a mediocre player, you would not be among the Five to Know. Still, each name is followed by a variation of: "wildly considered one of the best players of this game". Why state that?? Isn't it enough to know that the authors have selected you to be one of the five to know? Why add the totally superfluous "wildly considered to be one of the best players"?
So, this was mildly irritating, especially since this expression (or a small variation thereof) occurred after almost ALL of the 45 names listed (9 sports, five names to know in each).
This broke my concentration and rhythm of reading.
Also, in the section of (American) Football, they explain the game and some of the key terms to know, and yet, when describing Jerry Rice, they state that he was a wide receiver. What's a wide receiver? If the term is included to describe one of the five to know, why not in the section called Terms to Learn?
In Chapter 4, Your field: Scouting out the scene, which essentially is how to make conversation about sports, the authors discuss Fantasy Sports. Nowhere that I could find, is there a definition of what Fantasy Sports is. Not familiar with American sport terms? This is exactly the audience for which this book is intended. How many lines of explanation does it take to define Fantasy Sports?
Another general comment: When I was told about this book, when still on the drawing table, I got the impression that it would include a "listing" of sports expressions, used in everyday non-sports talk. For instance, I knew I was an American, when people said to me: "Well, that guy threw me a curve ball" and I knew that he was not talking about baseball but used a baseball expression in a transferred meaning. I told my friends that in order to become a "real" American, it took the ability to use and understand sports expression in non-sports situations.
How many times haven't I said: "It's the Ninth inning and he's down on the count" without having talked about baseball? The list of examples can be as long as a game going to 15 innings.
I was somewhat disappointed in not finding that approach. I think the foreign businessman or businesswoman could greatly benefit from that understanding. Of course, the longer he or she lives in the US, the more likely it is that they pick up these expressions, only because they HAVE to.
Having said all that, this is an important book and should be read by Americans and non-Americans alike.