Column: Pat Summitt's Definite DozenJuly 21, 2016

When former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt passed away last month at the age of 64 from early onset Alzheimer’s, the world lost not only the greatest coach in the history of the sport, but a giant of a human being. Pat’s on-court accomplishments, many of which may never be exceeded, have been chronicled for posterity, but it’s what she stood for off the court that she valued most. Herewith are “Pat Summitt’s Definite Dozen,” rules she lived by and imparted to her players. They deserve to be remembered and repeated forever, by athletes and non-athletes alike.

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Column: Save America's Pastime ActJuly 14, 2016

One of my favorite professors in law school used to say, “I can win any case if you give me the side with the sex appeal.” I was reminded of my professor recently when I traveled to Washington D.C. as part of a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) contingent to lobby Congress on a bill titled the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” a name that screams sex appeal. Sounds like a bill that should receive bipartisan support and sail through the legislative process, right? Alas, that was not to be. Some members of the media and other pontificators, unable or unwilling to see the bill for what it really was, were quick to vilify Major League Baseball (MLB) for attempting to take advantage of MiLB players.

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Column: Heightened Security at Sporting Events New RealityJuly 7, 2016

Brad Keselowski won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway last weekend, his first win at the historic track. But that may not be the first thing fans remember about this year’s summer race at Daytona. For the first time in history, a SWAT team was patrolling the track, including the garage area and pit road, usually the domain of drivers and crew members. Most Major League sports, including the NFL and MLB, have ramped up security at games in recent years, but the sight of uniformed personnel with assault rifles mingling with fans caught many race goers by surprise. It was the highest level of security ever seen at a NASCAR race when a president or a member of his immediate family wasn’t present.

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Column: The IOC Is Punishing The InnocentJune 30, 2016

In his 2007 bestseller Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler, discusses the ten C’s that can be used as a test of a good leader: Curiosity, Creative, Communicate, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competent, Common Sense and the one that he regards as the most important, Crisis. If you believe Iacocca, and dismiss him at your own risk, the so-called leaders of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have failed the test. The IAAF, the world governing body for track and field events, recently banned Russia’s track and field athletes from participating in this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil. The IAAF ban was actually an extension of a suspension imposed last fall after a comprehensive report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) detailed Russia’s “deeply rooted culture of cheating (i.e., doping).” The IOC upheld the IAAF ban.

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Column: Are Beanball Wars Out Of Control?June 23, 2016

Just as the MLB season has heated up, so too have the “Beanball Wars.” The motivation for the incidents may vary, but the potential result is the same: Suspensions and/or injuries that could affect a team’s performance or jeopardize a player’s career. The most recent dust up occurred when Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura plunked Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the back during a game on June 7. Machado’s offense was barking at Ventura after the pitcher had thrown inside to him earlier in the game. Machado dropped his bat and charged the mound, precipitating a benches-clearing brawl. When the melee ended, Ventura and Machado were ejected and later suspended by MLB, Ventura for nine games and Machado for four.

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Column: Washington Redskins - A Controversy That Won't EndJune 16, 2016

If you’re looking for a controversy with no end, try this one: The debate on whether the Washington Redskins should change their nickname and team logos. Depending on who – and how – you ask, the nickname of the NFL’s third most valuable team ranges from a non-issue to a slur against Native Americans. The controversy was recently inflamed when the Washington Post published the results of a new poll that asked Native Americans a series of questions regarding their opinion of the term “Redskins.” A whopping 90% said the name doesn’t bother them. Only nine percent said the name was offensive, while one percent had no opinion.

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Column: WNBA Still StrugglingJune 9, 2016

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) kicked off its 20th season on May 14 and depending on your point of view, it’s either on track to rival the success of its male counterpart or a league that’s still struggling for success and relevancy. In 1997, one year after the women’s Olympic team began a stretch of five straight gold medals and twenty-five years after the passage of Title IX, optimism ran high that the WNBA would be successful. And why not? It was underwritten by the NBA, played in first class arenas during the NBA’s “off season,” and included the greatest female basketball players in the world. League attendance in the first two seasons did nothing to dampen that enthusiasm, climbing from an average of 9,664 in its inaugural season to 10,864 in 1998.

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Column: Baylor University Brought To TaskJune 2, 2016

After a damning report chronicled the mishandling of numerous sexual assaults on campus, Baylor University announced the suspension with the intent to fire its football coach, the demotion of its President and the probation of its Athletic Director. Despite the apparent severity of those penalties, given the horrific nature of the actions described in the report, they are both insufficient and come way too late.

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Column: Firing Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez FutileMay 26, 2016

Baseball fans love to complain about their team’s manager, as if he is solely responsible for the success or failure of the team. Sometimes team management acts like the average fan, firing a manager when the move will have no effect on the success of the team. Such was the case with the recent firing of Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez after the team got off to a woeful 9-28 start to the season. The Braves had made it clear to everyone that they had no intention of competing in the National League East this year. Rather than spending money on proven Major League players when the team had virtually no chance to win the division, the Braves essentially conceded the season before it ever began. They traded away every frontline player save one, first baseman Freddie Freeman. Their goal was simple: Allow young players to gain experience in the Majors now and hope to be competitive next year when the team moves into a new stadium in suburban Atlanta.

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Column: MLB's PEDs Policy A ConundrumMay 19, 2016

The 80-game suspension of Miami Marlins’ second baseman Dee Gordon for violating MLB’s drug policy may have set the stage for a discussion about the purpose of penalties: Deterrence or punishment? Like every other athlete who has ever tested positive Gordon issued the obligatory apology, saying he had no clue why the test results were positive and he had never knowingly ingested a tainted substance. Maybe he’s right, or maybe he’s lying. We may never know. There are so many chemicals in the food we eat and who-knows-what in the supplements most athletes consume that it’s possible, although highly unlikely given the substances found in Gordon’s sample, that he’s telling the truth. But here are four takeaways from Gordon’s suspension that we know to be absolutely true.

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