When sports are more than just a game

On the surface, sporting events may seem like a vehicle for displays of physical strength, an outlet for competitiveness and an excuse to drink beer. But deep down, athletics reveal meaningful insights that get at the core of the human condition, like a fundamental need for community and the drive to continually improve oneself, delaying the inevitable decline.

In this edition of the Sunday Reading Ritual, we’re exploring the unexpected side of the athletic world—from better, more intentional ways to practice to the side effects of being a superfan.

Is it Ever too Late to Pursue a Dream?
Matt Giles, photos by Brendan Burden, Longreads
Once most athletes hit 30, it’s time to start thinking about life after the game. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? This fascinating longread takes a look at the science behind age and sports through the lens of a 39-year-old college student who got a spot on his school’s basketball team and wound up becoming a local celebrity.

The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice
James Clear, JamesClear.com

Mindlessly performing the same skill over and over in the hopes of getting better at it might seem effective, but as it turns out, there’s much more to practicing than that. Using examples from world-renowned athletes, chefs and musicians, James Clear breaks down the steps to building your own deliberate practice, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

Is Fandom Really Worth It?
Ben Healy, The Atlantic

Heart disease. Increased testosterone. Decreased chance of depression. Being a diehard fan can come with some potentially life-altering side effects, depending on the scorecard. This article dives into some of the surprising stats around the physical ramifications of rooting for the home team.

Why Competitive Gaming is Starting to Look Like Professional Sports
Andrew Webster, The Verge

Imagine a world in which the same number of people who watched the Super Bowl also watch a Korean gamer destroy hundreds of digital characters in an epic Overwatch battle. This reality might not be far off. Check out the Verge’s exploration of the rise of e-sports and what it means for today’s athletic landscape.

A Pocket Workout Tip
The next time you hit the gym or go for a run, try listening to stories in Pocket. Tap the headphone button and it’ll read aloud any story you’ve saved, with each story starting after the last has finished — kind of like a podcast of your list. Better yet, it works offline, so you’re free to explore the open road without using up your data.