Sports Illustrated Investigative Report “The Dirty Game” Set to Launch Tuesday, September 10, at 9 a.m. ET

The rapid ascent of the Oklahoma State University football program into a national powerhouse is examined in a five-part series to run across SI’s platforms

38covV24_Promo“The Dirty Game,” a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED special investigative report that looks into the transformation of a struggling college football program into a national powerhouse, is set to launch tomorrow morning on SI.com. The series is the result of a comprehensive 10-month investigation into the Oklahoma State University football program. It includes independent and on-the-record interviews with more than 60 former OSU football players who played from 1999 to 2011, as well as current and former OSU football staffers.

The findings will be presented in a five-part series across SI’s family of platforms, beginning with Part 1 (money), which launches on SI.com tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET and is this week’s magazine cover story, on newsstands and tablets Wednesday. Additional live coverage can be found on SI Now, SI.com’s live daily talk show (weekdays at 1 p.m. ET) and across SI’s social media outlets.

After 11 losing seasons in 12 years, OSU turned itself into one of the top programs in the nation. Since 2002, OSU has had 10 winning seasons, earned its first Big 12 title and went to its first BCS Bowl. The report reveals that OSU went to extreme measures to build a winning program, with an increased willingness to cut corners and bend rules. The transgressions began under former coach Les Miles, who was the head coach in Stillwater from 2001 to ’04 and is now the head coach at LSU, and continued under current head coach Mike Gundy, who was promoted from offensive coordinator in 2005.

SI executive editor Jon Wertheim, SI assistant managing editor Hank Hersch and SI.com executive editor B.J. Schecter oversaw the investigative report, which was written and reported by senior writers George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans.

“We wanted to take a comprehensive look at a big-time program, particularly one that made a rapid ascent,” says Wertheim. “There’s obviously a steady drumbeat of scandal in college sports – improper benefits here; a recruiting violation there – and plenty of rumor and hearsay about the unseemly underbelly. For this piece, we were more about venturing inside the factory and seeing how the sausage is made.”

Parts 2 — 4 of the report continue on SI.com this week and the series culminates in next week’s SI issue and on SI.com. In addition, SI.com will feature videos of former Cowboys talking about their experiences in Stillwater. SI Now will have live coverage and reaction throughout the week. The series will run as follows:

•    Part 1: Money (On SI.com Tuesday, 9/10 and in the 9/16/13 SI issue): SI finds that OSU used a bonus system orchestrated by an assistant coach whereby players were paid for their performance on the field, with some stars collecting $500 or more per game. In addition, the report finds that OSU boosters and at least two assistant coaches funneled money to players via direct payments and a system of no-show and sham jobs. Some players say they collected more than $10,000 annually in under-the-table payouts.
•    Part 2: Academics (On SI.com Wednesday, 9/11): Widespread academic misconduct, which included tutors and other OSU personnel completing coursework for players, and professors giving passing grades for little or no work, all in the interest of keeping top players eligible.
•    Part 3: Drugs (On SI.com Thursday, 9/12): OSU tolerated and at times enabled recreational drug use, primarily through a specious counseling program that allowed some players to continue to use drugs while avoiding penalties. The school’s drug policy was selectively enforced, with some stars going unpunished despite repeated positive tests.
•    Part 4: Sex (On SI.com Friday, 9/13): OSU’s hostess program, Orange Pride, figured so prominently in the recruitment of prospects that the group more than tripled in size under Miles. Both Miles and Gundy took the unusual step of personally interviewing candidates. Multiple former players and Orange Pride members say that a small subset of the group had sex with recruits, a violation of NCAA rules.
•    Part 5: The Fallout (On SI.com Tuesday, 9/17, and in the 9/23/13 SI issue): SI finds that many players who were no longer useful to the football program were cast aside, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse and a few have attempted suicide.


Big-Name Hunters

picThe constant firing and hiring of college coaches is quite common these days. But how are these decisions actually made? In this week’s SI, senior writer George Dohrmann finds that search firms who command top dollar for work that doesn’t always pay off have changed the power landscape in college athletics and have become the norm when schools look to make new hires.  Dohrmann dives into the benefits and handicaps that these search firms bring to the process.

“Having a partner to provide outside counsel can eliminate bias, maximize the efficiency and confidentiality of the process, and ultimately help guide us to the most informed decision possible,” says Jim Phillips, the Northwestern athletic director who recently used a headhunting firm to hire Chris Collins as his new head men’s basketball coach (PAGE 45).

On average the service of these search firms cost $30,000-$90,000 per hire, but there have been reported cases of firms charging far more, such as Colorado State paying Spencer Stuart $250,000 to help them choose Jim McElwain as their head football coach. While the amount of money may seem excessive in a time when higher education is losing funding at alarming rates, there are reasons why schools prefer to use search firms.

Dohrman finds that many athletic directors feel that outside consultants can initiate coaching searches much earlier than schools. They can begin the search and maintain a sense of privacy for both those interested in the position and the school itself. Firms are also capable of finding out information that is sometimes not known to universities, such as personal issues that colleges may not find in background checks. But perhaps most importantly, hiring an outside source to conduct searches for universities can show proof of the diligence and effort that went into a hire if it should not pan out well, which creates a cover for athletic directors.

With glaring benefits come equally important drawbacks. Dohrmann finds that some consulting firms will operate as “gatekeepers”. “They want to be decision makers and influence who is going to be interviewed and who is going to be selected,” explains Bill Carr, founder of Carr Sports Associates. These firms tend to push favored candidates rather than tailor a search to a programs needs.

An example of such instance is Jack Swarbrick, currently Notre Dame’s athletic director. Before his hiring in South Bend, he was a candidate for NCAA president, the AD of Indiana, Arizona State and Ohio State. Parker Executive Searches assisted in all of these hiring’s and eventually landed Swarbrick his current position. The constant push of a single client makes one question how tailored these searches really were. After Swarbrick was eventually hired, he then used the same firm who placed him to hire current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, which continued the cycle of loyalty to a single source.

Another general fear is that the repeat use of the firms will cause loyalty that is not in each universities best interest. A general understanding of if we help you, you help us, could lead to bad placements such as the ones felt in Minnesota with the hiring’s of Tubby Smith for basketball and Tim Brewster for football, both of whom have since been fired.

But while the recycled use of clients and firms cast a suspicious light on the coach search consulting industry, the process is still defended by its users.

“Repeat clients are standard in the search business,” defends Laurie Wilder, the executive vice president of Parker, a firm responsible for the hiring of at least 40 athletic directors. “If you build a relationship and if you do quality work, people ask you to do quality work again. Just speaking about Parker, there has never been an environment where we say we will put you in as a candidate if you do this.”


Payday delay

Appel2MLB teams aren’t the biggest fans of Mark Appel right now writes senior writer George Dohrmann in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. That’s because Stanford pitcher scorned the Pittsburgh Pirates’ $3.8 million offer last summer following the draft, raising the eyebrows of MLB front offices as he decided to return to Palo Alto. Appel feels he was in the right about his choice, despite the criticism.

“When I made the decision, people looked at the money. I also factored in that I would get to be here at Stanford, which is like home, for another year and I would get another chance to help my team get to [the College World Series], and I would get my degree.” (PAGE 28)

Many still believe Appel is being used by super agent Scott Boras as a protest against new draft rules. In the new draft, each draft slot has a limit on signing bonuses and it slowly declines the further it goes down, lessening the power of big market teams at the end of the draft. Small market teams at the top of the draft were scared to deal with Boras. Some believe that when the agent didn’t get the price he wanted from the Pirates, his client pulled out. Now, Appel is hoping to erase a disappointing junior season that included a four-inning, seven-run debacle against Florida State in the CWS, but others think he may just fall further in the upcoming draft without the leverage of returning to college.

“People dwell on the decision because it’s an odd decision in their minds. But I have moved on. In my eyes it has already been a wonderful year, full of memories I’ve created and memories I hope to still create with my teammates. I’m not going to determine if it was good decision based on money.” (PAGE 31

Also, the Way Too Early Top 2013 Draft Prospects by Albert Chen:

  1. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
  2. Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
  3. Austin Meadows, CF, Grayson (Ga.) HS
  4. Sean Manaea,  LHP, Indiana State
  5. Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X (Houston) HS
  6. Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville (Ga.) HS
  7. Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
  8. Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida
  9. Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
  10. Trey Ball, OF/LHP, New Castle (Ind.) HS

SI Special Report: Snake Oil for Sale—and the Athletes Who, Science Be Damned, Think It Might Work

Snake Oil For sale(NEW YORK – Jan.29, 2013) Athletes continue to search desperately for a competitive edge—even if that search leads them to products of questionable legitimacy, like ground deer-antler velvet—according to an investigative report by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writers David Epstein and George Dohrmann. You can read the full story at SI.com here.

Epstein and Dohrmann found that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, pro golfer Vijay Singh, members of the 2011 Alabama and LSU college football teams, Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour, NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon, and former NFL running back Jamal Lewis have all used products whose effectiveness hasn’t been proved by modern science, from an Alabama company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.). Two of the company’s products are advertised to contain deer-antler extract, in spray or pill form. The extract contains IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, which is banned by every major pro league and the NCAA.  

Mitch Ross, founder of S.W.A.T.S., and Chris Key, a salesman for S.W.A.T.S., recorded phone calls and meetings with their clients and shared them with Epstein and Dohrmann, including a phone conversation with Ray Lewis. In the call, Lewis said, “… send me everything you got” to speed his recovery from a torn triceps injury he suffered on Oct. 14, 2012. Ross said that they issued Lewis a mix of holographic stickers, negatively charged water, and deer-antler pills and extract. “Spray on my elbow every two hours?” Lewis asked. “No,” Ross said, “under your tongue.”

When pressed for comment, Lewis says: “Nobody helped me out with the rehab. I’ve been doing S.W.A.T.S. for a couple years through Hue Jackson (former Ravens QB coach and current Bengals assistant coach), that’s it. That’s my only connection to them.”

The report says S.W.A.T.S.’s influence reached college football as well. Key said he gave S.W.A.T.S.’s hologram stickers—which are “programmed” with both a light beam and radio waves to improve performance—to LSU football players before their 9–6 victory over Alabama, in November 2011. And members of the 2011 BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide were given S.W.A.T.S. products at a meeting with Key (a gathering that Key taped with a pen camera and showed to SI) on the eve of Bama’s 21–0 victory over LSU in January 2012. Six months later Bama linebacker Alex Watkins was featured in a YouTube video citing the boost he got from their products.

Vijay Singh continues to support S.W.A.T.S. He paid for the full S.W.A.T.S. regimen, which included the IGF-1 substance banned by the PGA. Singh says he uses the spray “every couple of hours … every day. I’m looking forward to some change in my body.”

In June 2009 David Vobora failed an off-season test for methyltestosterone and was suspended for four games. Vobora had his S.W.A.T.S. deer-antler spray tested and according to court documents it contained methyltestosterone. Vobora sued S.W.A.T.S., alleging a lack of quality control that allowed the spray bottle to be contaminated, and on June 20, 2011, was awarded $5.4 million dollars.

After the verdict the NFL, the PGA, and MLB notified athletes that the S.W.A.T.S. deer-antler spray had been implicated in a positive drug test. Clients immediately demanded that their names not be associated with S.W.A.T.S. This is when Ross closed his business and reopened under a slightly different name. Epstein and Dohrmann write:

“Overnight, the tiny company that marketed itself as a legal alternative to steroids and that depended on player testimonials became as untouchable for pro athletes as an electric fence.”

The report found that other athletes took S.W.A.T.S. products after the lawsuit and warnings from the leagues. According to a phone conversation that Ross recorded and posted online, Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman used the deer-antler spray and deer-antler pills in 2011 while rehabbing from a torn right Achilles tendon. Another phone call taped by Ross six months after the Vobora verdict has him offering his latest products to Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour.

Before the lawsuit, S.W.A.T.S had largely relied on testimonials of professional athletes and coaches to help spread the word. Ross told Epstein and Dohrmann that:

  • In 2007 Jamal Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns running back, went through about 40 bottles of the deer-antler spay. Lewis told a Ravens spokesman: “I didn’t use any spray or anything like that.”
  • In 2008 Johnny Damon, then with the Yankees, took chips for neck pain and provided a testimonial supporting the company. Through Damon’s agent, Damon say’s he is no longer affiliated with S.W.A.T.S. and has asked to be removed from its website.
  • In 2008 then Raven’s QB coach Hue Jackson invited Ross to the Ravens’ facility to hand out products to Ravens players (PAGE 64). In 2010, after Jackson was hired as head coach of the Raiders, he met Ross to tape a video testimonial to put on YouTube. “Our players swear by them,” Jackson says in the video.

S.W.A.T.S. continues to market its products and has even touched upon brain trauma. Joe DeLamielleure, a Hall of Fame Bills offensive lineman and plaintiff in a brain injury lawsuit against the NFL, told Epstein and Dohrmann that S.W.A.T.S.’s pills and deer-antler spray help him sleep better.

Legal or not, Epstein and Dohrmann also found that science doesn’t support the claims that S.W.A.T.S. products provide any sort of competitive edge:

“No such thing as negatively charged water exists, according to Stephen Lower, an emeritus chemistry professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.”

In a test in his lab at the NYU Polytechnic Institute, radio frequency expert and electrical engineering professor Michael Knox showed SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that S.W.A.T.S.’s chips “appear to just be stickers.”

Click here to read the full story at SI.com

About the writers:

Senior Writer David Epstein writes about sports science and medicine, Olympic sports, and is an investigative reporter for SI. His science writing has won a number of awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists 2010 Deadline Club Award for an article on the genetics of sports performance. Since 2008, Epstein has co-written several of SI and SI.com’s most important investigative pieces, including the revelation that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, and an investigation that revealed a pattern of NCAA violations under former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

Senior Writer George Dohrmann has been with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since 2000 and his primary beat is investigative reporting. He won journalism’s top honor, the Pulitzer Prize, in 2000 while at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Pulitzer cited his “determined reporting, despite negative reader reaction, that revealed academic fraud in the men’s basketball program at the University of Minnesota.” Among other honors: Dohrmann has earned the Associated Press Sports Editors investigative honors award (1995, 1996 and 2000) as well as an APSE award in feature writing (2000). He has also covered college football, college basketball and high school sports for SI and SI.com. Dohrmann is the author of the book, Play Their Hearts Out, an exposé about youth basketball to be published by Random House in October 2010.


Mistakes in Judgement Can Sabotage Even A Storied Program

The UCLA men’s basketball program made three consecutive final four appearances from 2006-‘08.  Since then the Bruins haven’t made it out of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and are in danger of missing the tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Over the last two months, Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrmann  (@GeorgeDohrmann) took a deeper look at the past four Bruins teams and discovered a program in chaos: Players fighting in practice, partying excessively and doing drugs, sometimes before practice.  One player even intentionally tried to injure some of his teammates in practice.  Coach Ben Howland, known for his hard-line discipline and tactical skills, clearly lost control and respect of his players.  Star forward Reeves Nelson divided the team frequently with his bullying and showed disrespect to Howland and his coaching staff on numerous occasions.

George Dohrmann, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2000, sat down to talk with us about the exclusive story.

ISI: What piqued your interest in regard to UCLA Men’s basketball, and how did the idea for this story originate?

GD:  I live on the West Coast (in San Francisco) and so I follow the Pac-12 more than any other conference. It has been historically bad the last few years, and yet during that time UCLA has underachieved. They should be dominating but have struggled. In December, when it was apparent UCLA was again going to have a poor season, I started asking people I know in the LA basketball community a simple question: Why isn’t UCLA winning? Their answers varied (and were mostly speculation), but there was enough smoke that it felt like a worthwhile story to go after.

ISI: How many interviews did you conduct in preparation for the story?

GD: I talked to former UCLA players and staff members, some parents and AAU coaches, and several current college coaches just to get their read on UCLA. Then in the end I went to different people for comment about what we were writing. In total, probably close to 30 different people, with multiple interviews with many of them.

ISI: Over the course of your research and interviews, what surprised you the most in regard to the information you discovered?

GD: Just that Ben Howland wasn’t the disciplinarian that he had been made out to be. Athletes drinking or smoking weed or getting into fights is something you expect to some degree, but when player after player told me how distant Howland was, how detached he was from his players, that shocked me. It was a case where the image of Howland that had been created didn’t match the reality.

ISI: UCLA men’s basketball is a storied program, how do you believe the proud alum will react to the facts uncovered in your story?

GD:  Unlike Ohio State fans, UCLA alums have been pretty civilized with me so far and I think they will take a rationale look at what is going on. It also helps that most are unhappy with Howland, with the losing, and don’t think of him as some deity the way Ohio State fans did with Jim Tressel. They have some perspective that other college football fans often lack. So, while they might be embarrassed and will put Howland on notice, they won’t protest too much and he will get a year to start winning again and to clean up the program. If he can win, they will calm down. If he doesn’t, he is gone.


Should Division I athletes be paid? SI’s proposal for how it could work

PAY FOR PLAY IN COLLEGE SPORTS – GEORGE DOHRMANN (@georgedohrmann)

Working closely with Penn State law professor Stephen Ross and using financial information filed with the Department of Education from four Division I schools representing a cross section of size, profitability and their emphasis on certain sports—Louisville, Mississippi, Oregon and San Jose State—SI devised a model to pay all college athletes (not just football and basketball players) while saving schools millions. Highlights of the model include:

  1. Capping the size of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams’ football rosters at 90 and the number of scholarships at 63: The four programs in SI’s study would save anywhere from $874,469 to $3,015,263 with these limitations, with no foreseeable drop in revenue. (TV rights, attendance and alumni donations wouldn’t decline.)
  2. Eliminate the NCAA’s minimum number of sports required: Teams with an FBS football program must currently field at least 16 total varsity sports; those with a D-I men’s basketball program but no football must field 14. Without these mandates in place, athletic departments could drop any men’s sport that was unable to break even. Those sports that survived would have a cap on participants and be run more efficiently.
  3. Strictly define Title IX compliance as “a school’s athletic participation mirroring the male-female population”: This type of compliance allows schools to make massive cuts and save millions of dollars. Those compliant under the other two definitions of compliance—either expanding athletic opportunities for women or not hindering them—lack that freedom.

Read the rest of this entry »


In This Week’s SI: The Fall of Jim Tressel, Jason Kidd, Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup Hopes, Braves Coach Luis Salazar’s Comeback and More

ON THE COVER: An Exclusive Investigation on the Fall of Jim Tressel 

Jason Kidd: The Oldest Point Guard in Finals History Chases a Ring 

Boston’s Quest to Recapture Its 1970’s Stanley Cup Glory 

A Baseball Lifer’s Comeback From Losing His Left Eye 

Candace Parker Is Finally Injury Free

This week’s June 6, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated—on newsstands now—features former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

A Sports Illustrated investigative report by senior writer George Dohrmann (@georgedohrmann) with staff writer David Epstein (@SIDavidEpstein) reveals a program rife with alleged NCAA rules violations. The new allegations are that the memorabilia-for-tattoos and cash violations stretch back to 2002, involve at least 28 players (22 more than had previously been reported) and that Buckeyes traded memorabilia for marijuana. Former OSU defensive end Robert Rose spoke on the record about his dealings and an anonymous source points to a much deeper relationship between Fine Line Ink and OSU players that involves tickets, cars and favors (page 40).

To read the full online version of The Fall of Jim Tressel, click here.

 

On the Tablets: A gallery of the 28 former and current players who Sports Illustrated has learned traded memorabilia, plus an audio podcast interview with George Dohrmann.

 

THE OLD MAN AND THE HEAT – LEE JENKINS (@SI_LeeJenkins)

At 38, Jason Kidd is the oldest starting point guard in NBA Finals history yet still leads all playoff participants in steals, ranks second in assists and is tied for third in three-pointers made. Most important, the pass-first Kidd is the key to the Mavericks ball movement, outside shooting and offensive unpredictability. Teammate Tyson Chandler says (page 50): “He’s the one who keeps us under control, who makes sure we keep our head. Sometimes Jason hits you in a place where you don’t think you can make a play but he knows you can.”

Dallas Mavericks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson says: “We needed somebody to make Dirk’s job easier. That was Jason Kidd. He was the godsend for Dirk. He is the reason Dirk is fresher now.”

To read the full online version of The Old Man and the Heat, click here.

 

DEEP IN THE HEART OF THE CITY: LEIGH MONTVILLE

Four decades after the blue-collar Bruins stitched themselves into the fabric of Boston with Stanley Cup triumphs in 1970 and ’72, a new generation of players attempts to recapture that former glory. Simultaneously they’re finding out what it really means to be the home team. Recalling the Bruins’ Stanley Cup days in the early 1970’s, Derek Sanderson says (page 68): “You’d get everything for free. You’d go to a restaurant, eat for free. Go somewhere else, drink for free. Free clothes. You’d get gas. No problem. I never had a date the whole time I played in Boston. Not a date where you went to the girl’s house, picked her up. You just went to the bar. Come around midnight, you picked out who you wanted.”

To read the full online version of Deep in the Heart of the City, click here.

 On the Tablets: A gallery of great moments from the Bruins’ Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and ’72.

 

LUIS SALAZAR: SIGHT TO BEHOLD – L. JON WERTHEIM (@jon_wertheim)

Nearly three months ago a foul ball struck Braves’ coach Luis Salazar in the face, costing him his left eye. He has returned to the dugout to manage the Braves Class A affiliate in the Carolina League while gaining a whole new perspective on the game. As he describes it (page 62): “In a way, I see more now than I did with two eyes. I see friends, teammates I haven’t spoken to in 25 years. I notice more around the ballpark. It’s maybe crazy to say, but in some ways it’s been a blessing.”

 

To read the full online version of Sight to Behold, click here.

 

CANDACE PARKER: SPARKS ARE GONNA FLY – ANDREW LAWRENCE (@SI_DrewLawrence)

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker plays all five positions and can light it up and throw it down. Most important, she is finally injury free—a tantalizing storyline as the WNBA tips off its 15th season. After she shut herself down for 2010 while dealing with injuries and caring for her daughter Lailaa, the 25-year-old Parker regained a sense of fundamentals. As she recalls (page 56): “Before I could just jump over people to get a rebound or get a shot off by out-athleticizing people. But at that moment, I couldn’t do that. I actually had to box out. I actually had to use a jab step to set up my move. I had to be more effective and efficient and that’s helped my game.”

 

To read the full online version of Sparks Are Gonna Fly, click here.

 

SI PLAYERS MLB POLL (page 17)

Who is the most overrated player in baseball?

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 3B….18%

Joba Chamberlain, Yankees RP….12%

Derek Jeter, Yankees SS….7%

Jayson Werth, Nationals OF….4%

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox RP….4%

[Based on 185 MLB players who responded to SI’s survey]

 

FAST FACTS: A-Rod and Chamberlain filled the top two slots in the same poll last year but in reverse order. . . . Yankees OF Nick Swisher also received 4% of the vote. . . . Of the top 14 active vote-getters, all but three play in Boston, Chicago or New York. . . . Combined, the five players above have made the All-Star Game in 57% of their seasons.

 

Facebook Fan Picks

Jeter….45%

David Ortiz, Red Sox DH….17%

Rodriguez….15%

 

SCORECARD ESSAY: BAND OF BROTHERS – MICHAEL FARBER

Facing cancer, senior hockey writer Michael Farber ponders the complete work of Lance Armstrong. Farber points out how Armstrong’s dedication towards raising money and awareness for cancer research sets him apart from Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and other star athletes who currently face doping allegations. In spite of his own controversies Armstrong remains an inspiration to millions of people fighting cancer—including one of Sports Illustrated’s own (page 16).

To read the full online version of Band of Brothers, click here.

 

POINT AFTER: MIXED MESSAGES – PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)

While many athletes have made statements against gay bashing, they cannot take away the chilling effect of a player—including recent examples Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah—casually tossing out a single humiliating word. Austin Hendrix, a cross-country runner at Eastern Michigan who told his team two years ago that he was gay, says  (page 76): “The problem is that words like those have become so intertwined with everyday vocabulary that it can be difficult to tell if they are being said out of hate or just out of habit.”

To read the full online version of Mixed Messages, click here.

 

SCORECARD/FROM THE ONION: PILOT BLIGHT

With news that the Mavs’ Shawn Marion is taping a reality show pilot, The Ladies of My Life, about his mom and three sisters, the TV experts at the Onion dug up six sporty reality pitches that (thankfully) will never make it to air (page 18):

  • In his prank show, I Hurl’d, Bobby Hurley tricks unsuspecting people into talking with him about Duke basketball.
  • Tim Duncan looks through every government work form in Duncan My Taxes and explains how to properly fill each one out on a state-by-state basis.
  • Pete Sampras passes on his tennis knowledge in If You Hold Your Racket Even a Millimeter Off, It Will Affect Your Backhand Dramatically.
  • How many food items can one man use to show the advantages of a good pulling guard to his grandkids? You’ll find out on It’s a Madden Madden Madden Madden World!
  • I Am Juan Miranda sees the Diamondbacks’ first baseman go to great lengths in attempting to explain exactly who he is.
  • In Animal Kingdom’s Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner gives a glimpse into his glamorous life of eating oats, running and sleeping standing up.

 

THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 27)

  • Austin Ernst (Seneca, S.C.) – Golf                                                       
  • Mac McGuire (Southlake, Texas) – Track and Field, Soccer, Football  
  • Alyssa Lombardo (Bethlehem, Pa.) – Track and Field, Softball            
  • Keegan Taylor (Greenland, N.H.) – Baseball
  • Joyce Boone (Brooklyn) – Arm Wrestling
  • Johnny Dee (Vista, Calif.) – Basketball

Follow Faces in the Crowd on Twitter @SI_Faces.

           

INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS (page 28)

  • Motor Sports: Crashing Defeat – Rookie J.R. Hildebrand’s gaffe cost him a win but gave the Indy 500 just what it needed: a race fans will talk about for years. (Lars Anderson, @LarsAndersonSI)
  • Baseball: Diamond Max – The Rays have a crazy slew of picks, but history suggests Arizona’s draft will be the one you remember. (Joe Sheehan, @joe_sheehan)
  • The NBA: Extending a Hand – Playoff struggles or not, the Thunder is sticking with Russell Westbrook, and that’ll be reflected in his contract talks. (Chris Mannix, @ChrisMannixSI)
  • NASCAR: Rockin’ Along – His team is humming, and Carl Edwards is in a groove that has put him on top of the Sprint Cup charts. (Elizabeth McGarr, @emcgarr)
  • Tennis: No. 1 Problem – Early exits from the French Open showed that the top-ranked women just aren’t what they used to be. (S.L. Price)

 

THIS WEEK ON THE TABLETS

  • SI Digital Bonus: You Can’t Make These Guys Up – In this 1985 feature, Bruce Newman lauds the bold imagination it took to bring Hulk, Andrew and Superfly to the mainstream. But the cultural imprint that pro wrestling has left is very real and oh so mah-velous.

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers