Welcome to The Week in Sportswriting, where Chris Dunn outlines the top sports stories of the past week.
Colin Kaepernick Has a Job
Bleacher Report, Rembert Browne
Rembert Browne, the one time Grantlander who left New York Magazine and wrote a comic book, has returned with a bombshell piece for Bleacher Report on Colin Kaepernick, the free agent quarterback who started a revolution in the NFL by kneeling during the National Anthem. Not quite a profile of the quarterback–Browne is never granted an interview with Kaepernick for the piece–Browne presents readers with an essay on race and the discomfort that Kaepernick gives White America that has made him so maligned. Anyone familiar with Browne’s work (and his Twitter feed) knows of the personal affinity the author has for James Baldwin’s 1961 profile of Martin Luther King. The influence of Baldwin’s work, now almost 60 years old, is clear here.
Deep Six: Jemele Hill and the Fight for the Future of ESPN
The Ringer, Bryan Curtis
Bryan Curtis had been working on this profile of Jemele Hill, the outspoken new host of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter slot, long before last week’s mini-controversy erupted, dragging Hill back into the spotlight after she identified the president as a white supremacist on her Twitter account. The timing of the article’s release could not have been more relevant. Curtis, another former-Grantlander who went west to join his former boss at the Ringer, shows a Hill that is both funny and intelligent, aware of her new status and still growing accustomed to it. The story of Hill, whose very existence as a black woman on air has been made into a political statement and blamed for a trend that is really the effect of economic forces beyond any one person’s control, is almost chillingly timely.
Safest Bet in Sports: Men Complaining About a Female Announcer’s Voice
The New York Times, Julie DiCaro
Julie DiCaro, who hosts a weekend show on Chicago’s WSCR The Score, appeared in the Times with an essay on her career as a woman in the sports broadcasting world and the challenges faced by other women in the field. Focusing on the all-too-often-made complaint, complete with strong sexist undertones, that male listeners don’t like the sound of their voices, DiCaro’s piece smashes the naive idea that something like Beth Mowins’ presence alone could solve sexism in the sports media world, while ultimately offering a bit of hope in the work she and her colleagues are doing.
The NFL is Being Devoured by its own Economic Model
SB Nation, Spencer Hall
Hall is a writer at SB Nation best known for his coverage of college football on the “Everyday Should be Saturday” blog, but he delivers an excellent analysis of the structural reasons behind the supposed decline in the quality of NFL play. If the NFL’s second week left you wishing for a little bit more (and how could it not when the final score of the Panthers-Bills game was 9-3), Hall explains why it is that the owners of the league’s teams have no incentive to make it better. With blame being placed on old, white billionaires and the answer to be found in increased market competition, there’s something for everyone in Hall’s assessment of the issue.
Where the Triangle Offense Lives
The New Yorker, Jordan Teicher
Lacking the more explicit cultural commentary of the above pieces, Teicher’s story follows a coach in a Filipino basketball league who still uses the triangle offense, and has found great success doing so. With coach Tim Cone skipping out on NBA jobs to continue his work in the Philippines and his forming a friendship with the late offensive genius Tex Winter, Teicher’s story is filled with enough moving parts to keep basketball fans entertained in what has been one of the quieter weeks of the NBA offseason.