A Hip Pocket Guide To Sports
by Gordon Osmond
Review by Fred James
In 1999 sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote an hilarious article in Sport illustrated called “On a Wing and a Prayer” in which he described a ride he endured in an F-14 fighter jet flown by the toughest guy he had ever met. This article was a non stop laugh because Reilly was not aware of what he was in for. Reilly wrote; If you are ever offered a like ride don’t do it: “Move to Guam. Change your name. Fake your own death. Whatever you do, do not go. I know. The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was toast!”
He was warned the night before to eat bananas for breakfast. Why? “Because they taste the same going in and out!” Reilly was told as he strapped into the jet that there was a device to egress him in case of major trouble and that it would be so powerful it would knock him out as he egressed.
Then he described the flight itself as it roared around the sky faster than sound, upside down and round about at 6 G’s. “I egressed the bananas. I egressed the pizza from the night before. And the lunch before that. I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth Grade. I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G’s I was egressing stuff that I did not even want to be egressed. I went through not one airsick bag but two. Biff (the pilot) said I passed out. Twice.
And on it went. I still smile and laugh at this parade of humor. That was a short article. Gordon Osmond, a former lawyer, playwright and current author, has just written a short book in roughly the same vein except the whole book is full of genuine laughs. More, Osmond is a gay guy writing about some very macho sports and yet he’s not only funny but even handed to all.
I think this short book (109 pages) is filled with wonderful asides and fun gossip. Sample. Osmond writes about the ideal nomenclature for what we now call straights, Gays, bi, Omni..whatever… He calls his own team, “the lavender lot.” “The UK” he writes, “is absolutely infested with homosexuals and with heterosexuals who sound like them when they speak.” Remarks like this are on every page. My stomach hurt as I read this book because of the constant laughing.
So what does Osmond actually write about in this book? He discusses 18 different sports, ranging from his favorite, diving, to football, golf, soccer, gymnastics, boxing, surfing, tennis and ice skating. He spends the most personal time on swimming because he was on a swimming team in college. On polo? He gives us: “Polo is probably the toniest collaboration between man and horse. The sport does involve some obvious skill on the part of both. I must say I get a bit nervous with those long poles being flung about, but the fetching little helmets the riders wear is to cut down on the injuries.” Fetching little helmets? That’s Osmond’s style. I’m still laughing over this.
But he can be serious. Of Diving he writes, “Diving takes the sport of swimming to new heights, literally. Along with figure skating, I think diving is as close to a perfect union of sport and art as one could hope for.” He calls golf outfits “kitsch.” And he laments the fact that today’s youth spend an inordinate amount of time sitting while staring into electronic devices as opposed to kids just a few generations ago who played outside all day and grew healthier as a result.
Osmond does not confine his remarks to sports alone. He deals with the homosexual component in sports, the many different uniforms and how they affect play and observation of that play. He writes about the professional athlete who gets a contract and waxes on the necessity and protection that a contract provides. As Osmond is not only a playwright himself he is into films old, new and classic and provides interesting commentary on how films deal with sport. Osmond covers a lot of ground and remains funny and factual the whole way. He also has a great little bit on hunting, when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.
A Hip Pocket Guide to Sports by Gordon Osmond is available on amazon.com with reviews and in three formats, Kindle, Paperback and Audible.