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The SportsThink Weekly Review #32
January 29, 2021
Hello and welcome to the thirty-second edition of the Weekly Review! 32, to me, will always be Magic Johnson, my very first sporting idol. My dad still occasionally reminds me that I called him in Norway, sobbing, to share the news of Magic’s HIV announcement. Today, Magic is essentially a tycoon and maintains what is at once the most positive and most banal Twitter account in sports. But he’s still the GOAT to me, the man who made passing inexorably cool.
Inside the Lines: My Favorite Sports Reads of The Week
Hunting Trips, Sex, and Cash: How Russia Influenced Biathlon’s Leader, by Tariq Panja, via the NYT. To most of us, biathlon is truly an oddball sport. So it may seem a little weird that a country would go to such great lengths of corruption to maintain dominance, but that’s exactly what Russia has done here. A reminder of states’ deep belief in the geopolitical soft-power of sporting success. Pretty wild story, really well reported by Panja.
The Day That Changed Everything, by Matthew Stanmyre, via NJ.com. I’m not sure who sent this to me or how I found it, but I was cleaning out some old bookmarks this week and I was so glad to stumble across this. Here’s the tagline: They lost the biggest New Jersey high school football game ever played. Can one agonizing defeat destroy a life? I’ll leave it at that and simply note that this is a really good read. From December 2019.
How Japanese American Internees Formed Wyoming’s Greatest Football Team, by Rich Tenorio, via the Guardian. An overview/review of Bradford Pearson’s new book, The Eagles of Heart Mountain, with several quotes from Pearson himself. Amazing story that is thankfully no longer lost to history. I haven’t read the book yet, but am very much looking forward to doing so soon.
‘Every Two Months One of My Teammates Dies’, by Ben Shpigel, via the NYT. Yes, more football, but another really good piece here. The Green Bay Packers of the 1960s produced a legion of Hall of Famers and won five championships under Coach Vince Lombardi. Their ranks have been devastated by death in the last 27 months.
The Lasting Memories of Kobe and Gigi, by Mirin Fader, via the Ringer. A timely piece on the anniversary of untimely deaths. After Magic’s departure, I suffered through dark 90s of Laker fandom, cheering on guys like Elden Campbell, Anthony ‘Pig’ Miller, and Cedric Ceballos. Not a fun stretch. But then we got Shaq, and of course, Kobe, and so many good memories. The man was not without his flaws, but I feel like we were all robbed of a very promising second chapter in his life. And I can barely even think about Gianna and the other girls lost in the crash. A really nice piece from Fader, who’s Davante Adams profile I shared a couple weeks ago.
Keeping Up With The Sports Page
Tweet of the Week
Awesome routine, UCLA gymnastics is killing it these days.
TV Detector Vans Once Prowled the Streets of England, by Lewin Day, via Hacakday. The UK TV license law always struck me as weird…cool history of attempts to enforce the rule.
Suck It, Wall Street, by Matt Taibbi, via his newsletter. Taibbi has his hits and misses, but when he’s good, he’s really good. File this one under when he’s good. Maybe the only thing you need to read on Gamestop hullabaloo.
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,