In 2003, the small Kochi Racetrack in southern Japan was in trouble. The Lost Decade hit the provincial raceway hard, and the staff was scrambling to find some way to stave off bankruptcy. One day, they found an unlikely savior. This is the story of Haru Urara, the losingest racehorse in Japan, and how she gave hope to millions.
Sarah Spain is just a scrub muffin. Watch men sit down with ESPN anchor Sarah Spain and Chicago sports radio host Julie DiCaro and read off harrasing twitter comments about journalists to their face. As part of a campaign #MoreThanMean, to learn more about the project check out the discussion on how the video came about on More Than Sports podcast.
ESPN uses the "30 for 30" series to tackle the most important sporting event of the Cold War. [more inside]
ESPN is suspending publication of Grantland, effective immediately. The ambitious website hosted writing from a long list of witty, intelligent contributors on sports and pop culture, including Rembert Browne, Katie Baker, Mark Harris, Molly Lambert, and Mark Lisanti. Grantland was launched by Bill Simmons, whose contract with ESPN was not renewed earlier this year after almost 15 years with the company after Simmons was publicly critical of ESPN and the NFL.
"The hurricane lives in a complicated place. Everyone's experience is both communal and personal, obvious and hidden. The memory of the death is everywhere, buried in shallow and temporary graves." (SL Longform ESPN)
A Life On The Line: For four decades, other gamblers have tried to be Billy Walters while investigators have tried to bring him down. And for four decades, the world's most successful sports bettor has outrun them all.
For 38-year-old Rubalcada, being at the M is a pleasing trip down memory lane, a visit to his primary workplace throughout 2010 and 2011. Back then, he had nearly $1 million in his account at the M. Dressed in slacks and a sport coat, he would saunter in and bet six figures a week on NFL and college games. He was, M Resort staffers say, one of the sportsbook's "bigger guys" -- a high roller who could afford to bet very, very big.[more inside]
But he wasn't that at all.
In fact, Rubalcada was a faceless grunt in the most successful gambling enterprise of all time.
Betrayal is what led to his defenestration from ESPN the last time around. Betrayal is why his best piece of writing never found the audience it deserved. And betrayal is at the heart of why the most prominent black sportswriter around is also the most hated sportswriter in the black community, and why, 10 months after Jason Whitlock first announced his new endeavor, a black sports and culture site that he'll run under the aegis of his old enemy ESPN, the project is still struggling to get off the ground.
Bill Simmons, Grantland boss and 30 for 30 executive producer, went from a little known Boston blogger to one of the most successful sports writers in the history of American media. Rolling Stone's Rob Tannenbaum took a deeper look at Simmons.
The much-anticipated Frontline documentary "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" premiered on PBS last week. In August, ESPN pulled out of the project, reportedly due to pressure from the NFL (as previously discussed on MetaFilter here), while the NFL itself only days later announced a $765m settlement with over 4500 former players for claims of concussion-related disability. Reaction to the Frontline program was unsurprisingly mixed from factions involved with the issue, but generally well-received by journalists and TV critics. [more inside]
The New York Times is reporting that pressure from the NFL led ESPN to pull out of an investigative project with FRONTLINE regarding head injuries in American Football. The two-part investigative report and book will reveal how the NFL, over a period of nearly two decades, sought to cover up and deny mounting evidence of the connection between football and brain damage. ESPN has a $15.2 Billion deal with the NFL. (Football concussions previously: 1, 2, and 3)
In 2009, ESPN producer Lisa Fenn worked on a story about two high-school wrestlers, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett. Sutton was hit by a train when he was a child and had both his legs amputated; Crockett is legally blind. After the story aired, Fenn stayed in Sutton and Crockett's lives, and the three formed a surprising, enduring bond. [more inside]
When We Held Kings: The oral history of the 2003 World Series of Poker, in which an amateur named Moneymaker turned $39 into $2.5 million and the poker boom was born.
Nico Calabria plays soccer and wrestles for Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts. He summitted Mount Kilimanjaro at 13 [Vimeo] as a fundraiser to provide wheelchairs to people in Tanzania, he does some parkour, and this week he's in a race to have the "Best of the Best" video on ESPN's SportsCenter for a goal he scored in a recent game. Calabria was born with one leg and uses carbon fiber crutches when he plays; he's a starting forward on the US Amputee National Team.
Team Spirit is a short documentary by Errol Morris about the funerals of passionate sports fans. (SLYT)
ESPN: The Body Issue 2012 (nsfw)
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
The 49ers are back, but who's paying attention? Sitting on top of a weak NFC West, is the Niner's impressive rise going overlooked? [more inside]
Ultimately, there is no separating Vick from his circumstances: his race, parents, economics and opportunities.
What if Michael Vick were white? The cover of the September issue of ESPN The Magazine features an image of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, but another picture might end up getting more attention. [more inside]
Launching at 12:00PM ET today is Grantland.com, a new site from ESPN's Bill Simmons which will feature longer-form articles and a mix of sports and pop culture, with an impressive roster of contributors, including Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Eggers and Chuck Klosterman. The site takes its name from the legendary early-20th-century sportswriter Grantland Rice.
The Tao of Poo We can exhaustively explore every aspect of athletic life -- victory, defeat, violence, racism, drugs, brain damage, paralysis, death -- but nothing reveals as much about the physiology, psychology and sociology of sport as the excretory experience of athletes.
Quickish is a new site offering "real-time-ish" short-form sports news and analysis links, gathered and recommended by the site's proprietor, Dan Shanoff. Link suggestions from readers are welcome. NiemanLab interviews Shanoff. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he used to do the Daily Quickie on ESPN.com.
A heartbreaking 10-minute documentary on Joe Gaetjens who scored the single goal in the USA's shocking victory over England at the 1950 World Cup. Gaetjens was a Haitian accounting student at Columbia University who went to Europe shortly after the 1950 World Cup and returned to Haiti a few years later. His story, and the story of the upset victory, was until recently largely unknown in the US.
Sports Business Journal has a detailed look behind the buzz over "The Emperor’s New Clothes: How ESPN’s Multi-Platform Strategy Hasn’t Improved Ratings," a sharply critical PowerPoint presentation making the rounds of sports league offices and advertising buyers in recent months. A good read for folks interested in the business of sports, decreasing TV ratings for many leagues, the blurriness of the ad/news line and the difficulty of measuring eyeballs across media. [via Romenesko]
Dominoes now on ESPN! What's next? Watching Solitaire?
Happy 18th Birthday Maria Sharapova! A music video by ESPN's Bristol Bob and the Page 2 Crue, made in honor of Maria Sharapova's 18th birthday. Make sure you crank the volume knob up to 11, because now you, too, can sing along to the tune of The Knack's "My Sharona."
I saw a feature on ESPN last night about Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtney, two Georgia teenagers who are indelibly linked to history as the kids who ran alongside Hank Aaron after the famous 715th home run. Then I googled around a bit and discovered Jim Leavelle, the former Dallas cop who will forever be known as the guy in the hat watching Ruby take care of Oswald in the precinct basement. And then there's Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway who was photographed wailing over a dead body at Kent State in 1970. And, of course, there's Afghanistan Girl. Can anyone think of other bystanders to historical events whose faces we all know but identities remain anonymous? Is there anyone who has not yet been rediscovered?
On sunday, Rush Limbaugh commented that Donovan McNabb, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, was overrated and was only seen favourably by the media because they want to see a black quarterback do well. McNabb responded, and earlier tonight Limbaugh resigned from his post on ESPN's pre-game show. N.D. Kalu, one of the Eagle's defensive ends, offered this choice quote: "He speaks well, he's well-read, but he's an idiot."
If this article toes the line, then this one completely jumps overboard. In the wake of basketball player Kobe Bryant's recent legal problems, ESPN freely insinuates that perhaps his legal troubles are caused by his desire to boost the sales of his endorsed products. But don't sell Kobe short on marketing power, as we meFites can already attest. [more inside]
The Sports Book of Virtues (not) By Bill Bennett. "I believe in a strong family unit and doubling down on 11."
The dark side of being a sports mascot. Assault and battery by opposing coaches and fans. Having to do acrobatics in foul-smelling costumes in 80-degree heat. Lawsuits. Injuries. "I've got really good accidental death and dismemberment insurance," [NBA mascot Kirk] Johnson said with a laugh. "You never know what's going to happen." Behind that frolicsome giant stuffed animal lies a bleak world of terror and pain. [no more inside, wasn't that enough?]
ESPN Motion It's been years in the making, but I can finally say that the Internet has finally met TV, through the medium of sports. ESPN and MSN have introduced ESPN Motion. Along with their site redesign, the once static front page is now a video. Right? You think. Usually this stuff doesn't work, but it doesn't require streaming or waiting (I must concede though that I am on a *very* fast internet connection). Basically you have to register for espn.com and then download a 500 KB file and run the installation. After a few minutes, it works fine. I think the program keeps the video updated in a cache on your hdd but it would require more research.
Note: you are required to have Windows 98 or higher, a fast internet connection, and Windows Media Player.
Note: you are required to have Windows 98 or higher, a fast internet connection, and Windows Media Player.
There Ultimate Standings. ESPN has done a ranking of the relative value of each major U.S. sports franchise not in terms of mere victories, or championships, or even felony convictions, but in terms of how much value (as calculated here) each franchise is providing its fans. Stunned to see perrennial winners such as the Yankees & Lakers pushed down to the 20s, while small market teams like Green Bay, San Antonio & Sacramento dominate. Clearly life IS better in the small towns, at least for sports fans. Here's a more in depth explanation of what it all means.
Top 10 NFL games to watch. Time magazine pick this season's 10 "can't miss" games. ESPN's First...and 10 goes to 11. Sports Illustrated's "must-see" list picks the top game each week. [more inside]
Tuesday Morning Quarterback moves to ESPN.com's Page 2. Err...moved. In April. (Other weblogs missed the move, too; apparently the only clue was a Best of Slate post.) I've always loved reading TMQ and I hope it's just as good at ESPN.com. Alternative viewpoint: TMQ Sucks. [Cross-pollinated from SportsFilter]
ESPN's Bill Simmons spent $9.95 on Shaquille O'Neal's Celebrity Birthday Roast pay-per-view so you won't have to.
I like football as much as the next guy, but this has to be the lamest attempt at "sports humor" I've seen in a while.
Lewis-Tyson Conference Disrupted by Mass Brawl Determined to turn this conference into a World Wrestling Federation spectacle, Tyson took a swing at Lewis and one of his handlers, pointed to his crotch while yelling at Lewis and screamed profanities at some of the boxing writers in attendance. Yes, Tyson BIT Lenox Lewis in the foot! Bert Sugar says Tyson was trying to get out of the fight since he is in the process of applying for a Nevada license which he had lost for biting Evander Hollyfield.
ESPN hosting show on the world's sexiest athletes. 32 men and 32 women vie for the big crown(s), to be announced Jan. 27. The website has profiles on all 64 and will have a place for you to vote for your favorites. Don't all chime in with who you're going to vote for (that's what espn.com is for, not MeFi), but who'd they leave out? I say race-car driver Dario Franchitti and track star Suzy Favor Hamilton.
There's lots of controversy about Nebraska playing for the national championship in tonight's Rose Bowl because they didn’t win their division or conference and got crushed 63–26 by Colorado in their last game of the season. [more inside]
So Forsberg is coming back and it means the Avalance could once again be a force to be reckoned with. Can anyone beat Detroit? And in the East, the Bruins are looking good. I care, but do my fellow nerds? It seems there's a serious dearth of computer geeks that follow hockey. Is the gap between ESPN and ICQ that big? Do any of you other nerds watch hockey, or is it dead?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... for Boston Red Sox fans. This story from espn.com's Page 2 about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is well-written and fills me with sympathy and empathy for Sox fans. See, as a Yakee fan, I was rooting against them at the time, but I feel sorry for them now. What a cruel punishment that game must have been. So close, and yet so far. (Please pardon my sports digression and shameless use of cliches.)
Hockey, Schmockey, let's just shake hands. I'm not a hockey fan, but I do appreciate the fact that our country seems to be re-examining what is truly important in life at every turn, both in groups and on a personal level.
ESPN teams up with MSN First the Justice Department folds, and now this: “ESPN.com’s sports content will be uniquely integrated with MSN and will carry MSN branding and links throughout the ESPN.com site.” Is it really a surprise? Will it really make a difference?
Supreme Court gives golfer Casey Martin the keys to the cart. Can a private organization be forced to allow something it says is against the spirit of the rules of it's competitions? Will we see Casey play anytime soon? Who else will benefit from this ruling in golf and other sports?
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