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Dublin: 20 °C Wednesday 15 August, 2018
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Easing football addiction with marijuana, profound effects of glory and the week's best sportswriting

The Chicago Cubs, homophobia in soccer and an interesting Ray Allen letter also feature this week.

Image: ESPN

Source: David J. Phillip

1. “What would you have done to see this happen? Chicago Cubs, World Series champions. Would you have sold your house? Taken a pay cut? Would you have sworn off chocolate or beer, red meat or golf? Would you endure a summer full of winter? Would you have traded a few Bulls’ championships or erased the memories of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cups?

“Julianna Zobrist handed over her baby. She did not plan to do it. But plans changed throughout Game 7 of this World Series one of the most memorable games in the sport’s history.”

A lot has been written about the Chicago Cubs‘ historic World Series win but this piece by Michael Rosenberg for Sports Illustrated was particularly enjoyable.

2. “Now, after last Sunday, we can lay claim to something else. As much as the likes of Griffin, Kelly and Brennan have done for the place in terms of geography, putting it on the GAA map, they and a bunch of team-mates, neighbours and friends have now written it into history. Ballyea is not just our home but the home of the 2016 Clare senior hurling county champions.”

Kieran Shannon explains what winning a county title means to the town of Ballyea in the Irish Examiner.

3. “How do I sum up nearly two decades in the NBA? What do you really need to know? What’s truly important? You’ll get to play against your heroes: Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler.

You’ll play alongside Hall of Famers: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade. Sometimes you’ll be afraid. Sometimes you’ll think you’re out of your league. But you’ll keep showing up every day, putting in the work.

You’ll put up more than 26,000 shots in your career. Almost six out of 10 won’t even go in. I told you this game was a sonofabitch. Don’t worry, though. A successful man is built of 1,000 failures. Or in your case, 14,000 misses. You’ll win a championship in Boston. You’ll win another in Miami.”

Shooting guard Ray Allen announced his retirement from basketball this week at the age of 41. And his ‘letter’ to his 13-year-old self for the Players Tribune is quite a read.

4. “In many ways, football has become the Weimar Republic of commemorations. Acts of public solidarity can have huge power, but the currency has been debased. Stadiums have become like wheelbarrows stuffed not with worthless cash, but with increasingly worthless displays. Fans are often unsure what they are applauding.”

In an interesting piece for The Times, Matthew Syed argues that football is remembering so many causes that the gestures have lost all meaning.

5. “‘You know that crisp sound where you’re watching an Olympic diver hit the water, where it’s like a blade slicing through the water? Well, you have that smooth, clean sound, and at the same time it’s like someone has a sawed-off shotgun — pow! It’s amazing.’

“I nod again, wondering whether he has the best insights into football I’ve heard, or just the best weed I’ve smoked. ‘Do you see things out there that, like, you can’t explain? Things that, like, defy gravity?’”

Retired lineman Eugene Monroe uses cannabis as he claims it helps him to deal with his addiction to American football, he tells Tom Junod of ESPN The Magazine.

Eugene Monroe.

6. “I had no support from anybody in football, and in fact a few people made it worse. Suddenly I became the non-gay, gay spokesman in the sport. In some ways, it would have been easier if I had been gay. I could have just stood up and said: ‘Yes I am, what’s your problem?’ Instead there was a weird situation of denying it, but at the same time saying there would be nothing wrong if I was.”

Former Chelsea and England defender Graeme Le Saux wrote an excellent column in the Guardian on the treatment of gay footballers and why it’s important to drive homophobia out of the game.

7. “There was a dirty river at the end of the field and it was absolutely disgusting-looking — as well as very cold. So, Allen pulls us over and goes ‘if you’re going to swim it, swim it’ — as if to say, ‘if you’re going to win it, win it; if you’re going to do it, do it’.

“Then, he just strips off, jumps in and swims it, gets out on the other side in his soaking boxers and then runs about 200 metres in the Baltic cold. I didn’t know at the time that he was a bit of a lunatic anyway – he’s known as ‘Mad Dog’ for a reason – but it did take the focus off losing.”

In his column for the Sunday Independent, former Ireland footballer Stephen Hunt explains the depths some managers will go to in the hope their team will snap out of a losing streak.

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