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The SportsThink Weekly Review #66
September 2, 2022
Welcome to September everybody, hope life is treating you well. Fall seems about a year away in Austin, but we’re getting into Peak Sports Season: baseball games are starting to matter, Serena is keeping her career alive day-by-day at the US Open, basketball and hockey are on the horizon, Formula 1 is medium-interesting, and both types of football (pointy and round) are about to be in full swing. Hell, we’re even 2 months from the World Cup, which will be staged in an irregular fall/winter slot thanks to FIFA’s lack of a moral compass and Qatari summer temperatures. It’s an exciting time for the sports fan, an exhausting stretch for those we share the TV remote with. I’ve been a bit slammed with back to school activities, but found one great new read and am including a few oldies but goodies as well. Let’s do it.
The first in a series of 22 (for the 22nd World Cup) podcasts about the most iconic goals from the tournament’s history. You can find the podcast at the link, but if you prefer to consume your content with your eyes (as I do), this is effectively an article-fied version of the audio. It’s a beast, well over 7,000 words, but pretty damn good. On the two goals scored against England by the diminutive, troubled genius of soccer, Diego Maradona. One is known as the “goal of the century,” the other—somehow more (in)famous—should have never been a goal. The match was kind of an allegory for the man himself, amazing and ignominious. I’ll never get tired of reading about El Pibe de Oro, but this is well done and worth reading even if you’re only marginally interested in soccer.
Well, are you?
If you’re not, here are some of my favorite all time football pieces to get you warmed up..
The article that would eventually become Lewis’ excellent book, The Blind Side, which would eventually become the decent Sandra Bullock film, The Blind Side. I still very much recommend the book, but if you’ve never read it, this piece holds up quite well. I’ve also always liked this shorter Lewis story, on the NFL locker room.
The Heart Of Football Beats In Aliquippa: Hope and Despair in a Pennsylvania Mill Town (SL Price, Sports Illustrated, 2014)
As with Lewis above, this is a great story that’s explored more thoroughly in a book by the author, Playing Through The Whistle. On high school football, life, and community in small-town Pennsylvania. Price is tremendous; perhaps the ultimate power of this story is that it could be about hundreds (thousands?) of American places.
On NFL cheerleaders, a group who have arguably the most unbalanced fame-to-compensation ratio of any profession. To my knowledge, this is the only sports journalism that mentions Multiplicity Escalate Volume Whip, which I believe goes in one’s hair.
Yet another one that became a great book. The legendary writer turned not-so-legendary football player. Almost sixty years old and still great.
Nothing to do with fútbol or football, but trivia so good I had to share it.
A highlight of my week was learning about the Marathon Du Médoc, which is not what you do at a fine French restaurant on a Saturday night, but is also not that far off from that. Here’s more or less the entire Wikipedia entry:
The Marathon du Médoc is a French marathon race, created in 1985, held every year in September through the vineyards of the Médoc, in the Gironde. It is considered "the longest Marathon in the world" because the race is interspersed with several activities: musical breaks with 50 orchestras scattered around the course, 23 wine tasting stops, oysters tasting at the 38th kilometer, and steak at the 39th kilometer.
The Marathon du Médoc attracts around 8,500 participants, representing more than 50 nations, as well as many spectators. The marathon is organised by a volunteer association, with 2,800 volunteers.
This is the kind of marathon I can get behind. It brings back fond memories of the Hermosa Beach Ironman (I was always a spectator, never a competitor. Also, don’t watch that video at work, unless you work in a place where videos of beer vomit are kosher.) And if you have suddenly found your life’s athletic calling, you might as well add a Kastenlauf to your travel calendar as well. Happy training.
As always, thank you for reading. Please share the newsletter with friends and family who might enjoy it.
See you next week,