The Name of the Game: How Sports Talk Got That Way

Patty Osborne

It's been reported that my nephew in Ottawa needs to be encouraged to read, but he doesn't need to be encouraged to do sports. With this in mind I ventured into an unfamiliar genre. Sports books seem to come in two flavours—how-to books (which most twelve-year-olds don't need) and glitzy-biographies of American super-jocks—but then I found an obscure book called The Name of the Game: How Sports Talk Got That Way by Lafe Locke (Better-way), a sports book that's also about words.

Now I know that "gymnastics" comes from two Greek words that mean "to exercise naked," and that it was originally restricted to male participants (now that would have been worth seeing). I still can't figure out how tennis is scored, but the word "love" is from the French word "l'oeuf" meaning "egg," which is shaped like a zero. The Name of the Game got me reading about sports, so maybe it got my nephew reading.

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