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Index: Sport & Fashion

Of Entropy and Knees.

Alan Wall: ‘Dyer has noticed that he’s started to get on a bit, and he’s noticed that a lot of other people have too. So he has become interested, not only in the question of his knackered knees, but also in the question of late style. So, what is it, exactly?’

The Right Side of the Diamond.

Peter Knobler: ‘Matt was a stalwart in a continuing pickup game with a fifty-year history and a rotating roster of regulars on Fire Island, a barrier beach about a quarter-mile wide that lay a quick ferry ride due south of mainland Long Island. No cars were permitted on the Fire Island National Seashore; the major means of transportation was bicycle.’

Strictly scrum.

Michelene Wandor: ‘For those who understand rugby, know its history and personnel, there will be riveting insights into the minutiae of who was chosen, who rejected, which managers did and didn’t do what. Haskells’ hero, Lawrence Dallaglio, appears at intervals, as an important influence. The book begins with a boat trip and a series of out-of-mind and scatological things happening.’

The Champions.

Peter Jerome: ‘It began with the hooked blade and another gesture of appreciation to the crowd. The contestant shrugged the gown he had been wearing from his shoulders, and surrendered his naked form to us all. He appeared unafraid and bold in his nudity, not at all as if he was preparing for bed or passing waste in the commode. This was a gallant nudity as seen in beasts of the wild.’

Transits of Venus.

Martin Sorrell: ‘This transition to the vertical was as swift and fluent as had been the movement from lying to sitting, and even more startling. For what we saw, as she stood there, ramrod-straight, was that she had only one leg. The other one ended well above the knee. But there she was, perfectly balanced, perfectly still. She said a few words to her companion, presumably about a dip. Five hops took her into the water. For a minute or two, she simply floated; then she started to move.’

An Englishman at the first modern Olympics, 1896.

G. S. Robertson: ‘Who, who was present there, does not wish that he may once again be permitted to behold it? After the ode had been recited and the olive-branches presented, everyone’s first desire must have been for a repetition of the whole. The feeling of absolute entrancement with the beauty of the sight, the rapture of sensation, and the joy of recollection, which overmastered all who shared in this spectacle, found vent in ardent wishes that the Olympian games should be reserved to dignify Athens and to be glorified by her glory.’

Playing for par in Pyongyang.

The 30-km journey from the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang to the golf course can take more than an hour as a modern, 30-seat bus picks its way over crater-size potholes. North Koreans walking and cycling unhurriedly along the side of the highway sometimes move faster than the bus. Beyond them, the Pyongyang plains are covered with fenceless acres of fields where peasants, tractors and ox plow through dry, red dirt.

At the Super Bowl, a demonstration of the philosophy of half-time.

Madonna, I appreciate your commitment to this alleged “wow factor.” But. Oh.

‘Expanding the idea of beauty’ without going all the way to BBW.

I’m all for expanding the idea of beauty, so long as it means that I can read fewer sentences that begin with the words “according to sociological studies” and more Chekhov.

What happened to the game?

Geoffrey Norman: Pointless and depressing to run through the scandals and the tawdry revelations about the game, every one of which has its own book. Too much is known about steroids, gambling, loveless sex and the rest. Too little about the games. There are no Red Smiths who can make you care about the sport. We are invited, instead, to ponder the wreckage of, say, José Canseco.

· Cancer v George Kimball: a twelfth-round TKO.

There was a look that George used to get when he was on the loose back then, a look that is probably best understood when I tell you I first saw it in the Lion’s Head as he was trying to set a friend’s sport coat on fire. His friend was wearing it.

· The literature of sports bras: a little support for the writer’s life.

I know, I know, you’re thinking: How in the world did Marty become the go-to guy for running bras? Frankly, your guess is as good as mine.

The King at a ballgame, 4 July 1918.

Early in September some good baseball should be seen on the Hyde Park ground, for the championship of England is to be decided there, between the best American team and the best Canadian. It is greatly to be feared that there is no possible chance of an English team carrying off the world’s palm. The Americans would be delighted if there were such a possibility.

The Fly-fishers’ Club.

Basil Field: In the happy days of old, when fish were foolish, and fishermen were few, one, two, three, or more flies were fastened at intervals on a line; a cast was made across the stream, the rod-point was depressed, and the flies allowed to sink as they drifted down the current. When the line became fully extended, the flies began to rise to the surface, and to sweep round in a curve towards the bank on which the angler stood, the fly nearest him, called the “bob-fly,” tripping and dancing as it skimmed the water.