Tag Archives: More Intelligent Life

The Curious Case of The Rejuvenated Athlete

Michael Owen was once the next great soccer player. Indeed, he turned out to be a pretty great soccer player. But no one wants to talk about that:

In meta-sport…You decide on the story long before there is anything so unpredictable to worry about as the match. You pick out what’s “interesting”. You decide on the personal narratives that matter. This is the situation that Michael Owen finds himself in. After years “in the wilderness”—which means being consistently pretty damned good, but not quite as brilliant as we’d hoped—Owen is now a story again. He is interesting again. Hell, he’s on a journey.

This seems unequivocally true for all stories about athletes (See: Favre, Brett). A similar thing could happen with Freddy Adu. He was pronounced to be the next Pele, even better than Owen. He is now only 20 (probably), and has much playing to do. Yet, already, The Big Lead asks:

What happened?

One wonders why only the most gossip-curious wonder, “What happened to Haley Joel Osment?”, Yet we will certainly seem surprised, pleasantly, when he returns for whatever career he finds in his mid-30s. Actors and artists are not viewed as having potential – in their early forms, they are what they are, geniuses at their specific craft, for that specific task. Athletes are works-in-progress: gifted, but not yet skilled; imbedded with potential, but also primed for a fall. This makes them choice material for a dramatic arc.

So, adapting Ed Smith’s exhortation to Michael Owen, and to the chargin of journalists everywhere, “rejuvenated” athletes should probably just answer questions like this (that is to say, honestly):

“That’s a strange question. Sport is unpredictable. I was on the wrong end of a close call at _________—it could have gone either way. Now _______ have taken a punt on me. That’s life. I may have lost a bit of pace but I’m basically the same player. Circumstances changed, but I didn’t. Let’s see what happens next, shall we?”

I didn’t know this yesterday

You will get more prejudiced when you get older, just like your grandparents, because your brain will get dumber.

Fight Test Wife

The album is dead. Who cares! Emily Bobrow does, saying that:

I happen to think that cherry-picking individual songs has all the sophistication of fast-forwarding through slow stretches of an Ingmar Bergman film.

I wouldn’t dare skip through a minute of The Silence, but I would dare to fast forward through “Fitter Happier.” In Emily’s defense, and as your aural story of the week, I offer selections from two of my favorite narrative albums:

Fight TestYoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips

The Crane Wife 1 &2 The Crane Wife – The Decemberists

I’m sure there are other albums, not to mention other tracks off each of these albums, that you prefer. Post ’em in the comments.


Lots of interesting (if pointless) bests I encountered today:

Sound Opinions asked for the best live album ever a few weeks back. Jay-Z Unplugged got a white boy from Missouri interested in hip-hop, but there isn’t much cooler than the electric version of Like A Rolling Stone that Bob Dylan cranks out after a stunned audience member calls him “Judas.”

Which brings to mind one of my favorite hypotheticals: if you could see any band live, in their prime, who would it be? I pick The Who.

And last on today’s Bests: sentences. More Intelligent Life is starting a series on great sentences. They start with this opener from Salman Rushdie. I’ll cheat a pull from a recent post:

He could move fast, and the back porch gave onto the kitchen, and before the screen door had banged shut behind him the Daddy had taken the scene in whole, the overturned pot on the floortile before the stove and the burner’s blue jet and the floor’s pool of water still steaming as its many arms extended, the toddler in his baggy diaper standing rigid with steam coming off his hair and his chest and shoulders scarlet and his eyes rolled up and mouth open very wide and seeming somehow separate from the sounds that issued, the Mommy down on one knee with the dishrag dabbing pointlessly at him and matching the screams with cries of her own, hysterical so she was almost frozen.