Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rugby Book Club: Review of Winners & Losers by Bob Latham

There are plenty of books out there about the love of sports and how one person has experienced them over the years. Often they are self-indulgent, dry, and full of partisan bickering about who was the greatest and other such semantics. Bob Latham’s Winners & Losers is none of those things. While it is about Latham’s travels through the sports world it neither lectures in a condescending manner nor seems like one man’s personal journey to climb to the top of sports fandom. To be sure, Winners & Losers definitely argues for certain points of view, but it comes across as one who loves sports and not as one who is in love with being a sports fan.

Take the jump to read more.

Many in the rugby community know Latham through his work with U.S.A. Rugby, as the current head of NACRA, or as a member of the IRB Executive Council. What they may not be familiar with is his love affair with sports in general and his monthly column in Sports Travel magazine. Winners & Losers is a compilation of his articles and shares Latham’s journeys to sporting events around the world. There is a topic for everyone. Whether you are into hockey, American football, baseball, etc, there is a segment that you can relate to. It’s extremely readable and engaging.

It’s the ability to relate that really makes Winners & Losers succeed. Only a select few in this world are going to be able to travel to the Olympics, NHL Winter Classic, Super Bowl, and the Rugby World Cup. However, most of us at one time or another have been involved in a large sporting event. When Latham writes, he doesn’t focus on how he got there or the privileges he has enjoyed over the years, he focuses on how the event relates to him as a fan. No matter where you are sitting, or even if you are watching the event of television, we are all fans.

The only disappointment I had with the book was that there wasn’t as much rugby content as I hoped. You can tell that he has a reverence and passion for the game, but you also get the sense that it’s hard to communicate those feelings. This isn’t a unique problem. We as American rugby fans speak our own language. It’s one that has a difficult time translating into American sports and getting through to our world counterparts. Latham does a good job of attempting to communicate, but it’s a language barrier that hardly any of us have yet been able to overcome.

What are your thoughts? For those who read the book (or who just want to comment) write down what you thought of the book in the comments. If you haven’t read the book and would like to, you can click this link to get a copy.

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