Summary of “How We Watch Soccer Now”

When I’m feeling curious or apprehensive about the future of the game, and about the sheer range of soccer I might one day feel obliged to obsess over, I’ll read up on Major League Soccer or the Chinese Super League-generally agreed to be rising forces, though still currently a place for second-rank talent and the occasional fading, pampered megastar.
A recent Gallup poll found that soccer was the favorite sport to watch for seven per cent of Americans-higher than hockey, and only slightly lower than baseball.
Attempts to introduce the game at Cambridge University during the eighteen-forties foundered, because, as one student wrote, “Every man played the rules he had been accustomed to at his public school. I remember how the Eton men howled at the Rugby men for handling the ball.” A compromise, the Cambridge Rules, was drawn up and a campaign for universal standards spread. In 1863, representatives from eleven clubs formed the Football Association-the term “Soccer” is a contraction of “Association football”-and set about devising the Laws of the Game, which included the maximum length of the pitch and a prohibition on throwing the ball.
Foreigners’ soccer was viewed with haughty indifference by the English soccer establishment.
In the next decade and a half, England had its first soccer tragedy, the Munich air disaster, in which eight Manchester United players died; its first soccer superstar, George Best, the so-called fifth Beatle; its first and only World Cup victory; its first knighthoods for a soccer player and a manager.
In his chirpy “History of British Football”, the musicologist Percy M. Young identified the arrival of a recognizable new type-the soccer connoisseur, who would watch only “Attractive football.” But even among connoisseurs tribalism often won out; the point of soccer was still to chant and cheer, not analyze and admire.
Like most families, we didn’t have Murdoch’s satellite package, but we still caught highlights of Premiership games on the BBC’s weekly roundup “Match of the Day,” and, for the first time, it was easy to watch soccer being played outside the British Isles.
More recently, Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote that Zidane’s “Every move” at the 2006 World Cup was “a joy to behold”-even the head-butt was “Entirely rational”-and Tom McCarthy mused that Zinedine Zidane’s head was ineluctably drawn to the double “Z” in his antagonist’s surname, calling the head-butt “Perhaps the most decisive rite typography has been accorded in our era.” Such poetic flights, for all their idiosyncrasy, constitute a more or less natural response to the way we watch soccer today.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Zach Lowe on The Basketball Tournament and NBA crunch time”

The organizers of The Basketball Tournament, the $2 million winner-take-all pickup-style challenge entering its fifth iteration, did not know quite what to expect last year when they experimented with a radical change to crunch time: shutting off the game clock and playing until one team reaches a target score.
The Elam Ending is the brainchild of Nick Elam, a former middle school principal who got sick of NBA games ending in an endless torrent of intentional fouls.
Under Elam’s rules, trailing teams would use regular basketball – not hacking – to rally.
He settled on adding seven points at various trigger times – under 3:00 in his NBA proposal, and under 4:00 for TBT, which uses nine-minute quarters and a 30-second shot clock – because it represented a close points-per-minute match to what teams produce in typical game play.
They have had internal spitballing sessions about what the NBA game would look like without an all-powerful clock – if teams took quarter breaks whenever one reached a certain threshold of points, sources said.
How would manufacturing a dead ball look in a close, intense game? As Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers crescendoed over a furious stretch of uninterrupted play, would anyone have wanted either team stopping the action on purpose?
Of course, some NBA teams intentionally foul when they are ahead by three late in games.
The approximately four-minute Elam Ending lasted an average of almost 10 minutes in real time and featured six free throws – close to the NBA’s averages over the same length of game time, Wasch said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Two Decades Later, the Spurs May Have to Rebuild”

Leonard feels the Spurs turned on him once he got a second opinion for the tendinopathy in his right quadriceps that sidelined him for 73 games, according to multiple reports.
Though Leonard hasn’t officially requested a trade, and the Spurs still have a five-year, $219 million supermax extension they can offer to Leonard, reports suggest we’re heading toward a breakup.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein said the Spurs still haven’t “Yet” made Leonard available.
The fact Leonard’s camp leaked that he wants out is an indication that his camp is trying to escalate the situation in order to force the Spurs to trade him.
The Spurs aren’t budging as of now, but Leonard’s camp is pushing back hard.
The Spurs can attempt to run it back with the pieces they acquire in exchange for Leonard, but with so much salary committed to aging stars, there are few avenues for them to become a contender until the 2020s.
The Spurs should at least consider blowing it up after dealing Leonard by flipping Aldridge, Gasol, and Patty Mills, and then turning their focus to the draft and player development.
Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs appears to be irreparable, and now San Antonio will need to build again.

The orginal article.

Summary of “So, Is Paul George Out on the Thunder?”

If LeBron is the first and highest-profile domino to fall, then Paul George will be the second.
A free agent after spending a year in Oklahoma City, George has been angling to get to Los Angeles for years.
“There is a growing belief around the league that Oklahoma City has a far better chance to retain the free agent-to-be Paul George than many believed when the Thunder crashed out of the first round of the playoffs.”
It feels far-fetched to think that George will actually go somewhere other than L.A., but what if LeBron signs a one-year deal in Cleveland again? George could delay his departure by another year and re-sign with the Thunder for a short stint.
There’s the extremely speculative side of things, the one that is based on appearances like, say, George showing up with Lakers rookie Josh Hart to a Fortnite event in Los Angeles and being asked about joining Hart on the Lakers this summer.
LA. A post shared by Josh Hart on Jun 12, 2018 at 8:20pm PDT. The irony in all of this is that if LeBron selects Los Angeles as his next destination, and George does too, there’s a substantial chance the roster overhaul might cost Hart his position on this team.
If LeBron doesn’t sign with the Lakers, well George could still go “Home” and make them into a playoff team.
George seems much more comfortable as a second fiddle than as the main act.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon’s Clever Machines Are Moving From the Warehouse to Headquarters”

Former and current employees say the retail group that used industry connections to lure brands to Amazon and helped create an e-commerce colossus is now being merged with the team that runs the marketplace, an automated platform that lets anyone with an internet connection price, market and sell their wares on Amazon without interacting with a single person.
Amazon began automating retail team jobs several years ago.
If a brand notified Amazon about an upcoming marketing blitz for a product, an Amazon manager could increase the order in anticipation of demand the algorithm didn’t expect.
“Amazon realized a lot of expensive employees were spending a lot of time working on things that should really be automated,” recalls Elaine Kwon, who worked as a vendor manager at Amazon from 2014 to 2016.
Growth in Prime subscribers and Fulfillment By Amazon, which lets independent merchants use Amazon’s warehouse and distribution network, made the self-service platform a magnet for products without any help from its retail team.
The center of gravity in retail shifted, and most major brands wanted to be seen on Amazon where so many people were shopping.
The retail team, which had far more employees, watched its importance fade and money funneled into projects like Amazon Web Services and Alexa.
Now, instead of calling their vendor manager at Amazon, the makers of handbags, smartphone accessories and other products simply logged into an Amazon portal that would determine if Amazon liked the deal being offered and the quantity it was willing to buy.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Makes a Team Great?”

“Baseball is a team game,” Pete Rose, the former player and manager, once said.
In its typical invocation, chemistry is a cop-out-an after-the-fact explanation of why a team won, especially against the odds.
Barry Zito, then a declining Giants pitcher who miraculously outdueled opposing pitcher and reigning American League MVP Justin Verlander in a game that had been billed as “One of the great mismatches of World Series history,” told me recently about the team’s postseason turning point, which he offered as proof of its chemistry.
Two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and one from Indiana University recently attempted to locate team chemistry by finding places where existing performance metrics fall short.
These players, the economists hypothesized, create chemistry-they have shown repeated ability to elevate their team above the sum of its parts.
A similar effort is under way in the major leagues, where Dacher Keltner and Hooria Jazaieri, psychologists at UC Berkeley, are conducting research with the goal of finding associations between the supposed subtle physical tells of chemistry and team success.
Russell Carleton, a writer for Baseball Prospectus, has found evidence that chemistry can be cultivated in the long term through careful organizational management-one analysis of his, for example, reveals that having less roster turnover from year to year helps a team slug more home runs.
Katerina Bezrukova, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management, looked at the demographic breakdowns of all 30 MLB teams over five seasons, analyzing age, race, nationality, tenure, and salary, on the theory that while diversity was necessary for success, teams with players who were isolated-those without any or many demographic peers-would develop “Faultlines,” or breaks in chemistry that might be exposed and exacerbated when the team struggled.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Warriors’ Dynasty Is Different”

In the same backcourt, the Warriors had another guard who was arguably an even more accurate shooter, with a release that is the quickest in basketball – so fast that he doesn’t even need to have his feet set before he shoots.
The Warriors were the best jump-shooting club in the NBA when left wide open this past season.
In Game 2 of the Finals, the Warriors countered that predictable gameplan, by using dump-off passes to spring give-and-go opportunities, or to set up lobs for JaVale McGee and Jordan Bell, who were often left all alone in the paint.
The Warriors aren’t as young as you think Teams that won three titles in four seasons by the age of their core players in the last title season, 1976-2018.
If there’s something that makes this team different – and gives it better odds of winning for a greater amount of time – it’s that this group of highly talented players doesn’t seem as likely to be torn apart by the retirements, contract issues and jealousies that trouble other clubs in this spot.
By contrast, the Warriors have already become the new-age San Antonio Spurs, as a number of their players have acted in the best interest of the team by taking much smaller deals than they could have.
The players’ willingness to often take less than market value, even for bit pieces like Zaza Pachulia, has allowed the Warriors to improve the roster on the margins each year – sprinkling in specific attributes that the team lacks.
With McGee in particular, Golden State took a minimal risk by signing a player who had a less-than-stellar reputation around the league, but was incredibly long and athletic – two things the Warriors lacked in a traditional center.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Seahawks Rebuild on Pete Carroll’s Competition Mantra”

In the team meeting room, each player gets up from the seats they were in the year before and finds a new spot around different people.
Kam Chancellor is awaiting scans on his neck to see if he’ll be able to play.
Here’s the curveball: The roster turnover, the departure of all those core players, has actually made it easier for Carroll.
We’re going to share details on a visit Kobe Bryant took to Foxboro in May. The Kobe visit was an interesting one, because of Bryant’s experience as an athlete who played 20 professional seasons.
“We want to turn the page on that as fast as we can. Obviously we can’t get the taste out of our mouth until we start playing football games. We all know that and we respect that. But to talk about it, what does that do? It doesn’t do anything but bring up bad memories. We’ve pushed forward from that.”
“That’s the way John’s approached it. I know it’s the way our coaching staff has approached it. We want to get to winning as soon as we can, and the moves signal that. Tyrod Taylor’s our starting quarterback, we drafted a rookie quarterback, and I think it’s a great situation to be in-we don’t have to play a rookie quarterback right away, because we have a proven guy who’s played in the league, won games, played in playoff games. That’s exciting. I also think it sends a message, creates a narrative that this team is gearing up to win, that everything we’re doing is pointing towards winning.”
Among Bryant’s talking points was the importance of training, and of studying other players, to his ability to play two decades in the NBA. The Patriots who were listening have another pretty good example of longevity in their own locker room, and they made the connection quickly.
I’ll never blame a football player in that situation for trying to leverage a team.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside Amazon’s $3.5 million competition to make Alexa chat like a human”

On the face of it, Amazon isn’t asking much: just create a chatbot using Alexa that can talk to a human for 20 minutes without messing up, and you get a $1.5 million prize.
Prasad says he hopes the Alexa Prize will have a similar effect on conversational AI. Each of this year’s eight teams, selected from universities around the world, will be building their chatbots using Amazon’s resources: basic speech recognition tools from Alexa, free computing power from Amazon Web Services, and stacks of training data from tens of millions of Alexa users.
Teams get to compete, and Amazon gets to pick talent Amazon isn’t doing this simply for the benefit of the academic community, of course.
As Prasad notes: “Every technology built as part of the Alexa Prize is applicable to Alexa.” When I ask the teams about this none of them felt they were being taken advantage of.
For the teams at this year’s Alexa Prize, there are two basic approaches for solving this huge task.
The team responsible for the voice assistant isn’t just making new features for consumers; they’re also building tools so other companies can use Alexa for their own products and services.
Talking to teams at the Alexa Prize, it’s clear that the AI community is dreaming much, much bigger than this.
The techniques being developed by the teams at this year’s Alexa Prize are ingenious and worthy of praise, but chatbots still have a long way to go before they match humanity in its gift of the gab.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Warriors Upped the Stakes This Offseason”

The Warriors won their third title in four seasons in a sweep, and LeBron James wasn’t even on the floor in the final four minutes of Game 4 because the Cavaliers were getting pummeled so badly.
Dynasties have defined the NBA every decade-Bill Russell’s Celtics to Magic Johnson’s Lakers to Michael Jordan’s Bulls-but it’s different with the Warriors: It’s felt like the road has been too easy, just like many fans and pundits feared it would be when Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors on July 4, 2016.
Every team faces its own kind of adversity-David West even hinted after Game 4 that Golden State had behind-the-scenes issues that the public has “No clue” about-but it doesn’t change the fact that the Warriors still tip the scales on the court.
The Warriors are here to stay, as is the feeling from some fans that they’re ruining the NBA by turning every season into an inevitability.
The Warriors may be too good, but coaches, executives, and players around the league have an unsatisfied hunger to defeat them.
The offseason hot stove is already burning up just three days after the Warriors’ win.
Regardless of where he goes, his next team will need the talent and cerebral qualities necessary to defeat the Warriors.
No one expected the Warriors to turn into a force when Curry’s ankles couldn’t stay healthy and Draymond Green was just a second-round reserve.

The orginal article.