Open Court publishes on Tuesdays and Fridays, bringing you sports, life, and the stuff we need to talk about with author/journalist Joanne C. Gerstner. Subscribe here and get Open Court straight to your email! If you're part of our subscriber fam, feel free to share this email and get your friends involved. We welcome your comments too, please share at the end of this piece or @joannecgerstner.
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Yo! It is Friday. Don’t know about you, but this week seemed to have 4 extra days added to it. Too much work, not enough me. Wishing everybody some rest and recharge this weekend.
Time for a round-up, to check in on the things we should be thinking and talking about…
I think everybody is just numb from the unexpected and certainly too young death of former five-time Pro Bowl WR Demaryius Thomas. He was only 33 when he died last night, and his passing may stem from a recent issue with seizures. Reading all the stories today about his gentle and big spirit leaves me knowing we have lost a good person. Thomas just retired from the NFL in June, and would have turned 34 on Christmas.
His life story, from a challenging childhood to his Super Bowl-winning talent, should be a movie. His mother and grandmother were incarcerated during his childhood, after convictions on drug offenses. President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of his mom, Katrina, in 2016. Katrina, who had a clean record but was swept up in a raid of her mom’s drug operation, was sentenced under then-harsh automatic drug offense guidelines. She refused to take a deal from the government, and maintained her innocence. And a 20-year sentence kicked in. He got his mom back, thanks to a commutation of sentence by President Barack Obama, in time for her to see him win the 2016 Super Bowl with the Broncos. Recently, he had turned his efforts to criminal justice reform and helping kids who have parents in prison. Read the links. This family has been through a lot. And now, even more pain.
Also sending a small note of love to my sports media colleagues. Many got to know him, and tell his story, on a deep level, and I feel their pain today too. We do get close to the people we cover, and we mourn their losses - even as we have to do our jobs telling the story. It's not easy.
A SECOND LOOK
I’ve seen a lot of snarky and ballsy responses about Chelsea striker Sam Kerr leveling an invading fan who came on to her pitch on Wednesday. Yeah, Kerr took care of business, because she always does as one of the best in the world. But why in the hell did Chelsea not A) have better security to stop this idiot from getting on the field; and B) not have security running his ass down so he never got within 10 feet of Kerr and the other Chelsea-Juventus players?
This fool was allegedly attempting to get a photo with Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson. Cool. How about waiting until after the game, doing it legally, and not scaring the hell out of everybody?
This isn’t a junior high match. This is professional soccer, and hello, female athletes are often targets for weirdos, psychos and stalkers. And in case these lovely clubs are not familiar with history, a certain Monica Seles would like to have a word about what crazy fans are capable of when given illegal proximity.
Apparently the only authority figures into law and order during this game were the refs: they gave Kerr a yellow card for her security smackdown.
Nice logic there. Because she clearly was the problem.
If you want a confession, here goes: I am terrible and lose horribly to my brother, but I love, LOVE playing the NHL video games. The classics of NHL 93 and NHL 94 will live forever, in only that they are so ridiculous for the fighting and putting players on stretchers from injuries. Welcome to the terrordome of hockey.
But for girls like me, who grew up in hockey-loving places and liked video games, something has always been missing: us. I could be Steve Yzerman or Mark Messier on the game, but never anybody of my gender. Girls, ahem, BAD-ASS women, play hockey at the highest level. Go peep Team Canada and Team USA games from the last 25 years at the Worlds or Olympics...then you will know truth.
But in the video game world, yes, looking squarely at YOU, EA Sports, women were not in the game when it came to video play. Well, I am happy to say, decades after my video game-playing prime, we are finally getting the women en masse to the pixelated ice. IIHF women’s national teams will be added to the NHL 22 game, and hot damn, let’s all hit the old Chicago Stadium foghorn for some joy.
This is not the first time for women to be in a hockey game. EA added some generic female players to the NHL 12 franchise. And hockey legends and Hall of Famers Ruggiero and (now Dr.) Wickenheiser got a turn being in the game the next year.
Yeah, and that’s it. It is a big deal for women to be included in the game, as themselves with their skills, for boys and girls. We are normalizing the things that are already normal outside of the video game world. About time.
WHEN ISOLATION GETS BORING…WE GET ENTERTAINED
When we last left BTS, they were rocking L.A. with sold out concerts. Then their management company announced they’d be taking a long-deserved vacation in December. Cool. See ya in January, Bangtan.
Except…the world has turned upside down with people who are supposed to disappear on vacation NOT disappearing on vacation.
The seven men now have their own Instagram accounts. Which is revolutionary, because all of their official social media has been under one account, with all of them able to post there.
So far, we’ve gotten the art museum tours of Texas with Namjoon; vacation in Hawaii, dog photos, JK photos and cute tipsy on whiskey story material from Tae; Yoongi questioning how hard it is to post on Insta (very…ahem… meta? Meta?); Jin posting photos of his dinners and frequent flying commenting on others’ posts; Hobi putting artsy Polaroids of himself, a photo of a shirt that made fans go huh? and touristy LA scenes; JK (the winner of the best account name) doing more stories (and saving them), showing off Bam the puppy and random stuff; and Jimin, who is likely sleeping off his 10-day COVID isolation, has been a light user. All, save for Namjoon and Yoongi (still presumably wandering the U.S.), are back in Seoul. The government has a mandatory 10-day COVID isolation in place, meaning BTS is parked in their places in Korea, and apparently, getting bored. (Just ask Jin. He. is. BORED.)
They have their comments locked down (smart!), but have their DM’s open (I pray for their eyeballs with what the fans may be writing or sending them).
It’s a pretty interesting wrinkle in their popularity, as they are developing - in a small way - their own social brand identities. But BTS, being BTS, did their flex: each account has at least 21 million followers. The maths tell me 140-plus million followers for them in under a week. Yep. another thing taken over by BTS.
Coming next few weeks: a deep chat with friend and sports writer Michelle Smith; a piece from Smith on what's rolling in her thoughts; and getting to know a non-profit that wants to help kids play sports by getting them the equipment they need. You can help them too! (Play Santa in the best way...)
See you Tuesday!