The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the members of its 2012 class on January 9. If all goes according to plan, one or a few inductees will get phone calls from some suit in Cooperstown and they will cry. Then word will be leaked our way. We will sing the praises of the chosen, pour one out for Edgar Martínez, and begin anew the cycle of arguing about what greatness is, how you measure it, and how you deal with the fact that sometimes greatness is built on a foundation of bullshit.

A few weeks ago, Arsenal's Robin van Persie scored the only goal of the match amidst a mediocre team performance against Everton. The day before, in celebration of the club's 125th anniversary, statues were unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium commemorating Tony Adams and Thierry Henry—two great figures from Arsenal's recent past—and Herbert Chapman—the great figure of Arsenal's distant past. Van Persie's goal was moving sculpture. As Alex Song played a delightful ball over the defence, van Persie snuck behind his marker and let loose a volley that was damn near perfect, a goal so shattering that it was almost a miniature Big Bang.

Between now and 2012, we're going to be getting a lot of sports in our respective monitors. Which, given everything else that we see there, is a very good thing, indeed.

Todd Haley has the misfortune of looking like a huge asshole. Fleece vests, intermittent shitty beard, jocko-dickwad sunglasses, things dangling on a lanyard, golf visors (the worst), even right down to being named Todd—a first name that’s been repurposed as a common noun meaning “alpha douche.” I hate dudes like Todd Haley, and that reflects poorly on me.  But Todd Haley also has the misfortune of acting like a huge asshole. While dressed in fleece vest, shitty beard, golf visors, right on down the line, which amplifies everything. His sideline demeanor as a coach was like a composite sketch of the worst possible Little League dad.

In January of 2010, Neil Chamberlain left Brooklyn for a three-month tour of Muay Thai boxing camps in Thailand. While abroad he kept an online chronicle of his experiences that was followed voraciously by his family and friends. Neil returned from Thailand in early April; less than two weeks later he was dead at age twenty-eight, killed by a hit-and-run driver. It’s a great cliché to describe prose as “alive," but it’s a privilege to say it now, and to share Neil’s words and travels here. 

The WWE's early-'00s hardcore moment was riotously fun while simultaneously being sickening. The matches themselves are deeply satisfying as spectacle; they move fast, tell big stories, and give Jim Ross chances to air out his most gleefully horrified commentary: "Broken bodies everywhere, King!" But they also function as pro wrestling's Faces of Death. Even as I enjoy the living hell out of the carnage, a voice in my soul keeps asking if this is the chairshot that sent Matt Hardy into a permanent painkiller-induced K-hole. Is there a include such insane action without permanently damaging the talent?

Take two athletes. Good ones, real specimens. Been told their whole lives how awesome they are, how capable. Now pit them against one another. But let’s say one can reach into that soft place where the other keeps all the happy horseshit people fed him over the years, his mojo, his metaphorical heart. That one can rip that out and squoosh it. Why, then the aggressor can do pretty much whatever he wants. For such a powerful force in sport, it’s downright bizarre we don’t have a word for what’s happening there. 

To appreciate Devin Hester is to be dazzled, shocked, exhilarated, to speak in tongues as if being touched by the divine, or to roll around on the floor uncontrollably like a seizure victim. He evokes otherworldly reactions because, simply, he is capable of otherworldly actions.

A decade ago, New Jersey's Gill St. Bernard's was a school with a fancy name, a leafy campus, and a nondescript basketball team. The name and campus haven't changed. The team really, really has.

Everyone knows about the slow-motion tragedy of concussions in sports. But no one, including the players who suffer, seems to know how to talk about it—which is a big reason why this particular epidemic isn't going away anytime soon.