Tag Archives: sports

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 05/16 2017
The Effective Narcissism of Chuck Klosterman

“Klosterman’s essays matter, because—despite focusing on a bunch of middle-aged-white-guy-things—their content tackles well-known subjects. These are not meditations on obscure punk records; these are treatises on KISS, for fuck’s sake. It’s like pulling David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster from a black backpack covered in Toy Machine patches and poorly rendered Sharpie doodles. Klosterman pulls the literary equivalent of Jeff Koons’ art—validating your love of something with nary a pat on the head in sight.”

Read the rest of my essay on Klosterman’s new book, X, in Paste

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

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

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

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

Thursday 12/10 2015
Cheerocracy Forever!

“In her dream, she is lifted.

Carried as if Cleopatra atop the strapping bodies of her personal attendants, wreathed in shimmering brumes of crimson and ash, she is lofted upward from the cold floor. She is sidereal, high and brilliant, the hearts and eyes and minds, lungs and tongues, diaphragms and voices and empty palms of the hundreds arranged on writhing, screaming steps of the stadia for her—for her!They coalesce around their star, becoming a beast that she controls, via her strength and volume, the flexing of an alabaster bicep, the vibrating of the only vocal cords they listen to, not merely hear.”

Find out why Bring It On is the best sports movie ever at VICE Sports

Monday 11/30 2015
On Bond, Sport, and Class

“The two great markers of a man’s social class are his name and his hobbies, and Fleming used both to establish James Bond as a class apart. While “James Bond” is now indelibly associated with sangfroid and sex, when Casino Royale came out in 1953, the name was “anonymous and sleek,” Matthew Parker wrote in Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born. It was a name with no connotations. Fleming also endowed his character with a love for what Parker deems “consumer sports” like golfing, gambling, skiing, and skin diving—activities and distractions in which courage and capital and the next luxury are more important than a last name or coat of arms.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Friday 10/30 2015
Mini Golf Macabre

“The vast majority of the spooky sounds in the basement emanate from the haunted house of the sixth hole, thigh high and blanched like bone. The only way to the hole is through the house. A partially plucked doll’s head hovers in the window. The carpet around the house bubbles and pulses as if possessed, each step causing gruesome swells in the ground; you are pretty sure this was done on purpose, because the hole is somehow creepy as fuck.

It is your favorite hole.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Tuesday 10/13 2015
Strange Fishing Off Newport

“In the beginning, Havemeyer looked to have a fight on his hands, his rod bent double as the prize rapidly took out the line. An experienced and effective angler is a patient one, however, and Havemeyer, a few minutes into the contest, pulled taut and began to to regain line. By about six minutes into the struggle, the Sugar Baron was making slow but steady progress, the reeling in of his prize moving with measured certainty, his rod finally lifting its head from its bowed position, forced genuflection replaced with arched effort.

He pulled against the considerable weight at the end of the line, before finally, after ten minutes of epic contest, his foe emerged from the sea sans fins and gills, its flippers replaced by strikingly pale limbs ending in strangely ineffective paddles, all crowned by a curious and handsome head of hair, a man, a man on the end of the line, on the bottom of the boat, at the Sugar Baron’s feet!

The man was none other than Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, scion of the Belmont banking family, as in the Stakes, who kept his horse’s stables on the ground floor of his mansion Belcourt, bedding them on white linen embroidered with the family crest. An American playboy—handsome New World Royalty—landed off the coast of Bailey’s Beach like a marlin!”

Read the rest of my article about Gilded Age sports excess at VICE Sports