X Chromosome Football
“This will be a blast!” barked Vince McMahon, the man who turned wrestling from a pseudosport into a hugely profitable pseudosport, in comments last week. He was talking about his latest spawn: the XFL, the new extreme football league, which will hit the field next year. Though it isn’t clear whether fighting will be part of the fun, McMahon did mention high-tech touches like helmetcams, which will bring viewers inside huddles and even locker rooms. (What, no crotch-cup cams?) But the best assessment of the new game was McMahon’s response to the question of why he decided to start a football league: “Because figure skating sucks.” (Munch on that, Rudy Galindo.)
A man of manly speech, McMahon also asserted that the XFL was “not for pantywaists and sissies”—in case anyone wondered. But, requisite homophobia notwithstanding, it’s interesting to consider the connection between extreme football and the ongoing incursion of women into sports reserved for men. Women’s rugby will surely beget women’s football, leaving red-blooded, brew-chugging, SUV-buying boys without a league of their own. And now that the audience for NFL games is becoming more and more like the crowd that watches Sports Night (meaning, sexually mixed), it seems inevitable that superdudes want to move football as far as possible beyond the point where women can enjoy it. Clearly, the real inspiration for the XFL (that’s X for smashmouth, pal) is the growing power of women to claim male space.
But what if it turns out that girls just wanna have X-fun? Stay tuned for seal-pup clubbing?
Mike Versus Martin
Mike Richter may have snared Best Goalie honors at this weekend’s NHL All-Stars skills competition—defeating five other netminders including Martin Brodeur—but he still trails his cross-river colleague when they meet in contests that count. Brodeur’s play jump-started the February 2 come-from-behind Devils victory, running his and his team’s regular-season unbeaten streak against the Rangers to 17 games (12-0-5). In those 17 games, Brodeur has surrendered only 29 goals—an average of fewer than two a game. By comparison, Richter has allowed 41 Jersey goals in 14 of those games. Why do the Devils bedevil Mike? Former NHL coach Pierre McGuire, now a Sports Illustrated commentator, breaks it down for Jockbeat: “The Devils’ explosive line of Peter Sykora, Jason Arnott, and Patrik Elias forces the Ranger defensemen to retreat. The Devils also play outstanding hockey along the boards. The Devils’ big forwards clog the slot area in front of the net and that traffic hurts, because most of the Rangers’ defensemen don’t clear the crease well. Richter, who is smaller than Brodeur, has a harder time controlling pucks around the crease area. Also, Richter doesn’t handle the puck nearly as well as Brodeur.” Does this mean that if the Devils dominate the two clubs’ home-and-home series this week we’ll see a Brodeur feature in The New Yorker?
CONTRIBUTORS: RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, STU HACKEL, PETER GAMBACCINI, KARL-ERIK REIF SPORTS EDITOR: MILES D. SELIGMAN