Monthly Archives: May 2018

GOATs, Game 7s, and Legacies

Church of the NBA

My favorite thing about sports is greatness.

Don’t get me wrong, I love winning too. There’s no bigger (Boston) homer than me, and watching one of the hometown teams win a ring or banner or cup is as amazing as it gets – and we’ve had a good run over the last 18 odd years – but if I am really honest and objective about it, witnessing greatness is probably the best part of being a sports fan. And the NBA – the playoffs in particular, the season in which we find ourselves again from mid-April to mid-June – may be the most sustained period to witness greatness in real time in any sport. It brings out the true believer in me. Right now, we’re seeing something historic with LeBron James aka King James, who just dispatched my Celtics en route to his 8th consecutive Finals appearance. It’s not entirely unprecedented of course, Celtics legend Bill Russell won 9 of 11 championships across a decade plus run, but what we’re seeing with the King and his breathtaking performances (he’s averaging 34, 9, and 9 through the Eastern Finals) has little equal in the modern era of the NBA.

What exactly is the modern NBA era? If it’s left up to me, I define it by when I became a hardcore fan which is probably the mid-eighties through right now. If that’s the playing field, then just think of how fortunate we have really been over the last 30+ years. On the heels […]


Sports Requires Presence

Motor Mecca

There’s nothing chic about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s a two-and-a-half-mile blacktop oval in Speedway, Indiana, a modest suburb of tidy homes, strip malls, trailer parks and pizza joints. It took an accident—a twist of history, not the fender-bending kind—to make Speedway the world capital of auto racing.

It’s not quite that anymore. NASCAR’s more popular and Formula 1’s cooler, but that won’t keep more than 300,000 fans from thronging the track next Sunday for the 102nd running of the Indy 500. They’ll have plenty of storylines to follow, and so will you if you watch the race. Can Japan’s Takuma Soto win twice in a row? Can Danica Patrick contend in the final race of her career? Can anyone top the lap speed record of 236 miles an hour?

Even if the answers are no, no and no, the thousands who’ll be there will have a day to remember. That’s one of the best things about bigtime sporting events—like concerts, revival meetings, or religious pilgrimages, they can’t fully be captured on film, the printed page or even an e-newsletter. You gotta be there. Because the big events are more than spectacle—more than any game, match, or race could be without the crowd. They’re experiences we share with others who care who comes out on top. If we didn’t care, sports would go out of business.

That’s right—fans are the ones who make sports matter.

One way we express our devotion is by traveling to shrines like the Indianapolis Motor […]


Newsletter – May 7, 2018

In the Beginning…

I f’ing hate Florida.

Let me qualify that. I hate the gun-toting, sanctimonious strain of intolerance you sometimes find in Florida. And don’t get me started on Mar-a-Lago. Of course there’s also a lot to like about the Sunshine State: the beaches, the Everglades, the heroism and activism of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

My real beef is with the Tampa Bay area. I’ve got nothing against the Bucs and certainly not the Rays, who made some sort of Religion of Sports history in 2008, when they changed their name from Devil Rays for religious reasons, and suddenly started winning. No, I fucking hate Tampa Bay because my hometown Boston Bruins have been locked in a second-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. And after watching thousands of Lightning fans cheer too many goals at Amalie Arena, Tampa represents everything wrong with the world, in my not so humble opinion.

When I “volunteered” to write our first Religion of Sports newsletter, the intention (and assumption, on behalf of our whole team) was that it would be a rhapsodic affirmation of the spirituality of sports. A celebration of what makes them mythic, and an affirmation of why they matter — how sports provide meaning and significance to athletes and fans, gods and worshippers, alike.

Then the worst happened. Yes, the Lightning zapped my Bruins.

I’ll be spending the next few days in a self-imposed sports exile, unable to eat, speak, or watch highlights.

This part of sports — living […]