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From the Cheap Seats

Wednesday, January 26 2011

Play On: Get Off the Couch, Get On the Court

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


Tuesday, December 7 2010

Teams of Rivals: ‘Tis the Season for Mayhem, Pranks and All Around Hating One Another

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


Tuesday, November 16 2010

An Anti-Brett-Favre-Article Article

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


Wednesday, October 20 2010

Redemption Songs: Rehabilitating Michael Vick

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


Wednesday, September 8 2010

Jay Mariotti and the Moral Role

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.


Tuesday, August 10 2010

American Beauty?: 2010 World Cup Part II, The Knockout Stage

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


Thursday, July 8 2010

The Pitch Is Flat: 2010 World Cup Part I, The Group Stage

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


Tuesday, June 8 2010

It’s Rough, Being a Ref: Perhaps Only Parking Enforcement Garners Comparable Abuse

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.


Thursday, May 20 2010

Con Artest?: Ron Artest’s Imagery and Alchemy in the NBA

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.


Monday, April 12 2010

The Virgin King in the Land of Strangelove

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


Tuesday, March 2 2010

Memorabiliaphilia: Nationalizing a Pastime

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


Wednesday, February 10 2010

Loser!

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


Tuesday, January 5 2010

Fables for our Reconstruction: Sports Scandals for the Soul

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.


Monday, December 7 2009

Seeing Stars (Suffer Brain Injuries)

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


Monday, October 26 2009

Let Him Pay: Rush Limbaugh as Corporate Mascot

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.


Thursday, October 8 2009

Twitterpated: New Media, Old Frenzies

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.


Sunday, September 13 2009

Over the Line: On Sports’ “Irritable Reaching”

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.


Tuesday, August 4 2009

Fallen Warriors: Steve ‘Air’ McNair & Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti

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.


Tuesday, July 7 2009

Bird of a Feather: The Curious Case of Chris Andersen

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.


Tuesday, June 2 2009

Clone Wars: Jim Rome’s World Within a World

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


Tuesday, April 21 2009

April is a Cruel Month for Hockey, Too

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


Tuesday, April 7 2009

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.


Tuesday, March 3 2009

Another Kind of Rally: Monster Truckin’ in a New America

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.


Tuesday, January 27 2009

Onward, Christian Soldiers!

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


Tuesday, January 6 2009

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."


Wednesday, November 19 2008

Future Primitive: Kimbo Slice’s Cruelest Cut

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


Monday, October 13 2008

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.


Wednesday, September 10 2008

In the Gloaming: The Aging Athlete in Public Memory

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


Monday, August 4 2008

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.


Sunday, July 6 2008

C-O-M-P-E-T-E

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.


Tuesday, June 10 2008

Who Watches the Watchers?

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.


Sunday, April 27 2008

Baptized by Fire: The Persistent Politics of the Olympic Games

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.


Wednesday, March 5 2008

The Play’s the Thing: Public Shaming of Pro Athletes

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


Wednesday, February 6 2008

Discipline and Punish: The Official Functions

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


Wednesday, January 9 2008

Seven Silver Linings for 2007

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


Wednesday, November 28 2007

New American Gladiators: The Rise of Mixed Martial Arts

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.


Sunday, October 21 2007

Vaccination Scars: NASCAR in the Popular Imagination

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.


Monday, September 24 2007

Schlock Jock: The Selling of a Quarterback

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.


Thursday, September 6 2007

The Tyranny of Numbers

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.


Wednesday, July 25 2007

Who’s Doggin’ Who?

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


Tuesday, July 17 2007

Boo-Ya!: The Sound and the Fury

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


Sunday, June 3 2007

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.


Sunday, April 29 2007

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.


Monday, March 26 2007

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.


Wednesday, February 21 2007

It Takes One, Baby

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.


Tuesday, January 30 2007

Coachwhips: Morality Tales of Team Leadership

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.


Monday, December 18 2006

God Made Us #1

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


Thursday, November 30 2006

It’s Gotta Be the Shoes, Money

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


Thursday, October 26 2006

Face-Painters, Cheese Heads, and Other Revolutionaries

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.


Thursday, September 21 2006

Collect ‘em, Race ‘em, Trade ‘em: Putting the “Fantasy” in Fantasy Sports

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.


Monday, August 21 2006

Mass Xceptance: The Too-Discovered Country of Extreme Sports

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.


Sunday, July 16 2006

World Cup Redux: Innocence Abroad

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.


Monday, June 19 2006

The “Other” Football: Watching America Watching the World Cup

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.


Sunday, May 21 2006

How Pretty is Too Pretty? Oscar De La Hoya’s Problematic Stardom

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


Tuesday, April 25 2006

One-Potata, Two-Potata: The (Million) Dollar Logic of the NFL Draft

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


Monday, April 3 2006

Am I Not a Role Model? Looking Back and Up to Kirby Puckett

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


Sunday, February 19 2006

Spanning the Globe?: The Ever-Shrinking Wide World of Sports

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


Sunday, January 22 2006

Where Have You Gone, J.D.?:  Pro Sports Fans in a Pomo Flux

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.


Monday, December 19 2005

Tailbacks of the World, Unite! Debunking the Myth of the Student-Athlete

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.


Sunday, November 20 2005

He’s All Mine: Laying Claim to Terrell Owens in the Culture Wars

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.


Thursday, October 20 2005

A Bad Man:  Reading Mike Tyson’s Body of Work

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


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