Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 8:34 am
The state Supreme Court in North Dakota is about to consider this question: Can lawmakers require a college to name its sports teams after a Native American tribe?
For decades, University of North Dakota teams have been known as the "Fighting Sioux." It's a name some see as an honor and others find demeaning. Now, the long fight over the Fighting Sioux may be settled in a courtroom.
On the Murray State University campus in Kentucky, warm weather has arrived. Students are out on the quad skateboarding, riding bikes, playing Frisbee and listening to music. But what are they talking about? Basketball.
"I think Murray State can go to the Final Four," one student says.
The MSU Racers have been in the tournament before, but with just a single loss this season and the highest tournament seed in the program's history, expectations are greater than ever.
Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 12:24 pm
Anti-Americanism is on the rise in Egypt these days. A highly publicized trial is under way in Cairo against U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups, and Egyptians are making it clear they reject any American involvement in their country's affairs.
There's one exception, however: an American living in Cairo whom Egyptians are counting on to shake things up. His name is Bob Bradley, and he's the New Jersey-born coach of Egypt's struggling national soccer team.
One thing that distinguishes most team sports is that the game is suddenly played differently at the end. Often, this adds to the fascination, too. Nothing, for example, gets a rise out of me like when the hockey goalie skates off the ice with a minute or so to go, his team down a goal, leaving an open net.
In championship soccer, tie games go to a shoot-out, which is totally alien with all that came before. Neat stuff.
Making it to the NBA or any pro sports league is an expensive, potentially dangerous undertaking with extremely tough odds. For homeschooled kids, the likelihood of a career in sports is especially tough. For years, many states barred kids from outside the public school system from playing on their athletic teams. Now, 25 states allow homeschooled students onto varsity teams, signaling a change in attitudes - along with more room for debate on whether and how to integrate them.
Coaches and managers, as a group, have always been pretty straightforward types. We don't think of generals or preachers as humorists — and, after all, that's pretty much what coaches are, a hybrid of the military and the pulpit.
But at least in the past, there were always a fair complement of coaching characters: old cracker-barrel philosophers, feisty wise guys and even a few sardonic intellectuals.
Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 11:02 am
Dave Zinkoff — or simply "The Zink" — was perhaps the most distinctive public address announcer in sports when, years ago, he called games in Philadelphia, especially for the city's NBA teams. Just his declaring that there were two minutes left in the quarter made you feel that, never mind that quarter, doomsday was but 120 seconds away.
But nothing The Zink cried out was so resounding as when Wilt Chamberlain would make an emphatic slam.
Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 7:53 pm
Baseball practice has just begun at many high schools across the country, but this year, the game is different. The National Federation of State High School Associations has adopted a new standard for baseball bats that is expected to change the way the game is played.
Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 1:28 pm
When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.
And then, in the midst of all this, the men's basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.
New York Knicks guard and Harvard University alumnus Jeremy Lin may be a sudden NBA sensation, but the men's basketball team at his alma mater is making its own mark on the national scene.
Harvard is currently on top of the Ivy League basketball standings. And with a 21-3 overall record and some impressive nonconference wins, the Crimson spent part of the season in the Top 25 in national polls for Division I.
There's a palpable buzz about the team, as well — even a late January road game against the struggling squad from Brown University was a sellout.
By now, most everybody knows Michael Lewis' story of Moneyball — best-selling book or Oscar-nominated film — about the poor little franchise in Oakland that learned how to compete against the big-city rich teams by discovering overlooked players.
The maestro of this policy, Billy Beane, is an endearing character, but I've never been all that charmed by the story, because Beane was just employing cold statistics. Oh, he was right, but it was like rooting for a guy at the blackjack tables who counts cards.
Linsanity is buzzing through the sports world, as New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin has come off the bench to emerge as a star. The unlikely story of an NBA player of Taiwanese descent who attended Harvard — and who, at 6 feet 3 inches, outscored Kobe Bryant to beat the Lakers — has won him many admirers.
There aren't many players like Lin. But in Utah, there's a man who knows something about what he's experiencing. Like Lin, Wat (for Wataru) Misaka is an Asian-American who became an unlikely star and played basketball for the Knicks. But he did it in the 1940s.
Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 6:54 pm
Federal prosecutors say they have dropped its doping case against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. For two years, prosecutors looked into allegations that Armstrong and his United States Postal squad used performance-enhancing drugs.
Football fans, say it along with me: “This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions of the game without the NFL’s consent is prohibited.”
And now, a new tick on the American conversation on religion. Yes, politicos discuss how GOP candidates appealed for the Evangelical vote in Iowa, and will again in South Carolina. But, another discussion arises from the spectacle of one Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback’s out-of-nowhere fourth quarter surges and open displays of devotion make him the target of criticism and adulation.
“Clean coal,” refers to technologies that reduce heavy metal, carbon and other emissions from the burning of coal. The development of technologies that could, potentially, filter greenhouse gases and store CO2 permanently is moving ahead. “Carbon Sequestration” is an important step in testing the potential of clean coal technology. We spoke with Maggie Koerth-Baker, Science Editor for Boing-Boing; she visited a carbon sequestration demonstration in Alabama.
Who doesn’t love an underdog? A Rocky in the ring? With the audience for boxing eroding, the new ring is an octagonal cage. In popularity and profits, mixed martial arts, or MMA, has knocked out boxing in the past decade. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA’s flagship event, was sold for two million dollars in 2001. Today, it’s worth an estimated one billion. Our guest today is a definitive UFC underdog. He’s a writer who dove George Plimpton-style into the grueling world of MMA and landed in the octagon.
In 2009, we spoke with new York Times reporter Warren St. John about his book Outcasts United– which tells the story of the Fugees soccer team and the growth of community around them. The book is currently being featured in the Concord Reads program at the Concord Public Library. Concord is a city that has experienced its own influx of refugees from war torn countries in recent years. Here is what Warren had to say about the Fugees' inspiring story.