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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Image: silhouette of a jogger in sunrise via Shutterstock

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Football for life
Amos Barshad writes about Israel’s football league. In a country where teams have political affiliations, the players that are signed can have an impact both on and off the pitch. (Grantland)

On the last Saturday in January, with most of Israel shut down for Shabbat, Beitar Jerusalem FC – the only soccer team in the Israeli Premier League to have never signed an Arab player – announced that it had picked up two Muslim players from Chechnya: Dzhabrail Kadiyev, 19, and Zaur Sadayev, 23. The first response from fans was nonviolent but brutal: At the team’s next match, members of Beitar’s proudly racist ultras group La Familia unfurled a giant yellow banner in Teddy Stadium’s Eastern grandstand. It read, in a surreal echo of Nazi terminology: “Beitar Will Be Pure Forever.” The next response was arson.

2. Always looking
Megan Nolan writes about her teenage years and the trials and tribulations of always wanting to be a slightly different version of herself. (Siren Magazine)

When I looked at the book again recently, before writing this article, I immediately remembered the weak relief of being addressed as a fat, lazy slob. When you think these things about yourself repetitively, it comes as an almost exhilarating release when a third party confirms it for you. I hated the book and I hated myself for buying the book, and I especially hated that I had used profit reaped from the use of my brain to invest in this vanity.

3. Overcoming everything
David Merrill details the story of Anthony Robles, the one-legged wrestler who accomplished everything he wanted, and then quit. (Deadspin)

After his first year of wrestling, nobody thought Robles stood a chance against most two-legged opponents, except Robles himself, who decided the expedient thing to do was to make the sport more difficult for himself. He asked the best wrestler on the team, a 152-pounder named Chris Freije, if they could train together over the summer. Freije agreed, but his interpretation of “training” turned out to be closer to most people’s definition of cruelty.

4. The Gathering
Daniel Menaker loves to hear the Irish speak. So much so that the American returned to the west of Ireland, 40 years after his last visit. (New Yorker)

I had been there nearly forty years earlier, and the trip had confirmed the generally held high opinion of Irish verbal agility, wit, and garrulousness. “Are you American, then?” a butcher had asked me when I was buying a steak from him, in Schull, in the spectacular Southwest. “Yes,” I said. “Then of course I’ll be charging you twice as much,” he said.

5. Endurance unlimited
Christopher Solomon is left out of breath after meeting one of the world’s greatest endurance athletes. (The New York Times)

Jornet was raised in the Cap del Rec regional park, where his father was a hut keeper and mountain guide and his mother a schoolteacher who liked to run and ski. “Mountains were his playground,” his mother, Núria Burgada Burón, told me. When Jornet was 18 months old, she took him on a seven-hour hike in the Pyrenees, and he never cried or fussed. Seven hours? She laughed. “Kilian is not normal.” At 3, she says, he completed a 7.5-mile cross-country ski race. “My mission is to make Kilian tired. Always, I was tired. But Kilian? No.”

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6. Secrets of a spy
Louis Sahagun catches up with Fernando Jara, the high school dropout who became a spy for the CIA. (Los Angeles Times)

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Jara switched core beliefs yet again. He went from zealous Muslim to radicalized American. At the time of his email, intelligence agencies were eager to exploit an opportunity presented by the capture of John Walker Lindh, a U.S. citizen who had converted to Islam and gone abroad to join the Taliban. Intelligence officials believed other American citizens could pose as converts and infiltrate terrorist networks abroad. Jara’s email landed at the right moment. An FBI agent and a CIA officer drove to his home and enlisted the eager 26-year-old as a contract employee.

… AND A CLASSIC READ FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In 2011, Rowan Jacobsen wrote in Outside about India’s Kaziranga National Park, and how a policy change put poachers on the endangered species list.

Pegu should have been home free. He knew the landscape, and Kaziranga employs only about 500 forest guards to cover more than 300 square miles of tall grass and jungle – on foot. What were their chances of finding him? Yet, unbeknownst to Pegu, before he even fired his shot three forest guards had entered the area, searching for him. As soon as he fired, they closed on the spot. Unlike most guards in most parks in India, they were armed. And they had license to kill.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore.ie >

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About the author:

Paul Hyland

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