The SportsThink Weekly Review #99
December 1, 2023: BACK IN BUSINESS!!
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, happy Friday. My apologies for the radio silence as of late; I didn’t mean to take a couple months off from writing, but here we are. I appreciate your patience!
(And thank you to those of you who reached out to check up on me…happy to share that there was nothing amiss, just a particularly busy stretch on the professional and personal fronts. But life is good!)
Let’s get back to business. Here are a few pieces I enjoyed recently:
The Longhorns play for their first conference title in many, many moons tomorrow, so this is a timely look back. Fair, this is especially one for my fellow Horns, but also a great piece of early football history and sports history more generally. I’m not sure what Wells does for a day job, but he’s one hell of an amateur historian (and I use the term amateur only in its literal sense.) A wonderful window into the past. And if you find yourself hankering for more (very) vintage tales of Longhorn football, here’s me on the 1910 season.
Speaking of Longhorn football, here’s a pretty cool thing I got to do during the writing break. Please note that the Horns were undefeated during my stint as faculty coach. (To be clear: I called zero plays.)
Now THIS is what you read this newsletter for. Do you need about 4,000 words on Unspunnenfest, the Swiss stone lifting/tossing festival? I’m here to argue that you do. About throwing heavy things, but also about the nature of traditions and progress. Good tagline: The colourful Swiss sport of stone putting illuminates Aristotle’s insights into the shortcomings of conservative thought. Worth your time. Big thanks to Jan Todd for sharing.
Really good piece on the geopolitics of sports. Essentially how FIFA, under president Gianni Infantino, played within their labyrinthine rules to create a scenario where no one but the Saudis could host in 2034. A major get for the Saudi sports-diplomacy/sports-development/sports-washing initiative, which has grown from hosting boxing and pro wrestling to LIV Golf to—arguably—the biggest prize of them all. (We could argue that the Olympics are a bigger deal than the World Cup, but I think for the games the Saudis are playing, this is the big get.).
SI was in the news this week for its pathetic use of AI-generated articles, attributed to seemingly AI-generated authors. This is a shame on many levels, not just because of what an institution the publication was, but because there are still solid journalists plying their trade under the banner. Jon Wertheim, for example. Who, as far as I can tell, is a real person. And this is a cool article on the present and future of sports arenas, on what these mausoleums must do to stay relevant in the era of declining attention spans. The focus is on the Clippers and owner Steve Ballmer; no surprise that technology is at the forefront of the vision from the former Microsoft CEO.
As always, thanks for reading. Please share the newsletter with others and send me the cool things you read and watch online.
See you next week,