In his new book, “National Lampoon’s Balls! An In-Your-Face Look at Sports,” comedian Steve Hofstetter turns the light on a side of sports that people rarely see.
“I’m a huge sports fan and I feel like there’s always been something missing,” Hofstetter said. “Most sports coverage is sports with a little bit of funny – I wanted to focus on the funny.”
Hofstetter breaks down the origins of sports, throwing in his own satirical spin. In a conversational style, the book allows its readers to feel more like they are reading notes on one of Hofstetter’s stand-up acts rather than the 216-page book it is.
Easy to read and hard to put down, “Balls!” comes full-circle in the world of sports, connecting the various sports through one thing they have in common: humor.
“(Sports) are supposed to be fun,” Hofstetter said. “You lose yourself in the game and live vicariously through the players. If that’s not happening, you should get out.”
In the book, Hofstetter pokes fun at the founders of their respective sports and the events that have followed the sports’ beginings in a style all his own.
“This book will actually teach you a bit about sports, mainly that sports are funny,” Hofstetter writes. “Where else can a grown man play a children’s game in a jumpsuit for a million dollars and complain that he’s not getting paid enough? That’s comedy, no matter how you slice it.”
Hofstetter teases a few individuals and teams more than others. His favorite hockey team, the New York Rangers, suffers one of the worst beatings as Hofstetter finds ways to incorporate the Rangers’ losing streaks in most of the chapters of the book.
“The odds that any one of the (original) six teams (of the NHL) will not win the Cup two seasons in a row is 5/6 times 5/6 – or 69 percent,” he writes. “So, all things equal in a six-team league, the odds that the Rangers would not win a Cup for 25 years are approximately 1 percent. Congratulations, boys – you defied the odds.”
No one is safe from his jabs at the sports industry, from WNBA athletes to the stereotypical “super fan.”
“I appreciate the super fans of my teams, I wonder what a super fan’s life is like outside the game,” he writes. “I’d imagine that under that fire helmet, there is a lonely man just wanting a hug. So feel free to volunteer because I’m not going near that freak.”
Hofstetter mocks the vast majority of sports teams, players and management and leaves no stone unturned. Everyone gets a mention, from Barry Bonds to Christopher Columbus.
“There are teams and players who just deserve it more than others,” Hofstetter said. “I really try to write it from the perspective of ‘this is what fans think.'”
Hofstetter is working on transforming the book into a television show, but for now readers will have to indulge in the harsh-but-true humor of “Balls!” and read his syndicated Sports Minute (or so) while waiting for his next great moment of comedic prowess.