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​​NHL player poll: Why 78 percent say there should be no neck-guard mandate
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​​NHL player poll: Why 78 percent say there should be no neck-guard mandate

Mandatory neck guards are coming to youth hockey in the United States.Already required in Canada and many other countries, USA Hockey, which governs the sport at the amateur level in the U.S., has long held its line at “recommending” laceration protection — namely neck guards, but also cut-resistant socks, sleeves and undergarments.The decision was announced Sunday and will go into effect on Aug. 1, about nine months after the issue was thrust into the spotlight when former NHL player Adam Johnson died of a skate cut to the neck during a game in England.More NHLers have begun to wear neck protection in the months since, either regularly or to try to find something comfortable.“You’re seeing more and more of it,” one player told The Athletic. “I wear the shirt for my wrists. I think you’re ...
After Jackie Robinson statue is destroyed, Wichita rallies around a baseball league
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After Jackie Robinson statue is destroyed, Wichita rallies around a baseball league

It was around noon last Thursday when Bob Lutz walked outside of his work and headed home before the start of his daily radio show. He looked across 17th Street in Wichita, Kan., from the offices of League 42, the nonprofit baseball league he founded in 2013. On a rainy, overcast day, he gazed over toward the Jackie Robinson statue the league had erected in 2021. The statue was a symbol of hope and resilience. Lutz, though, could not see the bronze depiction of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier.For a moment, Lutz wondered if it was covered by fog. He blinked. Looked again. Doubting himself, he called an assistant out of the building to join him. The woman looked and also could not see the statue.Soon they were across the street, where the odd hallucination of a missing statue turn...
Thompson: Brock Purdy managed up, managed down and saved the 49ers
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Thompson: Brock Purdy managed up, managed down and saved the 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The most important run of the night may not have been by Christian McCaffrey. Or Deebo Samuel. Or even by George Kittle on one of his epic catch-and-runs.Nope. It was probably by the game manager. The most momentum-seizing, back-breaking, Lions-taming runs, a case could be made, were by Brock Purdy, the conductor of a 17-point comeback in the San Francisco 49ers’ 34-31 win Sunday over Detroit in the NFC Championship Game.“I’m blocking my man, and next thing I know I hear screaming,” left guard Aaron Banks said from the party in the 49ers locker room at Levi’s Stadium after the game. “And Brock is 20 yards downfield.”One candidate was Purdy’s 21-yard scramble on second-and-11 in the third quarter. He took off up the middle and turned on his baby burners to get away fro...
Mike Macdonald lets the Ravens defense do his talking
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Mike Macdonald lets the Ravens defense do his talking

Update: The Chiefs beat the Ravens 17-10 to earn a trip to the Super BowlIf Mike Macdonald’s ascent to one of the NFL’s hottest coordinators and a legitimate head-coaching candidate feels meteoric, that’s probably because he has never embraced the art of self-promotion.The 36-year-old second-year Baltimore Ravens defensive boss has consented to side media interviews in recent weeks largely because he wants to tout the chemistry and cohesion of his staff, not because he wants any more attention. He likes to call himself a “steward” of head coach John Harbaugh’s vision and will point you in the direction of two dozen others who deserve praise for the Ravens’ success.But it’s impossible to ignore Macdonald’s impact on the AFC’s top seed, which faces the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s conferen...
Why Kevin Durant’s game-winning shot sparked memories of Jordan for members of the ’89 Bulls
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Why Kevin Durant’s game-winning shot sparked memories of Jordan for members of the ’89 Bulls

PHOENIX — The comparison surfaced not long after Kevin Durant finished off the Chicago Bulls on Monday. In the final seconds, the Phoenix Suns forward buried a double-pump, did-he-just-do-that jumper to give the Suns a 115-113 win. WATCHING ON REPLAY ALL NIGHT LONG! pic.twitter.com/EEw60HC8Uf — Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 23, 2024If you thought Durant’s incredible shot resembled Michael Jordan’s iconic double-pump jumper to eliminate the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the first round of the 1989 playoffs, you’re not alone. A couple of the Bulls from that very team agree.An analyst for NBC Sports Chicago, Will Perdue watched Monday night’s game from a studio in Chicago. As soon as he saw Durant’s shot drop, he immediately recognized the significance.“That was a double-pump!” said Perdue,...
Why Caitlin Clark could pose a dilemma for Team USA at the Olympics
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Why Caitlin Clark could pose a dilemma for Team USA at the Olympics

USA Basketball will be seeking its eighth consecutive Olympic gold medal this summer with the first step coming at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, from Feb. 8-11. The 12-player roster for that tournament will be the first approximation of the team that will defend the Americans’ gold medal in Paris.Based on the 18 players who have been invited to the national team camp from Feb. 2-4 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the committee has a terrifically challenging task to select that final roster, a decision that will likely be further complicated by the current collegians — primarily Caitlin Clark, but USA Basketball veterans Paige Bueckers and Cameron Brink could also factor in here — who turn pro at the end of the 2023-24 season.The final roster will ultimately make a statement abou...
Why white home uniforms — once an NBA mainstay — have disappeared
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Why white home uniforms — once an NBA mainstay — have disappeared

Every August, after the NBA releases its schedule for the upcoming season, Michael McCullough, the Miami Heat’s chief marketing officer, thinks about the next 82 games. He not only considers ticket sales and promotions but also sets a meeting with the team’s equipment manager and focuses on an essential part of his job: uniforms.Laying out the right jerseys used to be an easy exercise across the NBA. There were just two choices. When Rob Pimental, the Heat’s equipment manager and travel coordinator, began his career with the Sacramento Kings in the 1980s, it was just white and blue: white jerseys at home, dark ones on the road. What to wear didn’t demand a conversation.Today, it needs lots of meetings. It has become one of the benchmark choices a franchise can make each season. Over the la...
Coco Gauff, under the Australian Open radar, is having a very different kind of Grand Slam
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Coco Gauff, under the Australian Open radar, is having a very different kind of Grand Slam

Coco Gauff walks onto the court in the middle of the day. The stadium is half-full, if that. So far, she mostly takes care of her main business in a little over an hour. A couple of television interviews follow her warm-down. Not much more than that. Sometimes there are just two or three journalists at her news conferences. In the evening, she barely gets noticed while wandering the streets of Melbourne on her way to dinner, whether or not she’s wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses. “Definitely more chill,” Gauff said the other day about her experience in this tournament compared with the last Grand Slam she played, and won, at the U.S. Open in New York in September.Remember those nights when Gauff would kick off the evening sessions with thrilling, nail-biting wins? Three of her first fo...
Medvedev’s 3.40am finish is latest absurd example of why tennis has to change
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Medvedev’s 3.40am finish is latest absurd example of why tennis has to change

It happened again. Of course it did.Two tennis players, starting near midnight, battling nearly to sunrise in front of a scattering of fans, with a squad of kids in their early teenage years scurrying after balls at nearly four in the morning. Last year it was Andy Murray duelling with Thanasi Kokkinakis until the night sky began to lighten at around 4am. On Thursday, and into Friday, it was Daniil Medvedev of Russia and Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland doing the tennis version of the 2am jazz set. “I would not have stayed,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview after he completed his comeback from two sets down and eliminated Ruusuvuori 3-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-0. Judging from the scoreline, Ruusuvuori decided not to and it was hard to blame him.The dynamic would seem absurd if it wasn’t so...
Remembering the Zambia air disaster – ‘The boys would say: ‘This plane will kill us”
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Remembering the Zambia air disaster – ‘The boys would say: ‘This plane will kill us”

“The spirit of the 1993 team will always be there for Zambia.”Kalusha Bwalya, Zambia’s former football captain, is reflecting on the day that changed his life forever.On April 27, 1993, a military aircraft taking 18 of his team-mates and their coach to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal crashed shortly after refuelling in Gabon. All 30 people aboard died.Bwalya would have been on the plane, too, but for the fact that he was playing for PSV Eindhoven at the time. Being based in the Netherlands meant he made his own way to the match from Europe and ultimately saved his life — although it did not spare him from crushing, numbing grief.“You couldn’t imagine the whole team you play with are not there anymore,” Bwalya tells The Athletic. “It didn’t feel real.”Zambian football could have been ...