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It's no secret that cable television is in trouble. With Hulu, Netflix and many networks streaming their shows online, viewers don't have to watch shows like Scandal or American Horror Story live. They can stream it the next day — or the next year.

Nevertheless, one channel had long looked impervious to the trouble: ESPN. Even as other channels suffered losses in subscriptions, the sports network was sitting pretty for one simple reason — people want to watch sports live.

South Africa's coast is well known as the haunt of sharks, particularly the fearsome great white.

Even so, an encounter today between a large shark and Australian surfer Mick Fanning, who was competing in the Jeffreys Bay World Surf League competition (the J-Bay Open), broadcast live on television, has caused a few hearts to skip a beat.

MLB Season Turns Predictions Upside Down

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This week, Tour de France riders cranked through three grueling days in the Pyrenees mountains. Once more, they've all made the curious decision not to just get off their bikes and take a bus like sensible people.

Be that as it may, the Alps are still to come, and there's plenty of pedaling to go before they sprint into Paris on July 26.

So, while fans await that triumphant homecoming, there's no better time to turn to know-it-all journalist A.J. Jacobs. He takes NPR's Scott Simon on a tour of their own, talking trivia with a bit of bicycling lore.

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Change of mood now. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Its cost had swollen to more than $2 billion; its design sparked an unflattering meme. And now Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to start over with their plan to build a centerpiece stadium.

"I have decided to bring the current (building) plan for the new National Stadium back to the drawing board and review the plan from scratch," Abe said, according to Kyodo News.

Copyright 2015 Capital Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.capradio.org.

Webcast: Sports And Health In America

Jul 16, 2015

The vast majority of kids in America play sports.

But while about three-quarters of adults played sports when they were younger, only 1 in 4 still plays sports today. Among them, men are more than twice as likely as women to play.

Playing sports has always been important to 31-year-old Erik Johanson, a city planner in Philadelphia. Johanson thrived in baseball and ice hockey as a kid, he says — "one of the best players on the team in high school."

Today, Johanson is married and expecting his first child but is still passionate about ice hockey — and about winning. He plays on a highly competitive team of guys who got together after college and still play weekly in an adult league; they hope to take the crown this year.

Caitlyn Jenner is on a mission. Accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs Wednesday night, she said she will be turning to advocating for transgender people.

"Trans people ... deserve your respect," she told the gathering of famous athletes.

In a video produced for the award ceremony, Jenner said she had come to a "revelation": "Out of all the things that I have done in my life, that maybe this is my calling." She added, "Maybe I can bring understanding on this subject. It's time that I do my best."

Few places are as rich in cycling lore as the Col du Tourmalet, the brutal 6,939-foot pass in the French Pyrenees that has been a mainstay of the Tour de France since 1910. This is where history is written and legends are made.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Soccer owns sports nationalism. There are world championships and continental championships in all kinds of sports, but when it comes to countries playing against each other, soccer's tournament is more spectacular than all the others put together. Hey, win the World Cup, baby, you're ticker tape on Broadway.

The American League started the 86th All-Star Game with a home run and ended with home-field advantage for the World Series — for the third year in a row. The final score at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park Tuesday night: 6-3.

AL's Mike Trout started the game with a bang, hitting a home run in the first at-bat.

"It was the fourth homer to lead off an All-Star Game in the event's history and the first since Joe Morgan in 1977," MLB.com reports.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We are about to hear from a record-breaker. Scott Jurek's record time was 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes. That's how long it took the ultra-marathoner to hike the 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through 14 states.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Heading the ball in soccer has been accused of causing most concussions. But the hazard may be more due to rough play than to one particular technique, researchers say.

The risks involved in heading — when a player uses their head to keep the ball in play — are not new. But Dawn Comstock, an injury epidemiologist at the University of Colorado's School of Public Health, wanted to know if headers are indeed the chief cause of concussions.

The Secret History Of Black Baseball Players In Japan

Jul 14, 2015

In the fall of 1936, a 24-year-old black baseball player from rural Louisiana stepped off a boat in Tokyo. His name was James Bonner. An ace pitcher with a vicious submarine pitch, Bonner, according to Japanese newspapers breathlessly heralding his arrival, once threw 22 strikeouts in a single game back in the States.

We talk a lot about nostalgia on Pop Culture Happy Hour — about the ways entertainment has shaped our youth and placed our memories in perspective — but in doing so, we've mostly discussed movies, TV shows, music, books, board games, that sort of thing.

2,189 miles in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes.

That's how long it took for Scott Jurek to complete the Appalachian Trail, setting a new record for the fastest known finish. He left Springer Mountain, Ga., at 5:56 a.m. ET on May 27 and ended at the top of Maine's Mount Katahdin at 2:03 p.m. on Sunday, according to Runner's World.

The 41-year-old ultramarathoner averaged almost 50 miles a day.

Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Wimbledon singles title against a concerted effort by Roger Federer, who was hoping for a record eighth Wimbledon title.

It is Djokovic's ninth Grand Slam title and third Wimbledon singles championship. He becomes only the eighth man to successfully defend that title.

Djokovic won the first set 7-6, and Federer leveled it in the second, 7-6. The third set was suspended for rain with a score of 3-2 for Djokovic. When play resumed, Djokovic closed out the set by winning it 6-4; he won the last set 6-3.

As our nation prepares for the annual MLB All-Star Game on July 14, let us pause and refresh our memories of women's baseball in 19th-century America — and what it represented.

From the very early days of baseball in America, women were involved. First, as spectators, as reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of Aug. 4, 1859, when a game between two local teams "was witnessed by a large number of people, the greater part of whom were ladies."

Serena Williams won her 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon on Saturday, defeating Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Sunday promises the long-awaited rematch between defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who's won the tournament seven times already himself.

The rivalry between Djokovic and Federer is one of the greatest in modern tennis, but arguably, it's not the greatest all-time. Many would say that honor actually goes to a matchup 35 years ago — back in the era of wooden racquets, headbands, long socks and short shorts.

Wimbledon 1980 was the ultimate showdown.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Serena Williams won her 21st Grand Slam title in a Wimbledon final against a much younger opponent, 21-year-old Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

For Williams, 33, it was her fourth Grand Slam championship in a row and her 25th career Grand Slam title match. It was Muguruza's first. Williams beat Muguruza 6-4, 6-4.

"Yeah, I'm having so much fun out here, you know, I just never dreamt I would be out here still and let alone winning," Williams told the crowd at Wimbledon after accepting her trophy.

Cyclists competing in the Tour de France entered the 8th Stage on Saturday, where they'll face some short but steep climbs as they ride west through Brittany. At the end of the day, cheering crowds will gather around the finish line, the stage winners feted.

What about the guy at the end of the pack? That's the question Max Leonard answers in his new book, Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France. Leonard tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn that the riders in the back often have far more interesting stories than the riders in the front.

Wimbledon, Golf And The Week In Sports

Jul 11, 2015
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The rock-star week for the U.S. women's soccer team involved some confetti today. The team's World Cup win was celebrated in New York City with a history-making tickertape parade. Bridget Bergen reports from member station WNYC.

Marking the first time any women's team has been celebrated in New York's famed Canyon of Heroes, thousands of fans turned out Friday for a parade honoring the U.S. women's soccer team's record third World Cup title.

The ticker-tape parade comes on the heels of another U.S. achievement: a return to the No. 1 spot in FIFA's rankings that were released this morning.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene with a little dancing in the dugout. That infectious beat is, of course, "Gangnam Style."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GANGNAM STYLE")

PSY: (Singing) Oppa Gangnam style.

Former NFL Quarterback Ken Stabler Dies

Jul 9, 2015

The Oakland Raiders say their former star quarterback Ken Stabler died from complications associated with colon cancer. Stabler was 69.

NPR's Tom Goldman tells our Newscast unit:

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