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Tyson Fury's 'disturbed' mental state & David Simon on baseball; the week’s best sportswriting

Also, why Fifa needs more women and the man whose football dreams were ended by concussion.

Tyson Fury during a press conference at the Hilton Syon Park, London.
Tyson Fury during a press conference at the Hilton Syon Park, London.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

1. “IT IS 1971, and I am new to the fifth grade at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School, a few hundred yards north of the D.C. line in suburban Maryland, where everything is perfectly Proustian, perfectly preserved in memory.

“I have been on the playground, playing strikeout with Firestone and Bjellos. It is an April afternoon, after school hours, yet unseasonably hot in my memory. I am wishing the water cooler actually worked, stumbling into the boys’ room to take a leak before drifting back to the game.

“On my little Sanyo, Frank Howard launches a grand slam off the Oakland A’s starter, some fella with the improbable name of Blue. It is Opening Day. And though this is Washington Senators baseball, all things are still possible.”

David Simon, best know as the creator of The Wire, writes on baseball and the limits of penitence for Sports Illustrated.

2. “The two men, owners of thick collections of player photographs, stood behind the seventh green at Tiburon Golf Club, the site of this week’s L.P.G.A. Tour finale. The men had items for Suzann Pettersen of Norway to sign once she was finished on the green during Wednesday’s pro-am.

They insisted they were not autograph hunters procuring signatures for items to be placed for sale on the Internet. Besides, one of the men added, “There’s probably not much of a market after what she did.”

The New York Times’ Karen Crouse on why ‘competitiveness is seen as a virtue, at least for men’.

3. “When FIFA’s Congress gathers in February, less than 1 percent of the voters will be female. National soccer boards have just 8 percent women. Players? An estimated 10 percent female. Coaches? Only 7 percent. How about the reform committee itself? One solitary woman on a committee of 13.”

‘Fifa needs more women,’ argues Moya Dodd of The New York Times.

4. “Things like losing someone you really love for the first time. It affects you as a person. As much as it is tough being out the game as you get older you see it for what it is. I was able to adopt that attitude of ‘Maybe it is a blessing’. I lean towards that, that things happen for a reason. You have the initial disappointment and then you pick yourself up. Part of being a footballer is having the ability to do that. Whether that is an injury or a bad game. You take the initiative and move forward.”

Everton’s Leighton Baines makes for an insightful interviewee.

5. “Deep within the stadium, the team gathered for a college football ritual. The marching band gave its cue, and the players bounded through a long tunnel, a blue-and-white blur, pumping fists and high-fiving students who had gathered to cheer.

“For a few moments, it was possible to believe that the team’s enthusiasm would be met by the roar of spectators and the full pageantry of game day in the Deep South. But then the tunnel ended and the team, the Georgia State Panthers, emerged into the largely empty 70,000-seat Georgia Dome, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.”

This piece on how college students are funding the athletics arms race is a fascinating read.

6. “He’s always been a bit off the wall, but the last few months have taken a definite swerve. He tells anyone who will listen that the judge is corrupt, and fantasises aloud about knocking him out. He starts babbling about sinister government conspiracies, a cabal of Satan-worship stretching across the planet. He rants incoherently about paedophilia and homosexuality and abortion. He becomes convinced that the end of the world is just a few years away.”

The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew examines Tyson Fury’s recent odd behaviour.

7. “In his foreword for The Wisden Anthology 1978–2006, Richie Benaud wrote: “Wisden tells us everything about the game of cricket, always has.” The compliment is easily returned. Few have ever spoken about the game with as much knowledge or authority. Benaud read his first Wisden during his first Ashes tour in 1953; his name has appeared in every Almanack since, whether as player, commentator or writer.”

The Guardian’s extract from Rob Smyth’s book Benaud in Wisden will make you want to read the full thing.

8. “The shirt, which has “Nicholls” on the back and, poignantly, the number 20 below, was presented to him at an annual golf tournament in Shropshire, where they play for a trophy in his son’s name. It will be worn for the first time on Saturday, when Nicholls, together with a group of close friends, makes the 420-mile round trip from his home in Walsall to watch Plymouth host Exeter in a derby that takes place four days before the 20th anniversary of his son’s death.”

Stuart James of The Guardian recalls ‘Alan Nicholls, the maverick goalkeeper who should have played for England but died far too young’.

9. “For months, reporters have called Clint Trickett wanting to talk about football and, more specifically, about football safety. Some called soon after he announced his retirement as a player last December, when he revealed that he had sustained five concussions in 14 months in the previous two seasons as West Virginia’s starting quarterback — the last one a year ago Friday. Others have called more recently, prompted by the coming release of the film “Concussion,” in which Will Smith plays the doctor who helped identify a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma.”

Marc Tracy, writing in the New York Times, tells the story of the man whose football dreams were ended by concussion.

Liverpool expose naive City and more Premier League thoughts>

Breaking boundaries and changing the game – how Ireland are defying their amateur status>

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