What’s the big deal about the World Dwarf Games again?

culturetown.org

culturetown.org

By Mike Householder
The Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Riley Windeler stepped on to the stand, bowed his head and smiled from ear-to-ear as a bronze medal was placed around his neck.

The 23-year-old university student from Horsefly, British Columbia, was proud of having captained the Canadian volleyball team to a third-place finish.

But for Windeler and hundreds of athletes competing this week at the 2013 World Dwarf Games on the campus of Michigan State University, the Games are as much about inclusion and fellowship as they are athletics and competition.

“It’s amazing. You don’t get to be around little people” in this way, said Windeler, who led his team to a 25-3, 25-15 victory over a team comprised of athletes from various nations. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

The Games, which conclude Saturday with the basketball finals at the Breslin Center followed by closing ceremonies, are held every four years. This year’s sixth installment is the largest ever and includes more than 400 athletes — slightly more than two-thirds are male — from 23 nations and every U.S. state taking part. Continue reading

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Media column version 08.09.13 — Great as it was 25 years ago, Gretzky’s trade to L.A. continues to cause a media seismic shift

What made it into Friday’s weekly media column:
A look at how the Wayne Gretzky trade to L.A. 25 years ago today affected the Kings from a media perspective, talking to Bob Miller, Nick Nickson and Jim Fox.

What’s relegated to the blog:
== Check out a multi-part series by SportsNet in Canada about the Gretzky trade after all these years, with interesting interviews, facts and reflections.
== Now it can be told that on the day Gretzky was traded, he was at Alan Thicke’s house, babysitting a future R&B pop star.

== In 2009, SportsNet also ran excerpts of media columns in reaction to the Gretzky deal.
gretzky-kings-sports-illustratedAs E.M. Swift wrote for Sports Illustrated on August 22, 1988:
“In case you have been walking the picket lines outside The Last Temptation of Christ and have missed the news, on Aug. 9 the Kings and the Edmonton Oilers swung the biggest trade in NHL history and, at least monetarily, the biggest in the history of sports. …
“If the Great One’s arrival in the City of Angels does not exactly mark the Second Coming, it’s the closest thing to divine intervention that the Kings have seen in their 21 years of trying to put fannies in the seats of the Forum.
“The deal stunned the sports world. Not since the Milwaukee Bucks sent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975 had an athlete of Gretzky ‘s magnitude been traded in his prime. Because of the huge amount of money that changed hands, comparisons were immediately made to the 1919 deal which sent Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees for $100,000.
“Reactions throughout the U.S. and Canada were immediate and wide-ranging:
“Canada’s New Democratic Party House leader Nelson Riis: ‘Wayne Gretzky is a national symbol, like the beaver. How can we allow the sale of our national symbols? The Edmonton Oilers without Wayne Gretzky is like…Wheel of Fortune without Vanna White’.” Continue reading

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No shortage of overseas kickball coverage — including lots o’ conversationalistics

thComing next weekend: The English Premier League on NBC.

Coming up right after that: More overseas soccer, and a new studio show at the launch of Fox Sports 1.

But first: “ESPN FC,” landing Sunday (7-8 p.m., ESPN2, following coverage of the Galaxy’s game in Dallas).

Allow us a yellow card while we catch our breath.

Highlights, news, reaction and opinion – all the stuff you’d expect from any other major sport – will expand the ESPN soccer coverage from its ESPNFC.com website. The focus will be on the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Spain’s La Liga, Major League Soccer, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and the Mexican National Team.

Monday through Friday, the 30-minute version (ESPN2, 2:30 p.m., opposite ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” is more about soccer banter than highlight driven stuff.

Max Bretos, the former long-time Fox Soccer Channel broadcaster and current ESPNEWS and ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor, has a vested interest in ESPN FC succeeding since he’ll be one of the rotating co-hosts.

“I’d like to think I’ve built some equity in the sport,” said Bretos, at FSC from 1998-2010 before going to ESPNEWS. “I remember doing some games from Chile before when I was pretty sure no one was listening except the guys in the control booth.” Continue reading

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How the Manning brothers prodded DirecTV to go off the hook with the “NFL Sunday Ticket” serenade

Peyton and Eli Manning didn’t phone in their latest acting gig to help promote DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket.” They went long distance, in a hip-hop hurry.

In the spoofing spirit of a Justin Timberlake-Andy Samberg ’90s R&B “Saturday Night Live” skit, the Manning brothers’ performance of “Football On Your Phone” has become a viral victory since its launch early Tuesday.

More than 3.2 million views were recorded on the YouTube clip by early this evening.
(Update: As of Thursday afternoon, it was up to 4.8 million views).

Sparked at first by tweets from USA Today, by noon Tuesday, #FootballOnYourPhone was trending on Twitter, both in the U.S. and worldwide. By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Mashable, one of the most influential social media site on the net, posted the video and quickly drew 3,000 shares on Facebook and 1,000 shares on Twitter.

By then, national outlets such as ESPN, SI.com, the NFL Network, CNN, Yahoo! Sports and CBS Sports were already touting it.

Alex Kaplan, DirecTV’s vice president of marketing, says the idea came as a collaborative effort by the satellite dish company’s marketing and advertising divisions, along with its partner, Grey Advertising in New York.

“It was kind of a leap of faith in that we hoped it was as funny as it looked on paper,” Kaplan said this afternoon. “I think we pulled it off.” Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Aug. 5-11 on your calendar — You make the call on how the leader of the PGA Championship will go into the lake at 15

You have this to look forward to … or away from:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

The 15th hole at Oak Hill Country Club near Rochester, N.Y., awaits your decision.

The 15th hole at Oak Hill Country Club near Rochester, N.Y., awaits your decision.

GOLF: 95th PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, at Rochester, N.Y., Thursday-Sunday:
Jack Nicklaus thought it would be kinda nifty to push the PGA into let anyone with access to a computer vote online to determine the hole location for the par-3 15th at Oak Hill Country Club – the spot that’ll be used during the final round of this season-ending major. There are four choices at www.picktheholechallenge.pga.com. None, unfortunately, includes planting the flag into that nearby lake.
13_CH_ROCKER_P200Ian Baker-Finch, an analyst for TNT during this event, says Oak Hill is already is “one of the most difficult championship course played today,” and says the best holes to watch are the stretch of 13, 14 and 15. “This will be a pivotal area of the course – a long par-5, a drivable par 4 and an impossible par 3.” Made worse, supposedly, by the whims of those who know how to use a mouse.  Whatever spot picked, it’ll probably give Tiger Woods something else to complain about. He played a practice round at the course last week and wasn’t impressed with the greens. “They just don’t have a lot of grass on them,” he said. So what’s the issue?
damage_hurricanesandy_treesdown_304.ashxOne reason has to do with the fact Oak Hill had a severe thunder storm last month that flooded seven holes, damaged bunkers and caused a tree to fall on the eighth green. This event notorious for allowing someone to come out of nowhere to win it, so even Woods with his four PGA Championships (’99, ’00, ’06 and ’07) must admit could easily be blindsided on this track, the site of the PGA Championship in 2003 and a former host to the Ryder Cup (’95) and three U.S. Opens (’56, ’68 and ’89). Defending champion Rory McIlroy is in, as are current major winners Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.
TNT has coverage during all four rounds: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8-11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. CBS has coverage Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

THE BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Q and A: Why would X Games just up and leave L.A.? Not because the surfing is better in Austin, says ESPN exec

Andy Buckworth performs during the GoPro BMX Big Air Final at Irwindale Speedway on Friday in Irwindale. Morgan Wade won the gold medal. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Andy Buckworth performs during the GoPro BMX Big Air Final at Irwindale Speedway on Friday in Irwindale. Morgan Wade won the gold medal. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Scott Guglielmino, the senior vice president of programming for the X Games, has no need for coffee, a shot of 5-Hour Energy or that new Carl’s Jr. ice cream scoop smashed between two Pop Tarts to get him amped up.
Guglielmino_Scott“I’m resigned to a Diet Coke in the morning,” he said this morning as he continued cruising around the ESPN-created festival that has ramped up again through downtown L.A. and beyond.
“I just need a couple of those and my natural endorphins kick in.”
It’s a natural, too, that Los Angeles has been the X Games’ longtime summer home, having hosted the last 11 years in and around Staples Center, the Coliseum, Irwindale and Carson.
But a few months ago, Guglielmino’s team announced it decided to move everything next May to Austin, Texas, and continue to rotate cities as it did in its formative years.
What’s the X-factor there?
The loyal So Cal supporters may be miffed by the move, but maybe Guglielmino can explain better what’s involved in pushing the franchise to even higher heights, and how things could always circle back to L.A. somewhere down the road: Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: Spare the A-Rod, spoil the others who face 50-game suspensions

alex_rodriguezWhat sensible choices are left at this point for role model/ centaur model/ Damned Yankee Alex Rodriguez before the weekend, and possibly his career, comes to a darkening close?

He could do the half-manly (and half-equine) thing and admit his biogenetic guilt, then attempt to flex his plea bargaining skills while seeking asylum in a Moscow, Idaho airport.

He could power through a Kenny Chesney concert, blurt out a few choice words into Madonna’s iPhone about Brian Cashman, Bud Selig and Ryan Braun, and see how far that gets him.

Or he could be a real dumb bell – continue to grovel, then decide to fight a predictable lifetime MLB “best interest of baseball” ban to the finish, burning through all the hundreds of millions he has left in his bank on lawyer fees, with a plan on making a comeback with Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros in 2016.

He says he intends to be in the Yankees’ lineup on Monday in Chicago (missing this West Coast swing).

“I am mentally prepared to play for five more years,” he said Friday after his latest minor-league rehab/witness protection program stint. “It’s not time for me to hang it up. I have a lot more fight in me.”

That’s the problem.

Seeing A-Rod famously going down in flames while swinging and missing now is far too early in the season for what Yankee fans would expect.

Spare the A-Rod, spoil the others who are also facing 50-game suspensions – with the ridiculous concession that they can return for possible playoff games? Continue reading

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Oh, the humanity: TWC blinks, so here’s the CBS stuff you won’t be seeing soon if this boycott holds

Spongebob-CriesWith the latest deadline passing today, Time Warner Cable subscribers in Southern California stand to miss the following sporting events this weekend and beyond:
== The WGC Bridgestone Invitational (Saturday and Sunday on KCBS Channel 2, noon each day), where Tiger Woods currently leads the field.
== The Dodgers’ first two games of a four-game series in St. Louis (Monday and Tuesday, KCAL Channel 9, 5 p.m. each day; Monday’s game is also on ESPN)
== The San Diego Chargers’ exhibition game vs. Seattle (Thursday, KCBS Channel 2, 7 p.m.)
== The final two rounds of the PGA Championship (August 10-11, KCBS Channel 2)
== The Dodgers’ second game in its series against the N.Y. Mets (Tuesday, Aug. 13, KCAL Channel 9)
== The Dodgers’ Aug. 17 game at Philadelphia (KCAL Channel 9)

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Enberg puts up CSUN post-scholarship fund for graduating athletes

Long-time sports broadcaster Dick Enberg has committed to a six-year pledge of funding post-graduate scholarships to Cal State Northridge student-athletes, the school announced on its website today.

20090318_041403_csunlogoEnberg was a health education professor at San Fernando Valley State from 1961-‘65 (prior to its name change of Cal State Northridge) as well as serving as an assistant baseball coach for three seasons as he was beginning his broadcasting career to suppliment his income. Eventually, he became a full-time play-by-play man for the Angels, UCLA basketball and the NFL’s Rams in 1965 as the sports director of KTLA-Channel 5, which he parlayed into a career at CBS, NBC and ESPN and continues calling San Diego Padres games today.

Enberg has long been a supporter of NCAA-related academic ventures related to athletes in pursuit of their degrees.

“For nearly 30 years, I have been the spokesman for the Academic All-America Program, honoring student-athletes throughout the United States who have distinguished themselves in the classroom and the athletic arena,” Enberg said in a statement.

“These, in my opinion, are the ‘crème de la crème’ of our college students and are deserving of our full praise. In that spirit, I’m pleased to offer an annual graduate scholarship to the CSUN student-athlete who exemplifies what is the best of academic and athletic life on the CSUN campus. Hail to the Matadors.”

To qualify for an Enberg scholarship, a Matador athlete must have graduated with a cumulative GPA  or 3.2 or better, was a four-year letter winner, and majored in either Education, Health & Human Development, Psychology, CTVA or Journalism. Community service is also a part of the requirement. Continue reading

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