Welcome to our first issue of Some Call It Ballin.’ This venture began in earnest at a little café. We were talking at length, in depth, and personally about, well, sports (can’t quite recall if it was the Knicks’ doldrums or the concussion thing or Anderson Silva or what…we talk sports a lot)—and one of us said, plain as day, “Hey, we should start a magazine so we can have a place to read about this stuff.” It was almost that simple.
Yes, it’s true, part of why we’re beginning this magazine is because of what feels like an abundance, a saturation, even, of unsatisfactory sports writing—or, more precisely, sports thinking. Despite a handful of truly superb sportswriters, it seems that a critical mass of writers and commentators these days take their cue from barking pundits, whose bluster and volume and arm waving constitutes analysis and, more frighteningly, mastery. If you turn on ESPN or any of the other outlets, you’re almost certain to be blasted with something, well, nevermind. The reason we’re bringing you (and us) Some Call It Ballin’ is not so much to interfere with that noise (though nudging the volume down a touch wouldn’t hurt). We want to offer a more subtle and complicated noise, one that might, we hope, make clear that what we call “sport” is, in fact, one of the real ways by which a culture expresses itself—its beliefs and fears and ambitions and stories.
Whether in Ross Gay’s personal reflections on concussions in football; or Karissa Chen’s retrospective on Michelle Kwan; or Gabrielle Calvocoressi's critique of Russia's anti-gay political rhetoric in the upcoming Olympics; or Patrick Rosal’s piece about the recent Manny Pacquiao fight; or Aracelis Girmay’s meditation on Abebe Bikila, the Ethiopian marathon champion of the 1960 Olympics in Rome; or in Chris Mattingly’s piece about baseball and time, all of these pieces are written by people, who, while deeply entwined with their subjects, pretend no mastery over them. In fact, what might feel most compelling about these pieces is an abiding mystery, not unlike what might be the deepest truth of sport: people offering their bodies to the unknown hoping to emerge with some beauty, some truth.
Thank you to Mark Rosal for his logo design and Nick Rosal for the stunning original artwork throughout the magazine. Without their help, Some Call It Ballin' would be nothing more than an idea that disappeared in the steam of an Americano.
And thank you, especially, to you, dear reader, for chipping in to this conversation. Now we got a game.