Sports Writing and Reporting by Women in 2015
There are a lot of amazing Best Of lists you could and should check out (here, here, here, here, here). But as a woman who writes on sports, I wanted to have a dedicated space where some of the sports writing and reporting by women this year is highlighted (especially because this industry, more than other media, skews so heavily male). I have compiled this list from my memory, suggestions from people on Twitter, and the lists cited above. It is, if anything, not comprehensive.
[Note: I will not be updating this list anymore, but I will be doing monthly posts in 2016 highlighting sports writing and reporting by women. If you write something or read something that fits this category, please drop me an email or a tweet throughout the year.]
And here’s to more women’s sports bylines in 2016!
Jan. 2: Elizabeth L. at SB Nation: “Man Management & Minutes: The Intertwined Legacy of Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard”
It was inevitable that at some point Steven Gerrard would have to retire from football and it would be a sad day for the sport when that happened. It was not inevitable that he’d eventually leave the only club he’s ever known. Better man management from Rodgers and more self-awareness about his age and limitations from Gerrard could have found a way to ensure that a man who should retire a Red absolutely did. Instead, club, manager, and player all find themselves in a wholly avoidable situation that does not have a happy ending.
Jan. 27: Stephanie Stradley at the Houston Chronicle: “The entirely too long analysis of Texans topics going into 2015″ (see also Stradley’s coverage of Deflategate)
Nobody asked me, but here’s my consultant’s analysis of the 2014 Texans season going into 2015.
Consultants have the best gig. They are outsiders who get paid to analyze things, suggest solutions, but don’t have to live with the consequences.
I’m doing this wrong. I care about the Texans’ results, have no control over them, pay for my season tickets, and ticket prices went up over 7%.
Jan. 28: Jane McManus at ESPNW: “Domestic Violence and the NFL: What Impact has the League Made?”
A bigger question that will take years to answer: Can the NFL and its funding make a difference in the long run, or has it just unwittingly raised awareness of an issue by tripping into it?
Feb. 24: Emily Kaplan at Sports Illustrated’s MMQB: “A Hero’s Welcome for Malcolm Butler”
Dressed in a navy Patriots jersey and dark khakis, Butler climbs aboard the float and extends his arm out for his mother, Deborah, who worked two jobs and raised five children by herself in a two-bedroom home. Malcolm and Deborah are supposed to be the only ones riding on the top deck, but siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins and second cousins all pile on to experience the spotlight. Most are wearing Patriots jerseys or handmade shirts. The most popular is a screened photo of Butler’s hotel selfie he posted on Instagram before the Super Bowl.
Feb. 26: Allison McCann at FiveThirtyEight: “Hey, Nate: There Is No ‘Rich Data’ In Women’s Sports”
Unfortunately, the beauty and breadth of sports data don’t yet extend to women. There are other ways to cover women’s sports intelligently, but the lack of accessible and complete data is incredibly limiting. We’ve struggled with this at FiveThirtyEight — where our job is to tell compelling stories with data — because of how much more difficult it is to find data that is “accurate, precise and subjected to rigorous quality control” like we’ve come to enjoy in men’s sports.
Feb. 27: Holly Anderson at Grantland: “Life’s Rich Pageant: Meet a Florida Man”
And in the fall of 1998, in the midsize metropolis of Lakeland, just east of Tampa, there lived Oliver, whose headline in the Twitter age would read something like “Florida Man Tangles Genitals In Compound Bow While Hunting Fish.”
Mar. 2: Christie Aschwanden at FiveThirtyEight: “What It’s Like To Be A Woman At The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference”
One student who requested anonymity told me that she struggled with what name to put on her conference badge and her résumé. She has always gone by a nickname that’s a diminutive of her already very feminine name. She was there to network, and she worried that hiring managers, who often make quick judgments about candidates, might too easily dismiss or stereotype her based on her nickname.
Mar. 3: Kim Cross at SB Nation: “Take These Broken Wings”
Bob invited Delvin to play sitting volleyball, sometimes referred to as Paralympic volleyball. Delvin was up for anything. And when Bob saw him on the volleyball court, he had another idea. Without hands, volleyball and basketball were difficult to play. But wheelchair rugby athletes must have an impediment to all four appendages. Delvin was fast and strong. He might be perfect for the sport.
Mar. 4: Kavitha Davidson at Bloomberg View: “Blue Lines and Black Stereotypes”
And while these racially-charged notions are certainly not limited to hockey, the homogeneity of the sport’s rosters and fan base make the NHL a particularly damaging environment for such ideas. As the Michigan study notes, such comments “may operate as a legitimizing myth” to defend the subjugation of blacks in hockey and in society at large. It reinforces the false notion that the dearth of black hockey players is because of some genetic or cultural inferiority, which in turn serves to maintain hockey’s demographics. It’s thus not a far line between Healy pondering Duclair’s work ethic and fans throwing bananas at Wayne Simmonds on the ice.
Mar. 17: Charly Wilder at the New York Times: “Diana Taurasi Focusing on Playing in Russia, Where the Money Is”
Living in Russia for the better part of the year, Taurasi has had to make her share of adjustments. Russian winters are cold and relentless, and especially for someone who does not speak the language, the country can be a harsh, forbidding place. Of course, the Russians have adopted certain coping methods.
“I’ve probably drunk enough vodka for a village,” Taurasi said. With the weather as poor as it is, she added, and nothing to do, one “might as well be hung over.”
“And you can’t not drink. You must drink. It’s just part of the world here. Any Russian team: You win, you drink. You lose, you drink.”
Through the ’70s, Howard worked on tricks like the pole flip, where a ballet skier would plant his poles in the ground ahead of him and then launch into the air, flipping over — sometimes with an added twist or two — before landing on his skis. Meanwhile, athletes like Fuller were innovating in other directions: Fuller had been doing routines without poles at all, landing axels — the same jump that figure skaters do, completing one-and-a-half, two-and-a-half, or three-and-a-half rotations — using only the edges of her skis to propel her into the air.
April 5: Amalie Benjamin at the Boston Globe: “Religion rarely on display across the NHL”
It’s a fact that chafes some in hockey, that some teams across the league will spoon-feed their players everything else — providing real estate agents and equipment reps, recommending tailors and car services, even taking rookies to the grocery store to demonstrate a proper diet — but won’t provide them with the option of a chaplain or a service.
April 17: Alexandra Zayas and Kameel Stanley for the Tampa Bay Times: “How riding your bike can land you in trouble with the cops — if you’re black”
A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.
Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn’t just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.
May 7: Kate Fagan at ESPN The Magazine: “Split Image”
Everyone presents an edited version of life on social media. People share moments that reflect an ideal life, an ideal self. Hundreds of years ago, we sent letters by horseback, containing only what we wanted the recipient to read. Fifty years ago, we spoke via the telephone, sharing only the details that constructed the self we wanted reflected.
With Instagram, one thing has changed: the amount we consume of one another’s edited lives.
May 11: Cristina Ledra at Sporting News: “Baltimore riots, protests highlight need for more youth rec centers”
But the demonstrations put a fresh focus on some of the issues that most gravely affect Baltimore, one of which is the city’s deteriorating and disappearing rec centers, and the subsequent effect on its youth. Four of the centers that closed in west Baltimore served neighborhoods where the median household income ranged from $15,000 to $31,000, according to a report by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association. The report also showed the now closed Crispus Attucks center served a neighborhood with a 66 percent poverty rate and one of the most highly concentrated youth populations in the area.
“They took away basketball courts. They closed rec centers,” former NBA player and Baltimore native Muggsy Bogues told the Sporting News. “They took away a lot of the resources and outlets we had.”
May 15: Jenny Ventras at Sports Illustrated’s MMQB: “NFL Safety is in Her Hands”
VRENTAS: One of the riskiest dynamics in the NFL is that both teams and players want players to return from injuries as soon as possible. Can more be done to take that decision out of players’ hands and minimize the pressure to return?
NABEL: That’s an important question, but it’s a very complicated question, because there are a lot of mutual interests at play creating a little bit of a tension here. I can’t address some of the players’ and coaches’ issues, but I can speak to the health and safety issues. My advice to the commissioner of the league is to make the sport as safe as possible, and how those recommendations get interpreted or acted upon is up to the league and the commissioner.
May 18: Susan Elizabeth Shepard at Vice Sports: “Sexual Assault and Jon Krakauer’s Missoula, in Missoula” (see also Shepard’s piece on Oregon football, rape, and free speech)
Loving a place and hating its problems, then getting upset with outsiders who draw attention to them is a familiar feeling for anyone with a home; I’m from Texas, where it’s a way of life. Missoulians are doing the best they can to reconcile these conflicts. The mood is not so much defensive as it is one of gentle, persistent correction. Missoula wants to be seen as more than the sum of its problems.
May 21: Julie Kedzie at Sports Illustrated: “This is what it feels like to cut weight for an MMA fight”
With eleven more pounds to sweat off, I had not been able to find any distilled water to complete the water load. (Distilled water is used at the end to flush the remainder of the water, like a final strip of remnants in intestines.) My period had started as well and I felt even more like a sausage, my skin as the casing, tightening up all around me, suffocating me. I couldn’t tell which cramps were making me more dizzy, dehydration or menstrual. I was jittery and weary. I wanted to rip a hole in the ground and crawl in it and sleep.
May 21: Tara Sullivan at the Bergen Record: “At Liberty’s Media Day, Isiah Thomas as annoying as ever”
I’m angry that it was your hiring that brought me back to a Liberty event for the first time in years, that I haven’t spent much time covering the area’s premier women’s professional team, letting it get lost among the many higher-profile, higher-attended male counterparts. I’m angry that the attention landing on the team now has so much to do with controversy rather than competition, that debates are more centered on whether you should be allowed to pursue an ownership stake in the team (you should not, and a Women’s Sports Foundation petition is working against that potential reality) than on whether this team can contend for a long-awaited title.
May 27: Jessie Daniels at Howler: “Arsenal’s Welsh Jesus”
His resurgence also coincided with an important milestone for Arsenal. In the summer of 2013, the Gunners effectively marked the end of the club’s austerity period, buying Mesut Özil from Real Madrid for £42 million. Throughout the ensuing season, though, it was Ramsey who most impressed, finally adding goals to his repertoire. In all, he scored 16 times in 34 appearances, despite being out injured for three months. One of those, of course, was that game-winner in the FA Cup final, the one Ramsey called, “the most important goal of my time here.” He was named Arsenal’s Player of the Year at season’s end.
The savior had finally risen. Ramsey was no longer the Grim Reaper of Soccer. He had a new nickname: Welsh Jesus.
Feminists need to focus on sports because it’s an institution of massive cultural significance and an area rife with “serious” issues, such as sexual violence, pay inequality, and a lack of women in leadership positions.
June 7: Sarah Spain at ESPNW: “‘Better Than Boys’: Girls Relish First National Baseball Tournament”
Justine Siegel hopes to make that dream a reality — not just for DeVinney, but for future generations of girls. The national tournament, a six-day event held in Kissimmee, Florida, is the brainchild of Siegel and her nonprofit, Baseball For All, which is dedicated to increasing opportunities for girls in the game. The event drew 12 teams of 10 13-year-olds from all over the country, as well as a group of 8- to 10-year-olds who participated in clinics and played in developmental games.
June 8: Maggie Hendricks at USA Today: “Kayla Harrison focused on judo worlds, life after 2016 Olympics”
“You spend hours and hours and hours and years in the gym, on the mat, visualizing, and it’s all about that one day,” Harrison told USA TODAY Sports. “For me, when I got to London, I had never even visualized life after London. I was really surprised by how much my life changed, and how fast that happened.”
Now, with the Rio Olympics just a year away, Harrison is working towards a whole new set of goals. She wants to win the world championship in August — becoming the first American to win two — and another Olympic gold medal. Then, she wants to use her platform to help shine a light on sexual abuse.
June 14: Wendy Thurm at Vice Sports: “The Warriors are at Home in Oakland — But for how long?” (also see Thurm’s piece on talking to kids about sexual assault and sports)
If you watched Games 1 and 2 of the Finals, you saw Oakland in the crowd. The Warriors have fans throughout the Bay Area, of course, but the crowd at Oracle Arena reflects how Oakland is a unique, strange, beautiful, and loud place. Marcus Thompson calls Warriors games a “festival of culture.” Thompson grew up in Oakland rooting for the Warriors, covered the Warriors for the Bay Area News Group, and is now a sports columnist there. “The Warriors have been the pride of Oakland since I was a kid,” Thompson told me. This season “has been a coronation of how Oakland has supported this team.”
June 14: Shireen Ahmed and Laurent Dubois at Sports Illustrated: “A look at the cultural significance of the hijab and France’s Jessica Houara” (see also Ahmed’s piece about Iranian women’s activism to get entrance into the country’s sports stadiums)
Female French players are currently the only ones in the world who can’t play in an IFAB-sanctioned hijab. None of the players on the national team so far has protested this decision. But the portrait of Houara-d’Hommeaux raises the question: What if they did?
June 15: Paula Lavigne at ESPN’s Outside the Lines: “Lawyers, status, public backlash aid college athletes accused of crimes”
Overall, the Outside the Lines investigation found that what occurs between high-profile college athletes and law enforcement is not as simple as the commonly held perception that police and prosecutors simply show preferential treatment, although that does occur. Rather, the examination of more than 2,000 documents shows that athletes from the 10 schools mainly benefited from the confluence of factors that can be reality at major sports programs: the near-immediate access to high-profile attorneys, the intimidation that is felt by witnesses who accuse athletes and the higher bar some criminal justice officials feel needs to be met in high-profile cases.
June 18: Caitlin Murray at the Guardian: “Women’s World Cup: is artificial turf to blame for a lack of goals?”
Wambach had blamed the playing surface for her failure to score goals, and news outlets latched on to it. High-profile voices in the media called it a weak excuse that “borders on absurd.”
Any excuse for the USA’s failures to score goals certainly wasn’t going to be met with sympathy. The Americans have had their chances that they’ve failed to finish in ways that have nothing to do with the playing surface. Simply put, the American attack has been underperforming.
But was Wambach completely wrong?
June 19: Anna Kessel at the Guardian: “Ivory Coast exit Women’s World Cup as Africa pleads for more support”
Adeogun believes invitational tournaments could provide the answer, calling on Fifa to stipulate the Algarve and Cyprus Cups include at least one nation from each continent to help grow the global game.
But while Ivory Coast go home without a point and Nigeria floundered in the so-called group of death, Cameroon — making their World Cup debut — are the unexpected good news story. Ngachu Enow’s side trounced Ecuador 6–0, courtesy of a hat-trick from the striker Gaëlle Enganamouit, who plays in Sweden, only narrowly lost to the World Cup holders, Japan, and then beat Switzerland to face China on Saturday in the round of 16.
It is an enormous achievement, all the more astonishing considering the state of the nation’s domestic football scene.
June 26: Meg Linehan at Vice Sports: “Julie Johnston and Why U.S. Soccer Needs the NSWL” (see also Linehan’s piece about how we talk about Hope Solo and why)
Most importantly, Johnston is a perfect example of how the youth development system should function: get scouted, earn your stripes in the youth national team system, play NCAA ball, get drafted by the pros in the first round, and prove you can be a starter with the full national team.
And Johnston’s performance this month is yet another reason why the National Women’s Soccer League is such an important cog in that development machine. Johnston played in all 90 minutes in each of the 21 games she started in 2014 with the Chicago Red Stars. That’s almost 2,000 minutes of game time experience leading the back line. That’s also 21 games for U.S. coach Jill Ellis to evaluate Johnston’s performance and determine if and where she fits into the national team picture.
June 30: Meredith Bennett-Smith at Quartz: “Americans should care much more about women’s soccer than men’s. Here’s why we don’t.”
But most of all, I am tired of feeling like every four years the very legitimacy of women’s athletics goes on trial, again. With the exception of maybe tennis and a handful of Olympic events, we have not achieved gender parity in professional sports. Not by a long shot.
July 14: Mairead Small Staid at Jezebel: “Twilight of the Divas: The NXT Revolution in Women’s Wrestling Is Here”
These women are treated like the athletes they are — as deserving of respect and applause as the men. It’s a parity the WWE has been sorely lacking, and last night, the much-anticipated Raw call-up came. And it came in triplicate.
July 20: Nicole Auerbach at USA Today: “Florida’s Roderick Johnson copes with a career end just as it begins” (see also Auerbach’s profile of John Calipari, the player)
He can watch the bodies collide, the exact sequence, the hit. He can pinpoint the exact moment his football career ended.
He’s got the video on his phone. He keeps it there, and he’s watched it about a dozen times in the past three months. Roderick Johnson doesn’t find it that strange. It’s more surreal than anything.
Aug. 2: Kerry Rowley at New York Magazine: “Hunting Rebecca Francis”
Among those of us for whom “large-mammal killing” and “vacation” are not synonymous, to look at the photo of Francis is to be reminded of every morality tale we’ve ever heard about dumb greed despoiling something pure and innocent of artifice, from Bambi up through BP and beyond. But that judgment depends on a stable idea of where the wilderness ends and civilization begins, and in the company of trophy hunters, this becomes increasingly difficult to determine.
“To the survivors of domestic violence, I understand how real it is, and I don’t want to ever take that for granted because this is a real issue in our society. My video put the light out there — if you have never seen what domestic violence looks like and you look at my video, I could understand why some people would never forgive me.”
It was my decision to make and I chose what I believed was self-preservation. I didn’t want my career interrupted because of a powerful man’s misdeeds. Making a formal complaint could have resulted in me losing access at the university. It could have forced me to take another beat, perhaps out of sports; to change my career path in a way I never planned.
Aug. 12: Emma Span at Sports Illustrated: “Manny Machado dazzling, starring at 3B — and he’s still getting used to it”
Opinions vary on what qualities, precisely, make Machado such a great defensive third baseman. Showalter, who lights up like a bank of halide bulbs at the mention of Machado’s name, likes to talk about his young star’s “clock,” his timing and his “arm speed”; third base coach Bobby Dickerson, who is a longtime infield instructor, first says it’s his hand-eye coordination (“as good as any I’ve ever seen”) but then decides that “the thing that really made him a top-level performer there is his feet. His feet work great. He sees the hop he wants to catch and he’s able to move his feet to find that hop.”
Aug. 18: Mina Kimes at ESPN The Magazine: “How Darrelle Revis became the NFL’s savviest negotiator” (see also Kimes’ piece on a gaming prodigy)
As he spears a piece of shrimp, I awkwardly broach the subject of his cutthroat reputation. “When you Google ‘Darrelle Revis,’ it says … ”
He pauses, sets down his chopsticks. “Greedy.”
He rolls up one of his sleeves, laying his forearm across the table like he’s waiting to have blood drawn. He jabs at his skin. “Should I get that tatted on me — all of those names?”
When I look up, he bursts into laughter.
Aug. 20: Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly: “Silence at Baylor”
Baylor’s treatment of the charges against Ukwuachu aren’t consistent with a program that takes those charges seriously.
Aug. 25: Claudia Rankine at the New York Times: “The Meaning of Serena Williams”
Because just as important to me as her victories is her willingness to be an emotionally complete person while also being black. She wins, yes, but she also loses it. She jokes around, gets angry, is frustrated or joyous, and on and on. She is fearlessly on the side of Serena, in a culture that that has responded to living while black with death.
Aug. 27: Robin Jacks and Jonathan Cohn at The Nation: “Hey, LA: Here’s How You Say ‘No’ to the Olympics”
The IOC doesn’t merely want control of your city’s public purse: It wants control of your city.
Aug. 28: Stacey May Fowles at Vice Sports: “It’s OK to Have the Hots for Baseball Players: A Manifesto” (see also May Fowles’ piece about watching baseball and facing infertility)
I’ve actually come to think that every time I deny my inevitable attraction to players — I’m only human, and you know what Matt Kemp looks like — I’m supporting that terrible notion that real fans don’t have crushes, or that crushes hysterically cancel out all other considerations, and finally that women should simply shut up about how they feel if they want to watch a game with everyone else. A more cynical observer might even wonder if this gag rule has more to do with a threat to the general fan base’s masculinity than any real “respect for the game.”
Sep. 3: Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post: “DeflateGate exposed Roger Goodell as unfit to serve his office”
The Brady case is really about one man’s immoderate need to horsewhip others. Taken with other anecdotes of Goodell over the years, a picture emerges of a stubborn desire to break those who oppose or question him, to bend them to his will when it comes to his personal authority.
Sep. 4: Janice Forsyth at Huffington Post: “2024 Olympic Bid Process Suffers From a Lack of Transparency”
The IOC needs to foster the illusion that the Games are worth the risk. If Candidates want to back out, their “partners” in the Olympic industry will taunt them into staying the course. What makes the 2024 race even more risky (as if that were possible) is the fact that the IOC has not yet determined on what basis cities can back out. That information will come later, after cites join the race.
It’s like a twisted version of the Hunger Games.
Candidate cities, may the odds be ever in your favour.
Sep. 6: Kimberly Ann Southwick at __________ On Sports: “The 2015 Philadelphia Eagles Brush Their Shoulders Off, Look Us Straight in the Eye, & Say ‘WE GOT THIS’.”
Kelly, in press conferences, comes off as overly focused on The Game and his role as coach within it. His personal feelings/life or relationships with players are not on the table for discussion. He doesn’t want to talk about contracts. He doesn’t want to detail which players stop by his office to chat and which don’t. He’s not going to tell you who’ll be in the Nickel spot against Atlanta. He wants to talk about football and he wants to talk about what he wants to tell you about not what you want to know about. Maybe Kelly’s hyper-focus is a flaw — but most Eagles fans hope it’s something that the team can benefit from.
Sep. 14: Lindsay Gibbs at Think Progress: “This Woman Made U.S. Open History Without Touching A Racquet”
Asderaki-Moore became a viral star throughout the match, with viewers, including WTA players,tweeting their praise for her masterful performance. She even garnered the admiration of a man who has never had a nice word to say about umpires, four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe. “She’s doing a strong job. Some nice over-rules,” McEnroe said while calling the match on ESPN.
Notably, Asderaki-Moore wasn’t the only female tennis umpire chairing a final this weekend; Marija Čičak was the umpire of the U.S. Open women’s final between Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci on Saturday, making this weekend the first time that a woman has chaired both the men’s and women’s singles finals in a Grand Slam.
Sep. 14: Louisa Thomas at Grantland: “Flavia of the Month: On Pennetta’s Surprising U.S. Open Victory” (see also, this piece by Thomas on Mayweather)
Afterward, as they sat in chairs waiting for the trophy ceremony to begin, Pennetta leaned over and whispered something into Vinci’s ear. What she told her was that her story was going to change.
Sep. 16: Diana Moskovitz at Deadspin: “How The NFL Convinced Prosecutors To Give Them (And No One Else) The Greg Hardy Photos” (Moskovitz had an extraordinary 2015, by the way)
The NFL’s disciplinary process is now apparently important enough that it has not only developed its own shadow courts, but can also demand special access to records. League officials enjoy rights beyond yours or mine or anyone else’s.
Sep. 17: Sarah Kogod at SB Nation: “Ohio State LB Jerome Baker wants to change how athletes talk about sexual violence”
Baker, who by then had committed to Ohio State, capitalized on his fame as a top recruit to get through to his peers.
“Everyone knew I was being heavily recruited, and would ask if they could work out with me, ” Baker says. “I would say, ‘OK, but we’re going to talk about this while we work out.’”
While in the gym, Baker would talk about sexual assault and consent, encouraging his gym mates to join the movement.
Sep. 18: Beth Boyle Machlan at LA Review of Books’ Avidly: “Backhand Shots: Women, Hockey, and Narrative”
Amazons reminds us that professional sports rely on narratives, and that narratives are constructed truths. No other pastime is simultaneously as diligent about its facts, as blindly invested in its legends, or as resistant to new kinds of stories. And somehow, in the world of sports, women are always a new story.
Sep. 20: Nicole Noren at ESPN’s Outside the Lines: “Georgia sent reports, photos to Bama ahead of Taylor’s addition to team”
The entire saga prompted Georgia officials to reconsider how it should treat potential transfer athletes who have been dismissed from other athletic programs due to criminal behavior. Soon after Taylor landed at Alabama, Georgia officials began drafting a proposal that would prevent athletes who have been punished for certain types of serious misconduct to transfer to a Southeastern Conference school.
Sep. 28: Julie DiCaro at Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron: “Threats. Vitriol. Hate. Ugly truth about women in sports and social media”
Make no mistake, these tweets are not meant to express disagreement. They are calculated to destroy, demean, and denigrate the women they target in a public forum. And even in their choice of hateful language, these men provide hints of their own warped value system. Because it’s not enough for such fragile men, threatened by the changing world around them, to simply tell a woman she’s wrong, or even that she’s stupid. These comments attempt to cut much deeper, striking women at what misogynists see as their most valuable characteristics: appearance, sexual purity, sweetness and submissiveness. In the world these men inhabit, a world that increasingly exists only in their own troubled minds, the worst possible thing a woman can be is a fat, slutty cunt.
Every female sports fan has 100’s of stories to tell about some douche who stopped us in a bar or stadium and tried to get us to “prove” the strength of our fandom by naming players or teams or stats. I’ll take it one further and tell you that I’ve had to do it while interviewing coaches and players — like I had to pass a test before I was worthy to talk to them post-game.
And if I’m going to raise hell about why it’s bullshit that just because I’m a woman I have to somehow prove my fandom to a guy, then I certainly can’t sit around doing the same thing to other women.
Oct. 2: Durga Chew-Bose for Elle and Lenny: “The Lenny Interview: Michele Roberts”
DCB: How do you confront institutions and power structures that would otherwise not include you? Are there lessons you learned from a very young age, be it at predominantly white boarding schools or in professional environments later on in life?
MR: I always say this to young people, especially young people of color: there are certain things you cannot change and don’t want to change. I can’t change the fact that I’m an African American woman, and as it turns out, I happen to like being an African American woman. If that’s the case, and it is, why in the world would I spend time agonizing over that? It took me a while because I grew up around no white people except my teachers, and then I was 13 and thrust into an environment where there were all white people. And this was back in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and even though that’s not that long ago, it’s still long enough for people to have been pretty stupid and do pretty stupid things.
Oct. 7: Elizabeth Merrill for ESPN the Magazine: “Dreams of a Father”
Culver was gone 11 months later.
Six more teammates have died since. Doug Miller got struck by lightning. The most recent, Hall of Famer Junior Seau, shot himself in the chest. All were under the age of 45. Seven of the eight were fathers.
Now, when one of the 37 surviving members of the team gets a phone call from a reporter, his mind immediately races to the same thing: Not another death. They don’t think about that humbling Super Bowl loss so much anymore. All the other losses have been so much harder.
“Greg Hardy had to pretend to respect women for 12 minutes, just 12 minutes, and he couldn’t even do that. And what’s worse, is no one stopped him. They let him go on about girlfriends and guns and posted video of it on DallasCowboys.com because who [expletive] cares? Women won’t see it.”
Oct. 8: Christine Brennan at USA Today: “Greg Hardy remains unapologetic, yet will be cheered on Sunday”
This unrepentant and immature behavior by Hardy in his debut with the Dallas media reflects terribly not only on him, but also on the Cowboys, the NFLPA, the NFL and everyone else who is supposed to be monitoring and guiding Hardy. Is there no one who is counseling him? Little over a year since the Rice elevator video, what kind of leadership is this?
Oct. 13: Leesa Cross-Smith at Atticus Review: “It’s All About the Pitching”
I remember the no-hitters because they matter. I remember them because they’re Something. The same way and reason I remember and cherish all sorts of things about my sports emotions. Because they matter and because life can be really sad and confusing and hard and sometimes things like no-hitters and your favorite team finally winning or winning two, three games in a row or watching Mike Baseball Machine Trout sprout wings and leap over the fence to rob someone of a home run can make a girl feel better about the world. Sometimes sports emotions are my tea, my heating pad and my quilt.
Darren Pang even had a cringe-worthy Freudian slip a few seasons back when comparing Subban and Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, saying Pietrangelo, among others things, plays the game “the white way” instead of the “right” way. He immediately corrected himself, of course, but as Rachel Decoste wrote for the Huffington Post, things like that can’t simply be taken back when spoken in the context of comparing two athletes of different races within the same sport.
We notice. We wonder. We draw those lines. And those lines end up skewing more toward supporting Whiteness and North American standards when it comes to “character” and “integrity,” which is a problem when applying it to players who are not white or North American.
Oct. 24: Ramona Shelbourne for ESPN: “How did Lamar Odom fall so far?”
It’s calm on this night, but impossible to relax with the phones ringing every few minutes. Callers are told the girls are “taking a break” for a few days. Potential clients are referred to their sister property, the Area 51 Alien Cathouse in nearby Armagosa. In time, the publicity might be as good for business as the HBO show “Cathouse” about Hof’s original Bunny Ranch in Carson City. For now, it’s disquieting.
“I completely understand why [Odom came to the brothel],” Moore said. “Especially now. If this is what his life was like, I would want to run away, too.”
Oct. 26: Nancy Armour at USA Today: “Jerry Jones’ enabling and excuses just as bad as Greg Hardy’s behavior”
But all the league’s millions won’t make the least bit of difference so long as there are owners like Jones, willing to sell their souls for the promise of 10 sacks a season.
Oct. 29: Anna McDonald at Fox Sports: “Complete Story of Controversial, Emotional, Downright Crazy 1985 World Series”
The St. Louis Cardinals players, who lost the ’85 Series in seven games, say it was a privilege just to play in a World Series, but that championship will always be the one that got away.
For the Royals, the sweetness of their first (and so far only) championship is also a constant reminder of the all-too-short life of their kindly and humble manager, who died on June 17, 1987. He was 51.
Oct. 30: Sarah McLellan at AZCentral Sports: “A Coyote and his dog: Canine companion helps NHL rookie cope with diabetes”
Domi met Orion for the first time in January when Cockroft brought the dog to London, Ontario, where Domi was playing junior hockey. The two interacted for five days, getting acquainted while Orion accompanied Domi in public and attended a few of his games.
After that, Orion reported back to California to finish his training.
It takes two years for a dog to be ready to be placed with a diabetic.
Baseball is a game of failure. It’s a game of failure to a point of cliche, where if you fail a little under seven times out of 10 that’s an 80-grade hit tool. Perfection is impossible, and yet, because we as humans are bound to our brains’ ability to pick and choose a narrative out of nothing, there are failures that stand out more across time (and in specific moments of time, too.) We still bring up Bill Buckner, and not for any of his 2,715 hits, or any of the games he won.
This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t women and people of color who are statheads, anymore than it would be reasonable to suggest that all former players are white. But after a decade of painful progress to advance women and minorities to positions of authority, a generation of Ivy Leaguers are falling into the exact same traps: showing a predilection for “Clubability,” as Michael Lewis called it, over something new, something innovative, or even something marginally uncomfortable. They hire people like them.
Nov. 9: Cyndi B. at the Committed Indian: “Unwelcome in our Own Home”
I still follow and enjoy Blackhawks hockey, but I no longer describe myself as a “Blackhawks fan.” If I need to specify I say “Chicago hockey fan.” It’s a tricky distinction to pin down. For one thing, calling myself a “Blackhawks fan” implies I approve of how they’ve behaved as an organization, which I don’t. But it also implies belonging in Blackhawks fandom, and thanks to a vocal majority I no longer feel welcome or safe there.
Nov. 11: Elizabeth Weil at ESPN The Magazine: “Ashima’s Most Daring Climb”
The first principle of teaching a little girl to fly is: “Momentum equals strength. Speed equals strength.” Ashima’s performance rocketed. At age 8, she climbed a v10; at age 9, a v11/12; at age 10, a v13. Fewer than 10 women in the world have ever climbed a v13.
Nov. 13: Stacey Gotsulias at The Hardball Times: “Random Box Scores: Aug. 26, 1990 — A (Birth)Day in the Life”
I thought it could be amusing — and slightly depressing — to go back 25 years and write about the game that occurred between the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, Aug. 26, 1990.
Nov. 18: Alexis Brudnicki at The Hardball Times: “I’m Different. I’m the Same.”
The one question that really started to force me to realize I might be different, and that the difference was my gender, was the question, “How did you get into baseball?” It seems harmless, really. It is something I ask every Australian player, because rugby, Australian Rules football and cricket are far more popular than the diamond, and I’ve never meant it as an insult. But somewhere along the line, I began to take it as one. It felt like every person I met in the industry would ask me, but it was never something I would ask back. No one wonders how a guy got into sports. That’s a natural fit. I wasn’t.
Dec. 1: Katie Heindl at the Classical: “A Chuckwagon Belongs In Texas, Or Chuck Hayes’ Adventures On The Oregon Trail” (see part 2 here)
“A chuckwagon belongs in Texas,” Chuck Hayes whispers to himself. It is a quiet affirmation more than a statement of fact. Though, as it happens, he is in fact rolling through a vast expanse of Texas scrubland.
Dec. 2: Juliet Macur at the New York Times: “Homeless and Mentally Ill, a Former College Lineman Dies on the Street”
In some ways, Hoffman’s story is ordinary for a former football player these days. After his athletic career, his mental health deteriorated, and he encountered substance abuse and legal problems. Mounting scientific evidence suggests a link between repeated head trauma sustained by players in the inherently violent game and long-term cognitive impairment.
Dec. 6: Bonnie Ford at ESPN’s Outside the Lines: “A study might change the way sports thinks about human growth hormone”
Which is why multiple researchers are examining the same question using different approaches: Once an ACL is put back together, can the knee ever truly be as sound again? Stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma treatment are options getting increasing attention, and testosterone’s potential is being studied. The Michigan researchers think human growth hormone has significant promise.
Dec. 7: The US Women’s National soccer team at the Player’s Tribune: “Equal Footing”
And this was about wanting to protect women’s soccer players in general. We have become so accustomed to playing on whatever surface is put in front of us. But we need to realize that our protection — our safety — is priority No. 1. At the end of the day, we expect to be treated equally as our male counterparts. And we hope that, in the future, our fields and our venues will be chosen and inspected at the standard of an international match — whether it’s men or women playing on the field.
Dec. 9: Jessica Lopez at Remezcla: “Amid Violence, This Pioneering Woman Brought Pro Soccer And A Sense Of Hope Back To Juárez”
The team’s name– “Los Bravos,” or “The Tough Ones”– could not be more symbolic of the fighting spirit that de la Vega spoke of; in its first ever season, Juárez came in second and beat Atlante FC 3–1 on aggregate to win the Ascenso MX title (the second leg was played this past weekend, a 3–0 win at the Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez with goals from Wanderley de Jesús, Edgar Mejía and Leandro Carrijo.)
The community finally has a team that it can rally around once more.
Dec. 14: Kami Mattioli at Sporting News: “Granny’s back: The unusual regeneration of underhand free throws”
It’s safe to assume that almost every fan, regardless of whether an avid or casual fan, imagines that the ideal shot is an overhand shot — or at least certainly not “the granny shot” that most players abandon on the playground when they gain enough arm strength to hoist the ball above their shoulder.
Dec. 15: Corinne Landrey at the Hardball Times: “One Last Time: The Hall of Fame Case for Mark McGwire”
Before digging into the numbers, it’s necessary to acknowledge the obvious. The biggest factor working against McGwire has nothing to do with his on-field performance and everything to do with PEDs. As is likely clear by this point in the article, I am not opposed to enshrining admitted or suspected users from the Steroid Era. My rationale is rather simple: Blacklisting individuals for offenses that were a direct result of a permissive culture pervading every corner of major league baseball flies in the face of the mission of the Hall of Fame.
Dec. 18: Graham Watson at Yahoo! Sports: “Georgia State’s Cure Bowl appearance is first in school history”
Georgia State has only had a football team for six seasons, so playing in their first-ever bowl game is a monumental step for the Panthers. Georgia State came into November with a 2–6 record and won four consecutive games, including a 34–7 stunner against rival Georgia Southern, to earn bowl eligibility.
Dec. 24: Lindsey Adler at Buzzfeed: “The Best High School Football Player In America Might Be A 298-Pound Navajo Prodigy”
The potential transition to life off the reservation — and in larger classes — is one the Nez family is looking to ease for their son. If Nez chooses to go to a college off the reservation, he will quickly pivot from living in a community of nearly all Native Americans to a culture where he is suddenly in the minority.
“When everyone leaves the reservation, there is a culture shock. I think that when you embed a lot of common sense, eventually they’re gonna adjust,” William says.
Dec. 29: Jacqueline Kantor at SB Nation: “Down to the Wire”
It is late September, early evening. The field where the 2015 Frederick Douglass High School Mighty Ducks football team plays has a scoreboard, but no lights, and a lined turf, but no trainers or Gatorade jugs filled with water on the sideline.
To the left of the field is Baltimore’s Mondawmin Mall, where National Guard tanks sat for nearly a week last spring after Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested a little more than a mile from the Douglass campus. His death from injuries sustained while in police custody led to protests around the city and helped fuel the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Gina Mizell‘s football beat for the Oregonian
Joey Chandler‘s sports beat at Tuscaloosa News
Charean Williams beat at Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Jamie Goldberg’s soccer beat for the Oregonian
Anne Peterson’s coverage of Oregon (and more) sports for the AP
Originally published at pwrfwd.net on December 31, 2015.