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The Best Articles of the Year: Sports
Why Sports Fans are Sports Fans
To commemorate the end of the annual Great American Sports Lull (the six week gap between the Superbowl and the beginning of March Madness), it’s time that we had a long-overdue discussion about one of humanity’s oddest phenomena—sports fandom.
How Science Turned a Struggling Pro Skier Into an Olympic Medal Contender
Steven Nyman is poised at the starting gate, alert, coiled, ready. A signal sounds: three even tones followed by a single, more urgent pitch, sending Nyman kicking onto the Val Gardena downhill ski course.
Billion-Dollar Billy Beane
The film version of “Moneyball” depicts many establishment baseball types as ignorant of where wins in baseball come from and clueless about how to properly value talent.
End of the Ride for Lance Armstrong
The $10 million estate of Lance Armstrong’s dreams is hidden behind a tall, cream-colored wall of Texas limestone and a solid steel gate. Visitors pull into a circular driveway beneath a grand oak tree whose branches stretch toward a 7,806-square-foot Spanish colonial mansion.
An Unlikely Ballerina
On a recent August afternoon, near Nineteenth Street, two young girls with blond hair pulled back in ponytails ran past me, one of them calling out, “Daddy, Daddy, I just saw Misty Copeland!” The tone of voice might as well have been used to announce a sighting of Katy Perry, or Snow White.
Does Hosting the Olympics Actually Pay Off?
Brazil may have never wanted for places to play soccer, but that didn’t stop the country from spending billions of dollars on stadiums for last month’s World Cup.
What Will It Take to Run A 2-Hour Marathon
When Ronaldo da Costa broke the finish-line tape at the 1998 Berlin Marathon, he began dancing a samba. He deserved to party: The marathon world record had been stuck at 2:06:50 since 1988, after creeping down an average of just five seconds a year since the late ’60s.
P.K. Subban, Hockey’s Ice Breaker
In late September, several weeks after signing a long-term deal that gave him the third-highest average annual salary in the National Hockey League, P. K. Subban went shopping for a house.
Inside the Shadowy World of High-Speed Tennis Betting
In January, Daniel Dobson was two months into a new job that allowed him the opportunity to travel overseas and watch live sports. It had a downside, though: It got him arrested in an incident that drew media coverage around the world.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux
The joke, said Braves broadcaster Skip Caray, is that if half the people who claimed to be at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium during the Bad Times (1985 to 1990) had actually been there, no seat would've been available.
A doping manifesto
Nothing is more reviled in sport now than doping. The US cyclist Lance Armstrong is not just bad – in the eyes of the media he is practically a monster: ‘singularly evil’, and ‘worse than shameless’.
For Runner With M.S., No Pain While Racing, No Feeling at the Finish
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When a pack of whip-thin girls zipped across the finish of the 1,600-meter race at a recent track meet here, the smallest runner’s legs wobbled like rubber, and she flopped into her waiting coach’s arms. She collapses every time she races.
Why Gretzky Had It Easy
One of the most interesting statistical nuggets I ran into while researching a piece about NHL goalies was the improvement in leaguewide goaltending over the past 30 years.
Serena Williams Is America’s Greatest Athlete
This week, as the sports world repays our slavish attention with more lousy, grotesque news, it’s worth noting that, on Sunday, the greatest American athlete in a generation won the U.S. Open, again, for the sixth time and the third year in a row.
College Athletes of the World, Unite
When I played basketball for UCLA, I learned the hard way how the NCAA’s refusal to pay college athletes impacted our daily lives.
This Is Katie F---ing Ledecky: A Thesis About Kicking Ass
This is a column about Katie Ledecky. It has a simple thesis. The thesis is that Katie Ledecky kicks ass. The thesis is a gasoline fireball from which Katie Ledecky is walking away in slow motion, too cool to look back.
Billy Beane’s Ascendant A’s Are Playing a Brand-New Brand of Moneyball
The funniest thing about the legacy of Moneyball, the 2003 Michael Lewis book and the 2011 Brad Pitt movie, is that it quickly became an ongoing leadership seminar about losers.
The Doctor Who Coaches Athletes on Sleep
As the NBA and NHL playoffs start, a Harvard sleep specialist advises rest, not more practice, for championship teams. On June 14, 2011, Dr. Charles Czeisler stood by the side of a small stage, listening as a colleague introduced him to a crowd of fellow researchers.
Portrait Of A Serial Winner
BEFORE GETTING TO the alleged mob hit or the mystery of the missing referee, there should be an explanation about how this quest began. An assigned profile of Luis Suarez led to a stack of things to read about his past.
God Loves Cleveland
Yeah, I read LeBron James’s classy letter in Sports Illustrated. I believe him. I think he wanted to come home. I think he always wanted to come home. In the summer of 2010, LeBron handled everything wrong. He knows that now. His hometown turned on him. His former owner excoriated him.
How Jurgen Klinsmann Plans to Make U.S. Soccer Better (and Less American)
Even before he exiled the most accomplished and iconic player in United States soccer history and before his presumptive top goal scorer went nearly an entire season without scoring goals and before h
Spin Right and Shoot Left
You’re on defense, zone defense. You pick up a loose ball and look for the outlet pass. You see it, throw it, and go down the middle on a fast break, taking the return pass. Now you’re looking for a three-on-two or a two-on-one before they can set up their defense.
Can Snowboarding Be Saved?
I was a state college kid the first and only time I rode a snowboard. This was in the 1980s and snowboarding was still illegal at New Hampshire's ski resorts.
Mr. Ten Percent: The Man Who Built — And Bilked — American Soccer
In the middle of 1989, suburban soccer dad Chuck Blazer had just lost his job, had no income, and was struggling with debt.
The Goodell-Must-Go Bag
My Thursday-night pick: Baltimore -2.5 over Pittsburgh. Who cares? Does ANYONE care? Let’s break out the special-edition “HOW THE HELL DOES ROGER GOODELL STILL HAVE A JOB?” mailbag! But first … how the hell does Roger Goodell still have a job?
The Death of the One-Handed Backhand
Back in January, when Stan Wawrinka won the Australian Open, it was the first time in more than four years that someone not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray captured a grand-slam championship.
Adam Schefter is NFL reporting machine
BRISTOL, Conn. — Adam Schefter had some news to share. On this morning, the audience numbered only one: an AFC executive who had just called. “Well, I got a few things for you,” Schefter said. “Number one, you got the Titans and Eagles, both very anxious to trade for a wide receiver.
The winning formula: data analytics has become the latest tool keeping football teams one step ahead
This article was taken from the January 2014 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online.