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How One Iraqi War Vet is Helping His Fellow Soldiers to Armor Down

Sunday, May 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Veteran Ben King is taking his role as a psychological operations sergeant in the U.S. Army into new territory. Now returned home to civilian life, Ben has created Armor Down. The organization re-contextualizes yoga and mindfulness meditation into a basic training-esque physical fitness routine with one simple goal: To aid in restoring physical and psychological wellness to returning soldiers afflicted with PTSD.

King’s journey into mindfulness was inspired by his own struggle with post-traumatic stress. Defined as, “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditation practices,” mindfulness is western psychology’s adaptation of an ancient Buddhist practice into non-religious terms. King chronicles in his blog:

Early in my PTS experience rage would erupt and I would lash out violently or with shame filled crying. …

In my present experience, I experience rage as signal of tension in parts of my body. The rage expresses itself sensationally and I use that expression to guide my awareness to those ares of sensation and do what I can to settle them. If they don’t settle I never mind, and go through my many tools to mitigate the consequences. Sometimes I even have to sit and just wait for the rage to pass.

The difference now is that not only do I not feel shame for feeling rage, I feel appreciative. I recognize it as an expression of intelligence, one that is affording me an opportunity to evolve.

This was an exciting revelation because it meant that I didn’t have to live in a sanitized environment scared that something would set me off, on the contrary there was no environment that I couldn’t enter because it didn’t netter [sic.] whether I was feeling good or bad because I know how to work with either.

A certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in public anthropology, King created Armor Down as a way to reach out to veterans in need:

Armor Down pursues its mission by linking content describing or demonstrating these techniques to Quick Response (QR) codes, which can be reproduced on printed materials and scanned by smartphones. It is a key feature of Armor Down that providing content in this manner eliminates the stigma of having to request it and encourages anonymous feedback.

One of Armor Down’s biggest projects is Mindful Memorial Day, a Washington D.C.-based volunteer event that honors fallen soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through ceremonies of gratitude. It is a reminder that while we honor the fallen, we must also honor the living by meeting their need to Armor Down into civilian life.

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Andy Murray Wrote Something Amazing on the Camera After Winning the Madrid Open

Monday, May 11th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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From Yahoo Sports:

Andy Murray has continued his incredible run of form since marrying Kim Sears in Dunblane last month, taking his unbeaten streak to nine matches while beating Rafael Nadal to win the Madrid Open in spectacular fashion.

Murray has now secured two consecutive titles on the red dirt since the wedding, having never previously won on the surface, and his comprehensive 6-3 6-2 win over Nadal was as unexpected as it was stunning.

Murray, who punched the air in delight after beating the ‘King of Clay’, proceeded to mark his improbable triumph in Madrid by signing the on-court TV camera, accompanied by the message ‘marriage works’.

“It (marriage) has been nice and a lot of people have spoken about the honeymoon period,” Murray told Sky Sports after the match.

“But we’ve been together a very long time and getting married was the next step,” he said. “I’ve always said if the personal stuff is happy and under control that helps your performance on the court.”

Murray’s fans on Twitter agreed:

 

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Should Unibras Be Banned at NBA Games?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

Here’s something all Americans — regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, or political orientation —  should be able to agree on. This must not be allowed to become a trend at NBA games!

This guy was spotted at the New Orleans Pelicans-Golden State Warriors game Thursday night in all his glory in a sea full of red Pelicans t-shirts that were handed out to fans at the gate.

The ‘unibra’ (as it’s being called) is a nod to Pelicans player Anthony Davis, who trademarked phrases tied to his ‘famous’ unibrow when he was drafted in 2012.

If the NBA can ban smoking and guns in their venues, surely they can – they must — ban this public display of painted chest hair, right? For the children!

 

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Why the ‘5 Best Baseball Movies’ Are Actually Terrible

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

$212.46. That is what the average family of four spent at a major league ballgame last year.  For the budget-conscious, that price tag makes it mighty tempting to stay home and enjoy the boys of summer on TV—either a live game or a classic baseball movie.

But watching some of the most fondly remembered films about the national passtime suggest that maybe both the game’s time and what made America great are passing. Here are five films that make the case.

 

5. Moneyball (2011)

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill take the Oakland Athletics from a mediocre, going-broke franchise to a cash-cow winner by using analytical, evidence-based “sabermetrics.” The film garnered six Oscar nominations, critical acclaim, and box-office success.  That’s terrible. Celebrating the “corporatization” of baseball is not a good thing. Sure, making money is a good thing. “Last season,” Forbes reports, “MLB saw gross revenues of over $8 billion, and the expectation is it will reach $10 billion within a year or two.”

But where is the gut, the intuition, the love of sport for sport’s sake that we learned from movies like The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Gary Cooper’s epic portrayal of the greatest star of baseball’s finest hour?

 

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Nymphing the Green Weenie: Husband & Wife Fly Fishing Adventures On the Fabled Gunpowder River

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Audie Cockings

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Nymphing sounds naughty. Perhaps because it is. Teasing a rainbow trout out from under a boulder with flashy fake bait can be at once titillating, nerve-racking, frustrating, and exhilarating when the mission is indeed a success. The drive to feed is a universal pillar among survival instincts. A satisfying rush on par with few other basic human functions. Besides, what’s more sexy than a big, goofy human in monstrous green overalls?

The husband and I hadn’t been on a date for over three months so when a business friend introduced him to fly fishing on a recent trip out west, he came home and suggested we get a babysitter and a private lesson.

This is where our geography comes in handy. We live five miles from the famed blue ribbon Gunpowder River in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Anglers from near and afar boast her bounties of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

To get started, we booked a lesson for Friday, March 27th, the day before trout season opened, then secured my fishing license with trout stamp online. The morning of, we met Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis guide at Great Feathers Fly Shop. The four hour lesson for two came in at just under $300 and included instruction, technique critique, waders, and all other necessary gear. We followed Rob to the site and after a quick glance at the GPS, realized we were stationed pretty darn close to our own backyard.

We parked by a wader washing station, a near promise of munificent waters. But first things first: Rob showed me proper form, tucking the dominant elbow into the waist, using the forearm as a lever of sorts, pumping the fly rod with kinetic energy to be dispatched upon casting. The rod is ideally restricted to “ten and two” position as the line forms the sequential overhead arc in front of and behind the angler before the rod is pointed at the intended spot and finally released.

After 10 decent practice casts in a clearing, Rob determined that I was sufficiently prepared to begin and into the damp wilderness we went.

The “path” was a hilly forested expanse dotted with girthy, felled trees railroading our passage, their exposed, nutrient-rich interiors akin to coffee grinds. Next was less-navigable outcroppings blanketed in Kelly green moss and pale-hued fungi, increasingly more dense as we made our way down to the river. A quarter mile in, the crunch of leaves, twigs, and remnant ice underfoot gave way to spongy vegetation. We trekked alongside what seemed a shallow creek only to turn a corner revealing a top-50 fly fishing destination… The feverish rush of tail waters on the fabled Gunpowder River.

It was overcast, breezy, rainy and about 45 degrees out — perfect fishing conditions according to Rob as the fish won’t be “lethargic from heat or too much sun… They like it cold.”

He said, grinning: “Despite the rain, the water is pretty clear, so the fish can concentrate on eating, not just staying alive.” Rob explained how the fish filtered out murky sediment which is inherently hard on their gills. The Prettyboy Dam stationed upstream helps regulate the flow of the Gunpowder River unlike other Chesapeake Bay tributaries where rain run-off can create unfavorable fishing conditions.

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Practicing casting technique with Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis fly fishing instructor.

Even after a casting lesson, a quick study in knots, flies, and suiting up, we still had three hours left to let loose on unsuspecting Oncorhynchus mykiss. I planted my grippy steel shank boots on a boulder the size of Rhode Island, tallying a few arcs before sinking my neon pink foam “redworm” into tender water straddled by rapids and shoreline. This is where oversight came in handy… I wouldn’t have known where to land my fly had Rob not been very specific about where to place it. Namely, the deeper, cooler, slower moving pools that exhibit model rest areas for congregating trout.

Here’s where my prior fishing experience severely boogered up my attempt at setting the hook. It’s exceedingly hard to unlearn something, especially when that one something is so deeply inherent. You see, fishing is in my blood. My father’s family has been in Southern Maryland for three hundred years, all fishing blues and rock, requiring a quick jerk to set the hook and a brawny pair of guns to reel the catch in. Not so much the case in fly fishing. I needed to stop bullying the line and ease up as I lost three fish by getting antsy after a nibble. The most difficult part of fly fishing is keeping cool, and cool is not something I’m particularly good at.

So who got on the board first? The husband. He caught a lovely little rainbow trout then released it.  Meanwhile, I got a whole lot more of the big goose egg. I would have been irritated had I not been so happy for him. It’s a joke in our family that he’s a terrible fisherman.

But Friday’s small victory may just redeem him with my father and uncles after all…

Fly fishing is a sport where patience prevails. It is one of the few sports accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of age or sex. As a matter of fact, a notable authority on the sport is an elderly woman half my size, Joan Wulff, who cast at 161 feet in her heyday. She still teaches technique at the school bearing her name.

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Tenkara “Soto” rod… Notice no reel.

After two hours of wholly unsuccessful loose line management, Rob offered me a try with his Tenkara rod. The rod was telescopic, increasing in lengths up to thirteen feet. No reel necessary. It was light, effortless. Casting was thoroughly natural, intuitive. Better control of the fly and easier handling quickly sold me on the simplistic Tenkara. I could switch hands, work tighter spots along tree lines, and easily tease the trout with a submerged “nymph” or a “dry” fly on surface water. Attempting to mimic natural movement of live insects yielding in the current seemed more probable with the lighter, more agile rod.

As with nearly every sport, gear can be expensive. Initially I ordered a pair of Simms Vapor wading boots and an Orvis women’s stocking foot waders, an investment of nearly $500, just to send them back, instead settling on a pair of boot foot men’s Hodgeman waders that I got on clearance for under $50.  As for rods, there are pre-owned deals to be had on eBay, or consider the Orvis Encounter series rod and reel package that has excellent reviews and is well priced at $159. All you will need are some tackle and nippers. Even more affordable is the Tenkara rod, the ultra light system that breaks down to the size of a mailing tube, easily and safely transported to any locale across the globe. Rob reported he was going after shad using his Tenkara rod. I’m anxious to hear how that went.

It’s only been a few days and I’m itching to get my waders back in the river.

I snapped up the last Tenkara “Sato” rod at Great Feathers and got a small tackle box  of line, stoneflies, midges, San Juan worms, and “Green Weenies.”

The boss and I settled on a standing date, one Friday morning a month, to fish together deep in that ravine just five miles from our home. We’ve got fishing “go bags” at the ready complete with waders, gear, snacks and water bottles. Now all we need for some good nymphing, is each other.

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A view upstream on the Gunpowder River. Me with the Tenkara rod (freezing my can off!)

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Don’t Take Me Out to the Ballgame?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

Reports accuse the Mets of cutting its stadium security force by 1/3. Mets officials dispute. “The security of all who enter Citi Field is a top priority,” reads a press release. Maybe, but it’s impossible to find public safety info on the stadium web site.

And, its not just sports, in this post-9/11 world, any public event from college commencements to Taylor Swift concerts raises concerns. The short video above from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing shows how quickly competition turns to chaos.

Major League Baseball’s response? Ordering stadiums to add metal detectors. Fans no doubt noticed longer lines.

Security theater alone won’t protect people against everything from gang-bangers to urban terrorists. Are we now faced with a choice between living in fortress America or staying home?

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image illustration via here

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Want to Win Big Money Tonight in Daily Fantasy?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

There are 13 games tonight in the NBA, which can be overwhelming to handle. So instead of my normal article with just picks and strategy, I decided to write about (almost) every game so you can get a feel for all the relevant picks of the night. I left out a couple games, like Bulls at Bucks, because they have almost no viable players from a fantasy perspective. Good luck tonight, and if you have any questions make sure to tweet me @maxjsteinberg.

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DET @ CHA

Probable: Reggie Jackson

Doubtful: Greg Monroe, Spencer Dinwiddie

Reggie Jackson played only 22 minutes yesterday, coming down with an illness mid-game, and he was unable to make it through. He’s listed as probable though, so it seems like he’s feeling better. Jackson has been on an absolute tear since Greg Monroe went out, averaging 50.8 fantasy points (DraftKings) per game in that stretch. His backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, is doubtful as well, which assures Jackson even bigger minutes in this game. His price has risen significantly on FanDuel and DraftKings, but not enough.

Kemba Walker is a great play for Charlotte, especially on DraftKings. He’s averaging 40 minutes per game in his last 3, he’s only $7,500, and Detroit is in the bottom 1/3 in offensive fantasy points allowed this season.

PHI @ WSH

Probable: Kris Humphries

Out: Jason Richardson

Washington draws one of the best matchups in the NBA, facing the 76ers at home. However, I see only two good plays for the Wizards. John Wall has been playing 44 mpg in his last 3 games, and has averaged 57 fantasy points a game in that span! His price on DraftKings is much too low at $8,800. Marcin Gortat has been seeing big minutes as well, averaging 34 in his last 3 games. He’s fairly priced on both sites and should benefit from the 76ers sloppy offense.

The only viable play I see on the 76ers is Nerlens Noel. His price has skyrocketed, and this isn’t the best matchup, but he’s still in play for tournaments. He’s capable of monster games.

BKN @ NYK

Questionable: Travis Wear

Two players on the Nets have been playing very well in their past 3 games: Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. It seems that the Nets have started to run their offense through Lopez, and he’s been averaging 23 points and 9 boards in his last 10 games. Joe Johnson has seen a USG increase (up to 20% in his last 3) and a minutes increase (36 mpg in his last 3). The Knicks are a fantastic matchup for both, and I like their prices best on FanDuel, Johnson especially, who’s only $5,600.

I think every Knick is either overpriced or too much of a risk to play, but I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on Andrea Bargnani. His USG has been sky high recently with no scorers in the Knicks lineup, so he can put up points in a hurry. I worry about his minutes, though.

IND @ BOS

Questionable: C.J. Miles

The viability of players on Indiana comes down to whether Miles plays. If he doesn’t, C.J. Watson at only $4,400 on both sites is a great play. He played 28 minutes yesterday when Miles went down and had 35 fantasy points. George Hill should benefit as well, with his backup Watson playing some minutes at SG. If Miles does play, however, I don’t think anyone is very fairly priced on the Pacers.

On Boston’s side, I think Isaiah Thomas is a sneaky tournament play on DraftKings. His $5,800 price is cheap for a player who has eclipsed 40 fantasy points several times for the Celtics. But he’s a risk.

TOR @ MIN

Probable: Anthony Bennett

Doubtful: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin

Out: Gary Neal, Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Lowry

Lots of injuries means lots of good plays. Let’s start with Toronto.

You can count on Demar Derozan getting minutes tonight. He’s averaged 40 mpg since Kyle Lowry went down and his USG has been 31% in his last 3 games. He’s priced high, at $8,000 on both sites, but not quite high enough. Grevis Vasquez has a great FanDuel price at only $4,000, and a fantastic matchup against Zach Lavine and the worst defense in the NBA. He’ll be overlooked tonight but I think he’s a lock for 20 fantasy points. Don’t forget about Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas as well, both have been better with Lowry out and this matchup against this decimated T-Wolves team is incredible.

On Minnesota, a lot comes down to whether Kevin Martin plays. If he doesn’t, Zach Lavine is solid. His 43 minutes per game and 25% USG are both big numbers for a player who’s priced under $6,000. Adrien Payne is also a nice play with Gorgui Dieng out, priced at only $4,000, but is only a tournament play. And if there’s any indication that Justin Hamilton could have a minutes boost, he’s also a fine play, but coming off an horrible migraine that caused him to miss 5 games, he’s been limited to about 25 minutes.

DAL @ OKC

Probable: Monta Ellis

Out: Nick Collison, Andre Roberson

Russell Westbrook’s price has come down slightly, he’s now $12,700 on both sites. This is a good matchup as well and should be a fast-paced game, but I just don’t see enough great min-salary plays to warrant playing Westbrook tonight. I’ll try to get him in some of my tournament lineups, though. My favorite play from this game is Enes Kanter, he hasn’t been on a great run lately because of some strange games and blowouts, but he’s still underpriced on FanDuel at only $7,000. This should be a close game.

For Dallas, I like (but don’t love) most of their starters. Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler should all be good plays. The Thunder have been playing at a torrid pace in their last 10 games, the over-under for this one is 216.

SAC @ HOU

Probable: Terrence Jones, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer

Questionable: Demarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard

Out: Donatas Motiejunas, Rudy Gay

It looks like Terrence Jones will be back for this game, but coming back from a collapsed lung he’s useless from a fantasy perspective. I think James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Josh Smith continue to see big minutes for the Rockets, and are all great plays, but they’re all priced a little high so don’t go overboard. Smith really disappointed 2 nights ago, but I still have faith in him especially if Dwight Howard sits this one out. His price on DraftKings is fair at $6,700 in this great matchup.

Rudy Gay is out for the Kings, and Demarcus Cousins is questionable. If Cousins sits this one out, the Kings will have a lot of great values. Gay and Cousins are USG hogs. I think Ray McCallum and Omri Casspi benefit most here and are must plays if Cousins is out (as long as Casspi starts). Jason Thompson should also certainly hit value at close to min salary on both sites, and one sleeper I like is Derrick Williams. He may come off the bench but is listed at SF on DraftKings and his USG was 33.6% in his previous game without Cousins. He’s min salary.

DEN @ UTA

Questionable: Darrell Arthur, Derrick Favors

Out: Rodney Hood

Utah is one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA, so I don’t love any Nuggets here. But I do love some Jazz players, particularly Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Their prices are high but this matchup with the Nuggets is one of the most favorable in the league. If Derrick Favors is out, Trevor Booker becomes a must-play. He’s averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds with Favors out and is under $4,500 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

LAC @ POR

Out: Jamal Crawford

The Clippers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors and are on a back-to-back, so they are 2.5 point underdogs to the Trailblazers here. Blake Griffin is coming off an awesome game, and it’s possible that confidence will help him in an important game. He’s underpriced on both sites. I’m worried Chris Paul may be tired having to handle Steph Curry last night, but his price on DraftKings is exceptional at $9,600 and the Trailblazers have struggled against PGs all year.

My favorite play on the Blazers is Nic Batum, he’s fairly priced on both sites and the Clippers are bottom 5 in fantasy points allowed to SFs. He should benefit from a fast-paced game.

NOP @ LAL

Questionable: Ryan Anderson, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin

Ryan Anderson may be back tonight, but coming off a knee injury he should be very limited. And it’s hard to tell whether Boozer or Lin will play tonight, I think they’re both 50/50.

Anthony Davis has an incredibly favorable matchup here going against Ryan Kelly and an absolutely awful Lakers D. His $11,400 price tag on DraftKings puts him in close to must-play territory.

For the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson, Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and Jabari Brown are great plays if Lin is out, but get infinitely worse if Lin plays. Clarkson has a great price on DraftKings especially at only $6,000. I also still like Jordan Hill if Boozer sits, his production has been amazing off the bench.

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You Have to Know How to Wage War to Win the Final Four

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

The Duke basketball team sailed into the Sweet Sixteen. That may be ho-hum to Blue Devils fans. The hoopsters have been there 28 times before. Twenty-two — think about that for a moment. Twenty-two times the team has been to the regional semifinals under Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The first Division One basketball coach to win over 1,000 games, Coach K is no stranger to coming out on top.

His passion for winning b-ball goes back to his days playing as a West Point cadet. Later, he ran the program at the military academy. Coach Krzyzewski called the academy his  “leadership laboratory.”

Would Krzyzewski have ever become one of the game’s greatest if it weren’t for the foundation of discipline and excellence ingrained in him at West Point?

Great coaches and great generals have a good deal in common. They have to put together a team and a campaign plan. As my fellow West Point classmate General Rick Lynch wrote, they have to “adapt or die.”

In sports, as in war, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

West Point has produced many of America’s finest field generals—including most commanders on both sides in the Civil War.

Eisenhower and MacArthur were academy graduates, as were many senior Army offices overseeing battles from Normandy to Kabul.

But, not every great American combat leader passed through West Point. George C. Marshall, the “architect of victory” during World War II, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.

Regardless of where they went to school, however, the best ones lived the ideals of West Point — the dedication to “duty, honor, country,” but also the passion never to finish further behind than first.

It is no different at the elite levels of sport. John Wooden may have gone to Purdue and John Thompson attended Providence, but they would have made smart cadets — and probably pretty decent field marshals.

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NFL Star Retires at 24, Leaves Millions on the Table. Why?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland packed it in after one season.

The cash and fame, he claimed, weren’t worth the risk of retiring with a scrambled brain.

To be fair, we know a lifetime of being battered in sport can be debilitating. Famed Dallas Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett in a recent interview. acknowledged he suffers from memory, loss, depression and dementia—tied to years of head-banging in college and the NFL.

And, it is not just football. In 1984, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson, which could have resulted from the shots to the head during his long boxing career.

On the other hand, players like Paul Hornung, the “Golden Boy” of Coach Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers is still going strong at age 79. Here he is speaking in a recent interview with Fox News host Greta van Susteren.

In truth, while scientists know a lot more about what goes on inside the head than they did just a few years ago, they can’t predict with certainty how every brain handles taking a beating.

So what is an athlete to do—pursue their passion or play it safe?

And this isn’t just a dilemma for sports stars. Every Marine and soldier who goes in harm’s way has to worry about brain injury in combat—from the concussive effects of explosions to the stress of military service. They don’t have the luxury of taking a big bonus and then calling it quits. What are they to do?

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‘March Madness’ is an Understatement

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

If Thursday’s opening act of the 2015 NCAA Tournament was any indication, college basketball fans better have the local ER standing by with a defibrillator. There has never been an opening round like this one in the history of the tournament — and we’re only half way through.

Two #3 seeds — Baylor and Iowa State — were dropped unceremoniously by #14′s, and a third — Notre Dame — survived by a hair. The University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers delivered the upset against the Iowa State Cyclones while the Georgia State Panthers shocked the Baylor Bears. Those stunning results were almost repeated when the #14 Northeastern Huskies roared back from a 10 point deficit with 4 minutes to go, only to lose to the #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 69-64.

But it wasn’t so much the bracket-busting wins by UAB and Georgia State that made Thursday such a memorable day. ESPN’s Eamaonn Brennan explains:

If you’re like us, you were watching the NCAA tournament today — or this afternoon, or tonight, or at pretty much any point during the thrilling opening Thursday that was. Another game would come down to the nail-biting, hairpulling wire, and you’d catch your breath, check your bracket and think: Man, there were a lot of close games today. This has to be some kind of record, right?

Turns out, you were right. This was, indeed, some kind of record.

* Five games were decided by one point on Thursday, the most of any single day in NCAA tournament history. But that’s not all. Behold the mind-boggling numbers, courtesy of the yeomen at ESPN Stats & Information:

* Eleven games were decided by fewer than 10 points Thursday, tying the single-day NCAA tournament high. Only three tournament days in history matched that number, the last of which came in 2010.

* Nine games were decided by five or fewer points, tying the single-day tournament high — one dating to March 15, 2001.

* Including the five Thursday, as well as Dayton’s win over Boise State on Wednesday night, there have been six games decided by one point thus far in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The record for most games decided by one point in a single NCAA tournament is seven — total. That has happened three times (in 1982, 1990, and 1998).

Oh, and then there’s this:

The entire 2013 and 2014 NCAA tournaments — from the first round to the Final Four — featured five games decided by a single point. Combined!

Most opening round games are mismatches — tune ups for the higher seeds to get the butterflies out of their system and acclimate them to tournament basketball. But yesterday, the lower seeds did not go quietly into that goodnight. They fought, and scratched, and clawed like hell, staying with teams they had no business being competitive against, and giving several of them the fright of their basketball lives.

College basketball fans who prefer that game to the pros will point out that you don’t get that kind of action and excitement at the NBA level. In one sense this is true — the NBA playoffs are 7 game series and one contest usually will not make or break a team.

But when it’s lose one and done, the drama is heightened considerably. Yesterday’s string of heart attack basketball games would be enough to satisfy even the most ardent college basketball fan.

Which is why we have to remind ourselves that it was only the first day of a long tournament.

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Watch Messi’s Wonder Run against Eibar

Sunday, March 15th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez
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Remember when Lionel Messi still sported a mullet and made that amazing run against Getafe to score one of the most impressive goals you could ever see? That was back in 2007, but Messi is still dazzling as one of the best (arguably the best) players in the world. While his run against Eibar did not end with another glorious goal to get Ray Hudson screaming with delight, it was nonetheless one of the better runs you’ll see this year and worth watching again – even if you’re not a Barcelona fan.  Sit back and enjoy the way Messi dribbles past four defenders – finishing off with a wonderfully effortless nutmeg before passing the ball into the box.

Don’t forget that Barcelona plays Manchester City this Wednesday in the Champions League, and then they have another El Clasico on Saturday against Real Madrid.

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Raw Footage of Chelsea Fans Shouting Racist Chant in Paris

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

Sometimes soccer (aka football) can be as divisive as it is unifying

Such was the case when Chelsea fans, in Paris for the Champions League match of their team again Paris Saint-Germain, refused to allow a black man to board the metro with them. Chelsea fans can be seen blocking the man’s way and even pushing him from the metro car before they start chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho was embarrassed by the incident, saying ”I felt ashamed when I found out but these supporters do not represent the club.”  The team likewise released a statement saying they were appalled by the incident, and reached out to the man to apologize.

The Champions League match between the two elite teams ended in a 1-1 draw.

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Daily Fantasy NBA 2/11: 5 Picks for DraftKings Big Wednesday Tournaments

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Last week, I wrote an article covering strategy for Daily Fantasy Golf on DraftKings. Golf, in my opinion, is one of the most fun daily fantasy sports, but it’s limited in its profitability because the contests are usually on the smaller side and the tournaments run only once a week. Daily Fantasy NBA, on the other hand, has contests almost every day and hosts much larger tournaments than golf. For example, the $33 NBA Bird tonight has a $150,000 prizepool (awarding $20,000 for 1st place) and even the cheap $3 to enter “Sharpshooter” has a $100,000 prizepool.

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Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made in basketball on DraftKings. Daily Fantasy NBA strategy is more complex than Golf, but there are 3 fundamental concepts in NBA that can simplify your strategy a lot, and can make you big money if used correctly.  I’ll give you a quick breakdown of these concepts below.

1. Injuries

The most important information in Daily Fantasy NBA is injury information. Players will sit out games with minor injuries throughout the season, and if that player has a big role on the team, it can drastically change the dynamics of that team. Players who may have not had much of an offensive role may find themselves as the #1 option, and a player who may have normally come off the bench may become a starter and have his minutes double. When I go into my picks below, you’ll see how injuries influence which players I play every night.

2. Matchup

In the NBA, every team plays with a different style and at a different pace. Some teams will be poor defensively, some will be great. Some will have tall, big post players who are good rebounders, some will play small and be vulnerable on the offensive glass. Some will play at a frantic pace, and some will use up every second of the shot clock to slow the game down. All of these factors determine whether a team is a good matchup for a player, and which is a bad matchup. Matchups can drastically affect a player’s fantasy performance, and should always be taken into consideration.

3. Price

The price of the player is the most fundamental but sometimes overlooked factor in determining whether a player is a good play. In Daily Fantasy NBA, each player is assigned a salary and those salaries vary from day to day, based on an algorithm DraftKings has created in order to price players fairly. However, their algorithm isn’t perfect. Some players will be drastically mispriced due to injury or recent performance. Finding underpriced players, and avoiding overpriced players, is the key to creating a great lineup. You may like Russell Westbrook against the 76ers, but if he’s priced at $12,500, he’s simply not worth it even in the juiciest of matchups.

With all of my picks on the next page, I’ll be using the tools on my daily fantasy strategy website, DailyFantasyWinners.com, to analyze these 3 factors and find the best plays. All of these tools are free to use if you’re a registered user, so sign up if you want to do some analysis yourself.

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How to Profit Playing Daily Fantasy Golf on DraftKings.com

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Some people would say I’m a professional gambler. I’d say that I’m a professional gamer — strategy games, specifically. I’ve played professional poker for a living since I was 19 years old, and I’ve only had a handful of losing months in my career. But this may not be surprising to you. Over the past several years, the ability for players like me to make consistent money playing a game that used to be considered gambling but now is widely (and rightly) considered a game of skill has become well-known.

Within the last year, I’ve gotten into a new game that reminds me of poker. It’s a game where skilled players can win big money and, more importantly, can win consistently. Furthermore, just like poker in the mid-2000s, its popularity is skyrocketing. In 2013, DraftKings’ biggest tournaments had mostly prize pools in the thousands. But in 2014, DraftKings was awarding $1 million for first place each week in a fantasy football tournament that was only $25 to enter. On a given weekend, they awarded over $10 million prizes.

Daily fantasy sports have hit extraordinary heights. Sadly, the football season has just come to a close, which means you’ll have to wait until next season to try daily fantasy football. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience DraftKings right now. As someone who loves golf, DraftKings’ PGA tournaments are a ton of fun and can be wildly profitable if you know the right strategy.

The rules are quite simple. Each player is assigned a dollar value based on varying statistics and previous performances. You are allocated $50,000  to spend on six players. Players have salaries that range from around $16,000 all the way down to about $3,000. The goal is for your six-player team to score as many fantasy points as possible (more on the scoring system later).

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Lobby for DraftKings Farmers Insurance Open Tournament

The tournament is similar to a poker tournament. You pay a fee to enter, that money goes into the prize pool, and that prize pool is allocated to the top 10-to-20 percent of entrants. In the case of DraftKings’ $27 tournament this upcoming weekend, the top 20 percent of entrants will at least double their money, and $10,000 of the $65,000 prize pool will go to first place.

Scoring is explained in detail here. Make sure to look at that page, because the scoring system is designed in such a way that certain lineup building strategies are vastly superior to others.

There are three fundamental strategies that are the backbone to every lineup I create, and if you know these strategies, you will quickly learn how to create quality, profitable lineups that will give you a chance to win big every week.

Making the Cut and a Balanced Approach

Since players are awarded points for essentially participating (a player gets .5 points for every par), one thing about daily fantasy golf becomes immediately clear: in order to win, every player you draft needs to make the cut.

Players who make the cut will have the benefit of playing two more rounds, and they will at least double the score of players who fail to make it (unless a lucky 20 points for a double eagle occurs). Because of this, you don’t want to take risks on low salary players, unless you have a very good reason to (I’ll go into that later). If you do, it can ruin an otherwise great lineup.

This past week for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, I made a lineup that fortunately included Martin Laird (who is currently leading the event as I write this). But, the lineup also included two risky low-salary players, Michael Putnam and Cameron Tringale.

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The chance of one of those players missing the cut was pretty significant, so while my Putnam pick (his salary was a bargain at $4,800) is doing quite well, Tringale missed the cut, which completely blew any chance I had at placing high. If I decided to only take a chance on Putnam, this lineup could have had a chance to win big. All I had to do was use a more balanced-salary approach by not spending big on a player like Rickie Fowler and simply upgrading Tringale.

In general, I recommend taking a balanced approach when constructing your lineup. Essentially, don’t spend big on the high salary guys like Rory McIlroy or Bubba Watson, because it will handcuff your salary, and you’ll be forced to take a risk on a player or two who may have only a small chance of making the cut.

Playing several mid-salary players (in the $6,500-$10,000 range) will increase the likelihood of all your guys making the cut tremendously.

Favor the Birdie and Eagle Chasers

One hidden but crucial factor of DraftKings scoring is how important birdies and eagles are. Since bogeys are only -.5 points and double bogeys -1 point, but birdies are +3 points with eagles +8, players who take risks and go for birdies and eagles at the risk of bogeying (think Keegan Bradley or Brooks Koepka who just won in Phoenix) are much better for your team than a player who doesn’t make many mistakes (think Zach Johnson).

This can be clearly illustrated with a little math. Let’s say two players shoot 2-under in the first round of a tournament. The first player does it with 8 birdies, 1 eagle, 3 bogeys, 4 pars, 1 double bogey and 1 triple bogey. The other player has 3 birdies, 1 bogey and 14 pars. Let’s compare the fantasy points of each player:

Player 1: (3*8)+(1*8)+(4*.5)+(3*(-.5)+(2*(-1))= 30.5 pts

Player 2: (3*3)+(-.5)+(14*.5) = 15.5 pts

Despite both players shooting the same score, Player 1 has almost double the score as Player 2.

That 15-point difference can go a long way in the end. The first and fifth place finishers will only be separated by a few points, but fifth will only win $1,000 while first wins $10,000.

An easy way to find the differences in players is to go to PGATour.com. They keep a statistic that tracks the percentage a player scores birdie or better per hole, which goes back several years (you can find this statistic here). Try to favor the players who rank highly. However, don’t go overboard, because there’s actually a very easy and accurate way to evaluate every golfer’s skill…

Let Sportsbooks Do the Work

I’m not an expert on evaluating golf. If you asked me what I thought Hideki Matsuyama’s chances of winning the Masters were, I’d have no idea. But luckily, I don’t have to know, because Las Vegas and online sportsbooks handicap these events for me.

My favorite online sportsbook to look at odds is called Bovada.lv (they’re a reputable international sportsbook), and every week they will have a list of players and their odds to win a given event. This information is much more accurate than anything you could read on ESPN, and you can use it to evaluate which salaries may be too high or too low.

For the Farmers Insurance Open this week, for example, Brian Stuard is 100/1 to win with a salary of $6,100. Sang-Moon Bae is also 100/1 to win, but has a $6,800 salary. By picking Stuard over Bae, we can save a small chunk of salary but get the same caliber of player.

Another example is Jimmy Walker, who’s tied at 12/1 with Jordan Spieth as the favorite to win, but Walker is $1,200 less than Spieth. Walker’s birdie or better percentage is also higher than Spieth’s, so we expect him to outscore Spieth on average as well.

Looking for these differences can be tedious, which is why on my strategy site dailyfantasywinners.com, we have a table that averages the odds of several different sportsbooks, then weighs them against the player’s price. This table makes it obvious which players are over-valued and under-valued. To find it, all you have to do is go to our homepage and look under the tools tab.

Let’s Make a Lineup

This is a lineup that I’ve made for DraftKings $65,000 Fairway Tournament that starts this Thursday. I decided to pay up a bit for Hideki Matsuyama, whose odds to win are much better than Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose at the same price point.

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I also went with little known Seung-yul Noh, a player who has fantastic odds at his price-point (80-1 on Bovada.lv) and whose birdie or better percentage is a ridiculous 26.5 percent this year (the average is around 20 percent). All the picks in this lineup are a combination of finding players with both great odds at their price and a high birdie or better percentage. No player is worse than 80/1 to win the event, and all of the players are within the top 40 players in their odds to win.

This is the type of lineup you should be looking to construct if you decide to enter this tournament, and feel free to steal some of my picks.

You may have never heard of daily fantasy golf prior to reading this article, but by using the basic concepts and strategies I’ve laid out above along while doing a little more research on your own, I’m confident that you can become a profitable player in no time. 

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Those GoDaddy Superbowl Ads, Cruel Click Bait, and Other Ways Media Manipulates You

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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Unless you’ve been living in a bunker for the last week,  you’ve probably seen the controversial GoDaddy ad where the lost puppy returns home only to find out he’s been sold online. The ad has been pulled from the Super Bowl lineup and the online version was removed after vocal protests by PETA and other animal rights groups. Now viewers are waiting with eager anticipation to see the replacement ad (which will no doubt feature a large-breasted, scantily clad woman who is not talking about the product GoDaddy actually sells).

“This was not a stunt,” a representative for GoDaddy told FOX411.

That might be a credible statement if GoDaddy’s entire marketing strategy wasn’t built on controversial ad campaigns.

GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons explained in an interview with Inc.com how his company’s strategy originated:

“I decided to advertise nationally, and the Super Bowl was coming up. I thought, That would be a hell of a debut, but how do I get a bunch of drunk people’s attention? If we explained what we do, we’d be dead in the water,” he said. “So then I thought, be outrageous. It doesn’t take Harvard Business School to figure that one out.”

He said the scantily clad GoDaddy girl was his idea. He told the ad agency, “I want a really well-endowed, good-looking gal in a tight T-shirt, with our name right across her breasts.”

GoDaddy bought two slots that first year, but because of the uproar, the network pulled the second one. “I was doing interviews for days,” Parsons said. “The media called the ad inappropriate, which got even more traffic to our site. Our market share shot up to 25 percent, and my mother’s very proud that I’ve established a standard for indecency in broadcasting.”

Every time I see a story like this I’m reminded of a book by Ryan Holiday called Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. In the book Holiday, the former director of marketing for American Apparel (a rather liberal-leaning guy), describes how he would intentionally create provocative ads designed to generate controversy and outrage.

“If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites,” he wrote in the book.

He described the time he ran a series of completely nude ads featuring a porn star on a couple of low-budget websites.

“A naked woman with visible pubic hair + a major U.S. retailer + blogs = a massive online story,” Holiday wrote.

Predictably, the ads were picked up by Nerve, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Jezebel, Refinery29, NBC New York, Fleshbot, the Portland Mercury and others.

“Some blogs wrote about it in anger, some wrote about it in disgust, and others loved it and wanted more. The important part was that they wrote about it at all,” Holiday said. “It ended up being seen millions of times, and almost none of those views was on the original site where we paid for the ads to run.”

He said he had “substantial data” to back up the fact that “chatter” over such controversial stories resulted in increased sales. He claims his guerrilla marketing tactics rocketed online sales at American Apparel from forty million dollars a year to sixty million in three years.

And so we have two examples of how viral marketing works and how public opinion is manipulated for profit.

Fair enough, you might say. It’s the word we live in and besides — go capitalism!

And you’d have a point. Questionable (and sometimes outright dishonest) sales tactics have been in use for as long as people have been trading. Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware and all of that. If you’re the type of person who chooses your web hosting company based upon the breast sizes of the models in the commercials, more power to you. I wouldn’t want my business associated with a company like that, but it’s a free county.

This isn’t really hurting anyone, is it?

Unfortunately, the same tactics used to propel a brand into the national spotlight can also be used to destroy someone’s life.

Holiday describes the phenomenon of online “degradation ceremonies” in his book:

Their purpose is to allow the public to single out and denounce one of its members. To lower their status or expel them from the group. To collectively take out our anger at them by stripping them of their dignity. It is a we-versus-you scenario with deep biological roots. By the end of it the disgraced person’s status is cemented as “not one of us.” Everything about them is torn down and rewritten.

You may remember the congressional staffer who dared to write something critical about the Obama daughters on her personal Facebook page. The young woman wrote about Sasha and Malia’s eye-rolling at the White House turkey pardoning ceremony and criticized what the first daughters were wearing at an official event. One of her Facebook “friends” leaked the post to someone who knew exactly what to do with it.

The story (which I’m not going to link to because I don’t want to give it more air) went viral. You couldn’t open up Facebook or any website that covers news (or even entertainment) without seeing her picture and reading about what a terrible person she was. The young woman quickly apologized for her Facebook post and resigned from her job, but that wasn’t enough to quell the rage of the mob. The broadcast networks devoted an astonishing 14 minutes over two days to this non-story about a mid-level congressional staffer’s personal Facebook post. The Smoking Gun ran a story about an alleged arrest when she was 17 years old (but neglected to provide any documentation, which calls into question the veracity of the story). There were allegations that Obama staffers were complicit in pushing the story out.

The young woman criticized the first daughters — and by proxy, the president —  and she needed to be destroyed.

Holiday described in his book how the process works. He said that blogs (by which he means all online publishers) level accusations on behalf of an outraged public. “If you don’t feel shame, then we will make you feel shame,” Holiday says. “The onlookers delight in the destruction and pain.”

Another recent example is the young woman who became a Twitter sensation after posing with a Bible and a gun in front of a Chick-fil-A. A blogger (who claims to be a conservative and who I won’t bother to link to) thought it would be a great idea to expose a moral failure in her life from a few years ago. The blogger bragged on Twitter that he had outed her and exposed her sins to the public. (A week later the same blogger attacked conservative talk radio host and Blaze contributor Dana Loesch, which is ill-advised, at best).

Holiday wrote,

Blogs lock onto targets for whatever frivolous reason, which makes sense, since they often played a role in creating the victim’s celebrity in the first place, usually under equally frivolous pretenses. You used to have to be a national hero before you got the privilege of the media and the public turning on you. You had to be a president or a millionaire or an artist. Now we tear people down just as we’ve begun to build them up. … First we celebrate them, then we turn to snark, and then, finally to merciless decimation. No wonder only morons and narcissists enter the public sphere.

These days, anyone can become a target and a victim, whether because of a craven quest for page views or because of a more sinister motive — a deliberate attempt at character assassination. Your risk increases exponentially if you do anything that puts you in the public eye (especially if you’re a conservative), but there are plenty of examples of people who were leading perfectly normal lives and became overnight viral YouTube sensations because they woke up one day and said or did something stupid (or brilliant, or controversial, or funny). Suddenly, through no real fault of their own, they’re famous and they’re a target.

And there’s not a thing you can really do to prevent this from happening to you, except for perhaps unplugging completely and heading for the bunker. And even that won’t really protect you (but at least you won’t have to endure the public humiliation).

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Does Brain Damage Make a Case for Ending Sports?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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When I was working in Africa I read a paper that proved that intravenous corticosteroids were of no benefit in cerebral malaria. Soon afterwards I had a patient with that foul disease whom I had treated according to the scientific evidence, but who failed to respond, at least as far as his mental condition was concerned  – which, after all, was quite important. To save the body without the mind is of doubtful value.

I gave the patient an injection of corticosteroid and he responded as if by miracle. What was I supposed to conclude? That, according to the evidence, it was mere coincidence? This I could not do: and I have retained a healthy (or is it unhealthy?) skepticism of large, controlled trials ever since. For in the large numbers of patients who take part in such trials there may be patients who react idiosyncratically, that is to say, differently from the rest.

A paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine brought back my experience with cerebral malaria. Animal experimentation had shown that progesterone, one of the class of steroids produced naturally by females, protected against the harmful effects of severe brain injury. The paper does not specify what exactly it was necessary to do to experimental animals to reach this conclusion, but it does say that it has been proven in several species. What is not said is often as eloquent as what is said.

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Is Odell Beckham’s One-Handed Grab the Best Ever?

Monday, November 24th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

I’ve already seen the catch by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham several dozen times and I still can’t believe it.

Neither will you:

Note that the Dallas Cowboy defender, Brandon Carr, was pawing, grabbing, and holding on to Odell during the catch, giving his best impression of a mugger. The only way to catch the ball was one-handed, so necessity became the mother of invention for Odell in this case.

But where does it rank in the pantheon of great NFL catches?

It should be noted that the catch, however spectacular, was made in a relatively meaningless regular season game with Beckham’s Giants at 3-7 — hardly playoff bound — and the Cowboys at 7-3. Plus, the Cowboys won the game, which takes a little luster off the historical greatness of the catch.

If we’re talking about sheer athleticism and talent, Beckham’s catch has to be right up there. But it may not even be the best catch in Giants’ history. Another Giant, David Tyree, made an otherworldly catch in the waning moments of New York’s Super Bowl XLII upset of the undefeated New England Patriots.

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

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Mike Tyson: He Has a New TV Show, But Does Anyone Care?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Robert Wargas

If you had to affix a precise date to the beginning of Mike Tyson’s professional decline, you could do worse than December 9, 1988. On that day, Tyson fired Kevin Rooney, the masterful boxing trainer who had guided him to the world heavyweight championship, and moved firmly into the camp of Don King, a man whose name is interchangeable with corruption and degradation. Once an invincible fighter with precise punches and defensive skills, Tyson got sloppy, trading his scientific pugilism for flat-footed brawling. Seduced by a world of women and money, he abandoned all discipline. His laziness caught up with him in February 1990, when a journeyman named Buster Douglas outclassed him in a championship fight and knocked him out.

This was still merely the beginning of the end. In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping a young beauty queen named Desiree Washington, and spent the next several years in an Indiana prison. Emerging in 1995, he knocked out a few tomato cans before fighting the bigger names, biting ears and going on ridiculous rants about eating people’s children and stomping on their testicles. He nurtured an obsession with pigeons and exotic tigers, living as an eccentric in his own Xanadu. More arrests ensued, more assaults, more crude outbursts.

What’s the point of rehashing this ugly tabloid history? The point is that the name “Mike Tyson” comes with a lot of unwanted baggage, which I simply couldn’t set down while watching the premier of Tyson’s new “show,” a 15-minute animated sketch called Mike Tyson Mysteries. It airs on Adult Swim, which is a grown-up portion of the Cartoon Network featuring peculiar and often graphic shows that blend violence and dark humor. The show has Tyson voicing an animated version of himself. A retired boxer, he is inexplicably portrayed as a freelance mystery solver. His team, a cross between Animal House and the Scooby Doo gang, consists of Norm Macdonald as an alcoholic talking pigeon, the ghost of the Marquess of Queensberry, and Tyson’s brainy adopted daughter.

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The Death of Moneyball

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 - by Robert Spencer

I have just watched the Athletics blow a 7-3 lead all the way to hibernation for the winter, and as that last Royals run crossed the plate, it sealed the deal: Moneyball is dead.

You have seen the movie. Brad Pitt as the general manager of a baseball team. No money, no stars, just smarts — extreme smarts — and a willingness to buck baseball tradition and assemble a team no one – not even its field manager, in the Hollywood fable that also gave him an untrue-to-life beer gut and sour mien – thought would work. But it could work and it did work. By the numbers.

The numbers. WHIP and WAR and BABIP and CERA and DERA and all the Bill-Jamesian glut of incomprehensible statistics that have overwhelmed the game just as Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco and their butt injections rendered HR and RBI and BA essentially meaningless, and (along with Brad Pitt) made Billy Beane into a cult figure, a demigod, an F. Scott Fitzgerald character – The very rich, they are different from you and me. The Pitt/Beane version is The very knowledgeable about arcane baseball numbers, they are different from you and me. And Beane (and Pitt) got very rich playing on this.

To be sure, Beane has done all right by the Athletics, who are anything but very rich. Their small but passionate fanbase has held its own amid his repeated attempts to abandon the unloved Coliseum (or Mausoleum, as Bando, Jackson, Rudi and Tenace – ah, there were baseball players in those days — dubbed it) for presumably greener San Jose pastures, and he has with immense ingenuity parlayed the small budgets he has been handed into on-field success that the small but passionate ones have lustily cheered and magnificently appreciated. 

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Rihanna Beaten Up Again (by NFL and… Debbie Harry?)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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“Singer” Rihanna is having a crap week:

There’s more fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and the turmoil it has caused for the NFL – CBS and Rihanna are splitting up.

The network said Tuesday it was permanently editing a song featuring Rihanna’s voice out of its Thursday night NFL telecasts – after the singer issued a profane Tweet about it.

CBS issued a statement saying that it was “moving in a different direction” with different theme music.

The song was one of a handful of elements CBS cut out of its inaugural Thursday night football telecast. At the time, CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Rihanna’s own history as a victim of domestic violence was one part of the decision but not the overriding one.

Had the NFL kept the song in rotation, they’d have been torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for “bad optics.”

(There’s a “broken occipital bone” joke in there somewhere…)

The league is currently in full hair-shirting mode, pantomiming “outrage” and “concern.”

It doesn’t need another black eye these days.

But of course, some will now scream that the NFL is “punishing the victim” by “silencing a battered woman’s voice” or something. (See below.)

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The NFL Borrows from the Iliad’s Playbook: Ray Rice and Achilles

Monday, September 8th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did a rare thing earlier this month — so rare it’s hardly ever been done since the 1200s BC. In cracking down on Ravens running back Ray Rice for a savage act of domestic abuse, Goodell (begrudgingly, after getting backed against the wall by public outcry) plunked for morals over talent. That, as the ancient Greeks knew from reading the war stories of their cultural icon, Homer, is easier said than done.

It shouldn’t have been a hard choice. Rice seems to have been caught dead to rights on camera, beating his fiancée senseless in a public place. Even the snippet of the video that’s been publicly released by TMZ is difficult to watch: with the casual unconcern of a man used to being treated like a demigod, Rice drags the unconscious woman out of an elevator like a rag doll. He takes his time, as if daring anyone to stop him.

Worst of all, no one did stop him. Rice was right to assume that starting running backs with Super Bowl rings and solid rushing averages can do what they want and get away with it. Rice is a star; he sells seats. So for an offense that may put him behind bars, the league suspended that naughty, naughty boy for two whole games. It looked like Rice was in line to join the ever-growing complement of suspected criminals and potential felons to be slapped gently on the wrist before returning to their adoring fans and multi-million-dollar contracts. Ray Lewis, Leonard Little, Andre Smiththe list goes on.

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Top 5 Things to Watch in College Football’s Opening Weekend

Friday, August 29th, 2014 - by Lyndsi Stevens

Top 5 Things

We’ve already seen a huge upset when the Johnny Football-less Texas A&M Aggies destroyed the ninth-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks. What else can college football fans look forward to this weekend?

1. The College Football Playoff System Goes Into Effect

It’s a new era. Goodbye BCS; hello CFP. College football fans have been begging for a playoff system for years, and it’s finally here.

2. Florida State Seminoles Go Head to Head with Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Cowboy Classic

Will the defending national championship team show up to prove that they are “True Champions” in this College Gameday featured game? The Seminoles lost some of the key members from the championship team, including Kelvin Benjamin, the 6’5 wide receiver who caught the game-winning pass from Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston to beat the Auburn Tigers in the last seconds of the national championship game.

3. Will Ohio State’s Backup QB Handle the Pressure?

Braxton Miller, Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, is out for the year because of a torn labrum. The backup QB will start, but what does this mean for Ohio State’s chances of a slot in the new College Football Playoffs? We’ll see how the team is shaping up as the Buckeyes go up against Navy this Saturday at Noon Eastern.

4. Who will secure the starting quarterback spot at Alabama?

Heisman nominee AJ McCarron graduated and moved on to the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team. Blake Sims has been named the starter for this weekend’s game against the West Virginia Mountaineers, but it’s still considered an “open audition” as former FSU backup quarterback Jacob Coker is expected to play.

5. Maryland, Rutgers, and Louisville Debut in New Conferences

Maryland and Rutgers are ready to play in the Big 10, with Maryland moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers switching from The American. Louisville also left The American to join the ACC.

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A Casual Reason Football (Ours) is Better Than Football (Everyone Else’s)

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Rich Tucker
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BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL – June 17, 2014: Marc wilmots, head coach of Belgium is seen during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group H at Mineirao Stadium

The Belgian soccer team apparently doesn’t worry about excess baggage costs. Sports Illustrated reports that the team packed 674 home shirts and 878 away shirts for its trip to the World Cup in Brazil. Since it’s only guaranteed three games, that’s quite a wardrobe. Maybe they’re afraid the Brazilian dry cleaners might lose their items.

One thing’s for sure: None of those shirts will be worn by team manager (we might call him coach) Marc Wilmots. He’ll be on the sidelines running his team, but he’ll be wearing what might be called street clothes: dress shoes, slacks, oxford shirt and a blazer. And he’s not alone.

At the World Cup, tens of thousands of fans come to games wearing crazy costumes, flag-themed pants and, for the less adventurous, replica team jerseys. But when the camera pans to the team managers they seem always to be dressed as if they’re on their way to work at a bank. Most, as in the recent South Korea-Russia contest, even wear a tie.

It’s just another reason American football is better than the rest of the world’s football.

America football coaches created “casual Sunday” many years ago. Perhaps the last man to coach in a tie was Dan Reeves, and he retired from coaching in 2003 when the Falcons fired him.

Since then, the sidelines have been filled with nothing but men in comfortable clothes.

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Why Americans Shouldn’t Embrace Soccer

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 - by Dennis Mitzner

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There are many signs suggesting that America is changing. In fact, to an outside observer America is starting to look a lot like Europe on many fronts.

One indication of the Europeanization of America might be the growing interest towards soccer. (For the purpose of this article and to avoid confusion, I will, albeit reluctantly, refer to football as soccer.)

The New Republic, once the torchbearer of American liberalism – the classical kind – and now largely a progressive voice, dedicated a whole section for the ongoing soccer World Cup taking place in Brazil.

Granted, I have always been uneasy about Americans and soccer. I love soccer and see it as part of being European. But in my murky soul, soccer represents nothing more than the same lightness and irrelevance of European cultural novelties and indulgences as coffee shops, fashion and high-speed trains.

Of course Americans love sports, but should they embrace a sport that has a bloodier history than any other sport in modern times?

Football and its all-pervasive fan culture is yet another example of the tribalism that Europeans – excluding the euro elites – are sinking into. Western Europe today is defined not by a coherent set of values, but by its identity crisis and deep divisions between lawmakers and the public, Brussels and local governments – and of course between the secular and the religious.

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