The SportsThink Weekly Review #57

September 3, 2021

Hello and welcome to the fifty-seventh edition of the Weekly Review! Hope that your week is wrapping up nicely and that you’ve got a relaxing holiday weekend ahead. You’ll probably need that extra day off for reading, because I came across a LOT of great stuff this week. Let’s get to it…

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Inside the Lines: My Favorite Sports Reads of The Week

  1. Invasion of the Robot Umpires, by Zach Helfand, via the New Yorker. In my sports ethics classes (yes, that’s a real thing) I regularly encounter a paradox: 100% of students believe that accurate officiating is integral to sports, yet maybe 5% support the possibility of an infallible, non-human officiating system. But here we are, seemingly to be on the cusp of the rise of the machines. Great piece by Helfand on an ongoing minor league experiment with “robo-umps,” which may be in MLB sooner than later.

  2. Even In A Pandemic, The NCAA Made It Harder To Cheer On Female Athletes, by Josh Planos, via 538. Back in the spring, many of us were critical of the short shrift given to female college athletes, especially in the context of the NCAA basketball tournament (remember, the women’s tournament is NOT ALLOWED to be called March Madness). Strong, data-driven analysis by Planos on the inequities of women’s college sport.

  3. What Does It Mean To Be A College Football Blue Blood? by Myah Taylor, via Yahoo! Sports. Timely at the start of the season, an unpacking of term that gets tossed around but rarely questioned. Nice work by Taylor, a UT senior, who spent the summer writing for Yahoo! and serves as a managing editor at the Daily Texan.

  4. Crucible Mongolia: Wrestling Champions Made On The Steppes, by Antonio Graceffo, via Highbrow Magazine. Really well done piece on the history and culture of wrestling in Mongolia. The country has a deep tradition of wrestling across disciplines and, in recent decades, Mongolian wrestlers have become a dominant force in Sumo. As the Graceffo notes, “ Since 1998, five of the six wrestlers promoted to sumo’s highest rank of Yokozuna, were Mongolians.” Fascinating stuff.

  5. The Aesthetics of Rock Climbing, by C. Thi Nguyen, via Philosopher’s Magazine. From 2017, but new to me this week. A well written and thoughtful consideration of the sport, which Nguyen finds to be like a dance, but not totally a dance, and like a game, but not totally a game. Worth a read even if the very thought of rock climbing makes you nervous (as it does for me).

  6. Three profiles worth I really enjoyed, all worth your time. Mina Kimes tries to sort out what makes LA Chargers QB Justin Herbert tick and it turns out he’s just a really good dude. Lyndsey D’Arcangelo’s article on the relentless spirit (and trash talk) of WNBA legend Diana Taurasi is full of great anecdotes. And finally, Eric Nusbaum and Adam Villacin on golfer Lee Trevino…who doesn’t love Lee Trevino?

  7. Hold On For Your Life, by Andrea Luttrell, via Texas Highways. A mother reflects on her son’s experience in mutton busting. What’s mutton busting, you ask? Only the cutest and best sport ever, but why tell what I can show? Here you go:

  8. And could we really talk sports this week without mentioning the saga of Bishop Sycamore, the bogus “high school football program” that found themselves getting trounced on ESPN and dragged by just about everyone online? My favorite take on the story is this Twitter thread, but if you prefer your stories in the traditional fashion, this is a decent recap. We got a lot of laughs out of this one, but it’s also a reminder that we’ve created a truly perverse system of incentives by embedding elite sports in our school system. Hard not to feel bad for the players involved.

The Week on SportsThink

Trying to knock some rust off the blog! Here’s a short take on the controversy surrounding the NFL keeping media out of locker rooms. Hopefully more soon.

Tweet of the Week

Excellent form on this one.

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See you next week,