Fox Tossing: And Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes, and Games

Touchstone. Nov. 2015. 272p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781501115141. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501115172. SPORTS
If there are any hidden takeaways in this droll romp through the history of bizarre games and other pastimes, they are that humankind has, from the dawn of time to now, had a low tolerance for boredom, and that this has been more than offset by our ability to compensate with creative diversions that lay bare what might be called the inanity of humanity. Readers will already know of some of the approximately 100 re-creations that Brooke-Hitching, a British documentary director, presents: flagpole-sitting, phone booth-stuffing, goldfish-swallowing, and bull-running. Many others, definitely not so much: ice tennis (tennis played on ice); auto polo (polo using cars, not ponies); boxing on horseback (imagine Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali pounding each other while mounted on stallions); and flyting (matches in which contestants tried to best the insults and profanity they hurled at one another, a pastime that could have been the medieval precursor to The Jerry Springer Show).
VERDICT Readers interested in popular looks at history, sports, and cultural anthropology will be amused by this title, though animal lovers might be appalled by sections on sports such as monkey-fighting, cat burning, Italian cat head butting, pig running, and lion baiting.
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