They were one of history’s greatest teams. But by the late 2000s, Pro Vercelli were entrenched in the lower leagues, their glorious past forgotten. Until one day, a man bought a video game. Read the uplifting saga of a small-town Italian club, an unknown American manager, triumph, betrayal, passion, and several extremely good recipes, from start to finish [more inside]
Wade Boggs is known to like his beer. Well, now a Tapper-style game where Boggs drinks beers, throws away girlie drinks, and eats burgers to sober up has been created. [more inside]
Billy Ray Bates, in his words, was "an average player who can do fantastic things. After flaming out in the NBA, he became a legend in Phillippine Basketball Association.> [more inside]
Vuvuzela time! View any web site like you're at the South Africa World Cup!
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson is one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, and as of yet, the only woman to pitch at the major level in the United States. [more inside]
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.
Instead of kicking the shit out of a team that had just been formed out of kids who'd never played the game, didn't have a full set of equipment, and only loosely understood the rules, Roncalli High School's JV women's softball team forfeited the game in order to use the time to teach the new team how to play, then took up a collection to help them buy equipment and hooked them up with a former coach to help advise the program.
Joeurt Puk (aka Joe Cook) is the father of Cambodian baseball. In this feature by ESPN, Patrick Hruby looks into Cook's background and finds that Cook may not be the tireless philanthropist he claims to be. [more inside]
Bulgaria is not what you'd call a wealthy country. It has a smaller population than New York City. But Bulgaria utterly dominates the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. A full explanation of this prowess is beyond the scope of a simple blog post, but I will share with you this six-minute video about a man who built a nationally-ranked team training his athletes with barbells made of pipes and cogs and assorted industrial junk. I hope this goes at least a little way towards explaining their remarkable accomplishments.
Following on from Jonathan Wilson's excellent column The Question (previously), Zonal Marking illustrates and explains how a football match is won and lost, often with same-day analysis and emphasis on individual players. [more inside]
International Gymnast Magazine reports the passing of trampoline inventor George Nissen, whose brainchild trained World War II pilots, transformed into an Olympic sport, and became a pop culture fixture.
Training Rules is a 2009 documentary about the Lady Lions, the Penn State women's basketball program, under Rene Portland. [more inside]
Straight Acting [57m] is a first-person documentary about one man's journey from Mormon missionary to comfortably gay rugby player. [more inside]
"He was so high," says Lucille Gathers Cheeseboro, two decades later. "And then when he came down, he was so low." Hank Gathers, remembered twenty years later. [more inside]
Irish Road bowling traces its origins to the 1600s. The idea of the sport is simple: players compete to roll a 28-ounce iron ball (or "bowl") along a country road, covering a pre-set distance in as few throws as possible. Hotbeds of the sport include Ireland (of course), West Virginia, New York, Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, the Netherlands (where it is called "klootshieten" and is played with somewhat different rules), and Germany (another variant called Boßeln). [more inside]
Students at the University of Mississippi voted yesterday to help select a new mascot. The previous mascot, Colonel Reb, a white-bearded old man with a cane and wide-brimmed hat, was removed from sporting events in 2003. There is now a student-led effort to select "Star Wars" character Admiral Ackbar (video of Ackbar saying "It's a trap!" here) as the new mascot. This effort includes a Facebook group and twitter account. The slogan is, "This time it's not a trap." Officials at the University say "No chance." Meanwhile, the "Save Colonel Reb Foundation" has sponsored a series of radio ads, including this one.
Lakers beat writer obliterates the myth that Wilt Chamberlain slept with 20,000 women. [more inside]
The Who Dat nation is composed of long-suffering, widespread, well-dressed, ballsy, divinely inspired (?), stubborn, parading, boundary-crossing, musical, and - as of tonight - very happy citizens. What's the deal with "Who Dat," anyway?
Double Full Full Full, annotated (NYT video, reg REq'd) U.S. Olympic Team aerial skier Ryan St. Onge and a science reporter describe via video the physics going on as he executes a triple backflip with four twists. Also, the snowboard halfpipe. (Don't ask me why a triple backflip with four twists is called a "double full full full")
The Magisterial Goal. YouTube/Essay on the great British sports announcer Ray Hudson and his literary metaphoric style. “Look at him, so languid, look at him walking. He’s like a big, beautiful zombie, Riquelme. He just strolls around…like smoke off a cigarette.” [more inside]
Is the National Football League a single entity or 32 individual businesses? That’s the question before the Supreme Court in the case of American Needle vs. NFL. American Needle (warning: heavy Flash), a Buffalo Grove, IL sport apparel manufacturer, claims the NFL’s exclusive contract with Reebok to manufacturer all NFL apparel is an anti-trust violation. The NFL counters that they are one entity, and thus, cannot conspire against themselves to restrict competition. [more inside]
At 104, fit & spry Joe Rollino was the last classic strongman -- the sport of strength athletics, which evolved into modern bodybuilding. Standing 5'10" and weighing a mere 145 pounds, he was a fixture on Coney Island, known for feats of strength like 450 pound teeth lifts, or bending quarters with his fingers. Rollino also boxed in the 1920's as "Kid Dundee", and returned from World War II decorated with the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Joe Rollino never drank, never smoked, was a lifetime vegetarian and a confirmed bachelor. He died today after being struck by a minivan.
Malcolm Gladwell did an article about this in the New Yorker, but this GQ article shows the opposition the researchers who discovered CTE faced from the NFL.
At the beginning of the '09 season a young rookie coach named Pep Guardiola was appointed manager of FC Barcelona, one of the top teams in European football. One year later, the team plays 19th December in Abu Dhabi against Estudiantes for the Club World Cup, the cusp of association football season. Guardiola had taken a talented but stagnating team to the top, a prometean figure that brought the philosophy he had inherited playing for historical player Johann Cruyff almost 20 years before. [more inside]
The Confessions of an NBA Scorekeeper Gawker's Tommy Craggs talks with an ex-scorekeeper for the Vancouver Grizzlies, and reveals the subjectivity of stat keeping in the NBA. This guy once gave Nick Van Exel 23 assists just because he felt like it.
The 10 Most Horrific Sports Injuries Ever WARNINGS: Some of the videos/images are rough to look at (breaking limbs, one bloody hockey accident, nude Steve Yeager) and it's clearly US-centric (it doesn't mention that Rugby League dude who was jamming his finger in his opponents anuses).
Calcio Fiorentino was an early form of football (YT) that originated in 16th century Italy (YT). The modern version (Foto Gallery) allows tactics such as head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking, but forbids sucker-punching and kicks to the head.
The world of soccer has been rocked by a French player's game-defining handball in the much-anticipated qualifier match between France and Ireland. Thierry Henry has admitted to the offense, but said ultimately it is the duty of the linesman to make the call. His action and subsequent admission have drawn strong reactions, including attempts to vandalize his Wikipedia page. [more inside]
You’d have to be blind to drive a bobsleigh. At least if you want to finish first, second, or third nine times in seven years. Since 2001, U.S. bobsleigh pilot Steven Holcomb has dealt with a degenerative eye condition that left him with 20/500 vision. He drove a sled hurtling down an ice track anyway, often winning. Now that his vision has been restored via an experimental operation, he fuzzes over his helmet visor so it’s just like the olden days. Bobsleigh, it seems, is all about feel. [more inside]
The Guardian recently published a beautiful article about Danish Dynamite, the '80s Danish national soccer (football) squad. Rob Smyth and Lars Eriksen write about how the success and failure of the national team highlighted national traits that Denmark has. The writing about the matches is among the most inspired I have ever read. [more inside]
Cuban players have long been a mainstay in baseball. After Fidel Castro made it impossible for people to leave the island, the flow of players stopped to a drip. That changed with the defection of Rene Arocha in 1991. [more inside]
Mark McGwire was one of the most feared sluggers in the game during his career. In 1998, the home run chase between McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped baseball recover from the 1994 strike. But, when a reporter found a bottle containing andro in McGwire's locker, some chinks in his armor began to emerge. [more inside]
When people think of the pitfalls of the baseball draft, it is hard not to remember the story of Matt Harrington. Harrington was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft by the Rockies and the Padres in successive years, only to go back into the draft after failing to reach an agreement each time. As the years went by, his stock kept falling. [more inside]
Lenny Dykstra was lauded for his heroics with the Mets and Philles. After his career, Dykstra became well-known as a post-career athlete success story. Then the truth started coming out... [more inside]
The airing of the upcoming PBS documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, will bring new attention to a protest event against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that raised important questions about free speech, the rights of student athletes, and the state of the Civil Rights Movement in the Mormon Church. On October 17, 1969, 14 football players at the University of Wyoming were suspended for threatening to wear black armbands onto the field in an upcoming game against Brigham Young University. The squad members, who were known as the "Black 14," were protesting the the Mormon Church's exclusion of people of African descent from the priesthood. [more inside]
Does american football unavoidably lead to brain damage over time? Does a culture favoring perseverance at the expense of well being begin in high school?
"It began with a photograph. You've seen it. The new Yankee Stadium. The House Next To The House That Ruth Built. The picture showed the most expensive seats empty, with the rest of the stadium packed." Wright Thompson shares his experience splurging on a Legend Suite seat at the new Yankee Stadium. [more inside]
At age 17, Bonnie Richardson won the Texas state track team championship all by herself. Then she did it again.
(all links possibly nsfw) This weekend, Jay Cutler tries to win back from Dexter Jackson the greatest prize in professional bodybuilding - the title of Mr. Olympia. [You may have heard of one of them.] [more inside]
The Revolutionary "Consider, then, the Fosbury Flop, an upside-down and backward leap over a high bar, an outright—an outrageous!—perversion of acceptable methods of jumping over obstacles. An absolute departure in form and technique. It was an insult to suggest, after all these aeons, that there had been a better way to get over a barrier all along. And if there were, it ought to have come from a coach, a professor of kinesiology, a biomechanic, not an Oregon teenager of middling jumping ability."
On Any Sunday is a 1971 film about motorcycling. Narrated by Bruce Brown (director of The Endless Summer, it features Mert Lawwill (who later developed a prosthetic for amputee riders), Malcolm Smith, and Steve McQueen, among others. It can be viewed in its entirety on Hulu. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1971, and reviewed by Roger Ebert in the same year.
Death Race (NYT) - for the third year, Pittsfield Vermont has hosted a 10 mile endurance run. [more inside]
Strange Games "What do you get if you cross a large rubber ball used for physical therapy with the medieval sport of Jousting? Yoga Ball Jousting."
Flip Flop Fly Ball - Baseball infographics and other visual treats. Highlights: How tall is the Green Monster?, Assembling and dismantling the '86 Mets, and Wu-Tang Clan vs. E-Street Band.