Discover more from The SportsThink Newsletter
The SportsThink Weekly Review # 62
July 29, 2022
The SportsThink Identity Crisis
For those keeping score, this is the 89th SportsThink Newsletter, and no, that’s not a typo in the subject line, the Weekly Review is back! Cue applause. Having used the “Weekly Read”/ “Monthly Review” format for a few months now, I ultimately found it unsatisfying….most weeks I wanted to share more than one solitary read and I didn’t always have a ton to share in a big, end of the month edition. So, we’re back to the original program…your same intrepid newseletteristo, scouring the digital world for good content, delivering you some amount of worthwhile sports content every week. Some reviews will be short, some will be long; I hope they will all be worth your time. Enough with the navel-gazing, on to the content!
On the tragically short life of Tess Mata, just 10 years old when she lost her life in the Uvalde school massacre. An absolutely beautiful piece. I’ve shared Franco’s work before and have heaped praise on him, arguing that he’s one of the best current writers in the sports world. After this one, I’m not arguing or qualifying anymore, he’s the best, full stop. As with all of his bigger pieces, there’s so much going on here: history, politics, race, class, community, sports, and so on, all elegantly woven together. But he never fails to center the human element and that is perhaps his greatest skill as a writer and his greatest gift to us as readers. Not an easy read, but you should take the time for it. I will cry foul if this doesn’t win awards and get anthologized in due time.
I have played pickleball exactly once and it was a blast. Highly recommend trying it out if you haven’t. Thanks to Declan Abernathy for sharing this one, which is a pretty fascinating read. Larson takes a look at both the recreational and (nascent) professional sides of America’s fastest growing sport. The article does a nice job teasing out the tensions in a sport community wrestling with popularity; it may be odd to think that folks are already jostling for the soul of pickleball, but that’s what happens when anything moves from the level of subculture toward the mainstream. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but my money is against the average person tuning in to watch professional pickleball on TV, despite the grand visions shared by some of the folks in the article. I’m also suspicious of the heavy investments being poured into the “pickleball social-club” type venues popping up around the country, but they seem like a safer bet than the push for Big Time Pickleball. In any case, go try out the sport and give this a read as well. Nice article.
A very cool piece of history here. Madeline Manning overcame a childhood bout of spinal meningitis and all sorts of gendered and racial prejudice to star for the storied Tennessee State Tigerbelles, the original legends of American women’s track and field. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Manning became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, taking first place in the 800 meters. It would be another 53 years before an American woman matched her feat in that event, when Athing Mu took gold last year in Tokyo. The article here is a nice summary of her career, but the podcast features the champ herself and is a good listen for those interested in the history of track and field and the intersection of sports, gender, and race. Big thanks to Cara Hawkins-Jedlicka for sharing.
34 days, 2,400 Miles and One Cramped Boat: How 4 Women Set a Record Rowing Across the Pacific (Nicole Kagan, LA Times)
The title pretty much spells it out, but I’ll always enjoy reading about badass people doing badass things. A short, but cool read. As usual, I like the logistical elements, pretty fascinating. Shout out to Rob Stone for sharing.
As always, thanks for reading. You may have noticed that 3 of the 4 things I shared were sent in by readers, so please, send the things that move you my way. And please remember to share the newsletter with anyone who might enjoy it.
See you next week,