Arts + Lifestyle

Time to Hang Up the Spikes?

By Charlie Nutt
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 |
I took particular pleasure in the final shot on my last racquetball match with my 30-something son — roughly half my age. I buried the ball in the front
corner to win the game by one point.

The kill shot proved that, at least occasionally, being old, slow and sneaky can sometimes beat being young, fast and strong.

I think John D. Spurrier of Irmo would agree with that observation, considering the subject of his new book: Am I Too Old to Play? Comic Views of Sports and Aging.

It’s a very funny book. That might surprise some readers, because Spurrier is a retired professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina. Statisticians as a group aren’t usually known for laugh-a-minute repartee.

In this case, Spurrier is also not only an aging athlete himself, but also an occasional stand-up comic. So he borrowed the approach of comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s tests to see if members of the audience are rednecks.

Spurrier’s book offers 90 tests on age and sports ability, and the one-liners are accompanied by rudimentary sketches (also by Spurrier).

Some of the tests are from his days playing softball and basketball for Ashland United Methodist Church teams into his 60s. (His biography notes, “He loved competing and being part of the team. In his mind, he was still 17 and ran like the wind. Some of his body parts disagreed, particularly the next day.”)

One of the tests is, “If your latest recruiting letter came from an assisted living facility, you might be too old to play.” Spurrier notes ruefully that that particular test “is sadly a true story.”

He provides a helpful — or maybe disturbing — scoring system for the 90-point test so readers can “rate themselves on the wisdom of continuing to play or to rather watch the games on television with 9-1-1 on speed dial.”

Readers’ Comments


This month Free Times is helping to mark the annual One Book, One Columbia program by carrying observations from the Richland Library’s reader advocates about favorite books or authors. This year’s book is Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life. Conroy will speak and sign books at a free program at Township Auditorium on Feb. 27.

Reggie Pennington: “I would select Vince Flynn as my favorite author. Vince has that rare gift of incorporating detailed, technical information within a story line that will envelop the reader into hours of intrigue and suspense. He will be missed.”

Betty Kornegay: “It’s always a pleasure to read a book that can not only entertain but also inspire, as did Broken Shells by Deena Bouknight. Deena captures the conflicted emotions and attitudes that the prejudices of my generation struggled to sort out. She tells of two Southern females, one white and one black, and a deep friendship where life’s ultimate gifts are exchanged and shared.”

Mary Waller: “In her novel Broken Shells, Deena Bouknight creatively weaves together the parallel stories of two main characters. She sensitively touches upon real life issues that many face yet are reluctant to discuss openly or honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, with eager anticipation of how the story would unfold in each chapter.”

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Let us know what you think: Email editor@free-times.com.

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