So having suggested an increase in the frequency of short “thought crossed my mind” posts the other day, this is a longer one(!), on the Nike Vaporfly Elite shoe that will be worn in Nike’s Breaking 2 attempt (and which has been worn by numerous runners before, too). The article originated with an email exchange I had with someone who knows the shoe, and who got me thinking about the concepts, which I’ve expanded on over the last couple of weeks. Basically, I think there are two historical cases in play: The Pistorius advantage, which draws a direct line to this, and the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit and subsequent suits, which illustrate a couple of conceptual issues.
To sum my position up, I think the addition of any device that purports to act as a spring (and the Vaporfly Elite clearly has this) should be banned for the credibility of performances both now and into the future. Here are my (amended) thoughts in response to the email discussion
Question on your shoe take: nearly every top end track spike has carbon fiber or some similar element to stiffen the shoe and has for some time. Should these be banned as well? What about spikes with plastic structures?
The carbon fiber plate is getting a lot of attention, but my understanding is that the real “spring” quality comes from the foam. The plate is more for smoothness of foot transfer (a la track spikes).
I’m not trying to ask ‘gotcha’ questions but rather flesh out your stance.
That Kaepernick seemed an unlikely activist gave last season’s protest a particular gravity. He was a quirky player known for his daring, occasionally reckless approach to playing quarterback. But up until that point, he was more likely to draw attention for his touchdown celebrations (a bicep kiss), or for wearing an opposing team’s cap (it matched his outfit), than for his politics. At first, nobody noticed that he was kneeling in protest at all, given the teeming chaos of N.F.L. sidelines. But once pressed, he spoke with the clear-eyed conviction of someone who had discovered a new purpose. He donated significant chunks of his salary to progressive causes, and he began working with the activist Shaun King and the sociologist Harry Edwards on building institutions that might outlast his playing career. Last fall, a local artist painted a mural of Kaepernick in Oakland—hostile territory for the 49ers. “We got your back,” it read. Teammates, other N.F.L. players, and athletes in other sports, from the standout American soccer player Megan Rapinoe to countless high-school students, joined him in kneeling.
Kaepernick recently announced that he was encouraged by the conversations that his protest had inspired. Perhaps eager to show prospective employers that he would no longer be a distraction, he pledged that he would be standing again. Whether a player who seems admired by his peers but hated by upper management ever performs again in the N.F.L. remains to be seen, especially given the President’s perpetual eagerness to show off his Twitter muscles.
Kaepernick was hardly the first, and he surely won’t be the last, to violate many fans’ wish that athletes “stick to sports.” But his situation, from his desire to speak his mind to the air of Presidentially approved collusion that surrounds his free agency, is a reminder of how the positions of athletes and celebrities have changed in the social-media era.
Football is a fundamentally violent sport .. the question of making it safer keeps coming up. Notes in The New Yorker on work done in a extremely wealthy football-focused high school. Of course kids will play no matter what - the lure of fame and fortune.. or even getting out of poverty is there.. although very few make it.
Football critics nationwide often point to multimillion-dollar coaches as emblems of excess. They should be more worried about debt, which costs more and lasts longer. A high-priced coach might earn $4 million to $5 million a year. Meanwhile, according to public records, athletic departments at least 13 schools in the country have long-term debt obligations of more than $150 million as of 2014—money usually borrowed to build ever-nicer facilities for the football team.
For some schools, millions in TV money can support a high level of debt service. That includes the University of Alabama, which plays Clemson for the national championship on Monday. The Crimson Tide owes $225 million over the next 28 years. In the Big Ten, also flush from a rich media deal, the University of Illinois owes more than $260 million. If that revenue stream fails to grow or starts to drop, as it already has for some programs in the top tier of college football, the results could be crippling.
In the middle of the change from small town to booming Dallas suburb is football. Celina could end up with more than one high school and therefore more than one football team, a division of the local talent pool that would vex some. But a more immediate question is over the future need for a new stadium to house the existing team and its swelling fanbase. The current 3,800-capacity Bobcat Stadium, regularly packed, might soon be unable to cope with demand.
These are interesting times for high school football stadiums in Texas. Nearby McKinney recently approved the construction of a new $70m, 12,000-seat stadium to be shared by the city’s three high schools. That followed hard on the heels of a $60m, 18,000-capacity venue for neighboring Allen – which has one high school – completed in 2012. Local media have called the sprouting of expensive stadiums among rival school districts in affluent suburbs an arms race. The adjacent Frisco, meanwhile, entered a partnership with the Dallas Cowboys for its schools to play in the NFL team’s new indoor practice facility built in the city. The Frisco independent school district is chipping in $30m so area kids can run out at The Ford Center at The Star, capacity 12,000.
Wingsuit flying is approximately dangerous. Eric Dossantos hit the trees at about 150 km/h sherring off a 20 cm diameter part of a trunk and leaving a trail for over 100 meters. He lived but is in serious condition with multiple broken bones and a brain injury.