The Ugly Efficiency of Modern Sports


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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.

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Will Leitch — Intelligencer

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In Defense of Women’s Sports


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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. 

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Rich Lowry — National Review

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How GPS tracking is changing football


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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.

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Joao Medeiros — 1843

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WHAT WILL BECOME OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED?


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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.

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Michael MacCambridge — The Ringer

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An epic search for football’s next superstars


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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.

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The Economist

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Wall Street’s Best-Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert


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In contrast with chess’s deliberative reputation, Alburt says the game helps traders think on their feet. “Strong chess players are good at making quick, usually correct decisions,” he says. “Traders are basically doing the same things as chess ­grandmasters: You have to make quick decisions in by definition uncertain circumstances.” Other chess attributes that help those high up on the ladder, he says, are its emphasis on logic and “making people responsible for their decisions.” Or as Icahn puts it: “If he’s a good chess player, he has a good math mind. So if he’s a good player, he’s not an idiot.” Hirsch of Seneca Capital agrees. “There’s a great satisfaction in ­envisioning how something is going to play out and be right,” he says. While playing chess, Hirsch adds, he credits Alburt “with any good moves I make.” The blunders, he notes, “are all mine.”

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James Tarmy — Bloomberg

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Up Is the New Down


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A very inspiring story for today. Go for it.

In his mid-twenties, Bob had some serious health problems, which made it very difficult for him to eat. He ended up in the hospital for a few weeks and for several years he ate exclusively through a feed tube. Slowly but surely, with Amy leading the charge, Bob’s family got him eating solid food again and back outside exercising. “We’re told that people with Down syndrome are slow, and you can’t take them that far,” Amy says, “but Bob is pretty fast and he can go forever.” When Bob started tackling increasingly tough and long day hikes, and dubbed himself “Bob Hammer,” the origin of the Bob nickname, Amy and Max realized that their Grand Teton idea was no longer a pipe dream.

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Sam Moulton — Outside

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