Sports

Sam Evans-Brown

A lot of Americans are struggling to lose a whole lot of weight, and they try all kinds of crazy things.

Ernest Gagnon — a man from Billerica, Mass. — decided to shed pounds by getting into the often intense, high-adrenaline sport of cyclocross: racing road bikes on obstacle courses.

Two years ago, Gagnon tipped the scales at 570 pounds. He was depressed and embarrassed to leave the house.

Leo Greene

If you’ve spent any time in the town of Sandwich, New Hampshire, you may have picked up on its eclectic mix of preserved antiquity and progressiveness, with old clean-walled farmhouses occupied by inventors, artists, even a locally-grown internet service provider. Sandwich may be yesterday on the outside, but it’s tomorrow on the in.  As Sean Hurley reports, this dichotomy finds an unusual expression on the town soccer field a few days before the annual Sandwich Fair. And while many towns see carnies as an invading force, to residents of this town, they’re welcome competitors.

jayneandd via Flickr/Creative Commons - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayneandd/4450623309/in/photostream/

This past weekend in New Hampshire was full of two things that NHPR's Keith Shields follows very closely: politics and marathons.

Shields is executive producer of The Exchange and a 27 time marathoner. He joins All Things Considered host Brady Carlson to – pardon the pun – run through the intersection of marathon culture and political culture, up to and including this election.

A Step by Step on Racewalking

Aug 10, 2012

(sound of walking)

The track at Nashua North high school on any given afternoon has a few joggers doing laps, sprinters running intervals, even a hurdler practicing his jumps…and then there’s Bob Keating, who stands out a bit. The sixty five year old race-walker and one time Olympic trials qualifier is pumping his arms, his hips are swaying wide and as everyone else bounces, Keating seems to glide around the perimeter of the track.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport via Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedcms/7707038092/

Millions of Americans have been following the Olympics in London, and NHPR staffers are no exception. But one of our colleagues is watching with a more seasoned eye – Keith Shields is executive producer of The Exchange, but he’s also a 27-time marathoner who's currently training for an Iron Man triathlon in Quebec.

He tells All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about the races he's been following, London's history in shaping the modern marathon, and whether athletes watch Olympic competition any differently than the rest of us.

The Mile Still Matters To Track & Field

Aug 2, 2012
From ryunrunning.com

Track and field has a numbers problem. As in, there are just too many of them. The 60, 26.2, 4-by-8, 2-oh-3, 5, 8, 10k…

Back in the 1950s, there was one number that mattered.

"I think there are only a handful of achievements like breaking 4 minutes for the first time, in any sport, that comes close to what Roger Bannister has done." 

Photo by eXtensionHorses via Flickr Creative Commons

Produced with Zach Nugent

Skating on Ice Made by the Sun

Jul 10, 2012
(Photo by Sarah Reynolds)

As summer hits Cape Cod, out come the fishing rods, sailboats, and…. Hockey pucks?  In Falmouth, Massachusetts, youth hockey leagues and recreational skaters are carving up the ice in a brand new ice rink this month – one that’s powered by summer sunlight.  Independent producer Sarah Reynolds has the story.

From toddler gyms to travel leagues, the author of a new book says companies are increasingly targeting kids, creating a highly profitable youth sports economy.  And the effects can be damaging, he says, leading families to overspend and kids to lose sight of the life lessons that sports can bring. We’ll take a look at this trend – its causes and effects.

Guests:

Across the country, swimmers are putting in their final laps before this month's Olympic trials. For many, the dream of making the U.S. swim team has been what gets them out of bed for a predawn practice. But on the men's side of the pool, the superstars of swimming often leave little room for anyone else.

At a recent swim practice in Nashville, Tenn., Dakota Hodgson, 20, puts in laps. And speed-walking to keep up, stopwatch in hand, is his gray-haired coach and father, Charlie Hodgson.

Charlie calls out Dakota's time: "29.24."

The road to any big event, be it a family reunion, a graduation, or the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, is often pockmarked with screw-ups, flubs, and insensitive oversights. Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish catalog a few of the gaffes leading up to the London games, including torch flame-outs, missing hurdles, and the resurrection of the apartheid-era South African anthem.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'll Have Another will not have a shot at the Triple Crown. His trainer noticed inflammation in the horse's leg, so the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness will not race in tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. In fact, he's being retired from racing altogether.

NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now. And, Mike, what more have you learned about this injury?

Every four years, the world gears up to become rabid, two-week fans of sports we’d never otherwise watch those featured in the Summer Olympics, like swimming, gymnastics, even equestrian eventing. For the elite athletes who compete at the Olympic level, however, the games are anything but a quadrennial concern. They’re the reward for working the hardest, being the best, and increasingly, it seems, having the latest hi-tech gadgetry in your corner.

The prosecution's star witness underwent a withering cross-examination on Thursday at Roger Clemens' perjury trial. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with lying to Congress when he testified that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. Brian McNamee, his one-time trainer, is the only witness who has firsthand evidence that contradicts the baseball-pitching ace.

Earlier this week, guided by the prosecution, McNamee testified in agonizing and repetitive detail about how he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone between 1998 and 2001.

Roxboroughsports / Flickr/Creative Commons

New research finds that younger athletes are more susceptible to head injury than once thought, take longer to recover, and are more at risk for suffering second concussions. Now, New Hampshire may join a growing list of states asking coaches and trainers to monitor these injuries more closely.  We talk with experts on head trauma in youth sports. 

Guests:

Aly Raisman started gymnastics like millions of other children — in a toddler tumbling class. Now 17, the Massachusetts athlete is considered one of the best tumblers in the world. And she's on track to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

(Photo by Jeff the Trojan via Flickr Creative Commons)

If only ten percent of humans are left-handed, why have 50 percent of the world’s top hitters in baseball been southpaws?  Danny Abrams has a theory. He’s Assistant Professor with the Applied Math department at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.  

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Fenway Park. A century after it was built, fans still gush about this "lyric little bandbox," as John Updike called it. To guys like Ed Carpenter, Fenway is history and home, magic and mystique.

"I love this place," he says, tearing up. "I mean, it's not mortar and bricks and seats."

Carpenter first started coming to Fenway with his dad in 1949, when he was 6.

"We walked up this ramp right behind this home plate," he recalls. "I can still see everything was green, emerald green. It was love at first sight."

Russian Gymnasts Seek To Soar Once Again

Apr 19, 2012

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, the women's gymnastics competition was highly predictable — the Soviet squad won the team gold medal at every Olympics it participated in.

Even when Nadia Comaneci was reeling off perfect 10s at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, she and her Romanian teammates had to settle for second in the team competition behind the legendary Olga Korbut and her Soviet comrades.

Can I give you a word I love that you just don't hear anymore?

Zany.

It used to be that all kinds of stuff was described as "zany," but it seems to have mostly gone out for fancier words like "dysfunctional."

Now, I bring this up because most sports franchises are pretty standard issue. Oh, some are rich, some poor, some win, some lose, but only one currently, to my mind, descends to the dear old level of zany. That is the Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, or, now, as I like to call them, given their location in Little Havana, Los Zany-os.

Psychologists at Purdue University have come up with an interesting twist on the old notion of the power of positive thinking. Call it the power of positive perception: They've shown that you may be able to improve your golf game by believing the hole you're aiming for is larger than it really is.

Jessica Witt, who studies how perception and performance are related, decided to look at golf — specifically, how the appearance of the hole changes depending on whether you're playing well or poorly.

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