Technology, movies and music isn't enough to satisfy the all-encompassing beast that is SXSW. Last year, the confab started swallowing up sports, too, with the advent of SXSports, a "convergence" track between Film and Interactive that considers sports through a pop cultural lens.
The jock quotient is ramped up this year with panels on "The 12 Month Sports Season," "The Athlete Slash Entrepreneur" and "Punch Drunk: Hockey Fighting At A Crossroads." There are also sport-connected movies at the film festival, including the Andy Samberg-starring tennis comedy 7 Days In Hell, Jerome Thelia's documentary Bounce: How The Ball Taught The World To Play Ball, and Sneakerheadz, David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge's highlight entertaining doc about athletic shoe obsessives.
On Friday, former Sixer and always opinionated TNT analyst Charles Barkley did a SXsports interview session with Sports Ilustrated's Richard Deitsch. It was called 'How To Remain Relevant In Today's Digital Age" even though Barkley is opposed to social media in all forms, calling it "a media spirited place" and saying he has no intention of joining Twitter and giving his haters the license to attack him: “I don’t want to give some of these losers the power.”
On Saturday, undefeated UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey - whose February fight with Cat Zingano lasted 14 seconds - appeared with fellow fighter Jessica Eye and talked about female fighting as a feminist force.
Rousey talked about how she was listening to a Matt & Kim song called "Don't Slow Down" in 2011 in her car after winning her first fight "and I felt like I was in on this big secret that nobody knew about."
"I would say we are revolutionizing what is possible for women in pop culture, in general," she said. She talked about how the audience for mixed martial arts has changed from being guys only to much more of a coed date night affair. "If fighting can change," she argued. "We can change every other place in society where women aren't accepted."
Saturday was premier night for Son of The Congo, an hour long documentary about Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka that is the debut feature for ESPN's Grantland Features. Ibaka and Grantland founder Bill Simmons were in the house as was director Adam Hootnick, who traveled with Ibaka to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo here he grew up in impoverished conditions while the country was at war.
The movie shows the 24-year-old power forward to be an impressively caring and thoughtful individual, and also demonstrates the unreasonable demands put on a generous favorite son who returns home wealthy to his native land. The film lacks dramatic tension and doesn't really stand up as a feature length film, but it's moving nonetheless. It will be viewable on the Grantland web site on March 30.