Paper Lion, by George Plimpton
There are worse ways of getting to know about a country than through its sports, and since America’s two major national sports have been rejected by almost the whole of the rest of the world, they serve as an especially intriguing paradigm. The Japanese play baseball and play it badly, having produced just one major league player in sixty years—though on every other Tokyo street-corner, a baseball thuds monotonously into a baseball glove. Canada alone has taken to that strange amalgam of ritual and brutality which is American football. In writing about it from the inside, a literate and observant Walter Mitty, George Plimpton tells us much about the game, much about the United States, and a certain amount about himself.
Before exegesis, a confession is in order. I am an appassionato of soccer, who has always marveled at and deplored the fact that the United States has passed it by. I have never been drawn to rugby football, let alone to its robust child, American football, and though Mr. Plimpton is, at his best, a beguiling writer, he has not, in this book, even begun to convert me.
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