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No sympathy for Scotland, the white man in that photo and all the week’s best sportswriting

Also featuring a reflection on Brendan Rodgers’ time at Anfield.
Oct 11th 2015, 8:30 AM 10,359 3

1. “Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and it certainly deceived me for a long time. I always saw the photo as a powerful image of two barefoot black men, with their heads bowed, their black-gloved fists in the air while the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played. It was a strong symbolic gesture — taking a stand for African American civil rights in a year of tragedies that included the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.”

The story of Australian sprinter Peter Norman — the white man in that photo — as told by Italian writer Riccardo Gazzaniga.

2. “I’ve learned to love footballers again under Brendan Rodgers, because at his best he so clearly does. Footballers doing amazing things, making children of us, is a wonderful thing. Learned that goals are paramount to proceedings and learned that without them nothing can be achieved. These might seem like straightforward and obvious enough virtues but it had been a dark place for far too long.”

Neil Atkinson reflects on Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool reign for The Anfield Wrap.

3. “In the last few weeks, after the last round of chemo had failed to stop the tumors in his esophagus from spreading, he spent his final days at home constantly surrounded by friends and family. His once-a-month Tuesday sportswriters lunch group met last Tuesday — at Ken’s house in Frederick. As one person after another came to sit with him and trade stories, Ken kept saying, ‘Boy, it’s so nice of you guys to do this for me.’ For once, Ken got it wrong. We all did it for ourselves. On the wall in the living room, Ken and his wife Nancy had a one word plaque that said simply, ‘JOY.’ No word better described Ken Denlinger’s life.”

John Feinstein of The Washington Post remembers well-known columnist Ken Denlinger, who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.

4. “So why does analytics provoke such a gag-reflex in some quarters? When it comes to former professionals such a reaction is not hard to understand. They have decades of experience and knowledge. Having some youngish maths whizz explain why their team has been lucky in matches based on statistical techniques is hardly going to go down well. Few old pros learned regression analysis on YTS schemes.”

An intriguing assessment of the use of analytics in football from The Guardian’s Sean Ingle.

5. “The word ‘loathes’ does not quite convey the depths of his tribal hatred. A Red Sox guy to the marrow, he roots against the Yankees with a negative-force vigor that has sustained him through this trying summer. His wife, Mary Murphy, says he sometimes wakes at night to check the Yankees score. A Yankees loss eases the approaching morning.”

Dan Barry of the New York Times details a trip to Fenway Park with his friend Bill Malinowski, a veteran reporter at The Providence Journal.

6. “It should not be unreasonable for Scotland to match or better the Republic of Ireland’s results over nine qualifying ties, after all. In the cold light of day, 12 points from that batch of fixtures is far from impressive. Scotland have not regressed but there is little sense of improvement. Strachan has been outshone by his predecessor at Celtic, Martin O’Neill. When the pressure has been on, Strachan’s team have lacked a marquee performance or win. The defeat in Georgia last month was borderline offensive to Scottish football lovers, so tame was the away showing. Strachan has a stubborn streak and blind loyalty towards certain performers — at the expense of others who could contribute — which causes external frustration. So, too, his blaming of essentially bad luck for Scotland’s Euro 2016 exit. Strachan and his team were not good enough; they do not deserve to be in France. They benefited from enough Group D own goals — three at the last count — to be removed of this sense of deep misfortune.”

The Guardian’s Ewan Murray dissects another failed qualifying campaign for Scotland.

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