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The SportsThink Weekly Review #67
September 9, 2022
Greetings friends, and happy Friday. A massive weekend here in Austin, with the Horns hosting Alabama. We’ve got ESPN’s Gameday and Fox’s Big Noon getting set-up on campus and I can’t help but feel a little bad for my colleagues who are teaching today. Or trying to teach. Saying a small prayer for a Horns win, but I’ll be happy with a good game. May all your teams take care of business this weekend.
On to the content…
The Queen’s Sporting Fascination Was Racing: “I Love Horses” (Steve Douglas, Associated Press)
RIP Her Majesty. There’s much to read about the late Queen Elizabeth, but this is a fun one. A short and sweet history of her life around the stables and racetracks, with a glimpse of her competitive spirit when it came to sport.
We shouldn’t need stories like this one to remind us how good our lives are, but they certainly can do that. On the harrowing escape of Afghan women’s soccer players from Taliban-occupied Kabul and their resilient path to cobbling together new lives in Australia. The focus is on Fatima, the goalkeeper and the heart and soul of the group, a tough woman whose sporting career put a literal target on her back. Extremely well reported, intense at parts but also inspiring. A little gut-check for those of us whose greatest suffering this week will be the result of a ballgame.
I feel a bit old when I realize that the Barcelona Olympic games took place 30 years ago. I was 9 and those were the first Olympics I really engaged with, in large part due to my basketball obsession and the IOC’s wise/evil move to let NBA players join the fun. I collected all of the SkyBox Dream Team cards and I’m devastated that I have no idea where those are now. But the coolest thing at those games—both then and in retrospect— were the ridiculously wonderful uniforms worn by the Lithuania basketball team. The mythic lore here is that the Grateful Dead offered to sponsor the team if they agreed to wear the uniforms. Lithuanian basketball had a rich tradition, providing the foundation of the greatest Soviet hoops squads, but now, following the breakup of the USSR, funding was in short-supply. This is Kalborsky’s attempt to dig into the myth and it’s pretty darn good, part history of the famous gear, part history of Lithuanian basketball, and all-around well researched and put together.
A Non-sports Thing
Sometimes the most powerful nostalgia is for a time we never even experienced. If you—like I— were born too late for the heyday of radio, WIWS Radio is probably as good as it can get. It’s a gimmick, but a tremendously executed gimmick: essentially a fake radio station in 1962 West Virginia. A triumph of the internet, really. The music is from the 50s and 60s, and yes some of it comes from after 1962, but it’s all great. You’ll get some occasional hits, but a ton of stuff you’ve never heard, seamlessly spanning genres just like (I presume!) peak AM radio. This morning, for example, I got deep deep cuts from Elvis, Otis Redding, and the Supremes, alongside hits from Petula Clark and the Temptations, but also some truly bizarre exotica. There’s some audio magic as well: I think a lot of the music is ripped from original 45s; some tracks just don’t sound like I’ve ever heard them, so I’m thinking they are mono versions? There might be digital maneuvers at play as well, but it just WORKS. If sound can have patina, this is as finely burnished as audio can get . There’s also vintage ads, jingles, and some news that’s slightly out of date. This is just so cool. Put it on in the car (there’s an iPhone app) and it almost feels like you’re driving something big, American, and brutally cool.
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See you next week,