Search Results for: Flinder-Boyd

Longreads Best of 2014: Sports Writing

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in sports writing.

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Eva Holland
Freelance writer based in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Together We Make Football (Louisa Thomas, Grantland)

It’s been a bad year for football: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, the lingering Jameis Winston saga. And a bad year for football means a big year for think pieces about violence and football—I couldn’t tell you how many of those I read this year. But one of them stood out. In “Together We Make Football,” Louisa Thomas reflects on the uncomfortable relationship between the NFL, masculinity, violence, and women. She takes her time, building a case slowly and methodically, before driving home her point: that violence is inherent to, and integral to, the NFL. That although the vast majority of football players don’t beat their wives, there may be no way to separate the bad violence—the off-field violence—from the on-field violence that we love. Here’s Thomas: Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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Longreads Best of 2013: Award for Outstanding Reporting

Ryan Leaf’s Jailhouse Confessions, Written By His Cell Mate

John Cagney Nash | Playboy | September 2013 | 19 minutes (4,710 words)


Flinder Boyd (@FlinderBoyd) is a journalist for SB Nation, Sports on Earth, and the BBC among others.

Athletes and sports writers usually come from two completely different professional worlds and as a result there is often an emotional wall between the two of them. At times, on the page, it can almost read as if two are speaking vastly different languages.

The British journalist John Cagney Nash solved this problem by somehow landing himself in the same jail in Montana as Ryan Leaf, the one-time future of the NFL and now its biggest draft bust. Over the course of a few months the two became friends and Leaf was able to open up with his fellow inmate in a way we rarely get to read about.

For years since Leaf’s retirement he’s been seen as little more than a pathetic example for all that can go wrong with the draft. Thanks to Nash’s deft touch we’re able see him as human, and at times Leaf’s honesty is downright heartbreaking.


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Illustration by Jason Mecier

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Longreads Best of 2013: Favorite New Writer Discovery

Above: Thomas “TJ” Webster Jr.


Ross Andersen is a Senior Editor at Aeon Magazine. He has written extensively about science and philosophy for several publications, including The Atlantic and The Economist.

“Flinder Boyd’s piece about an aspirational streetballer and his cross-country trip to New York’s legendary Rucker Park had me from the very first word. The story is about basketball, a minor obsession of mine, but it’s also about poverty and the kinds of dreams it nurtures. Boyd gives us an unflinching portrait of his subject, an underskilled, overconfident young ballplayer from Sacramento without ever stripping him of his dignity as a human being. I read it twice, straight through.”

20 Minutes At Rucker Park

Flinder Boyd | SB Nation | October 2013 | 31 minutes (7,805 words)

More stories from Boyd in the Longreads Archive


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“Perhaps he wasn’t wrong to stake everything on this. He’d chosen a different path – a journey deep into the unknown to confront his self-doubts and fears head-on. He had to walk fearlessly inside the gates of Rucker Park and believe it was all worth it … then play the game of his life. His choice to put everything on the line was rare, but it’s not unique. Nearly every culture and tradition has a similar story, real or imagined. When a young man starts his journey, he must be brave enough to take a metaphysical leap of faith. He must be willing to step foot on the bus and travel straight into the labyrinth of his fears, toward whatever awaits him on the other end, even if it may rip him to shreds. It’s the ultimate gamble. If the young man is successful, he comes home a hero, and becomes important. His life has meaning and purpose. But in order to succeed, he must first completely open up his soul to the consequences of failure, knowing there may be no way back out. This, above all else, is the hardest thing to do.”

Flinder Boyd on the hoop dream of Thomas “TJ” Webster Jr. (SB Nation). Read more from Boyd in the Longreads Archive.


Photo by Flinder Boyd

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Longreads Best of 2013: The 10 Stories We Couldn't Stop Thinking About

For four years now, the Longreads community has celebrated the best storytelling on the web. Thanks for all of your contributions, and special thanks to Longreads Members for supporting this service. We couldn’t keep going without your funding, so join us today.

Earlier this week we posted every No. 1 story from our weekly email this year, in addition to all of the outstanding picks from our Best of 2013 series. Here are 10 stories that we couldn’t stop thinking about.

See you in 2014. Read more…

Longreads Best of 2013: Here Are All 49 of Our No. 1 Story Picks From This Year

Every week, Longreads sends out an email with our Top 5 story picks—so here it is, every single story that was chosen as No. 1 this year. If you like these, you can sign up to receive our free Top 5 email every Friday.

Happy holidays! Read more…

Longreads Best of 2012: Esquire's Chris Jones


Chris Jones is a writer for Esquire and ESPN and the winner of two National Magazine Awards.

Favorite new writer discovery of 2012

I’m always scared of making lists like this, because a year is a long time, and I read a lot, and invariably I’ll forget writers and pieces that I liked very much. But this category is easy for me: Michael J. Mooney. He wrote back-to-back stories for D Magazine this summer that are so different but the same in that they both knocked me on my ass. First he wrote about a brutal rape in “When Lois Pearson Started Fighting Back.” (It is a difficult read, but the ending is more than worth it.) And then he wrote the most amazing bowling story ever in “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever.” Plus, he’s a straight-up good dude. Love this guy so much.

Best election story

I’m going to seem like a homer here, but I don’t care: Charlie Pierce did journalism on during this entire election cycle that bordered on heroic—and I don’t use that word lightly. In its ideas, in its language, in its sheer volume, his account of this election, taken as a whole, is humbling and inspiring at the same time. Start with the end, “The Greatness of Barack Obama is Our Great Project” and go back from there.

Best personal blog post/essay

I’m going to pick two stories here, both sports stories. Writers hate hearing athletes say, “You never played the game,” but it’s hard to deny that former athletes understand the games they played better than most of us do. Just the other day, The Classical posted a meditation by former basketball player Flinder Boyd about Ricky Rubio, “The Ricky Rubio Experience.” I’m not sure I can say why, exactly, but I was really moved by this story. Some of The Classical guys can be snide little shits, far too Internet cool, but Boyd wrote with real heart here. I love this story.

The second is by one of my most favorite friends, Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN. He wrote about the death of a semi-pro football player in a story called “Games of chance.” Kevin played college football at the University of Montana, and he writes beautifully about the pull of the game as well as the charge that comes from hitting and with being hit. Sometimes the first person interrupts; here it informs.

Best crime story

I see the great David Grann has already picked this one, but I’ll echo his pick, because it was that good: Pamela Colloff’s “The Innocent Man” for Texas Monthly is an epic, immersive, amazing story. And full credit to the gang down in Austin for committing so completely to longform journalism. That this story even exists makes me hopeful about so many things.

The story that made me feel the most awesome about just about everything

I’ve always been an optimist about writing, or at least I’ve always tried to be an optimist about writing, and 2012, for me, has been filled with reasons for optimism (like Pamela Colloff’s story above, which is really a multi-layered testament to the power of belief). Yes, this business remains in flux, and yes, many good writers continue to put more love into their writing than their writing returns to them. But I still feel like we live in a golden age, filled with possibility. One of the stories that most made me feel that way—both because of the story itself, and because of its subject—was “How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big-Budget Flick” by Jason Fagone in Wired. The title describes the tale exactly, and it’s just as improbable and fun and crazy as it sounds. I feel like this story sums up the modern writing business as well as any: There’s still plenty of lightning out there, and there are still lots of bottles, and every now and then, someone still catches one with the other.

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