I read Death Comes to the Archbishop and The Table of Less Valued Knights last week. They are very different, excellent books.
Some excellent sportswriting in Grantland this week. Brian Phillips takes on the hideous Ray Rice mess (Rice and his wife walked into an elevator; he dragged her out, seemingly unconscious; she apologised for causing trouble; he got a tiny little wrist slap from the league authorities). Phillips - well, you should read the whole thing for the sensitive way it tries to understand the knots people have got themselves into over this. It's an exercise in genuine empathy: Internet comments defending Rice and the NFL are — well, many of them
are genuinely and chillingly misogynistic, but I think more of them are
primarily concerned with protecting football from mainstream cultural
norms: Don’t take this away too. Men who post smug explanations
of league suspension policy may be secret domestic-violence enthusiasts,
but more likely they’re simply trying to keep any trace of sensitivity
from softening their cartoon war game. What they’re talking about isn’t
precisely what they’re talking about. They don’t support the problem;
they just don’t want to think about it. They refuse to be collaterally
That last sentence is brilliant.
Michael Weinreb, in a very different piece which has its core a similar attempt to get at just what it is we love about sports, even when so much of it is easy to criticise, writes: at heart, the reason we prefer college football to the pros is that we
are sentimental nostalgists, wishing we could retreat back to the time
when we felt like maybe we had the potential to be great, too. He's totally convincing, and he knows it has to change because it's built on a system of (racial) peonage.
Back to Elizabeth Gilbert - being a fan is loving something more than it deserves. That's such an excellent insight.