Longtime ESPN Broadcaster John Saunders Dies: John Saunders, a familiar face on ESPN for three decades who hosted SportsCenter, The Sports Reporters and coverage of college football and basketball, has died at age 61. No cause of death is given. Saunders had a book coming out with John Bacon next spring, Playing Hurt, whose blurb states that he "confesses his constant battle with depression and how it nearly cost him his life."
Sport and the Olympics: A Lament: Gideon Haigh, a terrific writer on sport and culture, examines why the Rio Olympics might be the most unappealing in a generation.
Episodes in the Life of Bounce: "All ball sports are aleatoric structures organized, to greater or lesser degrees, around bounce. Aleatoric structures—structures of planned chance—produce a reliable kind of uncertainty. We don’t know who will win and who will lose, but we know that at the end of the day, there will be a winner and a loser. A ball introduces a second, more uncertain, kind of uncertainty into the fray. Its bounce dances along the edge of our predictive capacity, always almost but never fully under control. At least in the Anglophone world, this second kind of chance—the chance of the ball—seems to be especially important to our contemporary understanding of play. While other kinds of contests are raced, run, rowed, and swum; wrestled, fenced, fought, and boxed; timed, weighed, measured, and judged; ball games are played. And only an athlete who contends with balls (or pucks, or shuttlecocks, or other third objects) earns the title “player.” We become players in and through bounce."
Meet Leroy Stolzfus, the Amish Marathoner: Leroy Stolzfus finished the Harrisburg Marathon in 3 hours, 5 minutes and 45 seconds, less than a minute away from the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. What makes the 22-year-old's run unusual is that he's Amish and did it in slacks, a long-sleeve button down shirt and suspenders. "I'll get there," he said of Boston. "I just got to train a little harder, learn how to not go out too quickly and negative split more."
The Rugby World Cup Final is on Saturday: between Australia and New Zealand at Twickenham. After over a month of pool matches, quarter finals and semi finals, the best two teams in the world get to slug it out. The winner will be the first three-time holder of the Webb Ellis trophy. Trans-Tasman rivalry at it's finest.
California Bans Use of 'Redskins' as Sports Mascot: California became the first state to ban schools from using the "Redskins" team name or mascot Sunday, a move the National Congress of American Indians said should be a "shining example" for the rest of the country. The law, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed Sunday morning, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017. "They have set a shining example for other states across the country, and for the next generation, by demonstrating a commitment to the American ideals of inclusion and mutual respect," said the National Congress of American Indians.
How Do You Find Live Sports on TV?: SportsFilter is looking into the possibility of adding TV schedules of sporting events that could be customized by users per sport, per team and other criteria. It would be helpful to know this: How do you find out when to watch your favorite sports and teams on the tube? If you use specific sites and apps for this, what are they?
Rugby (Union) World Cup Starts Tonight: As usual, the All Blacks will be favourites, but this time around it's a bit more open. England, Australia, France, South Africa and Ireland could all be in with a shout. Usually with Rugby World Cups, the pools are fairly predictable, and action won't get interesting until the knockout stages at the Quarter Finals. However, this year the Pool of Death (TM) means that one of England, Australia or Wales will be going or staying home early.
Cowboys, Yankees Most Valuable U.S. Sports Teams: Forbes magazine has estimated the worth of the Dallas Cowboys at $3.2 billion, making the NFL team tied for second-most valuable sports franchise on the planet behind the Real Madrid soccer club in Spain at $3.26 billion. The New York Yankees in baseball also are valued at $3.2 billion. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has the most profitable club in sports at $246 million with revenues 31 percent higher than their nearest NFL rival.
Colin Cowherd Leaving ESPN: After 12 years on ESPN Radio, Colin Cowherd is leaving and talking about a move to Fox Sports. The new president of that network, Jamie Horowitz, was producer of Cowherd's SportsNation and Sunday football shows. Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead doesn't think this is due to Cowherd crossing any lines at the self-criticism averse, NFL-protecting ESPN. "The difference here was that ESPN did make an aggressive bid to keep Cowherd, but was upstaged by Fox," he writes.
Australian Rules Tactics: For a long time, they didn't seem to actually exist. A new book delves into the history of coaching, and tries to explain what's happening to the average punter.
Bill Simmons Out at ESPN: Bill Simmons will be leaving ESPN when his current contract expires in September, the network announced. "I've decided that I’m not going to renew his contract," said ESPN skipper John President. "We've been talking to Bill and his agent and it was clear we weren't going to get to the terms." Last year Simmons was suspended three weeks after calling NFL Commissioner John Goodell a liar and daring ESPN to fire him. Dare accepted.
Famous Texas Sportswriter Jim Dent Convicted of 10th DWI: The sportswriter Jim Dent, a former reporter in Dallas and Fort Worth known better today for his non-fiction sports books such as The Junction Boys, is in jail awaiting his sentence for his ninth and 10th DWI convictions. He fled the charges to Mexico for a year, where he promoted his latest book Manzell Mania in interviews conducted over an anonymous Internet phone service, but was caught at a border crossing in San Diego. He says he's done drinking (natch) but a long prison sentence awaits. "Dent said he has at least one more book in him," writes Barry Horn. "He is 35,000 handwritten words into an autobiography he has titled Last Call."
The gym on the Titanic, and other early 19th century ocean liners.: "I was up early before breakfast and met the professional racquet player in a half hour's warming up for a swim in the six foot deep tank of saltwater heated to a refreshing temperature." -- Colonel Archibald Gracie, Titanic Survivor.
Obama Proposal Could End Taxpayer-Subsidized Pro Sports Stadiums: Some interesting news from USA Today: "An obscure item in the president's new budget would put an end to the long-standing practice of states and cities using tax-exempt bonds to finance professional sports arenas, a practice that costs the U.S. Treasury $146 million, according to a 2012 Bloomberg analysis."
Mark Teixeira: Sharing Yankee Stadium with NYCFC Will Suck: New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera, asked about sharing the team's stadium with the new MLS team New York City FC: "It's going to suck, but you have to deal with it. It's going to tear up the infield, but there's nothing we can do about it, so we'll deal with it." NYC FC plays its home opener Sunday. Outfielder Brett Gardiner fears that when new grass has to be put down, it will give way and cause ankle and knee injuries.
ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott Dies: Stuart Scott, an anchor at ESPN for 22 years, died Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 49. Scott, who joined the network for the launch of ESPN2 and became one of its best-known anchors, was known for catchphrases such as "boo-yah!" and "as cool as the other side of the pillow." At the ESPYS on July 16, shortly before his 49th birthday and following another round of cancer surgery, Scott accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance with these words: "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."
How Boxing Day Became a Highlight of the Sports Year: Tomorrow is Boxing Day in England, a secular holiday for giving gifts to tradespeople and servants -- people who had to work on Christmas -- that has become one of the biggest sports days of the year. "The curious origins of Boxing Day sport date back to 1860, when two of the world's oldest football clubs met in Sandygate Road in Sheffield," writes one explainer. "One hundred and twenty-six years later, while the sport itself has gone through several transformations -- technical and commercial -- the traditional Boxing Day fixture continues to be the most anticipated of the annual football calendar."
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."