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3:33 Sports Short #35 // Western Riding by Pamela Balluck

The American Quarter Horse Association Show was coming up. The money had been spent. I had registered at first chance and received a number to pin on my back months ahead. I had registered in more classes than ever. I was preparing on my own, though I could still phone Claudia, but I could not pay Claudia, and apparently neither could my family, which I somehow understood even as a self-involved tween was why I was no longer in need of a trainer. Claudia kept abreast because Buck had been bought from her; she had rehabilitated him from past abuse that for one resulted in a blue-grey blind eye. Claudia had trained me to show him.

3:33 Sport Short #34 // After the Horse Show by Karissa Womack

Most high school athletes keep old uniforms, trophies, and photographs, things that can be stored in boxes, left in basements. When equestrians stop showing, we’re left with a horse. Like my 17-year-old, roan-spotted Appaloosa mare, Willow. And the velvet helmet I got for my 13th birthday, the Ariat tall boots that pinched the back of my knees, the fake white tail from our trip to Tennessee for a regional show. I still have the board fee, vet bill, farrier fee, the price of grain and hay.

I’ve graduated from horse girl to horsewoman. I quit the hunter jumper circuit for a lot of reasons, though injury makes the top of the list. I tore the tendons in my right foot just before the equestrian team try-outs at Auburn University, then Willow foundered, damaging her front two hooves. Years later, after we’d both rehabilitated, I found I didn’t have the time or money to show as a young adult.

3:33 Sports Short #33 // The Rock Says by Francisco Delgado

We mourned The Rock when white people started to cheer him. They could buy The Rock’s merchandise carefree. They wore his t-shirts in the front row. Their voices, while as loud as ours, could actually be heard because they were so much closer.

We loved The Rock first, though: us misfit kids at school, us poor kids, the brown or black and the ugliest-of-all kids. When he debuted, he smiled the way we wished we could: a bright-white and unapologetic smile. We memorized it so we could substitute it for our own one day. Our teeth were either covered in braces or, even worse, still as crooked as they were when they came in and as crooked as they’d always be.

3:33 Sports Short #32 // Sex Tape by Michael Chin

After yesterday's piece on the noble sport of dodgeball we decided to follow it up with a duo of posts on another modern sport that artfully blends aggression and performance, professional wrestling. Below is Michael Chin's poetic recollection of his childhood memories of Hulk Hogan in light of the Hulkster's recent sex tape controversey. Click here for Francisco Delgado's meditation the experience of being a fan of The Rock before white kids started wearing his T-shirts.


I heard there was a Hulk Hogan sex tape. That he sleeps with his friend’s wife, and it may or may not have been his friend filming.

I heard Hulk knew he was on tape.

I heard that he didn’t.

I heard he was angry.

3:33 Sports Short #31 // Introduction to Dodgeball by Jenn Koiter

The game wants to be played. The way a story presses you to tell it. Without you, it is the mancala board’s dusty hollows, is pitz or faro, is dice in Egyptian tombs. You play because you want to, because, from the opening rush to the last woman out, your body knows exactly what to do. The court simplifies. Catch. Drill. Hold the corner, scamper, hunker down.

Whether you forget yourself in a flurry of purple no-sting dodgeballs, or move with conscious delight at being in a body, being in your body, is entirely up to you. If you sit down, the balls will come. If you want to be the best, learn how best to submit, how best to be complicit with the game as it moves you.

3:33 Sports Short #30 // Game Seven Overtime by Abigail Mitchell

At twenty-two I don’t think often of my history at ice rinks–salty fries, my uncle cheering at Raiders games, how the air smells and blades sound– but when I return it feels like a homecoming. I’m at my first hockey game in Anaheim and everything is bright, orange, loud. The Raiders no longer play at the Romford rink, and Romford is thousands of miles away, and tonight I’m surrounded by a sea of red as Blackhawks fans swarm the Honda Center. I’m thinking about how good it feels to shout like this, to want something so simple. I am thinking about how the cold air feels in my lungs, which is goddamn liberating. When Patrick Kane skates past us during warm ups, my voice joins the litany of support pouring through the glass, and I feel like I am a part of something for the first time since I came to California, since I ran away from everybody and everything for this soul-sucking desert of a godforsaken city.

3:33 Sports Short #29 // Perspective by Shelley Johansson

Today's pair of 3:33 Sports Shorts also focus on a sport that recently wrapped up in America... hockey! Although we don't have any fond memories from a writer who grew up loving the Penguins in the glory days of Mario Lemieux, we do have Shelley Johansson's lyrical recalling of the iconic "Miracle on Ice" and a harrowing recollection of what it felt like to be a fan on the losing end of an intense seven game Stanley Cup finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, courtesy of Abigail Mitchell. Enjoy!

3:33 Sports Short #28 // Small Meditations by Michael Wasson

Crushed in the hands, the scent of pine needles & the smear of sap on the ball. My jump shot comes to me from hours behind my childhood home shooting at the hoop that my long-haired uncles drilled into the face of the pine. No real court to dribble on. That’s okay. I just shoot under the large pine that I mistake for a fatherly skeleton crucified at dusk. After a few weeks, the ball lies half-discolored. A face I’ve not touched in years it seems. Flattening. But I pick it up again & arc through the low hanging arms of this skeletal, living tree.

i.

3:33 Sports Short #27 // Loop Recovery by Michael Nye

I said basketball, and the technician just laughed. He looked up from selecting the appropriate cast to wrap around my right ankle.

“Let me guess,” he said. “Shooting a layup.”

Here’s what happened: a jump shot had gone up strong side; I had been standing at the free throw line. The shot bricked, ricocheted high, and the rebound was batted in the air like a balloon, once, twice, then tapped to the corner. I turned to race after it. One player made a last leap for the ball, missed it, and landed directly on the back of my ankle. His weight anchored me, and his weight and force ruptured my Achilles.

The technician shook his head. “That’s crazy. I’ve never heard one like that.”

The paper underneath me crinkled as I shifted on the examination table. It occurred to me that if the guy was an inch or two to the other side of my leg, we probably just tangle up, crash, and my Achilles remains intact.

3:33 Sports Short #26 // Vanished Cathedral, Recollections from a Cavaliers Childhood by Doug Cornett

The 3:33 Sports Shorts series is back! We're kicking off this week with a trio of posts about basketball. The first comes courtesy of the recently vindicated Doug Cornett, whose lifelong fandom of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers has just been rewarded with a championship! We've also got great work from Michael Nye on recovering from Achilles surgery after a basketball injury, and Michael Wasson on growing up playing basketball where hoops and courts are hard to come by.


It’s the early round of the NBA playoffs, 1992. I’m ten years old, settled into the belly of the Richfield Coliseum, the Palace on the Prairie, to watch our boys do battle.

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