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Joe

About Joe Levin

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So far Joe Levin has created 23 blog entries.

WATCH: Tom vs Time, Epilogue

Q&A with Tom vs Time director and Religion of Sports co-founder, Gotham Chopra

1. How did the idea for Tom vs Time come about?

I had gotten to know Tom six or seven years ago when he spent his offseasons in Brentwood, a part of LA not far from where I live. I’d been a lifelong fan of the Pats and obviously a big admirer of Tom’s because of all the success he’d helped bring the franchise. I tried to keep that hysteria in check, albeit with mixed success. Over time, as we got to know one another and Tom’s rise and the team’s run continued, I kept trying to convince Tom that we should document it.

He politely declined every time, but then, after Super Bowl 51 — the historic way that game ended and just the drama of that whole season — I think Tom realized on his own that something special was going on and it was worth capturing. He called me during that offseason and said I could bring a camera to some of his workouts. I was there in 24 hours!

The Facebook idea was an evolution from there. He already had a relationship with them because of his presence on the platform. They were launching a new product (Facebook Watch), and collectively we came up with an idea of chronicling his offseason training leading up to his 40th birthday. So away we went!

2. Were you always planning on filming an epilogue? Or was that decision based on how […]

2018-09-06T02:11:41+00:00

50 Years of Memories

50 Years of Memories

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Open tennis — that is, when the U.S. National Championships became the U.S. Open and allowed professionals to compete.

Let’s take a look back at some of the most iconic moments in the tournament’s history, shall we?

  • 1968: Arthur Ashe, a lieutenant in the United States Army at the time, wins the inaugural U.S. Open. Fun fact: As an amateur, Ashe was unable to receive the champion’s prize of $14K, so he took home a mere $280 in per diem.
  • 1971: 16-year-old Chris Evert takes two weeks off from high school to play and advances all the way to the semifinals. She’d win five of the next nine U.S. Opens while advancing to at least the semifinals in all of them.
  • 1988: Steffi Graf completes the “Golden Slam,” winning all four majors AND a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
  • 1991: 39-year-old Jimmy Connors makes an improbable run, eventually losing in the semifinals. His performance was so memorable they made a 30 for 30 about it. Watch this, it’s awesome.
  • 2006: Andre Agassi addresses the crowd after playing his final match (a third-round loss): “The scoreboard said I lost today. But what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and in life.”
  • 2008: Roger Federer becomes the first […]
2018-09-05T02:11:15+00:00

Blue Collar vs. White Collar

Blue Collar vs. White Collar

A lot of US cities — and, by default, their sports teams — are thought of as, and consider themselves to be, “blue-collar.” Pittsburgh immediately comes to mind. As do Philadelphia and Cleveland.

And then there are the “white-collar” cities. Los Angeles, Dallas. Washington, D.C. The list goes on.

But wait a second…

Is this whole blue-collar vs. white-collar thing merely a stereotype? Or is it actually rooted in facts?

Within the realm of sports — where, like I said, teams tend to take on their city’s identity — those two terms make complete sense and paint a very clear picture.

A blue-collar team will outwork you to death. What they lack in talent, they make up for in grit. A white-collar team is the opposite. Loads of talent. Superstars abound. But do they have what it takes to win the battle in the trenches?

Off the field, however, it’s not so black and white.

Because, I mean, think about it:

When you hear someone say “Los Angeles,” you picture beaches, mansions, and movie stars — which leads you to the conclusion: white-collar. And yet, the majority of LA’s residents can’t see the beach, don’t live in mansions, and definitely aren’t movie stars.

Similarly, when you hear someone say “Pittsburgh” a steel mill enters the frame; and when you hear “Philadelphia,” the Rocky theme song immediately starts playing in your head. Conclusion: BLUE-COLLAR! And yet, there are plenty of white-collar folks living in both of those cities.

And so, I ask you: What does “blue-collar” or […]

2018-08-20T04:29:26+00:00

The Sanity of Sports

The Sanity of Sports

I quit playing baseball in seventh grade. Lacrosse seemed cooler.

Plus, I was kind of over bubblegum and ranch-flavored sunflower seeds — and my splitter wasn’t breaking the way I wanted it to! (Just kidding, I threw a 55 mph fastball and a “changeup” that was really just a slightly slower fastball.)

Since hanging up my cleats, I’ve swung a baseball bat maybe ten times. It’s just not a sport that you can casually play with your friends, ya know?

And yet, despite all that, baseball holds a special place in my heart that no other sport can touch. Not even basketball, which I’m completely obsessed with; or lacrosse, which I played in college.

Every morning, you wake up and are instantly reminded that the world is INSANE. Your office is killing you. Sinkholes are real things that exist. We’re addicted to our phones. Your buddy from high school got rich off Bitcoin and can’t even explain what it is or how it works.

Meanwhile, The New York Times fairly recently informed us that the Pentagon’s secret UFO program (wait, what?) has mysterious alien “alloys” in a garage in Las Vegas (WAIT, WHAT?) — and our collective response was, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Like I said, INSANE. The world is insane.

Sports, however, are not. And that’s why they’re so important.

Sports just make sense, ya know? There are winners; there are losers; there are rules; and typically, there’s a clock that lets everyone know where we are, where we’re headed, and when it’s time to […]

2018-08-13T17:29:36+00:00

The Nostalgia of Baseball

The Nostalgia of Baseball

I quit playing baseball in seventh grade. Lacrosse seemed cooler.

Plus, I was kind of over bubblegum and ranch-flavored sunflower seeds — and my splitter wasn’t breaking the way I wanted it to! (Just kidding, I threw a 55 mph fastball and a “changeup” that was really just a slightly slower fastball.)

Since hanging up my cleats, I’ve swung a baseball bat maybe ten times. It’s just not a sport that you can casually play with your friends, ya know?

And yet, despite all that, baseball holds a special place in my heart that no other sport can touch. Not even basketball, which I’m completely obsessed with; or lacrosse, which I played in college.

Why? Nostalgia.

One of the earliest memories I have is of my dad pitching to me in the front yard. I was probably seven years old at the time.

Like most memories, certain aspects are more vivid than others. Was it spring or summer? No idea. But somehow, I can recall exactly what I was thinking as I waited for the pitch:

Bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Bases loaded. It all comes down to this.

I imagined myself in that moment so many times as a kid. In the yard, in front of the mirror, during whiffle ball games in the summer. Crazy how that stuff sticks with you.

As football season gets underway, baseball will inevitably retreat into the shadows. We’ll keep tabs on the pennant races and tune-in for the postseason, sure, but the majority of our attention will […]

2018-08-05T22:53:52+00:00

Tom Brady Discusses his 19th Training Camp

This week on Sportuality, we interview five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady about his return to training camp. Has his approach changed heading into season number 19? What was behind his decision to arrive early?

/ / /

The NFL is a money-making machine. We attend the games. We buy the jerseys. We watch, listen to, and read the news. Heck, tens of millions of us work unpaid side jobs as fantasy football owners.

None of that happens without the players. None. They are the engine that makes this whole thing go.

As training camp begins, let’s not forget that. Let’s not get so caught up in the rumors and the hot takes that we miss the fact that football is everything to these guys; that this sport is what gives their lives purpose.

To learn more about how our gridiron heroes feel heading into camp, and what they do to prepare for the grueling weeks ahead, we decided to interview one. He’s pretty good.

/ / /

ROS: You turn 41 this week. This is your 19th training camp. Naturally, one would expect your approach to be different at this stage in your career. Maybe you try to enjoy the process a little bit more, savor the small moments. Does any of that ring true?

Tom Brady: Over the last few seasons I’ve become a lot more aware of time, […]

2018-07-29T19:14:26+00:00

The Final Whistle

The Final Whistle

It’s been a week since the 2018 World Cup ended and honestly, I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to write this final piece of my immersion project.

There are three reasons why this has been difficult, and because everything worth sharing can be shared in list format, here you go:

1 – It’s hard to end things.

Ending things is hard, just ask your ex, England’s soccer team, or the writers of LOST. (For the record, LOST is my favorite television show of all time, and I loved the finale.)

2 – I’ve said almost everything I wanted to say about soccer.

I wrote 17 pieces in 30 days while watching the World Cup, and those posts captured how I was feeling in the moment better than any recap I could try to write now. I watched four games in one day, handed out awards, answered your questions, tried to fix multiple sports, learned some lessons, and even skipped church to watch soccer.

(As a reminder, you can read all the pieces here.)

I didn’t know I had that much to say about anything, nevermind soccer.

And finally (and most importantly)…

3 – This is not the end of my soccer journey.

2018-07-24T15:36:59+00:00

The Final: A Running Diary

The Final: A Running Diary

It’s game number 64 of 64 in the 2018 World Cup!

I’ve made it to the end and have some seen some great soccer over the last four weeks. I’m so excited for the next two hours that I’m breaking out the running diary again! Here we go…

10:54am – The teams come out to The White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army” and all I can think about is Jack White swimming in a pool of money like Scrooge McDuck. Does he make royalties because this is being broadcast all over the world?  

10:57am – Before kicking it to the announcers, studio host Rob Stone says, “it will go down as the greatest World Cup ever,” and it’s not the first time I’ve heard him emphatically say this. Are we sure about this? Is everyone in agreement? I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it has been pretty great.

11:00am – The countdown goes to zero, and Croatia plays it backwards to start the game. Here we go!

11:05am – I’m not sure who I’m pulling for, to be honest.

11:10am – In case you’re wondering, yes, I did skip church this morning to watch this final. My wife Erica is upstairs watching services online right now, and I can hear Pastor Sam giving a spirited message.

11:19am – GOOOOAAALLLLL! The set piece leads to an own goal as the free kick glances off […]

2018-07-15T17:36:25+00:00

Where Do We Go from Here?

Where Do We Go from Here?

“So, you’re going to follow soccer now?”

I’ve received that question in some form or fashion almost every day for the last week.

The short answer to that question is, “I think so.”

The long answer is, “I think so, but I’m not really sure what that even means.”

I think I summed it up best in a conversation with my buddy Tyler the other day when he asked me that very question. “If this was The Bachelor,” I responded, “I would not be getting on one knee with a Neil Lane diamond ring to propose to soccer, but I would be giving it the final rose to keep the relationship going.”

That’s where I stand with soccer heading into the final two days of the tournament. It’s too early to put a ring on it, but I absolutely want to see where this goes.

So what are my potential next steps, and how likely am I to take them?

Here are five possibilities.

1 – Attend a live soccer game.

The MLS Season runs through October, so there’s still plenty of time to attend a game if I want to experience soccer in person. The Philadelphia Union play about an hour away, and for less than $50 a pop I can get a decent seat.

I’m definitely not ready to fly somewhere to take in a marquee soccer matchup, but a night […]

2018-07-14T18:33:43+00:00

The World Cup Doesn’t Take a Vacation

The World Cup Doesn’t Take a Vacation

Two things happened this week that I never thought would have thought could have occurred.

1) I never thought I’d be distracted from a round of golf by a soccer game, and 2) I never thought I’d be sitting on a beach trying to figure out where I was going to find a television to watch the World Cup.

What has happened to me?

We’d had this 3-day vacation booked for a few months now, long before I ever had the idea to immerse myself in the 2018 World Cup. I’m not a huge beach fan, but this quick trip to Avalon, N.J., with some good friends of ours was something our family had been looking forward to for a while. The plan was to arrive on Monday morning and do a whole lot of nothing until we left early Wednesday evening. And then the World Cup happened.

The two semi-final games were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, which posed a little bit of a problem for me. In addition to booking our stay a couple of months ago, my buddy had also booked a tee time for late Tuesday morning at a local golf course. I had scheduled the DVR at home to record both games in case I wanted to watch them later, but I knew that for the France vs. Belgium game on Tuesday, I was going to be relying on real-time updates on […]

2018-07-13T00:21:54+00:00
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