Forecasts predict rain for most of next week. So just to summarize this little pickle that we have in our hands right now: we shouldn’t join the big meetings, or maybe even the little ones. We shouldn’t get on a plane or train. Shopping centers are contraindicated. And now it looks like we won’t be able to leave the house without getting wet.
Oh, and did you hear that there are no sporting events? I’m sorry, my emphasis may have been a little off. Let me say it again. THERE. WE ARE. NO. SPORTS. EVENTS.
If ever there was a week or a month (or a … no, we don’t go there) to curl up on the sofa and watch some NBA basketball or Giants spring training, or even some SportsCenter highlights , that’s all. But in one of the virus’ most cruel twists, there are no games that distract us.
Before you panic and do something extreme, like committing to spending quality time with your family, I would like to offer some tips for sports people: some movies, books, podcasts, etc. To scratch your sports itch (well, that looked disgusting) while the arena doors are closed.
Here are my 10 recreational tips. My rec.
WHEN HE WAS KING (documentary film): this film, which tells the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974, is probably my favorite sports document of all time. The setting scenes in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) are wild, from ecstatic topless dancers to semi-coherent wanderers by special guest James Brown. The framing of the boxing match is also fantastic, focusing on how Muhammad Ali managed to overcome a terrible situation. The most interesting thing, however, is to see George Foreman, a medium fat reduction pre-lean grill. Now he could be the cuddly uncle of the United States. By 1974, Foreman had not yet learned the fine arts of smiling and public speaking. The man was terrifying.
STEPHEN FLORIDA (book): Gabe Habash’s debut novel in 2017, like most literature, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He is profane and has elements of fantasy, and the main character is a real wacky one. But this rich profile of a college fighter in North Dakota is often hilarious and insightful. I read that Habash is unprecedented in wrestling. He must have done some serious research, because part of what attracted me is how he captured the sport’s obsessiveness and self-destruction.
ALL THE SMOKE (podcast): an interview-style pod hosted by former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes? Yes thanks. I thought it would be frank and fun. All smoking is both of these things, but much more. First of all, Barnes and Jackson have combined 28 years in the league and their reputation, say, keeping them real, gives them incredible access. Just from the new year, their guests have included Kobe Bryant (seriously, January 9th), Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Snoop Dogg. And the interviews are a real blast. What strikes me most is the way in which hosts are able to vary the tone, keep it clean with Curry and become vulgar with DeMarcus Cousins, without looking fake. Warning: don’t listen to this podcast if you don’t like hearing kids talk about getting high.
O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA (documentary series): this five-part, eight-hour series, produced by the group “30 for 30” at ESPN, left me breathless. Like anyone who lived in Los Angeles in 1994-95, I have clear memories of the white pursuit of the Bronco, the “crime of the century” and the trial that has affected everyone for months. But this production explained me a lot – both on O.J. Simpson and the cultural context in which he was arrested and tried. Puzzled about how an African-American majority jury might find Simpson guilty of two murders despite overwhelming evidence? Look at this and you will understand. Oh, and they have almost all the members to talk.