From the Cheap Seats

The true measure of a fan’s joy is in play. Without it, all sports would simply cease to be.

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Rivalry games feature a special kind of hatred -- the kind only your closest neighbor can inspire.

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From the desk of Roger Goodell: It is with the goal of achieving 100 percent media saturation that I submit these notes.

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Michael Vick has arrived at the final stage of a well-known formula: transgression-outrage-apology-punishment-contrition-and, finally, forgiveness.

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In a world of 24-hour programming, Jay Mariotti's Around the Horn does for ESPN what Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly does for Fox News: fill in large gulfs of empty space between actual news or events by making a fetish of opinion.

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Soccer features improvisation and imagination far more than ferocity and force. One must wonder, then, is soccer simply too pretty for American sports fans?

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Can a “national” team truly represent a nation anymore, other than through the broadest criteria of citizenship?

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As ref, I began to pass my time on the court by rating the insults hurled in my direction. The predictable epithets earned one star. Some of the more unique combinations of verbs, idioms, and profanity, however, would earn higher marks.

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Ron Artest’s image must be fluid enough to navigate the tumultuous perils of our modern sports media. At heart, is Artest a true gangsta or a trite goofball? It’s likely a bit of both.

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Tim Tebow, as much as he resembles Rocky, similarly embodies a deranged general bent on destroying the world via nuclear holocaust.

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Memorabiliaphilia: Nationalizing a Pastime

Baseball looms large, the way anything in a magnifying glass seems to gain size and importance.

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10 Feb 2010 // 10:00 PM

There will come a time, inevitably, where nearly every fan will find themselves backing a loser.

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Whatever their wrongdoing, sports figures should by now realize just how predisposed to public judgement they really are. Here, a decade of wrongdoings, lest they forget.

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Imagine old Daffy Duck cartoons, with pastel songbirds circling as a cuckoo clock sounds in the background. The reality is a bit more serious.

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If the furor surrounding Limbaugh's possible entrance into the league has to do with this political disposition, it's laughable to suggest that the rest of the owners don't share his views to a large extent.

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The latest craze in mini-blogging has been embraced by a variety of pro athletes to voice their opinions on everything from coaching advice to domestic violence.

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As the controversy surrounding Semenya Caster demonstrates, the sports world -- filled with statistics, measurements, and results -- is by its very nature fundamentally at odds with the chaos that surrounds it.

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With the rise of guns and Predator drones, the social emphasis on hand-to-hand combat has all but disappeared, leaving a cultural void that is filled, in part, by sports.

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How has Chris Andersen managed his public relations coup? The short answer is: he's white. But a longer explanation reveals that he's black, too.

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Most sports radio is the intellectual equivalent of listening to static -- it's as illuminating as it is predictable.

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Though it's an admittedly strange, even awkward, companionship, American hockey fans know what it is to love poetry.

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Lou Gehrig: The Pride of the Yankees

Americans cheer in their athletes what they demand of their citizens: humility, simplicity, and purity of spirit. It's a myth that's perfectly suited for the make-believe workings of Hollywood.

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While it's simplistic (to the point of comedy) to suggest that monster trucks can heal our national divide, they may play a part in better understanding the chasms that divide us.

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With references to Biblical verses emblazoned on his eye-black, Tim Tebow embodies the American ideal of the God-fearing warrior.

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Dave Zirin: A Sportswriter with Real Punch

"We can pretend sports isn't political just as well as we can pretend there is no such thing as gravity if we fall out of an airplane."

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Slice, whose fortunes were at once torn asunder and radically refigured by a hurricane, constitutes a perfect storm of racial stereotypes himself.

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13 Oct 2008 // 11:00 PM

Why We Hate

A true fan feels true hate -- for the opposition, for the officials, and for anything else that stands between that fan's team and victory.

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Surely, past-their-prime athletes must realize that their dim prospects are only darkened by the reflective glow of glories past.

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Better You Be a Team Player

Sports, as emphasized in films such as Eight Men Out and The Untouchables, are a helpful way of organizing and enforcing our daily behaviors.

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6 Jul 2008 // 11:00 PM

The novelty of pitting eight- to 15-year-olds against one another for popular amusement can be glossed over in the name of educational achievement.

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10 Jun 2008 // 11:00 PM

In a league where (predominantly white) authority figures are needed to intellectualize and give order to the hyper-stylized physicality of its (predominantly black) players, no brain is more lauded than Bill Belichick's.

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The Olympic torch should remain a beacon to those who can appreciate the true power that sports have in forcing us to consider the political reality of the world we all, athletes included, share.

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What no one in Congress will admit: morality in sports is pure theater.

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Discipline and Punish: The Official Functions

Like characters in some morality play, referees are greeted with boos, taunts, profanity, and, on occasion, worse.

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For the true sports fan, amidst all the drugs, malfeasance, infidelity, greed and inhumanity -- hope is a most important thing.

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Initially seen as little more than back alley brawlers scrapping for beer money, MMA has found sporting legitimacy in meteoric fashion – this kind of fighting offers a truly global and democratic way to kick someone's ass.

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The encroachment of a corporate, middle-American influence, coupled with its proximity to a more worldly motorsport, combine to put NASCAR supporters on edge when it comes to discussion of public hygiene.

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From the first time I saw him at Tennessee, I had a sinking feeling that this bright star, Peyton Manning, would soon be selling me stuff I had no use for.

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6 Sep 2007 // 11:00 PM

Intelligence quotients, consumer confidence indexes, coin-operated love meters -- the ways we attempt to make numbers out of our states of being are limited only by the different states of being we're capable of experiencing.

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25 Jul 2007 // 11:00 PM

In the land of designer pet collars, pet cemeteries, even pet-themed restaurants and bakeries, dogfighting has reared its ugly head.

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A look at the reductive, self-indulgent, misguided claptrap that passes for the majority of sports broadcasting these days.

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3 Jun 2007 // 11:00 PM

The Fall of Foos

Though it is an endangered spectacle in today's taverns, foosball was once king among bar games, attracting hustlers and spawning tournaments that paid out hundreds of thousands in prize winnings.

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29 Apr 2007 // 10:59 PM

They are the Champions

St. Louis Cardinals fans' enthusiasm for the 2006 World Series can be understood, even if the rest of the world refused to share it.

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Let Them Swim! The Office Pool and State Morality

Even churning out those dreaded, redundant reports by the glare of fluorescent lights becomes more bearable when tourney time rolls around.

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21 Feb 2007 // 9:00 PM

Agent Zero -- or The Hibachi, or The East Coast Assassin, or The Black President, or, least colorfully, Gilbert Arenas -- is the most dynamic, most talked about individual playing in the NBA today.

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Regardless of the number of veterans a squad may have, or the players' natural, athletic ability to improvise when a coach's plan fails, no matter, even, that a coach never steps foot on the field -- it's clear that fans are not prepared to accept players without the organizing presence of someone in charge.

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18 Dec 2006 // 9:00 PM

The Gipper, the heartland, and the holy spirit: Notre Dame's football highlights stretch out like one long, continuous John Mellencamp video.

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Stephon Marbury's new fashion line positions him as the anti-Michael Jordan of the NBA.

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Fans who show up sporting a wedge of plastic cheese on their heads, or wearing nothing but a barrel and suspenders, or dousing themselves in purple paint are really just the modern-day, class-defying equivalents of flatulent giants, cross-dressing jesters, and juggling scullery maids of the Renaissance.

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From the Cheap Seats -- Collect 'em, Race 'em, Trade 'em: Putting the 'Fantasy' in Fantasy Sports -- For fantasy leaguers, today's athletes are but tools to be used in a make-believe struggle for dominance.

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In playing up the punk rock, DIY ethos of skaters, surf bums, and adrenaline junkies, the X Games (and extreme sports in general) have edged their way forward from the margins of sports culture and now boast a committed following - not least the predatory advertising industry.

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With my big and painfully obvious American mug pressed up to the glass of (a good many) European drinking establishments, I took out a pen and paper and tried to sketch some of what unfolded before me.

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From the Cheap Seats -- The 'Other' Football: Watching America Watching the World Cup -- As the FIFA World Cup plays out in Germany this month, the disparity between American interest in 'soccer' and the rest of the world's passion for 'football' is felt now more keenly than ever.

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De La Hoya's flashy smile and cosmopolitan demeanor are signs of a sellout for many boxing fans.

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The draft, for all its baroque embellishment and glitz, essentially replays the same drama of bygone sandlot days.

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Puckett made his team a winner and, by extension, made me one, too.

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Twenty-five million viewers seem like so many crickets, chirping disinterestedly, as the Olympic pageantry carries on at the periphery of our national consciousness.

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The marquee names of a franchise are no longer written in lights, as in the time of Joe (J.D.) DiMaggio, but rather in sand, as in the time of Johnny (J.D.) Damon.

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The real travesty of college football is not that it fails to regularly account for a champion, but that it fails to account at any point for its players.

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In many ways, Owens' image, as it were, serves as a kind of proving ground in the culture wars that pit racist fans and media members against bleeding heart, amoral commentators.

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The only sure thing about Tyson is that he stands opposed.

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//Mixed media

//Blogs

Treasuring Memories of Paul McCartney on 'One on One' Tour

// Notes from the Road

"McCartney welcomed Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt out for a song at Madison Square Garden.

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