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NPR's Tom Goldman is covering the World Baseball Classic tournament and sends along this report:

During the March Madness of 1963, playing was infused with politics. The NCAA matchup between Loyola University of Chicago and Mississippi State helped put an end to segregated basketball. Loyola's win 50 years ago became known as the "game of change."

At the time, college basketball was still predominantly white, with usually no more than two or three black players appearing on the floor at any one time. But in '63, the Loyola Ramblers' starting lineup featured four black players.

Several years ago I gave a speech in which I mentioned that athletes tended to be the only college students who were awarded scholarships for what is an extracurricular activity.

Afterward, Myles Brand, the late president of the NCAA, told me I was wrong, that many music extracurricular scholarships were awarded at colleges.

Brand and I seldom agreed on much of anything, but I've always found him to be a gentleman. So, I expressed surprise at this claim.

William Moody, who as the pro wrestling character Paul Bearer embodied a sense of theater that was equal parts morbid and absurd, has died at age 58. A portly man known for his wild-eyed stare and habit of carrying a brass urn under his arm, Paul Bearer was most notably the manager of The Undertaker and Kane.

March means spring break is just around the corner, and for New Mexico it means mild temperatures and fresh snow — perfect conditions for visiting area ski resorts.

A growing number of resorts are now offering programs that cater to vacationers with disabilities, and resort owners say it has proved to be a boost for business.

At a Taos Ski Valley chairlift, Barbara and Philip Logan prepare their son, Tilghman, for his first day of ski lessons.

Yet another scandal has hit U.S. Speedskating (USS), which governs the sport with the biggest haul of winter Olympic medals for Team USA.

The USS board announced Monday night that it is investigating allegations of sexual abuse involving short track silver medalist Andy Gabel, now 48, who also once served as president of USS.

"U.S. Speedskating will not tolerate abuse of any kind and we intend to investigate these claims, and any others that arise, thoroughly," the group said in a written statement.

In Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, the "Last Great Race on Earth" begins.

Sixty-seven sled dog teams will start the 998-mile Iditarod race across the barren, frigid and unforgiving land. In this year's competition, there are a handful of first-time racers — but those aren't the only rookies.

One is veterinarian Greg Reppas, whose job is to ensure the dogs are healthy throughout the race.

As baseball emerges from its winter hibernation, one of the game's greatest and most controversial figures, Pete Rose, is back in the news.

The all-time hits leader has been banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling on the game.

It appears fallout continues: A new batch of Topps baseball cards lists some of his many records, but not his name. It's a reminder of Rose's singular status as a Major League Baseball pariah. It also raises the question, with so much bad behavior by top athletes, is it time to re-evaluate Rose's status?

The Art Of Pete

NASCAR Crash Sends Car Debris Into The Stands At Daytona

Feb 25, 2013

More than two dozen NASCAR spectators were injured Saturday when a car crashed into the fence and sent car parts hurtling into the stands at Daytona International Speedway, officials said in a news conference. The multi-car accident hit on the last lap of the Nationwide Series opener, a day before the Daytona 500.

The Associated Press reports:

"Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood says, 'We'll be ready to go racing' and is confident the track will be repaired in time Sunday for the Daytona 500."

A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.

Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.

Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.

Tim Tebow has bowed out of a promise to appear at the opening of a new megachurch in downtown Dallas whose pastor has been criticized for making derogatory remarks about non-Christians and homosexuals.

These have certainly been dispiriting times for those who admire athletes, who proclaim that sports build character. The horrendous shooting by Oscar Pistorius is of course, in a category mercifully unapproached since the O.J. Simpson case, but the Whole Earth Catalog of recent examples of athletic character-building is certainly noteworthy.

"South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears on Friday after he was charged in court with shooting dead his girlfriend in his Pretoria house," Reuters reports from Pretoria.

According to the wire service: "The 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to hear the murder charge read out, then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands."

Our most recent update was added at 1:45 p.m. ET.

South African Paralympic and Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius "has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend," The Associated Press reports from Pretoria.

Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed inside Pistorius' home early Thursday, police say.

The AP adds that:

A day after firing general manager Scott Howson, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made history by hiring Jarmo Kekalainen of Finland. He'll become the National Hockey League's first European general manager.

Ohio State University continues its week-long recognition of the 100th anniversary of Woody Hayes' birth.

Gentlemen of a certain age might make a nostalgic note that today, Valentine's eve, is the 80th birthday of Kim Novak.

One of Miss Novak's most famous movie roles was in Picnic, where she played the gorgeous ingenue who could've married the son of the richest man in town but instead fell for a hunk of a bum who was an old football star.

Picnic is being revived on Broadway, as is Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, where — guess what? — Maggie, played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, is married to a hunk of a bum who is a former football star.

Chinese 'Pingpong Diplomacy' Player Dies

Feb 10, 2013

The Chinese table tennis player who was instrumental in the pingpong diplomacy that paved the way for President Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China has died. Zhuang Zedong was 73.

Here's more from the BBC about the 1971 incident that led to pingpong diplomacy:

Native American groups have pushed the Washington Redskins to change its name for more than 20 years, arguing that the moniker is offensive and culturally insensitive.

Today, that push got a little wind when the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian held a day-long academic symposium on "racist" stereotypes in American sports.

There are more troubles for disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

A Texas-based promotions company sued the former cycling champion Thursday for more than $12 million, which was paid to Armstrong for several of his record seven Tour de France wins. Armstrong publicly admitted last month that those herculean victories were aided by doping.

The lawsuit is part of a flurry of activity: Armstrong still is in talks with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and there is now word that he is under federal investigation, a year after another federal criminal inquiry ended abruptly.

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