Friday, December 21, 2007

Bring Back The Punt, Pass and Kick Library

The little guy in the white jersey and gold helmet is my youngest son. He's nuts about football, and can't watch a game without asking a million questions about football history. He's always looking for answers to questions like how many championships a particular team has won, what the record is for the longest punt, or the longest field goal, who scored the most touchdowns in a single game, which team had the most points in a game, etc.

Most fans my age know that Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam both kicked 63 yard field goals, that Steve O'Neill of the Jets kicked a 98 yard punt, that Gale Sayers scored six touchdowns against the 49ers in 1965, and that the Bears put up 73 points on the Skins in the 1940 championship game. A big part of the reason that we know this trivia, however, is because of a great series of books that were published for young fans back in the 1960s. This series was published by Random House, and was known as "The Punt, Pass and Kick Library."

There were 23 books in the PPK series, and when I was a kid, I think I read most of them so many times that their spines eventually fell off. I'll bet that many of you did too. The ones that I remember the most are "Championship Teams of the NFL," "Strange But True Football Stories," and "Heroes of the NFL." These books were accessible to kids and fun to read, but they were also good sports books in their own right. They didn't condescend to their readers just because they were aimed at a younger audience. The books were written by first rate sportswriters, including Dave Anderson, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his columns in The New York Times.

In light of my son's interest in football, we have been trying to find some good football books to get him for Christmas. Although we were able to find some that were suitable for kids his age, I was disappointed to find that the pickings were a lot slimmer than I remember them being when I was a kid. Sadly, the Punt, Pass and Kick Library has gone the way of the dinosaur, and there just aren't anywhere near as many titles that are either appropriate for younger readers or likely to hold their interest.

That's a shame, because a lot of boys are just like my son. They are fascinated by sports trivia (guys who know their sports rank very high in the playground pecking order), and there's nothing that will make them read for hours on end quite like a book about their favorite sport.

While football remains an overwhelmingly popular spectator sport, not as many kids play organized football as they did in years past. That's a fact that hasn't been lost on the NFL, and it has invested quite a bit of money in its Play Football programs, which are designed to get more kids into the game. One of the things that the NFL hasn't emphasized in that program, however, is sports books for kids. An updated PPK series would do a world of good in terms of feeding the insatiable appetite for football facts that many kids like my son have, while also helping them to learn how much fun reading can actually be.

1 comment:

Doug Van Pelt said...

Hi. I found your blog here about the great Punt Pass and Kick Library. I am now auctioning some off on ebay at the moment, finally letting go of these books from my childhood.

-Doug Van Pelt