ICYMI: Price comforts child, Westbrook challenges a fan and was concussion the root of Catlin’s death?

We all experience that feeling that the week can sometimes get away from you. News happens so quickly that it might feel like you don’t have a chance to know what is going on in the world. Each week, GlobalSport Matters will compile some of the best of the other stories in the sporting news.  These stories will include new breakthroughs in sport science, information about changing technology and just good reads about the global sporting community. Have a story you’d like us to know about and share? Let us know.

Hockey player comforts young fan who lost mother to cancer

Carey Price, hockey player for the Montreal Canadiens, took a moment to comfort an 11-year-old fan, Anderson Whitehead after a practice. Whitehead’s mother had done everything she could in order to help her son meet his idol but passed away from cancer before the two could meet. Price’s actions brought Whitehead to tears.

Westbrook, fan confrontation forces discussion on player safety

Earlier this week, the confrontation between Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan took over sports headlines. The Utah Jazz released a statement that was not condoning what the fan said to Westbrook which led to them banning the fan from Utah Jazz events indefinitely. This became a big topic for discussion on every sports channel. Basketball is the only sport where fans are able to sit on the court and be that up and close to the games. Football good luck getting on the field without getting trucked by a security guard, hockey has the glass in between fan and player and baseball is far enough away that the players probably can’t hear them all too much.

Baseball changes several rules, agrees to CBA negotiations

In what is being lauded as a step in the right direction between a frustrated Major League Baseball Players Association and a league with priorities to speed up the game and keep pace with other American sports, pro baseball passed several new rules this week to create further incentive around the midseason All-Star game, eliminate trade waivers that made it easy for teams to continuously improve at the end of the year, and reduce the number of breaks in the game.

Golovkin signs with DAZN

Former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin signed a three-year, six fight deal with streaming service DAZN. Golovkin joins the already stacked middleweight stable at DAZN that includes champions Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Danny Jacobs and Demetrius Andrade. Since it was launched in the U.S. in September of 2018, DAZN has quickly signed fighters to fight on their platform with the intention of getting as much subscribers as possible.

Concussion questions follow death of cyclist

Kelly Catlin was an Olympic cyclist who took her own life at age 23, last week. Her death is raising the discussion of mental health, especially for professional athletes.

10 year journey through the minors paying off finally for Ingram

The dream continues for Andre Ingram, the South Bay Laker who holds the G League’s record for most career-three pointers had a storyline NBA debut last season after a video about Ingram’s signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, as Ingram hit his first four career shots, including three from downtown in their game against Houston last April. The 10-year journey through the NBA’s developmental league only made the story more impactful. Now Ingram will re-join the Lakers while they are in Chicago, the Lakers play the Bulls Tuesday and with a depleted roster Andre Ingram will have more than enough opportunity to add a chapter or two to his not-so-typical journey through the NBA.

Compiled by the student journalists in the Sports Knowledge Lab at Arizona State University


March Madness? More like Mascot Madness!

Stanford, Ohio State, Brutus Buckeye, Florida, Gators, Bevo, Texas, Mountaineers, West Virginia, Kansas, Jayhawks, Arizona State, Sparky
(Mascot photos by: Stanford tree Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Ohio State Brutus Buckeye Kevin French/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images; WVU Mountaineer Stephen P. O’Brien/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images; Kansas Jayhawk Jamie Squire/Getty Images; Florida Gator J. Meric/Getty Images; Texas Longhorn Bevo John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Arizona State Sparky Stephen Lam/Getty Images.)

No medieval fighter, dragon nor cute furry cat can outpace birds when it comes to the crown for college sport mascots. Of the 353 Division I NCAA schools, 242 use some sort of beast to represent their athletic team.

With the March 17 announcement of the men’s NCAA Tournament field, America’s obsession with the annual college basketball tournament goes into full swing. But for the uninitiated, just what are all those mascots?

GlobalSport Matters looked at all 353 school mascots and categorized them into animal, human, inanimate object, mythical creature or evil spirit categories.

The results below showed 242 mascots being some form of animal with the next most being 81 human characters.

In the animal category, birds ranging from eagles, hawks and mockingbird are among the animal mascots with 66. For human mascots, medieval fighters lead the pack with 34.

Mythical creatures and evil spirits cut it close with three dragon mascots and five devil mascots, respectively.

As far as inanimate objects, 14 institutions had unique mascots. Some that defy definition are Western Kentucky University with Big Red, a red, furry blob; Wichita State’s WuShock, a bundle of wheat; and Syracuse University’s Otto the Orange.

Want to find out which mascot goes with which school? You can search here for mascots by mascot name, school name or conference.

Search by University, Conference or Mascot

University Conference Mascot
Abilene Christian University Southland Conference Wildcat
Alabama A&M University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Bulldog
Alabama State University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Hornets and Lady Hornets
Alcorn State University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Braves and Lady Braves
American University Patriot League Eagle
Appalachian State University Sun Belt Conference Mountaineers
Arizona State University Pac-12 Conference Sun Devils
Arkansas State University Sun Belt Conference Red Wolves
Auburn University Southeastern Conference Tigers
Austin Peay State University Ohio Valley Conference Governors and Lady Govs
Ball State University Mid-American Conference Cardinals
Baylor University Big 12 Conference Bears and Lady Bears
Belmont University Ohio Valley Conference Bruins
Bethune-Cookman University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Wildcats
Binghamton University America East Conference Bearcats
Boise State University Mountain West Conference Broncos
Boston College Atlantic Coast Conference Baldwin the Eagle
Boston University Patriot League Terriers
Bowling Green State University Mid-American Conference Falcons
Bradley University Missouri Valley Conference Braves
Brigham Young University West Coast Conference Cougars
Brown University The Ivy League Brown bear
Bryant University Northeast Conference Bulldogs
Bucknell University Patriot League Bison
Butler University Big East Conference Bulldog
California Baptist University Pacific West Conference Lancers
California Polytechnic State University Big West Conference Mustangs
California State University, Bakersfield Western Athletic Conference Roadrunners
California State University, Fresno Mountain West Conference Bulldogs
California State University, Fullerton Big West Conference Titans
California State University, Northridge Big West Conference Matadors
California State University, Sacramento Big Sky Conference Hornets
Campbell University Big South Conference Fighting Camels and Lady Camels
Canisius College Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Golden Griffins
Central Connecticut State University Northeast Conference Blue Devils
Central Michigan University Mid-American Conference Chippewas
Charleston Southern University Big South Conference Buccaneers
Chicago State University Western Athletic Conference Cougar
Clemson University Atlantic Coast Conference Tigers
Cleveland State University Horizon League Vikings
Coastal Carolina University Sun Belt Conference Chanticleers
Colgate University Patriot League Raiders
College of Charleston (South Carolina) Colonial Athletic Association Cougar
College of the Holy Cross Patriot League Crusaders
College of William & Mary Colonial Athletic Association Tribe
Colorado State University Mountain West Conference Rams
Columbia University-Barnard College The Ivy League Millie the Dancing Bear
Coppin State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Bald Eagle
Cornell University The Ivy League Big Red
Creighton University Big East Conference Bluejays
Dartmouth College The Ivy League Big Green
Davidson College Atlantic 10 Conference Wildcat
Delaware State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Hornets and Lady Hornets
DePaul University Big East Conference Blue Demons
Drake University Missouri Valley Conference Griff Bulldog
Drexel University Colonial Athletic Association Dragons
Duke University Atlantic Coast Conference Blue Devils
Duquesne University Atlantic 10 Conference Dukes
East Carolina University American Athletic Conference Pirates and Lady Pirates
East Tennessee State University Southern Conference Buccaneers and Lady Buccaneers
Eastern Illinois University Ohio Valley Conference Panthers
Eastern Kentucky University Ohio Valley Conference Colonels
Eastern Michigan University Mid-American Conference Swoop Eagle
Eastern Washington University Big Sky Conference Swoop Eagle
Elon University Colonial Athletic Association Phoenix
Fairfield University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Stags
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus Northeast Conference Knights
Florida A&M University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Rattlers and Lady Rattlers
Florida Atlantic University Conference USA Owls
Florida Gulf Coast University ASUN Conference Azul the Eagles
Florida International University Conference USA Panthers
Florida State University Atlantic Coast Conference Seminoles
Fordham University Atlantic 10 Conference Rams
Furman University Southern Conference Paladins and Lady Paladins
Gardner-Webb University Big South Conference Runnin' Bulldogs
George Mason University Atlantic 10 Conference Patriots
George Washington University Atlantic 10 Conference Colonials
Georgetown University Big East Conference Hoyas
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlantic Coast Conference Yellow Jackets
Georgia Southern University Sun Belt Conference Eagles
Georgia State University Sun Belt Conference Panthers
Gonzaga University West Coast Conference Spike the Bulldog
Grambling State University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Tigers and Lady Tigers
Grand Canyon University Western Athletic Conference Antelopes
Hampton University Big South Conference Pirates and Lady Pirates
Harvard University The Ivy League Crimson
High Point University Big South Conference Panthers
Hofstra University Colonial Athletic Association Pride
Houston Baptist University Southland Conference Huskies
Howard University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Bison and Lady Bison
Idaho State University Big Sky Conference Bengals
Illinois State University Missouri Valley Conference Redbirds
Indiana State University Missouri Valley Conference Sycamores
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Horizon League Jaguars
Indiana University, Bloomington Big Ten Conference Hoosiers
Iona College Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Gaels
Iowa State University Big 12 Conference Cyclones
Jackson State University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Tigers and Lady Tigers
Jacksonville State University Ohio Valley Conference Tigers and Lady Tigers
Jacksonville University Dolphins
James Madison University Colonial Athletic Association Dukes
Kansas State University Big 12 Conference Wildcats
Kennesaw State University ASUN Conference Owls and Lady Owls
Kent State University Mid-American Conference Golden Flashes
La Salle University Atlantic 10 Conference Explorers
Lafayette College Patriot League Leopards
Lamar University Southland Conference Cardinals and Lady Cardinals
Lehigh University Patriot League Mountain Hawks
Liberty University ASUN Conference Flames and Lady Flames
Lipscomb University ASUN Conference Bisons and Lady Bisons
Long Beach State University Big West Conference 49ers
Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus Northeast Conference Blackbirds
Longwood University Big South Conference Lancers
Louisiana State University Southeastern Conference Tigers and Lady Tigers
Louisiana Tech University Conference USA Bulldogs and Lady Techsters
Loyola Marymount University West Coast Conference Lions
Loyola University Chicago Missouri Valley Conference Ramblers
Loyola University Maryland Patriot League Greyhounds
Manhattan College Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Jaspers and Lady Jaspers
Marist College Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Red Foxes
Marquette University Big East Conference Golden Eagles
Marshall University Conference USA Thundering Herd
McNeese State University Southland Conference Cowboys and Cowgirls
Mercer University Southern Conference Black Bear
Miami University (Ohio) Mid-American Conference Redhawks
Michigan State University Big Ten Conference Spartans
Middle Tennessee State University Conference USA Blue Raiders
Mississippi State University Southeastern Conference Bully Bulldog
Mississippi Valley State University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Devil
Missouri State University Missouri Valley Conference Bears and Lady Bears
Monmouth University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hawks
Montana State University-Bozeman Big Sky Conference Bobcats
Morehead State University Ohio Valley Conference Beaker the Eagles
Morgan State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Bears and Lady Bears
Mount St. Mary's University Northeast Conference Mountaineers
Murray State University Ohio Valley Conference Racers
New Jersey Institute of Technology ASUN Conference Highlanders
New Mexico State University Western Athletic Conference Aggies
Niagara University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Purple Eagles
Nicholls State University Southland Conference Colonels
Norfolk State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Spartans
North Carolina A&T State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Aggies
North Carolina Central University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. North Carolina Eagle
North Carolina State University Atlantic Coast Conference Wolfpack
North Dakota State University The Summit League Bison
Northeastern University Colonial Athletic Association Huskies
Northern Arizona University Big Sky Conference Lumberjacks
Northern Illinois University Mid-American Conference Huskies
Northern Kentucky University Horizon League Norse
Northwestern State University Southland Conference Demons and Lady Demons
Northwestern University Big Ten Conference Wildcats
Oakland University Horizon League Golden Grizzlies
Ohio University Mid-American Conference Bobcats
Oklahoma State University Big 12 Conference Cowboys and Cowgirls
Old Dominion University Conference USA Monarchs and Lady Monarchs
Oral Roberts University The Summit League Golden Eagles
Oregon State University Pac-12 Conference Beavers
Pennsylvania State University Big Ten Conference Nittany Lions
Pepperdine University West Coast Conference Waves
Portland State University Big Sky Conference Vikings
Prairie View A&M University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Panthers and Lady Panthers
Presbyterian College Big South Conference Blue Hose
Princeton University The Ivy League Tigers
Providence College Big East Conference Friars
Purdue University Big Ten Conference Boilermakers
Purdue University Fort Wayne The Summit League Mastodons
Quinnipiac University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Bobcats
Radford University Big South Conference Highlanders
Rice University Conference USA Owls
Rider University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Broncs
Robert Morris University Northeast Conference Colonials
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick Big Ten Conference Scarlet Knights
Sacred Heart University Northeast Conference Pioneers
Saint Francis University (Pennsylvania) Northeast Conference Red Flash
Saint Joseph's University Atlantic 10 Conference Hawks
Saint Louis University Atlantic 10 Conference Billikens
Saint Mary's College of California West Coast Conference Gaels
Saint Peter's University Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Peacocks and Peahens
Sam Houston State University Southland Conference Bearkats
Samford University Southern Conference Spike the Bulldog
San Diego State University Mountain West Conference Aztecs
San Jose State University Mountain West Conference Spartans
Santa Clara University West Coast Conference Broncos
Savannah State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Tigers and Lady Tigers
Seattle University Western Athletic Conference Redhawks
Seton Hall University Big East Conference Pirates
Siena College Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Saints
South Carolina State University Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs
South Dakota State University The Summit League Jackrabbits
Southeast Missouri State University Ohio Valley Conference Redhawks
Southeastern Louisiana University Southland Conference Lions and Lady Lions
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Missouri Valley Conference Salukis
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Ohio Valley Conference Cougars
Southern Methodist University American Athletic Conference Mustangs
Southern University, Baton Rouge Southwestern Athletic Conf. Jaguars and Lady Jaguars
Southern Utah University Big Sky Conference Thunderbirds
St. Bonaventure University Atlantic 10 Conference Bonnies
St. Francis College Brooklyn Northeast Conference Terriers
St. John's University (New York) Big East Conference Red Storm
Stanford University Cardinal
Stephen F. Austin State University Southland Conference Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks
Stetson University ASUN Conference Hatters
Stony Brook University America East Conference Seawolves
Syracuse University Atlantic Coast Conference Orange
Temple University American Athletic Conference Owls
Tennessee State University Ohio Valley Conference Tigers and Lady Tigers
Tennessee Technological University Ohio Valley Conference Golden Eagles
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Southland Conference Islanders
Texas A&M University, College Station Southeastern Conference Aggies
Texas Christian University Big 12 Conference Horned Frogs and Lady Frogs
Texas Southern University Southwestern Athletic Conf. Tigers and Lady Tigers
Texas State University Sun Belt Conference Bobcats
Texas Tech University Big 12 Conference Red Raiders
The Citadel Southern Conference General the Bulldog
The Ohio State University Big Ten Conference Buckeyes
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Conference USA 49ers
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Southern Conference Spartans
The University of Southern Mississippi Conference USA Golden Eagles and Lady Eagles
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Western Athletic Conference Vaqueros
The University of Tulsa American Athletic Conference Golden Hurricane
Towson University Colonial Athletic Association Tigers
Troy University Sun Belt Conference Trojans
Tulane University American Athletic Conference Green Wave
U.S. Air Force Academy Mountain West Conference Falcons
U.S. Military Academy Patriot League Black Knights
U.S. Naval Academy Patriot League Midshipmen
University at Albany America East Conference Great Danes
University at Buffalo, the State University of New York Mid-American Conference Bulls
University of Akron Mid-American Conference Zips
University of Alabama Southeastern Conference Crimson Tide
University of Alabama at Birmingham Conference USA Blazers
University of Arizona Pac-12 Conference Wildcats
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Sun Belt Conference Trojans
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Southeastern Conference Ragin' Cajuns
University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff Southwestern Athletic Conf. Golden Lions and Golden Lady Lions
University of California, Berkeley Pac-12 Conference Golden Bears
University of California, Davis Big West Conference Aggies
University of California, Irvine Big West Conference Anteaters
University of California, Los Angeles Pac-12 Conference Bruins
University of California, Riverside Big West Conference Highlanders
University of California, Santa Barbara Big West Conference Gauchos
University of Central Arkansas Southland Conference Bears and Sugar Bears
University of Central Florida American Athletic Conference Knights
University of Cincinnati American Athletic Conference Bearcats
University of Colorado, Boulder Pac-12 Conference Buffaloes
University of Connecticut American Athletic Conference Huskies
University of Dayton Atlantic 10 Conference Flyers
University of Delaware Colonial Athletic Association Fightin' Blue Hens
University of Denver The Summit League Pioneers
University of Detroit Mercy Horizon League Titans
University of Evansville Missouri Valley Conference Purple Aces
University of Florida Southeastern Conference Gators
University of Georgia Southeastern Conference Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs
University of Hartford America East Conference Hawks
University of Hawaii, Manoa Big West Conference Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine
University of Houston American Athletic Conference Cougars
University of Idaho Big Sky Conference Vandals
University of Illinois at Chicago Horizon League Flames
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Big Ten Conference Fighting Illiniwek
University of Iowa Big Ten Conference Hawkeyes
University of Kansas Big 12 Conference Jayhawks
University of Kentucky Southeastern Conference Wildcats
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Sun Belt Conference Ragin' Cajuns
University of Louisiana at Monroe Sun Belt Conference Warhawks
University of Louisville Atlantic Coast Conference Cardinals
University of Maine, Orono America East Conference Black Bears
University of Maryland Eastern Shore Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. Hawks and Lady Hawks
University of Maryland, Baltimore County America East Conference Retrievers
University of Maryland, College Park Big Ten Conference Terrapins
University of Massachusetts Lowell America East Conference River Hawks
University of Massachusetts, Amherst Atlantic 10 Conference Minutemen and Minutewomen
University of Memphis American Athletic Conference Tigers
University of Miami (Florida) Atlantic Coast Conference Hurricanes
University of Michigan Big Ten Conference Wolverines
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Big Ten Conference Golden Gophers
University of Mississippi Southeastern Conference Rebels
University of Missouri-Kansas City Western Athletic Conference Kangaroos
University of Missouri, Columbia Southeastern Conference Tigers
University of Montana Big Sky Conference Grizzlies
University of Nebraska Omaha The Summit League Mavericks
University of Nebraska, Lincoln Big Ten Conference Cornhuskers
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Mountain West Conference Rebels
University of Nevada, Reno Mountain West Conference Wolf Pack
University of New Hampshire America East Conference Wildcats
University of New Mexico Mountain West Conference Lobos
University of New Orleans Southland Conference Privateers
University of North Alabama ASUN Conference Lions
University of North Carolina Asheville Big South Conference Rocky the Bulldog
University of North Carolina Wilmington Colonial Athletic Association Seahawks
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Atlantic Coast Conference Tar Heels
University of North Dakota The Summit League Fighting Hawks
University of North Florida ASUN Conference Ospreys and Lady Ospreys
University of North Texas Conference USA Mean Green
University of Northern Colorado Big Sky Conference Bears
University of Northern Iowa Missouri Valley Conference Panthers
University of Notre Dame Atlantic Coast Conference Panthers
University of Oklahoma Big 12 Conference Sooners
University of Oregon Pac-12 Conference Ducks
University of Pennsylvania The Ivy League Quakers
University of Pittsburgh Panthers
University of Portland West Coast Conference Pilots
University of Rhode Island Atlantic 10 Conference Rams
University of Richmond Atlantic 10 Conference Spiders
University of San Diego West Coast Conference Toreros
University of San Francisco West Coast Conference Dons
University of South Alabama Sun Belt Conference Jaguars
University of South Carolina Upstate Big South Conference Spartans
University of South Carolina, Columbia Southeastern Conference Gamecocks
University of South Dakota The Summit League Jackrabbits
University of South Florida American Athletic Conference Bulls
University of Southern California Pac-12 Conference Trojans
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Southern Conference Mocs and Lady Mocs
University of Tennessee at Martin Ohio Valley Conference Skyhawks
University of Tennessee, Knoxville Southeastern Conference Volunteers and Lady Vols
University of Texas at Arlington Sun Belt Conference Mavericks
University of Texas at Austin Big 12 Conference Longhorns
University of Texas at El Paso Conference USA Miners
University of Texas at San Antonio Conference USA Roadrunners
University of the Incarnate Word Southland Conference Cardinals
University of the Pacific West Coast Conference Tigers
University of Toledo Mid-American Conference Rockets
University of Utah Pac-12 Conference Utes
University of Vermont America East Conference Catamounts
University of Virginia Atlantic Coast Conference Cavaliers
University of Washington Pac-12 Conference Huskies
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Horizon League Phoenix
University of Wisconsin-Madison Big Ten Conference Badgers
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Horizon League Panthers
University of Wyoming Mountain West Conference Cowboys and Cowgirls
Utah State University Mountain West Conference Aggies
Utah Valley University Western Athletic Conference Wolverines
Valparaiso University Missouri Valley Conference Crusaders
Vanderbilt University Southeastern Conference Commodores
Villanova University Big East Conference Wildcats
Virginia Commonwealth University Atlantic 10 Conference Rams
Virginia Military Institute Southern Conference Kangaroo
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Atlantic Coast Conference Hokies
Wagner College Northeast Conference Seahawks
Wake Forest University Atlantic Coast Conference Demon Deacons
Washington State University Pac-12 Conference Cougars
Weber State University Big Sky Conference Wildcats
West Virginia University Big 12 Conference Mountaineers
Western Carolina University Southern Conference Catamounts
Western Illinois University The Summit League Leathernecks
Western Kentucky University Conference USA Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
Western Michigan University Mid-American Conference Broncos
Wichita State University American Athletic Conference Shockers
Winthrop University Big South Conference Winthrop mascot
Wofford College Southern Conference Terriers
Wright State University Horizon League Raiders
Xavier University Big East Conference Musketeers
Yale University The Ivy League Bulldogs
Youngstown State University Penguins

Edith Noriega is a junior journalism major at Arizona State University

Podcast: What the ‘Varsity Blues’ indictments, Wilken decision say about NCAA sports

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Three legal stories took center stage in the sports world  after the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed suit against the sport’s governing body for gender discrimination, a judge ruled the NCAA can’t limit student compensation when it comes to education and the government indicted some rich and famous families for using fake sports scholarships to get their children into prestigious universities. Kenneth Shropshire and his guest, Arizona State University sports historian Victoria Jackson examine how these stories can have far reaching impacts.

Judge’s ruling upends NCAA, says group can’t limit compensation for student athletes

For the second time in five years, the fate of NCAA’s amateurism model landed in the hands of Judge Claudia Wilken. Wilken, the senior district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled again in favor of the plaintiffs, consistent with her decision in the 2014 Ed O’Bannon case.

The judge’s decision will allow student athletes who receive scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school, among other benefits, in exchange for their athletic services but her ruling also prevents athletes from receiving unlimited benefits. The NCAA may limit compensation unrelated to education.

In the 104-page decision issued March 8, 2019, in Re: National College Athlete Association Athletic Grant-in-Aid Cap Antitrust Litigation, the judge wrote “allowing each conference and its member schools to provide additional education-related benefits without NCAA caps and prohibitions, as well as academic awards, will help ameliorate their anti-competitive effects and may provide some of the compensation student-athletes would have received absent NCAA’s agreement to restrain trade.”

Neither side is satisfied with the result.

The case, which was filed in 2014 by West Virginia University running back Shawne Alston and former University of California Berkeley basketball player Justine Hartman with co-plaintiffs, stated the previous compensation model often left students hungry and ill-equipped to handle their student roles.

This decision effectively removes limits to the dollar amount colleges can offer to student athletes, but it does not pay students to play ball. Thus, the NCAA’s amateur structure remains intact. In her decision, Wilken wrote any funds provided to the athletes must be specifically tied to education. Tethering dollars to school expenses could protect the ruling from being overturned if and when the NCAA mounts its appeal, as the language falls under the binding law of the Ninth Circuit.

A full review of the recent finding requires a look back at that binding law set in the O’Bannon case, which established current limits. In that case, Wilken ruled the NCAA, by not paying its student-athletes for use of their name, image or likeness (NIL), violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. An appellate court agreed on the NIL issue, but reversed her recommended compensation of up to $5,000 per year for each athlete. Wilken’s new decision incorporated the appellate court’s mandate to tie all compensation to education-related costs. The difference is the list of expenses now can grow exponentially.

Prior to the announced ruling, sports economist Andy Schwarz joined a San Jose Mercury News podcast to discuss what this means for college athletics. In the podcast, Schwarz referred to testimony by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott who claimed a mixed market of paid and non-paid athletes could lead to consumer confusion and harm the image of the NCAA. Both sides will watch the numbers closely to see if there’s a negative impact on fan support. The economist also suggested this ruling could “wake up” the almost identical Jeffrey Kessler-led case which will be heard in the more plaintiff-friendly U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

No one knows the how and when all of these changes will take into effect, only that the fight will continue. The ultimate decision may come down to the shifting views of the fan base.


Has the Tide Turned?

Zion Williamson of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball up the court in a February 2019 game.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The NCAA, a billion-dollar college sports organization, took a big hit after one very big shoe fell apart with millions watching. In a second, amateurism became a national topic of debate as spectators wondered what would happen if Zion Williamson couldn’t play again. In a New York Times article, experts weighed in on the impact of the moment.

“All this does is put a magnifying glass on an issue that has existed for a long time,” said Gabe Feldman, who directs Tulane’s sports law program, of Williamson’s injury.

No one expects the projected top pick in the 2019 National Basketball Association draft to return to Duke University for a second year; no other No. 1 pick has done so this decade. Since 2010, each first pick played only the requisite single year of college basketball before making the leap to the pros to get paid.

Several current NBA players, such as DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, didn’t hold back criticism of the current revenue model, suggesting Zion should sit the remainder of the season and protect his future.

Wilken’s ruling could force the hand of the courts again, as her ruling in the O’Bannon v. NCAA did nearly five years ago. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed part of that ruling, stating athletes should not receive compensation in order to ‘preserve the character and quality of the product,’ as decided in the 1984 case of the NCAA  v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.

A USA Today article outlined the argument that could make a difference in the fate of her ruling in this case: “The plaintiffs have proposed that limits on athletes’ compensation be set on a conference-by-conference basis, a change that could open the door to athletes being able to capitalize on their names, images and likeness if a conference’s schools chose to go that way.”


The Two Sides

Proponents of the current NCAA model argue the 460,000-plus student-athletes competing in 24 sports benefit from invaluable campus and classroom experiences. That’s how they’re paid.

Those arguing against the system consider the swelling increase in revenue a benefit to everyone with a hand in college athletics with the exception of the players themselves. Which side one falls on could be based on the meaning of the label student-athlete.

Pay-for-play for students is a divisive, touchy subject. The Aspen Institute hosted a spirited discussion entitled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.” Thought leaders across the spectrum considered what a college system would look like if players could get paid.

What does it mean to pay athletes? Here are three specific ways athletes could receive compensation.

  1. The Olympic model, based on the current Olympic movement which abandoned amateurism. The model allows for outside income from other entities, including commercials, speaking appearances and autographs.
  2. Direct pay for performance without restriction by the NCAA would allow students to secure agent representation and negotiate payment or benefits in excess of the cost of attendance.
  3. Scholarships equaling and not exceeding cost-of-attendance only, which is the current model.

Former athlete and thought leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continues to write in favor of pay for college athletes, positing that little has changed in favor of the students since his days at UCLA.


Who added that expensive hyphen in student-athlete?

From 1955-1987, Walter Byers served as the executive director of the NCAA. As such, and as its first full-time employee, he staunchly defended the amateurism business model. He and his legal team decided on the term while defending the league against a lawsuit brought by the widow of an athlete who died after an on-field accident.

Worried the players could be viewed as employees, the NCAA and its legal representatives settled on a strategy that convinced the courts the student status stripped the athletes of standard employee protections.

The Kansas City Sports Commission honored Byers, then 73 years old, at its 1994 Annual Gala Dinner. He surprised many in the audience with his take on the NCAA model.

“Each generation of young persons come along and all they ask is coach give me a chance I can do it, and it’s a disservice to these young people that the management of intercollegiate athletics stays in a place committed to an outmoded code of amateurism,” Byers said. “And I attribute that to, quite frankly, the neo-plantation mentality that exists on the campuses of our country and in the conference offices and in the NCAA.”

In his 1995 memoir titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting College Athletes,” Byers wrote: “We crafted the term student-athlete, and soon it was embedded in all NCAA rules and interpretations as a mandated substitute for such words as players and athletes. We told college publicists to speak of ‘college teams,’ not football or basketball ‘clubs,’ a word common to the pros.”

A special episode of WBUR’s podcast “Only A Game” explored Byers’ shift from protector of the model to its Gabe remorseful, outspoken critic.

What’s Next?

Even with the ruling, amateurism remains a moving target. Pac-12 Commissioner Scott issued a statement and said the decision “reaffirms the fundamental principles of the collegiate athletic model and of amateurism. … Student-athletes are first and foremost students, who attend college to receive an education and to prepare themselves for success in life, while also pursuing athletic excellence.”

In theory, it sounds noble. Does it pass the test in practice? That’s difficult to determine. In her ruling, Wilken wrote “the rules that permit, limit or forbid student-athlete compensation and benefits do not follow any coherent definition of amateurism.”

To Commissioner Scott’s point, many are confused on the ruling. The actual winner is up for debate even if the plaintiff won on paper.

In a New York Times article on the ruling, the author asked, “how can a judge rule that a law is being broken but allow the lawbreaking to continue?” For greater context, the author goes outlines Tulane University sports law professor Gabe Feldman’s review of the case. “According to Feldman,” says the article, “the answer includes a much-disputed antitrust principle known as the rule of reason. In some cases, including this one, the rule calls for anticompetitive activity to be overturned only if there is a different system that could provide the positive benefits of the anticompetitive system without suppressing other competition as much.”

That gray area leaves room for interpretation as it pertains to the specific role of the student-athlete. When Stanford’s Bryce Love, a running back and top NFL prospect, chose to forgo an in-person athletic appearance at media day during the summer in order to attend class, his student-athlete professionalism was questioned.

Dennis Dodd wrote, “right or wrong, that wouldn’t have happened (in the SEC). The need to better himself, the conference and his school would have outstripped another summer school lecture.” Dodd wrote that an athlete making a decision to Skype it in and attend class — being both student and athlete — sets a dangerous precedent, even for an athlete who plans to become a surgeon.

With this new ruling, maybe it would have been permissible for the university to charter a jet for Love’s quick trip to media day as Dodd jokingly suggested.

Mia M. Jackson is a writer based in Germantown, Md. 

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Opinion: USWNT discrimination lawsuit underscores importance of Title IX

United States forward Christen Press (23) dribbles through Brazil traffic during the She Believes Cup match between the USA and Brazil on March 5, 2019 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fl (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Making a dramatic statement on International Women’s Day, 28 players from the United States women’s national team (USWNT) filed a complaint in federal court that the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) is violating the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiffs assert USSF is paying the women less than the men for equal work and is discriminating against the women by denying them equal employment conditions.

Guest columnist Victoria Jackson

The lawsuit provides a nice opportunity to correct some commonly held misconceptions about the state of women’s professional sports as well as women’s sports history. It demonstrates an understanding of what gender equality means in practice and of the structures and mechanisms organizations should consider. It underscores the incredible importance of Title IX in recent women’s sports history in the United States and presents an opportunity for reflection as we approach the 50th anniversary of the seminal law and consider its legacy.

Title IX the 1972 U.S. law that requires schools to provide equal educational opportunities on the basis of sex is often credited with creating the girls’ and women’s sports revolution in the United States, because the law gave girls and women confidence, and something legitimate and official to point to, when asserting the right to play school sports.

Title IX’s footprint is all over this lawsuit. It’s not just that generations of women have benefited from the law to compete in elite sports in colleges and universities. What Title IX also has given us are the tools to build organizations that provide equal opportunity for girls and women and to call out institutions that are underperforming.

The language in the suit is familiar, especially this phrasing:

“The USSF discriminates against Plaintiffs… by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT.”

As a historian of women’s sports in the United States, this makes me smile.

If you know your Title IX history, you know the colloquially named “laundry list” of conditions schools must meet to be compliant with the law. Sure, Title IX pertains only to schools and not to professional or national teams. That doesn’t mean we can’t look to the regulations holding up Title IX to guide us as we think about what it means to put nebulous ideas about gender equality into practice.

This is exactly what federal employees in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) did in the mid-1970s as they developed regulations and guidelines for schools to prove compliance with Title IX. They took into consideration both the quantitative and qualitative components of the experience of equal educational opportunity. The “laundry list” spelled out the qualitative elements — things including travel, medical care, training and practice facilities, locker rooms, publicity, uniforms, equipment and coaching. It’s not just the right to play; it’s the right to all the benefits and support structures enjoyed by boys and men. HEW performed this groundwork, giving us one of the greatest gifts of Title IX.

The USWNT lawsuit also provides an opportunity to correct misinformation about the (un)popularity of women’s professional sports, past and present.

The promotions part of both the Title IX regulations and the USWNT lawsuit is important. USSF has argued that part of the justification to pay and support women less than men is they are not as popular. This is the (tired) circular (il)logic justifying the perpetual foot-dragging or outright neglect when it comes to broadcasting and covering women’s professional sports. The women aren’t popular, so networks don’t televise them and journalists don’t write about them. (But how are women’s sports supposed to grow in popularity if people aren’t exposed to them?)

The bigger issue for USSF is that this assertion is wrong. The reigning World Cup champions (hint: not the men) regularly enjoy greater TV audiences than the national team that failed to qualify for its most recent World Cup (hint: not the women). Oops.

I teach history at Arizona State University, and historians frequently encounter commonly held ideas about the past that do not line up with factual history. This can be frustrating, because, as the postmodernists tell us, what we collectively believe about the past as a society often holds more power and matters more than the reality of the past and historical facts — sometimes to the point the facts hardly carry any weight at all.

When I teach about sports in the early 20th century, my students are often surprised to learn women enjoyed semipro opportunities to play basketball, sponsored by industrial leagues and corporate teams since at least 1900, and, additionally, women’s basketball was more popular than men’s — for both participants and spectators. Similarly, at the high school level, particularly in rural and southern states, girls’ basketball was more competitive and popular, including state tournaments with tickets more difficult to obtain than those to watch the boys.

We’ve collectively forgotten this history, perhaps because it doesn’t fit neatly into our ideas about progressive, linear change over time, and it muddles and complicates the stories we tell ourselves about women’s sports — namely, women didn’t play in the past and now they do, thanks in large part to Title IX.

Historian Pamela Grundy has conducted much of the research revealing this hidden history, raising awareness, for example, of southern textile league basketball. Hanes Hosiery teams played in a 2,000-seat arena, enjoyed full-season schedules to entertain employees and neighboring communities, and were built from a national recruiting effort in order to win AAU titles, the most prestigious national championship.

Sponsors saw the great advertising opportunity of women’s teams and Grundy notes that in Dallas alone, “teams and tournaments were sponsored by Sanger Department Store, Franklin Motor Car, Sonoco Oil, Employers Casualty Insurance, and Piggly Wiggly Grocers, among others.” The greatest athlete of this era, Babe Didrikson, played for the Employers Casualty Golden Cyclones.

Today, we regularly see women athletes used for publicity campaigns by the companies who endorse them to convey the message that they support girls and women finding their power through sport. In other words, companies know they will sell more products if consumers believe they support girls and women in sport. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the companies are supporting their sponsored women athletes equally to the men they endorse.

For example, riding the coattails of the USWNT lawsuit, adidas announced the company would pay equal performance bonuses to the athletes it sponsors who play for the team that wins this summer’s Women’s World Cup. Andrew Das of the New York Times pointed out that what this really means is that until this point adidas wasn’t paying equal performance bonuses. But the shoe company, just like its competitors, runs frequent ad campaigns celebrating girls and women in sport. It often takes broader pressure to force sponsors’ practices to match their rhetoric.

We may be shocked and appalled to learn USSF has tried to justify unequal pay and gender discrimination under the false pretense that the women’s game is less popular. But this argument by USSF actually falls in line with our inaccurate ideas about women’s sports and women’s sports history. It would have been far more radical for USSF to admit the women are more popular and to support the women’s game and players accordingly. If there’s one consistent throughline when it comes to the history of women in sport, it’s that national and international sports governing bodies dominated historically by men have always treated women athletes as afterthought — as less than. Even when all evidence points to the greatness of the women’s team. If you’ve consumed any messaging using gender-neutral language about “the crisis” in U.S. soccer since the failure of the men’s national team to qualify for the men’s World Cup last summer, you’ve been exposed to this mindset.

So where do we go from here? And what can we do as fans?

Well, for starters, if you like to watch sports, watch more women’s team sports. The USWNT is preparing to defend its World Cup title this summer in France. The quality of play in the WNBA is the best it has ever been — just ask one of the many, many NBA players who are among the loudest supporters (and defenders) of the excellence that is the women’s game right now. We can also be more aware of the language we use, and the way our actions reinforce gender hierarchies in our daily lives. Sport tends to lead the way on these issues, and our women’s national soccer team has given us a great opportunity to think about gender inequities in our places of work, homes and daily interactions.

Victoria Jackson is a sports historian and lecturer of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.

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Podcast: The USWNT lawsuit a big step for pay equality

Samantha Mewis (3) of the USA looks to pass the ball over Erika (4) of Brazil in the first half during the She Believes Cup at Raymond James Stadium on March 5, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

On March 8, the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a class action lawsuit against US Soccer, the governing body, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” in pay, treatment and coaching.

In this week’s Why Sport Matters with Kenneth Shropshire, Shropshire examines the importance of filing the suit on International Women’s Day, how the near boycott of the world championships by the U.S. women’s hockey team set a precedent and why lawyer Jeffrey Kessler could be a key to the lawsuit.

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U.S. women’s soccer teams sues governing body over gender discrimination

U.S. women’s soccer team sues governing body over gender discrimination

Unites States midfielder Julie Ertz (8) heads the ball during the She Believes Cup match between the USA and Brazil on March 5, 2019 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fl (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Just a month before the United States begins its title defense in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the entire U.S. women’s national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The lawsuit is a significant escalation of a long-running fight over pay equity and working conditions for the most dominant international women’s team just months before women’s soccer’s biggest event, the World Cup.

In the suit, filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the players accuse the federation of “institutionalized gender discrimination.” Friday is also recognized as International Women’s Day.

The team, one of the United States’ most successful competitors across international sport, claims the governing body for U.S. soccer discriminated against the players via their paychecks, how and where they played, how they trained and coached, received medical care and traveled to matches.

The Women’s World Cup kicks off June 7 in France with the U.S. favored to retain its title. The Americans are the most successful team in women’s soccer, winners of three World Cups, four Olympic gold medals, eight CONCACAF Gold Cups and 10 Algarve Cups.

The issue of equality is not solely an issue for the U.S. team. Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, arguably the best female soccer player in the world, is not expected to play in this summer’s Women’s World Cup. A major reason for her absence is what she described as a lack of respect for female players in Norway.

The 23-year-old striker stepped away from Norway’s national team in 2017 after its surprising elimination in the group stage of the UEFA Women’s Championship.

“Football is the biggest sport in Norway for girls and has been for years, but at the same time girls don’t have the same opportunities as the boys,” Hegerberg told The Guardian in mid 2018.

“Norway has a great history of women’s football, but it’s harder now. We’ve stopped talking about development, and other countries have overtaken us.”

Not too long after Hegerberg announced her departure from the national team, the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) and Norway’s players’ association (NISO) signed an agreement on equal pay in a deal thought to be the first of its kind in international football.

The U.S. team’s lawsuit is similar to the actions of the U.S. women’s hockey team before the 2018 Winter Olympics when the team threatened not to participate in the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation world championships because of unequal treatment.  With help from the NHL, the parties reached a resolution on the pay gap between the women’s hockey team and the men’s reached a negotiated settlement. The women’s hockey team, much like the women’s soccer team, displayed sustained success in international competition, winning three straight IIHF world championships and two Olympic gold medals, three silvers and one bronze since the sport was introduced in the games in 1998. The team had threatened not to participate in last year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea if the salary issue was not resolved.

That resolution opened the doors to the team competing and winning their first gold medal since 1998, beating archrival Canada..

According to the New York Times, the American soccer players have requested class action status and are seeking to represent anyone who played for the team since Feb. 4, 2015.

The Times reported that U.S. Soccer did not respond to their request for comment. The suit alleges violations of the Equal Pay Act and violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,” the suit said. “This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”

While the America women have won three of the seven Women’s World Cups played, the highest finish for the U.S. men’s national team in the World Cup’s nearly 90-year history of the men’s event was 2002, when the team reached the quarterfinals.. The U.S. men did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have separate collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer, the NYT reported, with different payment structures. The men receive higher bonuses when they play for the U.S., but are paid only when they make the team. The women receive guaranteed salaries but with smaller match bonuses.

However, the multimillion dollar bonuses the teams receive from FIFA for participating in the World Cup are enormous – there is a pool of $400 million for the 32 men’s teams versus $30 million for the 24 women’s teams in the tournament.

The USWNT nearly went on strike before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games over pay and reached a contentious new collective bargaining agreement. Five players – including Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe – filed a federal complaint in 2016 accusing US Soccer of wage discrimination. The lack of resolution on that case led to this filing, the NYT reported.

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Do gambling firms have a role in South African sport sponsorship?

Betting sponsors, Sportingbet of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sbobet of West Ham United. (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Recent years have seen a number of notable South African sport sponsorships undertaken by domestic sport betting companies. This development serves as a useful case study of the many commercial and societal forces at play within South Africa, which creates a challenging environment for sport sponsorship:

  • The South African economy has been in a downturn since 2013. The country has averaged less than 2 percent GDP growth per annum over the past five years. This impacts the profitability of companies that are battling to survive in a competitive environment, as well as individual consumers who have less disposable income to spend on entertainment activities.
  • The rise of electronic media and on-demand entertainment means consumers have the greatest amount of choice when it comes to their leisure time. As a result, traditional forms of leisure, such as attending live sporting events, are being eroded by competitors such as e-gaming or on-demand movie platforms like Netflix, for example.
Gustav Venter is head of the Centre for Sport Leadership at Stellenbosch University in South Africa

Consequently, professional teams and federations are under pressure to maintain levels of revenue generation. In South Africa, the discourse has turned to the apparent decline in match attendances across sport.

In soccer, attendance patterns have always been uneven with only a few teams able to draw large crowds to selected fixtures. In rugby, some of the blame for the decline plausibly can be traced to on-field underperformance at both the international and provincial level. Cricket faces a lack of interest in domestic competitions, which seldom include South African national players, as well as a content glut, particularly in terms of global T20 tournaments.

Rise of Sports Betting Sponsorships in SA Sport

Those trends have created a situation whereby professional sport entities in South Africa are increasingly under pressure to obtain sponsors for their already distressed properties, whether an individual team or league. When the state of the economy is factored in, coupled with the declining interest in domestic sport, the result is sponsorships are not freely available beyond the traditional monoliths such as large banks and alcoholic brands. As a result, teams are incentivized to take what they can get given the sport sponsorship landscape.

Another emerging trend comes into play: the rise of electronic sport betting in South Africa. A growth sector with increased competition, sport betting companies are vying for exposure to the sports loving public. This has seen notable entries into the sport sponsorship market by online betting companies. Worldsportsbetting (Cape Cobras Cricket franchise and Lions Rugby franchise) and Hollywoodbets (Dolphins Cricket franchise) are two prominent examples.

This development creates a potentially problematic situation given market dynamics and the recent history pertaining to match fixing.

Cricket’s Chequered History with Match Fixing

Match fixing is as old as organized sport, and the primary driver is gambling. In this regard, some sports lend themselves more readily to manipulation. Cricket has been no exception, especially in South Africa.

A notable scandal involving former national captain Hansie Cronje unfolded in the late 1990s. More recently, a scandal erupted involving a number of domestic players on the periphery of the professional system.

A major challenge is the wide range of betting options available to gamblers – a situation further fueled by the rapid rise in technology, making instant electronic betting an extremely easy pursuit. The range of options creates a situation whereby smaller, less prominent components of a cricket match can be manipulated by one individual without attracting much attention.

In response, international and national federations, such as the ICC and Cricket South Africa, have implemented a number of measures, including creating anti-corruption units, to combat these activities. Consequently significant resources have been spent educating players about the perils of match fixing. This, however, raises questions regarding the entry of sports betting companies into the domestic sponsorship market.

Potential Dangers

First, a basic ethics issue exists when sport entities preach vigilance about unsavory gambling influences while accepting sponsorship from the same companies whose existence enables such unsavory influences. The economic dimensions of the current sport sponsorship market is a likely contributor to this paradoxical stance.

Second, a practical danger exists regarding the introduction of sport betting sponsorships. A significant aspect of a sponsorship agreement relates to so-called “activations” – often in the form of the sponsor gaining some degree of access to players for brand-related events or activities. How can allowing people who have a gambling interest in the outcome gain access to players via sponsorship activation events not create the potential for match fixing?

While the entry of sport betting companies into the sponsorship market remains legal, significant vigilance by administrators against the potential dangers is necessary.

The situation is complicated by the influence of economic issues. Simply banning these companies from sponsoring teams would likely exacerbate the financial challenges already facing these teams by further limiting their revenue streams. This presents a significant conundrum for decision makers, and it is a development that needs to be monitored closely in order to prevent South African cricket specifically (and sport generally) from being embroiled in another match fixing controversy.

Gustav Venter is head of the Centre for Sport Leadership at Stellenbosch University. He holds a PhD in History from the same institution, and his primary research focus is directed at the historical intersection between sport, politics and race in the South African context.

ICYMI: Ole Miss player kneels during basketball, India-Pakistan cricket match on edge and make sure you cook your chicken

We all experience that feeling that the week can sometimes get away from you. News happens so quickly that it might feel like you don’t have a chance to know what is going on in the world. Each week, GlobalSport Matters will compile some of the best of the other stories in the sporting news.  These stories will include new breakthroughs in sport science, information about changing technology and just good reads about the global sporting community. Have a story you’d like us to know about and share? Let us know.

Kneeling during the national anthem at Ole Miss

“Momma, I’m going to do it.” That’s what University of Mississippi sophomore guard Devontae Shuler told his mother shortly before his team’s matchup against the University of Georgia on Feb. 23. He was talking about kneeling, a gesture he felt was necessary after word surfaced around campus that Confederate and white supremacist groups would be marching the same night as the basketball team’s home game. Thinking back on what happened at the University of Virginia in 2017, Shuler and seven of his teammates protested the supremacist groups’ appearance by kneeling during the national anthem prior to the game. Shuler called it a “one time thing” but in the broader context of sport it is yet another demonstration by way of kneeling and another example of athletes taking using their agency to speak out symbolically against the wrongs around them.

Will violence prevent India-Pakistan World Cup showdown?

The Cricket World Cup is set to begin May 30. India has already said it is considering boycotting the match against Pakistan because they claim Pakistan-based militant group were behind the suicide car bomb attacking in India on February 14th. That lead to the killing of 37 Indian paramilitary soldiers. The problem involving the upcoming tournament is, will Indian fans retaliate at the tournament? Will this game bring more bad than good?

Mets outfielder undercooks chicken, misses games

New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo missed Wednesday’s spring training game with what was reported to be a stomach bug. Manager Mickey Callaway later confirmed that Nimmo ate undercooked chicken the night before and got food poisoning. He was held out on Thursday as well due to dehydration concerns. Nimmo was apparently proud of his chef skills and reportedly sent a picture to his wife.

Harris becomes first female non-kicker signed to letter of intent

Toni Harris made history Feb. 26 as she became the first female football player at a skill position to sign a letter of intent. Playing as a safety at Los Angeles College the past two seasons has her poised to be at Central Methodist in Missouri for the Eagles. The Detroit-born player first caught the attention of media when she was offered a scholarship in January of 2018 from Bethany College, an NAIA school in Kansas. Becca Longo and Shelby Osborne both play at the collegiate level as well Longo, a kicker, was the first women to sign a national letter of intent from a division II school (Adams State University) or higher and Osborne signed with Campbellsville in 2014 but wasn’t intially on academic scholarship although later on she had receiver partial-scholarship.

US kicks off SheBelieves tournament with World Cup teams

The US women’s national soccer team kicked off its fourth annual SheBelieves tournament Feb. 27  against Japan in Chester, Pa. The tournament will last through March 5. The SheBelieves tournament includes Brazil and Japan, two teams who have been part of the Tournaments of Nations the past two years. The joined the U.S. and England to compete. All four teams will be heading to the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Mexican hockey player looks for a place to play

Hector Majul, a former collegiate hockey player in the United States, had his amateur players visa revoked and was sent back to Mexico after nearly 10 years. Majul is now playing hockey on one of Lithuania’s four professional hockey teams. Although there is no sign of this happening soon, Majul wants to be the first Mexico-born hockey player in the NHL.

Mike Bibby fired as coach of high school team amid sex abuse allegations

Former NBA player Mike Bibby was fired as the head coach of Shadow Mountain basketball in response to sexual abuse allegations. The victim claims he grabbed her waist and threw her into a vehicle and groped her. Bibby had coached four consecutive state championships, including this season.

Johnny Manziel offered workout with AAF

After being barred by the CFL for violating his contract agreement, Manziel has been given an opportunity by the AAF. This is not surprising given that the AAF is looking for players with recognizable names in order to increase its audience. Signing a player like Manziel will surely boost ratings and attract fans to the stadium. The AAF can use some extra revenue after it was revealed that they got bailed out by Carolina Hurricanes’ majority owner with a 250 million dollar investment.

Manziel’s wife denies she cheated in half marathon

Manziel’s wife, Bre Tiesi-Manziel, is a fitness and Instagram model. She recently participated in the Run Like A Diva half marathon in Temecula, Calif. And finished the race with a time of 1:58:22 with zero training, according to her. Via the Houston Chronicle, the average time for a woman running a half marathon is around 2:19 and a pace of just over 10 minutes per mile. Tiesi-Manziel’s average of 9:09 per mile would be impressive but not unheard of — the problem for her came after a look at her mile-by-mile splits.

Father in disbelief after 13-year-old cheerleader’s mysterious death

A 13-year-old cheerleader became mysteriously ill before her competition. She then was taken to the hospital where she died. They still do not know what the cause was.

Compiled by the student journalists in the Sports Knowledge Lab at Arizona State University


Podcast: Coming out at Missouri felt safe for Michael Sam

Michael Sam, Global Sport Institute, Arizona State
Michael Sam speaks with Global Sport Institute director of research Dr. Scott Brooks at Arizona State University. (Photo by Alex Simon/GlobalSport Matters)

Five years after coming out publicly, former football player Michael Sam recently spoke at Arizona State University on “Masculinity, identity and moving forward: I am Michael Sam.”

Sam spoke with Global Sports Institute director of research Dr. Scott Brooks, who was at Missouri as a professor at the same time Sam played football for the school. Missouri is a conservative atmosphere on campus and in the town, yet Sam said he felt comfortable coming out there because of head coach Gary Pinkel. “He was a huge, huge factor in that,” Sam said.

New basketball league plans to pay student athletes

(Courtesy Getty Images)

“The HBL aims to change the landscape of collegiate athletics by disrupting the ‘amateurism model’ and offering a legitimately superior alternative. We aim to improve the economic outlook of our athletes, the majority of whom will likely be minorities.”    

        — HBL.com

Ricky Volante, CEO and co-founder of the Historical Basketball League (HBL), plans that at its expected June 2020 tipoff, young U.S. college athletes who put their bodies on the line for the multi-billion dollar industry will receive fair compensation for their play. Many of those athletes would be NCAA-eligible or talented enough to make the NBA’s G League. Why does HBL believe that a third option is necessary?

The argument about whether to pay student-athletes will get a new path if the Historical Basketball League can launch next year.

According to the HBL philosophy, a recent tale of two players, Kyrie Irving and Josh Selby, both 2010 McDonald’s All-Americans, illustrates the flaws in the current system. Irving reached the 2011 NCAA Sweet 16 while playing for Duke. Selby began his rocky, mandatory year at Kansas. Assessed a nine-game suspension, Selby was ordered to pay $4,607.58 to the charity of his choice for receiving improper benefits — meetings hosted by Robert “Bay” Frazier,  Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, who they claimed was a long-time family friend of Selby’s mother.

Both players entered the 2011 draft. Irving is an NBA champion and household name. Six years later, Selby would find himself with his  “fifth foreign basketball club since leaving the NBA in 2013, claiming that his stint with the Grizzlies led to depression.

Would his career have played out differently had he not been penalized or if had the choice to earn money while showcasing his talent for a full season? While that cannot be answered, the HBL believes student athletes deserve to have the ability to make a choice.  

How will the league work?

The HBL plans to operate as a freestanding league with players who are matriculated college students. League founders plan to pay their student athletes and structure games and travel in a way that affords them greater opportunities to be typical students. The league could be considered a hybrid of the NBA’s G League, which will pay “‘Select Contracts” worth $125,000 beginning in the summer of 2019 to elite prospects who are at least 18-years-old but not yet draft eligible” and the current NCAA system. The HBL athletes would be able to earn degrees from their member institutions as students while earning income for their play, challenging the idea that amateurism is necessary for the college system to work.

Volante and the HBL’s four-member executive team didn’t originate the argument for student-athlete compensation. If they succeed, they will effectively disrupt the NCAA’s business model, which generated over $1 billion in revenue in 2017. None of that revenue was used to compensate players. The funds pay the coaches and administrators handsomely. In recent years, college basketball and football coaches were the highest paid public employees in 39 of the 50 states.

Contrast that with concerns about players provision. For example, only in the last five years have college and university programs been allowed to provide unlimited meals to athletes, who often complained of hunger once training tables closed. The HBL organizers would say the line between fair and foul is clear and distinct.

“I’ve heard the stories from (athletes at) the D-I revenue-generating level. It can break your heart hearing the stories from players who are not being compensated and they play for schools that make millions,” Volante said.

He is certain a growing number of people agree with him, though many will not do so publicly. He and his team have asked for the chance to sit and discuss their model with the NCAA.

“We don’t exist,” Volante said of the NCAA’s position. “They’ve either outright declined or ignored our requests.”

According to the HBL’s website, the traditional options (NCAA or turning pro) fail students in three developmental areas: working within a basketball system, academic and business skills and personal development. To address those shortcomings, the HBL plans to build around several fundamentals:

The HBL Model

  •      Earn a salary (approximately $50,000-$150,000 per season).
  •      Participate in workshops and seminars on topics such as financial literacy, insurance policies.
  •      Sign individual endorsement agreements and monetize social media accounts while playing college athletics.
  •      Group licensing opportunities through the HBL and its corporate partners.ª

Educational Benefits

  •      Receive a five-year scholarship (need-based, academic, and athletic-style scholarships will be available).
  •      With the HBL games being played in the summer, the athletes will not miss class for weeks at a time (which puts them at an academic disadvantage in comparison to their non-athlete peers).

Some of the professional benefits include the ability to sign with an agent without jeopardizing eligibility and better preparation for the NBA by playing NBA-style rules.

The HBL organizers initially discussed establishing teams on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) campuses, but upon further review realized that bureaucracy could prove problematic in regards to their aggressive deadlines. Organizers chose instead to launch in cities in proximity to HBCUs to keep the tie alive.

Volante, an attorney at Buckley King LPA and an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, reflected on his years as a college baseball player while preparing this model.

“The process you go through with universities, even at the DII, DII level, can be very exploitative,” he said during the interview. “They maximize your ability to practice and travel with the team.”

He required rehabilitative surgery on his elbow and said that he was, in effect, told best of luck with your recovery. While later working in compliance and enforcement, Volante grew more uneasy with the status quo.

“From a conference perspective and NCAA perspective, it never sat well with me,” he said. “There was always an attitude of uphold the rule and punish players instead of angling for leniency and figuring out ways not to punish them.”

While collaborating with sports economist HBL co-founder Andy Schwarz on a paper for the Marquette Law Review, the two decided to take on the giant.

The recent hire of David West, an NBA champion and all-star who had a 15-year playing career, lends credibility to their efforts.

“I want to be on the right side of history, it’s that simple,” West said. “These guys playing with passion and for the love of the game is true, but they also deserve an opportunity to share in the profits they help generate. We need to change this narrative. We need to create a path that gives players the option to take a more professional step toward their careers and personal development.

Organizers expect criticism and are prepared with data to counter doubters who suggest that paying players will destabilize the systems and dismantle the spirit of play.

“They say it will remove the love of the game element; that no one’s going to watch if they’re paid,” said Volante.

The HBL is intent on shifting that paradigm and creating greater economic freedom for young athletes. They hope their model will serve both the future NBA star and the player who will most likely never have another chance to earn income based on their athletic effort.

For more information, visit their website at hbleague.com.

Mia M. Jackson is a writer based in Germantown, Maryland. 

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Obi-wan, you’re the only hope for the French Fencing Federation

light saber, french fencing federation
Participants in the 2016 Artistic Fencing World Championship compete with light sabers.  (Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

France is one with the Force, and the Force is with the French fencing federation.

Being one with the Forces is not the only reason the French Fencing Federation acknowledged light saber dueling as a discipline. It also hopes to get young people up and active.

In mid-February, the Federation Française D’Escrime (FFE) announced its recognition of lightsaber dueling. Épée, foil, saber and, now, lightsaber will be disciplines of the sport in France.

Contestants will not have to worry about becoming Luke Skywalker: The lightsabers used in competition will not be able to remove body parts. Instead, the weapons will be made from rigid polycarbonate: plastic that is pliable and strong enough to handle the force. Some higher-end sabers are built with electronics that make them look and sound like the weapons portrayed in George Lucas’ universe.

The plastic weapons may not draw blood, but a hit to the hand will count under the rules announced by the FFE. “Jedi” will battle in a low-lit location within a defined circle on the floor for 3 minutes. Points will be earned for strikes; the totals will vary depending on the strike location. A hit to the hand will be worth one point, the arms and legs three and hits to the head or body five.

If a Jedi reaches 15 points within the 3-minute match, the round ends. If neither fighter reaches 15 points, the winner will be the higher point scorer. The exception is if both contestants reach 10 points. Then a sudden death session will be played and the winner will be the first to land a head or body blow on the opponent. For points to count, the fighters must first point the tip of their weapon behind them, this provides more cinematic-like attacks that are found in the Star Wars movies.

“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” Michel Ortiz, a tournament organizer told the Associated Press.

Safety is one of the concerns: Participants are required to wear masks and body armor that are approved by the FFE.

With the approval of lightsaber dueling, the FFE is striving to create “a new hope:” Inducing younger generations of Star Wars fans to get away from video games and go outside to train as Luke Skywalker did. The dark side the FFE is battling consists of increasing obesity rates and inactivity in children and adults. One of the Sith lords is the increasing popularity of video games in the world.

“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue,” French federation secretary general Serge Aubailly told the Associated Press. “It’s becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”

The federation strives to become the light side of the Force against world obesity. Their master the International Fencing Federation (FIE), which governs the sport worldwide is keeping in touch with “how this new event progresses,” Serge Timacheff and FIE official told AP. The federation is always trying to find new ways to keep and gain new interests in the sport.

“Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly said. “Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try.”

Keeping current interest in the sport and wanting to gain the interest of younger generations, the FIE will keep in touch with the progress of the new sport as they try to build popularity, but as master Yoda once said, “Try not. Do or do not there is no try.” The FFE is the first to do.

Dustin Paré is a senior broadcast journalism student at Arizona State University