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!
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]