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The SportsThink Weekly Review #26
December 4, 2020
Hello and welcome to the twenty-sixth edition of the Weekly Review! 2020 weirdness continues: we had NFL football on a WEDNESDAY afternoon and the mighty Longhorns won the Maui Invitational, which was of course held in…Asheville, NC.
Looking ahead at the calendar, you can look forward to two more issues of the Weekly Review in 2020, with a bigger one coming on Friday 12/18 to sustain you over the holidays and into the new year. I’ll take a couple weeks off to focus on family and some other projects, then get back on track on 1/8. In the meantime, I love the feedback I’ve been getting from some folks, so please feel free to send me a note or leave a comment if you have any suggestions or critiques as 2021 approaches. But for now, on to the reads!
Inside the Lines: The Best Writing on Sports I Read This Week
All-Stars: What Complexity Science Says About What Makes a Winning Team, by Jessica Flack and Cade Massy, via Aeon. This might be the best piece on sports performance I’ve read all year. The authors don’t necessarily solve the problem at hand, but the breadth, scope, and implications are impressive. Essential read for sport scholars and students, but useful for anyone in managerial or leadership roles.
'I don't wish either of them well': The Demise of the Southwest Conference, 25 Years Later, by Sam Khan, Jr. and Dave Wilson, via ESPN. The SWC was long gone by the time I arrived on the 40 Acres, but its shadow continues to loom large in the annals of college sports, football especially. Love this opening line: The Southwest Conference ended 25 years ago the same way it lived: with fire in its belly and pettiness in its heart.
What if We’re Wrong About What Makes a Good College Football Coach?, by Matt Brown, via his Extra Points newsletter. In some ways, a kindred piece to #1. Brown considers some underwhelming big time hires and why things don’t go as expected. Lots of good insights from other NCAA FB commentators too.
The Ballad of Kendall Hinton, by Scott Hines, via his Action Cookbook newsletter. I’m heavy on football this week, but it’s been hard to avoid. A nice take on Hinton’s improbable game as an NFL quarterback, but also one of the better reflections on sports this year. Hines really nails the voice of the conflicted fan.
Is College Football Making the Pandemic Worse? by Louisa Thomas, via the New Yorker. Sorry, more football. The pandemic rages on and we are saying goodbye to a 9/11’s worth of Americans almost every day. I wish this was a feel-good story, but it’s not. But it’s well reported and worth the read.
The WNBA Influenced the Georgia Senate Race, New Research Finds, by Angele Delvoye, via the Washington Post. Not football!!! Thought this was a cool follow-up to this piece I shared after the election. It looks like the activism of WNBA players had an influence on the election outcome. With so much debate about the actual value and impact of athlete activism, this is pretty interesting.
Tweet of the Week
Saw this one not long after sending out the last issue. I’m pretty confident that Nietzsche would have been a Maradona fan.
When Birds Migrated to the Moon, by Alice Gorman, via the MIT Press Reader. Long before we wrapped our heads around migration patterns, humans rightly wondered just where the hell birds went every year. For some, the assumption was a round trip journey to the moon. Pretty cool.
Lord of Misrule: Thomas Morton’s American Subversions, by Ed Simon, via the Public Domain Review. I like to think I’m pretty good when it comes to American history, but this was all new to me. Nice summary from the article itself: When we think of early New England, we tend to picture stern-faced Puritans and black-hatted Pilgrims, but in the same decade that these more famous settlers arrived, a man called Thomas Morton founded a very different kind of colony — a neo-pagan experiment he named Merrymount. Ed Simon explores the colony’s brief existence and the alternate vision of America it represents.
As always, thank you for reading. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re having trouble accessing any articles, happy to send them directly your way. And, if you’re enjoying the newsletter, please consider sharing it with someone else who might like it.
See you next week,