Title: The Average Joe’s Guide to Sports Almanac: All-Star Stats, Amazing Facts, and Inspiring Stories
Author: Steve Riach
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Date of Publication: 3 April 2018
Spanning over eleven chapters is this short guide which is a result of Riach’s many years of fascination with unique sports stories and people from the world of sports. Much of the content comes from his work earlier with athletes for films, television, radio or books. The chapters are of moderate length and the information is presented in a rather systematic manner. The individual chapters include inspiring performances by athletes, information about legendary sports figures, strange and true facts as well as miscellaneous ideas about memorable moments in sports that have caught Riach’s eye and are cherished by him.
The book is highly informative so much so that at times it feels over loaded with technical knowledge. Be it the trivial or the glamorous, every bit has been recorded with accuracy and consistency. The content of chapters do not evade individual chapter titles and fills up the reader with valuable information to the brim. Though aimed at the average person who has little or no knowledge about sports, the title of the book is elusive. The data provided is a lot for any average person to remember or understand. It is herein that the book loses its entertainment quotient. Midway through the guide, the bullet points provide short paragraphs of data next to dates of tournaments, names of players or other statistical information making it too factual. The lack of illustrations for a sports guide is also another negative. Moreover, the guide only focuses on hockey, baseball, basketball and football and leagues based in the States or games that are staple mostly to Western audiences. Surprisingly, cricket (once considered a gentleman’s game provides ample stories of rackets, scams, match fixing scandals and an entirely gravely commercialized enterprise) is now played globally and more recently in leagues, has been given a total miss.
Certain chapters, however, are interesting as they cover in brief the debates around all time best teams like NFL, NBA, MLB and a list of the greatest players with their jersey numbers alongside. Key sports dates, important years of remarkable sporting events and other numerical data make up a significant portion of the book that mentions the number games that go on behind these games. Leagues are not merely about crowds cheering their favorite teams at state of the art sporting arenas but also the excellent business that they all make, from the trading of players to the art and science behind the drafts. Undoubtedly, the research and planning that goes behind putting together an organised guide is commendable. Written in an almanac style, the guide is useful but audience specific. Perhaps, for the average reader what will be of most interest are the chapters on the origin of the games that traces the history of games that might have been started by a group of friends on their college campus. The chapter on inspirational quotes by world class players is exemplary of all that they did and not just said. On the whole, the book is a good pick for big time sports buffs.