Sports

Chuck Cooper’s Legacy for African-Americans in Basketball

Feb 17, 2015
Bagumba / Wikipedia

Chuck Cooper was a Duquesne University basketball star who became the first African-American drafted by an NBA team when he was selected in the second round by the Boston Celtics on April 29, 1950. In 2011, the Chuck Cooper Foundation was established in tribute to his legacy.

The foundation presents its annual Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award this week. Joining us to discuss the legacy of Chuck Cooper is his son Chuck Cooper III.

Cooper explains that, like many other young men who played basketball in Pittsburgh, his father developed his skills as an adolescent at Mellon Park in Point Breeze.

Once in college, he says, the elder Cooper had a great amount of respect for Duquesne University, in part because of an incident involving the University of Tennessee’s basketball team in the late 1940s. The Tennessee team traveled to Pittsburgh but refused to play the Dukes if Cooper would be included on the court. In the face of this prejudice, Duquesne didn’t back down, and the Dukes management sent the Tennessee team back home without a game. This gesture of respect and solidarity meant a lot to Cooper, his son explains.

Is This Year's Super Bowl Worth Watching Just for the Ads?

Jan 30, 2015
ThisIsNotApril / Flickr

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars.

With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting?

We discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.

Throughout the segment, Professor Gilbert provides insight on the goals of branding and the tactics used in Super Bowl advertising.

“What we are trying to do is find the right combination of generating awareness and attention, but also generating comprehension… that’s hard to do at the same time. I think Super Bowl advertisers have therefore aired on the side of attention. If you look at a lot of Super Bowl events you’ll find that there’s not as much information about the brand as much as it is a statement about the character about the brand .”

Also be sure to listen out for Gilbert's opinion of the latest controversial commercial from the internet domain registrar company, GoDaddy.com. The ad was originally intended for this year's Super Bowl, but pulled in response to the social media backlash.

Deflate-Gate: A Footall Who Done It

Jan 30, 2015
Keith Allison / Flickr

Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game?

Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

Dvorchak offers light-hearted commentary about all of the media attention for the deflate-gate scandal.

"When the national discussion for the last two weeks is the air pressure inside a football, I think we’ve turned the corner as far as our priorities of a nation go.” 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

John Tabatchka affectionately pats his horse, Will, and flips the switch on the Electro-Groom. He begins to methodically vacuum Will’s flanks.

“It’s designed to groom show cattle, horses, etc,” Tabatchka said over the roar of the machine. Will shudders his flesh as if shooing a fly. “He’s a little ticklish.”

Following aggravated assault and child abuse charges within the National Football League, Americans are now more skeptical than ever when it comes to professional sports teams and player misconduct, according to the Robert Morris University Polling Institute.

Of the 1,004 people polled across the country, 82.4 percent believe sports teams and their owners hide reports of scandalous player behavior to protect a team’s image.

Mark Schultz / http://www.markschultz.com/

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

In 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz was shot to death by John du Pont on the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. What followed was sensational media coverage and a murder trial. Du Pont was found guilty and died in prison. A movie about these events, called “Foxcatcher,” was recently released in theaters. It’s based on a new book by Schultz’s brother and fellow gold medalist Mark Schultz.

We spoke with Mark Schultz in November about the true story behind his brother’s murder. Schultz explained to us that although he and his brother were Olympic medalists, they were still struggling to make ends meet, and that’s how they first got connected with millionaire philanthropist John Du Pont.

“He was the opposite of a coach; he was a bad example. We coached him! He was the biggest loser on earth, but he just inherited all of this money, and he was the only guy in the country willing to pay us to just compete. And with Title IV wiping out all the men’s wrestling programs, he was the only game in town.”

News from the World of College and Pro Football

Dec 12, 2014
Parker Anderson / Flickr

NFL owners have voted unanimously to adopt six game minimum suspensions for domestic or sexual violence and other crimes.

The changes come after the NFL was criticized for its handling of alleged off-field violence by high profile players. But will the players go along? 

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State, offers his assessment and also talks about the upcoming departure of Pitt football coach Paul Chryst for Wisconsin.

MGoBlog / Flickr

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with Ohio Public Radio reporter Andy Chow, who has been following the story.

And in the wake of the death of Karageorge, we focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for the UPMC Sports Medicine and Concussion Program.

Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues? What are some of the behavioral signs?

For parents, coaches, and athletes  Dr. Reynolds recommends the new website ReThink Concussions for information on diagnosis, management and rehabilitation.

Mark Schultz / http://www.markschultz.com/

Olympic gold medal wrestler Mark Schultz joins us to discuss his book "Foxcatcher: The True Story of my Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold."

In it, he tells the story of the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz, at the hands of John E. du Pont at the Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania.

A movie based on the events, also titled "Foxcatcher" has been released this month. He joins us today to talk about his career in wrestling, his thoughts about the film and his reaction to his brother's murder.

Pirates, Volquez Fall Flat in Wild-Card Loss to San Francisco Giants

Oct 2, 2014
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The Pittsburgh Pirates believe they're building something special. The San Francisco Giants provided a reminder that much work remains to be done before a contender becomes a champion.

Geared up for another run at "Buctober," Pittsburgh's postseason journey lasted all of 3 hours, 12 minutes, just long enough for Madison Bumgarner and the Giants to overpower the Pirates for an 8-0 victory in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.

HeadSmart Labs Works to Lower Concussions in Football

Sep 29, 2014
HeadSmart Labs

Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering student Tom Healy has been a punter for the Tartans throughout his college career. He’s seen many of his teammates sustain concussions while playing. With the help of some of the top names in concussion research Healy founded HeadSmart Labs, an independent research company that develops testing devices, products and procedures for reducing concussions.

Tom Healy talks about the discoveries HeadSmart has made so far and the impact they’re making in the sports equipment industries.

The Great 21: Remembering Roberto Clemente

Aug 18, 2014
Via Tsuji / Flickr

In October, a new play about Pirates legend Roberto Clemente is coming to Point Park University.

The musical, entitled 21, is written and composed by Alki Steriopoulos, who grew up in Pittsburgh. Steriopoulos began working on the play in 2007 but October will mark the debut of 21 as a full production.

Steriopoulos says he was compelled to write a musical about Clemente after writing a short story based on an incident where he first heard about Clemente’s death. After a New Year’s Eve party, Steriopoulos was falling asleep at the wheel. He had the radio on and woke up to the news flash of Clemente’s plane going down, just in time to avoid crashing into the back of an 18-wheeler.

“He had said, ‘If a man has the chance to make a difference in someone’s life, in life and doesn’t, then he hasn’t really been here.’ It started me thinking in so many ways, in fate or coincidence or synchronicity, everyone influences everyone else in ways sometimes that we can’t even know. In this case, I was here and was able to be a man and live a life because of Clemente’s death and there was no way that he could ever know that his death had saved my life.”

The musical focuses on Clemente’s life from his beginnings as a star in Puerto Rico until his death. Steriopoulos says the musical focuses on aspects of Clemente’s life that many may not have heard before. Clemente was especially influenced by the women in his life, including a deceased sister whose influence Clemente always carried with him as he played.

The musical 21 will premiere in Pittsburgh at the Playhouse Theater on October 17th and run through October 26th. It's presented by Point Park University’s Conservatory Theater Company.

Steve Blass and Clemente

Former Pirates pitcher Steve Blass also remembers Roberto Clemente on his 80th birthday. Blass was a teammate of Clemente's for nine seasons and together they led Pittsburgh to the 1971 World Series Championship.

Blass says Clemente was a guarded person as he tried to move beyond both the color stereotype and the language barrier between himself and the rest of the league. Despite these struggles, Blass remembers his former teammate as a kind person.

An Assassination of Character

Aug 18, 2014
Boston Public Library / Flickr

The movie “42” tells the story of Jackie Robinson's first season in the big leagues. The film also portrays former Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermueller, unfairly cast as a racist.

The movie shows Ostermueller beaning Robinson in the head, which never happened. Baseball writer Richard “Pete” Peterson talks about the unfortunate depiction and how the situation really happened.

He says that Robinson was never hit in the head his entire career.

“None of that happened. The pitch actually hit Robinson in the wrist. He was stunned for a moment, the Dodgers thought that perhaps it had hit him in the head, but it hadn’t. He dusted himself off, he trotted down to first base, and the game went on. He stayed in the game, he delivered a base hit, he had a bunt single, he played the rest of the season.”

Peterson describes how the inaccurate depiction of Ostermueller has affected his family.

Ed O’Bannon Ruling Means Big Changes for the NCAA

Aug 11, 2014
United States Courts

U.S. District Judge Claudia Ann Wilken has dealt a major blow to the NCAA's ideal of amateurism in college sports in her ruling of the Ed O'Bannon trial.

In a 99 page ruling, Judge Wilken wrote that "the Court will enjoin the NCAA from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering (Division I-A) football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images or likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid (scholarship)."

Bad Behavior in Sports: What Can Be Done?

Jul 28, 2014
Keith Allison / Flickr

Bad behavior in sports might seem to be running rampant these days. With the two-game suspension given to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic violence, many believe the sentence should have been stiffer.

Also, considering some of the bad behavior carried out by Russia, are they fit to host the 2018 World Cup? John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism at Penn State discussed recent bad behavior in sports.

In regards to backlash over only a two game suspension for Ray Rice’s domestic violence case, Affleck says it’s all about how the NFL approaches punishment.

“Roger Goodell has sort of divided things into sort of two frames of references. One is punishments for things that hurt the game, hurt competitiveness. The NFL is fairly consistent when it comes to things like that. It’s things like drug use,” Affleck explains.

AFL Quarterback Tommy Grady: A Real "Power" Player

Jul 25, 2014
Jeffrey Gamza / Pittsburgh Power

The Pittsburgh Power, the city’s professional arena football team, are having their best season, ever. They’re undefeated at home at Consol Energy Center and just clinched their first-ever playoff berth. While they don’t get as much recognition as the Steelers, what is life like for the men who play in the arena league?

Tommy Grady is the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Power and says the differences between the two leagues are vast.

“The game of arena football is a lot quicker, the field’s about half the size. We play on that hard turf, which is pretty hard on our bodies. The biggest thing is the speed and quickness of the game. A lot of guys have played in the NFL before, and it’s hard to adjust to the game.”

Is Social Media Hindering the Business of Golf?

Jun 3, 2014
Easy Being Greener / Blogger

Golf has been described as a “good walk spoiled.”

The rise of Tiger Woods brought an increased interest in the sport along with a new generation of fans in the early part of the century. However, recent stories from CNN and Bloomberg news report a declining interest in the game.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris, director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, looks at the business of golf.

According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 400,000 players, mostly men, left the sport last year. This may be attributed to the wicked winter weather on the east coast delaying the start of the game.

Golf club and gear sales also declined due to the new technology being phased into the sport, which older players may be slower to pick up. But Harris believes that another form of technology has had a negative effect on the sport as well. 

SteelersGab

Last week saw the passing of a Pittsburgh sports legend. When Bill Nunn, Jr. first started writing for the Pittsburgh Courier in the 1960's, he was not allowed in the press box at Forbes Field. His annual selections for the black All-American football teams were ignored by the struggling Steelers.

Nunn overcame numerous racial barriers during his lifetime. He opened sports reporting for African-Americans and helped turn the perennially awful Steelers into a dynasty during the 1970’s.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte, is writing a book about Nunn and wrote his obituary for the Trib.

Conte said Nunn was a talented athlete who received an offer to try out for the New York Knicks and the Harlem Globetrotters. He decided to follow his father into newspaper reporting, with the hopes of more financial stability, but many barriers.

Responding to Bad Behavior in Professional Sports

May 5, 2014
Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

After racist remarks from L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling were published online, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million.

Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, a Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State talked about how far sports leagues should go to clean up bad behavior, not only by owners, but coaches and players.

Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

Sewickley Academy is hosting an event titled "NFL to LGBTQ" featuring former NFL player Wade Davis. 

As a defensive back for the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and Seattle Seahawks as well as NFL Europe, Davis was constantly challenged physically and mentally. 

He said he grew up with limited understandings of what it meant to be gay and was constantly on his guard.

In 1988, a team of juvenile delinquents in Western Pennsylvania achieved the unexpected title of regional basketball champions. The story is told in the book All the Way Down: Changing Hearts and Minds by Robert Burnett.

Burnett was both coach and principal of at the Frew Mill School he talked about the team’s story and the impact it had on everyone around them.

The Pros and Cons of Unionizing College Athletics

Mar 28, 2014
AJ Guel / Flickr

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, commonly referred to as the NCAA, has argued for decades that giving student-athletes anything more than an education would be wrong.

But many former athletes and the National Labor Relations Board say that scholarship football players are employees with the right to unionize.

United Steel Workers Union President Leo Gerard says he understands why the players want to form a union.

Bracketology and the Rise of March Madness

Mar 20, 2014
Matthew D. Britt / flickr

Workforce production will fall this month as employees around the U.S.become distracted by NCAA basketball. From filling out brackets to entering office pools, March Madness draws an audience more than any other sports tournament.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak says the event appeals to people that would not normally pay attention to basketball, or even sports in general.

Photo courtesy of the Heinz History Center Library and Archives

Sports teams enjoy an intense amount of popularity in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers hold more Super Bowl victories than any other franchise, the Penguins enjoy the highest TV ratings for any NHL team since 2000 and the Pirates are experiencing a surge in popularity following their first winning season in 21 years.

Even college teams like the Pitt Panthers or the Duquesne Dukes hold strong followings.

So why doesn’t Pittsburgh, with its avid sports fans, have a major league basketball team? And will we ever get one?

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Getting into the excitement of March Madness, Carlow University has announced that starting in the fall of 2014, the once-all-girl’s school’s first men’s basketball team will take the court. The Carlow University Celtics will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

“This has been a few years in the making,” said Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon. “The original recommendation for a men’s basketball team originated from an athletics task force, a group comprised of students, faculty and staff that began meeting four years ago.”

5 Reasons Why People Should Go to MLB Spring Training

Mar 6, 2014
Jamesb01 / Wikipedia Commons

This month the call of “play ball” will be heard in ballparks around the country.

Fans of the game who want an early look at the boys of summer may want to venture to Florida to participate in the annual spring training games for Major League Baseball.

Correspondent Elaine Labalme discussed the five benefits of traveling to these games.

Former Atlanta Falcon Tim Green Weighs in on New NFL Penalty

Mar 5, 2014
Laura Lilly

Former star linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons Tim Green discussed his latest baseball novel New Kid.

He also weighed in on the NFL's proposal to institute a 15-yard penalty for using racial slurs on the field, and how Missouri defensive end Michael Sam will be accepted after announcing he is gay.  

Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Curling is growing to be one of the most watched sports at the Winter Olympics. Although it may be a little while before Team USA wins a medal, Pittsburgh has a growing curling culture.

How Michael Sam Became Bigger than the Olympics

Feb 10, 2014
Marcus Qwertyus / Wikipedia Commons

This weekend was a very exciting weekend in the sports world, with the opening of the Olympics. But, something off the field and closer to home was the story that stole all the headlines.

Michael Sam, a graduating defensive end from the University of Missouri publicly announced Sunday that he is gay.

Sam was the Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year this past season and played a key part to a surprisingly successful Missouri football team. With this announcement two weeks before the 2014 NFL Draft, Sam is on the fringe of making history by becoming the first openly gay NFL player.

Broken Sphere / Wikipedia

This Sunday, Super Bowl XLVIII pairs the AFC champion, the Denver Broncos with the NFC champion, the Seattle Seahawks.

For the first time, the big game is being played in the cold weather of a northern city, outdoors. This means there may be some snow, and temperatures are likely hover around freezing. How is the weather likely to change the game?

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