Archive for the ‘sports’ tag
Without telling anyone I sold this blog to Grantland, and now I’m only going to link to their videos. Hope you don’t mind.
I kid, but two-in-a-row is something I’d typically avoid. But I have two and so you’re going to go watch a video about a coach of a small private Arkansas high school called Pulaski Academy whose strategy is to never — with very very few exceptions — punt away the football. He credits the strategy, along with his unconventional almost-all-onside-kick strategy, with allowing his small school to win so many state championships.
A nice little feature about the couple who made, by hand, Major League Baseball’s schedule for almost 25 years. Pleasant watching.
(via The Talk Show)
This article is about all the bogus benefits the NFL has, but it’s approximately true of all major sports leagues in the United States, and the mentioned tax incentives are realized by copious other businesses at smaller scales. Still, if you’re unfamiliar with the whole political structure of it, it’s hard not to be incensed by a summary like this:
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn’t apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It’s time to stop the public giveaways to America’s richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams.
Despite — or perhaps because — I rarely pay attention to sports anymore, Hang Up and Listen, which is Slate’s sports podcast, is one of my favorites. In the latest episode they talked about an exhaustive story about all the evidence that the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs wasn’t really an even fight. It’s hardly a novel theory, but the amassing of evidence for Don Van Natta Jr. story makes it pretty hard to doubt that Riggs didn’t try to win the match.
I’ve long agreed with the basic premise that the NCAA is one of the more morally dubious organizations held commonly in high esteem. And this piece about the misplaced outrage about a “transfer epidemic” is more fodder for the cannon. Josh Levin is clear-sighted and empirical about student transfers and how the NCAA’s strange rules surrounding them can change the lives of “student athletes” is spot-on. A brilliant and much-needed attack:
Let’s examine what this epidemic looks like. Transfer rates for Division I men’s basketball players have hovered between 9 and 11 percent each offseason over the last decade. By comparison, a 2010 study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling indicated that 1 in 3 college students transfer during their scholastic careers. The only difference I’m seeing here is that English lit professors aren’t grousing about students running off with their copies of Moby Dick.
(via Daring Fireball)
I could explain this video, but I prefer the way Mr. Kottke did:
The video feels like a dream sequence in a movie, a movie where some evil wizard turns the boys of Dogtown into shadows.
Jonah Lehrer highlights a topic that I’ve heard a lot of talk about over the last few years, but don’t think ever made it to the blog. He starts with a very interesting premise:
[American football] won’t be undone by a labor lockout or a broken business model — football owners know how to make money. Instead, the death will start with those furthest from the paychecks, the unpaid high school athletes playing on Friday nights. It will begin with nervous parents reading about brain trauma, with doctors warning about the physics of soft tissue smashing into hard bone, with coaches forced to bench stars for an entire season because of a single concussion.
In an article encouraging us not to use genetic tendencies for racist ends, William Saletan offers a possible genetic answer:
One example is the RR variant of ACTN3, a gene that affects fast generation of muscular force and correlates with excellence at speed and power sports. The opposite variant of the gene is called XX. Tests indicate that the ratio of people with RR to people with XX is 1 to 1 among Asians, 2 to 1 among European whites, and more than 4 to 1 among African-Americans.
Obviously discipline, coaching, economics, and millions of other factors also matter. But this fact was new to me.
The classic poem — one I remember fondly from childhood — retold on the faces of baseball cards. It’s sometimes difficult to find the words on each cards, but it’s a very neat idea.
In a somewhat odd and thoroughly sweeping summary of comebacks — in a variety of fields — throughout history, The Economist says that Lance Armstrong should be careful not to end up like… Enron’s Ken Lay?
But Mr Armstrong must hope not to follow the example of a fellow American who reassumed the top job. Ken Lay retook the chief executive’s role at Enron in August 2001 after a break of six months and shortly before the firm made the biggest bankruptcy filing in American history.
UPDATE (20 minutes later): Perhaps the logic behind the awkward comparison is this: if Armstrong, like Lay, was crooked before the break, it’s possible that upon returning (still crooked) he’ll be caught.
Awesome - is this being broadcast by anyone?
Sadly, no. And:
I think this is more human and fun, than the other one…
The Paralympics are now occurring in Beijing, and among their events is the new-to-me five-a-side soccer, a version of the sport for the visually impaired. As Passport explains:
Each team has five players on the field — all of whom are blind or visually impaired, with the exception of the goalkeeper, who may be sighted. All except the goalkeepers wear eyeshades to ensure fairness. The ball makes a noise when it moves, and each team has a guide behind the opponent’s goal to direct players. The field is surrounded by walls, so there are no throw-ins.
I’d love to see a game. The photos of people playing soccer blindfolded are themselves intriguing.
Shira Springer captures my hesitance to regard any sport as fair and clean, any athlete as above suspicion:
Instead of fully independent investigations, random drug tests, and cleansing of the record books, sports leagues and their stars are offering tightly controlled exercises in disclosure in which league executives, lawyers, and public-relations personnel still carefully dictate what becomes public and when. The seeming glut of available information - test results, reports, and press conferences - functions as part preemptive strike and part smokescreen, distracting fans from the growing concern that they can no longer trust what they see in competition or in record books.
The psychologists said [taekwandoe] competitors wearing red were awarded an average of 13 percent more points and the points seemed to increase after the blue athlete was digitally transformed into a red athlete and decrease when the red competitor turned blue.
I remember something similar going around about red cars getting more traffic tickets, but Snopes claims that that was false.
A woodworker considers the new-to-epidemic of the bats being broken in Major League Baseball games. It’s an interesting read.
The New York Times has put together another fabulous interactive chart — or maybe it’s a map — of how many medals countries won in each summer Olympiad since 1896.
Of all the provocative possibilities raised by Ben Fry’s playing with intelligence (Wonderlic) scores and (American) football positions, the most obvious and interesting may be that offensive players — and especially linemen — are usually smarter than defensive players.
The man just broke 600; his card’s still a popular commodity:
The most famous card in the history of pictures on cardboard is the T206 Honus Wagner, so rare that one of them sold for more than $2 million last year. The most well-known card of the modern era is the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr., the No. 1 card in the company’s inaugural set. As Griffey nears the 600-home-run landmark, sales of the Upper Deck No. 1 are as brisk as always, with buyers snapping up a couple of dozen every day on eBay at prices ranging from $15 to $300. These two cards, the bookends of the collecting phenomenon, are exact opposites. The Wagner is the white whale of the card trade: elusive, highly coveted, and known to drive men to madness. The Griffey is the childhood lust object that everyone’s mother saved, arguably the most popular, most widely held baseball card of all time.