Even the most innumerate soccer fan will find in this book justification to add some math to make the world’s game even more...

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THE NUMBERS GAME

WHY EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT SOCCER IS WRONG

Using data to better understand (and improve a team’s odds of winning) the Beautiful Game.

Analytics, the use of data and statistics, has grown exponentially in the world of sports in recent years. Michael Lewis’ Moneyball revealed how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane utilized analytics to exploit inefficiencies in the baseball marketplace of players and ideas. Coaches and administrators, as well as fans of other sports, have increasingly tried to apply analytics to the games they love. Anderson (London School of Economics and Cornell Univ.) and Sally (Business/Dartmouth) fit well into that tradition in this fine book about the use of analytics in soccer. Like many within the growing number of books in this genre, the authors, both of whom are academics, former athletes and fans, have the ability to convey complicated ideas and even more complex data and statistics into a readable whole that will appeal to fans who want to better understand the most popular sport in the world. Whether they are trying to ascertain what percentage of possession determines victory, to decide whether it is best to focus on scoring goals or not conceding them, to establish just how much coaches matter to a team’s success or myriad other exercises, they make compelling and occasionally contrarian cases for breaking away from thinking that too often comes down to, “seven words [that] have long dominated soccer: ‘That’s the way it’s always been done.’ ” Anderson and Sally destroy most of the rationales for such thinking in this entertaining, witty and thoughtful book, which should appeal not just to soccer fans, but to readers of Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics.

Even the most innumerate soccer fan will find in this book justification to add some math to make the world’s game even more beautiful.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-14-312456-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

THE RUDY IN YOU

A GUIDE TO BUILDING TEAMWORK, FAIR PLAY, AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG ATHLETES, PARENTS, AND COACHES

An uplifting guide to sportsmanship. The subtitle says it all.

Using the example of Ruettiger, whose experience as a Notre Dame football walk-on inspired the 1994 film, Rudy, the authors rail against disrespectful behavior in sports, at any level. They argue that kids, parents and coaches are part of a matrix that can either create a joyful youth sports environment, or a nasty stew of overweening pride, gross expectations and antisocial behavior. With an old school bluntness, they plainly state how participants should act: Kids should have a clear sense of what they want to do, develop strategies for achieving their goals, listen and learn, show respect to all, cultivate a strong work ethic, be positive and helpful and trustworthy, and finally, be patient. Parents should be involved, too, but should always "remember to be the adults. Let the kids be kids." This means not projecting your own aspirations onto your children, while encouraging self-esteem and confidence. Coaches must know their sport (even if they are only volunteers), exemplify personal excellence, challenge the kids, earn their trust, be open to feedback and get everyone involved. The authors’ straightforward advice may seem obvious, but Phillips, Leddy and Ruettiger go further, providing solid examples of how to put these principles into practice. And for all the character building, they also appreciate that kids just want to have fun.

A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-764-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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