Sorting Games

Continuing our thoroughly popular examination of categories at the Book Fair, and the difficulties hidden therein, I thought I might consider the Sports section.

There may be those among you who are saying, “C’mon, Uncle Blogsy, how difficult could THAT be?” The more experienced blogreaders are sure we will think of something.

It was about twenty years ago that, in answer to those volunteers and customers who couldn’t decode whether books on chess should be in Sports or How To, we added a Games category. It seemed logical at the time, but ever since we have had the occasional misguided soul demand “Baseball is a game, so why isn’t it in the Games category?” It isn’t a constant mania, like the wails about why Allen Drury is in Literature, but it arises in different forms. “Don’t you have any books on bowling? I checked in Games.”

It is really as personal as the Fiction vs. Literature division: everybody has a personal set of standards. I heard a volunteer explain once that if you play it with cards, it goes in Games, and the customer replied, “I use a score card in golf.”

One possible way to distinguish between the two is that Sports involves just about anything they ever forced you to learn in Physical Education classes. Hence bowling is in and poker is out. Still, this does not cover the custom in my day of including folk dancing in the P.E. curriculum. Books on that go in the Dance category, even though the way some of my classmates did it, it was a contact sport. (That was junior high; it became a competitive event later in life. And if the morning newscast continues to give us updates on Dancing With the Stars, we might see dance books in Sports yet.)

A further complication is racing. Books on cars can be found in Transportation, while a book on making a thousand consecutive left turns at high speed goes into Sports. The same goes for racing yachts, but if you’re racing horses, you’ll find the vehicle in Nature, the actual racing in Sports, and books on how to lose money betting on it in Games. All books on gambling are to be found in Games, by the way, though I wouldn’t bet on that by the last day of the Book Fair.

No, I have not yet had a book on ostrich racing appear, but I’m not betting either way on that.

We meet further complications with books about health and nutrition for athletes. Luckily, a lot of these books have titles like Eating To Win or Sports Medicine for Beginning Kickboxers, and I can put them into Sports with a relatively clear conscience. Books on running for health, by the way, can be found in Health, but books which state they’re about how to win a footrace go into Sports. Bodybuilding books are treated the same way: if they’re meant for personal improvement, they go into Health, but if winning a competition is involved, Sports.

I have mentioned the large collection of Asian books this year, which of course brought me up against the largest collection I’ve seen of books on the martial arts, a combination of philosophy, fitness, and mayhem. I believe all of these went into Sports. I would not be surprised to find that some of the books on contemplating peach blossoms in Poetry and Philosophy turn out REALLY to be books on how to kick twice as high as your head. It’s all about presentation.

What this all amounts to is that, basically, books on baseball are in Sports and books on checkers are in Games. Books on NASCAR drivers playing checkers while sitting in the bleachers during a Cubs-White Sox game are in my nightmares.

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