From time to time we at The Tattered Pennant will present an oldie-but-a-goodie from our archive. This week we revisit an article from summer 2016 regarding fans and championship "release valves."
by Keith Aksel
Sports writers like their provocative headlines, a reality made ever-more obvious by the media’s response to the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the  NBA Championship. After the Cavs rebounded from a 3-1 series deficit to end the city’s five decade-long title drought, every news outlet produced some version of this article: “What fan base will take Cleveland’s spot as the most ‘miserable’ in the country?” The findings of those articles ran the gamut. Some made grand proclamations using ‘analytics’ (a term that so easily replaced “numbers” in our popular vocabulary that I wonder if people noticed). Others argued that cities like Buffalo were now the most miserable because that city hadn’t seen a title since the days of the old AFL.
by Alex Langer
Today I thought I’d talk about what I don’t know. Though I would hope I never give off the impression of being an expert, our un-previews are designed to make it very clear that we do not know what is going on, and our Twitter is expressly designed to remind our many followers that mid-season predictions and hot takes are almost always a fool’s errand, we too can fall into the trap of expert-ness. So, this week, I am going to talk about something I do not know about, and why not knowing isn’t necessarily the worst thing when it comes to sports.
Of all the major sports played in the United States (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey), I know and understand hockey the least. Perhaps it was because I did not grow up in close proximity to frozen lakes, though I did grow up only a few hours from Canada. Perhaps it is because hockey was not a big youth sport in Seattle, though I lived across the street from a former Czechoslovakian hockey player, who gifted me several of his old sticks. Perhaps it was because I was never comfortable on roller skates, and needed to use the walls to slow down, and if I wasn't comfortable on wheels, I would never be comfortable on skates.
by Chris Foss
Welcome to the first edition of a new, irregular feature I’ll be doing at The Tattered Pennant—the Sports Books Digest. I’ll briefly describe some top sports books out there that I think should interest you. If I had more time in my schedule, these are the ones I would want to read myself. If you’re like me and already thinking about Christmas shopping, some of these might be good early gifts for the sports fan in your life. (Don’t worry--I’ll be back with another edition of this column right around the big day for procrastinators.) Here’s this edition’s top picks:
Rafi Kohan, The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport (2017)
This book is for those who think sports is about more than just the games. To these fans, sports is also about place, community, and history. As the title indicates, Kohan travels to stadiums across America to learn about the biggest and most minute details of the country’s sporting landscape. His chapters are full of remarkable anecdotes on the forces pushing sports into the realm of entertainment, ranging from throughout sports history (he goes back to Roman times) all the way up to the present. Kohan enters the Black Hole in Oakland, puts on a hard hat to tour the remains of the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, and tends the ivy at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Perhaps the most interesting section, however, is his profile of The Amazing Sladek, the daredevil who has beaten the odds to become the latest sensation in halftime entertainment. Be prepared, however: his book reads more like a series of short stories than an integrated narrative with an argument, and you might not always agree with his politics, which tend to lean toward the left (some may particularly find his critical treatment of the integration of the military with sports near the end of the book to be in poor taste).
by Keith Aksel
For most American sports fans, the calendar’s turn to September signals a reawakening. All summer we have been hearing about preseason camp, and how so-and-so looks great on the practice field. We’ve also come to know that no amount of late-summer baseball can quench our sports thirst for what has clearly become America’s new pastime. Now in early September, our football snouts smell pigskin in the air like a bloodhound detects beef roast. The new season brings all the typical clichés about how “hope springs eternal” and whatnot. As always, we at The Tattered Pennant try to prime you with some different points to ponder going into this year. You won’t get predictions or team ratings. What you will get is a set of analytical lenses through which to view this new and glorious season. That’s just a fancy way of saying we want you to watch this season better than ever before. Let’s do it, starting with the big picture stuff: