How ‘Jewish’ became Chinese shorthand for success

Illustration by Celia Jacobs

On a muggy summer day, I happened upon two twentysomething Chinese men bickering over the best angle for a selfie in front of the memorial wall at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. After they declined my offer to help with the photo, I asked why they had come to the museum. They said they were aspiring entrepreneurs, and they had come to learn how to be like the Jews.

“Jews are rich and good at business,” one said.

“And very clever,” the other added.

I told them I was Jewish.

“Jews are great!” said the first. …

There have been problematic tests ever since

Czech runner Zdeněk Koubek (left) and British track and fielder Mary Louise Edith Weston (right) were intersex athletes who inspired early controversy over sex testing. (Wikimedia)

In 1936, the U.S. Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage was worked up. According to a Time magazine article that year, two “hermaphrodite” athletes were a threat to the future of women’s sports — and Brundage shared the fear. British shot putter and javelin thrower Mary Louise Edith Weston and the Czechoslovakian runner Zdenka Koubkova had each been born with dual biological sex traits.

Both Weston and Koubkova had competed successfully as women in their respective sports, but both retired from sports before the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Afterward, they both had operations to transition to their preferred gender (in both cases…

When East German super swimmers dominated the pool

East German Kornelia Ender (C) sprints to win the women’s 100m freestyle event, on July 19, 1976 during the Olympic Games in Montreal. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Olympics this year are shaping up to have a hefty Eastern Bloc throwback vibe.

In light of Richard McLaren’s 100-page report, all Russian athletes may be banned from participating in the Rio Games in August. McLaren, a Canadian lawyer hired by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), confirmed the claims of Russia’s former antidoping lab director, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, that the Russian government had commissioned and covered-up a massive doping program, in which government officials helped steal and taint the urine samples of athletes. …

Keep trying football, baseball, hockey, and soccer

Lebron James sports an all black suit and glasses during the Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” awards gala. (Donald Traill/Invision/AP)

It’s not a fashion show, exactly, but there will be long, lithe frames decked out in Givenchy, Armani, and Yves Saint Laurent. The media will bring the same “hot or not” treatment leveled at movie stars on red carpets, and Vogue’s Prada-wearing devil, Anna Wintour, will keep an eye out for her next cover model.

But these are basketball players. And this is the 2016 NBA draft, held Thursday, June 23 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

Style in basketball has had its up and downs, but since the 1970s the NBA has undeniably been the most fashion-forward of all…

A brief history of the long shot

Steph Curry, point guard of the Golden State Warriors, holds the record for three-pointers, sinking 402 in the 2015/16 regular season. ©Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

by Isaac Eger

The big men of the NBA are feeling threatened, and they’re not keeping quiet about it. The rise of the three-point shot has transformed basketball, and the canonization of Stephen Curry, its foremost practitioner, has some retired players in the six-five-and-over crowd whining about the state of the game.

Charles Barkley called the modern NBA “watered down” and “the worst I’ve seen it.” Tracy McGrady, who stands six-foot-eight, echoed the sentiment, and wondered if Curry would have won his MVP title so handily in previous eras. Walt Frazier pondered aloud, “If there was no three-ball shot, would…

Once packed with inner-city players, pro basketball is suburbanizing

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after the Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 125–104 at ORACLE Arena on April 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. ©Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

To the surprise of no one, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is reportedly the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row.

While Curry’s win reinforces his position as today’s preeminent point guard, it also illustrates a decades-long shift in the story of professional basketball.

For a long time, the idea of the inner-city phenom has held sway. In the case of LeBron James, who was born to a poor, teen mother in Akron, Ohio, this tale is true. But it turns out that James is the exception, and Curry, who grew up in an affluent…

He’ll probably still become a celebrated Hall of Famer

© Chris Carlson/AP

Peyton Manning, two-time Super Bowl champion and professional football’s good ol’ boy, stood teary-eyed and tight-throated in front his framed No. 18 Denver Broncos jersey March 7 as he announced his departure from the NFL.

The retirement of a storied athlete is not unlike a death. The media will howl the funeral dirge, celebrating Manning’s victories, statistical achievements and genteel character. It will debate where to place the quarterback in the Best Ever pantheon. …

Isaac Eger

I live and leave Florida. Writing about sports (basketball, mostly), the environment and the end of the world.

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