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At an elementary school outside the Chinese capital, Beijing, first-graders practice controlling soccer balls under the instruction of American coach Tom Byer.

"When I clap, everybody's going to dribble to the circle, pull it back and go to the right. Go!" he says.

Regular soccer balls would practically come up to the kids' knees, so they practice with miniature ones instead.

But Byer, a native of New York, argues that even at age 6 or 7, the children are already late to the game.

On April 22, WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson were arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct after the couple reportedly had a fight in their Phoenix home. A week later, Griner pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to participate in a 26-week domestic-violence diversion program. On May 8, the couple got married in an outdoor wedding that was written up in The New York Times, and then, on May 15, each woman received an unprecedented seven-game suspension from the WNBA.

Citing the completion of a pretrial intervention program, a New Jersey judge has dismissed a felony assault charge that was filed against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice over a now-infamous incident in which Rice struck his then-fiancee in a casino elevator.

Rice hit Palmer during an argument while they were visiting Atlantic City, N.J., in February of 2014. A month later, he was indicted on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault. He then entered into a one-year pretrial program that would allow him to avoid a trial.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved to the soccer field. Next week, at the annual meeting of FIFA — the international body governing football — its 209 members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to suspend Israel from international play.

Palestinian soccer officials put the proposal on FIFA's agenda, saying Israeli policies hurt Palestinian players and the sport's development and break FIFA's own rules.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Sport may be dismissed as inconsequential child's play, but there is, in counterpoint, the ideal that sport is our best model for human fairness and equality — a Garden of Eden with competition. But, of course, there are snakes in this athletic garden. Rules will be broken.

To my mind there are, in ascending order, three kinds of transgressions. The first is the most simple: transgressions committed in the heat of the action, instinctively, because of frustration, failure or anger. There are referees to tend to that misconduct.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said his team will accept the punishment handed to it by the NFL in connection with the "Deflategate" scandal.

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Worker-rights groups are calling labor conditions in Qatar "horrific" and urging FIFA sponsors to take responsibility ahead of the 2022 soccer World Cup. Their call comes on the same day the BBC said a reporting crew spent two nights in a Qatari jail for trying to film migrant workers who are building the infrastructure for the sporting event.

The world of climbing lost a daring innovator Saturday when Dean Potter, 46, died during a wingsuit flight from Yosemite National Park's Taft Point. Potter was killed along with Graham Hunt, 29, as they attempted to soar above Yosemite Valley and El Capitan.

The pair attempted their wingsuit flight on Saturday around dusk — a time that National Geographic says many athletes choose for BASE jumping, which is illegal in all of America's national parks. They were found Sunday by a search and rescue helicopter.

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American Pharoah is the king of the nation's horse races this month: in a driving rain, the Kentucky Derby winner took home top prize at the Preakness Stakes Saturday.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, he left the other horses at Pimlico Race Course eating his mud; with an unofficial time of 1:58.46, he led by an impressive seven lengths.

If he can win the Belmont Stakes on June 6, he'll be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The recent unrest in Baltimore put the city's grimaced profile on display. Today's running of the famed Preakness Stakes is a welcome diversion. Donna Marie Owens reports.

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Mitt Romney is a glutton for punishment.

After losing the 2012 presidential election as the Republican presidential nominee, Romney may be gearing up for a beating of another kind.

The 68-year-old former Massachusetts governor will step into the boxing ring on Friday to fight former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Yes, you read that right.

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is appealing his four-game suspension in connection with the "deflategate" scandal.

The NFL Players Association filed the appeal today on Brady's saying:

"Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal.

Days after a stinging report and punishment was announced by the NFL over "deflategate," the New England Patriots have elaborated on their response, publishing its own scientific findings and version of events online.

On Monday, the NFL suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games, fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped the team of a first-round draft pick over the findings in the report by attorney Ted Wells' investigative team.

Vintage base ball players — sort of like Civil War re-enactors who wield wooden bats instead of muskets — move among us. They glory in the past times of America's pastime.

Think: When Johnny comes sliding home.

Dressed in old uniforms, teams play each other using 19th century rules. Sometimes they don't wear gloves. Sometimes they pitch underhand. They spell "base ball" as two words. They call each other "ballists."

Here's a question to ponder over your morning coffee: Why?

Why would the New England Patriots' Tom Brady get involved in a scandal? This week, Brady, who has denied any wrongdoing, was suspended four games for his alleged involvement in lowering the pressure in the footballs he threw in a playoff game.

Yet he did not seem to need to cheat to win.

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It has been almost a year since the World Cup in Brazil. The party is long over, but the country is still dealing with the hangover — in the form of "white elephant" stadiums and unfinished infrastructure projects. They come at a time when the country faces economic woes and the prospect of another expensive mega event: next year's summer Olympics.

The most expensive World Cup stadium — located in the capital, Brasilia, and with a price tag of $550 million — is being used as a parking lot for buses.

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Days after a lengthy report found it was "more probable than not" that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew of rule-breaking, the NFL has issued its punishment: a four-game suspension for Brady and a $1 million fine for the Patriots.

Brady will sit out the first four games of the 2015 regular season without pay, the NFL says, citing "conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL."

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs are well underway. Fans of the Winnipeg Jets are heartbroken; Chicago Blackhawk lovers are feeling great.

But you don't need to be an NHL superfan to find something fascinating about hockey. A.J. Jacobs, an editor-at-large for Esquire and a professional know-it-all, joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about quirky facts from the sport's past and present.

How much hockey trivia do you know? Take a guess at which of the facts below are true, then hit "play" to see if you were right.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And it's time now for sports.

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