Would I be a reader if it wasn’t for sport? I don’t know, but what I do know for sure is that sport played a significant role in moulding me as a reader back in my school days. It was through books such as the Playfair Football and Cricket annuals, the Who’s Who, sport biographies and magazines that I first become engaged in reading and books. The first novel I ever read (aged 13) was First and Ten, a novel which featured my then sporting hero Joe Montana on the cover and which was about American Football. What this book novel showed me was that I could read books and stories about things I was interested in. From this point on I began to look for my own books to read.
What I find curious now however is that since I was a teenager I have barely read five books – fiction or non fiction – that are sport related. I have no idea why this is. It is not as though I didn’t enjoy those books which I did read. One theory I do have is that I read much more fiction than non fiction and there just isn’t the sport related fiction out there. Or is there? Horse racing is well represented for example with the Dick Francis and John Francome novels. Football gets good coverage, especially in the younger market but also with the likes of The Damned United, Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and Rodge Glass’ Bring me the Head of Ryan Giggs. And for the tennis fans there is Lionel Shriver’s Double Fault. Cycling gets in with a few too with Chris Cleave’s Gold, Tim Krabbe’s The Rider and James Waddington’s Bad to the Bone.
It is fair to say that sport is much better represented in the non fiction market. This is no surprise for sport plays a huge part in people’s lives. To the non sport fan the passion and commitment of a sports fan, especially a fan of a specific team must appear odd. But take those travelling thousands of miles to Australia to watch the British and Irish Lions this month or the football fan criss-crossing the country following their team. Sport does inspire many. Of that there is no doubt. So a question for you – does sport inspire you to read and if yes which sports books are the must reads for anyone and which do you enjoy?