sports

Essential Pittsburgh
5:01 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

News from the World of College and Pro Football

Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:03 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

The Death of Kosta Karageorge and the Psychological Impact of Concussions

Credit 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.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Meet the Real Mark Schultz and Hear the Story Behind "Foxcatcher"

Credit 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.

Sports
6:35 am
Thu October 2, 2014

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

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Justin Wilson is removed by manager Clint Hurdle, right, in the sixth inning the NL wild-card playoff baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:34 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

HeadSmart Labs Works to Lower Concussions in Football

Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:37 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

The Great 21: Remembering Roberto Clemente

The statue of Roberto Clemente beside PNC Park is a memorial to the late player, who would have turned 80 years old today.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:44 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

An Assassination of Character

In addition to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Fritz Ostermueller played for the Boston Red Sox, pictured here.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:11 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Ed O’Bannon Ruling Means Big Changes for the NCAA

Judge Claudia Wilken said early on in the Ed O'Bannon trial that the word amateur would hold very little bearing in her court room and she backed this up in her ruling.
Credit 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)."

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:06 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Bad Behavior in Sports: What Can Be Done?

Ray Rice is facing a two game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

AFL Quarterback Tommy Grady: A Real "Power" Player

Pittsburgh Power quarterback Tommy Grady is leading the team to its best season in recent years.
Credit 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.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:04 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Is Social Media Hindering the Business of Golf?

Credit 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. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:36 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Remembering Bill Nunn Jr., A Legend in Pro Sports and Racial Integration

Steelers talent scout Bill Nunn Jr.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:50 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Responding to Bad Behavior in Professional Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers protest the racist comments made by their owner by wearing their shooting shirts inside out.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:08 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Former NFL Player Wade Davis Talks About Getting Past Homophobia in Sports

Wade Davis is Executive Director of the You Can Play project
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:14 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Changing Hearts and Minds with an Amazing Season of High School Basketball

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Unionizing College Athletics

Arian Foster is one of many people that believe student-athletes should be compensated.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Bracketology and the Rise of March Madness

Credit 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.

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New to the 'Burgh
12:40 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Why Doesn't Pittsburgh Have an NBA Team?

Pittsburgh has had major league basketball teams before, such as the Pittsburgh Pipers, but they didn't work out in the long run.
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?

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Sports
4:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Carlow University Introduces Its First Men’s Basketball Team

The new Carlow University Celtics team will begin playing in fall 2014. Head coach is Tim Keefer (at lecturn).
Credit 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.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:13 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

5 Reasons Why People Should Go to MLB Spring Training

McKechnie Field is the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and is named for Bradenton, FL resident and baseball great, Bill McKechnie, who led the Pirates to a World Series title in 1925.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Former Atlanta Falcon Tim Green Weighs in on New NFL Penalty

Credit 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.  

Essential Pittsburgh
9:16 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Watch As Pittsburghers, Including Our Own Paul Guggenheimer, Get a Handle on Curling

Essential Pittsburgh host, Paul Guggenheimer, gets a handle on how to get these stones to curl across the ice.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:08 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

How Michael Sam Became Bigger than the Olympics

Defensive end, Michael Sam, carries his souvenir (a rock from the rock 'M' at Memorial Stadium) after his final home game at the University of Missouri.
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:27 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Weather Likely to Impact the Spectacle of Super Bowl XLVIII, But Not the Game

Credit 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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Essential Pittsburgh
5:57 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

In 2013, Words Matter in Sports, But Profanity is Unavoidable

After a long tenure at the Associated Press John Affleck is now Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State.
Credit Penn State University / College of Communications

In a recent op-ed for the Associated Press, sports journalist  John Affleck, examines modern sports culture and language. As evident from the title of the article, in 2013 Words Matter, Even in Sports.

“Really, I think it was the Incognito/Martin mess down in Miami that really drove it home for me that what we were really seeing this year was a set of stories where the behavior of sports figures was just completely beyond the bounds of anything you would think of as acceptable in a professional environment.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:55 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

When Clubhouse Culture Goes Too Far

While “boys will be boys” may seem a likely excuse for some, in the wake of hazing allegations against Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, many fans believe the teasing of Jonathan Martin crossed the line into inappropriate bullying.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak says the NFL does exist in a “culture of hazing,” but usually the tasks forced on rookie players are not so cruel.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:32 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Buccos and Game 5 - The Legacy of Buctober

Carmen Gentile is a war reporter who's worked for USA Today, the New York Times, TIME and other news outlets. He recently traded his combat helmet for a Buccos cap to report on the Pirates.
Credit Carmen Gentile / Facebook

Carmen Gentile, a seasoned war reporter for USA Today, usually finds himself spending summers in Afghanistan and reporting from embattled parts of the Middle East. But the Pittsburgh native now finds himself on the front lines of another national sensation: The Pirates Post-Season.

“I have gotten more reaction to this story, positive and negative, than any other piece I have written on Afghanistan,” says Gentile.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:30 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Former NFL Players Not Receiving Their Due for Appearances in NFL Films

Bob Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus
Credit Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

When a blockbuster films appears on television, the actors receive royalties for their appearances, the same goes for TV show reruns.

One would think the same goes for former football players who appear in NFL films. Video clips of the “Immaculate Reception,” have run countless times on television, yet Franco Harris and John Fuqua have never seen payment for the replays.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:02 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Night Football Returns To Its Place of Origin

The 1892 Mansfield football team hosted the first night game.
Credit Mansfield University Blog

One hundred and twenty-one years ago the first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The game was between Mansfield University formerly known as Mansfield State and Wyoming Seminary.

The teams played with the help of a new promotional lighting device from General Electric, the light bulb. The setup involved a string of lights wrapped around a wooden pole placed in the middle of the field.

Steve McCloskey, Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, says the lighting post “proved to be a detriment” to the game, as multiple “players ran face first into the pole because they had trouble seeing it, or it just kind of snuck up on them.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:45 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Reducing the Impact of Concussions

Should young kids play full contact sports?
Credit Jim Danvers / Flickr

Americans have become increasingly concerned about contact sports and whether they should be played by children.

Dr. Anthony Kontos, UPMC Concussion Program Assistant Director of Research, says this may be a knee jerk reaction to increased awareness of injuries and recent NFL lawsuits.

His latest research focuses on concussions in youth football for players under the age of 12. The studies confirm that concussions primarily occur during games. One finding that Kontos says may surprise people is the fact that 8, 9 and 10-year-olds who’ve played tackle football incur fewer concussions than previously thought.

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