What is the meaning of life? How do we organize ourselves and our lives to fit our system of values? Is it working every day for the majority of our life, and going back home, only to start over the very next day? Many people would strongly disagree with that. It is widely considered that hobbies and activities that we do in our free time are what gives our life that other dimension and provides us with some sort of enjoyment. Sports fans especially stress the significance of the role that sports play in their life (let us not forget the nickname they gave football, ‘the most significant secondary thing in the world’). But can a sport be so significant that it shapes the folklore and the life of a nation? Is there a book that can help us understand the relationship that English people have with sports? Well, it turns out there are several of them, so if you enjoy reading, this will be a real treat for you.
Why would you read a book about sports?
Many would argue that there is no way that you can learn about sports by reading a book or something similar and that the only way to get to know sports is by watching, playing, and investing years of your life to understand them. However, you should never underestimate the power of a good book, as it can provide the most valuable insight into the way the game is observed by other people, how they are affected by it, and what feelings they have for it.
Of course, nothing can replace years of watching sports, but a book may give you a head start and a basis upon which you can build your experience with English sports.
Comparing the relationship of other countries
If you want to establish a basis for understanding English sports, you may want to look into how other countries treat sports, and what roles sports occupy in their national life. A good starting point is Football Against the Enemy, written by Simon Kuper. Written in 1994, this book touches on national policies regarding football, how it is played, and treated by governments around the world.
The loyalty of the players
To become better acquainted with how players think, act, and where their loyalties lie, you may want to read The Damned Utd by David Peace. It is a story in the form of a personal testimony of a manager of Leeds United, who inherited his position from his rival. This book is indispensable if you want to learn how the players think as a team, while you read about the manager trying to get his way with a team that is still loyal to their old manager.
Behind the scenes
For a really detailed look behind the scenes of English football, you might consider the book All Played Out by Pete Davies, who observed closely the behavior of all participants of the tour in Italy in 1990, which enabled him to write a book where he portrays the very essence of English sportsmanship.
Although it is very difficult to get one book that will completely make you familiar with the relationship the English have with sports, there are plenty you can choose from that will satisfy your curiosity and leave you with a better understanding of how these people experience and treat sports.