Welcome to the tipoff, kickoff, first pitch, halfway line tap, first round bell, starter’s pistol pop and the inaugural post for Juxtapoz Sports.
A little about myself: I’m a former, mostly pre-internet basketball magazine writer and editor, spent a few years marketing sports at YouTube, I obsessively collect 1990s sports memorabilia and I watched Argentina beat Greece in Polokwane, South Africa at the 2010 World Cup. I get up at 5am to watch Arsenal FC on quasi-legal sports streaming websites, am still upset at bad refereeing in the 2001 NCAA title game and was once yelled at, loudly, by former NBA player Sam Mitchell.
Favorite sports book is Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward about the boxer Jack Johnson, favorite sports movie is The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh starring Julius Erving, favorite sports documentary is Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos. Favorite athlete is Zinedine Zidane. Favorite skateboarder is Andrew Reynolds.
In this space I pledge:
1. To ruminate on the artistry of the moment versus the end result of the scoreline. For example, Spanish soccer team Villareal produced this gorgeous sequence two weekends against Valencia, 15 passes in 20 seconds:
Did it result in a goal or affect ultimate victory? No. In fact, Valencia scored twice to draw 2-2. Certainly the immediate point of sport is to win, but isn't the larger purpose of sport is to create sublime moments of athletic artistry like these, that temporarily lift us out of our grey, grinding existences? That’s what Villareal was briefly able to acheive and in that sense, they won.
2. To take as much interest in the losers as in the winners, because they’re usually way more interesting. As the tagline for No Mas NYC perfectly captures: The Thrill of Victory. The Esctasy of Defeat.
3. To revel in the absurdity of it all. We’re talking about adults wearing brightly colored shirts, chasing a ball around. Sports is a theater of the bizarre, an exaggerated funhouse mirror version of real life, distilling and reflecting back to us our best and worst values. More importantly, on any given day, it’s the best thing on TV, online, anywhwere. By far.
4. To keep one foot in the past. For example: in all the hoopla about notorious NBA knucklehead Ron Artest changing his name to Metta World Peace, what was lost is that he copied that idea from a dope old school ballplayer: World B. Free (neé Lloyd Bernard Free). Free played a couple years here in the Bay Area in the 70s, had a futuristic game and was famously dubbed “The Prince of Midair” by Sports Illustrated. In terms of soul and style, Metta can’t hold a candle to World.
Last thought: it’s a big week for sports here in San Francisco. The streets are awash with bootleg 49ers t-shirt sellers and bandwagon fans in throwback jackets. I'm predicting a brutal, ugly display, with a grotesque final score like 49ers 6 Giants 2 (yes, a safety) and multiple arrests in the Candlestick Park parking lot. Or perhaps, just perhaps, noted aesthete and painter Vernon Davis can emerge from the muck, channel his inner Rice and notch a couple TDs.
(Note: If you're in the Los Angeles area this weekend, head to Country Club LA for more vintage Costacos Brothers posters like the image above)