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The SportsThink Weekly Review #97
September 18, 2023: Grab Bag!
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!
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Hi everyone, happy Monday. A big thanks to those of you who made it out to the Texas Sport Management Alumni weekend events, it was great to catch up!
After last week’s focus on 9/11, I found myself with a bit of a mixed collection of things to share from the past couple weeks. This one’s a bit of a grab bag, so hopefully there’s something for everyone. Happy reading and have a great week.
How Hard Is It To Kick An NFL Field Goal?
This was basically the gist of an email I got from my cousin, Ben McNeill. The question came up in light of Brandon Aubrey’s debut for the Cowboys. If you haven’t come across the story yet, Aubrey was brought on this year to address Dallas’ kicking woes from last year. That the Cowboys would look for a reliable kicker was no surprise, that they would find that kicker in the form of a guy who never kicked a football until he was out of college…well, that has been the surprise. Aubrey was a standout soccer player at Notre Dame and had a cup of coffee in the MLS before settling into a career as a software engineer. In what is already becoming his legendary origin story, his wife told him, “You could do that” after watching an NFL kicker miss a field goal in 2019. He hired a coach, got to work, and spent a year in the USFL before landing on the Cowboys. He’s currently 7 for 7 on field goals through two games, including a 55-yarder.
He makes it look easy, but I assure you, it’s not. Leg strength is not really the issue, plenty of people have that. Fewer have accuracy with strength, but again, that’s a big group. The combination of strength+accuracy+timing+being-able-to-do-it-with-11-behemoths-coming-for-your-life+adjusting for the wind+forgetting about the shank in the 2nd quarter+having sat on the sideline for the last hour without anything to do+compartmentalizing the gas from last night’s burrito++++++ I think that gets at the issue. It’s a unique blend of the physical and mental, often producing more scapegoats than GOATs.
While I couldn’t find one single article that gave a satisfying answer to Ben’s original question—how hard IS it?—I came across a couple interesting things:
And here’s a pretty decent video from a broadcaster in Maine that attempts to bring some science into the matter:
Somewhat related, here’s something bordering on performance art from Bill Belichick. A reporter has the audacity to ask him about the value of long snappers. Belichick gives us an answer in a tight…10 minutes. If you need insight into the evolution of specialists in the NFL, well, here it is, and then some. (Do you NEED to watch this?? Only you can answer that.)
Highly recommended for sport management and sport media folks. On the recent standoff between Disney (ESPN) and Charter Communications (Charter, Spectrum, etc.). Many fans were left in the dark during the first weekend of college football, but the content provider-service provider beef was finally settled in the lead-up to the first Monday Night Football broadcast. This is the best analysis I’ve seen on the matter and I like it for it’s nuance, it really captures how everyone is winning and losing along the way.
After his recent success at the Track and Field World Championships, American sprinter Noah Lyles rankled a lot of NBA fans and players, pointing out that he was actually a world champion, whereas American pro leagues call their winners “world champions” without actually, you know, playing the against the world. I’m sure Lyles was chuckling when Team USA bowed out of the FIBA World Cup short of the championship. Stein presents a good analysis of the team’s performance and a consideration of the global state of the game. Worth a read if you’re a basketball fan, but here’s the mind-boggling stat that caught my eye: in each of the last three NBA seasons, only one top-10 rebounder has been an American. Wild!
And finally, Lil Wayne’s very accurate 2010 US Open Predictions, as shared with lovely penmanship, from prison.
(this made the rounds after the rapper was spotted in the crowd at this year’s tournament. As for why Sports Illustrated was seeking his incarcerated opinion in 2010, I have no idea. I prefer a universe with some mystery. click through to read it.)
As always, thanks for reading. Please keep sharing the newsletter with others and sharing interesting finds with me.
See you next week,