Thursday’s Podcast: Fantasy Olympics

On this week’s episode of The 252, Chris, Sam, and I kept talking about the Olympics: analyzing an assignment that had students draft a “fantasy team” of nations competing in the Olympics (and what medal counts do and don’t signify about countries); considering what effect the 2008 Olympics had on Chinese politics; and predicting what the 2021 post-COVID games might look like.

One of the most memorable venues of the last Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, will be used again in 2021 – Creative Commons (Arne Müseler)

Then we spent the second segment revisiting a pair of sports we’ve barely mentioned so far this semester in our History and Politics of Sports class: horse racing and car racing. Are these sports? How have they waxed and waned in popularity — and why are our students overwhelmingly ambivalent to them? What do they tell us about the integration of science and technology into sports? In addition to letting us review some now-familiar questions and debates from our class so far, horses and cars also let us preview a few of the topics coming up in our last two weeks, including gambling. (For a deeper dive into these sports, check out our April 17, 2019 episode with Sara Shady.)

You can download or stream The 252 from Podbean or Apple Podcasts.

This week’s “Three to See”

• Chris Moore recommended the Newbery-winning basketball novel, The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander.

• Sam Mulberry read from John Updike’s great essay about Ted Williams’ final game. (Blogged about here in 2016.)

• And I talked about my favorite version of fantasy sports: Strat-o-Matic Baseball.