n the long run, sports media organizations might not have a choice but to move in this general direction. The implicit bargain among sports media, athletes, and teams used to be that the subjects would provide access, and in exchange the journalists would give the games publicity. That deal has lasted a long time, but today’s best athletes and biggest teams no longer need most of us in the media to get the word out. They can sell their broadcast rights to a media partner with or without press conferences. And Naomi Osaka, after all, didn’t need a team of reporters to get the word out about her views on press conferences. She just had to post them on Twitter and Instagram.
But the technically unparalleled Messi has never been as beloved as Diego. Messi is a genius who makes his teammates better, but Maradona’s gift was more precious: he made everyone believe they were great and could be greater. Maradona was at his best when representing the underdogs: the Argentine national team, of course, beating England and Germany en route to win the 1986 World Cup. Even more famously, though, at Napoli, where Maradona led a group of mostly average players (like the inconspicuous Careca and Alemão) to triumphs unprecedented for the small team: two Italian leagues, one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup, and one UEFA Cup.
But what of the losers? It turns out they have clever strategies for feeling good, too. The first stage of coping with a loss is often CORFing—Cutting Off Reflected Failure. Here Cialdini’s research revealed that pronoun choice was highly subjective. BIRGers will say, “We crushed them,” while CORFers invariably distance themselves from the failure: “They blew it.” Losers may then continue with a suite of mnemonically-termed coping mechanisms, including: BIRFing—Basking In Reflected Failure, the underdog mentality; CORSing— Cutting Off Reflected Success, as in the nostalgic fan who rejects success gained through deceit (i.e. doping) and opines for the more pure glory of times past; and COFFing—Cutting Off Future Failure, a strategy of not getting too excited when a team with a historically poor record starts to do well (lest their success prove to be short-lived).
That connection, along with Nissen’s ceaseless promotional activities, propelled trampolining into the American consciousness during the post-war years and throughout the space era. Nissen jumped at the chance to awaken the world to its exercise benefits, which include cardio, strength, balance and range of motion, and he came up with plenty of photo ops for his invention, including jumping on one on the flattened top of a pyramid in Egypt and bouncing with a kangaroo in Central Park.
“The kangaroo was nasty,” Dian says. “It kept trying to kick my father. He would get close to it for the photos but then jump away quickly so he wouldn’t get hurt.”
If you want to watch something moving, if you want to see him play basketball but don’t know where to start, try the last three minutes of his last ever game – you can find them on YouTube. Bryant, ageing, tiring, balding, sweating, sucking air, is determined to score as many points as he can, and somehow, against the odds, starts winning – total focus, total exhaustion on his face, while the crowds chant KOBE KOBE KOBE, with his wife and two of his daughters in the front row. It’s a happy scene, almost implausibly celebratory, people are laughing in the stands as each ridiculous shot goes in, though you also get the sense that for them it’s only a game, and that nobody else is taking it quite as seriously.
Benjamin Markovits — TLS
Somehow the fun in watching sports has waned down for me.
As the sports world continues to float inexorably toward a hedge fund manager’s idea of nirvana, it is becoming increasingly clear that what works in a streamlined utopia of linear efficiency is manifesting itself in aesthetically grotesque displays of actual, you know, sports. The smartest team in the NBA has its players leap into defenders so they can stand and shoot free throws, the chaos and beauty of basketball frozen for a guy to stand by himself in silence. Baseball has lost the action and speed that comes with singles and balls in play in relentless pursuit of home runs and strikeouts. For the second consecutive year, there were more strikeouts than base hits in 2019, and 31.4 percent of all at-bats ended with a strikeout or walk, which means 31.4 percent of all at-bats ended with five-to-ten minutes of buildup for absolutely nothing happening at all. And that is the goal. Even golf has lost most of its romance as players bulk up to bash the ball as far as possible, which every analytical tool at golfers’ disposal tells them is more important than any subtlety on the greens.
When the tennis great Martina Navratilova wrote against biological males’ competing in women’s sports, she was roundly attacked as transphobic and swiftly booted from the board of the LGBT group Athlete Ally. A former Olympic swimmer from Britain, Sharron Davies, got mobbed for expressing similar sentiments.
We live in an age when stating the obvious is forbidden, and women’s sports may never be quite the same.
One for the football season. Will sports remain sports?
The Brazilian fitness staff claims that since their players started using GPS wearable devices in 2015, soft-tissue injuries have been rare. Ramos, the physiologist, recalls that during the Rio Olympics in 2016 he needed to have a word with Neymar because of the exceptional number of high-intensity sprints registered by his GPS device during training. “We had to tell him to slow down or else he would get injured.” If he had, he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the winning goal in the final against Germany. Whoever strikes the decisive shot at this year’s World Cup will probably have done so with a computer at his back.
Will the iconic magazine survive?
With the magazine up for sale, everything surrounding SI’s mission seems uncertain. Despite the staff reductions, there is some money being poured into new platforms. Those at the magazine talk bravely about their digital initiative, SI TV, which earned two sports Emmy nominations this year (one for 89 Blocks, the gritty, veristic chronicle of a high school football team in East St. Louis that premiered last fall on Fox). But it’s hard to know where these ventures will go without knowing the magazine’s next owner, just as it’s hard to know what happens to traffic on SI.com if Peter King leaves.
The epic story of scouting.
The tale opens in 2007 as Josep Colomer, the scout who nurtured Lionel Messi at Barcelona, navigates the Niger Delta escorted by armed rebels. Supported by 6,000 volunteers across Africa, he aims to assemble a squad of the continent’s most promising 13-year-olds by testing half a million of them—every year.
Mr Abbot’s book focuses on a clutch of early candidates who are plucked from Ghana and Senegal and transported to unimaginable luxury in Doha. The motives of their benefactor, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, are unclear. Ostensibly they are there to provide practice for local players in the hope of strengthening the national team, ahead of a bid to host the World Cup in 2022. Some think the real plan may be to make Qatari citizens of Africa’s finest.