The Slatiest piece I’ve read in a while

The premise of this Slate piece is that because animals are more athletic than humans, long-distance running is the only real sport… Really. That’s it. The article actually has some interesting info about evolutionary changes in the human body resulting in us being a lean, mean, long-distance running machine, but it’s all larded up by a thesis that’s not actually supported anywhere.

We’ve inherited large leg and foot joints from those ancestors, which spread out high forces that must be absorbed when running. To help ensure stability on two legs, we have big gluteus maximus muscles. (Chimps, which are incapable of distance running, have comparatively tiny butts.) Our clever torsos are designed to “counter-rotate” versus the hips as we run, also aiding stability. And we have an unusually large percentage of fatigue-resistant, slow-twitch muscle fibers, which make for endurance rather than speed. By contrast, most animals are geared for sprinting because they’re either predators that chase or prey that run away, and their muscles thus have much higher percentages of fast-twitch fibers than ours. (Cheetahs’ hind-leg muscles are the fast-twitch-richest of all.)

The Slatiest piece I’ve read in a while

Good Job. Good Effort.

I love this “Good job. Good Effort” kid. The Miami Heat lost last night’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and after the game, the crowd went mostly silent. Except for one young fan cheering for his team. His exhortations echo through the tunnel as Miami goes into the locker room to think about what they’ve done. His passion is charming and his parents should be proud for raising a good sport. That said, I really hope the Garden chants Good Job Good Effort incessantly during Game 6. Incidentally, Bill Simmons used to watch the Celtics from seats above the tunnel at the Boston Garden.

Good Job. Good Effort.

Happy birthday, Bo Jackson

Today is Bo Jackson’s 49th birthday, so I thought I’d watch a Bo Jackson video and then I watched about 10. The first video shocked me because I’m never ready for how big he is or how fast. And he was both.

Here are some videos and articles including football Bo, baseball Bo, Letterman Bo, Sesame St Bo, ect. The articles are interspersed with the videos. Make sure to watch the Tecmo Bo.

First mention of Bo in SI from 1982

The tackle that ended his career

Ralph Wiley suggesting Bo will have to choose

Bo on the go

On homering in first game back after injury

A hip injury

All Bo’s SI covers

Maybe the first profile

Gammons

Bo Jackson, the Heisman winner

Where is he now, from 2003

Bo must choose

If Bo Jackson doesn’t return

Happy birthday, Bo Jackson

New Boston Globe website

I’d meant to call this out earlier, when everyone was talking about the new Boston Globe website.

The newspaper’s existing site, Boston.com, will remain free and will offer breaking news, blogs, photo galleries, sports coverage, and a limited selection of stories from the paper.

Emphasis mine. I think this might be one of the reasons there wasn’t a huge uproar in Boston about the Globe starting to charge for online content. The new site has been live for over a month now, and today was the first time I tried to get to a page that was blocked.

New Boston Globe website

Coaching a Surgeon

This article, by Atul Gawande, looks at why certain professions have coaches, and more importantly, why some don’t. I liked this bit:

Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships.

The other interesting part was Gawande talking about being coached as a surgeon. He asked a former mentor to observe his surgeries and take notes. Almost immediately, Gawande discovers things he could do to make his surgeries more successful. The way Gawande talks about being coached makes clear doctor coaching is something that should be explored further.

Coaching a Surgeon