Sports news

Chuck Noll, the only NFL coach to lead a team to four Super Bowl titles, died on Friday at age 82.

Liz Reid, from NPR member station WESA in Pittsburgh, reports the Steelers coach was considered one of the greatest. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Noll took the head coaching job in Pittsburgh in 1969, after Penn State's Joe Paterno turned it down.

"The Steelers won a single game that season, but under Noll's guidance, they steadily improved their record until clinching their first Super Bowl victory in January 1975.

It's hard for golf fans, even casual ones, to not think about Payne Stewart as the US Open returns to Pinehurst this week. 

On Friday, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Sean Burnett became the latest player this season to undergo "Tommy John" surgery. In this weekend's MLB draft, at least four players selected had already had the infamous elbow surgery as amateurs.

The operation is named after the first player to undergo the procedure to fix an injured elbow ligament, in 1974. Pitchers are particularly vulnerable to this injury.

The procedure involves taking a tendon from somewhere else in the body — or from a cadaver — and grafting it into place. Pitchers get it most often.

When the thoroughbreds burst out of the starting gate at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, fans will have their eyes on California Chrome as a potential Triple Crown winner. And there to interview the winner on horseback will be Donna Barton Brothers, an analyst for NBC Sports.

Before she was an analyst, Brothers had a distinguished career as a jockey, winning more than 1,100 races before retiring in 1998. When she retired, Brothers tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she knew it was time to get out in part because it started to feel dangerous.

There are many ways to psych out an opponent. The Indiana Pacers' Lance Stephenson went the unconventional route last night, softly blowing into LeBron James' ear during a pause late in their playoff game.

"He didn't just do that," James' face seems to say.

"Yes I did," Stephenson's expression answers.

Not so long ago, while enjoying a libation in a decorous saloon, the proprietor — who happened to hail from the fabled Windy City — suddenly jarred the genteel assembled by turning on the Cubs game. Just at that moment, a Cubby was heading toward the plate when the throw came in, and the runner (spoiler alert!), being a Cub, was tagged out.

Javon Francis, Jamaica's Next Big Running Star

May 13, 2014

The stadium was quiet as eight schoolboys settled into the blocks for the start of the 400-meter finals at Jamaica's annual Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls Athletic Championships earlier this year — "Champs for short. The favorite? Nineteen-year-old Javon Francis. Case closed. Spectators sat in their seats munching on food and chatting with friends when the starter gun went off.

On a recent day, just west of Kabul — where the city's sooty sky gives way to fresher air — Abdul Sadiq coaches four young members of the Afghan National Cycling Federation. They're working on their riding technique while dodging the free-form traffic.

"The road is very narrow. Make sure you don't get into an accident, as you can see the cars are coming," the former competitive cyclist tells them, amid zooming vehicles and honking horns.

Update: The NAACP issued a press release on Thursday advising that Leon Jenkins has resigned his post as president of the Los Angeles chapter. The national organization said it is "developing guidelines for its branches to help them in their award selection process."

"The Los Angeles NAACP intention to honor Mr. Sterling for a lifetime body of work must be withdrawn, and the donation that he's given to the Los Angeles NAACP will be returned."

Eight runners entered in the 2014 Boston Marathon are documenting their race preparations for NPR in a Tumblr blog. Demi Clark is one of the eight, and this is her story.

Through the spring, NPR will be tracking eight runners competing in the 2014 Boston Marathon. This is the story of Eric Ashe, the fastest of the eight.

At mile 10, he could tell it was going to be close. Eric had consistently run each mile at a 4:47 pace.

He had to finish 13.1 miles in 65 minutes to qualify for a spot in the Olympic trials in Los Angeles in 2016.

For the 4th consecutive year, Columbus will host the Spring Fling International Rhythmic Gymnastics Invitational. 

Now that Michael Sam, an NFL draft prospect, has announced that he is gay, there's been a lot of mumbling that he would be a distraction — but it's really an issue of antipathy.

NFL Prospect Michael Sam Comes Out As Gay

Feb 10, 2014

On Sunday, in interviews with The New York Times and on ESPN's Outside the Lines, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam said that he is gay.

Now that the Winter Games have begun, it's time to remind fans in the U.S. about how to watch them.

As NPR TV critic Eric Deggans said earlier this week:

The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday night, the first Super Bowl victory in the team's history.

The game got off to an odd start on the first play from scrimmage when Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball past quarterback Peyton Manning, who was walking up to the line and didn't have his hands ready. That set the tone for the trouncing the Broncos would receive over the course of the night at the hands of the voracious Seahawks.

NPR correspondents Ari Shapiro, in London, and Joanna Kakissis, in Athens, teamed up for this joint look at Olympics economics.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi are just a few days away. Russia has spent $50 billion on everything from construction to security, making these the most expensive games in history.

Countries often justify the Olympic-sized price tag by saying the investment pays off in increased business and tourism.

It's single-digit cold as Brett West steps into the snow in his backyard in Ridgefield, Conn., and points to a wooden monstrosity. It stands 32 feet high and looks kind of like a wooden roller coaster.

"The whole thing's made of wood — two-by-fours, four-by-fours and 3-quarter-inch plywood, all pressure-treated lumber, with a lot of screws."

The homemade track was the first training ground for his son, Tucker, an 18-year-old who is the youngest member of the U.S. luge team in Sochi.

In Sochi, Russia, Hubertus Von Hohenlohe will compete in his sixth Winter Olympics. The 55-year-old downhill skier and German prince won't be skiing under the flag of his royal heritage, however. He'll be with the team of his birthplace, Mexico.

In honor of his Querido Mexico (beloved homeland), Hohenlohe says he will race down the Russian slopes decked out in a state-of-the-art mariachi ski suit.

Freestyle aerial skier Mac Bohonnon recently finished second at the Val St. Come World Cup in Quebec, and that helped him qualify for the Olympics in Sochi. But when he's not doing triple-twisting double backflips, he's taking Advanced Placement classes at Team Academy in Park City, Utah.