Discover more from The SportsThink Newsletter
The SportsThink Weekly Review #73
October 28, 2022
Welcome new readers! The SportsThink Weekly Review highlights my favorite sport-related reading of the week. 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. I also occasionally share articles and assorted musings on Twitter. 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!
Hi folks, greetings from Austin, where fall has finally begun. Hope that all is well with you as the weekend approaches. Let’s get right to the reading…
Getting invested in a sport as a spectator requires at least two things: some understanding of what’s going on and a sense of narrative. Allegiance to a team or athlete is a bonus, but we might file this under narrative: the most basic narrative is inevitably “I like this team more than the others and want them to win.” While the numbers haven’t been formally announced, news broke this week that ESPN renewed its Formula 1 deal for an estimated $75-90 million for the next three seasons. A stratospheric jump from the $15 million paid for the previous three years. This literal investment reflects the booming investment of time, energy, and attention from American fans.
The overwhelming factor here is the success of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive,” the documentary series which has turned many of us into fans of the sport. Given the deep layers of identity we attach to our fandom, it is borderline embarrassing to admit that a heavily manufactured TV show has got me concerned about the weather conditions in Belgium or Bahrain. We’re supposed to root for teams because our fathers fathers rooted for the team, because we can’t remember a time that the Dolphins didn’t made us cry. But no, watch a few episodes of a Netflix show and now your weekend revolves around watching rich dudes drive fast cars in Middle Eastern autocracies. It happened to me. It happened to my largely sports-agnostic-but-tolerant wife, who is very concerned about Lewis Hamilton. My son randomly yells “Boo Max Verstappen!” (I’m a Checo Perez man myself.) But that’s the magic of Drive to Survive: you watch the show, you learn a few things about the technical side of racing, and you get heaps of drama. And now you’re invested.
For the budding F1 aficionado, Knight’s article is a hell of a complement to the Netflix series. If you haven’t watched, it’s not a bad introduction to the sport. If you’re a serious head, you’ll probably still learn something. Ostensibly a profile of Toto Wolff, the CEO and Team Principal for Mercedes racing, the article covers a lot ground on matters both technical and human. I’ve still got plenty to learn about Formula 1, but I’m much better off for having read this. A long and deep dive, highly recommended.
Perhaps you saw this?
Yes, that’s where you can find a goal post that Tennessee fans tossed into the river after beating Alabama. Environmental concerns aside, this is pretty amusing. If you follow college football, you know the story: the Volunteers beat the Crimson Tide for the first time in a million years. It looked like the entire stadium descended on the field in the aftermath, effectively destroying the pitch six days before the team’s next home game. Wilson’s story is great, a look at all that went into getting things back in order. Wonderfully detailed and esoteric, regular readers know that I love this stuff. A fun read.
Phil Kessel broke quite a record this week, playing in his 990th consecutive NHL game. Insane. Along with being the toughest dude on the planet, Kessel is pretty interesting character. I like this piece, which features five short takes from teammates who played with him on his five different teams. Pretty cool, even if you’re not a big hockey fan.
As always, thanks for reading. Please share the newsletter with other folks who might enjoy it.
See you next week,