My Top Stories of 2013 (5-9)

Part two of my Top 13 of 2013 continues today with 5-9. For a look back at 10-13, click here. Check back on Dec. 31 for stories 1-4.

9. Okay, so I’m cheating a bit as I start the single-digit entries on the list. I’m instead including an entire four-part package, not just one story. My editor at Sports Illustrated asked me for technology stories from four different sports—NBA, NFL, MLB and Winter Olympics—to run alongside video. It was a fun package to work on, spanned multiple months and allowed me to discuss athlete tracking, high-end shoe construction, digital scouting and the art of manufacturing snow.

8. Tracking data has turned into key factor across a variety of sports, but there had been no way to do so in tennis until Babolat unveiled the world’s first connected tennis racket. I was in Boulder, Colo., to test out the racket for the first time in public for Popular Mechanics, an interesting foray into tennis movements and data tracking. For the story, click here.

7. Survivor has proven one of the most popular and longest-lasting reality TV shows ever and host—and now producer—Jeff Probst has been there from the start. I chatted with him for a TIME article discussing the most intriguing power plays in the show’s history. And he didn’t disappoint with his passion and knowledge of the game.

6. 2013 was an interesting year for bridges, the most intriguing the new Bay Bridge opening. I explored the art of cable-stay and suspension bridges early in the year for Popular Mechanics and then took closer examination at the Bay Bridge specifically for PopMech articles both online and in print.

5. Attending the Champion’s League Final in Wembley Stadium was a treat all its own, but then exploring the stadium and discussing the architecture with Lord (yeah, he’s been knighted) Norman Foster was an additional pleasure. I was able to write about how Foster attempted to create a new legacy for the famed London stadium in a Sports Illustrated article.

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adidas Unveils Smart Ball Tech for Soccer

You’ve hopefully already seen my Sports Illustrated story on adidas unveiling the soccer uniform of the future (here it is again, if you missed it), but the German giant also showed off some new ball technology at that same reveal in London a couple of weeks ago. The most recent issue of Sports Illustrated’s print edition contains my article about new smart ball technology from adidas, tracking the movement of the ball while in flight. Check it out in print (and online in a week or two).

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How Nike and adidas Have Taken Over the Endorsement World

I look at the world of endorsements a bit closer for Sports Illustrated, checking out the efforts of Nike and adidas as the leaders in the sports endorsement world. Check out the story here.

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My Chat with Drew Brees About Endorsements

As part of Sports Illustrated’s larger Fortunate 50 business package, I wrote a trio of sidebars, including one that features Drew Brees and his compensation packages, right down to his endorsement deals. Check out the piece, plus my interview with Drew here.

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Putting the Mint in the Mint Julep

When one of my editors at Sports Illustrated contacted me on Thursday looking for a way to get an in on the Kentucky Derby’s famed Mint Julep drink, I thought of the mint. It turns out, after some research, all the derby’s mint is grown right near the track, but that Washington State is actually the world’s top producer of mint. I got a little mint lesson from a farmer in Yakima Valley. Learn about mint in my first Extra Mustard piece for SI here.

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Top 12 of 2012 (#1-#4)

In the final installment of looking back at 2012 and highlighting my Top 12 articles of the year, I walk through my top four (list 9-12 is here and 5-8 is here).

4. The first week of 2012 offered a Sports Illustrated print article on new Nike-made technology used primarily for football and soccer training. The story that took me to Portland and Eugene to cover the new Vapor Strobe glasses and see them in use on the campus of the University of Oregon. I also chatted with Greg Jennings, among others, about his use. Take a look at my SI article here and a teaser to the SI piece on TIME here.

3. As a magazine writer, live event coverage isn’t a regular assignment any longer, but I enjoyed covering a losing Vancouver Canucks team in Rogers Arena on deadline for Sports Illustrated, trying to have fun with the writing along the way. It wasn’t fun because the Canucks lost (I also covered the team’s Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 loss for SI and TIME in 2011, so was hoping they could return to the Finals), but it made the article more interesting, or so I thought. See what you think here.

2. A dream combination of Olympic and sports technology/apparel happened in one article for Popular Mechanics, pinpointing what new features we could expect for London. I chatted with designers from some of the major apparel brands to see what they were rolling out for London-bound athletes and the reporting included a trip to Italy. Read the result here.

1. In what was one of my most well-read articles of the year, I took time to chat with Christian musicians, such as Lecrae and TobyMac, for a TIME article to discuss their rise in the secular charts, the role their music plays in culture and how they see the genre interacting in the music industry. The article led to a spin-off Q&A in TIME print with Lecrae (behind a paywall). To read the main article, visit here.

Top 12 of 2012 (#9-#12)

My writing life was varied in 2012, a busy year of diverse beats and assorted assignment types. In my first “best of” list I look back at 2012, offering my Top 12 of 2012 articles. Thanks for following and reading.

12. A somewhat hard-to-get tour of the Nike Research Lab on the company’s Beaverton, Ore., campus led to a Popular Mechanics’ article/slideshow outlining the scientific surprises inside the Mia Hamm Building. I especially enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at the making of apparel and the technology that goes into it. Check it out here.

11. The greenest commercial building ever built is nearing completion now in Seattle, but I was able to showcase just how sustainable this structure really is in a TIME print article. A full-page spread, helped with plenty of visual cues, revealed the tactics used in the structure to give this building meaning. Look at the online version here.

10. I’m a major fan of the Olympics, so walking readers through all the new London Olympic venues for Sports Illustrated was certainly an enjoyable assignment. I was able to talk to everyone from architects to athletes to get perspectives on venues that we watched for weeks during the Games. Take a look at the article here and a slideshow of the venues with my text here.

9. I merged the built environment with sports motif for an article for Dwell covering the design of retail space pushing the athletic experience. Interviews with artists and architects helped drive this visual article. Take a look here.

Uniforms are for recruiting, that’s the bottom line

Do you think the University of Oregon (or Nike, for that matter) cares all that much what a 40-year-old fan thinks of duck wings locked in chrome on the side of a helmet? Of course not. All anyone cares about is if an 18-year-old recruit thinks those flashy wings look good. And those recruits largely do love the craziness that has become our college football uniform landscape. I followed up an article I wrote for Sports Illustrated about a year ago by revisiting the subject for sportslogos.net today. In the end, if a uniform helps a school get noticed, think of it as a win for both the institution and the apparel company marketing the threads.

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Sports Illustrated event coverage of MLS Playoffs

In November I ventured back to Century Link Field in downtown Seattle to cover the MLS Playoff’s Western Conference Final between the L.A. Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders. It was a rainy night, but I stayed plenty dry up in the press box. After a L.A. win (on aggregate only), I chatted with Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Bruce Arena and David Beckham. Check out the article here.

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