"We sort our kids. We rate them. We chart them, and we measure their progress against the rest of the country and pray that they come out on the high end of the curve. And frankly, it's all horseshit. Every last bit of it. The competition industry is crushing us all." Drew Magary, at Deadspin, unloads on the idea that "these kids today" are little ninnies made soft by participation trophies and unscored soccer games. [more inside]
Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias has, in many ways, become America's all-but-forgotten sports superstar. You might have seen the round brick museum built in her tribute as you zip along Interstate 10 in Beaumont, Texas (Google maps), or remember she ranked #10 on the ESPN SportsCentury top 50 athletes of the 20th century, but that was back in 1999. So if this is all news to you, here's a bit more about Babe. [more inside]
"Casually, I click in a compilation of clips I've never seen before. I think it's another video like other thousands of thousands, but I soon realize it's not. The clips are not Messi goals, his best runs, nor his assists. It's a strange compilation: the video shows hundreds of clips, two or three seconds long each, in which Messi receives strong fouls and doesn't fall to the ground." Messi es un perro is a short essay by Argentine writer Hernán Casciari on Lionel Messi. You can read an English translation on Reddit, Messi Is a Dog. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it is to listen to the original as read by Norberto Jansenson with English subtitles. [via this Deadspin article about Messi by Billy Haisley which you should also read]
Imagine if you could toss two trained fighters into a ring, give them whatever weapons they want, and and let them go full-on Spartacus on each other without anyone getting seriously injured. With the death element removed, even the most die-hard pacifists would have to admit that it’d be pretty damn entertaining. With their new carbon fiber damage-measuring armor, that’s exactly what Australian startup Unified Weapons Master wants to do.
"And looks like an almost goal. If that whole goal system would have been moved over maybe thirty more feet, we would have been looking at a goal." -- MeFi favorite Reggie Watts (previously) doing World Cup commentary alongside MeFi favorite Peter Serafinowicz (previously) on his Mixlr account, where Serafinowicz has been providing comedic commentary for the games for the last week. [via]
So earlier today Luis Suarez, striker for the Uruguay side, bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during their respective teams' final group play match for the World Cup. This is not the first time he's done this--in fact, folks were taking bets that Suarez would bite someone during World Cup play. Biting is a major taboo in sports, and sure enough, Suarez is now facing a ban of up to 24 games by FIFA. Indeed, Suarez has a history of violent behavior and racist statements, even when you leave aside the biting incidents. And yet, despite all this, Suarez is generally regarded as one of the best soccer players in the world today. So it's fitting that, just before this year's World Cup began, ESPN published an essay by Wright Thompson (previously) on the many myths and contradictions that surround Luis Suarez.
U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team. How will the ruling impact the name? [more inside]
The World's Ball - the NYT reviews the design evolution of the soccer/football from 1930 to the present
Simpson is in Lovelock because he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery in Nevada in 2008; he's serving a sentence of up to 33 years, with the possibility of parole in 2017. He will turn 67 next month, but the O.J. personage who remains a cultural touchstone is much younger. That one was born 20 years ago this week, on June 17, 1994, a day that spawned a series of events that are as ingrained in Americana as anything that happened at Valley Forge or in Dealey Plaza. Sports Illustrated tackles Orenthal James Simpson.
Ever felt as though the ups and downs of the NBA playoffs and the chase for a ring is like an epic tale? Game of Thrones, NBA edition, part 1. [YouTube, 2:03] & Game of Thrones, NBA edition, part 2. [YouTube, 2:11]
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.
Brazil has spared no expense for the upcoming World Cup. The month-long competition will feature 64 matches in 12 cities across the country. Refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost Brazil $3.6bn. Several of the new stadiums will seldom be used after the World Cup, and Brasilia's World Cup stadium is estimated to have cost taxpayers $900m. [more inside]
It's easy to explain why you love a conventionally excellent player, but way, way more fun to try and explain the appeal of a top-flight athlete whose every step and twitch appeared to be bringing him dangerously close to death itself. You had this guy, St. Louis, and he was awesome and everything, but every time he hit a triple he'd pop up and have the saddest look on his face like everything he loved had died, and left him with the soul of an ancient, sad, and immortal Golem. It was like watching Buster Keaton play centerfield, and he was like that every time he played.SB Nation Reviews: Willie McGee
Michael Sam (previously), being the 249th draft pick, becomes a St. Louis Ram and the first openly gay man (and already endorsed) in the NFL.
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 large got larger. The small got smaller. The weird got weirder. When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them. TED talk, 14:53
"Draft Day," "Moneyball," and the rise of the sports management movie. There’s a new breed of sports movie in town, one that does away with all that pesky team building and ersatz democracy. These films celebrate the real heroes of sports, the real heroes of any workplace: the bosses.
The NBA season has ended, and the playoffs have begun, causing a figurative ton of internet ink to be spilled on predictions and power rankings. But one word in particular seems to keep popping up in articles to describe white players like Steve Novak, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Andrew Bogut, and Josh McRoberts: "Dorky." And the writers that use it are inevitably white. Triangle Offense's Khalid Saalam (previously) thinks they should probably cut that out.
Lousiana State University sophomore Lloimincia Hall becomes an Internet sensation after her perfect 10 performances in the floor exercise, combining gymnastics technical proficiency with hot dance moves.
"What you’re about to see are hundreds of men across two sports not merely tolerating a gay player because he’s a peer in their league, but actually accepting him because he’s their friend." Former NFL linebacker, current sports analyst, and long-time equal rights proponent Scott Fujita writes about 'Michael Sam, Jason Collins paving the way for a better workplace, world'.
Major league baseball is doing something dumb. They asked fans to nominate a player from their team to be THE FACE OF MLB, whatever that means. Yankees fans picked Derek Jeter. Angels fans picked Mike Trout. Oakland A's fans picked a 4-eyed utility infielder named Eric Sogard. And he's winning.
The video of a photographer and is crew trying to get images of Kate Upton in zero gravity is pretty great and hilarious.
Figure skater Evgeni Plushenko (wiki) withdrew from the men's individual event at the Olympics in Sochi and announced his retirement from amateur skating (NYT) only days after winning gold in the team event. Plushenko has won medals at four Olympic Games* (2006 gold: Short Program, Free Skating; 2014 gold; 2002: SP, FS, 2010: SP, FS); he has won 17 gold, 8 silver and 2 bronze medals in major competitions in spite of a 2006-2008 hiatus and he holds 10 titles in the Russian Nationals in a career spanning over 17 years. He was famous not only for his technique, but also for his grace and showmanship. [more inside]
"This project started with my dad on Thanksgiving. He was reminiscing about Doug Williams, who in 1988 became the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. All these years later, he was still proud of Williams, whose name to some may be that of a half-remembered player from the past but to millions of others remains a powerful symbol of progress. It stayed with me, and it seemed that it was worth telling the story not just of Williams, but of everyone—of all those generations of players who struggled so that Russell Wilson could be, simply, a good young quarterback." Deadspin's The Big Book of Black Quarterbacks.
Jared Lorenzen briefly played backup quarterback in the NFL and became famous for his unusual size (for a quarterback). When videos of him dominating minor league arena football recently appeared online, SBNation tracked his entire fascinating post-NFL history in Jared Lorenzen: 300+ pound QB, American folk hero.
Every psychic animal dreams of claiming the throne vacated by the late Paul the Octopus. Super Bowl XLVIII crushed many of those dreams. Especially disappointing was the fall of Buffett the Manatee who, from his tank at Sarasota, Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, had correctly called the last six Super Bowls.
NFL holds Super Bowl in NYC; NYC unimpressed. While the stadium is technically in New Jersey, it is considered equally if not primarily a New York stadium, and the NFL turned Times Square and Broadway into Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered By GMC. Visitors can kick a football, watch television, ride a toboggan, shop, enjoy a free slice of Papa John's pizza, play XBox, take a photo with the oversized Roman numerals 'XLVIII', use relevant Twitter hashtags, and more. It is not decadent and depraved, though Vice and Gothamist would tend to disagree. The Times discusses less vehement disapproval and disappointment, while Business Insider wishes ill upon the city. Ticket sales are faltering relative to recent years, with the new mayor among those skipping out.
It's been a decade since the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction. What happened is still somewhat a mystery, writes Marin Cogan in ESPN Magazine. [more inside]
Curious about which sport has the best odds of a male or female High School or College player going pro? OSMguy has a data visualization for that. [Via Tableau's Viz of the Day]
Northwestern Football Players Are Trying To Unionize. More coverage from Deadspin, ThinkProgress, and Bleacher Report. The NCAA's predictable response.
It only happens once every few years: a brackish river in New Jersey freezes over, and the iceboats come out. It's happening all over the Northeast, where an unusually cold winter is welcomed with delight by aficionados of this sport. Lightly constructed, beautiful, and fast (the record stands at 84 miles an hour propelled by wind alone), iceboats provide a winter thrill ride like none other. Iceboating or ice yachting has thrived in pockets of North America and Europe since the nineteenth century. When conditions are right, see them sailing and racing in Wisconsin, on the Hudson, in Maine, Minnesota, Prince Edward Island. and wherever else "hard-water sailors" congregate.
Yo, Richard Sherman, I'm real happy for you and I'm gonna let you finish, but Li Na at the Australian Open gives the best postmatch victory interviews of all time. OF ALL TIME.
2011 Semifinal | 2013 Semifinal | 2014 Champion
2011 Semifinal | 2013 Semifinal | 2014 Champion
Toronto Sports Network aired a three-part series this week called ReOrientation, examining the ongoing shift in the attitude of the 5 major North American sports leagues towards homosexuality: The Culture of Casual Homophobia / The Transition Phase / The Players Speak.
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
Dan LeBatard of ESPN gave away his baseball Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin, and talking heads had a lot to say about it.
Each of Historian Barbara Wells Sarudy's six blogs contains a wealth of esoteric treasures: "President John Adams declared, “History is not the Province of the Ladies.” Oh well, I'll give it a try." [more inside]
Fallon Fox is the world's first and only transgender MMA fighter. Profile by Nancy Hass for GQ.
Cleveland Scene takes a look at the paranoid and obsessive life of a mid-level bookie.
"Assault In The Ring" (originally called "Cornered: A Life in the Ring") is a film about a boxing match that took place between undefeated prospect Billy Collins Jr and Luis Resto. What began as a match turned into a life altering moment for both participants - Collins' career dreams ended and Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis landed in prison for their illegal actions. The subsequent investigation and trial have led many to declare this bout the darkest day in boxing history. But the film-maker doesn't stop there. He tracked down the surviving principals and arranged meetings among some of them, trying to see if the documentary can be an occasion for reconciliation or justice. Watch the film in its entirety on Youtube here.
After a weekend in which tight end Rob Gronkowski and safety Tyrann Mathieu both sustained season-ending tears to their anterior cruciate ligaments, many NFL fans are wondering why there seem to be more such injuries this season than in seasons past. Grantland looks at the dreaded ACL tear and tries to solve the puzzle. [more inside]