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 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Sports


Since the dawn of time, there has been one truth about men: if they can toss it, pass it, dribble it, or throw it — they will. ~The Middle, "The Sinkhole," 2014, written by Katy Ballard  [S6, E6, Frankie]

Life without sport is not life. ~Mary Breese, as quoted in Edward Parsons Day, Day's Collacon, 1884

Thus so wretched is man that he would weary even without any cause for weariness from the peculiar state of his disposition; and so frivolous is he, that, though full of a thousand reasons for weariness, the least thing, such as playing billiards or hitting a ball, is sufficient to amuse him. ~Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), "Diversion," Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter, 1910

...SPORTS are as necessary to divert the Mind as the Body... ~John Dunton, Athenian Sport, 1707

Rackets (I might observe for the sake of the uninformed reader) is, like any other athletic game, very much a thing of skill and practice: but it is also a thing of opinion, "subject to all the skyey influences." If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory. If you hesitate in striking at the ball, it is ten to one but you miss it. If you are apprehensive of committing some particular error (such as striking the ball foul) you will be nearly sure to do it. While thinking of that which you are so earnestly bent upon avoiding, your hand mechanically follows the strongest idea, and obeys the imagination rather than the intention of the striker. A run of luck is a fore-runner of success, and courage is as much wanted as skill. No one is however free from nervous sensations at times. ~William Hazlitt, "On Great and Little Things," Table-Talk, 1822  [quoting Shakespeare, Measure for Measure —tg]

October is not only a beautiful month but marks the precious yet fleeting overlap of hockey, baseball, basketball, and football. ~Jason Love

I'm not a good radio listener, but then very few fans are... Radio football is football reduced to its lowest common denominator. Shorn of the game's aesthetic pleasures, or the comfort of a crowd that feels the same way as you, or the sense of security that you get when you see that your defenders and goalkeeper are more or less where they should be, all that is left is naked fear. ~Nick Hornby, "Filling a Hole: Arsenal v Liverpool, 1.5.80," Fever Pitch, 1992

What, basketball on the radio? That's just a bunch of squeaky sneakers. ~Mike & Molly, "The Bitter Man and the Sea," 2015, teleplay by Julie Bean, Mark Gross, and Carla Filisha  [S5, E22, Carl]

Croquet  A dangerous and blood-curdling sport the requisites of which are a bumpy lawn, nine wobbly wickets, and a couple of Tom Thumb barber-poles. Each player maintains a frenzied clutch upon a wooden sledge hammer, and spends the mad, glad moments of play in cracking a bevy of overgrown darning-eggs all over the farm. The one who can first bowl over a barber pole, without tripping on a wicket, wins. ~Gideon Wurdz (Charles Wayland Towne), "Sports," Eediotic Etiquette, 1906

With the complete collapse of golf and tennis as sports, owing to the upturn in business, more and more people are taking up the old-fashioned game of croquet. It is a daredevil, madcap sort of sport, it is true, but then, these are dangerous days. ~Robert Benchley, "How to Break 90 in Croquet," From Bed to Worse, 1934

True Sport will never fail to train
Not Arm alone, but also Brain.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Vigor," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

That's what coaches do — yell, until their voices give out. That's why they give them whistles. ~Last Man Standing, "The Puck Stops Here," 2015, written by Kevin Hench  [S5, E10, Mike Baxter]

Hockey: A form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept. ~Doug Larson, United Feature Syndicate, quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1988

Volleyball: The sport for tall people who can't dribble. ~Animaniacs, "Gold Meddlers," 2020, written by Greg White & Wellesley Wild

Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else — and it hasn't — it's that girls should stick to girls' sports, such as hot oil wrestling, foxy boxing, and such and such. ~The Simpsons, "Lisa on Ice," 1994, written by Mike Scully, Richard Appel, and Jennifer Crittenden  [S6, E8, Homer]

If I can't make the Goal, I pick my Man
And pass the Ball to Someone Else who Can.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Sport," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

The sport of putting the ball into the basket seems to have an attraction sufficient to hold the expert as well as the novice. Indeed so strong is this attraction that in many institutions the ball is kept under lock and key to prevent its constant use. In others it is omitted from the equipment because it proves too attractive and disrupts regular class work in gymnastics. There is not a director of a gymnasium who has not at times wished that there was no such game as basketball. ~James Naismith, "Basketball," in Self Culture for Young People, 1906

At present it seems as if the game of basketball were wavering in the balance between being one of skill and money-making, and accomplishing its original purpose, of giving health and recreation. Too often the value of a game is measured by its ability to attract a crowd to the grand stand, instead of its ability to attract a crowd to the field of play. ~James Naismith, "Basketball," in Self Culture for Young People, 1906

In play, there are two pleasures for your choosing—
The one is winning and the other losing.
~Lord Byron, Don Juan

There are moments in sport when everything works. Chance magnificence because no matter how perfectly one plays his part, a thousand tiny things can go wrong. When they go right, no one ever forgets, neither the players nor the audience nor even the grounds keepers. Sport strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through. Sport gives players an opportunity to know and test themselves. ~Rita Mae Brown, Sudden Death, 1983

Sports are a most excellent device with which to test a man's character. ~Olaus Magnus, as quoted in Edward Parsons Day, Day's Collacon, 1884

September, men say, is the season of sport,
They have it at college, they have it at court;
They have it afield, in a manner most pleasant...
~"The Black Bottle Imp," The Comic Almanack for 1841, by Thackeray, Albert Smith, Gilbert À Beckett, and the Brothers Mayhew

The Rock knew his wrestling career was over when he looked across the ring and saw his opponent… THE PAPER. ~Jerry Thomas, @JerryThomas, tweet, 2010

Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game. ~George Mikes

He tucks the battered weight beneath one ear,
Pauses a breath to balance and to sway,
Then crouches with an outstretched arm to steer
The weighted missile on its way. He seeks
The long-remembered glory of the Greeks
In practicing their poised and balanced skill.
Now for a moment on Olympus hill
He poses, like a figure in a frieze,
Till back he flings across the centuries...
~Gerald Raftery (1905–1986), "Boy Putting Shot," c.1936 [shot put –tg]

The Olympic games should be a matter between individual athletes and the gods. Noisy flag-waving dishonors gods and men alike. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), @Raqhun, tweet, 2008

Sport is a preserver of health. ~Crates, as quoted in Edward Parsons Day, Day's Collacon, 1884

In no epoch has, what for want of a better expression, I will term "mental excess," been more prevalent than in this... It behooves us, I think, as physicians, to inculcate some pause and leisure in life, and to encourage the tendency which happily exists in this Colony to indulge in out-door sports and amusements of every kind. ~F. Norton Manning, M.D., "The Causation and Prevention of Insanity," 1880

Day 2 without sports:  Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice. ~@IsoJoeJR, tweet, 2020 March 13th, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic large gathering cancellations

To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. For a shilling the Bruddersford United A. F. C. offered you Conflict and Art; it turned you into a critic, happy in your judgement of fine points, ready in a second to estimate the worth of a well-judged pass, a run down the touch line, a lightning shot, a clearance kick by back or goalkeeper; it turned you into a partisan, holding your breath when the ball came sailing into your own goalmouth, ecstatic when your forwards raced away towards the opposite goal, elated, downcast, bitter, triumphant by turns at the fortunes of your side, watching a ball shape Iliads and Odysseys for you; and what is more, it turned you into a member of a new community, all brothers together for an hour and a half, for not only had you escaped from the clanking machinery of this lesser life, from work, wages, rent, doles, sick pay, insurance cards, nagging wives, ailing children, bad bosses, idle workmen, but you had escaped with most of your mates and your neighbours, with half the town, and there you were, cheering together, thumping one another on the shoulders, swopping judgments like lords of the earth, having pushed your way through a turnstile into another and altogether more splendid kind of life, hurtling with Conflict and yet passionate and beautiful in its Art. Moreover, it offered you more than a shilling's worth of material for talk during the rest of the week. A man who had missed the last home match of "t'United" had to enter social life on tiptoe in Bruddersford. ~J. B. Priestley, The Good Companions, 1929

It is hard for me, and for many of us, to think of years as being self-contained, with a beginning on 1st January and an ending 365 days later... Football fans talk like that: our years, our units of time, run from August to May (June and July don't really happen, especially in years which end with an odd number and which therefore contain no World Cup or European Championship.)... We get drunk on New Year's Eve, just as everyone else does, but really it is after the Cup Final in May that our mental clock is wound back, and we indulge in all the vows and regrets and renewals that ordinary people allow themselves at the end of the conventional year. Perhaps we should be given a day off work on Cup Final Eve, so that we can gather together and celebrate. ~Nick Hornby, "Filling a Hole: Arsenal v Liverpool, 1.5.80," Fever Pitch, 1992

What counted was football, at which I was a funk. I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting. ~George Orwell, "Such, Such Were the Joys…"

...the study of the Theory and Practice of Gridirony... the proper academic designation of a course in football, a game which is played on the gridiron. It is more euphonious than goalology or leather spheroids... There could be a term in baseballistics; another in lacrossetics; a fourth in aquatics, and so on... ~John Kendrick Bangs, "On Short Courses at College," The Genial Idiot, 1908

In skiing, you wear a total of two skis, or approximately one per foot, so you can sort of maintain your balance by moving your feet, plus you have poles that you can stab people with if they make fun of you at close range. ~Dave Barry, "Something in the Air," in Miami Herald, 1995, reprinted in Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus, 1997,

For those of you who, for whatever reason, such as a will to live, do not participate in downhill winter sports, I should explain that snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough. These are of course young people, fearless people, people with 100 percent synthetic bodies who can hurtle down a mountainside at fifty miles per hour and knock down mature trees with their faces and then spring to their feet and go, "Cool.". ~Dave Barry, "Something in the Air," in Miami Herald, 1995, reprinted in Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus, 1997,

I hated skiing or any other sport where there was an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the hill. As a golfer with a slice, I found the game lonely. And it became apparent to me long ago that if God had wanted me to play tennis, He would have given me less leg and more room to store the ball. ~Erma Bombeck, "The Complete Book of Jogging," Four of a Kind: A Suburban Field Guide, 1996

A lawn-tennis mind cannot appreciate a football soul. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

We are merely the stars' tennis-balls, struck and banded
Which way please them...
~John Webster, c. 1612

By the way, what an extraordinarily polite game tennis is. The chief word in it seems to be 'sorry' and admiration of each other's play crosses the net as frequently as the ball. ~J. M. Barrie

Sporting News will embrace everything except Heavyweight Boxing Championship battles. They will be found in the Financial Section. ~Will Rogers, 1923

Prize fighters can sometimes read and write when they start — but they can't when they finish. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

...if I lose at play, I blaspheme, and if my fellow lose, he blasphemes, so that God is always sure to be a loser. ~John Donne

      Even when the spectators don't intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and "rattling" opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.
      Instead of blah-blahing about the clean, healthy rivalry of the football field and the great part played by the Olympic Games in bringing the nations together, it is more useful to inquire how and why this modern cult of sport arose.... chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism — that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige...
      There are quite enough real causes of trouble already, and we need not add to them by encouraging young men to kick each other on the shins amid the roars of infuriated spectators. ~George Orwell, "The Sporting Spirit," 1945

      It's my firm conviction that some day we shall find universities conferring degrees 'while you wait,' as it were... Then the golden age of education will begin... There's... the gramophone course, in which a man won't have to leave home at all to secure a degree from any college he chooses. By tabulating his knowledge and dictating it into a gramophone he can send the cylinder to the university authorities, have it carefully examined, and receive his degree on a postal-card...
      Such a method would involve the utter destruction of the football and rowing seasons... a man can be branded with the mark of intellectual distinction in absentia... but a man can't win athletic prowess without giving the matter attention in propria persona... You can't stroke a crew by mail any more than you can stroke a cat by freight, and it doesn't make any difference how wonderful he may be physically, a Yale man... can't play football with a Harvard student... by telephone. You can do it with chess, but not with basket ball. ~John Kendrick Bangs, "On Short Courses at College," The Genial Idiot, 1908

Sports are too much with us. Late and soon, sitting and watching — mostly watching on television — we lay waste our powers of identification and enthusiasm and, in time, attention as more and more closing rallies and crucial putts and late field goals and final playoffs and sudden deaths and world records and world championships unreel themselves ceaselessly before our half-lidded eyes. ~Roger Angell, "The Interior Stadium," 1971

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published 2000 Dec 23
revised 2021 Jul 18
last saved 2024 Jun 6