By Fred Bowen Special To The Washington Post
Are you a sports kid? Or a kid who loves facts? Or one of those kids who is always asking “Why?”
If you are like any of those people, I have the perfect book for you. “Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Why” is packed with more than 500 fascinating facts about sports. And dozens of great sports photographs.
Every page has a question or two that begins with the word “why.” Questions such as “Why do some football and baseball players wear eye black?” (It’s to cut down on the glare of the sun, even though studies show that eye black doesn’t help much.)
Here’s another: “Why is it called a ‘hat trick’ when a hockey player scores three goals?” In 1946, a shop owner offered Alex Kaleta, who played left wing for the Chicago Blackhawks, a free hat if he scored three goals in that night’s game. Kaleta scored four goals. Kaleta got his free hat, and hockey got a famous phrase.
The “Big Book of Why” doesn’t just talk about the big sports such as football, baseball and hockey. There are also questions about diving, swimming, lacrosse, gymnastics, curling, skateboarding — just about every sport you can think of or play.
There are even questions about kids’ sports, such as: “Why does my soccer team eat orange slices at halftime?” Hint: It’s not just because they taste good.
I’ve been a sports fan longer than most of my young readers have been alive, and even I didn’t know all the cool stuff in this book.
For example, I didn’t know why Syracuse University’s athletic teams are called the Orange. It seems that in 1890 the school chose orange as its school color. But get this: Before orange, Syracuse’s school colors were pink and green.
And I didn’t know that in the 1970s some early skateboarders used to do tricks in enormous empty half-built water pipes. That’s where the skateboarding term “the half-pipe” comes from.
The book has four quizzes, with 10 questions in each. But even taking a test can’t spoil the fun. After all, it’s just plain interesting to learn the answers to such questions as:
Why do the Pittsburgh Steelers have a logo on only one side of their helmets?
Why don’t the Cleveland Browns have any logo on their helmets?
Why are tennis balls fuzzy?
Why do golf balls have dimples?
Why do basketball players rub the soles of their sneakers?
I guess the only question that isn’t in the book is: Why wouldn’t a kid like you love this book? For sports kids, the answer is easy. You will.