The 10 best  Sports long reads of 2023

At its core, storytelling is an art form.

In sports reporting, a breaking news story or even a game recap answers the basic questions: who did what and where they did it. The artist uses just the primary colours to paint these quick — but still important — pieces. Sometimes they have a bit of a paint-by-number feel, but they use only the necessary daubs of detail to get the information across to the audience.

A long read is a different composition. Thousands of tiny brush strokes — using every colour of the rainbow — go into capturing a more fulsome and well-rounded portrait of a writer’s subject.

From the 16-year-old Canadian swimmer juggling Olympic-champion calibre potential, to the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, to the behind-the-scenes stories of Canada’s only win at The Masters, our writers created likenesses of these captivating athletes with their words.

In no particular order, here are 10 of the best long reads from Sports in 2023:

In this composite image, a young woman holds a medal that is around her neck, and at right, a young figure skater raises her arms.

It’s very, very rare to have a world-class athlete in the family. Yet, somehow, the McIntosh family have two: Brooke, 18, is an accomplished figure skater, and Summer is a 16-year-old swimming phenom. Go behind the scenes to see why a lot of the McIntosh sisters’ success can be traced back to their family.

A man smiles as another man helps him slip on a green jacket.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a major moment in Canadian golf history: Mike Weir became the first men’s golfer from this country to win a major, and he did it on the biggest stage of the sport. This is the behind-the-scenes story of how the Brights Grove, Ont., native won the Masters tournament at Augusta National.

A soccer player celebrates a goal.

Dwayne De Rosario knows the Olympics’ newest sport well. Though he is renowned for his soccer talents, his origin story includes the persona of Timex, a b-boy training to enter the cypher.

A women's soccer team celebrates.

Is it possible to sum up more than two decades of blood, sweat, tears and triumph Canadian soccer great Christine Sinclair has shown on pitches around the world?

Canadian hockey player Liz Knox is shown in profile as she does commentary for a game at the Unifor Women's Hockey Showcase in Toronto in 2019

Goalie, coach, commentator, and executive of the Professional Women’s Hockey League Players Association, Liz Knox has been involved at every step in the long development of the PWHL. She tells us about each step they took on the long road to puck drop on Jan. 1, 2024.

A man runs down a road.

Mississippi is home to the Canadian runner who wants to be the fastest 800-metre runner in history.

A woman in a black turtleneck holds up a WNBA basketball.

Lynette Woodard had a childhood dream to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, even when it was fully made up of men. It became reality in 1985, when she became the first woman to don the famed jersey.

A side profile photo of a gray-haired man wearing a lavender suit, white shirt, and blue tie.

When Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay used an interview to accuse police of profiling him over his race (white) and wealth (immense) during a 2014 impaired driving arrest, the online backlash came fast, with a long list of commentators highlighting Irsay’s stunning lack of self-awareness.

A track athlete looks back at the scoreboard.

A question that has been ruminating in Damian’s Warner mind for more than a decade is if one day the reigning Olympic champion might just find magic, when everything aligns and he pulls off the perfect decathlon.

A composite photo showed various athletes celebrating.

A 72-foot putt for eagle. A new home for women’s hockey. A rousing farewell to a legend. Those are just some of the moments that defined sports in 2023. Here’s a look back at the year that was.

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