There has been lots of great sports writing lately. I am having trouble keeping up, but a few links worth clicking on:
1) Tim Marchman’s terrific and nuanced retrospective on Arod’s career with the Yankees, which doubles as an astute look at baseball in the steroids era, the big-market/small market fallacy and the fine line between hero worship and character assassination.
2) Patrick Hruby’s deep dive into the failure of sports drug testing and the case for giving up the ghost. Long time readers know that while I am not “pro” PED use, the case for banning them is fundamentally flawed, both because the distinctions sports regulatory bodies make between what athletes may and may not legitimately do to their bodies is largely incoherent and because of the impossibility of adequate and consistent and enforcement. The only ultimately plausible approach is to ban drugs that are illegal under the applicable laws of the jurisdictions in which athletes compete. That presents its own problems, but it’s at least defensible.
3) There’s been an idiotic controversy over the fact that Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas, who appears to be guilty of the crime of being a celebrity-while-black, failed to place her hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem after the USA women won team gold this week. In the Guardian, Dave Schilling takes a shot at Douglas’ critics:
The message is simple: do as you are told. Conform. Stand up straight, don’t smile, put your hand on your heart, and maybe cry. Crying is good. Be uplifted, be inspired, be quiet. Don’t dance, don’t high-five, don’t sulk, and for God’s sake, don’t laugh. Please do not draw attention to the fact that these Games do not matter in the larger context of world events. This is the sacred ritual — a multi-billion dollar festival of graft, political malfeasance, and civil unrest. Please don’t slouch.
4) Ok, it’s not out yet, but I’m very much looking forward to Jessica Luther’s forthcoming book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape, out in early September. Luther broke the Baylor football/sexual assault story, which ended Art Briles’ tenure as head football coach, and all-time hypocrite Ken Starr as University President. She’s also a great follow on twitter.