Even casual fans will be able to skip quickly over much of the material in this painstaking guide to North America's major spectator sports: baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, and soccer. But for the uninitiated of either gender, the text offers methodical instruction. For each sport, there's a concise fact sheet that provides such information as the number of men on a side, the equipment used, a brief description of where games are played, and a list of professional teams. Next comes an introduction to the basics (e.g., ""Each base is a station on the way to a one-point score, called a run""), followed by an explanation of tactics and strategies with pointers on what to look for in a game. (For instance, Lance supplies a first-rate appreciation of hockey's drop pass and football's two-minute drills.) Also helpful are the translations of ""announcerese"" throughout (""runners on the comers with two away,"" ""the blitz is on,"" ""scissors kick,"" et al.). Lance is not above playing to the sisterhood crowd (""the language of most sports reporting is as a rule more sexist than that found elsewhere in a newspaper""); but she's produced a winner for women who'd like to follow sports with their menfolk or develop a rooting interest on their own.