Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review: A Year of Sport Travel

It's been almost two months since I last posted - I can only offer excuses for being so time poor, despite no longer studying! It may not seem like much but football coaching, trying to train for the Around the Bay ride, feeling miserable because I hate work, hunting for and choosing between PhD projects and locations, purchasing and getting used to my new [manual] car have all taken their toll on me and my time! So much so that I've even downgraded my expectations for the Around the Bay from 210 km to 100 km. And as my head starts to clear re: work or study, and making decisions where I'll be next year (not in Melbourne by the looks of things) I can turn my attentions to the things that have fallen by the wayside.

One of them has been A Year of Sport Travel - a book that was sent to me by the lovely people at Lonely Planet because of this blog! So it's only fitting that I review it here.

It's the kind of book that I imagine the "typical" sport-loving Australian loving. We are a sport-obsessed nation, and given the increasing rates of obesity I suspect that we are really a sport-spectating-loving nation (unless we refer to the A-League, which seems to be having crowd number problems.) Organised in weekly intervals, A Year of Sport Travel offers four sports a week that one can choose from to watch (and even to participate if you are so inclined).

Naturally all the expected events are there - the World Cup, Olympics, World Athletics Championships (OK so it's not on everyone's radar but I care and it's my blog so there), Premier League and FA Cup. Also are other people's "expected events" - the Ashes (although given recent results, it may not be a suitable 'sport' to refer to), Dakar Rally, Tri-Nations Rugby, Tour de France, Winter Olympics, err... AFL's Grand Final, Wimbeldon, Boston Marathon, etc.

But the best part of the book is that it mixes the typical with the non-typical; this is why I really loved the book. And by organising the events by calendar, you are as likely to come up with something obscure when checking out the obvious events. Take the FA Cup - an event that happens in May each year and that I would expect any readers of this blog are familiar with. Turn the page over, and this week in May is shared with Indy 500 (meh), World Table Tennis Championships (meh - although it is a fun sport to play after a few drinks and hand-eye coordination has long gone) and CHEESE ROLLING! On the last Monday in May, a 7 pound circle of Double Gloustershire is rolled down a hill and people chase after it! With a seriously steep grade and multiple heats... well, check out the YouTube video for the fun that this event brings!

And if you thought cheese rolling looked dangerous, there's a hybrid event that could up it given Lennox Lewis describes both disciplines as "pretty violent"...

I tend to agree with the final comments of chess-boxing not yet the best of both worlds, or really the best of either - so when picking between the two I'd go the cheese rolling. I could stay in Europe for the following two months:
  • early June - the Giostra Della Quintana in Italy with knights, lances and horses
  • late June - Wimbeldon (if feeling civilised) or the Calcio Storico (if not feeling civilised and feeling like staying in Italy)
  • early July - the Wife-Carrying Championships in Finland (where the wife doesn't necessarily have to be married to the carrier according to the rules)
  • throughout July - the Tour de France throughout July (I had to have something normal)
  • mid-August - the European Minigolf Championships
  • late-August - I could come back to Wales for World Bog Snorkelling!

Definitely my kind of trip - something serious with enough zaniness to keep me hyper for a while!

The only downside to the book? Far too much cricket! The Ashes, the Cricket World Cup, and Indian Premier League! Although it's probably aimed at Australians... and they do have three football events - four if I include the Olympics!