I live in Colorado, and if you follow sports at all, you’ll know that recently the Denver Broncos replaced the Dallas Cowboys as America’s team. Now, I don’t really know what that means, but I’m guessing it has to do with how many people root for the Broncos. And football is huge here — recently when the Broncos played on the Thursday and the game ended at 10pm, the entire half hour news cast was devoted to the game – replays, interviews with players and coaches, the sportscaster insisting the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl, as he does every night.
As I’ve mentioned before, my two boys, ages 11 and 7, are both sports fanatics. They play a different sport every season, watch football every Sunday while poring over their fantasy teams, and of course, love to read about sports. Two recent offerings from Sports Illustrated Kids were immediately snapped up and read. And I have to admit, I enjoyed paging through them myself.
Football: Then to Wow! is a wonderful history of football, covering everything a fan could ever want to know. It’s broken down into sections — in the Basics section, I learned that touchdowns started out as 4 points, the ball’s design changed as passing became more popular and the reason for the different inscriptions over the years, and how the shoulder pads and helmets changed over time in order to provide the players more protection (helmets were originally only intended to protect the players’ ears, but they couldn’t hear during games), to name a few.
The Players section describes how each position has changed over the decades, and the Strategy chapter covers how coaching, offensive formation, and defensive strategies have evolved, plus discusses how the technology we have today has improved the sport. It also talks about the draft and player scouting changes that have taken place, from ESPN making the draft into the event it is today, to the Scouting Combine where prospects take a series of tests to determine who the top players are. The final section is about the fans – how the media, video games, fantasy football, and merchandise have changed how fans enjoy the game.
To be honest, I got a little bogged down in all of the stats and info thrown at me on player positions and strategy. But that’s the kind of thing my 11 year old loves, so it didn’t bother him at all.
The other book I received is What Are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports. Filled with colorful pictures and easy-to-read text, this book is good for the sports fan who likes to rattle off statistics. Showcasing plays and statistics that start from rare (50 home runs in a season, 5 goals in one hockey game) and go to really rare (14 goals credited to goalies, 22 Hail Mary touchdowns), super rare (3,000 points in one NBA season, 7 touchdown passes in one game), and almost impossible (100 points in one NBA game by one player, 1 undefeated NFL season). The bonus chapter, It’s Never Happened, highlights close-but-no-cigar record-breaking attempts.
If you have a football or statistics-loving kiddo in your family, I recommend either of these books from Sports Illustrated Kids.