Category: Sports

The Wisdom of Crowds

Currently making the rounds of all the free advertising outlets [read: fawning reviewers], a new book by theNew Yorker columnist James Suroweicki asserts that a big bunch of average people often turn out to be smarter than a small group of experts. Mobs, the author asserts, are often better predictors of the future — whether it’s...

Anatomy of the Sports Fan

The flags are out again. The yellow-and-purple banners flicker in the breeze, mounted on the SUVs of dedicated Los Angeles Laker fans who demonstrate their fealty to the 14-time NBA Champions by wearing replica accused-rapist jerseys and plastering their homes and vehicles with admonitory signs. If it all seems vaguely fascist, it’s because Laker fans...

Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, after years of prevaricating and equivocating, the United States Supreme Court finally decided that the “separate but equal” test established in Plessy v. Ferguson was discriminatory and unconstitutional. For the next fifty years, people of color have been slowly integrated into our still-racist society. Today, blacks are no longer required to go to...

The Masters: A Tradition Like No Other

Every April, some of the best golfers in the world are invited to play in a tournament conducted at Augusta National Golf Club, a famously lush arboretum of magnolias and azaleas founded by the legendary amateur champion Bobby Jones. The first of the so-called “major” championships – the PGA Championship and the U.S. and British...

Janet Jackson’s Breast

During the halftime show at last weekend’s Super Bowl, Janet Jackson, a not very good singer who compensates for her dearth of musical talent with ribald gyrations and costuming befitting a budget-priced dominatrix, exposed her right breast on live television. She was assisted by Justin Timberlake, a similarly uninteresting singer bleating with faux passion about...

Super Bowl Sunday

This weekend brings the biggest sporting event in America, the Super Bowl. The violent antics on the playing field are only a small part of the ritualistic gatherings that happen in living rooms and dens around our country. People will congregate together to pass judgment on a well-known celebrity’s lip-synced rendition of our national anthem....

Performance Enhancing Drugs

The sports world is aghast — as it often seems to be — that athletes in disciplines as diverse as track & field, football, and baseball are ingesting “designer” steroids that allegedly make the competitors bigger, stronger, faster, and eminently more endorse-able. Since an organization like the NFL can’t possibly claim that it’s looking out...

The ‘Broken’ BCS

Many tears were shed this past weekend in Los Angeles, and the lachrymal mourning wasn’t over starving Africans or bleeding Afghanis. The crying – and the whining and the righteous indignation – was inspired by a college football ranking system that kept the USC Trojans out of the putative national championship game, the Sugar Bowl,...

Stock Pickers Versus Sports Bettors

Recently a man in North Dakota was found guilty of placing sports bets over the Internet, in violation of state (and possibly federal) law. He was fined a nominal amount of money and made an example to the hundreds of thousands – millions? – of people who use their computers to make wagers on football...