Competitive Cheer

Competitive Cheer
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Happy Friday! What's good?

I am doing a bit better than last week, thanks for asking, although I haven't written anything and, more shockingly perhaps, haven't run all week. This is the first time since I started running (in 2022) that I have missed runs. Considering the injury rates among runners, I guess it's about time. I also missed a race last Saturday – the Al Gordon 4-miler in Brooklyn. All of this sucks – it sucks that that asshole knocked me down; it sucks that I injured my knee when I fell; it sucks that I missed one of my 9+1 races (that guarantees my entry to the 2025 NYC Marathon); it sucks that not running this week will likely impact the other races I have coming up – a 5K on Sunday, a virtual half marathon in a couple of weeks, and my "A" race in April. But I'm trying very hard to see this as recovery, not setback. I'm trying very hard to not catastrophize. Hopefully by Monday's newsletter, I'll be able to pull together some thoughts on how all of this – grief, depression, injury – is exacerbated by the kind of feedback that fitness technologies give us, the kind of work they demand of us.

And hopefully by tomorrow, I'll be running again, which will be hard emotionally and physically. The disappearance of Samantha Murphy, the murder of Laken Riley – these stories are too common. This past week also marked the anniversary of the murder of Ahmaud Arbaury. Also a threat to the lives of runners and walkers: "distracted drivers." But yeah. I so desperately want to run.

In other sports news: "Fears of witch hunts over Utah ban on trans athletes in girls’ sports." The Washington Post reports. Here in New York, "Nassau County bans trans women from playing sports at its facilities." Parkrun, an organization that hosts 5K races, recently announced it would no longer post race results on its website. According to the CEO, the move was made in order to encourage new and slower runners to participate. But it seems as though it's also a response to TERFs angered that trans women have been running parkruns as women. Notice a trend here? "The NCAA erased an entire generation of women’s sports," Sally Jenkins reminds us, noting that Lynette Woodard, not Caitlin Clark holds the record for scoring – but from an era when the NCAA didn't bother to keep track of women's records. "What’s Going On With Vince McMahon and the WWE This Time?" – a wrestling explainer in Vulture. One of the great things about being a writer is finally reading/listening to a project another writer-friend has been working on for a while. Case in point: Rose Eveleth on the rise of competitive cheerleading, part 1 and 2.

News about sports news: "As Sports Illustrated sputters, its owners throw a party for ‘the brand’," The Washington Post reports. Via Outside: "How Fan Service is Changing Running Media." That is, today it's not enough to have subscribers; you have to have fans. You have to be an influencer, or some shit. Related: "Where everyone’s an influencer and everything’s for sale" – this story in The Verge is about Flip, a TikTok knockoff, but everything's for sale on all social media, no? (Including, it appears, photos of your daughters.)

The latest sports science: "Yes, Your Sports Bra Really Can Restrict Your Breathing" and as such, can make it harder to run, confirming something that pretty much every female athlete could have told you. Related: Anne Helen Peterson talks to Christine Yu about "whose bodies get studied."

It's not science; it's fitness technology: BowFlex, the iconic workout-from-home fitness technology, is weighing bankruptcy. "Sweanty’s wearable patch for athletes tracks salt loss to help them hydrate," says TechCrunch. (I wrote about Gatorade's hydration patch a while ago.) "GlycanAge Secures $4.2M, Flexing the Future of Longevity," Athletech News reports, failing to mention that these sorts of "biological age" tests are, in fact, snake oil. Again, some fluff reporting from Athletech News: "Could Smart Earrings Shake Up the Wearables Space? Researchers Think So." Whenever Apple files a patent, you get a flurry of stories speculating about the future of its health-related gadgets. "Can a friendship app cure loneliness?" asks The Financial Times. (Perhaps this isn't directly related to fitness; but there's something going on with health, technology, and loneliness – even if it's just a story that's being told in the latest batch of Robert Putnam-like airport books.) More news that's health-tech adjacent, from Vox: "Mascuzynity: How a nicotine pouch explains the new ethos of young conservative men." Walmart plans to acquire cheap TV maker Vizio, because the future is advertising (and far more people watch sports on TV than play sports).

It's not science; it's fitness trends journalism: "My Mother Got on a Bike. It Changed Her Life," writes Caroline Paul in The New York Times. "75 Hard Has a Cultish Following. Is It Worth All the Effort?" asks The New York Times. "Could You Pass the Presidential Physical Fitness Test Today?" asks The New York Times. Tim Dowling asks in The Guardian: "Is going to bed at 9pm the secret to happiness? My week of sleeping like a gen Zer." I regret to inform you people are still writing about Bryan Johnson. (He still plans to live forever, but the guy apparently has long COVID.)

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this breakfast and food-tech news: "Let them eat cake cereal" – Marie Antoinette Kellogg's CEO. Wendy's backtracks on its plans to introduce surge pricing. AI food on DoorDash via 404 Media – if you aren't reading 404 Media, what are you even doing?

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