Women’s Rodeo, Van Damme’s Best MMA Fighters, and More

Welcome to the Fanbyte Sporting News for November 20th, 2020

Fanbyte does sports coverage now! If you didn’t know that already, I’m here to enthusiastically tell you that we very much cover sports. Fanbyte has two incredible reporters: Fernanda Prates — who covers MMA from a no-bullshit, feminist lens; and Natalie Weiner, who covers the world of athletics and its intersections with power and labor. These are the stories that are often missing from other sports sites, they are stories that you don’t need to be a sports fan to find interesting, because they are primarily interested in the humans who play, the conditions of the world they play in, and the ways our culture sees — or fails to see — them.

Why, you might ask, does a “video game website” cover sports? Don’t nerds and jocks historically not get along? My answer to that lies in the sassy little line before this one, and the fact that Fanbyte is not, and will never be, just a video game website. We cover the things we care about, get excited about, and want to report on, and that has always meant games, as well as pro wrestling, movies, TV shows, manga, occasional food products, and many, many other wonderful things. 

Many of us enjoy sports, participate in them, care deeply about the world around them, and want to know about the environments they are produced, played, and sold in. If we care about labor conditions in the game industry, then we also care very much about the conditions athletes, actors, and anyone else who produces the entertainment we enjoy in, the things we turn on nowadays to escape from the grim realities of life in a pandemic.

So, I’m creating this little column to feature some of the latest sports reporting we have here at the website, to give it a little extra love each week, while the section is new. Here are a few of the best sports stories we’ve put out in the last week!

Women play football, they participate in rodeo, and none of this is new.

Last week, Natalie Weiner reported on the efforts to professionalize women’s tackle football leagues in the US, and today, she reported on women’s rodeo athletes, who, like the women who play many sports, are still treated as mere marketing opportunities. Novelties for wider organizations to congratulate themselves for featuring, even though women have been doing this for a long, long time. Long enough to have a museum: the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall Of Fame. 

“There, the long history of women in rodeo is carefully chronicled — from trick riders around the turn of the century to Annie Oakley to the legendary ropers and riders of contemporary rodeo. (Also, somewhat inexplicably, Reba.) In the museum you can find plenty of artifacts that seem to signify milestones, like events from the 1940s billed as the “first” all-women rodeos, along with proof of various payouts and athlete records. It’s a history echoed in most sports that we still think of as male-dominated: Women have participated since the beginning, and yet are perpetually seen — and marketed — as novelties. At least the women of rodeo have a whole museum as evidence of their contributions.”

Questions answered

On Best Camp of My Life with Fernanda Prates this week, Fernanda tackled some of the biggest questions that MMA fans asked her, including fun stuff like listing the most iconic mustaches in the sport, and much harder topics, such as how to cover the sport when fighters share harmful or even abhorrent opinions about the world. 

Fernanda also wrote an exhaustively researched, utterly delightful piece on Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 90s fighter characters, and how these leading men might fare in the modern day MMA game. There are two parts, the first looks at the leading men from such iconic classics as Kickboxer and Bloodsport, the second from such films as Sudden Death (where JCVD has to foil a terrorist plot at a hockey game! And fight evil villains in Penguin mascot outfits). 

That’s all for this week! Sports coverage is new here, so if you have any feedback, feel free to @ us on twitter at @FanbyteMedia! Play ball! Wear a mask! 

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