1. “The husband dangles his wife upside-down over his head and tries to traverse a hilly, sloppy, divot-filled, 278-yard obstacle course as fast as he can while gradually coming to realize, once and for all, that his hamstrings are useless. He thinks, Oh God, I’m about to tumble in the most emasculating fashion possible. That was my experience, at least.
“But Dave Castro did much better than that. He came up only three feet short, and he hasn’t stopped thinking about it since.”
Is wife-carrying a sport? It is to these people — and more. For The Classical, David Wanczyk takes a trip to America’s National Wife-Carrying Championships.
2. “The No 10 was once a sacred jersey in Italian football. A second skin for the game’s most gifted and creative players, an instant indication of a team’s source of inspiration, today it continues its sliding transition from the shirt kids dreamed about wearing to just another squad number.
“In a country where players of the calibre of Gianni Rivera, GiancarloAntognoni, Michel Platini, Roberto Mancini, Giuseppe Giannini, Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti and Alex Del Piero have had their fantasy, class and geniusrecognised by a number on their back, the majority of today’s 17 Serie A players who have been given that mythical 10 by their club have little in common with its tradition.”
Once the most coveted shirt in Italian football, the number 10 is starting to lose its magic, writes Antonio Labbate for Football Italia.
3. “A glancing blow from Marques unsteadies Padilla; his feet get tangled. At the apex of his fall, he still has time to right himself, escape the bull. His chin tilts up: There is the wheeling sky, all blue. His last-ever binocular view. This milestone whistles past him, the whole sky flooding through the bracket of the bull’s horns, and now he’s lost it. The sun flickers on and off. My balance—
“Padilla has the bad luck, the terrible luck, of landing on his side. And now his luck gets worse.”
This is brilliant. GQ’s Karen Russell meets Juan Jose Padilla, the legendary Spanish matador who lost half his sight in a horrific goring last year.
4. “In the imagination of guidebook writers, who see places as they should be but rarely as they are, there is a passionate love affair between the city of Rosario and its famous progeny, global soccer star Leo Messi.
“I know this because it said so, right there on page 179 of the “Lonely Planet,” which I thumbed through during the three hours of countryside between Buenos Aires and Messi’s hometown. An Irish ex-pat named Paul, my translator and friend, drove. He’d agreed to help me act on my obsession with Messi, who is one of the world’s most famous athletes, and most unknowable, the combination of which sucked me in.”
Rosario might be the birthplace of Lionel Messi but the world’s greatest footballer has a strange relationship with the place he calls home. On ESPN, Wright Thompson investigates.
5. “While the powers that be often find difficulty marketing the sport to new fans, this is the time of year when people gravitate to the game, if only out of a sense of duty. However, those fans, as well as diehards of the 20 teams that failed to make the postseason, must now find a new team to support.
“Bandwagonning, though objectionable in theory, is often a necessary part of enjoying sports. But it should not be practiced with no direction — the responsible bandwagonner must pick the team for which he or she has the greatest natural affinity. This process must not become an attempt to bask in glory, but to find a spiritual match in record time.”
Another from The Classical to finish off this week — here’s Eric Freeman’s bandwagonner’s guide to the baseball playoffs.