Our favourite things this week: from conned Chelsea fans to Michelle Obama
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While opinion is divided on Qatar's winter World Cup, Hampton Stevens of the Atlantic is pleased that this year's Super Bowl will be played in an open-aired stadium in freezing conditions. The is no normal NFL game and is attended not by diehard football fans but celebrities looking for a photo opportunity. Stevens wants them literally frozen out. However, there may be some schadenfreude going on when he talks about enjoying a "gloriously gritty, sloppy spectacle of old-school football" from the comfort of his armchair at home: "Many fans will have paid a small fortune to shiver in their seats."
The measure of any great hero is in the standard of the villain he conquers. Skyfall was a better James Bond movie than Quantum of Solace as, beside from having a better name and a better plot, it had Javier Bardem freaking everyone out as the baddy. Rocky IV is the best Balboa film as Ivan Drago is the toughest opponent he ever faced. The big Russian made it to the top of Dan Treadway's list of bad guys in Extra Mustard. And that's why .
Derrick Coleman has been deaf since he was three years old, but that hasn't stopped him from playing in the and inspiring people – including a seven-year-old girl who wrote to him to thank him for the example he has set to other people with hearing difficulties. Coleman replied to the young girl and the Bleacher Report printed both of their letters. The spelling isn't always impeccable, but you won't read anything better all week.
VfB Oldenburg's captain Mansur Faqiryar is a hero in his native Afghanistan, having helped his side to win the South Asia Football Federation Championship. Having moved to Germany as a child, the goalkeeper, who is also studying for a degree in engineering economics, speaks about choosing to join the Afghanistan national football team over Germany and being voted as a sportsman of the year. Faqiryar says he wants to give youngsters hope, but rejects the idea that he is a hero: "A hero is for me an Afghan widow living somewhere in the mountains who manages to raise her children."
Either they are gullible or we are...
LA Times' columnist Chris Erskine gets to grips with the new ice hockey rink at the Dodger Stadium, home of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team since 1962.
It's – the awkward, arrogant post-game rant from Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: "Don't you ever talk about me! Don't you open your mouth about the best!" – but in this Sports Illustrated piece Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin admits that, actually, most athletes have similar thoughts a lot of the time; they just manage not to say them on camera. "Players strive to be classy and fans want to support those type of players. But it's impossible to truly know who or what each player is as an athlete or a person just because of what they said in a 10-second soundbite." An interesting piece on how players manage to control themselves (or not) while facing a hungry, judgemental 24-hour media.
In these dark days of cricketers tampering with balls, footballers falling over themselves and snooker players being fined for tweets, to where can we look for some old-fashioned honesty? Mary Pilon of the New York Times has found the last bastion of sporting honour: curling. EJ Harnden, who curls for Canada (of course), says it best: "It's up to your discretion to take ownership when you make a mistake. We have a saying on our team that what goes around comes around. We want the good karma to stick with us. It's the right thing to do."
Stories about dressing-room banter are rarely funny. This one, told by Mike Farrelly of Balls.ie, is a welcome exception.
In terms of interesting, long-form sports journalism with a political bent, it doesn't get much better than this mix of local clubs, corruption and Nelson Mandela's brother – the story of South Africa's soccer history. Sean Jacobs has written a piece for Roads and Kingdoms that describes political machinations in the same breath as a team's football kit; it's like watching Homeland and juggling a size-two Mitre at the same time.
When the Miami Heat visited the White House to celebrate winning the 2013 Championship, the last thing anybody expected was the First Lady to creep up behind Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen and drop a slam dunk on a hoop held by LeBron James. But, hey, sometimes that happens. Logan Rhoades of Buzzfeed caught the moment for posterity.
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