Sports

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Despite lockouts, replacement referees, and a lawsuit to settle brain trauma-related lawsuits, America's passion for football remains in play. We continues our series Rethink 2014 with America's beloved pastime, football. We begin at the college level, where many professional football careers begin. Critics charge that  that the danger and violence inherent to the game have no place in academic institutions. NPR's program Intelligence Squared U.S.

Tony Verna

Watching football this weekend? Well, If you happen to step out of the living room to grab some guacamole and miss a pivotal play, don’t worry – you can bet  the network will play it again (and again) in instant replay.  But it wasn’t always so…  This is the story of how a young and rash CBS producer named Tony Verna invented instant replay in 1963 against tough odds, and revolutionized how we watch sports forever.  It’s told by freelance writer Anna Clark, who wrote about Tony Verna for pacific standard.

www.nickfairall.com

Andover native Nick Fairall will take part in the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

Fairall secured a spot on the U.S. ski jumping team with his win at the Olympic Trials in Park City, Utah this past weekend.

Fairall, 24, has been skiing since he was six years old, cutting his teeth at the Andover Outing Club.

He says while competing in his first Olympics will be thrilling, he won’t be satisfied until he has the ultimate prize.

“Well, obviously, like everyone’s goal, is Olympic gold.”

via dallasnews.com

As part of its “30 for 30” series, ESPN recently released a short documentary detailing the escapades of perhaps the most prolific sports prankster of all-time, Barry Bremen. Between 1979 and 1986, Bremen was responsible for over twenty hoaxes in professional sports. In the documentary, Bremen along with a few former Kansas City Kings, remember the warm-up layup line at the NBA all-star game.

In recognition of Barry’s impressive history of ‘impostering,’ Bryan Curtis, staff writer for Grantland, compiled a list of memorable practical jokes played in the world of sports.

©Jonas Bendiksen/National Geographic

As the first snows fall, weekend warriors from all over New England will pack up the car, strap the skis to the roof and hit the slopes for a fairly expensive getaway. But in some places, skiing is a strategy for staying alive. Mark Jenkins, a contributing writer for National Geographic traveled to the northern most fringe of western China where skiing was invented many millennia ago. He spoke with the people who carry on the earliest skiing traditions, using the same resources and methods as their ancestors.

Vicky H via Flickr Creative Commons

Go to Great Britain, turn on the TV, flip the channels around, and soon enough you’ll come across something like this...

"What a heartbreaker."

"There's your answer, Wade"

Phil Taylor, Against the darts"

Screaming fans were nowhere to be found at the 27th Annual Seacoast Open.  But talk to throwers like Jeff Smith, who drove six hours from New Brunswick, Canada, to attend, and it seems like there’s  no place they’d rather be.

"Every time I come down here, it's basically a reunion with 500 of my closest friends, so it's been great."

DanMcLean / Flickr Creative Commons

School decisions banning dodge ball and tag have re-ignited a broader debate on whether we are over-protecting kids. We discuss the need for letting go and letting children grow.  But others say the world has changed, and parental involvement is needed today.

GUESTS:

Photo courtesy Christopher Lamb

The 2014 winter Olympics begin on February seventh in Sochi, Russia. Until this week, talk about the games focused on worries that there might not be enough snow, and international criticism and threats to boycott the games because of Russia’s law banning what it called “homosexual propaganda.” On Monday, President Vladimir Putin reversed course and said that everyone will be welcome to Sochi. As to the snow, there are no certain answers.

Keith Allison via Flickr Creative Commons

Last night, those Red Sox beards came through once again, with the Sox taking a 3-2 lead over St. Louis in the World Series. There’s no telling what role the beards that first showed up during spring training have played in getting the hirsute Sox to the World Series, but Fenway park isn’t the only place where people turn to superstition to swing the odds in their favor. And as it turns out, superstition might play a role in success.

Photo by: KarinaEmm

Mike Napoli’s three-run double in the first inning of last night’s World Series opener put the Red Sox on the path for an 8 to 1 drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park.  The cardinals committed three costly errors and lost star right fielder  Carlos Beltran who injured himself running into Fenway’s unusually low right field wall -- while making a spectacular catch, that robbed David Ortiz of a grand slam.  That is just one of the quirks of Fenway, the old-school ball park that throbbed with sox fans last night. It’s one of few remaining fields in the nation that isn’t named for a bank, or a drink. Fenway has a personality--and a history--today’s sox fans sit in the same spot where even more raucous fans sat in in 1912, when Fenway Park opened its doors.

Glenn Stout tells the story of the idiosyncratic park’s construction, christening and enduring charm in the book “Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ball Park, A Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year”.  We spoke to him last year when the book came out...and pulled it from the archives today…a great day to celebrate Fenway Park .

One of the largest rowing events in the world --The Head of the Charles Regatta – takes place in Boston this weekend. Public high schoolers from Concord and Bedford will be among the rowers.

Forty-eight years ago writer George Plimpton infiltrated pro-football when he joined the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback. Plimpton chronicled the experience in his 1965 book Paper Lion. Writer Stefan Fatsis followed in Plimpton’s cleated footsteps when he wrangled his way into the Denver Bronco’s training camp as place kicker in 2008. I spoke with Stefan in 2010 about his short but entertaining tenure in the NFL and his book about the experience called A Few Seconds of Panic.

Stefan Fatsis is a sports writer, a frequent contributor on NPR’s all things considered and a panelist on Slate’s sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”

Joe Shlabotnik via flickr Creative Commons

The Red Sox squeaked by the Tigers last night in Detroit, putting them one game closer to the World Series.  Although Boston and Detroit are two of the oldest franchises in Major League Baseball, this is the first time they’ve faced each other in the playoffs.  That could be due to the post season absence of one team Sox fans – and apparently the rest of the country -- love to hate… the New York Yankees. …this is only the second season in 19 years that the Bronx Bombers failed to make the playoffs. What are baseball fans today without their favorite targets of scorn? Brian Costa can help. He’s national baseball writer for the Wall Street Journal and creator of the “Major League Baseball Hate-Ability Index” – a tool for identifying which team to root against during this year’s baseball playoffs and  the World Series

tadophoto via Flickr Creative Commons

Banish the bridge game, and shove off the shuffleboard… competitive table tennis for seniors is the subject of the new film “Ping Pong”, which airs tonight on PBS’s POV series.

The film shows the arch rivalries and individual motivations of the traditional sports drama, ramped up by the presence of cancer, dementia, and the physical deterioration at the end of life. The film’s producer is Anson Hartford, and he joins us to talk about it.

Tetyanochka via Flickr Creative Commons

Our exploration of Aesthletics reminded us of some of our other favorite bizarre sports. From the safe, if not always tame, World Beard and Moustache Competition to the surprisingly dangerous Outhouse Races, strange sports are everywhere. These are not the weirdest sports, by far, but they top our list as most memorable and well organized.

laudachooos via Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve heard of whiffle-ball… how about whiffle-hurling?  Class-conscious kickball?  Imaginary soccer?  These absurd-sounding games are among the growing number of highly conceptualized art-sports invented by artists and shown on YouTube, and other online video sites. Brooklyn-based artist Tom Russotti is founder of the Institute for Aesthletics… yes, that’s athletics and aesthetics rolled into one. The institute combines sports, participatory art and conceptual social activities. Tom’s games have been invented, played, performed, and experimented with at museums, schools, and arts organizations all over the world.

Business Insider

The NFL preseason kicks off this Sunday in Canton, Ohio, when the Cowboys take on the dolphins at the annual hall of fame game.  The game gives fans the first opportunity in months to get together, warm up the couch, and bust out the beer and snacks. Sabra hummus is making a play to sit alongside chicken wings, nachos and salsa in the billion-plus dollar football food market.  And it’s got a big backer. Sabra hummus is now the official dip of the NFL.

Claude Schildknecht via Flickr Creative Commons

I was deep in western New York for the July fourth holiday. We had loads of fun and the weather was mostly great. The one sour note was not being able to find Wimbledon on the available television channels…we searched for Wimbledon and found live coverage of the Tour de France. In addition to having no interest in watching the race, I realized that I had no idea how to watch the Tour de France. I’m not alone, apparently because each year when the spotlight turns again to spandex, millions of Americans shrug and say “meh!”

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content of the week, neatly packaged for your audio pleasure. On this show, the secret science behind sports fan-dom, dogs audition for a starring role in a New Hampshire play, Cryonics is (maybe) reborn, New Hampshire prospectors pan for gold, and Baz Lurhmann talks about a new album of 20's-style jazz covers of songs by Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and other pop stars.

thebleacherreport.com

I’m am not qualified to make a list of the Top 5 most memorable sports failures, which is why I asked Eric Simons to help me create a list of moments he felt fit the bill. To say that he waffled about what moments to include is an understatement; sports fans are notoriously opinionated when it comes to moments that define heartbreak. I took his suggestions and then sprinkled in a few that I grew up hearing about.  Without further ado I present to you: “5 Moments in Sports That Will (Maybe) Break Your Heart”. We encourage you to disagree and submit your own.

ericsimons.net

If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.

That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.

Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered  by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.

We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.

Taylor Quimby

Battle of the Nations is an international event held annually since 2009 – this year in the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes in the south of France.  About five-hundred men from twenty-two countries competed in what is part historic re-enactment, and part full contact sport.  Wearing full medieval armor and using blunted period weaponry, participants hack, slash, and wrestle opponents to the ground in events ranging from one-on-on, to dueling groups of twenty-one each.  Our next guest, Jaye Brooks was there – he’s executive officer for team USA and the Armored Combat League, and he came in at 10th place in the one-on-one competition.

courtesy University of New Hampshire

The UNH Wildcats are taking on Denver University in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.

Allen Lessels covers the Wildcats for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He talks with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about the team's turnaround season and how it matches up against its first-round opponent.

Paul Butler is a former football player himself, but says the evidence now shows the game is too dangerous for young people and their developing brains. Butler called for a ban on the sport in his hometown. But many say his concerns go overboard and that it’s a hard sell to interfere with America’s second favorite pastime. We'll hear from both sides of this debate.

Captain Kimo via Flickr Creative Commons

NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown found that the traditional ice-fishing bob-houses that pop up each winter may be on their way out. Earlier this month, Sam caught up with Dave Genz—the man credited as the “Godfather of modern ice fishing” and the only ice-angler to be named to America’s fresh water fishing hall of fame—as he fished and demonstrated and some of the newer innovations to the winter sport.

Years ago while chasing my then- toddler  around a small hillside park in Derry, I found a large chunk of iron; It was an odd site, this hulking engine block in the brush and undergrowth at the top of the hill. Then I noticed the telephone poles.  They were several feet back in the woods. Two of the poles had wheel hubs displaying just a hint of the yellow they were once painted. A thin wire bowed between two of them.

This was a rope tow.

Bishop Brady High School in Concord kicked off its boys’ hockey season last night with an 8 to 1 loss to Manchester’s Trinity High School.

Zach Frament scored Bishop Brady’s lone goal, with an assist by Shelby Herrington, who happens to be the only female player on Bishop Brady’s boys’ hockey team.

Whether she remains on that team for the rest of the season remains to be seen.

UNH Football Looking To Make Playoff Run

Nov 30, 2012
Jimmy Emerson / Flick/Creative Commons

On Saturday, UNH’s football team will travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina to take on the Wofford College Terriers in a second-round playoff game.

It’s the ninth straight year the Wildcats have made the FCS (formerly called Division 1-AA) playoffs, the longest active streak in the nation.

Head Coach Sean McDonnell says it’s the character of his players, as much as their talent, that keeps the Wildcats winning.

Paul Butler is a former football player himself, but says the evidence now shows the game is too dangerous for young people and their developing brains.  Butler called for a ban on the sport in his hometown.  But many say his concerns go overboard and that it’s a hard sell to interfere with America’s second favorite pastime.  We'll hear from both sides of this debate.

Guests

TBA

A Profile of Kathrine Switzer

Oct 12, 2012

Forty-five years ago, on the eve of the Women’s liberation movement Kathrine Switzer made history by becoming the first women to ever ‘officially run’ the Boston Marathon.  But it was four photographs taken of Switzer’s famous altercation with a race director that day would spark a revolution not only in women’s running, but also in women’s rights.

Switzer was in New Hampshire this week to give the keynote address at the annual Women Building Community Luncheon in Manchester put on by the United Way of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Women’s Fund”

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