Trying their best to win at losing: Eight badminton players face disciplinary hearings for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" after two Olympic women's doubles matches where both pairs were very obviously playing to lose their final group matches in order to secure a better draw in the knockout round. This is the first Olympic tournament that's not been a pure knockout competition; it may be the last.
"In the white spaces. I think about the silence at Lord's, and I understand. Test cricket is different from the rest of the world because it was designed to be." : Having travelled to India for the World Cup (as mentioned here), Wright Thompson visits the home of cricket and meditates on the nature of the Test match.
Dan Wheldon Dies in 15-Car Crash at Las Vegas: Dan Wheldon died Sunday from injuries suffered in a 15-car wreck during lap 13 of an IndyCar race in Las Vegas. He was 33. Wheldon won this year's Indianapolis 500. "I've never seen anything like it," driver Ryan Briscoe said of the crash. "The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something."
Argentine Soccer Giants Relegated: For the first time in their storied 110-year history, the Argentine soccer team River Plate has been relegated from the country's top division. They lost a promotion-relegation playoff against Belgrano de Cordoba in Buenos Aires. Despite the presence of 2,200 police at the match, violence erupted in the stands and spread into the streets, leaving 68 people injured, 50 arrested and 15 vehicles destroyed. The 3,000 traveling Cordoba fans were not able to leave the stadium for two hours.
“He plays like a child enjoying the pasture, playing for the pleasure of playing, not the duty of winning.": That's the Uruguayan novelist Eduardo Galeano on Lionel Messi, who receives a long profile from the New York Times in advance of next Saturday's Champions League final.
Hold that promotion?: This morning's Sun claims that current Championship leaders QPR are set to be hit with a 15-point penalty and denied automatic promotion to the Premier League for breaking third-party ownership and agent licensing rules related to the transfer of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in 2009. QPR only need a point from this weekend's match to seal an automatic spot; the League's decision is set to be announced next week.
"Using the observations of television viewers sitting at home does not seem the right way to proceed in a professional sport": The BBC's Iain Carter reflects on Padraig Harrington's disqualification at this week's Abu Dhabi International, thanks to an eagle-eyed
snitch TV viewer who emailed the European Tour website to alert referees that the golfer had inadvertently moved his ball when replacing it. Some pros are less than impressed, too.
"In the U.S., we think of money as corrupting sport, especially youth sport. At Ajax, it is clarifying.": As a prelude to the World Cup, Michael Sokolove takes an in-depth look at the Dutch giant's academy, where seven-year-olds are coached towards success on the world stage. It also discusses why the growing ranks of young players in the US hasn't yet translated into top-level success, blaming an overemphasis on competitive play and the ill-fitting role of the college sports system.
"We believe in live. We believe in live.": ESPN exec John Skipper talks about the Disney network stable's pitch for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, and the "anachronistic" decisions that go into NBC's tape-delayed broadcasts -- which, this time round, extends to tomorrow's US hockey QF and the gold-medal game on Sunday.
Bill McLaren, the voice of rugby, dies at 86: Over a career in broadcasting that began on radio in the 1950s and ended with his retirement from television in 2002, his commentary defined rugby union for players and followers alike. The BBC has collected some of the highlights of his career, while YouTube provides a broad sampling of McLaren's work, including a classic 1999 Five Nations match between England and Wales, and the sheer magic of Gareth Edwards from 1972.
"...I realize that I did make a good choice. It's been worth it.": As the NFL takes its annual trip to Wembley, the New York Times heads up to Oxford to check on someone who chose not to enter the draft just yet: Myron Rolle, the Florida State safety who has just begun the Rhodes Scholarship he was awarded at the end of last season.
"They don't know Luol Deng is Barack Obama's favourite basketball player. They don't even know that he is British.": A great piece from the summer basketball camp Deng has hosted for the past five years, reflecting on his ability to inspire young Britons while remaining a relative unknown to the sporting press of his adopted home country.
Steven Cohen quits punditry, citing death threats, after long-running spat with Scousers: A familiar face and voice for US-based EPL fans, he's also a Chelsea supporter with an unfortunate habit of blaming Liverpool fans for Hillsborough, apologising, and then doing it again. After repeating his charges on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, a group of US-based Liverpool fans began an advertiser boycott; fearing a global backlash, a number of Sirius and FSC sponsors pulled their support; another apology wasn't enough to stop FSC from kicking Cohen into touch. On Friday, he walked away from his radio show, invoking the American tradition of free speech, citing antisemitism and death threats to his stepchildren, and blaming... pretty much everybody.
England regain the Ashes: After a momentous day that began with the Australians looking like they could make history and challenge a huge total, England made breakthroughs when they least expected them to turn the momentum their way. Australian commentators complained criticised the pitch, but Ponting must rue leaving out his spinner -- or being unable to take an early lead back in Cardiff. Now, how well did you do?
Women's boxing set for 2012 Olympics, golf and rugby sevens for 2016: The big losers of the IOC's executive board meeting: squash, once again stiffed because of its limited US presence and supposed unbroadcastability, and baseball and softball, having been axed for 2008. Golf is included, presumably, to get Tiger to the Olympics, though as Brian Cazeneuve suggests, it's hard to see the top players treating it with the same respect as the Majors... or bunking down in the athletes' village.
The end of the high-tech swimsuit (and the poolside wardrobe malfunction): After a year of wrangling over the specifications of swimsuits, the world governing body FINA has decided to call the whole thing off: from 2010, competitions under its jurisdiction will outlaw full-body suits and limit the materials used for their construction. This week's world championships will be the final hoorah for the bodysuit, after a decade of innovation (and embarrassment) and the records set in Rome are likely to go into the books with an asterisk.
Real bites again: A week shy of six years since parting company with David Beckham, and six months after Sir Alex told the press 'I wouldn't sell that mob a virus', Manchester Utd have accepted Real Madrid's £80m offer for Cristiano Ronaldo. Let the speculation about the club's finances and post-mortems on C-Ron's time at Old Trafford commence.
Rafa does a Keegan?: Sir Alex gets under the skin of yet another title contender, as Benitez lashes out against perceived favourable treatment of Fergie and Man Utd in terms of the fixture list, disciplinary action and criticism of referees. No comment on whether Rafa would love it if they beat 'em.
Smell The Glove: Brandon Marshall had a half-black, half-white glove stashed as part of a TD celebration / commemoration that recalled Tommie Smith and celebrated Barack Obama. Brandon Stokely ran over to him and made him put it away, fearing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike at the end of a close game. On the one hand, Brandon Marshall is no Tommie Smith. On the other hand, I can't shake off the nagging feeling (which owes more to Smith than Marshall) that it would have been a pretty cool gesture.
"You will never see a more dramatic conclusion to any motor race...: let alone a grand prix, and the result of it all is that, in the most harum scarum way possible - he doesn't make it easy for himself, does he? - Lewis Hamilton is the world champion." (Video here for the moment.)
Pro Cycling At The Crossroads: Clean Up Or Clear Off.: A wide-ranging account of the sport's struggle to clean up its drug culture in advance of this weekend's DC-area race. The backstory is familiar to cycling fans, but it's an eye-opener to see the past decade of scandal laid out for a wider audience and juxtaposed with the approach of big-league American sports to doping.
The Age of Discovery is over.: What are eight Tour de France wins worth? Not much, it seems, in the current climate: Team Discovery is set to disband at the end of the year when its sponsorship deal ends, and directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel will retire from pro cycling.
"The future of this sport is one where we have to get back to basics,": As the Tour caravan disperses, the post-mortem begins. ESPN's Bonnie DeSimone wonders whether a riders' union would change the atmosphere. The ASO has floated the idea of opening the TdF field to national teams, though that's tied into its power struggle with the UCI and ProTour teams. But a common theme emerges after this Tour de chien: the sponsorship money that has built team dynasties now threatens the sport.
"This is high-calibre marketing - taking an inferior product and improving it through packaging.": Top quality trolling from Alexi Lalas, who responds to sniping from across the pond with tongue-in-cheek praise of the Premiership's capacity to sell Wigan-Charlton as a Super Sunday spectacular.