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The Sports Pages: some of the week's best sportswriting

The cosmic implications of Tim Tebow, Lionel Messi’s place in history and why Luis Suarez gets a bad rap: it’s all in our wide-ranging round-up of the week’s finest sports journalism.

Tim Tebow: he thinks, therefore I am.
Tim Tebow: he thinks, therefore I am.
Image: Joe Mahoney/AP/Press Association Images

1. “For the sake of argument, let’s say that the universe is radically meaningless. If that’s the case, then when Tebow wins, it’s a fluke that doesn’t prove anything. When he loses, it’s also a fluke that doesn’t prove anything. For his losing to mean anything, it has to tie into some larger cosmic order, and if it does, then it can’t prove that there isn’t one.

Can you use the phenomenon of Tebowmania to prove or disprove the existence of God? Probably not, but Brian Phillipsmeditation on the NFL’s most polarising figure for Grantland hits heights that could nearly be called divine.

2. “There’s also a strange (and very British) kind of logic on display here: if we’re so annoyed by the over-reaction of certain players to being fouled… would it not be better to ask the other players to stop kicking them? The last time we ended up here, in the summer of 2006, one of the best players in the world was nearly hounded out of the country for winking, while the man who perambulated up and down a man’s front tail was treated as the victim of the piece.”

Scott Murray‘s at his best when he assumes the role of arch-contrarian, and writing in this week’s Guardian, he’s embraced the challenge of defending Liverpool’s increasingly unpopular Uruguayan asset, Luis Suarez. He is, the Scot reasons, merely the victim of our skewed sporting logic.

3. “‘I live with him. I’m his wife, and he is definitely not perfect,’ says Dowd, ‘but it’s hard to walk away from Webb and not see a light in him, see a brightness he brings to a crowd. Ultimately, it’s the love of Christ pouring out from him.’

“Simpson has expressed his spiritual gratitude publicly, causing some discomfort in the secular crowd. The viral criticism is one of the reasons why he backed off ­Twitter, but pointing to the sky after a win, having Titus 3:3-7 stitched to the back of his Titleist hat and giving greenside testimonials is what Webb Simpson stands for.”

With a prep school taste in polo necks and tailored trousers, an awkward-looking golf swing and a painfully gauche way of voicing his religious faith, Webb Simpson is an unlikely candidate for sporting stardom. In this profile for Golf Digest, Tim Rosaforte gives a sense of the contradictions that define a man who has, against the odds, become one of the best golfers on the planet.

4. “For years people have sought to penetrate his annual declaration, reiterated this week, that he has no plans to retire.

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What can he mean by that, they ask, as if it were one of the Delphic oracle’s more gnomic utterances? Why would a man of 36, long past his trade’s conventional age of retirement and longer past his peak, carry on when he already makes Croesus look like Steptoe?”

Last week, Matthew Norman targeted the emissary of footballing righteousness that is John Terry.Writing in the Telegraph this week, he turns his attention to another of England’s Golden Generation, the indefatiguable David Beckham. So wealthy that his longevity can’t be put down to anything but raw enthusiasm for the game, the former England captain might just be the perfect man to lead Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad.

5. “Week in, week out, they delight in their sense of anticipation when the Argentine has the ball and watch in rapture as his slippery skills bamboozle innumerable hapless defenders. Never will they forget that Copa del Rey semi-final of four years ago when Messi jinked past the entire Getafe team to provide a carbon copy of compatriot Diego Maradona’s only legal goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England.”

In the week Lionel Messi scored his 200th goal for Barcelona, the Sabotage Times’ Stephen Mackey casts caution to the wind and asks whether the Argentine has legitimate claim to a place alongside Cruyff, Pelé and Maradona in the pantheon of footballing greats.

6. “There is a wider issue, though: one that looms above and beyond the “rogue dressing room” theory, or even Botham’s rogue nation. Most obviously the real bad guys are still out there. The great spreading choking root structure of gambling fraud is still in place and we have simply blown the seeds from the top of a dandelion. But beyond this it is time to talk about something broader. It is time to talk about greed.”

From its ill-fated dalliance with Allen Stanford to the more recent Pakistani match-fixing scandal, cricket’s recent history details an unflattering association with corruption and financial mismanagement. For the Guardian’s Barney Ronay, these scandals merely expose the grand, overarching flaw at the heart of the sport’s institutional mindset: good, old-fashioned greed.

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