Welcome to the latest installment of the SportsThink Weekly Review, a newsletter compiling my favorite readings on sports (and sometimes on other topics). Most articles are recently published, but some are not; the only rule is that I’ve read them within the past week. Some are relevant to my day job as a professor teaching courses on the business, history, and philosophy of sports. Others are just plain interesting, relevant to my life-long obsession with the games we play. The newsletter is free, but comes with two requests. 1. I’m always open to suggestions, so send me the good stuff that you read! 2. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with other folks who might enjoy it as well. Finally, I try to focus on non-paywalled writing, but if you find yourself unable to access anything, just hit reply to the email and I’ll do my best to get you a copy. Thanks for reading!
Number 60! As the Weekly Review approaches Medicare eligibility, I’m playing around with a new format this week. Let me know if you love it or hate it. Have a great weekend and enjoy the reads!
If you only read one sports thing today, read this one:
LA Breakdown, by Eric Nusbaum and Adam Villacin and (this week) Lou Mathews, via Sports Stories. As regular readers know, I’m the unofficial president of the Sports Stories fan club. Eric is a fantastic story teller and Adam’s art is always on point. The boys kinda cheated this week, bringing in guest author/interviewee Lou Mathews, who apparently is the best writer I’d never heard of. This issue features an excerpt of Mathews’ work on old-time drag racing in Los Angeles and it’s lovely. Yes, I’m a biased LA guy, but this is all so good: At that moment in California Car Culture, street-racing was a 24/7 operation. There were more than forty drive-ins across the Los Angeles basin, twelve legal dragstrips. Even 104-octane White Pump Chevron gasoline was only 25.9 cents a gallon. You could cruise sixty miles in a night for about a buck. The cars were overpowered, underbraked, and handled curves about as well as a coffin on a 2x4 skateboard.
The best of the rest in sports writing this week
I Had A Chance To Travel Anywhere. Why Did I Pick Spokane? by John Mooalem, via the New York Times. Long and meandering (in a good way), this is good travel writing and good sports writing. Ostensibly about the author’s trip to a minor league baseball game, but there’s more to it than that. I think this is my second-favorite of the week.
What the Heck is Pickleball? by Brian C. Parker, via Texas Highways. On the debut of professional (!!) pickleball, which is apparently the fastest growing sport in the country.
NCAA’s Sky-Is-Falling Rhetoric Looks All the More Ridiculous Now, by Dan Wetzel, via Yahoo! Sports. For years, we were told that if NCAA athletes were to be paid, it would be the apocalypse for college sports. 4 months or so into the Name-Image-Likeness rights era, the sun is still coming up, some well deserving young people are earning a few bucks (or a million bucks), and college sports are totally fine.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers 2021 Sports Industry Survey. The “professional services” giant’s annual survey of the industry. One for the researchers, academics, and students in particular, but this is probably pretty interesting to sift through even if you’re not in those categories. As far as trends, not a lot of surprises: conservatively optimistic takes on recovery, further emphasis on social channels and sustainability, that sort of thing. Note: you’ll have to scroll down, give them your email, and download it, I haven’t been able to find a direct link. Thanks to Gianfranco Esposito for sharing with me.
There’s more to life than sports
I enjoyed this look at the life of a Michelin restaurant reviewer. This obituary of George Holliday, the man who filmed the Rodney King beating, is pretty interesting. And this is a pretty good one for the writing nerds.
Tweet of The Week
Fathers and sons.
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See you next week!