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    Less thinking, more swinging.

    I was in Hayward, Wisconsin for the Lumberjack World Championships this past weekend to film a thing about timbersports. Someone let me swing an axe. This is how to do the underhand chop event, where you pretend to be an old-time lumberjack for fun, without cutting your feet off your legs.

    1

    If you're going to do the underhand chop, you need to understand that you will be standing on top of a log with an axe in soft shoes. You need to understand you will be swinging an axe very, very close to your feet, and doing it at high speed. (Any speed is too much, really. Bring the axe overhead and you realize there is no safe speed for this.)

    2

    Contrary to every instinct you have, you should assume a narrow stance atop the log. Adam LaSalle, professional timbersports person, told me it's a matter of balance. In the underhand chop event, the lumberjack or -jill stands on a log that is 28 inches long and 12 inches wide. That's two feet to the eye, and feels like a lot less when you step on it. Start swinging, and the whole thing rocks like a see-saw if you're planted wide. Competitors start with their feet in a narrow stance--sometimes leaving as little as six inches between their toes.

    3

    Don't think about hitting your toes. "The surest way to put an axe in your foot is to think about how you're going to swing into your foot," is what Adam tells me. That is reassuring, because I can just think about putting the axe in the wood. This is also disturbing because I am now thinking about putting the axe in my foot.

    4

    Wear steel socks. Competitors do have some safety equipment for the underhand chop. They wear a kind of half-sock of butcher mail covering the top of the foot. This is attached to a shinguard of fireplace curtain reaching to the knee. You loop it over the big toe, anchor it with straps to the ankle and leg, and then put your shoe on over it. It keeps competitors from chopping their feet in half. You still might break a bone or at least be really sore for a week or two.

    5

    Get an axe. A good one, preferably. They cost up to $500 and are sharpened to the point where they could shave a man's face. Do not try this, just know that it's a thing you could do. Don't bring them here without a leather blade guard, and try not to let TSA mess with them too much. They'll put them back in the case the wrong way, and that is how you get axes cutting through bags and into strange luggage during the flight.

    6

    Raise the axe directly over your head. Going any further back is inefficient, and the key here is efficiency. Go too fast and you lose power, and thus take less wood out of the block. Go too slow, and risk other competitors lapping you. A good, controlled, and powerful swing covering 180 degrees and finishing in the wood: that is the balance you're looking for here.

    7

    Swing into the wood.

    8

    Do not hit your foot.

    9

    Did you hit the wood? No? Is the axe in your foot? Seek medical attention immediately. If you hit the wood, good. Swing a few more times, trying to hit the wood at a forty-five degree angle to form a triangle-shaped wedge in the log. Switch angles and come at the wedge from the other side, and continue until you're roughly halfway through the wood. You should be throwing off big, hardcover book-sized hunks of wood. (Note: you should be doing this, but you will not, because you are still half-swinging in a cold sweat praying not to cut off your own feet.)

    10

    When you get halfway, switch and repeat the whole cycle on the other side. Some competitors switch strokes more often than others, but know that the whole thing is a matter of feel for each competitor. Keep at it until the log splits. When it does, dismount carefully. You are still holding an axe, stupid.

    11

    There is a three-minute mercy rule, which you really shouldn't need barring injury. I finished my side in somewhere around a minute and a half or so, and that was done with a glacial swing and a very real electric fear coursing through my veins. On the other hand, you won't come close to a competition time, either. In 2006, Jason Wynyard set a new world record by finishing the whole thing in just 15.94 seconds.

    ★★★

    SB Nation archives:Spencer drives like a maniac at rally car school (2012 feature)


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    ALSO INCLUDED: A LOVING BUT BRUTAL DISCUSSION OF IOWA STATE FOOTBALL, HOOSIERS IS A BAD MOVIE, AND WERNER HERZOG NEEDS TO BE SYRACUSE'S NARRATOR FOR LIFE

    The Fullcast goes way, way long this week, eclipsing the hour mark mostly because SOMEONE found Chris Berman's IMDB page halfway through the broadcast. (He was in The Program AND Necessary Roughness! He's practically the Jean-Paul Belmondo of '90s football films!)

    Topics:

    • Why "Hoosiers" sucks and how George Lucas is going to put CGI Jabba into a remastered "Birth of a Nation"
    • Why "Rudy" and most other college football movies suck, but also why "Rudy" sucks more than others, mostly.
    • A diversion into Werner Herzog narrating Syracuse football documentaries
    • A promise to buy someone a beer if they actually listen to a certain mysterious point in the podcast (which we will honor)
    • Seriously, you can get two free beers for listening to this whole podcast provided you see us in real life
    • The inevitable discussion of things that do not change year to year, and why you'd rather move on and coach a new team rather than do the impossible task of maintaining a turnaround (Hi, Nick Saban)
    • Things that do not change year to year in college football, like Ohio State being good or our fictional Woody Hayes living in Hell because "Heaven's soft".
    • A discussion of "which program is the most Jon Bois" (it's Iowa State) college
    • EL ASSSSSSICOOOOOOO

    Subscribe on iTunes under Sports podcasts (yes it's working now,) download directly here, or listen in the Soundcloud player below. IN HELL, EVERYONE PLAYS SPECIAL TEAMS.


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    Sometimes you dominate the glass, and sometimes the glass dominates you

    Somewhere, Dick Vitale is silently cursing that door, and complimenting Duke on their willingness to try and dominate the glass.


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    Tebow is the sun, and Skip Bayless is up at dawn

    And just when you thought the sun had set on Skip Bayless, it rises again to start a new day (full of whatever Skip Bayless does.)


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    Are you watching Florida-LSU, Oregon-Washington, BAYLOR, or other?


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    Why aren't there any college football games on Fox News?


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    We get ourselves a minor HATE WEEK today, with two big rivalries highlighting the middle time slot. Share your jokes with us, and join us for scores and more! And who knows how long we'll stick around after these games? Not us! TV schedule. National scoreboard.


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    Spencer Hall shares things he likes on the Internet today, in quick-hit fashion.


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    It seems like a curious choice to hold the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Jerry's World. Spencer Hall explains.

    Watch on YouTube | Subscribe to SB Nation on YouTube


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  • 01/11/15--06:52: How to do Texas right
  • With Oregon and Ohio State set to square off in the Lone Star State, Spencer Hall fully embraces everything that is Texas culture.

    Watch on YouTube | Subscribe to SB Nation on YouTube


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    FIFA makes it easy, but John Oliver might be talking about your sport, too.

    This video and article were originally posted in June 2014.

    1. John Oliver's gotten really, really good at his job really, really quickly. Everyone will watch this today, and then share it on your social media platform of choice with "WATCH JOHN OLIVER SHRED FIFA LOL", and you'll miss the central and most painful point of this. FIFA is a horrible institution, a toxic cauldron poisoning the soul-warming flame of soccer itself. It's not just that John Oliver can do the Jon Stewart thing you're so fond of hitting the like button on, but it's the deft hand pointing you towards something so much worse that makes Oliver remarkable here: that you'll still watch, because for all its faults something in you and billions of other people still feeds off something in the game, something that enables FIFA despite your best critical instincts. Take that in as evidence of his skill, or hell, just hit the little "Share" button and type LOL. Whether you notice it or not, John Oliver's doing something remarkable here, something broadly applicable to any sports fan struggling with a beloved game that might be in some very filthy custodial hands. (CC: everyone, pretty much.)

    2. There actually is a movie about FIFA. Its title is "United Passions," and in case you wonder what narcissistic managerial drones would create a film about corrupt sporting kleptocrats, your answer is simple: the narcissistic managerial bribe-guzzlers at FIFA. They spent $27 million of FIFA's "non-profit" money on the film, and did not even attempt to cover up Sepp Blatter's only remarkable skill as a person in the trailer. ("He is good at finding money.")

    This is the most exciting clip from the entire preview.

    THAT TABLE POUND SAVED SOCCER. Add Sam Neill and Tim Roth to the list of actors who will literally appear in anything for money.

    3. You can watch the entire E:60 on Qatar's labor atrocities here, and should.


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    Sometimes a team is more likable when it loses. The Rockets took their beating at the hands of the Warriors, and were more human because of it.

    The Hawks took their assbeating as they did everything this season. They took it professionally, but not quietly. Al Horford's elbow-drop on Matthew Dellavedova embodied their fierce but calculated commitment to losing with dignity, but not without some vengeance. Horford plowed the point of his large, uncushioned synovial hinge joint into the side of Dellavedova's head, got his Flagrant 2, and then calmly shook hands with his teammates before walking into the locker room for the remainder of the game. The Hawks lost, but not without a fight, but also not without the results of that fight being totally conclusive.

    The Hawks presented a great, just-malleable-enough foil for the Cavs' triumph.

    The Houston Rockets did not return the favor for the Warriors, because the general code of this Rockets team does not contain the word "cooperate." That lack of cooperation meant Houston pulling out one thunderous win at home before prolonging the series, opening Game 5 with a giant run, and then forcing the Warriors to break into an emergency stash of Harrison Barnes to close out the series. And even then, the Rockets kept things juuuuust close enough to tantalize, keep you watching, and continue to destroy your sleep patterns.*

    *The NBA playoffs give you an idea into just how tired drug addicts must be all the time. The Rockets, with their reliance on drawing free throws and prolonging the game, are clearly in the meth addict category of NBA playoff viewing experience.

    Houston, even in loss, had to be annoying. It was in their nature. Their big man, Dwight Howard, is a defensive genius with little ability to play anything resembling polished offense after a decade in the NBA. He takes passes or missed jumpers off the rim from James Harden, whose role in the Rockets offense seems to be best described as the "Leeroy Jenkins" role. He rolls in whenever and wherever he likes, and often regardless of whether anyone else is with him, and always with absolute confidence. Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry are in there somewhere. Sometimes Josh Smith sits outside and waits for an outlet pass. He seems just as surprised about it as you and I are.

    The Rockets were baffling and still are, and they made a disappointing, kind of baffling exit. But let's say some kind things about them. The Rockets were assembled by Daryl Morey and his crew of Sloan-ite analysts. They should have been the logical extension of brute math in action: three-pointers, free-throws, and everything else prescribed by the formulas that built them. At times, especially when they were winning, this was exactly what Houston presented. Those times, good as they might be for Rockets fans, could be totally unwatchable for the general public.

    Teams all lose in different ways. When they collapsed, the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers fell into the doorframe like a corpse and then refused to move until the Heat stepped over them. (The Pacers getting to the conference finals is the real crime, but the Eastern Division still exists.)  That Cavs team that LeBron James took to the 2007 Finals against the Spurs lost honestly because they had one player, and one only, and behaved accordingly in close but exciting losses. (They looked like they knew it, too.) The 2014-15 Hawks handed in a professional, concise submission. The Clippers built an epic neurotic masterpiece for which the proper words and terminologies have not been created yet.

    Yet, when the Rockets were losing or struggling, they looked human, fallible, even sympathetic. Not all teams are blessed with personality in loss, but the Rockets had it. Look, there's Dwight Howard playing well, but still playing with every glaring flaw Dwight Howard's always had. There's James Harden singlehandedly keeping the team afloat, and then putting a new hole in the lifeboat, and then plugging it before immediately making a record-setting sized new hole in the boat. There's Josh Smith, caught on camera looking at a pep-talking Dwight Howard from the bench with a look in his eyes somewhere between please stop talking and I can't believe you won't stop talking when I have this look on my very uninterested and unhappy face.

    Jason Terry took the ball to the hole last night, looked up, and clearly had the same thought anyone over 30 has had when they get on a skateboard: I've made a terrible mistake, and need to abandon this plan immediately before I am harmed.

    It was failure, but compared to what Houston looked like when they won, it was compelling, familiar failure. Loss like that transcends calculating design, or at least makes it something recognizable because ... well, because you've had the Rockets' job before. The workplace isn't bad, but it's not great. Your co-workers are OK to pretty good -- even the one guy no one can clearly stand despite his efforts to be popular. There's a lot of talent, and maybe one transcendent talent on board, maybe some castoffs, maybe some people just hoping to make it to retirement. There's definitely a system -- at least, theoretically there's a system in place, a system that can make things seem kind of rote and mechanical.

    Not all teams are blessed with personality in loss, but the Rockets had it.

    Some jobs aren't funny or endearing until something goes wrong, though. I thought about something last night I hadn't thought about in 15 years. I once had this OK-but-mechanical telemarketing job. It worked. The people were fine, but kind of cold and clearly just punching clocks. Calls, if they didn't work out, were supposed to go three minutes or less. Successful surveys could go 30 minutes or so, max.

    And I remember nothing about that job except the time it went totally wrong, and this guy on disability from his utility job, high off back pills and coconut rum, simply wouldn't let me off the phone for two hours. My supervisor, listening in, tried to cut it off but simply gave in because ... well, because he was funny, and wouldn't stop talking about his motorcycles and his ex-wife, and the time he had a mountain lion in his yard. ("I think it was a mountain lion? Could have been a cat.") We let him go because the job was clearly over, and we were all clearly over the job, and sometimes only a true disaster can make that indisputable fact.

    That's what this Rockets team felt like in defeat: disparate, fallible parts only united by their system, a system so good with such high-quality parts that it got them very, very far. They looked even worse in comparison to the Warriors, a system whose parts clearly have the kind of unquantifiable supernatural cohesion and chemistry no one can really plan for, or calculate. That's not a rebuke of analytics. It's an acknowledgment that sometimes losing can redeem a mechanically successful but ultimately unlikable thing, or at least make it something more human to the viewer. Dwight Howard, in defeat, said "I'm still a champion" after their loss last night, and it almost made you want to hug him. Then again, the robot's always most sympathetic in its final scene.


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    Jon and I had a contest to make the perfect fake Modest Mouse song title, and guess who won? That's right: YOU.

    Texted My Dad/Reno Kidney Scam

    Watchin' Invisible Television

    Other People Are You Except Them

    Forty Raccoons

    We're On A Space Shuttle, Spit In Your Milk

    Coupon Steve

    They Buried Us With Subway Tokens

    Crunchy Towel, USA

    Underground Suntan Coffin

    You Sold It and I Burned It

    Handful of Soup And Spoons For Teeth

    We're Gonna Regret Us

    Been Punching a Barge

    This Goddamn Econoline

    Twisting in the Shitter

    Ambidextrous Snake You Ain't A Horseshoe

    Flea Dip

    Coinstar You're My Only Queen

    The Sun Painted Me a Picture (And I Ain't Hanging It In This House)

    Blistex Handshake On the Moon

    Woke Up and Fought a Pancake/Tulsa

    Mule Night

    Corpse Full of Lies

    Dancin Dancin Dancin Shoes On, Dancin Dancin God's My Socks

    The Air Is Too Thick For Gypsies Here

    Set a Course for Shitville

    This Insurance Is Expired

    General, This House Is Marzipan

    Sank a Plane (Again)

    Electricity Shrinks The Trees (Power Lines Make Lower Pines)

    Rite Aid


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    This is how Sepp Blatter ended up resigning from FIFA. It is the most unbelievable movie script ever made.

    So:

    This Swiss guy is named Sepp Blatter. He somewhat stereotypically got his start at a watch company, and then turned his sights to running a corrupt sports nonprofit named FIFA that sold a giant soccer tournament that only happens once every four years, but involves the entire world. He also had a stint as head of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organization that advocated for women to stop wearing tights and go back to stockings and suspenders.

    The tournament (and a few others sponsored by the soccer organization) are popular enough to suck in money from everyone and everything imaginable: shoe companies, airlines, sports beverages empires, possibly evil giant Russian gas conglomerates, and television networks small and large. The Swiss guy made it all fantastically profitable at little cost to the soccer organization, often by getting host countries to build and run most everything for them. He made money.

    The Swiss guy made a lot of money. He made a million dollars a year by his own accounts, though that number is believed to be much, much higher in reality. He made enough money to fund a feature-length movie about this organization, and to pay Tim Roth to play the corrupt Swiss guy despite bearing no resemblance to him whatsoever. He paid out bribes to maintain power, exacted bribes from those sports companies and countries desperate to host that huge tournament, and used all that solidarity and momentum to win elections, build bigger tournaments, and construct other things like a giant scary meeting room that looks exactly like the war room in Dr. Strangelove.

    He also traveled like this:

    According to South African press reports, Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, will sleep at the Michelangelo Towers with his own red-carpeted private entrance to a spacious office, an entourage of five bodyguards, an African-themed en-suite bathroom and a personalized mini-bar stocked with South African wine and ice cubes made from bottled Evian water from France.

    He also acquired many of the immunities of power one can only get at the pinnacle of the sports-industrial complex. He said that women soccer players should wear tighter shorts to increase the popularity of the game, and dismissed claims of racism on the field by suggesting that it did not exist, but that if it did then a handshake could make it all go away. The Swiss guy, it was rumored, even believes that he should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his services to humanity.

    It goes on really well until someone gets very, very mad.

    Correction: It goes well until a former United States President gets mad about one of those giant tournaments. The Swiss guy gives the giant tournament to a tiny desert nation named Qatar, which despite being tiny, infernally hot, not a traditional soccer power in any sense of the word, and covered in sand, is otherwise perfect for a giant tournament. They also have an unfortunately high death rate when it comes to their foreign workers building all those proposed tournament venues and accompanying infrastructure. This nation's government also tend to ignore the most basic needs of the workers and treat them as indentured servants.

    One of those countries not in the running was the United States, and when the former American President hears this he reportedly breaks a mirror.*

    *The American President got so mad he ... well, his foundation still recently took somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 from the winning country. Politics is weird so let's just keep it moving here.

    This all happened! And so did this: The aggrieved Americans begin a large and dedicated federal criminal investigation of the giant soccer organization using weird laws that allow them to basically arrest whomever they want as long as there is some money crossing American lines in an undeclared and untaxable way.

    A bunch of lawyers working out of Brooklyn (led by the eventual current Attorney General of the United States) begin to pull away the layers and uncover the following people, who I swear are all real and somehow richer than all of us.

    First, the money led to a 400 pound man nicknamed "Mr. Ten Percent" who liked to carry a parrot on his shoulder, keep his cats in their own luxury apartment in Trump Tower, and funnel money from the soccer organization through a system of shadowy, untaxable channels. He also liked to get his picture taken with Vladimir Putin and charge his employer's expenses to his personal card. Like, $26 million of expenses over seven years of employment. Did we mention his ex-wife kidnapped the parrot at one point, and then trained the parrot to berate him by screaming "YOU'RE A CHUMP" at him during meetings? Or that he was arrested cruising down a New York street on a mobility scooter by the feds? Or that he turned informant for the Americans, and carried a bugged keychain into the soccer organization's meetings? We should mention all of that.

    Second, once the members of the soccer organization were observed doing enough to nail them for global racketeering, they were arrested en masse in a Swiss hotel staked out by cops described as looking like "friendly-faced Swiss hipsters" who drove the arrested away in a Nissan Leaf? And that one of them who wasn't there, a guy from Trinidad and Tobago named Jack Warner, told TV reporters that authorities "know where to find me" if they wanted to arrest him? And that they did, and arrested him and put him in a jail for a night before he made bail, and then defended himself in a video using an article from The Onion he may have believed was real?

    Third: did we mention this guy's sons may have been the ones who informed on him? And that under pressure, every single one of these people appears to be wilting like an unstarched shirt on a hot summer's day?

    Fourth: The giant corrupt soccer mafia-corp-thing may not have been very good at hiding its tracks, and in fact left a paper trail of those bribes:

    Those named in this letter insist this was a $10 million payment given out of the kindness and goodwill of their hearts.

    Then the corrupt Swiss guy, who somehow managed to keep every last one of these plates spinning and run a global sports empire off the back of what appear to be some of the most bumbling lackeys in the history of bumbling lackeys, was re-elected as head of the giant evil corrupt soccer octopus four days ago. "I am the President of everybody," he said in celebration. Four days later, he resigned.

    This is the worst, least believable script you have ever read, and life wrote every word of it.

    SB Nation presents: FIFA's ridiculous corruption press release explained


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    Fox's U.S. Open coverage failed mightily and thoroughly.

    Fox bought the rights to the U.S. Open for the next 12 years. So there is at least one bright spot here: they have to get better at broadcasting golf, because they paid a large amount of money for it, between this and several other PGA events. When it comes to sports, Fox buys things, doesn't read the manual, and then figures out the whole operation while the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes they hit a few parked cars as they get going, and the 2015 U.S. Open will just have to go as another entry on the accident report.

    They do have some cool stuff they can legitimately say worked, like the ball tracker, which helps the 97 percent of the population who cannot spot a white ball in flight against a light blue sky. Greg Norman was pretty good, even if he struggled to say the word "otolith," and even if half that pretty-goodness is his accent. Americans cannot resist sports commentary with an accent, particularly if they're convinced that accent instantly conveys some set of superior character attributes.*

    *Australian accent hints: tougher, more chill than Americans, and possibly capable of effortlessly surviving months in a desert climate at the drop of a hat.

    The rest is and was bad. Even the casual sports omnivore dropping in on a slow weekend could tell that this was bad TV made badly and at great expense. Fox missed big shots, or was late to them. They showed a shockingly low number of actual live golf shots relative to their peers. They ran an information-poor broadcast that often missed player ID and score, and at one point lost their leaderboard graphics package entirely. Cameras had difficulty tracking the ball, announcers ran together and over each other, and interviews ranged from the mundane to the bizarre. Somehow, on a seaside course with adjacent mountain scenery, the 2015 U.S. Open felt like watching golf through a spyglass.

    It was fundamentally bad TV for the following reasons.

    One: Televised golf is one of the hardest sporting events to pull off with anything resembling competence. It takes place in staggered series across 18 holes with at least one camera on each hole, and multiple cameras on most. For the TV production geek looking up at 70 monitors of green grass, it doesn't mean just paying attention to two teams. It means knitting all that together into a live narrative as it's happening, and doing it all from the production truck with at least eight different people in your ear and 18 different stories going on at once.

    The phrase "shuttle launch" is used a lot, and with reason. If you do it right, everything ends up floating along nicely and with a deceptive lack of effort. Do it wrong, though, and everything blows up on the launchpad.

    Two: A lack of chemistry and flight hours together in the booth and production truck. It's not like Mark Loomis, the producer of Fox's U.S. Open coverage, hasn't done this before. Loomis worked with ABC/ESPN on three of the four majors prior to coming to Fox, and was hired especially for this. But unlike those ABC/ESPN crews or CBS' Masters team, which have been working together in some variation for 15 or 20 years, Fox's team doesn't have this familiarity. They don't know the quirks of each other's timing, and haven't developed the kind of rhythm that veteran crews have. That kind of inexperience might not be totally noticeable on something like a football broadcast. In something as intricate as televised golf, though, a couple of hitches in the rope make big knots with a quickness.

    That shallow pool of experience makes for big mechanical mistakes, but also forces errors of touch. Joe Buck was as much a victim of this as anyone. He had the worst time with the first two days of the Open because those early days, more than any other time, are when you need a collected store of otherwise truly useless/interesting information to drop about otherwise obscure or lesser known players or courses. Buck didn't have that, and had to anchor Fox's first broadcast of a major in what was effectively his first work in the medium. It's not that he couldn't have succeeded. It's that no one could have in that situation.

    Traditionally, Fox's first move is to just heave a pile of money at a task, and hope the weight of sheer cash moves whatever obstacles might be in the way. What's lost in the rush and the cash tsunami are the details. In college football, the running gag is that football broadcasts on Fox feature at least one shot of the marching band at all times, because this is their blunt and limited understanding of collegiate color. In soccer, it meant putting Gus Johnson in the lead spot simply because he was available and exciting. This, despite Johnson having no experience calling international soccer, and often struggling with the basics.

    Curt Menefee saying "match" when he should have said "round" doesn't destroy a broadcast, but what it does is confirm what you might have been thinking all along about Fox just deciding to do things without much practice.

    Three: Bad ideas. Sandwiching in human interest stories when you could be showing live golf shots is a bad idea, and it's worse when you run a Tiger/Michael Jordan piece completely at odds with the rest of the broadcast.

    Four: Chambers Bay was a strange, hostile stage for good sports television. Links golf can look spectacular on television, but finding the ball against what looked like ruined automotive floormat carpet is one of the worst jobs in TV. There's really no getting around the convoluted staging of the course itself, something that had spectators and golfers falling down hillsides all weekend.

    Chambers Bay wasn't just hard for TV people, by the way. The beat reporters ended up roped off from some of the most important scenes of the tournament via the strange topography of the course. In the media room afterwards there was near jubilation when Dustin Johnson missed his birdie putt. They weren't Jordan Spieth partisans. The miss just meant they got to go home, and that's an option the TV viewer doesn't really have -- you're stuck with Fox on golf for a decade.

    SB Nation presents:The most extreme course in golf


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    Only a few people complained to the government about seeing it, and a couple weren't actually mad, but they're all pretty good.

    The Federal Communications Commission receives a lot of complaints, and some of them are about LeBron James' penis. After the King flashed his court jester during an NBA Finals broadcast on June 11, SB Nation filed a records request for any complaints about James' previously unequalled degree of national exposure.

    To our shock, the American public made few complaints about the indiscretion. They ranged from the completely sincere to the succinct and included one person who obviously reads sports websites.

    The FCC's list of complaints follows.

    1. "No more penis please!"

    I am shocked and appalled! I was watching the NBA final with my small kids on ABC's TV channel and prior to the start of Game 4 on Thursday 11 June 2015, ABC showed my children the penis of Lebron James. This is unacceptable. I don't want my kids looking at male genitalia on broadcast television. I am OK with seeing cis female mammary glands, labia, vagina, etc, over broadcast TV but no more penis please!

    2. "tallywacker"

    I was watching game 4 of the NBA finals last night on ABC, and the camera had a close up on LeBron James, who was adjusting his shorts, and then pulled down his boxers and the camera had a close up of his tallywacker. This is the type of stuff I would expect from Game of Thrones, but not from the American Broadcasting Channel. At least I now know that I am bigger than the purportedly "biggest" star in the NBA...

    3. A complaint about an entirely different show on an entirely different medium not featuring LeBron James' penis at all, actually.

    This morning on Z-100 Elvis Duran morning show, Elvis Duran was discussing in lengthy detail the size of his penis in comparison to his on-air colleagues. The group then went on to discuss and describe Lebron James penis which they have seen online and all expressed envy and awe. It was prurient and totally inappropriate for the morning drive. Elvis Duran (a self-described homosexual) also said he would "rather have sex with a woman" than one of his male colleagues. I found that statement degrading and demeaning to women.

    4. The factual snitch without spellcheck

    During the game list night, LeBron James exposed himself to the cameras

    5. The person who sent in a complaint knowing that eventually a sports blog would request the open records and see it and wonder why someone went to the absurd lengths of posting an FCC complaint just to make a joke that could have been made on social media.

    LeBron James showed his dick on natonal television and completeley ruined my tinder date. It made us late for laser tag because i had to rewind it a few times to make sure thats exactly what we saw so we missed our bus. He clearly did it on purpose and hes not as good as Michael Jordan

    The complainant here also listed the TV station being watched at the time.

    Channel69

    In sum: The American people have seen the genitals of a famous athlete briefly. They were completely unfazed by the experience. Clearly, as a nation, we are growing and showing it.


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    Less thinking, more swinging.

    I was in Hayward, Wisconsin for the Lumberjack World Championships this past weekend to film a thing about timbersports. Someone let me swing an axe. This is how to do the underhand chop event, where you pretend to be an old-time lumberjack for fun, without cutting your feet off your legs.

    1

    If you're going to do the underhand chop, you need to understand that you will be standing on top of a log with an axe in soft shoes. You need to understand you will be swinging an axe very, very close to your feet, and doing it at high speed. (Any speed is too much, really. Bring the axe overhead and you realize there is no safe speed for this.)

    2

    Contrary to every instinct you have, you should assume a narrow stance atop the log. Adam LaSalle, professional timbersports person, told me it's a matter of balance. In the underhand chop event, the lumberjack or -jill stands on a log that is 28 inches long and 12 inches wide. That's two feet to the eye, and feels like a lot less when you step on it. Start swinging, and the whole thing rocks like a see-saw if you're planted wide. Competitors start with their feet in a narrow stance--sometimes leaving as little as six inches between their toes.

    3

    Don't think about hitting your toes. "The surest way to put an axe in your foot is to think about how you're going to swing into your foot," is what Adam tells me. That is reassuring, because I can just think about putting the axe in the wood. This is also disturbing because I am now thinking about putting the axe in my foot.

    4

    Wear steel socks. Competitors do have some safety equipment for the underhand chop. They wear a kind of half-sock of butcher mail covering the top of the foot. This is attached to a shinguard of fireplace curtain reaching to the knee. You loop it over the big toe, anchor it with straps to the ankle and leg, and then put your shoe on over it. It keeps competitors from chopping their feet in half. You still might break a bone or at least be really sore for a week or two.

    5

    Get an axe. A good one, preferably. They cost up to $500 and are sharpened to the point where they could shave a man's face. Do not try this, just know that it's a thing you could do. Don't bring them here without a leather blade guard, and try not to let TSA mess with them too much. They'll put them back in the case the wrong way, and that is how you get axes cutting through bags and into strange luggage during the flight.

    6

    Raise the axe directly over your head. Going any further back is inefficient, and the key here is efficiency. Go too fast and you lose power, and thus take less wood out of the block. Go too slow, and risk other competitors lapping you. A good, controlled, and powerful swing covering 180 degrees and finishing in the wood: that is the balance you're looking for here.

    7

    Swing into the wood.

    8

    Do not hit your foot.

    9

    Did you hit the wood? No? Is the axe in your foot? Seek medical attention immediately. If you hit the wood, good. Swing a few more times, trying to hit the wood at a forty-five degree angle to form a triangle-shaped wedge in the log. Switch angles and come at the wedge from the other side, and continue until you're roughly halfway through the wood. You should be throwing off big, hardcover book-sized hunks of wood. (Note: you should be doing this, but you will not, because you are still half-swinging in a cold sweat praying not to cut off your own feet.)

    10

    When you get halfway, switch and repeat the whole cycle on the other side. Some competitors switch strokes more often than others, but know that the whole thing is a matter of feel for each competitor. Keep at it until the log splits. When it does, dismount carefully. You are still holding an axe, stupid.

    11

    There is a three-minute mercy rule, which you really shouldn't need barring injury. I finished my side in somewhere around a minute and a half or so, and that was done with a glacial swing and a very real electric fear coursing through my veins. On the other hand, you won't come close to a competition time, either. In 2006, Jason Wynyard set a new world record by finishing the whole thing in just 15.94 seconds.

    ★★★

    SB Nation archives:Spencer drives like a maniac at rally car school (2012 feature)


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    Because the tournament wants to keep certain bowls at certain times, this year's semis are on New Year's Eve. That's dumb, but you don't care.

    The 2015 College Football Playoff will play its Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl semifinals the afternoon and night of New Year's Eve.

    Last year's Rose and Sugar semifinals were on New Year's Day and brought in massive TV ratings, but because the Rose and Sugar can't be budged from those spots, they're now just pretty big bowls that happen to get better time slots than the actual semifinals.

    This, according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, will not be a problem for viewers in any way.

    "I really feel like we're going to change the culture of New Year's Eve in the country," he has said. "People are going to have to have television sets at their New Year's Eve parties."

    Hancock is a very nice man who, with the right amount of money, will say anything you want him to about football. That is literally his job, and has been since he was the designated punching bag for the Playoff's predecessor, the BCS.

    Don't hesitate to take a swing at him. That's what he's here for, and it would be a shame to waste all that money, especially when you have great quotes like this.

    Bill Hancock said a playoff at college football's highest level would lead to more injuries, conflict with final exams, kill the bowl system and diminish the importance of the regular season.

    'I know this is not completely popular, but I believe in it,' Hancock told reporters Thursday at the Football Writers Association of America awards breakfast. 'I believe it is in the best interest of the universities.'

    That's Hancock in 2012, saying something totally contrary to his current sponsored opinion. He's done that a lot.

    I want Hancock to be wrong about New Year's Eve, because he has been paid to be wrong in defense of the status quo for so long. I want to be able to cut and paste this five years from now and say how wrongedy-wrong he was, writing this all over when an even more grandfatherly Hancock says he was in favor of the eight-team Playoff all along.

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    He's not wrong. Putting the semifinals on New Year's Eve will work for several reasons.

    The first reason is gluttony.

    Your swine-faced self will stuff your eyeballs with as much football as possible as the offseason draws closer. It does not matter when this football is, or where, or what lengths you have to go to. The binge will cease, and there you'll be, sitting with bloodshot eyes in a chair and whispering to yourself, "My god, I'm really about to watch the Senior Bowl."

    You've adjusted once, and you'll adjust again. Fans have done everything the sport has asked them to do, moving their lives around to accommodate the sport's roving calendar. When the BCS rolled the title game back to Jan. 9 or so, viewers followed. When out-of-conference games became neutral-site affairs played in NFL stadiums, people followed. Wherever college football has taken its offseason, the television audience has followed.*

    * Please note that I did not say the live audience, which has been quietly declining.

    "But I do things on New Year's."Stop lying to me and football. Eighty-one percent of Guardian readers stay in on New Year's, and those are British people. They'll take any excuse to drink heavily and thus make each other mutually tolerable for an instant. You're probably an American, and were by the numbers going to spend the night with Netflix anyway.

    You can sit on your couch and watch football instead of interacting with people in the flesh, and if the course of history has taught you anything, it's that we crave ever more elaborate methods to avoid interacting in meatspace.

    The other is the last strand attaching you to cable TV: being a sports fan.

    If you think you won't stay in on New Year's Eve to watch football, consider what football has already made you do with your money. The only reason besides inertia you still might have cable is sports, the last rights-based live entertainment around. We don't say that with any disrespect to inertia.

    The average subscriber pays $123 a month for cable TV, meaning you happily write checks to companies like Comcast and Viacom. That's your money, the thing you exchange blood and sweat and time for as a life practice, and you hand a small mortgage of it to companies reviled as the worst in America. WITHOUT BLINKING. College football asking for a New Year's Eve is nothing compared to what you already agree to every month in the name of sports.

    Not that you won't kick Comcast, Viacom, or any other cable company into a howling engine intake at the first chance. Everyone not addicted to the sweet heroin of sports television either already has or is thinking about it. Hell, even ESPN's bulletproof business model wobbled a bit this week, scuttling other media stocks and sending a panic through the industry.

    When ESPN adjusts, you'll begin paying $36 a month for ESPN's over-the-top service or whatever they decide to charge you. But until then? You're aiding and abetting a rotten system.

    This is typical of you, by the way, since you already watch college football, a violent sport in which the labor is underpaid, management takes exorbitant salaries, and the playing field is anything but level for most companies. You're the worst sometimes, you know?

    Maybe you should stay inside on New Year's and just be your horrible self, man. It's what you're going to end up doing anyway, and college football knows it.


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    Get the technicalities out of the way first.

    This is a list of fines Virginia Tech enforced on exactly five players to the tune of $330 total. It is not clear whether that money was ever collected, or if it even represented real money and not just exchangeable units of misery ("$200 in BeamerBucks gets you a week running gassers in the sand pit. ENJOY!"). It should also be mentioned that Virginia Tech's athletic director Whit Babcock killed this system within hours of defensive coordinator Bud Foster publicly mentioning fines for players.

    With that out of the way: this is a thing some coaches believe they can do to non-salaried, non-employee college football players on scholarship. Players who, by agreement, can do little else but play football for their food, shelter, and tuition.

    Virginia Tech laid waste to the system in a matter of hours for a good reason. Fining athletes is something professional leagues do because they are professionals -- paid, well-compensated employees of a corporation, the kind of companies that have definite labor laws, obligations to their employees, and rules for behavior. (In the NFL, the person in charge of some of those rules is Roger Goodell, so maybe "rules" and "consistent standards" are misnomers, but let's get back on topic.)

    If you are a student-athlete -- a designation Virginia Tech and every other college football program would love to keep around -- then you are not an employee. You play for the love of the game alone, plus a scholarship and cost of attendance and maybe a few under-the-table fringe benefits on the side. Those side benefits are vastly overrated in value. Mostly a few hundred here, maybe a few thousand there if you're lucky.

    We've had this discussion before, and we'll have it again right now. Things are not free, unless they're classified as amateur sports. The company store has been theoretically outlawed in the United State for years, unless we call it amateur sports. We are completely opposed to paying people with things they often don't want or need, unless it's amateur sports. You can't underpay people for decades on end, unless we're talking about amateur sports.

    You don't defend a system that deliberately shorts people their worth unless: amateur sports.

    That money athletes get under cost of attendance isn't even subject to anything like a salary's requirements. That is part of a scholarship, something awarded partly on the basis of scouting by teams and hordes of underpaid graduate assistants. Money that is subject to fines comes in the form of something like the $900,000 salary of Bud Foster, the defensive coordinator who brought this all up in the first place.

    I don't mention his salary to make him seem like an asshole. In fact, his ex-players will attest that he is not.

    Look at it this way: when a system has had so much money poured into it by cable television, and when the pressures and hours and attention have boiled to a point indistinguishable from those of a professional league, how can you even blame Bud Foster for confusing the two at this point? He's paid like an NFL coordinator, maybe even better than most. His coaching peers are all paid like they work for a successful conglomerate, mostly because many of them do.

    But as long as players aren't paid some share of what is clearly a business-type income, that confusion will make circumstantial assholes out of a lot of people in the sport, including people like me and the attorneys filing suits striking at the sclerotic heart of amateurism.

    It's annoying as hell, but appealing to logic and fairness is a .500 team's strategy. Lawsuits and making someone irritable and legally culpable? Damn near undefeated, and a No. 1 spot in every poll around.


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    It's time for The Top Whatever, in which Spencer Hall ranks as many teams as he feels like ranking and no more.

    1. Ohio State

    No, they haven't even played yet, but after watching every other team, it's comforting to think one team is really, really good. Because it's Week 1, no one appears to be really good except for Notre Dame, and I can't stomach that thought until after lunch.

    So please, Ohio State, be as good as you look on paper. For now, you're it. Don't lose to Virginia Tech and make Notre Dame a thing again. Please.

    2. Notre Dame

    It's beating Texas in 2015, which is kind of like beating a wealthy old man with a vitamin deficiency in a street fight. Texas was supposed to have a defense, though, and the Irish took 38 points and 527 yards off them without apparent effort. On those merits alone, I can boost Notre Dame to something like the second most important team in the nation right now.

    P.S. Watching Texas this year might be like watching a slug fall into a salt bath.

    3. Alabama

    Cool that Lane Kiffin didn't misplace Derrick Henry in a desk drawer again, but Kenyan Drake was healthy, so maybe it's almost acceptable to only give Henry 13 carries on the night. Henry had 147 yards and three TDs on those carries, 11.3 yards an attempt.

    This might be a return to the buttoned-down anaconda-like teams of Alabama's early Nick Saban-era prime. This might be another year when you decline the option of watching the second half of Alabama games.

    4. Texas A&M

    [OBLIGATORY EARLY SEASON REMINDER TO BE SKEPTICAL OF TEXAS A&M DOING REALLY WELL EARLY IN THE SEASON BECAUSE THAT'S GONE BADLY BEFORE.]

    It's mostly that they have a defense now, or at least appear to have one after a sample size of one game's data. Aggie defensive end Myles Garrett made every tackle in this game. That's an official stat. Don't bother looking it up or anything.

    5. TCU

    They played! Remember that, three weeks ago on Thursday?

    This is where we tell you to discount the 23-17 score, respect the effort and heart of Minnesota, and recall that TCU and Minnesota played a similar, stuttering affair last year before the Horned Frogs went on a rampage through the rest of their schedule. Jerry Kill Football binds up the innards and makes for slow digestion, just like hearty Midwestern fare should.

    6. Auburn

    They looked disjointed and still beat a pretty decent Louisville, 31-24, but there are plenty of reasons to be freaked out.

    Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson could have easily thrown five INTs, most of them unforced, which should scare the hell out of Auburn fans. The defense struggled at times with picking up mobile QBs, but also has a Carl Lawson capable of blowing up the other team's offense at any time. I will not suggest that Will Muschamp carries a bacteria or virus causing offensive dysfunction wherever he goes.  I will not suggest that Will Muschamp carries a bacteria or virus causing offensive dysfunction wherever he goes. I will not-

    7. UCLA

    Freshman Josh Rosen had a stunning debut (28-of-35 for 351 yards and 3 TDs) against Virginia, so he's either winning a Heisman or transferring in a year after falling out with the coaching staff. It's very exciting! And it's also against UVA, which is someone with an aggressive defense and no ability to counterpunch whatsoever.

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    8. Baylor

    SMU was so bad last year it's hard to know what struggling early against the Mustangs means, especially with Chad Morris making what appears to be massive improvements. The second quarter was ugly as hell, and the talent level caved in on SMU in the second half, so ... well, Baylor's still really good, and that's about all you can say besides "maybe SMU doesn't QB run as well if Shawn Oakman was playing."

    9. West Virginia?

    That question mark is intentional since we're not sure whether shutting out a pretty good Georgia Southern team means the Mountaineers have a really good defense or whether that's even legal in West Virginia, or if Georgia Southern just had food poisoning or something.

    10. Ray Lawry, Old Dominion running back

    Did you ever run for so many yards that you GREW A THIRD ARM?

    Well, he did.

    11. Michigan State

    Western Michigan is a pretty good team to warm up with, and honestly the scores in Michigan State games are all but meaningless when you remember Mark Dantonio doesn't care at all about margin of victory. They're fine. I can say that with some certainty: after one game, Michigan State is probably fine.

    Just missed

    • Arkansas, kind of the invisible No. 12 after bludgeoning UTEP.
    • Tennessee, whose struggles with Bowling Green's offense are understandable when you realize that Bowling Green is pretty good.
    • Oregon, who played a good FCS Eastern Washington but allowed a ghastly amount of yardage and points.
    • Florida State, who played Texas State at home and apparently did not practice special teams all offseason.
    • USC, who somehow beat Arkansas State 55-6 and yet still managed to look sloppy.
    • Georgia and Clemson, via playing nobody.


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