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THE YEAR IN Sports Media
December 19, 2011
Where Sports And TV, Books, Films (And More) Clicked
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December 19, 2011

The Year In Sports Media

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It's the only argument I need, Shawn!

9 24/7 in Heaven

It's too soon to say whether Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, hired after being fired by the Capitals earlier this month, will turn things around in SoCal. What is certain, at least to anyone who watched HBO's 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, is that the Ducks' dressing room will be damned entertaining. Boudreau, in all his foul-mouthed glory, was the breakout star of the stellar four-part series following the Caps and the Pens in the lead-up to their meeting last New Year's Day. (A DVD was released last week.) Whether running practice (profanely) or ripping his team (profanely), Boudreau showed personality rarely seen in the NHL. The players were also charming; viewers sucked in by human interest were dazzled by ice-level footage that brought home the sport's speed and power more forcefully than any broadcast. Finally, a hockey hit on TV.


10 Prime-time Pain

In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, Junior dos Santos pummeled Cain Velasquez to win the UFC's heavyweight title last month, marking the most significant 64 seconds in UFC's brief history: The act aired in prime time on network TV, the first fight in a seven-year deal with Fox. Among the prized 18--34 male demographic, the scrap drew more viewers than any boxing match in almost a decade. The prospect of two dudes with cauliflower ears beating the crap out of each other in a steel octagon may not be for everyone, but cage fighting has officially penetrated the defense of the mainstream.


11 Death Race 2011

Director Asif Kapadia's documentary Senna, based on the short, happy and tempestuous life of Brazilian F1 racer Ayrton Senna, has been rightfully praised for its sensational in-race video, shot from inside Senna's car as it hurtled through hairpins and chicanes at speeds defying physics.

But what stayed with me longest—aside from the racer's violent death, after three world championships, at age 34—is how the movie fleshes out one of most intense, spiteful and, yes, sublime rivalries in the history of sports. Sensitive and highly spiritual, Senna refused to engage in Formula 1's politics, often to his detriment. Those qualities are thrown into sharp relief by the presence of his bête noire, the calculating Alain Prost, a Frenchman who took full advantage of a close relationship with the late Jean-Marie Balestre, the F1 chief whose autocratic bluster ("The best decision is my decision!" he is seen barking) make him a splendid, over-the-top villain.

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