Charles Pierce on Donald Fehr and the NHL lockout: So, when the NHL players turned to [Fehr], everyone on both sides knew they were hiring a wartime consigliere. The players came out of the last lockout with such impeccably clean clocks that it's a wonder they didn't hire someone with an RPG launcher this time around. Fehr's hiring should have come as a surprise to approximately nobody, since a lockout is always a deliberate tactic by management aimed at achieving a precise goal — in this case, clawing back what little was left after the last time Bettman fastened on this strategy.
Slave Genes Myth Must Die: Olympic Champion sprinter Michael Johnson says, All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it’s impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn’t left an imprint through the generations. . . . Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me –- I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.
Profile of John Carlos: who, together with Tommie Smith, performed the black power salute on the podium of the Mexico City Olympic games. "In life, there's the beginning and the end," he says. "The beginning don't matter. The end don't matter. All that matters is what you do in between whether you're prepared to do what it takes to make change. There has to be physical and material sacrifice. When all the dust settles and we're getting ready to play down for the ninth inning, the greatest reward is to know that you did your job when you were here on the planet."
Butt Ended: Mike Keenan, on coaching the Blackhawks in 1988: So I'm coaching my first exhibition game and I go into the dressing room after the first period to talk, and there's no one in there. I'm wondering what in hell is going on, and take a walk out to the other side of the hallway and the whole team is out there, smoking cigarettes." This is an interesting article on what seems almost unimaginable today - Hockey stars of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Guy Lafleur and Denis Savard, being pack a day smokers, or more.
Jürgen Klinsmann Tries to Teach Football to America: Klinsmann knows that his new freedom has a lot to do with the relative unimportance of soccer in America. There are Americans who say that soccer isn't a sport for men, but for girls and pansies who don't have what it takes to play American football. In this sense, America isn't too weak for soccer; rather, soccer is too weak for America. These attitudes have helped American soccer, especially the national team, carve out a comfortable niche for itself. The team has never been under the unconditional pressure to win. "In this sense, the environment is different in the United States," says Klinsmann. "If you lose a match here, nobody cares. Then people say: 'Oh, you lost yesterday. No problem.'" (gallery).
Olympic Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius has qualified for both the Track and Field World Championships and Olympics in the 400 metre sprints, with a time of 45.07 seconds. Pistorius, who had his legs amputated below the knees at 11 months of age, races on prosthetic carbon fibre "blades". A 2008 court decision ruled his prosthetics did not give him a competitive advantage and made him eligible for the Beijing Olympics, but he was unable to make the qualifying time for those games. It now appears he will be automatically selected for the South African team sent to the 2012 London Olympics.
Hockey Then and Now: In a recent New Yorker, Adam Gopnik dwells on the Habs. Two things caught the more disinterested eye of the post-Habs playoff-watcher. First, how much hockey really has changed in the past fifteen or so years—and though the changes aren’t entirely to my liking, their cause is: they’re all a function of ever-increasing skill and broad-based excellence. To watch highlights of Cups past, from the sixties and seventies, is to see awkwardly upright goalies waving their sticks apologetically at passing pucks; the perfection of the butterfly style now means that getting a goal is hard, and damn near impossible from a distance. This produces both the decreased scoring of this hockey epoch, and the ugly habit of playing “North-South” hockey, banging the net and basically trying to ram the puck home under or over a helpless goalie after a bad rebound from six inches away.
Requiem for boxing: the decline of the Sweet Science: And the MMA fights themselves feel like fast food – sometimes extraordinarily good fast good – compared with what boxing at its best can produce, a three-hour, three-star meal. They feel like a tweet (though sometimes, a great, clever, provocative tweet), not a sonnet, and certainly not an epic, a really catchy jingle, not a fully realized popular song. There's no arguing with the marketplace. Fifty-five thousand people can't be wrong. There's no turning back the clock. And there's no point in trying to explain what's missing, because what's missing has already been, and is already gone.
Great set of photos showcasing the culture of cricket in South Asia: : young and old, amateur and professional, prisoners and priests.
Why can't basketball stats nerds separate the superstars from the ball hogs?: "To number-crunching nerds raised on baseball, in which pitcher and batter compete in statistically delicious one-on-one duels, such messy "interaction effects" are a lumpy blemish in the box score. In January, seasoned baseball sabermetrician (and occasional Slate contributor) Phil Birnbaum argued in his blog that basketball's so-called "advanced" box-score stats are so gnarled with this problem that they can't be trusted. (He went so far as to call them "the RBIs of basketball"—a brutal insult to lovers of well-validated statistics.) Is Birnbaum right? Is this why people can't agree on the value of Carmelo?"
Drill and Kill: How Americans Link War and Sports. Sports and war have been closely linked in the minds of Americans for generations, which many Europeans find unusual.
Ben Johnson, about to launch his autobiography, is interviewed:: Usain Bolt, however, is spared any insinuations. "I've not got any bad thing to say about Bolt. I'm happy for him. If I was born 22 years later it would've been great to race him. And I don't think he would have beaten me." Johnson laughs, suggesting he could have run faster than Bolt's 9.58 if he had raced on modern tracks – and free of steroid abuse.
Average goals per game, by year: for every hockey league you've ever heard of. Surprisingly dramatic variation within and between leagues.
Rah Deal: A former Silsbee, Texas, high school cheerleader did not have a First Amendment right to refuse to cheer for a basketball player she claimed had sexually assaulted her, a federal appeals court panel has ruled. More.
There's the snap: a broad spectrum of historic football photos from the Magnum photo agency.
Hockey's best players by the numbers they wore, Part I (00-33): Part II (34-66), Part III (67-99).
#4: Orr before Beliveau? FAIL.
#10: Francis before Lafleur? FAIL.
#69: Angelstad over ... no one else has ever worn this number? WEIRD.
Pittsburgh Pirates make money by losing, leaked financial documents suggest:: Economist Roger Noll, a Stanford University economist, said: “Probably the Pirates would be less profitable if they tried to improve the team substantially.”
Deja Moo: Julio Aparicio became the most famous bullfighter in the world in May after he was gored through his neck by a bull. The grisly photograph appeared on front pages of newspapers around the globe. He made his comeback just a few weeks later -- and experienced the "worst hours" of his life. Der Spiegel provides a compelling account of the goring, and his return to the ring.
Talking _Bad Sports_ With The Nation’s Dave Zirin: Most people love sports but hate what sports have become. We have three choices: We can take it the way it is and just drink more during games, we can stop watching altogether, or we can demand change.
Profile of Usain Bolt: He's had to work to overcome some of his sloppy starting habits. For example, he has a tendency to brush his left toe along the ground during the explosive burst from the blocks, generating counterproductive friction. He's gotten better, and usually manages to avoid doing that now, but he does it today, the front of his left shoe scuffing the track as he whips his leg forward to take his second stride. The shoe also happens to be untied, a sloppy mistake, no excuse.
Spain's La Liga is turning into the Scottish Premier League: glitzy domination by just two immensely wealthy clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are supported by 2/3 of Spain's population, is masking enormous structural problems in arguably the top soccer league in the world. The detailed article analogizes the problem to the unhealthy Scottish dominance of Celtic and Rangers.
Former Canadian and World Champion Elvis Stojko on what ails men's figure skating: There's been a lot of discussion about masculinity and figure skating recently. Do you think the discussion has been productive?
It basically started about one year ago, when Skate Canada said that they weren't getting enough young boys enrolling in skating. People tiptoe around the topic, and I was like, "You know, I'm just going to say it: Effeminate men's skating is not my style of skating. In men's skating I like to see power and strength." [....] Some guys get into the sport because it's difficult the spins, the speed and they like to showcase that within the music. When you're not appreciated for that, it takes its toll. And then when people call them effeminate, they get pissed. People call them gay, and some people don't like to be called that.
Can a gay football (soccer) player ever come out?: Includes a link to an anti-homophobia video commissioned, and now delayed, by the FA.
Fourth down and freakonomics: A football is often referred to as a “pigskin,” though it’s been a long time since that term was accurate. Modern-day footballs are made from cow leather, made from the hides of slaughtered cattle. That got us wondering: What are the odds a given cow will make it to the Super Bowl?