December 15, 2008


REVIEW: of Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please? How the British Invented Sport and Then Almost Forgot How to Play It By Julian Norridge (Simon Kuper, December 15 2008, Financial Times)

This book tackles the question not of how the Victorians spread games around the world – they clearly had the best trade routes – but why they invented these games.

Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please? is a heroic endeavour, written in smooth prose with beautiful old illustrations. Yet it is more a fluent reference book than a narrative history. Norridge’s rare points of analysis are convincing but, in a very British way, he prefers fact.

He shows that most sports had pre-British origins. Many civilisations boxed, ran or kicked balls around. “Most societies had played some form of stick-and-ball game,” Norridge notes, but only the Brits codified cricket, baseball and hockey.

...that the only game American Brits didn't improve was golf, which was pefect, and turning rugby into football.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2008 8:18 AM
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