If you ask me about the Buffalo Bills, I’ll give you two lines about Super Bowls and two pages about growing up as a little brother who always felt he couldn’t be better than second-best. If you ask me about the Indianapolis Colts, I’ll give you the story of how my dad moved states and countries when he was a child but wound up in Maryland on the other side of the greatest upset of all time, and how sometimes we inherit things we have no say in. If you ask me about Alabama vs. LSU, you can talk about Saban while I talk about fighting for my wife’s honor in the backroom of Rounders. If you want to talk championships, I can talk that all day, but I’d rather talk about being handed a full bottle of champagne when the safety got looked off and how that drunken walk home beats all the others. I can’t tell you who set the edge or who made the key block, but I can tell you where I was and who had the next round.
—Brian Oliu & Jason McCall
Today I saw a video of my best friend weeping in Citizens Bank Park and I started crying too even though we aren’t Phillies fans in this house because that cry—of exuberance, of past pain scabbed over, of exhaustion, of true love—Kyle and I have been reading versions of it for months. Here they are, our favorites. We asked what is baseball to you and the answer is something like this: a dream; a knife; a car crash; the bat, still, but bloodied; fathers (so many fathers); a slow burn; an inheritance; a tree; big hands; a monster; everything. Everything, everything.
— Emily Laura Costa & Kyle Seibel
We started this journal because we love writing about sports. But, even more than writing about sports, we love writing that includes sports, writing around sports, writing where sports are there but are really mostly used as a window or a lens or a portal (what’s the sports metaphor here? the… player tunnel? entrance gates?) into writing about relationships and self and the world around us. For this issue, we were especially drawn to writing about the non-major sports — we’ve got pickleball and ice dancing, air hockey and bowling, cornhole and a make-out competition and the classic Huey Lewis & The News album, Sports, and then the few that are about basketball and baseball are really about creativity and play, self-mythologizing, failure. All the stuff we’re drawn to in writing, whether there are any sports involved or not.
—Aaron Burch & Crow Jonah Norlander
There is no joy in all of sports like watching a basketball spin through air in a high arc on its way to the hoop in the final seconds of a close game. Like writing, this game must be mastered alone: working on your handle and shot in your driveway, the playground, the dirt and sidewalks, flipping shots into the air and dreaming of it being a game winner. The practice is what makes writing great; the practice is what makes the five-on-five fullcourt hustle so perfect. Here, we bring the moves to make you ooh and aah, from the highflying to the heartstopping, with teams and tyrants, sprained ankles and busted fingers, fatigue and fatherhood, heroes and heels, filling your heart and brain with these fantastic stories and poems until the next time you put it all on hold to lace 'em up, hear that perfect sound of a pounding rock, and hoist a few jumpers, holding your arm up and wrist cocked in triumph as your shot flutters to the bottom of the net.
tickets taken & purses checked; here we go. the stadium is packed with bloodied players, band nerds, wild mascots, and furious fans. and if you look beyond the lights, the towering goalposts, to the darkness looking back: tombstones, final girls, ghosts, and giants. even a dinosaur or two. there's more to this game than a helmet and ball, more players than those out on the field, more than just heartache in this world. there's humor and pride as well, closeness and desire, deep nostalgia and endless forward motion.
a bullpen of words & sports & poetry. featuring line drives, loneliness, lilacs, the devotion of fanhood, and that old standby: the mercy rule. curt flood makes an appearance. so does pittsburgh, velcro, poughkeepsie, little league, & love. lots of love.
a collection of poetry, fiction, and cnf from our inaugural rag-tag grand slam of underdogs, arrogant S.O.Bs, shredders and rodeo clowns—with guest appearances by the guy who bowled a perfect game on 9/11, anne carson, race horses, window textiles, the pennsylvania turnpike and others