The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports
Liz Hartman Musiker
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Buy *The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports: An Essential Handbook for Women Who Don't Know a Slam Dunk from a Grand Slam* by Liz Hartman Musiker online

The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports: An Essential Handbook for Women Who Don't Know a Slam Dunk from a Grand Slam
Liz Hartman Musiker
352 pages
July 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The subtitle of this book is "an essential handbook for women who don't know a slam dunk from a grand slam." Even if you're already somewhat versed in the lingo of one or more sports, you're going to enjoy this book. It is exactly as described: a way for women to get a handle on their spouse or partner's particular sports fanaticism. No doubt if you leave it lying around, your male partner will sneak a peak as well, and it's a fun, informative read.

Take NASCAR, for example. If your husband, like mine, finds three hours of cars going around in circles, loudly, once a week to be a good excuse for retreating into his personal man-space, then after a while you find that it's easier to join him than to buck the trend. So you can pick up freelance writer and sports fan Musiker's book and learn that, in answer to the most burning question all of us have, drivers don't get to pee during the whole race - as Musiker says, "What's the point of a pit stop if you can't pee?" Does this explain why so few women have ever joined this sport? (Danika Patrick and other feisty females are heating up the asphalt in Indy racing, it should be said.) By reading the section on NASCAR you'll learn about drafting, the points system, and "sitting on the pole" (not, as the author points out, "something that could result in pregnancy") and the complex, often capricious rules of racing. As with each section of the book, you'll learn about the legends of the sport - Andretti, Earnhardt, Junior, and The King, Richard Petty. And you'll learn that "NASCAR drivers are hot," with temperatures inside the cars getting up to 130 and the drivers encased in flame-retardant suits, Darth Vader-style helmets, and space boots.

The section on soccer proclaims that "Americans care deeply about soccer - as long as the players are under the age of nineteen." The sport that has the rest of the world riveted and rioting leaves us cold. It's partly the low scoring and partly the fact that we disdain to call the game "football," its appellation everywhere but here. I can confirm, as a typical female in regard to sports, that most women, and many men, would rather be boiled in oil than to sit through a typical soccer match, especially in real life where the stands are packed with warlike young men who often break into serious fisticuffs at the end of the game - possibly the result of frustration at seeing both the winning and the losing teams score so little. There are two things I know about soccer: no hands on the ball, and Pele. As Musiker tells us, Pele is an international phenomenon, having been hugged by Muhammed Ali, written about rather rhapsodically by Henry Kissinger, and declared a "national treasure" of Brazil.

This book will tell you the truth about Wilt the Stilt (did he get his nickname only by being so tall?) and defines that, to me, mysterious term "air ball." Basketball, (American) football, baseball, hockey, golf and boxing are outlined in generally amusing but accurate detail, so if you want to impress your boyfriend, you can cite some obscure rules (is it true that a baseball player "must scratch or otherwise adjust his crotch at least once per at bat?") and rave about the records of such greats as Tony Romo (football) or Evander Holyfield (boxing). And you'll be able to inform him that Tiger Woods has made strides not only for golf, but for blacks and for women, his very presence as a giant in the sport crashing down barriers of bias in such bastions of white male privilege as the Augusta National club.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2008

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