Review: David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton – How to Watch the Olympics (Profile Books LTD, 2011)

For this review, I’ve turned my attention to sport. Maybe being a runner for over 3 years has sub-consciously inspired me to take an interest in athletic activity, or I’m just being timely for the Summer’s Olympic Games.

Preparation

Although this book was written for the London 2012 Games, this doesn’t make it an obstacle in learning more about Olympic sports. It’s easy to ignore the specific references and learn the rules and histories of each athleticism.

Speaking of which, a lot of preparation has gone into the research of each sport’s origins and defining moments, and a lot of precision has gone into the clear and fun way it’s told.

Two standout moments wait at the end of the book: the appendices on discontinued Olympic sports and all the previous Games (excluding London 2012). These paragraphs may bee tiny, but the information on offer is fulfilling.

Pick and choose

There’s no denying the authors have done a great job of laying out the facts.

But the facts have been laid out using the same outline for each sport, and this can begin to feel tedious before your chapter count reaches double digits.

If you want to be clued-up on every Olympic sport, then it’s worth reading the book in its whole and enduring the formulaic approach as best as you can. Otherwise it’s worth picking and choosing which sports you want to be more knowledgeable about, and reading these chapters only.

As rules and terminologies are explained at a fast pace, it helps to open How to with a fierce determination to learn more. Reading with a casual mind may leave you feeling stranded.

What you want

With so much detail stuffed into one routine, it’s best to read How to Watch the Olympics with a good idea of what you want out of it. No matter how much of the book you choose to read, it’s impossible you won’t learn something about sport.

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