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What Is The Hardest Sport To Cheat At?

BOSTON - APRIL 21: Rosie Ruiz #W50 is supported by Boston police officers moments after crossing the finish line as the apparent women's race winner of the 84th Boston Marathon held on April 21, 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts. Ruiz was later stripped of her race title after it was determined she had not run the entire race. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rosie Ruiz
David Madison/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about blankets, salt, 100 Grand bars, college football, and more.

Your letters:


What's the hardest sport to cheat at? FWIW, I'm going with basketball. I will not be taking questions.

Are we including PEDs in this question? Because if you consider using HGH to be cheating, then you can cheat in any sport, even chess, quite easily. You might get caught, but only if you’re stupid. I myself would get caught within six seconds of doing roids because I’d show up to the game with a needle still hanging off of my asscheek. Professional athletes are far more discreet.

But if we’re striking PEDs from consideration, my answer is golf. Golf works on an honor system, which makes Jim Nantz rock-hard and causes him to spurt GENTLEMEN’S GAME as a tic for 10 straight minutes. But that honor system means that every single person on the course is an aspiring informant. Up until just six years ago, even TV viewers were allowed to snitch on suspected cheaters in golf. You fail to sign your scorecard? Someone will tell. You accidentally tapped the ball before you commenced putting? Someone will tell. You’re Patrick Reed? Someone will tell. Golf is a mannered Gestapo of a sport, and everyone involved will die to protect its sanctity from would-be scofflaws like Vijay Singh.

But you can take all the Saudi oil money you please. That’s all right.


As a slightly older dad (empty nester!), I take a nap in the afternoon and like to have a blanket on me. For whatever reason, I prefer a wool blanket over other kinds. My rankings are:

1. Wool yoga blanket: nice and warm, soft, has some weight to it

2. Wool stadium blanket: warm but a bit short

3. Plush, fleece with a down fill

4. Cheap and cheerful IKEA polar fleece

5. Ranger blanket/woobie

Do you have a preferred blanket for when you're resting your eyes?

Luckily for me, this question comes just as the wife and I have busted out the fleece blanket on top of the comforter for winter. My favorite time of year. I sleep like the dead now and I love it.

But I don’t restrict my fleece blankets exclusively to winter use. We have stores of fleece blankets in both the TV room and the basement. Regardless of season, I use them whenever I want to sit or nap in my recliner. My wife uses them, too. And my kids. And the dog. I feel naked sitting in my chair without one. My internal body temperature plummets by two whole degrees in such moments. Intolerable. I must be warm and snug at all times. When Armageddon finally comes, I’ll be among the first to die.

And I’m for fleece blankets only. Wool blankets are too scratchy. I’m still triggered by them from growing up with the crappy wool blankets I had to sleep under at summer camp. Made me feel like I was in the Marines. Hence, I require the synthetic luxury that only fleece offers. Shearling fleece, to be precise. For my upstairs recliner, I cover myself in a Sherpa blanket that I bought for $30 at an outlet store and now cherish like it was passed onto me by a dead relative. For my downstairs recliner, I just bought a shearling Vikings blanket that my wife utterly despises. She’s not exactly wrong to dislike it: it’s big and purple and almost certainly made from discarded nuclear waste. But try telling that to me when I’m nestled under that same blanket and watching my team lose a game that they should’ve won by three touchdowns. BLISS.

As a matter of fact, I brought the Vikings blanket with me to my parents’ house just last weekend so that I could sleep under it. I laid it over my guest room linens and it made the bed look like it belonged to an 8-year-old. Again, I was undeterred. Not only did my bunkie keep me warm, but it gave me the power of the Vikings while I was lying underneath it. Nothing could hurt me under its protective cover, not even my turkey farts. My wife was like, “You know, you could just leave that blanket here if you like.” I know what you’re trying to pull, woman. You’re lucky I don’t buy another one of these fuckers.


With the folding of Jezebel, why haven't the Defector folks talked to the other former Gawker brands about creating their own sites and folding it in with Defector? It seems like that sort of synergy would be good for everyone.

We've actually talked about this, or more broadly if there was a way to create “The Defector of X” by helping another band of writers start up their own company and have it prosper. Because while we’ve done quite well for ourselves, we know that isn’t enough. We need more Hell Gates and 404 Medias and other DIY startups, because it’s clear that the previous media company set-ups—being owned by faceless conglomerates, or being owned by a private equity firm looking to sell your place for scrap, or being owned by a billionaire who purports to support good journalism until they get bored and don’t want to pay for it anymore—have not worked. I am someone who once believed, with great naiveté, that Laurene Powell Jobs would be willing to save this industry. I am no longer that person. We’re gonna have to save ourselves, because no one else will.

How we at Defector, and how the industry as a whole, get the co-op model to become both easy to adopt and widespread is something that’s gonna take a lot of planning and care (and, uh, money). I know it’s possible. It’s just a matter of how, and we’re all still working on the “how” part. I’d love it if Defector could just hire a bunch of new staffers outright and start up a new vertical for them here, but we’re not THAT flush. We’d probably have to take out fat loans, put more ads on the site, and do a lot of the other risky shit that has made the Conde Nasts of the world what they presently are. As liberal as we Defector employees are, we are extremely conservative businessfolk, and that caution has served us well. So we’re still trying to work out how we can build on our success without fucking ourselves over in the process. We won’t have the answer overnight.

Nor is it strictly on us to sort out. Both the Colorado Sun and Block Club Chicago started up well before us, and other sites have booted up since without us Defectors pouring a shitload of time or capital into them. All of them are filling an obvious void in the marketplace. The ex-Jezzies could do likewise, and they probably will. I bet they’ll succeed, and do you know why? Because they’ll have customers waiting for them. Jezebel was a great website, and its readers want it back.

That’s what this is really about. With all the pissing and moaning about the death of good media, it’s easy to forget that readers aren’t happy about it, either. They don’t like this chumbox shit anymore than we do, and they certainly don’t like Sports Illustrated’s recent attempts at not-AI-we-swear articles. They want a better product, and they’re willing to pay for it. So if you start up a website that takes advantage of that need... HEY PRESTO! Suddenly capitalism is working for you, instead of the other way around. This little revolution could happen with Defector’s direct support, but it doesn’t need to. Blogs will find a way, especially if they’re about farts being detected online.


What’s the deal with adding salt to all of my sweets? I feel like growing up there was a clear line between salty stuff and sweet stuff and rarely was it crossed. Nowadays I can’t find a dessert or sweet snack that isn’t salted this, salted that, or chocolate covered salty something. What gives? Is it BIG SALT pushing their agenda?

Oh wow, you sound just like my in-laws. One time, we sprinkled sea salt on a tray of brownies we made and they reacted like we were trying to prank them.

So not everyone has been happy about the salted dessert phenomenon. And while BIG SALTED CARAMEL has indeed gone too far, its newfound dominance is a good measuring stick for how much the American palate has evolved in this century. As Kenneth noted, with a dash of misplaced affection, there was a clear line of demarcation between salty and sweet. Your dinner was a Salisbury steak, your veggies were green beans boiled to a fine paste, and your dessert was a bowl of tapioca pudding. Everything had its place, and it was all very boring. Then both chefs and diners realized that mixing flavor profiles within single dishes—chocolate covered pretzels, roasted duck with cherry reduction, Slim Jim parfaits—was not only legal, but actually quite tasty. You’re stimulating more than one part of your tongue with each bite, which is what going to Flavortown is all about.

Other countries figured this out a few centuries ago. We’re bringing up the rear here in America, but at least we’re making an effort now. That effort can, in typical American fashion, go a little too far—see chicken and waffles Lay’s chips—but it’s still progress. And if you’re not aboard with it, I promise you that you still have plenty of less challenging options at the grocery store. They still make Keebler Fudge Stripes the way they always have. They haven’t added bacon bits to it, nor should they.


A recent Ratto blog about Philly fans assumed (correctly) that once the Phillies were eliminated by the D-Backs, these fans would automatically root for Texas. Is this normal? My response when my team gets knocked out of the playoffs is always to root for the team that beats mine (unless it's the Cowboys). The logic is that we were beaten by the champs, so it was inevitable. If the team that beats you loses, then there's always the doubt that had your guys made it through then they could have won it all. 

I’ve held on to a lot of dipshit fan impulses—you saw the thing about the Vikings blanket—but this is not one of them. There’s no succor in getting booted from the playoffs, regardless of how your opponent fares the rest of the way. I used to want to get beaten by the eventual champs, because that made the loss more credible in my eyes. But honestly, no one else gives a shit. Ask Browns fans if The Drive or The Fumble would have felt better if Denver had won the Super Bowl those years. Ask Raiders fans if they feel proud that the Tuck Rule loss at least came at the hands of Tom Brady. You’re telling yourself lies if you think anything that happens after your loss makes that loss more of a win.

This is why I don’t bother rooting for or against the ouster of my team as the playoffs go on. I either root for the underdog, or I root for games to be close, or I root for some other team that I inherently like. Unless I’ve got money riding on it (Eagles in last year’s Super Bowl), I have no set methodology to any of this. I just go by feel, because nothing I do is gonna change the fact that we got beaten at home by Daniel fucking Jones. Nuh mean? Nothing makes that go down easier.



Before the end of this decade, will we see a FCS-level football program throw in the towel because of an inability to compete in a mega-conference? Northwestern and Vanderbilt come to mind, perhaps unfairly. Can any university overcome the testosterone-addled faction of its alumni and make this decision?

No. Only the TV money will decide that, as it’s about to with both Washington State and Oregon State, both of whom remain without a dance partner after the rest of the Pac-12 left them on the curb. And even now, I strongly doubt that either orphaned school will disband their respective football programs. They’ll fuck off to the Mountain West, or to the MAC, or to the Freedom Conference. If either of those schools ditches football entirely, it certainly won’t be on principle, because principle left the barn a century ago when it comes to college football.

The idea that any FCS school, from a known powerhouse to a US News-ranked place like Vandy, would get out of the sport has been a liberal sportswriter fever dream since 1995, if not before then. Even when these programs lose money, and many of them do, they still make money for the people in charge of them: coaches, ADs, presidents, blah blah blah. Would any of those fuckers volunteer to hop off the gravy train just for the sake of bullshit integrity? You’ve had the answer to that for a while now. Nothing will stop college football from being college football. I’d piss and moan about it, but did you SEE those games last weekend? Fucking unreal.


If the Defector staff were to race their daily drivers around COTA, let's say 20 laps, who would win? Assuming no pit stops, everyone has a full tank of gas, up to date on basic maintenance, and new tires. I have no idea what any of you drive but my money's on Maitreyi.

Fuck that. I would win. The rest of the Defector staff are far too polite and timid to unleash the beast on the track. Barry doesn’t even know how to drive; he’d probably race the rest of us on his fucking bike. Get me in a car and I will instantly cease to give a fuck about any of them. I’ll run Barry and his Huffy right into the infield. I’ll crawl up Tom Ley’s ass in the rearview and then slip right around him. I’ll honk at Roth and he’ll fall to pieces (race cars should have horns). I will NOT let anyone merge. Maybe Maitreyi is secretly a devil behind the wheel, but I’ve seen Michigan drivers and have little respect for them.

The only competitors I’d have in this derby would be Burneko, who has a Herculean tolerance for cross-country drives, and Redford, because he likes to rock climb and shit. But little do either of those men know that I’ll outfit my car with an OIL SLICK button, Spy Hunter–style, that has them pulling a Dale Earnhardt directly into the retaining wall. Later, gator.


A group of trick-or-treaters to our house this year had one girl who looked into our candy bowl and asked, "What's a 100 Grand?" in kind of a snotty and suspicious manner. After my wife torched this girl good with, "It's free candy, that's what it is," I got to thinking… Do a lot of kids not know what a 100 Grand is? It's not my favorite candy by any means, but it was always a good addition to the contents of a mixed Halloween candy bag. Did 100 Grand lose the children and become old person candy or something?

I never see 100 Grand bars out in the wild anymore, and haven’t in decades. 100 Grand exists in a distinct genre of candy that only shows up at Halloween: Smarties, Tootsie Rolls (especially the vanilla ones), Almond Joy, Dubble Bubble, and a few others. I have no idea if any of these products count as old people candy now, the way that Werther’s Originals do. But I do know that 100 Grand bars are still extremely good, and that my own children agree with me. Seeing one in your treat bag is like seeing an old friend for the first time in a long time. And then eating that friend.


Say you're walking down the street and a complete stranger asks to use your phone. How do you feel about it, and what do you do? Let's say they're a normal person and not a screaming guy with a hook for a hand. It's happened to me a couple of times. I've felt a little squirrely, but I unlocked it and handed it over. I kind of felt if I was in their shoes and my battery was dead, I'd hope someone did me a favor. It probably helped that my phone is pretty cheap, but it still crossed my mind they might make a run for it. But do you have any feelings about when you would or would not hand your phone over to some rando?

I can barely stand to hand my phone over to people I KNOW. Whenever I make a Seamless order for the family, everyone in the house demands to look at my phone so that they can peruse the menu for themselves. And whenever I say to my wife and kids, “Just tell me what you want and I can order it for you,” they ignore me and persist in the demand. The second that phone leaves my hand, I break out into hives and start scratching myself like a crack addict. You might tell me that this indicates I have some sort of problem. And I do: namely that my wife and kids won’t hand me back my goddamn phone fast enough.

So I could tell you that I’d gladly hand my phone over to a stranger in need, especially if they looked like a fellow non-threatening white person. But I probably wouldn’t. Instead, I would panic, say SORRY I DON’T HAVE ANY, and then run away.


What's your level of fear, one year out, with Biden as the nominee? Mine is only rising with the latest numbers, WaPo articles, etc.

I said Trump would lose here a few months ago and nothing since then—not even the Gaza war—has changed my mind on that. If you wanna snitch on me to that loser Old Takes account, be my guest. I don’t give a shit. I’m not gonna freak out over some stupid poll that the New York Times conducted a full year away from the election strictly so that they’d have some bullshit to write about at the beginning of the election cycle.

Because it behooves all of the big media outlets for the race to be close. Trump staying in contention makes them money, so they’re gonna do their best to manufacture a horse race any way they can. Conducting a poll of voters at a time when they can afford to be fickle (“Biden’s too old! Maybe the Michigan lady can run in his place!”) aids them in that task, but does little to indicate what will happen when the choice becomes both closer and more stark. Unless it contains actual reporting, none of this coverage is worth a good goddamn. They want you to panic. I say you buy a Sherpa blanket and take a nap under it instead.


For fans, are there any emotional or philosophical differences between teams that have never won a championship (Vikings, Padres, Mariners, Bengals) and teams that haven't won a championship in ages (Guardians, Arizona/St. Louis/Chicago Cardinals, Jets)?

If your team hasn’t won a title in your lifetime, then no. The only exceptions to this are former dynasties like the Cowboys, the Niners, and Nebraska football. If you’re in your 20s, you’ve never seen those teams win it all. You also get ZERO sympathy from me. You missed your shot and now all of your fans are entitled pricks. I can’t help you. You should just become a Chiefs fan instead. Those guys had my sympathy for a while and are now some of the biggest dipshits alive. You’ll fit right in.


I'm getting married in a couple weeks. My fiancée and I have been joking (and semi-seriously considering) changing our names to a portmanteau of both our last names. We both like our last names, but aren't super attached to them. Neither of us care for the whole hyphenating thing. Our names actually work well when combined (Flutter), and combining the names marries up well with what we've done with our wedding rings to show the union of our two families. So there's some great symbolism there. I know you're going to tell me to screw the world and do what feels right, and I appreciate that. But I guess I'm just putting this out there to the world to get a feel for it beyond what friends and family think. 

Back when I wrote for Deadspin, I got this same question from a Funbag reader. My answer to them betrayed the fact that I grew up worshipping Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay, because I was like, “Women take everything from us guys when we get married, so the least they can do is let us keep our last name!”

I have … evolved since issuing that take. Now, when people I know get married, I don’t expect the bride to take the groom’s name, or the bride to take the bride’s name, or the groom to take the groom’s name. There’s been too much social change and too many goddamn logistics (when my wife took my last name in the less woke time of 2002, getting all of her paperwork changed for it was a complete pain in the ass) for the old practice, where the groom’s last name became the official family name, to work anymore. It’s clearly outdated, which means that newly married couple are free to name themselves however they please.

The problem is that there’s no NEW standard for what to do. Hyphenated names are clunky. Merged last names require paperwork on both sides, although Matt here is clearly leaning toward that as his preference. I myself have no good ideas for what the new standard should be, and I don’t think our institutions do, either. Really we should all have just a first name and nothing else. Like Cher.

Email of the week!


My daughter is 3.5 years old, which I’ve come to discover is an age where kids are old enough to form complete sentences, fully comprehend what they’re saying, and say whatever is on their mind at any given moment. I picked up my daughter from daycare yesterday. While I was kneeling down to help her with something, one of the kids in her class came right up to me, met my eye level, and said, “Why are your eyebrows like that?” It was devastating. Maybe the sickest burn I’ve received in my life. What’s the harshest thing a kid has ever said to you?

Just a few weeks ago, the 17-year-old said to me, “You guys want me to be so fake.” And you know why that stung? Because I said the exact same thing to my mom at that exact same age. Every burn comes full circle.

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