October 1, 2020
For whom the ball tolls
October 1, 2020
For whom the ball tolls
February 7, 2020
“Interesting read,” was Kobe’s verdict. “#MuseOn.”
Over the course of several meetings in 2017 and 2018, I taught Kobe and his crew a smattering of ancient history. I had known about him for many years—since he first came to the Lakers. Among my earliest memories of shame comes from his first or second season: I thought that since his team-mate Shaquille O’Neill was clearly somehow Irish, Kobe, too, must be Irish, and so I referred to him (in front of friends, and friends’ parents) as Kobe O’Bryant. I was maybe 8; the memory still stings.
Get n+1 in your inbox.
July 5, 2018
World Cup update
Uruguay vs. Portugal brought us, mercifully, to the point where Ronaldo was also gone. Nothing against either of them, but their presence is such that even having one of them involved means the epic Messi–Ronaldo debate eats up all the air time and “analysis.” Men who know nothing pontificate. Good and evil are spoken of in utter seriousness. 7 percent of the internet is devoted to this debate, so let me take a moment to end it. They are both utterly amazing! And brace yourselves: they are equally amazing, and they are differently amazing. I don’t know why this is so hard for people to accept. There is no way, in a team sport, to bring the issue to further clarity, so I recommend everyone drops this line of debate. Please, take the fact that the universe put them out in the same round as a sign.
June 8, 2018
Sweden play their home games just outside of Stockholm at the Friends Arena, perhaps the only stadium in the world named after an anti-bullying charity. The big question that faced the Swedish team up until the World Cup was whether they would bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the World Cup. Ibrahimovic, perhaps Sweden’s greatest ever player, retired from international soccer in 2016, but he had been hinting that he would be willing to return. However there were some concerns about bringing back a player with knee ligaments that could snap at any moment, and so arrogant that when teammates play well he attributes it to the benefits of watching him in practice. He will not be on the plane to Russia.
May 31, 2018
NBA Update 2018
LeBron James, possessed of perhaps the most expressive face in any sport, bears the imprint of existential weariness, of having to prove himself once more on behalf of an obscure rationale somehow held in common to fans and players alike, one he has clearly internalized.
February 6, 2018
On Superbowl LIII
When it looked like the aging Brady might make good on the automaker’s threat, Artemis smiled, picked up her bow, and sent Brandon Graham to restore order to the universe. After the fumble, Brady still got the ball back once more, now down by eight with a little over a minute left and no time outs, but it was too much, even for him, and Pats fans watching knew it. Still I will always cherish the absolute reticence of the Eagles fans to declare it over when it was. The shot of Philly waiting in disbelief to start celebrating that they had, in fact, beaten Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl will go down in my mind as one of the highest compliments ever paid to a competitor. When Brady was on the field, it wasn’t over until it was over and sometimes not even then.
September 25, 2017
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.
July 25, 2017
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.
May 5, 2017
NHL playoffs diary
A face-off: Two men glide to the dot doubled-over, resting their weight on sticks across their thighs. They choke down on these sticks, grab the haft above the blade, dip the blade like a garden trowel. Then, they make like guys fighting to take the first shovelful of dirt from a hole. Like they’re struggling to dig the other’s grave.
May 3, 2017
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.
February 15, 2017
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.
February 7, 2017
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.