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The SportsThink Weekly Review #48
Hello and welcome to the forty-eighth edition of the Weekly Review! For the best #48, I’ll go with Jimmie Johnson; seems appropriate given that NASCAR is in Austin this weekend.
Lots of good sports reading this week, so….on to the content!
Inside the Lines: My Favorite Sports Reads of The Week
The Super League Thought it Had a Silent Partner: FIFA, by Tariq Panja, via the NYT. Given the pace of our current media-cycle, the European soccer ‘super league’ already seems like a distant memory. We can file Panja’s piece in the Not Very Surprising at All category. That FIFA would support a money-making scheme and then try to distance themselves from the blowback is pretty much FIFA 101. If anything, this goes a long way toward explaining the hubristic and tone-deaf launch of the ill-fated league.
‘I’m Not Anti-Anything. I’m Pro-Hawaii.’ by John Branch, via the NYT. In the World Surfing League, Hawaiians compete under their state flag, separate from other Americans. In the Olympics, there won’t be such a distinction. Great piece on history, representation, and sport governance by Branch. Avoid the comment section on this one.
Golf Thrives on the Ocean’s Edge. What Happens When the Ocean’s Rise? by Dave Sheinin, via the Washington Post. I’ve got a half-baked theory that there’s a large chunk of people who won’t take climate change seriously until it starts affecting sports. (It already is, by some estimates over half of previous winter Olympic host sites will not be able to host a games by 2050.) Nice article looking at Kiawah Island by Sheinin.
Lady Glass, by Eric Nusbaum and Adam Villacin, via Sports Stories. Another great installment of Sports Stories, on the inspiring and tragic story of Cheryl Glass, an African-American racing pioneer. I only knew a bit of her story, but it’s one we should all know.
This is the Story of the World’s Greatest Soccer Team, by Carey Baraka, via Guernica. The tale of a very popular African soccer comic. I had never heard of this and it’s very cool.
Can Horse Racing Survive? by Bill Finnegan, via the New Yorker. The second article about the existential crisis in horse racing I’ve shared in the past month. Great piece by Finnegan, who is tremendous as always. If you’re looking for a good summer read, I highly recommend his memoir, Barbarian Days.
In The WNBA’s Early Days, Houston’s Comets Came Around Every Year, by Robert O’Connell, via Texas Monthly. Really nice bit of basketball history here. Thanks to Matt Bowers for sharing. Matt also shared this cool piece on college athletes transitioning to jai alai, but you’ll need ESPN+ for access.
The Week on SportsThink
Well, not on SportsThink, but adjacent. I’ve got a new academic publication in the International Journal of the History of Sport, entitled “Critical Mass: Oral History, Innovation Theory, and the Fitness Legacy of the Muscle Beach Scene.” It’s essentially an attempt to evaluate the claim on a historical marker located in Santa Monica, that Muscle Beach was the “birthplace of the physical fitness boom of the 20th century.” (spoiler alert: I argue that this is a pretty accurate claim). If you’ve got institutional library access, you can probably find it here. If you don’t, please reply in the comments or send me an email (just reply to the newsletter) and I’ll be happy to share a copy. I worked on this on and off for a decade, so somebody should read it!
I loved this true-crime story in the New Yorker, ‘The Strange Story of Dagobert, The “Ducktales” Bandit’. So good. Thanks to Matt Caplan for sharing.
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,