Wii Sports

“What strikes you immediately playing Wii Sports — and particularly Tennis — is this feeling of fluidity, the feeling that subtle, organic shifts in your body’s motion will lead to different results onscreen. My wife has a crosscourt slam she hits at the net that for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out; I have a topspin return of soft serves that I’ve half-perfected that’s unhittable. We both got to those techniques through our own athletic experimentation with various gestures, and I’m not sure I could even fully explain what I’m doing with my killer topspin shot. In a traditional game, I’d know exactly what I was doing: hitting the B button, say, while holding down the right trigger. Instead, my expertise with the shot has evolved through the physical trial-and-error of swinging the controller, experimenting with different gestures and timings. And that’s ultimately what’s so amazing about the device.” Steven Johnson

Human Beings

“It shouldn’t be about tolerance, it should be about respect, treating people as human beings. I don’t like the word tolerance. Are you supposed to tolerate me because I’m black, or are people supposed to treat me with respect because I’m a human being?” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, on former NBA player John Amaechi, the first NBA player to come out as being gay

Sam Mitchell

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Gnarled

“They’re criticizing a guy who can’t run again, who can’t get fired. So they spent the last two years criticizing him instead of saying, ‘Some things aren’t right. This is our game plan.’ And now we’re two years away from the election, and we have no solutions and no front-runner.” Former NBA MVP Charles Barkley, on Democrats who have concentrated too much on President Bush

Gut-wrenching

“How many cows will be killed to keep Roger Federer, the world’s best tennis player, in fresh racquets this year? Do the math: The Swiss master is said to go through an estimated 900 sets of strings a year. Since strings lose tension as they’re played — and since Federer is acutely attuned to his ever-changing equipment — he will use five to seven freshly strung Wilsons per match at this week’s Rogers Cup, which is fewer than the 10 to 12 he’ll use at a Grand Slam event… For the record, it takes three cows to make a full set of natural gut strings. That means Federer, who uses a half-set per racquet, is indebted to some 1,350 cattle per annum.” Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star

Passion and love

“He wanted another chance to play for the Raptors. And if his contract wasn’t so big, that might have been an option. As it was, the only choice for the Raptors — financially and competitively — was to buy him out and move on. Yesterday Williams lamented how the game’s economic reality sometimes ‘exes out’ what he called ‘the morals of life.’ For many players, we’d suggest $40-plus million (U.S.) in career earnings will soothe his hurt. For Williams, we’re not so sure.Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk, on Toronto point guard Alvin Williams

Alvin Williams

Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles’ Foe, It’s Fuel

“Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out… But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.” Gina Kolata, New York Times

Major League Soccer

“When MLS kicked off in 1996, it did so with team names like the Crew, the Mutiny and the Rapids — American names. After the 2004 season, the thinking shifted to accommodate the league’s fastest growing fan base. The Dallas Burn was renamed FC Dallas (‘F’ for futbol rather than football), acknowledging that the club’s core support came from the Latino community. An expansion franchise aimed at Los Angeles’s Spanish speakers was named Deportivo Chivas. Another in Utah, where Latinos make up more than one-tenth of the population, was dubbed Real Salt Lake. Most white Utahns, even the soccer fans, mistakenly pronounced it ‘Reel’ instead of ‘Ray-al.’” Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly, on Major League Soccer’s recent interest in ethnic fans

How sweet

“It’s sweet, and a little unusual. We might have it from time to time, but not five times a day.” Norwegian skiing coach Bjørnar Håkensmoen, on being rewarded with more than five tons of Canadian maple syrup.

Syrup

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Why don’t people work hard when it’s in their best interest to do so?

“This is actually a question I’m obsessed with: Why don’t people work hard when it’s in their best interest to do so?… The (short) answer is that it’s really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn’t work hard. It’s a form of self-protection… Most of the psychological research on this is focused on why some kids don’t study for tests — which is a much more serious version of the same problem. If you get drunk the night before an exam instead of studying and you fail, then the problem is that you got drunk. If you do study and you fail, the problem is that you’re stupid — and stupid, for a student, is a death sentence. The point is that it is far more psychologically dangerous and difficult to prepare for a task than not to prepare.” Blink author Malcolm Gladwell

Begging

“I’ve never in my life had to beg a guy to shoot. People are like, ‘Calm down, coach.’ I’m yelling at a guy to shoot the ball when he’s open. They say if you live long enough, you’ll experience a lot of things; I haven’t lived long enough but in my short 42 years I never thought I would experience having to beg a guy to shoot the basketball.” Sam Mitchell, on Toronto Raptors’ Matt Bonner

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