Sports

Take a Knee

Take a Knee

The revenge of Colin Kaepernick

It will no doubt strike many as inappropriate, to say the least, to speak of Colin Kaepernick’s protest as a kind of revenge. Before this year, I would have agreed with them. Tactically it has seemed necessary to downplay the mounting evidence that not only was Kaepernick’s protest working, but that it was actually tearing the league apart. Letters poured in from aggrieved white patrons demanding an end to the protests, ratings started to drop and they’re still dropping, such that it now seems impossible to deny what the fascists have been saying for a while now, that Kap has succeeded where concussions, Deflategate, and roughly thirty thousand hours of advertisements per game had failed: it has given people a reason to give up the game for good.

Beat the Clock

Beat the Clock

I can tell he is not used to a woman standing up to him, to a female player who understands contract law.

The life of the female athlete overseas is scattered and obscure, a private and difficult endeavor experienced by only a handful of people at a time. Most of us are not on a national team, and cable TV cameras are rare—so rare that they don’t usually appear at all.

NBA Playoff Update

NBA Playoff Update

There was a kind of spiritual unity in Mike D’Antoni’s mustache and Steve Nash’s bad hair.

Historically outflanked by the Lakers, with whom they share an arena, the Clippers have no true fan base and no real reason for existence, except to satisfy the unquenchable narcissism of Los Angeles, which needs all the teams.

Agility Trials in Full Swing

Agility Trials in Full Swing

Akitas to xoloitzcuintlis at the Westminster Dog Show

Unless you’re a dog obsessive, you probably haven’t heard of the majority of breeds at Westminster. To help, owners lay out pamphlets about the histories of their breeds, information on how to care for them, and related décor, in addition to the dogs themselves, either placed on tables or below them, depending on size. With so many breeds competing for attention, novelty is a virtue. Any dog of Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry is liable to be dressed in a way that would make Edward Said turn in his grave.

Do Your Job

Do Your Job

The game’s sheer improbability made the whole thing impossible to take seriously until it was over.

It is a mistake to count on men like Belichick and Brady to understand the basic tenets of our shared world together. They know how to throw touchdowns and win football games, but not how to build or maintain a world in which it is possible to make millions doing so. For that, they rely on the rest of us, especially those long since priced out of their stadiums.

Double Standards

Double Standards

Colin Kaepernick has had his career compromised by the unchecked madness of white American privilege.

The playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has gone from a boring, low-stakes ritual to a fascinating pageant, as players across the country and at all levels kneel, link hands, lie down, or otherwise take the opportunity to express themselves.

Potentially Endless

Potentially Endless

I could sit in front of my laptop all night, into Thursday afternoon, maybe into next week.

Some teams are built around a talented pitching staff, some around canny base-running, some around brilliant defense. With the Cubs it’s more straightforward—they’re built around being great at playing baseball.

Ground and Pound

Ground and Pound

I want to see Jon Jones hit people with spinning back kicks that sound like I momentarily spiked the volume on my computer.

In the five years since he first won his championship, Jon Jones has ruined legends and mauled contenders, being legitimately tested only once, maybe twice.

Watch the Throne

Watch the Throne

LeBron knows that, win or lose, you’ll never get it; you’ll never forgive him for how he was born.

Everything that works as an excuse for everyone else has never worked for LeBron James, and so it’s no wonder why nobody understands when he tries to explain what that feels like.

NHL Finals Update

NHL Finals Update

Sidney Crosby may be the greatest player in the world, but it turns out that’s not always such a fun job.

Was the Miracle on Ice, and Eruzione’s subsequent lifetime career as a motivational speaker, founded on an off-side? Given the broad sweep of American history, it would certainly make sense if it were so.

On Kobe Bryant

On Kobe Bryant

Late Kobe, like late Hemingway, was a throwback to himself.

Not a single player who is statistically “better” than Kobe has been as glorious to watch. He was a sociopath, and his deep-seated contempt drove him to become one of the most beautiful athletes. The comparison with Duncan, an incomparably nicer man and better teammate, is instructive. Though Duncan may end up being accounted the greater player, I am with those who find his post-up, bank-shot style a chore to watch. Very few, even the haters, have felt this way about Kobe in his prime.

Falling Men

Falling Men

Moral panic on the pitch

Had we been in the schoolyard, we would have been a little dismayed but perhaps a little delighted. Because if there ever were such a thing as a perfect dive, it would have been precisely this. The propulsion of the fall correctly measured, the context agreeably neutral, the falling not too campy — a fall so perfect that a person writing a quarter of a century later, with the ability to loop the play over and over again on a computer screen, would still, in the end, have difficulty saying what really happened.

Sports Talk

Sports Talk

On Grantland

In 2011, Bill Simmons founded Grantland, a niche sports blog that operated out of ESPN’s website. For around a decade Simmons had enjoyed his own “Sports Guy” column on ESPN, where he opined about all things sports- and culture-related, reading sports through culture and culture through sports. Part of Simmons’s The Book of Basketball contains an extended comparison of Kobe Bryant with Michael J. Fox’s character in Teen Wolf, for instance.

Wilmer Flores and the Yellow Parakeet

Wilmer Flores and the Yellow Parakeet

On the Mets

There are two New York sensibilities: Yankee and Met. If the teams’ fans aren’t divided by class—there are plenty of impoverished Yankees fans, if not that many well-heeled Mets fans—they’re divided in how they think of their city. The former are the New York of “New York, New York”; the aura of the new Yankee Stadium, with its wide moat between the nice seats and the not-so-nice, is that of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps—expensive, bloated, and dumb.

Leviathan and the Air Pump

Leviathan and the Air Pump

On rules, cheating, and Deflategate

Larry Warford is a guard for the Detroit Lions. He is six feet three inches tall and weighs 332 pounds. His job is to crouch, fifty to sixty times, one day a week, on a one-hundred-by-fifty-yard field, and then leap up, collide with men of similar size, and move them out of his way so that one of the smaller, faster men on his own team can run by them while carrying an American football. Or: his job consists of keeping those same large men from running past him long enough for his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, to throw the ball down the field, often to a man two inches taller and a hundred pounds lighter than Warford is, whose given name is Calvin Johnson, but whom everyone knows simply as Megatron, after a giant robot toy.

The Last Days of Football

The Last Days of Football

Super Bowl Preview

In order for the amount of pressure in the football to mean something, people have to care about football; if we can agree that the pressure matters, then we agree that football matters, and if we can agree on that, then we still care about the game enough to keep investing. In order for the integrity of the game to be taken seriously, integrity itself must be plausible.

Take a Knee

Take a Knee

The revenge of Colin Kaepernick

It will no doubt strike many as inappropriate, to say the least, to speak of Colin Kaepernick’s protest as a kind of revenge. Before this year, I would have agreed with them. Tactically it has seemed necessary to downplay the mounting evidence that not only was Kaepernick’s protest working, but that it was actually tearing the league apart. Letters poured in from aggrieved white patrons demanding an end to the protests, ratings started to drop and they’re still dropping, such that it now seems impossible to deny what the fascists have been saying for a while now, that Kap has succeeded where concussions, Deflategate, and roughly thirty thousand hours of advertisements per game had failed: it has given people a reason to give up the game for good.

Beat the Clock

Beat the Clock

I can tell he is not used to a woman standing up to him, to a female player who understands contract law.

The life of the female athlete overseas is scattered and obscure, a private and difficult endeavor experienced by only a handful of people at a time. Most of us are not on a national team, and cable TV cameras are rare—so rare that they don’t usually appear at all.

NBA Playoff Update

NBA Playoff Update

There was a kind of spiritual unity in Mike D’Antoni’s mustache and Steve Nash’s bad hair.

Historically outflanked by the Lakers, with whom they share an arena, the Clippers have no true fan base and no real reason for existence, except to satisfy the unquenchable narcissism of Los Angeles, which needs all the teams.

Agility Trials in Full Swing

Agility Trials in Full Swing

Akitas to xoloitzcuintlis at the Westminster Dog Show

Unless you’re a dog obsessive, you probably haven’t heard of the majority of breeds at Westminster. To help, owners lay out pamphlets about the histories of their breeds, information on how to care for them, and related décor, in addition to the dogs themselves, either placed on tables or below them, depending on size. With so many breeds competing for attention, novelty is a virtue. Any dog of Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry is liable to be dressed in a way that would make Edward Said turn in his grave.

Do Your Job

Do Your Job

The game’s sheer improbability made the whole thing impossible to take seriously until it was over.

It is a mistake to count on men like Belichick and Brady to understand the basic tenets of our shared world together. They know how to throw touchdowns and win football games, but not how to build or maintain a world in which it is possible to make millions doing so. For that, they rely on the rest of us, especially those long since priced out of their stadiums.

Double Standards

Double Standards

Colin Kaepernick has had his career compromised by the unchecked madness of white American privilege.

The playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has gone from a boring, low-stakes ritual to a fascinating pageant, as players across the country and at all levels kneel, link hands, lie down, or otherwise take the opportunity to express themselves.

Potentially Endless

Potentially Endless

I could sit in front of my laptop all night, into Thursday afternoon, maybe into next week.

Some teams are built around a talented pitching staff, some around canny base-running, some around brilliant defense. With the Cubs it’s more straightforward—they’re built around being great at playing baseball.

Ground and Pound

Ground and Pound

I want to see Jon Jones hit people with spinning back kicks that sound like I momentarily spiked the volume on my computer.

In the five years since he first won his championship, Jon Jones has ruined legends and mauled contenders, being legitimately tested only once, maybe twice.

Watch the Throne

Watch the Throne

LeBron knows that, win or lose, you’ll never get it; you’ll never forgive him for how he was born.

Everything that works as an excuse for everyone else has never worked for LeBron James, and so it’s no wonder why nobody understands when he tries to explain what that feels like.

NHL Finals Update

NHL Finals Update

Sidney Crosby may be the greatest player in the world, but it turns out that’s not always such a fun job.

Was the Miracle on Ice, and Eruzione’s subsequent lifetime career as a motivational speaker, founded on an off-side? Given the broad sweep of American history, it would certainly make sense if it were so.