Sports news

As the NASCAR season climaxes, America's prime motor sport continues to see its popularity in decline. For several years now, revenues and sponsorship have plummeted, leaving an audience that increasingly resembles the stereotype NASCAR so desperately thought it could grow beyond: older white Dixie working class.

Both ESPN and the Turner Broadcasting Co., longtime NASCAR networks, took a look at the down graphs and the down-scale demographics and didn't even bother to bid on the new TV contract.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, open in February, just 100 days from now.

The games have already given rise to some superlatives: most expensive (at more than $50 billion), most heavily guarded and, potentially, most controversial.

Here are key questions surrounding the Sochi games, and some answers:

An Islamist militant leader has called on Muslim fighters to attack the Olympics. Can Russian officials keep visitors and athletes safe?

The headline from Monday night is that the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals by the score of 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven World Series.

Game 6, which could make the Red Sox the world champions, is Wednesday night in Boston. It starts just after 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox. If the Cardinals win Wednesday, Game 7 would be played in Boston Thursday night.

For us, the eye-popping number of the Series so far is .733.

The score Sunday night was:

Boston Red Sox 4; St. Louis Cardinals 2.

Which means the World Series is:

Tied at two games apiece.

The big moment Sunday:

Came in the sixth inning, when Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer.

The big mistake:

Game 3 of the World Series ended in unusual fashion Saturday night, as a ninth-inning obstruction call on Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks resulted in umpires awarding a base to St. Louis' Allen Craig — bringing the winning run home and putting the Cardinals ahead in the series, 2-1.

It's reportedly the first time an obstruction call has ended a World Series game. And it brought an end to a nearly four-hour contest in which the Red Sox had twice rallied from two-run deficits — most recently in the eighth inning.

The all-tied World Series resumes tonight, with Game 3 between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox. Ahead of the game Saturday, the main storyline centers on the change of venue to St. Louis, where the Red Sox, and their pitchers, will have to adapt to National League rules.

The shift gives the Cardinals something of an edge, at least for now, as NPR's Tom Goldman reports for our Newscast unit:

The St. Louis Cardinals evened the World Series at one game each Thursday night, using a three-run seventh inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 4-2.

The Cardinals held a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, when 37-year-old Red Sox veteran David Ortiz broke up a scoreless outing by the Cardinals' 22-year-old rookie pitcher, Michael Wacha, with a two-run home run.

The Cardinals then took a 4-2 lead with three runs in the seventh, which included a double-steal by the Cardinals and two Red Sox errors on a single play.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, you could argue that no one played a bigger role than Mike Webster. Webster was the Steelers' center, snapping the ball to the quarterback, then waging war in the trenches, slamming his body and helmet into defensive players to halt their rush.

He was a local hero, which is why the city was stunned when his life fell apart. He lost all his money, and his marriage, and ended up spending nights in the bus terminal in Pittsburgh. Webster died of a heart attack, and on Sept. 28, 2002, came the autopsy.

Alex Rodriguez, the embattled Yankees' third baseman, is suing Major League Baseball, claiming they have gone on a "witch hunt" to destroy his reputation and career.

The New York Times reports:

Cashing In On The Fantasy-Sports Economy

Sep 20, 2013

There's big money in fantasy sports. Last year, alone, people paid $1.7 billion to play in fantasy leagues. With all that money sloshing around, a fantasy economy has sprung up, giving rise to real businesses. Here are four of them.

The Insurance Company

Henry Olszewski founded Fantasy Sports Insurance in 2008 — the year the financial system nearly collapsed. And, more importantly, the year New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered a serious hit to the knee.

It will be Tokyo, not Istanbul or Madrid, who hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and its president, Jacques Rogge, announced in Buenos Aires Saturday. Rival city Madrid was eliminated in the first round of voting. We have updated this post with the latest news.

Update at 4:55 p.m. ET: Voting Tally Detailed

The International Olympic Committee will decide Saturday on the host of the 2020 Summer Games. Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are vying for the honor.

As our reporters noted on Morning Edition, these are all world-class cities with strong selling points, but they also face some serious challenges.


Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the International Olympic Committee will announce the host of the 2020 Summer Games. The committee is choosing from among Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. The contenders all have strong selling points, but each also has serious issues clouding its bid.

Violent Crackdown Hangs Over Turkey's Bid

Each football season brings exciting plays and game heroes, but Frank Deford says the real heroes are often overlooked.

As another school year and college football season gets underway, Deford looks at the frustrations and challenges facing educators to keep student athletes eligible.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

Updated At 2:06 pm EST. Nyad Reaches Key West:

Jellyfish stings, an asthma attack and sheer exhaustion all stopped Diana Nyad in the past. But on her fifth try, the 64-year-old Nyad became the first person to swim unaided from Cuba to Florida, a distance of more than 100 miles.

With a cheering crowd greeting her on the beach in Key West, Nyad swam ashore Monday afternoon after more than two full days in the water. The swim began Saturday morning when she jumped off a seawall at the Hemingway Marina in Havana.

Volleyball games are stopping traffic on one of Washington, D.C.'s landmark streets, Pennsylvania Avenue, this Labor Day weekend.

More than 1,000 players from across the U.S. and Canada have gathered in the nation's capital to bump, set and spike in an annual tournament with unusual rules.

The NFL and more than 4,500 retired players have reached an agreement calling for the league to contribute $765 million to a fund that will pay "medical and other benefits, as well as compensation" to those who suffered concussions and related injuries during their careers.

Details of the agreement, which would settle concussion-related lawsuits by former players and still needs a judge's OK, were released by the league early Thursday afternoon.

According to that statement:

For Venus Williams, a three-hour tennis match came down to a third-set tiebreaker against Zheng Jie of China at the U.S. Open Wednesday night. But the world's former No. 1 player couldn't get past 44 unforced errors, and Zheng outlasted her in a rain-delayed match. Williams lost 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

In the match's final two points, Williams misfired on successive shots after coming back to even the tiebreaker at 5-5, sending Zheng into the third round. Williams is currently ranked 60th in the world.

There's concern the sport of swimming still may be dealing with a sexual abuse problem in the United States.

It's been three years since revelations emerged in the media. A number of in-depth reports in 2010 likened the situation in swimming to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal: Coaches molesting under-age female swimmers; some of the abuse continuing for years without punishment.