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Please Like Her Sports, With Lauren Theisen

Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins and teammate Linus Ullmark #35 share a hug after Game One of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Long before she joined the final episode of our podcast at the old website, Lauren Theisen was one of this show's best-loved guests. One could even argue that when Lauren suggested that the Cincinnati Bengals could "start their own team" in response to Andy Dalton's benching—there was a thematic Dalton-related running gag to that episode, it was a bad time for everyone involved—that Defector itself was born from a Lauren Theisen riff. But we were all too sad at that moment to truly imagine meeting up again here, like this.

And while we actually did the hard part, in terms of making a new website and getting the band back together and making our way to this moment, we have struggled in the years since we left that old studio to get Lauren back on the podcast in a way that sounded passably OK. We no longer had the luxury of an in-house studio, but also every space in Lauren's home and every method we tried worked worse than the last. She always sounded like she was joining us from a submarine, or from under a mile of wool, or shortly after having been tragically eaten by a robot. So I am very happy to announce that, all these years later, we have finally figured out how to release a good-sounding Lauren Theisen Episode again.

Of course a lot of it is about hockey, but Lauren writes about hockey for our website, and the NHL playoffs are happening. To be clear, I don't blame her for the fact that the NHL playoffs are happening—I gather that's pretty much an annual thing—but I spent a lot of that portion steering things back to my personal (and ongoing) experience of seasonal allergies both because I thought listeners would care about how my sinuses are (bad) and because I don't know very much about hockey. Thankfully, Lauren is good at making this stuff not just legible but interesting even to relative hockey idiots like Drew and me. The delight you hear in my voice upon learning that the Rangers and Devils are playing each other in the opening round is very real.

After that, we talked a bit about a couple of hilariously distasteful big-money deals. Daniel Snyder's attempt to make a clean getaway from his decades of hideous behavior continues to loom ominously over the NFL, either as a towering and tasteless metaphor for elite impunity or just as a very good example of it. The merger between WWE and UFC, which Lauren has written about, led into a consideration of Vince McMahon's own singularly odious life and overall vibes. All in good fun and all that, but it was grim enough that when the time came to Remember A Guy it felt almost bracing to really drill down on the Detroit Lions and the people they have permitted to play quarterback for them during Lauren's lifetime. There's no amount of talking excitedly about Wayne Fontes that can cancel out acknowledging Daniel Snyder's existence, but I did my best anyway.

The Funbag afforded us the opportunity to parse the line between Memorable Guys and Forgettable Dudes, casually besmirch David Robinson's legacy, and celebrate Timofey Mozgov's pioneering work in local television advertising circa 2015. A classic Funbag-style question asking whether people take more steps inside or outside in their lifetimes put us all on our heels a little bit in considering our personal lifestyles, and the passage of time, and in my case how the little pedometer application on my phone has thoroughly gamified my brain and led me to pace around the front of my apartment in hope of getting a little digital cookie. That didn't sound any more dignified on the podcast than it looks here in print, but dignity is not really part of my job description. The important thing is that Lauren sounded great.

If you would like to subscribe to The Distraction, you can do that at Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, or wherever else you might get your podcasts. Feel free to discuss this week's episode in the comments below. Thank you as always for your support.

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