September 1997. Tony Hawks and Arthur Smith are watching the football round at Tony's house. England are playing Moldova in the World Cup qualifiers and winning easily. The conversation, oddly, turns to tennis, which Arthur has always asserted is a 'crap game', especially after Tony beat him at it on holiday in Majorca, easily. A pedantic argument ensues, Tony believing that even a 'natural sportsman or sportswoman' couldn't be good at tennis without the proper tuition. Arthur vowing that most natural sportsmen (like the footballers on the telly) could pick up a racket and, without too much bother, play a good game, in fact, they could beat Tony (ex-Sussex junior champion, former Equity Knockout winner). And so a childish bet was profferd that Tony couldn't play all of the Moldovan national football team at tennis (I believe a hundred pounds is sufficient to get you doing these kind of things) and beat them all. I could, I could beat them all, said Tony. Not every single one of them, taunted his friend conspiratorially, One of them is bound to be very good. A further carrot was clearly needed. Look if you beat them all then Ill stand naked on Balham High Street and sing the Moldovan National Antham, with a pixie hat on. On your head. Alright as long as you supply the hat. The bet was on.
The Caddie Was a Reindeer: And Other Tales of Extreme Recreation
Steve Rushin, a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, has been hailed as one of the best sportswriters in America. In The Caddie Was a Reindeer he circumnavigates the globe in pursuit of extreme recreation. In the Arctic Circle, he meets ice golfers. In Minnesota, he watches the National Amputee Golf Tournament, where one participant tells him, "I literally have one foot in the grave." Along the way, Rushin meets fellow travelers like Joe Cahn, a professional tailgater who confesses aboard the RV in which he lives: "Itís wonderful to see America from your bathroom." And even Rushin has logged fewer miles in pursuit of extreme recreation than Rich Rodriguez, a marathon roller-coaster rider who makes endless loops for entire summers on coasters around the world. The Caddie Was a Reindeer is a ride to everywhere: to south London (where Rushin downs pints with the King of Darts), to the Champs-Elysees (where the author indulges in "excessive nightclubbing" with World Cup soccer stars), and to Japan (where Rushin eats soba noodles with the world champion of competitive eating). Enlightening, hilarious, and unexpectedly heartwarming, this collection is not a body of work: itís a body of play.