sports

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Some of the best professional duckpin bowlers on the east coast gather this weekend for the Eastern Duckpin Classic in Mansfield.

In the 1920s and '30s, Connecticut residents Frank Barber and George Iseman arranged bowling tournaments between Connecticut duckpin bowlers, and some of the best bowlers from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, where the sport originated.

One way to test your mettle in winter is to take one of those quick penguin plunges in icy water. But some stoic swimmers actually carve pools out of frozen lakes and race each other.

The sport of winter swimming is popular abroad, especially in Russia, Scandinavia and China. But last weekend, a newly formed organization to promote winter swimming in the United States held its first national competition on the Vermont-Quebec border.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

Men's basketball coach Dean Smith, who coached the University of North Carolina Tar Heels for more than 35 years, taking them to two national titles, has died at age 83.

The Hall of Famer died Saturday night at his home, his family said in a statement released today.

"We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you," the statement said.

They promised that Super Bowl XLIX would be a close contest, and we got what was promised. The final score was 28-24.

At halftime, it was two touchdowns each. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that New England caught a decisive momentum that set the stage for the rest of the game.

In the end, it was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's 3-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman late in the fourth — and Seattle's stumble, allowing an interception with seconds remaining — that pushed the game decisively New England's way.

Another day, another controversy.

It's been that kind of a year for the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell talked about it all on Friday at his annual State-of-the-League address in downtown Phoenix.

Deb West / Flickr Creative Commons

On the Nose this hour: pre-watching Super Bowl ads.

Super Bowl advertisers have forced us (conned us?) to live in their world, not just for Sunday, but for days spreading in either direction. This piece explains how, in 2011, a VW ad was released on the YouTube's days in advance of the game and went viral, setting the stage for what we have now: a protracted debate about various ads. You probably have to, on YouTube, sometimes watch an ad so you can watch an ad.

Today, that 2011 ad has 61 million views on YT. Those are people volunteering to watch it, as opposed to people waiting for the game to resume.

New England Patriots' Head Coach Bill Belichick defended his team and quarterback Tom Brady against accusations of cheating amid the so-called "Deflategate" controversy that erupted last weekend when underinflated footballs were used in

Fat Bikes: The Winter Sport Of The Future?

Jan 24, 2015

On a snowy December afternoon, I dropped by the Onion River Sports shop in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. Kip Roberts, who  manages the store, said that two years ago, fat bikes went from an oddity to a hot item.

“It exploded, and we couldn’t get our hands on them quick enough,” Roberts said. “And that growth happened all across the country. Almost everyone that’s a major bicycle company has a fat bike now. And some of them have multiple models.”

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 23.

Two former World Wrestling Entertainment fighters are suing the company, alleging that it ignored signs of brain damage and injuries.

The lawsuit, dated Jan. 16, was filed by Vito "Big Vito" LoGrasso and Evan Singleton, who wrestled under the name "Adam Mercer."

The suit alleges that LoGrasso has sustained serious neurological damage as a result of wrestling. He says he has headaches, memory loss, depression and hearing impairment. Singleton also says he has tremors, convulsions and migraines.

When the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots meet in the 2015 Super Bowl on Feb. 1, the broadcast booth will be anchored by a man who has done the play-by-play for eight previous Super Bowls. Al Michaels, the announcer for NBC's Sunday Night Football, knows how to put emotion into his broadcasts.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick says he had "no knowledge" about the controversy surrounding his team and deflated footballs.

"In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure," he said in an opening statement at a news conference today.

Belichick added that he had "no knowledge of this situation until Monday morning."

Even with free agency, our professional leagues show a reliable sort of sameness from year to year. Oh sure, each season there are a few teams that surprise, but mostly, changes in the standings are evolutionary. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a league that looks so cockeyed as the NBA is this year.

First of all, it's just plain weird to see the two historically glamorous franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, both down near the bottom of the standings, while up top are teams that previously were nondescript also-rans.

Dave Worley / Creative Commons

The Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2014 is vape. I can get behind that. It's a word that describes something a lot of people are doing and it really did come of age in the last 12 months. The American Dialect Society, not so much. Their controversial word of the year is #blacklivesmatter, which is not a word or even close to being one word.

Did the New England Patriots tamper with the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game? The NFL is asking that question, after the host Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in rainy conditions Sunday.

As a cold rain poured down, the New England Patriots crushed the Super Bowl dreams of the Indianapolis Colts with a 45-7 victory.

The Patriots established their lead early, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter. The Colts scored one touchdown in the second quarter, but after a Patriots field goal, New England still entered halftime 10 points in the lead.

Updated at 6:33p.m. ET:

The Seattle Seahawks have defeated the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC title and earn their ticket to Super Bowl XLIX.

Seattle won 28-22 in a game that saw the Packers pull out to a commanding early lead — going into the half 16-0. Seattle gained traction, however, scoring touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to close the gap.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

Academy Awards are not intrinsically important; therefore, Academy Award nominations are not intrinsically important, but these things are great moments for starting conversations and taking stock. They work pretty well as mass cultural Rorschach blots, and as is the case with many things, the ways in which they make us unhappy are probably the greatest source of interest.  

The U.S. Olympic Committee has selected Boston as its official bid city for the 2024 Olympics. Good for Boston, I say, and the rest of New England.

A simple summary of the mood swings for Patriots fans on Saturday would be high–low–high–low–high.

It wasn’t easy, but the New England Patriots earned a spot in the AFC Championship Game with a wild 35-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

This was the fourth playoff meeting between the Patriots and Ravens at Gillette Stadium since January 2010. In the parking lot before the game, Patriots fan and South Boston resident Stefan Laurides said the fact that Baltimore won two of the first three didn’t make him nervous.

It was a small item on page B9 of the New York edition of the New York Times: “Wanted: Better Basketball for a Weary Reporter.”

Scott Cacciola is the weary reporter. His beat is the New York Knicks, a team that, at the time of the sports department editors’ plea, had posted a dismal 5-32 record.

This weekend's NFL playoffs include a faceoff between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. That game is being billed as the second "Ice Bowl."

These teams have played each other often since that cold game on Dec. 31, 1967, but this is the first time since then they'll meet for a playoff at Lambeau Field.

The temperature that day was minus 15. But while it will be cold in Green Bay this Sunday, it won't be that cold.

Boston won a tight contest to become the next American city to bid for hosting an Olympics, beating out Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., for the right to vie for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"This selection is in recognition of our city's talent, diversity and global leadership," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. "Our goal is to host Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all. Boston hopes to welcome the world's greatest athletes to one of the world's great cities."

ESPN

It’s news that might be keeping some cable executives up at night: for the first time, viewers will be able to stream ESPN over the web. 

In 1954, Roger Bannister did the previously unthinkable. He ran a mile in under four minutes. Six weeks later, his chief rival John Landy, did the same thing, and bettered Bannister's performance.

Thirteen months later, three other runners broke four minutes. Bear in mind that this had been considered impossible for as long as there had been time-keeping at track meets.

FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency of soccer's governing body.

"I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport," he said in a statement on the website of the Jordan Football Association, of which he is president.

Mark Wyman / Creative Commons

The year is off to a tumultuous and sad start. Some New York Police Department officers continued their protest of Mayor Bill de Blasio at a funeral for a fallen colleague and reducing arrests for minor offenses. The protest is entering what Matt Taibbi described as "surreal territory." We also remember the iconic ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott, who died Sunday. Finally, we discuss the news out of New Haven that The Anchor served its last drink this weekend.

Military Rehab Program Welcomes NFL Retirees

Jan 5, 2015

Since 1993, the Eisenhower Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been working to rehabilitate veterans of the military who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries in combat. Recently, the center’s program called After the Impact has also begun serving football players experiencing impairment as a result of concussions or sub-concussive hits.

Several years ago, I wrote a sports Christmas story. It was about a greedy basketball superstar who, imbued with Yuletide cheer, helps save his small-market franchise.

A big-time producer wanted to make a TV movie out of it. So off I went to Hollywood to turn my story into a script and thereby, in keeping with the Christmas spirit, make a killing.

Let me tell you: It's hard to write a Christmas story about sport.

The U.S. Women's National Soccer team finished its 2014 season with a second-place finish Sunday in the rainy final of the International Tournament of Brasilia. Brazil and the U.S. played to a 0-0 draw.

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