Discover more from The SportsThink Newsletter
The SportsThink Weekly Review #87
July 7, 2023
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 lifelong 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!
Howdy everyone, hope your week is wrapping up nicely. Here’s the sports reading I enjoyed this week:
Each year, UT’s Center for Sports Communication and Media awards the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting. (I’m a faculty affiliate of the Center, but I have no involvement with the prize.) This year’s nominees were just announced and the list includes a few pieces I’ve shared over the past year. You can click the link above for the full list, with links to the articles, but I’d like to highlight a couple of my favorites. If you haven’t read Roberto José Andrade Franco’s “She Made Us Happy: The All-Star Dreams of Uvalde’s Biggest José Altuve Fan,” you should. As well written as it is heartbreaking, this would be my pick to win if I had a vote. I don’t think I previously shared Michael Weinreb’s, “Complicity and Deflection at the LIV Golf Traveling Circus,” but I think it best captured the initial chaos and consternation surrounding the (then) upstart golf tour. A great piece and all the more interesting today, in the wake of the PGA merger.
The ongoing development of Name-Image-Likeness rights in college sports has brought so much attention to the plight and agency of college athletes that it’s easy to forget that professional athletes in most sports also had to fight for their share of the financial pie and control over their careers. (Let’s not forget that free agency didn’t exist in Major League Baseball until 1976.) Shmerler’s piece here is a nice look back at the legacy of the historic Wimbledon boycott of 1973, timely as this year’s tournament chugs along. If you want to get deeper into this story, it’s covered nicely in Matthew Futterman’s book, Players, which more broadly tells the story of the evolution of big money modern sports.
A new Mirin Fader profile is pretty much an auto-share for me at this point. I’ve written several times before that she’s the best profile writer in sports today and I stand by that; she’s also nominated on the Jenkins award list above. The subject this time is Keyontae Johnson, the college basketball star who collapsed on the court during a nationally televised game in December of 2020. A projected lottery pick before his cardiac arrest, Johnson turned down a $5.5 million insurance payout to return to basketball. The bet on himself is paying off, having been recently drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes, he’ll have to stick around in the league a bit to eclipse that insurance number, but you’ve got to admire someone so willing to put themselves out there, especially after touching death.
As always, thank you for reading. Please share the newsletter widely and send along any interesting reads that you come across.
See you next week,