Category Archives: Sportswriting

Friday 09/15 2017
On Cocaine and Quarter Horses: Melissa del Bosque’s “Bloodlines”

“By virtue of keeping her reporting clean and concise, del Bosque easily steers readers through Treviño’s international financial crimes spiked with brutality—the kind that would make Michael Lewis’ usual suspects blush. In tracing the case from the first whispered tip to an FBI agent to the final verdict, she brings a slice of the abstracted drug war into heart-rending focus, turning the bloody diamond before her loupe so that each facet becomes clear.”

Read the rest of my review of Bloodlines in Paste Magazine

Monday 06/26 2017
Remembering Frank Deford

“When people ask me why I write about sports, instead of some or any other thing, I tell them this: when it comes to social constructs—the membranes and ligaments which hold groups of people together, the bonding agents not visible on a map or in a flag, things that tie us together socially, not politically—there are only three which can rightfully claim true and enduring power: religion, war, and sport.

Those three social constructs reach, bring together, and separate more people than art or music or movies (both so close!) or literature or whatever else is generally deemed “more important” than sport.

And so, should not our writers who cover so important a social construct be admired and examined with the love and seriousness commensurate with what they cover? All of which is a long way of saying, sport matters, sportswriting matters, and Frank Deford was a fantastic sportswriter. His writing matters, and so does he.

And what fucking writing! Go on ahead and Google an image of Deford, because the easiest way to explain his rhetorical stylings is to say that he wrote how he looked. Unafraid of the purple and being picaresque, large but not bulky or intimidating, charming but not unctuous. He’s a rakish hero, broad shouldered and be-pompadoured, glossy and flashy but never to the point of inelegance.”

Read the rest in The Classical

Tuesday 05/2 2017
Beware The Wolf: Can Esports Prevent Its Inevitable Match-Fixing Scandal?

“It’s a level of foresight that no other league has enjoyed in such relative infancy. As a result, Smith has set a lofty expectation: To be the first major sport to head off a sweeping match-fixing scandal well before it strikes.

‘Every single sport [with the exception of golf] has only put proper match-fixing regulations and procedures in place after they’ve been hit by a major match-fixing scandal,’ Smith said. ‘And my message to esports from day one has been, ‘Let’s do this before the scandal.’ If you want to wait ’til afterwards, that’s fine, but it’s gonna be a hell of a lot harder and a lot more painful once your industry is rocked by a major scandal to do something meaningful about it.’

But ESIC can only do so much. ESIC is a coalition of parties, which means it has no jurisdiction over anyone that isn’t a member. This is not, in other words, a governing body which dominates the landscape and has the teeth to implement sweeping sanctions. Even if the match in question was conducted by an ESIC-affiliated organization, Smith cannot force the organization to take any action. All Smith can do inform the tournament operators, the books, and law enforcement of ESIC’s suspicions, and hope they respond accordingly.

‘And this is the problem that we face,” he says. ‘In a sense, I’m the man who cried wolf. The only difference is, I know the wolf is coming.’”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Tuesday 02/21 2017
Talking Cockfighting with 96.9 The Game

HBO’s Real Sports is showing a segment on cockfighting, so I appeared on Marc Daniels’ The Beat of Sports show on Orlando’s 96.9 The Game this morning to talk about the cockers I met and talked with while reporting on cockfighting for VICE Sports.

Check out the segment on my Soundcloud!

Monday 02/13 2017
A Sliver of the Future

“The fate of the Cedar Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the self-styled “safest plant in the world,” looks fairly secure, all things considered.

There’s a terrorist placing C4 while another provides covering fire, but they are only two men and the Counter-Terrorist Unit, with their superior numbers, are swarming the bomb site. And you are adjacent to the terrorist in overwatch position, with the entire conflict laid out below—a deific perspective usually impossible, or at least highly unusual, to achieve in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But virtual reality is changing how we can watch esports, and as the desperate fight to set off or defuse the bomb reaches a fever pitch right, you could simply tilt your head up to where a giant screen floating in the sky displays the down-the-barrel view so familiar to video gamers and figure out where things stand in the semi-final round of the Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO competition at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Thursday 01/12 2017
The Bleeders Do Not Ride Bitch

“Halweg was laying out transmission pieces on the garage’s back table in anticipation of the more that were coming and was taking advantage of her bike’s forced downtime to do some maintenance work. Her 1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead’s gas tank was licked with flames the kind of supernatural green you’d have seen on a Juicy J shirt in the mid-aughts, tipped with chartreuse, a perfectly iconic bit of motorcycle adornment she admitted she almost got rid of until she got matching grips—these sparkle-like fishing lures—and a seat, which makes the whole green thing look badass. Unfortunately, the Ironhead is one of those temperamental, needy kinds of beasts who regularly finds itself under the wrench.”

Read the rest of my profile of the Bleeders women’s riding club in Jezebel

Wednesday 11/9 2016
The Sporting Singularity

“For decades, analog sports athletes were little more than grist for the mill. Before the rise of free agency, players had little to no control over which team they would play—and bleed and hazard bodily harm—for. Before the outcry over concussions suffused sports, hundreds of players had their brains beaten into jelly with little more than faded press clippings and souvenirs for severance. They had to organize and fight in the 1960s and 70s for salaries commensurate with both their sought-after skills and their sports’ ballooning profits.

Traditional sports learned these lessons the hard way, in other words, and their involvement in esports may expedite the learning curve for their digital brethren. The well-being of players may very well become baked into esports structures from their earliest days, rather than needing to be shoehorned in generations after the fact—and hopefully mitigating some of the potential downsides of professionalization. Organizations like the PEA may serve as the beginning of player’s associations and unions to protect esports athletes from being fleeced financially, as well as providing them with economic agency. Combine this with the analytic muscle and arms-race mentality of traditional sports, and a jump in skill and strategy could be forthcoming, as well.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Tuesday 10/18 2016
The Power and The Beauty: To Dylan Rieder, From Skaters Who Loved Him

“There was a benevolent power that drove Rider’s skating, an application of force with the kind of precision and appeal normally limited to conversations about boxers and smart missiles. He struck difficult tricks with such seeming effortlessness that it requires repeated viewings—maybe two, or even three or four—to register just how fucking fast he is skating, how high he is snapping, how tall the ledges and rails he is blessing are, how truly ridiculous every trick is, a man launching himself with a blink-and-you-miss-it savagery before alighting like a premier danseur.

Read the rest of my essay-cum-eulogy for Dylan Rieder at VICE Sports

Friday 10/7 2016
Can Athletes Save Psychology?

“Athletes, like everyone else, suffer from mental-health issues—ailments generally far more difficult to assess than a pulled muscle or broken bone.  Unlike everyone else, however, athletes perform in controlled, quantified environments. A person who isn’t in training doesn’t always have crystal-clear markers for how an anxiety disorder impacts their life, but an athlete faces cold numbers every time they step on the field: distances run, assists made, goals scored, games won.”

Read the rest of the article in The Atlantic

Friday 09/9 2016
Who Rules The Waves?

“The Coast Guard and Merchant Marines work closely together. Outside of the military purview of the Navy, the two services are responsible for practically all the nation’s goings-on at sea. Their students experience a maritime life few others ever live, with on-board training every summer for the Coasties and for an entire year at Kings Point. Perhaps it is this familiarity that sparks such competitive fire on the gridiron each fall; as in a sibling rivalry, the knowledge that those across the field from you are motivated by the same desires, live the same rigorous days, and are destined for a familiar future is trumped by the burning need to assert internecine dominance: same conquering same.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports