Articles

In the first installment of our occasional series on sports archetypes, we offer a look at the peculiar existence of the undersized white wide receiver.

Tom Scharpling knows next to nothing about the NHL. It’s not from any active dislike for the game. He's not opposed to it the way I am opposed to college basketball—any sport that allows a prime douche like Steve Wojciechowski to impact one minute of one game is not a sport for Tom—but hockey is a mystery that he'd never honestly tried to unravel. Until a misspelled vanity license plate convinced him it was time to be a hero.

In terms of their cover art, The Baseball Hall of Shame series of the 1980s look a lot like VHS boxes for lower-end teen comedies. But what's between those covers sounds uncannily like today's irrereverent, obsessive sports internet. There's a good reason for that.

Jon Jones just keeps on winning fights—most recently and spectacularly against Lyoto Machida—and making people angry. Isn't it time UFC started taking advantage of that last part?

Creating a new sport has its challenges. Besides having to remind everybody how the game is played, roller derby has to constantly assure people that, unlike its popular predecessor, it is real. One league's slogan makes the point prominent: “Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.” On their FAQ, the WFTDA is compelled to add questions like “Is roller derby real?” and “I used to love watching roller derby on TV! Is it like that?”

On Saturday, Real Madrid ensured that there would be nothing for Barcelona to transcend. For the first time in several years, the fixture stood out as a great game between two amazingly talented teams rather than a referendum on pragmatism vs. ideology, or the best way to build a club, or the moral value of a stepover. It was a matchup of rough equals, not an allegory of higher concepts. And it was fun.

Whereas most clubs are scruffy hamlets hoping the world hasn't forgotten them completely, Real Madrid and Barcelona are empires. They are masters of self-aggrandisement, all royal flash and ermine undergarments. When two great pomposities meet, the results are spectacular and inevitable, in the same way the dying sun swallowing the Earth will be spectacular and inevitable, except that we get to witness this particular supernova via television and web streams of dubious legality.

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho must deal with elected presidents and shifting political allegiances. The guy (or gal) who hired them will probably not be the one to fire them. And Real Madrid and Barcelona have especially bitter recent political histories.

Already, Chris Paul (and the prospect of Dwight Howard) joining Kobe Bryant had swept away much of the lockout cobwebs, and that was before the CBA had even been ratified. To let it happen—as David Stern should have, and as he so emphatically did with last summer's Heat assemblage, one with far heavier political overtones—would have been Stern's perfect "fuck you" back at the owners.

There is a general consensus that the USTA has not done enough to adequately develop top young American talent. Exactly what it should be doing is less clear.