Photo Essay: Philly Teenage 90s Bedroom

By David Berlin

After graduating law school and taking the bar exam this summer, I recently came home to live with my parents in suburban Philadelphia. Being temporarily domiciled in my childhood bedroom might not be optimal for getting the ladies, but at least I finally have time to document my collection of early to mid-‘90s sports memorabilia. My “No Fear” t-shirts, Starter winter jackets, and L.A. Gear light up shoes are all long gone, but a few priceless artifacts still remain.

First up – this vintage poster from 1997, celebrating the inaugural interleague baseball season.

The only surviving evidence that Travis Fryman ever existed.

Even though all six of these guys are still alive, doesn’t it kind of feel like you’re looking at a cave painting of ancient Egyptian pharaohs? Continue reading

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The Employed Ones: Free Agency Culture of the NFL vs. NBA

By David Hauser

Jobs.  Ask any politician a question this political season and he or she will inevitably find a way to bring the conversation back to jobs.  Politicians may be underhanded and smarmy, but they still remain a better metric than even twitter for assessing the most salient issue of the day (as of course, they must be on the cutting edge of what best to pander to).  Since the worldwide economic collapse in the Autumn of 2008, we have seen American state governors wage war against unions, politicians get tagged with the vaunted “socialist” label, endless political arguments about whether cutting taxes or increasing government spending is a sounder methodology for creating jobs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, and I can only guess the term “job creation” will be plastered and super-glued to our nation’s collective forehead over the next eight months as Barack Obama and (seemingly) Mitt Romney vie for the White House this November.  The operative word in this endless political theater is: labor.

As writer and pop-philosopher king Chuck Klosterman pointed out last year, every major sports and cultural story of 2011 revolved around labor.  Two of the three most popular American sports leagues had labor disputes over the same three to fourth month period.  Charlie Sheen fought his highly publicized dispute with CBS all because of labor.  Hell, even the lowly Detroit Pistons tried to organize a strike against their own coach last year by not attending practice as their unfortunate season wound to a close.  In what must be perceived as some kind of socio-cultural clash of class and wealth, this country is in the midst of a major financial distribution transition and without coincidence the sports world mirrors the broader American culture in coming to grips with this issue.

For the third year in a row, the NBA’s on court brilliance has been hijacked by the labor narrative.  Dwight Howard’s “Indecision 2012” significantly overshadowed the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  NFL fans, who were not afforded the fast-paced rush of a traditional free agent signing period last year due to the NFL’s aforementioned labor dispute, are treating this year’s free agency period as some kind of sacrosanct religious experience (with the likes of Mario Williams, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow on the move).

More than ever, sports fans are wholeheartedly consumed by free agency player movement.  Through some form of fragmented sublimation of our country’s unemployment crisis, it remains easier to analyze and critique the labor relations of our athletes and celebrities than internalize and personalize our own fears about the rapidly shifting wealth and labor landscape in America. Continue reading

The Book on Eli: The Mythological Narrative of the “Other Manning”

“I’ll tell you this, if Eli wins a second Super Bowl next week, then I really think he’s made his case that he’s the best QB in the Manning family!”  “At the end of the day, it’s all about how many championships you win, and Eli is beginning to prove to me he is more championship caliber than his brother Peyton.”

These are actual quotes from ESPN and generic sports radio’s endless rambling two-week lead up to the Super Bowl.  And thus reflect the current media age–the great circus of rhetorical contortionists.

Every new event must be painted and billed as the greatest show on Earth.  Every event must have a compelling, simplified narrative to convince us why this next game or show cannot be missed.  It feels no different than good ole’ fashioned yellow journalism; sensationalizing the news to drive up circulation (except with newspapers gasping for their last collective breath, it’s more like driving up viewership so an ESPN production exec can charge an extra $5,000 to Lotrimin AF so they remain the only anti-fungal jock itch cream you can trust…as far as you can trust SportsCenter for being the expert in recommending your jock itch powder)… Continue reading