The SportsThink Weekly Review #18

October 9, 2020

Hello and welcome to the eighteenth edition of the Weekly Review. A shorter newsletter this time around, let’s get reading!

Inside the Lines: The Best Writing on Sports I Read This Week

  1. Why Aren't More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal? by John Wertheim, via SI. Extremely heavy, but very well reported. A brutal story of systemic abuse, tied to institutional power and self-preservation, performance enhancing drugs, and what it means to be a male athlete.

  2. In 1989, USC Had a Depth Chart of a Dozen Linebackers. Five Have Died, Each Before Age 50, by Michael Rosenberg, via SI. Another heavy, but good one from Sports Illustrated, which continues to hang in there and produce relevant work despite being pronounced dead several times over the years. Here’s the tagline on this one: “None of them died on the field, but for each former Trojan, football was inextricably tied to mortality. These are their stories.”

  3. Pondering Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ Oddly Enigmatic Star, by Louisa Thomas, via the New Yorker. Something lighter! Nice profile on Davis, who has been lights-out in the playoffs and, from my perspective, seems to keep improving year over year. How do you guard this guy? Hoping the Lakers can keep him around for the foreseeable future.

  4. Why Are Pandemic Sports Ratings So Terrible? by Will Leitch, via New York Magazine. Ratings when sports came back were excellent. Now, not so much. Everyone is offering up explanations and this is a pretty good summary of prevailing views. Thanks to Donovan Daughtry for passing it along. Some more good insights from this blog post, which I first came across on Marginal Revolution. I’m sure someone will study these trends in the coming months as we try to make sense of it.

  5. The Power of Sports and Memory, by me, via the blog. Ok, this is a bit of a cop-out, but it’s been a busy week and we just got internet at the new house, so I haven’t been reading as much as usual. BUT, I think it’s pretty good. Much more personal than most of my online writing, a brief reflection on the occasion of watching my son play “organized” sports for the first time. I appreciate you reading it if you have a few minutes.

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Non-Sports Reads

  1. Eddie Van Halen’s Otherworldly Sounds, by Amanda Petrusich, via the New Yorker. A nice tribute to the late guitarist, who passed away from cancer this week at 65. EVH was on the cover of the first guitar magazine I ever bought (late 1994 or early 1995, likely from B. Dalton in the Manhattan Village Mall) and I must have re-read that interview a dozen times. It wasn’t that great of an interview, but I was obsessed with the guitar and, being 11 years old, had precisely one guitar magazine to read. I taped a bunch of Van Halen CDs from the library, but never spent that much time with those albums; the greener pastures and simpler chords of punk rock were much more alluring. But, the VH hits are still hits, and man oh man, Eddie could play. RIP.

  2. The Economics of Vending Machines, by Zachary Crockett, via the Hustle. More fascinating than you might expect.

As always, thanks for reading. Hoping to be back with a longer edition next week, as well as some fresh content on the ST blog in the near future. If you’ve been enjoying the newsletter, please consider sharing it with one or two folks who might also enjoy reading.

See you next week,

Tolga