Playing with the Big Boys (and Girls): How Koko, Beans and Flash, some color-coordinated socks and coaching are changing the face of grade-school basketball in Springfield, Illinois.
Moving Toward a Unified Theory of the A’s Offseason: FanGraphs thinks Billy Beane is trying to assemble a larger pool of lesser talents; Grantland mostly agrees and suggests it's an impressive piece of resetting forced by Oakland's salary constraints.
Served up on a platter for SportsFilter: the question of which is the superior sport, cricket or baseball?
The FSU Problem: 'The Florida State football program has become the Florida Man of college sports. Any story that begins "A Florida State player … " is liable to end almost anywhere except, remarkably, in jail.'
Helmetless Football?: "the latest innovation—practicing without helmets—is meant to ingrain safer tackling techniques into a new generation of players"
The Rise and Fall of The Great Kamala: how James Harris from Mississippi became a Ugandan giant.
The End of Daisy Buchanan's: a Boston institution "where anything can happen".
What's in a shirt?: "With financial fair play forcing clubs worldwide to maximize their revenue streams, the once-humble kit deal is now more important than ever before. What used to be a local, pragmatic endeavor - you sponsor it, we wear it - has become a global statement of commercial intent."
Was Belichick to New England the Best Deal in NFL History?: and how does Bill Parcells remember it all going down in his new memoir?
Concussions last longer than they used to: because the media reports on them. Thus spake Marvin Lewis, who knows about head cases.
"How Rebounds Work": stat-porn from Grantland.
The league's tracking system not only logs locations for every missed shot, it also charts the locations of their subsequent rebounds. In turn, we can map out the spatial relationships between shot locations and rebound locations with unprecedented depth and clarity. We can uncover the fundamental facts about rebounding that until very recently have been impossible to get to.
The NBA has a new TV deal.: And it's a bit bigger than anyone guessed. Zach Lowe looks at what putting all that new money into the salary cap may mean for the near future of the NBA.
“I would be all over him, trying to deny him the ball, and all Larry was doing was yelling at his teammates, I’m open! Hurry up before they notice nobody is guarding me!” then he would stick an elbow in my jaw and stick the jumper in my face, then he would start in on my coach “Coach you better get this guy out and send in somebody who’s going to D me up, because its too easy when I’m wide open like this”
Annual Patriots trade key piece right before season move: Logan Mankins has been traded to the Bucs for Move TE Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick.
Red Sox owner Tom Werner has become a dark horse candidate to be baseball's next commissioner: Co-owner John Henry says, "Tom is one of the most popular owners because he's very passionate about baseball, has a sense of duty, as evidenced by his work with veterans and the Red Sox Foundation, and because he is trusted by everyone who knows him. You won't find a more popular person in the television industry." Left unsaid: the Red Sox and a few other teams don't want Selig's lieutenant Rob Manfred taking over because they feel he will make them pay their fair share of TV revenues.
Let's all root against the Diamonbacks: "But the Diamondbacks don’t play the game 'the right way', not even close. And they offered another painful reminder of that this weekend, retaliating for an accidental hit-by-pitch by beaming Andrew McCutchen squarely in the back."
Will Financial Fair Play kill youth development at larger clubs?: "They will, at some point, be sold on, a premium fee guaranteed by having attended finishing school at one of the world's elite clubs. Chelsea are essentially running a recruitment and development business completely unrelated to their first team . . . Investment in their youth structures is exempt from FFP. But the money the club raise by selling players is not. They are making their money work for them. As one observer put it to me Wednesday, they are 'gaming' FFP."
How is Qatar building a national team for the 2022 World Cup?: by importing promising children from poor countries. Their families are given stipends and the boys come to live in a beautiful, possibly insane facility ("Across the campus, speakers pipe in the sounds of birds chirping throughout the day.") in hopes of some day making it onto the Qatar-owned team in Belgium. Doubly so since their options, much like those of the people building stadiums for 2022, limited:
Aspire executives were displeased by the departures. "They didn’t want us to talk to other agents, they definitely did not," said Tchoutou, who now plays for A.S. Roma’s top youth team. But after three years, he decided to leave with their approval or not. According to one scholarship agreement, the boys pledge not to sign any contract without the written authorization of Aspire. Of the few boys who have left the program, Bleicher said agents approached them secretly and made promises.
A search for the original New England Patriots' fan: has a strange and surprising twist to it. The calls are coming from inside the house!
Even if you don't follow La Liga, it's worth reading The Sids: the annual awards from Sid Lowe. They start about a quarter of the way down with "Best signing" and move on to videos of mooning a penalty kick, stories of fans playing linesman and the eloquence of Javier Aguirre:
“I said hijo de puta but I say that 10 or 12 times a game: that’s the way I talk,” Aguirre admitted, going on to say hijo de puta rather a lot to reinforce the fact that he does indeed say hijo de puta rather a lot. Out came a magnificent stream of Mexican mouthing off, his accent getting stronger with every smirk and every swear word.
Marina Hyde on the really troubling aspects of the Premier League's Richard Scudamore : after the chief executive's rather retrograde views on women were leaked last weekend.