Over here at Team USG, we’ve been pretty sad about what’s been going on with our colleagues at G/O Media this week. Earlier this week, one of our favorite sites, Deadspin, was given an absurd “stick to sports” mandate—a serious breach of editorial independence—by the private equity firm that acquired the Gizmodo network of sites earlier this year. While Deadspin is ostensibly a sports site, it has for years covered the intersection of politics, pop culture, and the internet to great success and for an audience who actively pursued that content. In the days that followed, Deadspin senior editor Barry Petchesky was fired “for not sticking to sports.” As of this morning, its entire staff has quit.
We stand in solidarity with the brave Deadspin team and everyone else at G/O Media through this very rough time. To celebrate Deadspin in this moment, we thought it would be apt to talk about our favorite sports games for this week’s Community Question as we head into the weekend. So tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite sports game?
I love NCAA Football and the arcade classics, like NBA Jam and NFL Blitz, but my favorite is a more recent and unconventional game: Rocket League. It’s soccer, sure, but it’s soccer with rocket-powered cars and gravity-defying aerials.
What Rocket League understands is the fluid, evolving nature of a sport. Athletes who break convention are what define the sport, and those things are hard to translate into a game where competitors have to adhere to predetermined animations and actions. Rocket League lets you fly, flip, bend shots, and defy gravity. It turns out that when you don’t just stick to sports, you can create a truly amazing game that’s also loosely sports. Funny, that.
Punch-Out for the NES. Hey, it counts. I’ve never been into sports or sports games, even though I come from a part of the world where hockey consumes all. I’m not even into boxing. I just like Punch-Out’s goofy characters and strong gameplay mechanics. There’s nothing to memorize: no complicated moves, no stats, no multi-button inputs. It’s just you, Little Mac’s glove, and Soda Popinski’s face. It was great when I was a kid, and it’s great now.
The Tony Hawk games are easily my favorite. I’ve always been an action sports girl—X-Games, the Olympics (if that counts). Those are my jam. The only traditional sport I’ve ever been into is basketball, and aside from early NBA Jams, I never clicked with the bigger basketball games of today. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and by extension Tony Hawk’s Underground, have always been the best sports games to me. A few months ago at a friend’s house, they pulled out Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 randomly. Playing it again felt like riding a bike: I was chaining combos in no time.
In other words, it’s the opposite of like when I take my skateboard out today. I’m always one foot pedal away from landing flat on my ass. Typical.