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The SportsThink Weekly Review #14
September 11, 2020
Hello and welcome to the 14th issue of the Weekly Review! There was such a glut of live sports to consume this week that I almost feel guilty for adding more content to the pile. But not too guilty. Hope that you’ll have a good weekend and enjoy at least one of the pieces below. On to the reads!
Inside the Lines: My Favorite Sports Reads of the Week
Today marks the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001. I was then a week into my freshman year of college, now I’m teaching freshmen who were born after the event that has shaped much of American life in the 21st century. This year, we’ve had echoes of 2001, with the return of sports again being pegged to some sort of return to “normalcy.” A return that is never really possible. Here’s some related reading on the impact of 9/11 in the sports world:
A Whole New Game by Eli Saslow via ESPN. From 2011, looking back at the decade post-9/11.
9/11 Impact on Sports from Sports Media Watch. Not exactly great writing, but a useful chronicle of all that happened, especially for younger readers.
And a video memory…say what you will about the Bush administration, but I always appreciated the confidence with which W. approached the mound before tossing an effortless strike:
Can Willie Banks Change Track & Field … Again? by Liam Boylan-Platt, via Lope Magazine. Can’t say I knew much about Willie Banks before, but I’m well familiar with his legacy: the slow-clap in the stadium building up to a jump in track and field. He’s now set his sights on improving the sport behind the scenes. Nice story on a sport many of us don’t think about too much.
1918 by Eric Nusbaum, via his Sports Stories newsletter. Regular readers know that I’m a Nusbaum fanboy. His Stealing Home is one of my favorite sports books in recent memory and his journalism has always been consistently good. Same goes for his newsletter. This most recent edition looks back at the 1918 World Series and considers how the past repeats itself.
The Bull Rider by Steven Leckart, via Vox. The tale of Maggie Parker, a rare woman in bull-riding. There’s pain and poverty, but also love and hope. A caring profile by Leckart, who’s credits include the great HBO Ali documentary What’s My Name? And here’s Parker’s first 8-second ride in competition that’s described at length in the article:
Whatever happened to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? 'So I made this deal with God.' by Elizabeth Merrill, via ESPN. From last summer, this piece just won the 2020 Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting, awarded by my friends at UT’s Center for Sports Communication and Media. Well deserved and worth your time. An attempt to unpack and understand a star athlete’s decision to enter an extremely strict religious order: “But why would someone with so much to offer the world lock herself away and hide her talents? Who, staring at a professional contract that would be worth the equivalent of about $400,000 today, would subject herself to such strict isolation and sacrifice?”
The Week on SportsThink
A couple quick commentaries with links to related reading: Colorado becomes the first university to have a gambling sponsor and the increasing acceleration of partisan politics in US sport.
A Really Nice Photo Book
Yesterday, I enjoyed the pleasant surprise of arriving home to my copy of Emily Johnson’s plainly titled, Sports Photo Book. But there is nothing plain about the book, which is absolutely great. Johnson is a multi-disciplinary creative, a friend, and a former student, although I am taking zero credit here (she’s always been great). Her vision, talent, and instinct for (word-free) narrative on are full display in the book, which features images from her work with the NBA, WNBA, NFL, college football, and more. If you’ve got some space on the coffee table, you won’t be disappointed (but act quickly, it’s a limited run!). Or consider buying a nice print. For more of her work, follow her on Instagram and Twitter
Yes, This Interchange in Houston Is the Same Size as an Entire City Center in Italy by Dan Solomon, via Texas Monthly. A brief bit of history and reflection on urban sprawl. Short and sweet.
How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England by Paul Brown, via Longreads. A Victorian caper that’s sure to amuse. Good stuff.
The Real Heroes are Dead by James B. Stewart, via the New Yorker. From 2002. One of the best pieces on 9/11, still powerful and haunting, no matter how many times I revisit it.
As always, thanks for reading and letting me share my thoughts with you. Please consider sharing the newsletter if you’re enjoying it and know someone else who might also like it.
See you next week,