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The SportsThink Weekly Review #16
September 25, 2020
Hello and welcome to the sixteenth edition of the Weekly Review! An unplanned late delivery this week, so let’s get right to the reads.
Inside The Lines: The Best Writing on Sports I Read This Week
Nikola Jokic Plays Basketball as if it’s Water Polo, by Scott Cacciola, via the NYT. As pleased as I’ve been with the Lakers’ success, I’ve really enjoyed watching Nikola Jokic play. There’s just something about athletes who look “out of place”, do things in an unorthodox fashion, and still dominate. Nice piece on the Serbian baller and the implications of diverse sport development experiences. Here’s some wizardry from game 2 of the series, which I think is cooler than AD’s buzzer beater that followed, and even Jamal Murray’s unreal “up and under” from game 4:
Why Is the Golf World So Scared of Bryson DeChambeau?, by Tully Corcoran, via Bleacher Report. DeChambeau crushed his way to a US Open win last weekend, much to the chagrin of many a golfing traditionalist. Thanks to ST contributor Matt Bowers for sharing this piece from last year, which offers a nice introduction to DeChambeau’s style of play and also complements the Jokic piece with insights on athlete development. Also worth reading is Chris Thompson’s Golf Has a Bombing Problem, via the Defector, which recaps and contextualizes the Open win. (You might need a subscription for this one, let me know if you’d like me to forward a copy.)
How Fake Crowds Know When to Cheer, by Nick Greene, via Slate. From the comfort of my couch, I’ve been struck by how “real” bubble broadcasts have felt. Nice interview with Chris Brown of Turner Sports on how it all comes together.
Pandemic Obstructed Views, by Tyler Kepner, via the NYT. Awesome photography in this one, on fans seeking glimpses of the live action in MLB. Reminds me of scenes I’ve witnessed in Turkey and Brazil, where the lack of a ticket does little to keep folks from watching soccer matches. Thanks to Matt Caplan for the tip on this one.
Offensive Play, by Malcolm Gladwell, via the New Yorker. From 2009. One of my classes read this one this week and it still mostly holds up. Remember that these were the early days of reckoning with CTE in the NFL and also near the peak of Gladwell’s rockstardom. He pushes the envelope a bit with the parallels to dogfighting, but it remains an interesting and provocative piece. I remember a feeling of “might football’s days be numbered?” around this time, but clearly that hasn’t been the case: since the league came back a couple weeks ago the top 10 US TV broadcasts have all been NFL games. Fair warning, some of the dogfighting descriptions are quite brutal. Let me know if you’ve used up your New Yorker allowance, happy to send a copy along.
The Week on SportsThink
Short and sweet: the best sports marketing I’ve seen in a long time and some links on current goings-on.
Tweet(s) of the Week
While none of these folks would get my vote based on this alone, credit where it’s due: this is an exceptional and ridiculous political ad. Beyond over the top. Credit to ST contributor Jose Izquierdo for putting it on my radar.
How Prince Used His Legendary Vault of Songs to Make Sign O’ the Times, by Michelangelo Matos. On the occasion of a massive reissue of the legendary album, a dive into the obsessive genius of Prince.
The Fight Against Words That Sound Like, but are Not, Slurs by Connor Friedersdorf, via the Atlantic. I try to not get too involved in the current academic culture wars, but the moment that inspired this story—and the fallout—have been fascinating to keep up with.
Vikings in America, by Valerie Hansen, via Aeon. Very cool history here, looking at evidence that Viking exploration of North America circa the year 1000 may have gone a lot further than previously thought.
As always, thanks for reading and spending some of your week with me. Please consider sharing the newsletter with someone who might also enjoy it.
See you next week,