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How the pop music fandom became sports, politics, religion and all-out war

In October, with “Chromatica” recorded as a modest success, Grande’s new album, “Positions,” was leaked online ahead of its official release. Cordero, who liked Grande quite well but found his new music to be lacking, shared a link to the unreleased songs, much to the dismay of Grande’s fans, who feared that the counterfeit versions would hurt the singer’s business prospects.

Taking on the role of volunteer internet sleuths, Grande’s fans spent days playing Whac-a-Mole reporting unauthorized album links as they proliferated across the internet. But Cordero, annoyed and sensing them flustered, decided to bait them even more by tweeting – incorrectly – that he was subsequently fined $ 150,000 by Grande’s label for his role in spreading the escape. “Is there any way I can get out of this,” he wrote. “I’m so afraid.” He even shared a photo of himself crying.

“They were rejoicing,” Cordero recalls in awe of the Grande fans he had duped, who spread the message widely that the fleeing – a Gaga lover, no less – was being punished. “Sorry but I don’t feel any sympathy,” a Grande supporter wrote on Reddit. “Accuse him, put him in jail. you can’t divulge an album from the world’s greatest pop star and expect no consequences.

It was a pop fandom in 2020: competitive, mysterious, sales-obsessed, sometimes pointless, chaotic, contradictory, fun, and a little scary – all taking place almost entirely online. While music has long been linked to internet communities and the rise of social media, a growing faction of the most vocal and dedicated pop enthusiasts have adopted the term “stan” – taken from Eminem’s song. , aged 20, on a superfan turned homicide. stalker – and redefine what it means to love an artist.

On what’s known as Stan’s Twitter – and its offshoots on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, and various message boards – these enthusiasts compare No.1s and streaming stats as sports fans batting averages, wins. championship and shooting percentages. They swear allegiance to their favorites like the most rabid political or religious supporters. They organize to win polls, drive sales and fundraise like grassroots activists. And they band together to harass – or harass, and even dox – those who dare to despise the stars they have chosen to align themselves with.

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Chicago sports pioneer Jeannie Morris dies at 85

The marriage ended in divorce, and in 1960 she married Johnny Morris, a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, whom she had also met on the Santa Barbara campus.

Ms Morris’s first break from sports came after her husband retired from the Bears in 1967 and became a local sports host. When asked by the Chicago American newspaper if he wanted to write a column, he declined, but said his wife was a writer and should be hired.

She got the job, but her signature did not reflect her name. Rather, by societal norms of the time, “Mrs. Johnny Morris ”wrote a weekly column,“ Football is a woman’s game, ”which was published in the women’s pages of the newspaper before moving to the sports section of The American and, later, the Chicago Daily News. Eventually his signature changed to Jeannie Morris.

As the wife of a bear, she had a lot to talk about.

“It’s because I’ve lived 10 years of a footballing life that most people don’t see,” she told The Athletic in her last interview, shortly before her death. “There was a subculture. There were good stories in the subculture.

In 1969, Ms. Morris joined Mr. Morris at Chicago TV station WMAQ, where they began a long career as a popular local media couple. Very early on, the station marketed her as a soft-news reporter. An advertisement in the Chicago Tribune in 1970 promoted her “feminine view of the world of sport”, through which she said that viewers met “the greatest personalities in sport, their families and their friends.”

She would soon prove herself as a field reporter, covering and producing Chicago sports news and stories.

“She was my first reporter,” Morris said in a telephone interview. “A lot of times I had to give her tough jobs, but I knew she was up to it.” He added: “She was competitive – as competitive as I am – and we were a good team.”

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Sports helped shape Biden. But expect a quieter fan in the White House.

President Trump has a long association with the sport, starting as a baseball player in his youth, and more recently as an avid golfer with something, often inflammatory, to say about athletes and leagues.

But White House Biden is likely to bring a lower temperature when it comes to commentary and influence on sports-related issues, but not a lack of interest. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was a high school football player and played baseball and track and field and is committed to dismantling the policies of the Trump administration which he believes negatively affect the access of transgender athletes to sport and how sexual assault is investigated. on university campuses.

Although Mr. Biden did not wear his sports allegiances on his sleeve – as Mr. Trump and many politicians did – the playing fields have often intersected with his life, dating back to his childhood, when the sport provided a universal communication language while it handled a stutter. He was the vice-president of a big sports fan, President Barack Obama, who this summer advised NBA players who boycotted playoff games in protest against the Jacob Blake shooting.

“You see these two things happening in his life at the same time,” said Evan Osnos, the author of “Joe Biden: Life, Race and What Matters Now,” said, referring to the high school days by Mr. Biden. “First, it breaks the back of the stutter, and second, it finds its place on the football field. These converged to give him that altered sense of himself, and it’s really the start of what at that point was almost a ridiculously ambitious notion of what he might be able to do for a living. .

Mr. Biden celebrated on the field when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in the 2017 NFL season. Washington Nationals have already guest him to throw the first ceremonial throw on opening day. (The White House declined the Nationals’ invitation to Mr. Trump to deliver an opening speech in 2017, citing a scheduling conflict.)

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An Ohio mill has lost its identity. Can youth sports restore it?

HAMILTON, Ohio – Hamilton has long been a city in search of identity.

In its heyday, its industries produced paper and housed a company that manufactured safes capable of withstanding a nuclear explosion. But as the demand for paper and bomb-proof safes declined, these industries took Hamilton with them. What was left of this city of 70,000 people along the Great Miami River was then destroyed by the Great Recession ten years ago.

Over the years, rulers have attempted to reinvent the city, sometimes in a way that brought more ludicrous than redemption.

Hamilton gained notoriety in the 1980s when the city officially added an exclamation mark after its name (an addition quickly rejected by cartographer Rand McNally). Later, the city called itself the City of Sculpture, and it still has a much-loved sculpture collection and award-winning sculpture park. Still, the artistic nickname couldn’t pierce the image of the city’s rust belt.

The city’s manufacturing ghosts continued to haunt her in the form of abandoned factories and smokestacks pointing like frozen fingers in the sky. Now one of those closed factories is about to be reused, and residents doubt even the pandemic could derail Hamilton’s transformation, this time into a sports town.

City manager Joshua A. Smith arrived in 2010 from Howard, Wisconsin, a suburb of Green Bay, another struggling Rust Belt town.

“The community was lacking any kind of energy,” said Mr. Smith, now 47. “It was almost as if the city had abandoned itself.”

Perhaps no facility exemplifies the city’s fortunes better than the empty Champion Paper factory, which closed in 2012. Some potential buyers have started bidding (an out-of-town company wanted to buy it for cold storage), but Mr. Smith saw the promise and the city bought the Champion complex along with its 40 acres of waterfront land for $ 400,000.

The 1.3 million square foot site is on its way to becoming what is billed as the largest indoor sports complex in North America: the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill.

Spooky Nook is an indoor sports company based in Manheim, Pa., Where its 700,000 square foot resort attracts more than one million visitors annually, bringing in more than $ 50 million to the local economy, according to Tourism Economics. , an analysis firm trip.

Hamilton, through tax breaks and infrastructure improvements, has provided $ 20 million in funding for the $ 170 million Champion Mill complex in the hopes that it will receive the same draw when it opens. by the end of 2021. To achieve this, development will go beyond sports to include a fitness center, restaurants, residences and shops. The city estimates that it will create 380 permanent jobs.

Switching to sports is a natural fit, said Mayor Pat Moeller, who added that he envisions legions of tourists visiting Hamilton’s restaurants, bars and shops.

“It will transform us,” he said.

Across the country, youth sports have become big business, and cities often covet the facilities as a way to boost local development and attract residents from the outside.

The industry generates $ 19 billion in revenue nationwide, up from around $ 9 billion several years ago, said Norm Gill, managing partner of Pinnacle Indoor Sports, an advisory service that helped build 50 complexes across the country but is not involved in the Spooky Nook Project. .

“Sport tourism is on steroids,” said Gill, who estimated that each visitor could spend $ 110 to $ 180 per day on food, accommodation and tickets.

More than $ 550 million has been spent to develop complexes to accommodate youth sports in the past three years, according to Sports Business Journal, a trade publication. And there are 1,250 indoor soccer facilities across the country, according to the US Indoor Sports Association, a commercial organization. They can range from under 25,000 square feet to the size of Champion Mill, but only the larger ones attract major tournaments.

The SportsPlex in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for example, opened in May with great fanfare among residents. By providing six regulation basketball courts, two indoor soccer fields, 12 volleyball courts and other equipment, organizers hope to attract sports and tournament activities to a five-state region.

“These sports complexes are a symptom or the result of the professionalization of sports for young people that has taken place over the past 40 years,” said Victor A. Matheson, professor of sports economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass Elite traveling teams, increasingly expensive equipment and more rigorous training schedules are part of the experience of today’s players.

The pandemic has put the brakes on many industries, and youth sport is no different, but Gill believes by the time the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill opens, the demand will be there. The industry is most likely oversaturated and headed for reduction, he said, but the mixed-use component of the Hamilton plant could give it some durability.

Industry experts agree that the key is to attract travelers who will circulate their dollars in the host city. Without this element, success can be fleeting.

Large youth sports complexes are typically 30,000 to 100,000 square feet, and many are privately run. Those owned by municipalities, like the SportsPlex in Cape Girardeau, are often built as a catalyst for development.

“These facilities cause losses – cities don’t make money with them,” said Gill. “The real goal is to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy.”

Spooky Nook Sports predicts one million visitors to Hamilton in its first year, a milestone its Manheim, near Lancaster, Pa. Facility did not reach until its third year.

But the challenge for Hamilton and other cities is the limited number of kids and parents willing to spend many weekends of the year competing in these tournaments.

“You have to have gigantic tournaments to justify this size,” said Professor Matheson. “A city of 70,000 people cannot generate activity to conserve 700,000 square feet of indoor sports space. You can pull baskets down your driveway for free. “

To that end, Hamilton is attempting to attract a critical mass of recreation seekers to complement Spooky Nook. The Pinball Garage recently opened nearby, with over 30 gaming machines, and Mr Smith, the city manager, has stipulated that Spooky Nook is occupying the space for restaurants and other amenities with local operators.

Spooky Nook founder Sam Beiler isn’t concerned about the saturation of the market. Thirty-five weekends in 2022 are already set aside for youth sports tournaments at Champion Mill.

“We think our model, which focuses on local traffic and corporate events throughout the week and youth sports tournaments on the weekends, is a great model,” he said. in an email.

Local businesses are also hanging their fortunes on Spooky Nook. Hamilton straddles the Great Miami River, and until a few years ago the west side was pockmarked with empty storefronts. But once rumors of the arrival of Spooky Nook started to circulate, boutiques, art stores, and restaurants began to take hold.

Mike Hoskins, owner of Petals & Wicks, a flower and candle shop, said one of the things that drew him and his wife to their current location four years ago was the expectation of an increase in traffic from the sports complex. They struggled during the pandemic lockdown, but regained a foothold and are banking on Spooky Nook changing the city, he said.

The same goes for Paula Hollstegge, co-owner of Hip Boutique, where shelves are full of colorful clothing and accessories, less than a mile from the sports complex.

“We’re super excited about Spooky Nook,” Ms. Hollstegge said. “We hope that after a day of sports women will want to leave the guys behind and go shopping.”

The city’s fortunes may well depend on it.

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Atlantic says he was cheated by author of niche sports post

Twenty-five years ago, Ruth Shalit Barrett was a young rising political journalist with a contract at GQ magazine when accusations of plagiarism derailed her career as an associate editor at The New Republic. Since leaving that magazine for an advertising job in 1999, she has written occasionally for New York and Elle magazines.

Now Ms Barrett finds herself charged again with professional misconduct in journalism after The Atlantic released an extraordinary editor’s note on Friday suggesting Ms Barrett cheated the publication in an animated article she wrote about wealthy parents pushing their children to play niche sports with hope. to get them into Ivy League schools.

The more than 6,000 word article, which was published online last month and appears in the magazine’s November print edition, chronicles a world of wealthy parents in suburban Connecticut obsessed with the idea of ​​pushing their kids into sports like fencing, crewing and squash, which they believe. will give them an edge in the hyper-competitive college admission process.

In an editor’s note of nearly 800 words, The Atlantic said that after publishing the article, “new information has emerged that raised serious concerns as to its accuracy and the author’s credibility. , Ruth Shalit Barrett.

The deception, according to the editor’s note, centered on a woman featured in the article, identified by her middle name, Sloane. She has been described as a stay-at-home mom with three daughters and a son, details that The Atlantic’s fact-checking service said they verified with the mom ahead of publication.

But Sloane later admitted through her lawyer that she did not have a son, according to the editor’s note, which said she investigated the matter after questions were raised by Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.

According to the editor’s note, Sloane’s attorney said Ms Barrett “first came up with a son’s invention and encouraged Sloane to cheat The Atlantic in order to protect his anonymity.”

“When we asked Barrett about these allegations, she initially denied them, saying Sloane told her she had a son and that she believed Sloane,” the editor said. “The next day, when we interviewed her again, she admitted that she was ‘complicit’ in the ‘escalation of deception’ and that ‘it would not be fair for Sloane’ to blame her alone for having deceived the Atlantic.

The editor’s note said that although Ms Barrett denied that inventing a son was her idea, she acknowledged that “on some level I knew it was BS” and “I take it. the responsibility”.

The note came more than two decades after Ms Barrett left the New Republic in 1999 after being accused of plagiarism.

These accusations, in 1994 and 1995, were based on a close resemblance between passages and phrases in articles written by Ms. Barrett and elements of articles by other journalists on the same subjects. At the time, she said she confused her typed notes with articles downloaded from the Lexis-Nexis research site. The New Republic has printed its apologies for both incidents.

The Atlantic said he attributed the article to her as a freelance writer because more than two decades had passed since those incidents and because her work had been published in reputable magazines in recent years. The editor’s note says Atlantic also considered the argument that Ms Barrett deserved a second chance.

“We were wrong to do this mission, however,” the editor’s note says. “This reflects a lack of judgment on our part and we regret our decision.”

In an interview on Saturday night, Ms Barrett said she had hoped her article would initiate a discussion of the “wider social and economic issues” raised by lavish spending, injuries and fierce competition in niche sports for women. youth.

“I never imagined a result like this,” she says. “And I’m so sorry that this is where it ended.”

She said that Sloane’s son’s invention wasn’t her idea, however, and that it was something Sloane had told her about.

“The claim that I told her to pretend she had a son who didn’t exist is not true. Absolutely not true, ”she said.

She said she blamed herself for not verifying the existence of a son.

“All of my internal alarms went off about the son’s claim, and I was wrong not to dig in and resolve it,” she said. “I didn’t cook this with her. But I take responsibility for it.

Ms Barrett said she “did not gain any benefit” from creating a son and that “it did not improve the article”.

“Even if you want to attribute the smartest motives to me, there is nothing to be gained,” she said. “It was just a mistake.”

The editor’s note says The Atlantic corrected other details in the article, including one on the severity of a neck injury suffered by Sloane’s middle daughter and another on the size of the hockey rinks. which, although large and equipped with projectors and generators, are not “Olympic”, as the article initially stated.

Atlantic said he had also updated Ms Barrett’s signature on the article, which was originally Ruth S. Barrett, at her request, but has since been changed to Ruth Shalit Barrett. Ruth Shalit was Ms Barrett’s signature in the 1990s, when the plagiarism incidents occurred, and the editor’s note stated that she had made the change “in the interest of transparency.”

“We are continuing to review this article,” the editor’s note said. “We will correct any errors we find and communicate our results to our readers as quickly as possible.”

Ms Barrett said she was sorry for embarrassing The Atlantic and breaking her trust with readers.

“I’m not the same person I was 25 years ago,” she says. “This piece meant a lot to me. And I wanted it to be my best job.

Concepción de León contributed reporting.

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Game day in Green Bay: empty sports bars, full hospitals

At Cropsey’s on State, Carol Gezella, who once owned the place – her son now does – said she felt ‘pretty safe’ despite the virus spike, but was concerned about orders of the governor.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to stay open,” she said.

Although rural areas and small metropolitan areas have seen some of the worst outbreaks in recent weeks, many large cities are also struggling. Counties that include Chicago, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Anchorage and El Paso all set one-day records on Saturday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called on federal officials to open an army medical center in Fort Bliss to civilian patients to help ease pressure on El Paso hospitals.

And, whether in big cities or small towns, health experts warn the country is heading for the worst increase in cases to date.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said in an appearance on CBS ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday that the United States was at a “dangerous tipping point.”

“These cases are going to continue to pile up,” Dr Gottlieb said. “There really is no safety net here. I don’t see any strong political intervention any time soon. “

Still, some Packers fans have found hope in their team’s legacy.

Tom Wartick is a longtime Packers fan whose daughter got married on the pitch. On Sunday, he was taking photos along Lombardi Avenue, named after Vince Lombardi, the legendary Packers coach whose statue stands outside Lambeau Stadium. Mr Wartick said he felt the sense of upliftment of a true fan.

“Vince Lombardi said it was okay to get knocked over – it wasn’t okay to stay on the ground” said Wartick, 63. “And it’s the same with this Covid virus. It’s a little intimidating, but we have to keep moving forward in life.

Lucy tompkins contributed to New York reporting and Mitch smith from Chicago.