The eighth Rugby World Cup (@) kicks off tomorrow in England (and Wales), contested by twenty qualifying teams. While the All Blacks are unbackable (5/4) favourites to be the first team to retain Bill, the Cup is equally a celebration of the diverse world rugby family, offering the minnows a chance to pit themselves against the best. [more inside]
Over five decades of economic decline and racial conflict, a Western Pennsylvania mill town has found unity and hope on the football field. "There is no drug dealing at the Pit, and rarely any violence," Walker says. "It really is sacred ground; it's like a miracle. You've got guys that, any other time of the day, they're going to try and rip each other's throats out, but they just walk past each other in the Pit. They're there to watch those kids play."
Why can't men be Olympic synchronised swimmers? - by William Kremer (BBC News Magazine)
Sam Borden on calcio storico, Florentine historic football
With two teams of 27 players placed in a sand pit and told, essentially, to do whatever is necessary to get a ball into the other team’s end zone, the sport is a strange mix of American football, rugby and street fighting. Watching it live, a more direct comparison might be to the children’s game Red Rover, but with punching and tattoos.
Football fans – and here I naturally include myself – act as if they are mentally ill. This is an article that is nominally about football, but is just as much about the pressures of modern life and the plight of men (in particular, but not exclusively). This is both a very personal account and an observation of how others behave. It is about being a football fan, but also the impact of social media on our appreciation of life (and sport), and how constantly striving for more can lead to increased unhappiness – even if you attain it.
"He was a fun-loving, care-free sort of see-ball, hit-ball guy with a cheeky grin" ... "We would have late-night coffees and he would just be in awe of the fact he was playing for Australia.... He would just say 'I'm going to go out there and smash it bro'. That was how he would talk. He would not think about it. He would just go out there and whack the ball. He was just positive all the time, he never moaned or complained.Australian test cricketer Phillip Hughes has died in hospital two days after being hit by a bouncer during a match between South Australia and New South Wales in Sydney. [Warning: graphic images.] [more inside]
A BBC Sport study into prize money found 30% of sports reward men more highly than women. The biggest disparities in prize money were found in football, cricket, golf, darts, snooker and squash. [more inside]
"Like South African 800m sensation Caster Semenya before her, Chand discovered - in bold newsprint - that she had natural levels of the hormone testosterone normally only found in men. It did not take long before reporters were outside her parents' humble home asking them and her six siblings if she was a boy or a girl." [Via BBC Sport] [more inside]
James Murphy (formerly of LCD Soundsystem) has built an algorithm to musically interpret live data from the US Tennis Open which will create around 400 hours of music. All previous games can be listened to and each has a different flavour - it can get a little glitchy but try Djokovic vs Querry or Brengle vs Lisick for starters. Or have a play with the algorithm yourself.
Which sport are you physically most suited for? Find out with some help from the BBC!
Vinkensport (finch sport), or vinkenzetting (finch sitting) is a Belgian, primarily Flemish, sport involving a box, a bird, and a counting stick. The bird that sings the most times in an hour wins. Here is a short and somewhat doubtful documentary.
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
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.
This is what a dying sport looks like. For decades, the Miami fronton was known as the “Yankee Stadium of jai alai,” a temple to the game, the site of the largest jai alai crowds in American history. Since the 1920s, the best players in the world have gathered here every winter. Jai alai used to be a very popular spectator sport in this country, with frontons up and down the Eastern seaboard. Presidents watched jai alai with their wives. Ernest Hemingway bragged about getting to hang out with jai alai players. In fact, during World War II he concocted a scheme in which jai alai players would somehow lob grenades down the open hatches of unsuspecting German U-boats. Now, the sport seems like a relic, a vision into the past. It’s vestigial, like an appendix.
Britain's elite sportswomen fear that the way they look is judged to be more important than what they achieve in their sporting careers. [more inside]
Bandy is a game similar to ice hockey, but played with a ball instead of a puck. Somalia is set to enter its first ever team into the World Bandy Championships, comprised entirely of Somali refugees living in Borlaenge, Sweden where almost 10% of the population hails from war-torn Somalia. [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]
The Portuguese footballer Eusébio, considered one of the greatest of all time, died today. The first great footballer to come out of Africa, Eusébio was above all an humble man who would congratulate a keeper who had just made a difficult save and for whom the greatest joy after winning the European Cup (now named UEFA Champions League) was in getting to trade jerseys with his idol, Real Madrid's star di Stéfano. (The goals of the final.) [more inside]
The Far Post is a journalism series by Roads and Kingdoms and Sports Illustrated on global soccer culture that will run every other week until the start of "the largest theater that has ever existed in human history," the World Cup. So far there are five articles: Brazil 2014 Starts Now by Laurent Dubois gives an overview of the history of the World Cup and what it means now. Messi in Kolkata by Kanishk Tharoor is about a visit by the Argentine national team to Kolkata and the state of the game in India. Afghanistan United By May Jeong is the story of the incredible triumph of the Afghan national team at the 2013 South Asian Championship. Soccer and the Street in Istanbul by Izzy Finkel reports on the links between soccer and politics in Turkey. The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy by Patrick Kingsley is the account of how hardcore soccerfans in Egypt, at the center of the 2011 revolution, have fared in the aftermath.
When the announcement had been made that Wimbledon FC would be moved to Milton Keynes, to later be rebranded MK Dons, a meeting was called by Wimbledon fans. Toward the end of a charged meeting in the Wimbledon Community Centre, Kris Stewart, then chair of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Club, realized that the fans had no chance of hanging on to their club and that no amount of protests would stop the franchise moving to Milton Keynes. In that moment Stewart made his walk through the crowd toward the microphone. “I’m tired of fighting,” he said before issuing a spontaneous rallying cry that has become legendary among fans of AFC Wimbledon. “I just want to watch football.” (SLTheMorningNews)
As Teahupo'o gains notoriety as one of the biggest monsters in the surfing world, the tiny area it covers gets more and more crowded. If you want to dig some fingernail-marks into the armrests of your chair, watch 2013's Inside the Monster (25:43, French with English Subtitles). Then, explore The Mechanics of Teahupo'o in this slideshow about what makes this slab tick. [previous, previous]
Why Do Baseball Players Still Bunt So Damn Much?
It’s the most maddening and demonstrably ineffective strategy in baseball and has been for quite some time. So why do teams keep doing it?
It’s the most maddening and demonstrably ineffective strategy in baseball and has been for quite some time. So why do teams keep doing it?
After (intentionally?) missing a last second penalty kick, the US Men's National Team beat Mexico in Columbus by a now famous final score. Following the game, the team watched Honduras hold on for a 2-2 draw against Panama which officially cemented the team's slot in the 2014 World Cup. An unassuming venue [autoplay video], Crew Stadium was the first purpose-built soccer facility in the US, and it has become the preferred location for the US to take on its most-powerful CONCACAF rival.
IS ☻ JAPAN COOL?! The International Olympic Committee votes in 15 days on whether Tokyo, Istanbul or Madrid will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, and major efforts are underway to cajole the committee. Promotional videos have been released, royalty, major sports figures, and robotic cats have been dragged out. A few nasty remarks have been flung, which were subsequently dismissed. Meanwhile, activists, petitioners, protesters, and economic instability are potentially hurting the Olympic bids in Madrid, Istanbul, and Tokyo, Turkey has experienced a major doping scandal, and radiation continues to leak from Fukushima. And what would the Olympics be without a logo design failure?!
Twenty years ago today, as England faced Australia in the first Test at Old Trafford, a young spin bowler prepared to deliver his first ball in Ashes cricket. What came out of his hand that afternoon in Manchester has since become the stuff of legend, baffling commentators, generating encomia, and creating iconic images: Barney Ronay reflects on Gatting b Warne 4, Shane Warne's Ball of the Century.
From the innocents at the New York Times: how to attend a Premier League match.
Michael Schiavello covers Resurrection Fighting Alliance 7 - Chavez v Mainus
37-year-old Transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox recently came out as transgender during an interview with Sports Illustrated. She also doesn't believe she and other transgender MMA fighters should have to disclose their medical history to would-be opponents. Fox, 2-0 in MMA, was born a man but underwent gender reassignment surgery and began supplemental hormonal therapy in 2006. [more inside]
"Like a lot of things in Alaska, the annual Mount Marathon Race in Seward is famously brutal, even dangerous. Which is precisely why Michael LeMaitre ran it--the last day he was seen alive."
In the 1990's, Michael Doret was tasked with creating a new logo for the New York Knicks. Here is the story of how his ideas were scaled back to create the logo the team uses to this day.
Slow motion video from the 2011 Czech Flyball Championship: Athleticism, speed, caught balls, missed balls, clean passes, misjudged passes, and really astonishing streamers of drool. If you're wondering "What is flyball?", the short documentary What Is Flyball? might address that question. [more inside]
With the NHL locked out for the foreseeable future, the Montreal Gazette has decided to cover Canadiens games simulated on EA Sports NHL '13 as if they were real games.
"Murdering the Impossible" - a 2006 National Geographic profile of Reinhold Messner, "the greatest climber in history". [more inside]
For a few people, fascination with pogo sticks didn't end in childhood. The Smithsonian takes a look at the design challenges, and the sport, of modern pogo. They also provide a short video demonstrating these advances. [more inside]
Exploring the audible world:
- How Music Works: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Bass. (3 hr. UK Channel 4 documentary).
- The Macaulay Library, the world's largest and oldest library of nature recordings.
- The creative process of industrial sound design and 11 sounds threatened with extinction. The technical challenges of broadcasting the sound of sport and the surprises of “real” sound.
- The woman behind the voice of 200 airports.
Non-orthogonal soccer fields, a slideshow
In another attempt to increase the popularity of cricket in America, a tournament based on T20 (Twenty-twenty), an extremely short form of the game where a match can last as little as three hours, is planned for next year. Though cricket is one of the oldest sports in the country, and the USA is one of the 106 members of the International Cricket Council, speculation still periodically emerges (Slate, BBC) on whether the nation is ready for cricket's big 'breakthrough'. [more inside]
J.R. Moehringer's essay discusses the end of football, the immortality of football, head injuries, and why what the sport means to America and to him.
When Alexander of Macedonia was 33 he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer - Bristow is only 27!
Finding it hard to get excited about the Olympics? Feel like the broadcasters aren't giving you enough back-story or form guides to the sports you want to watch but haven't seen for 3 years and 51 weeks? You need the Olympics Prospectus. [more inside]
Fans of the Nashville Predators Hockey team threw a live catfish onto the ice during Friday’s game. Since 1996, fans of Florida Panthers have been throwing fake rats onto the ice, after player Scott Mellanby discovered a huge rat circulating in his dressing room, split it open with his stick and then scored a couple decisive goals, inspiring the 'Rat Trick' tradition. And supporters of the Stockholm-based AIK ice hockey team threw rubber dildos, and waved giant inflatable penis, to remind player Jan Huokko, (‘Dildo-Jan’) of a leaked sex video of him with his girlfriend. Turns out this kind of thing is fairly common in the world of hockey fandom. (Via Everlasting Blort)
Christianne Harder on why Jessica Dorrell's actions hurt all women trying to work in college football.
Goalgasm: a brief history of over-excitable commentaries
The 158th Boat Race between Oxford University Boat Club & Cambridge University Boat Club last Saturday was perhaps the most eventful in the event's 183 year history. The race was stopped after a protestor, Trenton Oldfield, swam out out the course and was narrowly missed by Oxford's blades. After a 20 minute delay, the race was restarted. Thirty-five seconds in, the Oxford cox was warned for steering into Cambridge's line, and then initiated a blade-clash that broke one of Oxford's blades. Cambridge rowed on to win by four and a quarter lengths (Official race report). After finishing the race, Oxford's bowman collapsed, and was taken to hospital; the traditional presentation ceremony was abandoned. The OUBC medical officer stated: "The sudden and premature stopping of the Race when concentration and exertion were at their peak was bad enough, but when the Race had lost its equal footing for having lost an oar, the psychological response was to try even harder. Oxford drove themselves to the limit to try to contain the damage. Alex Woods rowing at Bow reached the finishing line and found he had expended all reserves of energy; in my view he had rendered himself hypoxic, and this was the cause of his collapse". He has returned home to recover. [more inside]