Can True Sports Fans Switch to a New Favorite Team?: Ben Adler says no: "When I lived in Washington, D.C., I had a friend who is also from New York but had switched his allegiance to D.C. teams on the grounds that he planned on living there the rest of his life, so it would be more convenient. I couldn't even fathom doing the same. If you can make rational decisions about who you root for, are you even a real fan at all?" An NFL Shop commercial says yes with its "Vikings-Eagles-Bengals-Cowboys-Steelers family," but the ad gets hammered on social media every Sunday. Don Delco blogs, "We can all agree this family sucks. How can everyone who moved away become such bandwagon fans?"
NCAA Loses O'Bannon Suit...for now.: A federal judge ruled Friday that the NCAA's limits on what major college football and men's basketball players can receive for playing sports "unreasonably restrain trade" in violation of antitrust laws. Though it will of course be appealed, natch. Analysis from SBNation and the Chronicle of Higher Ed
The Big Guys Get Their Way: The NCAA Board of Directors has given the 5 big conferences what amounts to near autonomy to set their own rules. It appears that football teams will now be ranked from Division 3 through FCS and FBS, with the largest 5 conferences in a new division called the Juggernaut Division.
Broken Aereo: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Aereo, a service that lets users watch broadcast television on Internet-connected devices with dime-sized digital antennas, is effectively stealing content from the media companies.
Boston Marathon Begins, One Year After Bombings: Nearly 36,000 runners are participating in the 118th Boston Marathon today, making it the second-largest field in event history. Accommodations were made for 5,000 runners stopped on the course last year to have another chance to compete. Reuters is live-blogging the race.
Teen Wrestler Loses State Title, Hugs Opponent's Dying Dad: A Minnesota high school wrestler won over the crowd with a hug that came away from the mat -- and after a loss. Instead of getting upset when he lost the 120-pound title match in the Class 3A tournament, Blaine High School sophomore Malik Stewart went over to his opponent's dad -- who is dying of cancer -- and gave him a hug. "He won," Stewart said of opponent Mitchell McKee. "He was pretty proud, and his dad was pretty proud. So I went over there and I shook his hand, embraced him a little bit, and told him to stay strong and everybody loves him."
ESPN's Stuart Scott Fighting Cancer Since 2007: Longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott, 48, has been fighting cancer since 2007, as detailed in today's New York Times. He has undergone 58 infusions of chemotherapy and two recurrences of cancer, using MMA and cross-training workouts to keep his energy up. "I never ask what stage I’m in," Scott said. "I haven't wanted to know. It won't change anything to me. All I know is that it would cause more worry and a higher degree of freakout. Stage 1, 2 or 8, it doesn't matter. I'm trying to fight it the best I can."
"Right now the NCAA is like a dictatorship. No one represents us in negotiations.": The National College Players Association filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern University, submitting the form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Backed by the United Steelworkers union, it also filed union cards signed by an undisclosed number of Northwestern players with the NLRB -- the federal statutory body that recognizes groups that seek collective bargaining rights.
Fox Sports 1 Challenges the Beast of Bristol: On Saturday, the sports channel Speed became Fox Sports 1, putting a direct 24/7 sports news and live event rival to ESPN in 90 million homes. The network takes on SportsCenter with Fox Sports Live and will broadcast Major League Baseball, World Cup soccer, Pac-12 and Big 12 college football, U.S. Open golf, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Soon, Fox Soccer will be disappearing as a cable channel, though its Internet broadcasts and website will continue.
ESPN Drops Hugh Douglas Over Slur, Fight: ESPN has dumped former NFL player Hugh Douglas over an altercation he initiated with his Numbers Never Lie cohost Michael Smith during the National Association of Black Journalists convention recently in Orlando. When Smith tried to keep a drunken Douglas from taking the mike at a party (after doing the same a day earlier), Douglas called him an "Uncle Tom," grabbed him and threatened to beat him up. Two weeks ago Douglas tweeted, "S/O to Riley Cooper.. For keepin it 100.. At least now we know!"
EA Loses in Court to Ex-NCAA Athletes: A federal appeals court has ruled against Electronic Arts in a lawsuit by former college athletes who accused the company of using their images in video games without permission. The athletes, including former Arizona State University quarterback Samuel Keller, claimed that EA had misappropriated their identities and likenesses without compensation. The judges noted that in the 2005 edition of NCAA Football, the ASU quarterback had the same "height, weight, facial features, hair color and style, home state, playing style, school year, skin tone, throwing arm, uniform number and visor preference as Keller."
Will New York City Evict Madison Square Garden?: In a 47-1 vote, the New York City Council limited Madison Square Garden's permit at its current location above Penn Station to 10 years. The operators of the facility that houses the Knicks and Rangers, presently undergoing a $1 billion renovation, want a license to stay there in perpetuity, but many civic groups believe the site is needed to expand and modernize the train station. "Now is time to get to work and build the Penn Station that New York City and the region desperately need in order to improve transit access and spur economic growth in the city and throughout the region," said the New Penn Station Alliance.
Drugs in Sport: The Game and the Metagame.: How mathematical logic could address some of our concerns.
Sportscaster Al Michaels Charged with DUI: Sports announcer Al Michaels of NBC's Sunday Night Football was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI in Southern California on Friday night, Santa Monica police said. Officers detected a smell of alcohol when Michaels spoke to them at a DUI checkpoint at 10 p.m., police sources told TMZ. He failed a field sobriety test and blew a .08 and a .09 in two breathalyzer tests, the sources said.
ESPN Suspends Bill Simmons from Twitter for Criticizing 'First Take': ESPN has suspended Bill Simmons from posting on Twitter after he criticized the network for airing a segment on First Take in which Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman repeatedly insulted host Skip Bayliss. "I am not defending this segment," Simmons wrote on Twitter. "I thought it was awful and embarrassing to everyone involved. Seriously." He then added, "But what bothers me about the reaction to that segment is people saying Richard Sherman 'won.' Nobody won. Everyone lost. Including ESPN."
Basketball only schools to leave Big East: The seven Catholic schools that make up the Big East's basketball only schools (Notre Dame not included) are planning to leave the conference. No word yet on what Cincinnati, UConn, and South Florida will do in the wake of the Big East's collapse. Louisville and Rutgers announced their plans to leave the conference earlier this year. Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia announced their departures last year. The new schools leaving, Marquette, Georgetown, DePaul, St. John's, Villanova, Providence and Seton Hall can avoid conference exit fees as long as they leave as a group.
Justin Kievit, Middle School Wrestler, Lets Boy With Cerebral Palsy Win Match: When Jared expressed that he wanted to participate in a wrestling match, Mayes said he called his friend Randy Stevens (no relation), a coach at another middle school. “It wasn’t about weight class,” Mayes told the Tennessean. “I told him to point me toward the kid who has the kindest heart.”
Sports on Earth Covers Sports on Earth (but Mostly America): Former Sports Illustrated and Kansas City Star sportswriter Joe Posnanski is the senior columnist at a new sports website launched by MLB Advanced Media and USA Today. Opening day pieces from Sports on Earth cover the Red Sox/Dodgers trade, Rafa Nadal and Peyton Manning. In Posnanski's intro to the site, he writes a bit underwhelmingly, "The idea here is to build a sports website around great writing. That's not exactly a new idea."
Turner Buys Bleacher Report for $175 Million: Turner has bought the user-generated sports article site Bleacher Report for $175 million. The site is powered by "6,000 mostly unpaid contributors who churn out more than 1,000 articles a day," reports Deadspin.
Penn State Removes Paterno Statue Ahead of 'Unprecedented' Punishment: Penn State removed the 900-pound bronze statue of Joe Paterno from outside the campus stadium this weekend ahead of "unprecedented" punishment due to be announced Monday against the school by the NCAA. "I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse," said Penn State president Rodney Erickson.
Sports Journalist Dies in Aurora Shooting: Jessica Redfield, an aspiring sports broadcaster in Denver, died in Friday's movie theater shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo, after narrowly escaping a June mass shooting at a Toronto shopping center. Redfield's last tweet to a friend at Sporting News: "Movie doesn't start for 20 minutes." On her personal blog, in her last entry she recounted her narrow escape, "It's hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting."
Paterno, Penn State Officials Knew About Sandusky in 1998: Coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State leaders "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to [Jerry] Sandusky's child abuse" from authorities, investigator Louis Freeh states in a report he issued today. Paterno and the others "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," the report states. Freeh found that they knew about the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, three years earlier than the shower rape witnessed by Mike McQueary. "The evidence shows that Mr. Paterno was made aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action," he writes. "None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity."
Where Are the Champions?: "An interactive map of every championship in the history of MLB, the NBA, the NHL, and the NFL."
Is ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips scamming people on the internet?: Eight months ago, a writer who specializes in sports-betting was hired by ESPN, sight-unseen. Fast-forward six months and accusations are swirling that she is either not who she says she is, or she is using her platform to grift internet gamblers and content creators. A story that's about fifty percent JT Leroy and fifty percent Nigerian prince (via MetaFilter).
The Fencing Response: (youtube link) "The fencing response is an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion. Immediately after moderate forces have been applied to the brainstem, the forearms are held flexed or extended (typically into the air) for a period lasting up to several seconds after the impact. The Fencing Response is often observed during athletic competition involving contact, such as football, hockey, rugby, boxing and martial arts. It is used as an overt indicator of injury force magnitude and midbrain localization to aid in injury identification and classification for events including, but not limited to, on-field and/or bystander observations of sports-related head injuries." via The Concussion Blog
Why Baseball is the Best—And Least Exploitative—American Sport...: according to Georgetown University Professor Michael Kazin. "Compared to the dysfunction, scandal, and discontent commonplace in other professional sport, baseball is looking better than ever."
States Passing 'Tim Tebow' Bills for Home-Schooled Athletes: Twenty-five states have passed bills allowing home-schooled students to play sports at public schools, a movement sparked by an obscure Denver Broncos quarterback who played for Nease High School near Jacksonville, Fl., despite never stepping foot in the place as a student. A bill before Virginia's legislature is hotly debated. "I support choice, but if you've chosen that, you can't use public schools as an a la carte system," said William Bosher, a former state superintendent of schools. "It's football today. Tomorrow it's a National Academy of Sciences project. The next day it's homecoming queen. Where does it begin and end?"
An Open Letter from Kenny Powers to Tim Tebow: "The more I read about Tim Tebow, the more I see similarities to my own life story," writes Kenny Powers. "Though neither the strongest nor the fastest, he excels at sports. Many experts doubt the remarkable lad. They tell him he throws funny, and that he doesn't have the right physique for the game. It's science, they say. He'll only go so far. But the Gifted Young Athlete refuses to let the doubters shit in his Wheaties."
For Your Soul: So, here’s the game: The Jon Lovitz Devil has consigned you to an eternity of being stuck in traffic in a wheezing Ford Escort without air conditioning, and the only radio station plays Michael Bolton 24 hours a day. But you have one chance to escape your fate. You get to choose one athlete, at his or her peak, and one sport. Ever. And if that athlete wins, you get a whole different eternity, with chocolate-covered strawberries, DirecTV and a deck that overlooks the ocean. Ah, but there is one catch. You get to pick the athlete and sport. But the Jon Lovitz Devil gets to pick the terms.
Cat-Murdering Dog with Dorito's Wins Super Bowl Ad Meter: The USA Today Ad Meter panel's top pick during the Super Bowl was a spot -- produced on a $20 budget -- featuring a Great Dane that murders and buries the family cat and buys his owner's silence with Dorito's brand tortilla chips. The runners-up also featured canines in a VW spot about an overweight dog and a Skechers spot with a sneaker-wearing bulldog outracing greyhounds. The game's non-football content also featured a rapper flipping the bird during a Madonna halftime show that was highlighted by a slacklining acrobat.
Florida Requires Pro Sports Teams to Take In Homeless: Two Republican state legislators in Florida have introduced bills that would require the state's pro sports franchises to house homeless people in their stadiums or give back the millions they've received from the state. "I want to make good citizens out of them," said state Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton), who authored the legislation with state Rep. Frank Artilles (R-Miami). A never-enforced 1988 law required teams that take state money to house the homeless when they're not playing. "The rule was you took the money you were supposed to use it for a program for homeless people and you didn't do it and therefore we want our money back."
Do Sports Build Character, or Damage It?: Mark Edmundson, a University of Virginia English professor, asks the question through the lens of his own experience as a mediocre high school football player: "Over time, I came to understand that the objective of the game, on the deepest level, wasn't to score spectacular touchdowns or make bone-smashing tackles or block kicks. The game was much more about practice than about the Saturday-afternoon contests. And practice was about trying to do something over and over again, failing and failing, and then finally succeeding part way. Practice was about showing up and doing the same drills day after day and getting stronger and faster by tiny, tiny increments, and then discovering that by the end of the season you were effectively another person" (via MetaFilter).
CBS Launching Fantasy Sports App Store: CBS Sports is opening up its fantasy sports services and data to third-party developers, according to TechCrunch. An app store will launch Jan. 31 that can offer free and commercial apps. CBS will take a 30 percent cut on sales of the latter. API documentation and more details are available from the CBSSports.Com Development Center.
NBC Makes Run at ESPN with NBC Sports Channel: On Jan. 2, NBC is mounting a challenge to the ESPN empire with the launch of NBC Sports Channel, a renamed and revamped version of Versus. The NBC networks offer Sunday Night Football, the Olympics, PGA golf and the NHL and recently added Major League Soccer, an NFL divisional playoff game, Thanksgiving night game and three Super Bowls. The company wants to add college football, Major League Baseball, Nascar rating and NFL Thursday night games as rights come up in the next few years.
Philly Sportswriter Bill Conlin Accused of Child Sex Abuse: Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Bill Conlin, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, retired Tuesday after being accused of sexually molesting four children -- including his niece -- in the '70s when they were ages 7 to 12. Several parents of the children were told at the time, and some confronted Conlin, but no one called police, according to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Conlin's niece Kelley Blanchet, one of the alleged victims, said, "People have kept his secret. It's not just the victims, it's the victims' families. There were so many people who knew about this and did nothing." The four provided videotaped testimony to police last year but the crimes were beyond the statute of limitations. Conlin wrote a column about the Sandusky allegations last month, suggesting that it's easy to say you'd do the right thing if you witnessed sex abuse. "Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact," he wrote. "But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions."
George Vecsey Quitting New York Times Column: George Vecsey is stepping down after almost 30 years as a sports columnist for the New York Times. One of the most prominent columnists in sports who does not appear on television, Vecsey is also known for books on baseball and coauthoring Coal Miner's Daughter with Loretta Lynn. He writes, "If I have one regret -- one pitch I'd like back -- it is my upbeat commentary during the McGwire-Sosa home run frolics of 1998, after Steve Wilstein of The Associated Press spotted androstenedione in McGwire's locker." As for his favorite moments, he writes, "[T]he Olympics and the Tour de France were great, but my eight World Cups of soccer, so far, were the best sporting events on the planet."
Walter Iooss, Jr., Talks About Shooting Famous Athletes: Walter Iooss, Jr., a Sports Illustrated photographer for more than four decades, dishes some dirt in a great story for the magazine on his experiences shooting star athletes such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and swimsuit models including Cheryl Tiegs and Paulina Porizkova. "All the guys who are perceived as a------s are a------s. Randy Moss, Albert Belle, especially Barry Bonds," he writes. "Brett Favre, on the other hand, was a party waiting to happen, back before he cleaned up his act. When he was young, he and his agent, Bus Cook, sometimes arrived at the shoots with beers in their hands."
This Is the Classical: Kickstarter-funded sports site The Classical launched over the weekend. Just in time for the NBA's return, FreeDarko founder (and all-around great name haver) Bethlehem Shoals discusses the state of the NBA and soccer blogger Linda Hui expands on New Zealand's Rugby World Cup victory (via MetaFilter).
Bankrupt Power Balance Owes Kobe Bryant $400,000: The makers of the Power Balance Wrist Band, a $30 rubber band with a Mylar hologram to "optimize energy flow" touted to improve athletic performance, filed for bankruptcy in January after agreeing to a $57 million class-action settlement and admitting there's no scientific basis for its product claims. The company owes celebrity endorsers Kobe Bryant ($400,000), Blake Griffin ($20,000) and skateboarder Ryan Sheckler ($25,000). It also owes the Sacramento Kings $100,000 after the team reached a deal to rename its arena Power Balance Pavilion.