Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'sports'

Primal Joy

September 26th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Recovering from the flu today, so don’t quite have the mental fortitude to do anything more complex than shuffle from coffee pot to couch. But thought I’d muster the energy to share the clip above, the first goal from last week’s Fenerbahce-versus-Manisaspor soccer match in Istanbul. For those of y’all who don’t follow Turkish sports, […]

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A Rare and Monstrous Talent

September 23rd, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’m the early stages of planning a new Wired project, one that will delve into the economics of how to properly compensate “ultra-specialists”—that is, people who possess the unusual ability to tackle extremely arcane tasks. I guess the classic example here would be those left-handed relief pitchers who make millions by appearing in a handful […]

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Tommy Can You Hear Me?

September 15th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Knocking back a few pints with fellow scribe Doug Merlino last night, the conversation inevitably turned to sports—or, more specifically, the late 1980s heyday of Sports Illustrated, the magazine that taught us both to love the art of storytelling. We both remembered that this vintage era of SI featured a ginormous number of “as told […]

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The Maya Moore of Fish Cutting

August 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on The Maya Moore of Fish Cutting

I’m rarely impressed by the talent portions of beauty pageants. Yes, I realize that baton twirling went out with leaded gasoline, but the mediocre singing and dancing that are now commonplace in such contests have done nothing to convince me that budding artists eschew the pageant circuit. But just when I’m nearly secure in my […]

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Turning the Corner

July 1st, 2011 · 1 Comment

A million things to do before the long weekend kicks in, starting with a journey back to Harlem to snake a drain. (No, this isn’t a euphemism.) Hope y’all have something special planned for the holiday, and see you back here next week. If you have a spare moment before then, though, I highly recommend […]

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The Most Invincible Record in Sports

June 21st, 2011 · 8 Comments

For those loyal Microkhan readers who’ve been wondering why I’ve been posting so much about the hammer throw, consider the mystery solved: my long-gestating ESPN the Magazine piece about Yuriy Sedykh’s 1986 world record is finally out. I’m particularly excited about the story because it grew out of a Microkhan post—back in this ongoing project’s […]

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Beneath the Elevated

June 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Little time for Microkhan-ing between now and the weekend, as the Golden Horde is in the midst of packing up its yurts for points not-too-far-afield. After seven years in the blessed Paradise known as Atlah, we’re moving across the East River to a land with a slightly Brave New World-ish name. Always bittersweet to move, […]

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Skin in the Game

June 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Skin in the Game

Given all we know about the wonders of the placebo effect, I’m always deeply skeptical about alternative medical practices that have never been the subject of peer-reviewed scrutiny. Yet I’m also deeply fascinated by the techniques employed by legendary boxing cutmen, many of whom had the ability to stanch geysers of blood—without sutures—in less than […]

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Alternate Reality Jazzercise

May 31st, 2011 · Comments Off on Alternate Reality Jazzercise

The exercise visionary Sim D. Kehoe believed that the swinging of Indian clubs could lead to utmost fitness. To his great credit, he recommended such workouts for properly attired ladies as well as men who dreamed of becoming the next Eugen Sandow. In fact, Kehoe had high hopes that Indian club training would help cultivate […]

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Questing in Oregon

May 23rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Questing in Oregon

As noted late last week, I’ll be on the road in Oregon for the next few days, gathering research for the next book. I’ll try to post when possible, but apologies in advance for skipped days; gotta focus on the task at hand before I jet back to Atlah. For the moment, enjoy another artifact […]

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Sportverbot

May 19th, 2011 · Comments Off on Sportverbot

Writing about the hammer throw has got me thinking a lot about Soviet Bloc athletics, and in turn one of the phenomena that fascinated me during my youth: East-to-West defectors. I was always drawn to tales of sportsmen from the other side of the Iron Curtain who decided to chuck it all and start anew […]

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Would These Men Juice?

May 16th, 2011 · 3 Comments

For obvious reasons, I have been avidly following the performance of Mongolian grandmaster Dul Erdenebileg at the ongoing World Draughts Championship in The Netherlands. (Previous checkers-related posting here.) In the course of keeping up on the tourney’s matches, I noticed something rather odd: the organizing body is apparently quite serious about drug testing. The complete […]

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Pawns in the Game

May 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Pawns in the Game

Is there any professional sports league in the world more troubled than Serbia’s top soccer division? Yesterday’s championship ended in utter confusion, after one side walked off to protest some questionable refereeing. Though I haven’t yet seen video of the plays in question, the losing players had every right to be suspicious—Serbia has endured its […]

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Picking Up the Yurts

May 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Picking Up the Yurts

Out in the outer boroughs today, trying to hook up a geographical shift for Microkhan world headquarters. As much as I’ve loved living in Atlah, this shoebox-sized abode has become intolerable; I blame all lousy writing on the fact that I’ve been reduced to working on the floor of Microkhan Jr.’s room during school hours. […]

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“He Stayed to Write a Grander Legend”

May 6th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Since I can scarcely imagine life without the biological rocket fuel known as caffeine, I’m counting my lucky stars this morning that I’m not a Cuban. That’s because sky-high coffee prices have forced the government to cut rations, meaning that Cuba’s java addicts must now satisfy their urges with a beverage partly concocted from roasted […]

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Nonlinear Athletic Niches

May 5th, 2011 · 2 Comments

I’m heading upstate today to attend a workout with a world-class track-and-field athlete, as part of my reporting for a story about the limits (or lack thereof) of human performance. In the course of my research, I’ve had occasion to give a lot of thought to nonlinear athletic niches, a spin on the economic phenomenon […]

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Mushrooms for Strength

April 27th, 2011 · 7 Comments

I’m currently up to my eyeballs in research on a piece about Soviet athletic excellence, which was a more enigmatic phenomenon than most folks realize. There really isn’t one definitive explanation for the nation’s sporting success throughout its last three decades of existence, though there are certainly plenty of theories. As I’ve become immersed in […]

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The Folly of Youth

April 25th, 2011 · 5 Comments

I’m just now getting cranking on a sports-related project—my first crack at writing about the athletic games that adults play since I covered the Nagano Olympics as a mere cub. To get into the right mindset for the challenge, I’ve been looking up the old Sports Illustrated stories that influenced me so deeply as young’un. […]

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Bowled Over

January 3rd, 2011 · 6 Comments

Let’s begin the year by hailing the ingenuity of a man who has contributed much to both mathematics and Internet meme-ry: John Venn. Venn is, of course, best known for concocting the elegant diagramming system that now bears his name. Aside from elucidating the fundamentals of logic for generations of schoolkids, Venn diagrams have also […]

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The Only Way to Win is Not to Play

December 16th, 2010 · 10 Comments

The fundamental premise of the American economic system is that competition is healthy. By extension, we generally assume that the greatest men and women are those in whom the competitive spirit burns brightest—individuals with “fire in the belly.” These are the people who take play as seriously as work, and thus descend into deep depressions […]

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Battling Gaston vs. Pretty Pierre

November 12th, 2010 · Comments Off on Battling Gaston vs. Pretty Pierre

Americans are not the only ones who question soccer’s emergence as the world’s favorite athletic pastime. The sport has also occasionally come under fire from anti-colonialists, who would prefer that their nations opt for the games that were popular before the Europeans came a-knocking with their guns and smallpox. The Tunisian historian Borhane Errais is […]

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Juiced

November 10th, 2010 · Comments Off on Juiced

It’s no secret that the world of thoroughbred racing now mimics the very worst aspects of professional cycling, with so many contests determined by pharmaceutical aids. Less well-known is the impact that performance-enhancing drugs have had on other animal-centric sports, where doping has become commonplace despite the relatively meager financial rewards on offer. Pigeon racing, […]

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A Perfect System, Soaked in Blood

November 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment

Though my gambling amounts to little more than the occasional hand of $5 blackjack while in Vegas, I’m fascinated by the work of oddsmaking. It takes a special kind of genius to create a system in which the house will always win in the long run, though by just enough to preserve the game’s entertainment […]

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The Forgetting

October 27th, 2010 · 5 Comments

I’ve been dealing with some mega writer’s block these past few days, which has got me wondering whether it’s possible for someone to spontaneously lose their most well-developed skills. That’s obviously true in the athletic realm, where the dreaded Steve Blass Disease has ended more than a few baseball careers. The problem with such vexed […]

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The Kevin Durant of Bus Driving

October 18th, 2010 · Comments Off on The Kevin Durant of Bus Driving

Thanks for Microkhan Jr.’s increasing obsession with all things mechanical, I recently found myself trolling through the hundreds of transit-related videos on this YouTube channel. It is quite an amazing collection, the handiwork of a New York City metrophile who apparently spends the bulk of his leisure time filming buses and subways. And among his […]

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Beautiful Minds at the Fronton

October 13th, 2010 · 1 Comment

My heart goes out to contemporary jai-alai players who must constantly answer a rather irritating question from casual observers: “Isn’t your sport fixed?” The stars of the circuit have gone to great lengths to assure the public of jai-alai’s credibility, but it’s still tough to overcome some of the extreme shadiness that dogged the sport […]

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The Magnificient

September 28th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Given my longstanding fascination with North-East India, one of the primary settings for my 386-page labor o’ love, I’ve been following Mary Kom’s boxing career for a good while now. The 27-year-old mother of twins just won her fifth world championship, a feat that earned her a true hero’s welcome in her native state of […]

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Matti Nukes Adrift

September 3rd, 2010 · 10 Comments

Of the many death-defying sports that I’ve grown to admire over the years, few astound quite like elite ski jumping. Perhaps it’s not until you witness the sport in person that you really get a sense of just how bananas it is: TV can’t do justice to the true height of those hills, nor the […]

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The Legend of the Swedish Bear

July 30th, 2010 · 1 Comment

To ardent fans of arm wrestling, there is no greater hero than the famous Mac Batchelor, a Los Angeles bartender who never lost a single match over his twenty-five year professional career. Even more impressively, he won a fair share of those matches while blasted out of his skull on whiskey and beer—his tolerance for […]

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Hogs and Dogs

July 19th, 2010 · Comments Off on Hogs and Dogs

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) There’s controversy brewing in southern Mississippi, where Jackson County recently approved a hog-dog bay. That’s an event in which a hunting dog corners a boar in a pen, to the ostensible delight of onlookers. To those who oppose the practice, it comes perilously close to an interspecies take on dogfighting; to […]

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