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Endurance Basketball, Dystopian Golf, And The Plight Of The Sacrificial Mensch

Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera staring very intensely at new quarterback Carson Wentz, but The Distraction logo has been superimposed over Wentz's face.
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There are two ways things can go when you—or, more to the point, I—get ready to record a podcast with a hugely insufficient amount of sleep. Broadly speaking, those ways are “up” and “down.” As I dragged two hefty under-eye bags and between four and five hours of sleep up to the microphone on Wednesday morning, I didn’t really know which way it would go. But when our prospective guest bailed shortly before recording, leaving just Drew and me to do whatever it is we do every week, I knew. Whatever it is that makes me act mildly normal or try to keep it together when we have a guest—it might or might not be some oafish version of professionalism or a vestigial urge to do a good job, and is probably just my upbringing—was now by the wayside. It was just us, the news of the day, and the physical question of how many words the punchiest version of myself could say aloud over 53 minutes. Here, now, is the answer.

This is better, I guess, than if things had broken more in the direction of “down,” which at least might have allowed Drew a bit more oxygen. But if the usual contrast between Drew’s energy and mine was lessened somewhat due to my sleepy hyperness, the Caffeination Express was most definitely running on time. And so it was that, at a brisk and unusually opinionated clip, we addressed pretty much everything that’s happening at this moment in sports. We talked about the strangely shaped, unevenly paced, but mostly entertaining NBA Finals, and particularly how the maximum exhaustion of every participant has added a peculiar and almost poignant element to the experience. We talked, too, about Jack Del Rio’s utterly replacement-level idiocy, and Ron Rivera’s thankless role as the Man Of Dignity at the center of the most relentlessly undignified organization in the NFL. The simultaneously janky and sinister LIV Golf tour could well have been the subject of the entire episode, and our talk about its future—how much it is the future of everything, whether it could “win” and what that might look like—was about as heated as I imagine I will ever get about golf. Again, the sleep deprivation might have had something to do with that.

All that time actually talking about things that are happening left us a limited amount of time for the Funbag, which is a problem that we solved by just…doing a longer than usual Funbag. At this point, the episode had slipped the surly bonds of narrative coherence and Drew had joined me in the stratosphere. There, above the clouds, we allowed listeners to lead us into the big questions. What is it that makes people want to share bad news with strangers, which some social scientists have called The Peter King Instinct? Do we really need a President, and if so why? How cool was Young Shaq? It would stand to reason that, by this point, after all the talk of ’90s stuff and current sports things and an unfortunate and largely unmotivated recurrence of my stupid Trump voice, I should have been tired. Somehow, though, I felt more awake than I had in some time. Until later that day, anyway. Then I really was very sleepy.

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