Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Sports Fans Dying Hard


By Benjamin Conniff
Getty Images

Getty Images

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2008 ( — With more than a dozen college bowl games left to play this season and the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl on the horizon, sports fans may be focusing on couch surfing, beer, and nachos. But they might want to take a second look at the exercise habits of the sports teams they support.

A new survey suggests that die-hard sports fans weigh more, eat fattier foods, and have worse health habits in general than folks who don’t care as much about sports.

“The irony is seeing unhealthy people watch athletes at the peak of physical fitness,” says Daniel R. Sweeney, PhD, an assistant professor of sport management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), who conducted the survey with Donna Quimby, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 14,000 people at UALR, including faculty, staff, and students. They divided 515 respondents into two groups—die-hard fans and those who were less devoted to sports teams. About 70% were students.

“Those that highly identify with a team are more emotionally involved and personally committed,” says Sweeney. “They usually spend more time, energy, and resources on rooting for their team.”

Despite sports fans’ religious-like devotion to their heroes on the field, the researchers found that they didn’t appear to emulate their health habits. In fact, devoted sports fans had a higher body mass index than non-sports fans, and were more likely to be overweight, with an average BMI of 27.4, compared with the nonfans’ more slender 25. (A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.) Continue reading


All For a Few Perfect Waves

The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

a book review for Playboy Magazine, May 2008

Miki Dora hated the spotlight. But the sotry of the iconic surfer and scam artist who ruled Malibu in the 1950s and 1960s and spent the 1970s on the lam is too good not to be told. Playboy Contributing Editor David Rensin weaves quotes from more than 300 interviews with Dora’s friends (and enemies) into a candid portrait of a rebel who cruised the world’s best beaches on bad checks and forged credit cards. This book isn’t just about surfing; it’s about risking it all for complete personal freedom.                                  –Ben Conniff


Potpourri, April 2008

Here are a few of the product write-ups I wrote for the April Issue of Playboy Magazine.


Few things are more depressing than watching your paycheck tick away at the fuel pump. Make the switch to a Vectrix electric scooter ($11,000, and you can bypass gas stations permanently. Though designed more for getting around town than going cross-country, this is no sewing machine with wheels. It boasts a top speed of 62 mph, and its tight handling lets you weave through traffic jams. It goes 35 to 55 miles on one charge, and if you run out of juice, just plug the on-board charger into any electrical outlet and you’re golden. Plus, the scooter’s simple construction (250 parts compared with 2,500) for a gas scooter makes it a low-maintenance proposition. No gas, no oil, no problem.

  Continue reading

DFRW: The Baseball Glove

glove.jpegA radio segment I produced airs this weekend on PRI’s Studio 360. It’s about the design of the baseball glove and features Bob Clevenhagen, who’s been the head designer at Rawlings for 30 years–in fact, he’s only the third head designer in the company’s 130 year history.

You can listen to the piece here.

Playboy’s Super Blog

From the Playboy Blog, 2/1/07

The Playboy Staff’s Super Bowl Predictions (Notice who kept the NY faith).

See our postgame roundup here.


While the Patriots stay tight-lipped with their Super Bowl predictions, we here at Playboy go the Plaxico Burress route and spew off about how things will unfold Sunday, Tom Petty’s halftime performance included…

Jamie Malanowski, Managing Editor
Personally, I give the Giants big props just for showing up. I don’t know how anybody would think they could beat the Patriots—the thrice champion, undefeated, got the best quarterback ever, got a certified genius as a coach, only got caught cheating once New England Patriots. I mean, it would be kind of ironic if the Pats lost, and suddenly none of their 18 wins would matter, and instead of immortality they’d go down in ignominy for being the biggest choke artists ever. But that can’t happen, can it? Well, it says here that the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw will jitterbug around the Patriots’ aged linebackers during the second half. Giants 27, Pats 20.

Ben Conniff, Editorial Intern
Strahan skips the game, extending his own tropical vacation to give some hard-core consolation to a
rebounding Jessica Simpson. The Giants excel with another unwieldy ego out of the way. Umenyiora deals the death-blow when he hammers Matt Light after the whistle and Light lands on Brady’s tender ankle. Geoff Pope gets ultimate vindication when he picks Brady’s next pass, runs it back for the winning TD, and gets MVP honors. Giants 27-21.
Tom Petty rocks the entire soundtrack to She’s the One.

Continue reading

F for Effort



Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times Op-Ed column this morning is drawing much needed attention to the “Genocide Olympics” campaign. Its message is simple: as China prepares for its debutante ball—the Beijing Olympics—it should reconsider its open support of the genocidal government of Sudan, lest it tarnish the bright image it’s trying to promote. China spends $2 billion a year on Sudanese oil, sells weapons to Sudan’s government, and most importantly blocks attempts by the U.N. to deploy an effective peacekeeping force to a miasma that’s seen 200,000 people killed and 2.5 million displaced.

As part of the Genocide Olympics campaign’s efforts, they asked Beijing’s corporate sponsors to use their influence to pressure China to take action, since slaughter isn’t exactly one of the Olympic ideals the companies claim to promote. Now the campaign has a nifty report card telling us just how much the sponsors care. Read the full report here.

The results: 13 F’s, 3 D’s, 2 C’s, and one C+. Several companies actually received scores of 0, including Anheuser-Busch, Panasonic, Samsung, Lenovo, and Swatch. So this summer crack open a Bud, flip on your Panasonic flat screen, and enjoy Beijing 2008: “One World, One Dream.” Who doesn’t dream of Olympic-size pools full of cash?

Tougher Than Leather

From Playboy Magazine, January 2008

Orvis Leather Sports Gear


Remember when a man could fix his own dislocated shoulder while guzzling a beer between plays? Those were the days. Revive a bygone era with Orvis’s hand-sewn replicas, made to the exact specs of old-time sports collectibles (from $40, Bonus: Orvis donates five percent of its annual profits to environmental preservation efforts, so you can keep a clean conscience while playing with your balls.