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3:33 Sports Shorts

3:33 Sports Short #20 // Twenty Years of Tango by Tariq al Haydar

Today's pair of 3:33 Sports Shorts are both about the most popular sport in the world: fùtbol, or, as we more commonly call it, soccer. Below is a post by Tariq al Haydar about how a Saudi winds up being a fan of Aregentina's soccer team. Click here for Rob Jacklosky on playing pick up soccer in New York City.


I’m a Saudi who loves soccer but hates the Saudi national team. I started rooting for Argentina in the early nineties, when the great Diego Maradona’s career was tiptoeing toward its twilight. Sometimes, I tell people that Maradona seduced me into loving Argentina, but that’s a lie. I fell in love with Argentina because of a video game. Pixelated players with fictional names: Fuerte, Domingo, Repala, Capitale. My cousin gave his fictional Germans nicknames like “Son of Satan” and “Hell’s Messenger.” To this day, I can’t stand Germany.

3:33 Sports Short #19 // Sixth Man by Nick Ripatrazone

Havlicek, McHale, Walton. Sundays meant 10:30 mass at Our Lady of Mercy, then our family cramped on living room couches, watching the NBA on CBS throughout the afternoon. The Celtics were our team, Boston Garden my home, and my dream was to step on that parquet. I hated the flashy Lakers. Jack Nicholson was an asshole in The Shining but he was even worse courtside. I preferred Bird and Parrish over Worthy and Johnson. I was raised to love the Celtics.

3:33 Sports Short #18 // Green Monster by Marissa Landrigan

Today's duo of 3:33 Sports Shorts share a geographical affinity... both relate to Boston, Massachusetts, one of the truly great American sports cities. Marissa Landrigan's piece below gives us a first person account of just what it's like to be in Boston's Fenway Park. Click here for Nick Ripatrazone's piece about Boston Celtics Sixth Man John Havlicek.


The only time I’ve ever come close to getting punched in the face was at Fenway Park. I was somewhere around twelve or thirteen, on one of my family’s regular summer Saturday outings to see the Sox play. The air was heavy, thick with humidity, and smelled of hot dogs. My father’s clear plastic cup of beer nearly melting in his hand, my ears buzzing with the electric hum of the crowd’s cheers, the drumbeat of stadium anthems a constant drone.

3:33 Sports Short #17 // On Saturday Night’s Coin Flip, Cardinals 26, Packers 20 by Rob Stephens

Modern athletes stretch their bodies upon an anvil, the spectators raising the scalpel, the clamps, the hammer to destroy that body, a reverse transubstantiation in which the body turns into spiritual nourishment for the spectators, their bodies an oozed opiate leaking into the stands and through the TV. The sporting event bills skill as the deciding factor in a match between the bodies, and that skill is a measure of the body’s malleability as the athlete dashes, hops, throws, catches, crushes, or sways. Football players cover this malleability with the plastic and styrofoam of their pads, and so we demand more brutality from them to expose the body for an hour.

3:33 Sports Short #15 // Talisman by Justin Carter

after Robert Rauschenberg

In the dining room,
my father—tanned
from climbing pipelines
& still young—
clutches a signed ball,
listens to the radio
& the announcer,
each strike bringing him
farther & farther
from his dream—
until it’s over,
so suddenly he doesn’t
know what comes next.
In Houston, there
are tears. What to do
with that sadness?
& nineteen years later,
my own self clutching
a different signed ball,
I watch a small screen
while we go down
four straight games.
Why do we place
such faith in this tradition?
Even now, I wear
the same jersey each night
& blame losing on
how I forgot to wear it,
like my body communes
directly with a spirit
that determines these things.

3:33 Sports Short #14 // Snatch and Drop

by Catherine A. Brereton

The house shudders when Evan lifts. He lifts upwards of 300lbs, maybe even 350lbs, he told me, when he apologized in advance for the noise. I told him it was fine because, really, how do you tell a man of his size, of his strength, that it isn’t fine, that the house trembles and the cats are anxious and you can’t sleep. He lifts at night, always at night, and although he’s promised that he’ll be finished by nine, he never is.

The thuds come ten minutes apart. In-between, when the house is quiet, the bass of his music thumps in the background. It’s almost soothing. Then, he lifts—snatches, I think, is the correct term—then, he drops, onto the concrete floor of the garage, and the whole house quakes.  

3:33 Sports Short #13 // Heroes

by Benjamin Blickle

In the cement tunnel to the parking lot, David Bowie’s “Heroes” piped in through the stadium speakers.  Even at seventeen, I didn’t think we’d have been heroes if we’d won the state soccer championship.  But an oblique bolt of clarity struck through the cumulus of loss.  I remembered how much I liked that song, how the lyrics went deeper and weirder than the title or the chorus would let on.  Dolphins, royalty, love, ramparts, alcoholism.  All the beautiful strangeness would forever be overshadowed by our 4-0 defeat.  Why couldn’t they have just played Queen like they always do?

3:33 Sports Short #12 // Young & Scrappy

by Judy Sobeloff

I accidentally joined the cross country team on my first day of high school, having never run a mile. My new art teacher was the coach, and I happened to be in his office when he was passing out permission slips, which I thought were for art.

My father had died on the last day of school two and a half months before, and I would cry during practice when we did fartlek, or any drills with a funny name. I came in last in one of our first big meets when the other girls I was running with toward the back all cheated by cutting across a field, and I kept going on the course. About half the people who came out for the team quit, a point of pride for those of us who stayed.

My friends and I made t-shirts that said “young and scrappy,” a phrase used to describe our team in the local paper. I got faster and stronger and stopped crying. “See how her body has changed!” my art teacher announced to the class.

3:33 Sports Short #11 // Safe

by Jessica Roeder

The stillness of right field. Bees in the clover, your mitt giving off its companionable calf scent. Talk it up out there. It’s a known fact that you don’t have to talk it up from right field. If you talk it up, no one will hear, or you will seem ambitious, and you would rather do your time in right field than become embroiled anywhere more active. Your knees lock. Your elbows knock. Left-handed batter, and Mr. Gleason gleams an eye, talks it up to you, Look lively, Rowder. One, two, three, she’s out. Mr. Gleason’s daughter is on the mound. You knew you didn’t have to look lively, but you looked it, anyhow.

So much stillness in girls’ little league, socially mandatory in your suburb, so much eye-on-the-ball, so much shouting, so little time learning to do anything. Four years will pass before you walk into the storefront Academy of Movement and Music for your first ballet class and jeté yourself out of right field forever.

3:33 Sports Short #10 // Explain: Fois Gras

by Julia Shipley

Our final 3:33 Sports Short this week is the second part of a Julia Shipley two-peat and the first post to explore the strange barbarism of the eating contest. Thanks for reading, and, I've said it before and I'll say it again, for more great sports writing purchase our Winter Sports Issue for just $9.

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