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Good writing on sports at TNR

2004 June 17
by Skip Sauer

The New Republic wants to bring “the magazine’s argumentative sensibility to the world of sports,” and is increasing its coverage of the topic, particularly where sports and politic issues intersect. They’ve also initiated a policy where blogs like this can link to articles normally accessible only with a subscription. Here are two good ones.

Jonathan Chait celebrates the triumph of the Pistons, arguing that “they culminate a reformation of the culture of the NBA.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s a very interesting essay nonetheless.

Aaron Schatz is back with “Tale of Two Cities.” The piece contrasts LA’s “we know you need us” approach to the NFL with DC’s Mayor Anthony Williams, who “has fallen all over himself in his bid to attract a baseball squad.” This passage on economic impact is particularly good:

The idea that a new stadium will attract tourists is perhaps the easiest to refute, especially in the case of Washington. Does anyone think that a family considering a vacation in the nation’s capital might decide that all the museums, monuments, and historical landmarks aren’t quite worth a trip, but then be lured by the chance to catch a baseball game–which you can do in practically every other American city? As for the idea that a stadium will attract more entertainment dollars, people may decide to spend a night at the ballpark instead of a night at the movies. But since the entertainment budgets of local families remain the same, the new stadium just moves spending around instead of increasing it.

As Schatz discusses in the article, a fair number of the relevant politicians get the point. I applaud them.

And by the way, in keeping with the TNR’s standards, these guys can write about sports without mocking or shouting about their subjects. Ah, fresh air!

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