Sports

Stateside
5:36 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

New plans for Tiger Stadium site are underway

Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbell
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It's been 15 years since the Detroit Tigers played their final game at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

The old Tiger Stadium was torn down in 2009. Since then, no one's been able to agree on what to do with the 10-acre site until now.

The field will remain for youth sports, including high school and college baseball.  Along Cochrane Avenue, a new headquarters will be built for the Detroit Police Athletic League, who will maintain the playing field. The headquarters would extend from the street to roughly the old third base line and could cost almost $10 million.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher said this plan represents a merger of two conflicting visions – preserving the field for baseball - and developing it for new businesses and jobs.

“I think everybody gets a little something out of this,” Gallagher said.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
1:30 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Detroit's minor league soccer team has a huge following, and they know a lot of chants

Going into battle
Melanie Kruvelis

The World Cup is over. And even if you weren't rooting for Germany or Argentina, the game was really something to watch. (Germany won, for all the non-sports fans out there.)

In addition to the game itself, the fans are just as fun to watch.

They paint flags on their faces, and scream, and cry a lot. 

Those fans exist outside of Brazil, too. There's an intense support section for the Detroit City Football Club. The minor league soccer team is called Le Rouge, and is in its third season.

Before the game, a lot of fans and supporters go to a bar and rally the troops.

Then the "Northern Guard" march to the stadium. There are smoke bombs, drums, gas masks, megaphones, and a lot of rouge and gold. 

Throughout the entire game, there's chanting -- some of which could never air on public radio.

According to Alex Wright, one of the DCFC co-owners, about 2/3 of the team play for their college team during the school year. The home games at Cass Tech High School began selling out this season, and Friday's game sold out by record numbers. 

Wright said that he and the other co-owners wanted to create the team because they're committed to the city. Wright doesn't believe that soccer is going to save Detroit, but it's just a reason to feel good about what's going on in the city. 

DCFC's season is over now, but fans like "Big Vytau" plan to come back next year -- and probably for a few years after that.

*Listen to the full interview above

Sports
10:37 am
Fri July 11, 2014

The influence of a little league baseball coach can last a lifetime

Credit user: Edwin Martinez / Flickr

  

Last summer, I told you about Coach Mac, my little league baseball coach who believed in me, and helped me rise from the team’s worst player to become the team’s captain in one season.

I didn’t know where my old coach was, but after the story aired, I received a thank you letter from Coach Mac himself. This week, Coach Mack passed away.

The summer before Mac McKenzie became our little league baseball coach, I spent the season picking dandelions in right field, and batting last. But just weeks after Coach Mac took over, I rose to starting catcher, lead-off hitter, and team captain.

Read more
Stateside
5:08 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Forget the Bahamas. Michigan is one of the best places to SCUBA dive

Credit Sonja Stark / Flickr

When it comes to great places to SCUBA dive, lots of people immediately think of the waters of the Caribbean or Mexico, with lots of amazing underwater life, beautiful coral, gentle warm water.

But there’s a hardy group of SCUBA divers who point to Michigan as one of the best places to dive.

In the Caribbean, you’re looking at coral and fish. But lakes have great shipwrecks that are over 150 years old.

Read more
Sports
10:20 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Michigan soccer fans celebrate USA victory over Ghana in the World Cup opening round

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Soccer fans packed World Cup watch parties across Michigan Monday evening.

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana.    The watch party doubled as a fundraiser to collect money to help rehab Flint’s 85-year-old Atwood Stadium. 

“It’s encouraging,” says Tom Saxton, Michigan State University’s women’s soccer coach, “The game gets better and better every year in the United States, and we're excited to be a part of it.”

Next up for Team USA is a very strong Portugal team. 

Read more
Stateside
7:08 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

National traits do not explain soccer styles

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
Credit User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

Sports Commentary
9:25 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Michigan football has sold its soul; here's how to get it back

Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
UM Ford School

Last week, I explained why Michigan students are dropping football tickets in record numbers.

It touched a nerve – actually a few thousand nerves.  Not just among Michigan fans, but college football fans nationwide.

It’s all well and good to criticize Michigan’s athletic administration – and cathartic for the fans, apparently.  But it doesn’t solve the central problem: How can they keep fans happy?

Allow me to offer a few suggestions.

Read more
Stateside
5:27 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

An international trail around the Great Lakes is in the making

Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flick

Imagine an international trail around the Great Lakes. Biking. Hiking. Paddling.

7,000 miles, stretching through eight states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

That goal was the focus of the recent Great Lakes Coastal Trail Conference.

Dave Lemberg is an associate professor of geography at Western Michigan University and he's with the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association.

Lemberg said the trail is not just for hiking, it also includes sea kayaking, biking, and motoring. The trail will add to the Great Lakes Circle tours, which goes around all the lakes.

The goal is to connect the shoreline cities, resort beach towns, state parks and other areas around the Great Lakes.  

*Listen to full interview above. 

Sports Commentary
6:00 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Michigan athletics loses magic and fans thanks to Brandon's policies

A typical student's view inside the Big House.
Credit Andrew Horne / wikimedia commons

Last week, Michigan Athletics admitted student football ticket sales are down —from about 21,000 two years ago to just 13,000 this fall.  

How’d Michigan lose so many students so fast?

A lot of hard work.

Athletic Director Dave Brandon has often cited the difficulty of using cell phones at Michigan Stadium as "the biggest challenge we have."  But when Michigan students ranked seven factors for buying season tickets, they ranked cell phones dead last. 

What did they rank first?  Being able to sit with their friends. 

Read more
Sports Commentary
6:00 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Advisers aren't doing Michael Sam any favors

Michael Sam, after winning his final home game at Mizzou.
Credit user: Marcus Qwertyus / Wikimedia Commons

When Michael Sam told his University of Missouri teammates he was gay before last season, it wasn’t a big deal. It’s a safe bet that NFL teams – who know what kind of gum their prospects chew – already knew this, too. But when Sam came out publicly, it changed the equation. 

The NFL has already had gay players, so that’s not new. But publicly declaring you’re gay is new – and so is the onslaught of media attention.

Read more
Sports
2:09 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Auction of Silverdome items postponed

Once the home of the Detroit Lions and Pistons, where Elvis and Led Zeppelin performed, and where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass for 100,000. Today the Pontiac Silverdome is not even a shadow of its former glory.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The planned auction of parts of the old Pontiac Silverdome is on hold.

This week, parts of the Silverdome were supposed to go on sale.

People were going to be able to buy forklifts, generators, soap dispensers, and even a Zamboni.

But the sale is now on hold for up to three weeks, and it’s not clear why.

Read more
Sports
3:28 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Should college athletes be considered school employees?

Northwestern's Kain Colter is tackled during a game with Army in 2011. Colter has argued the players should be allowed to form a union.
Credit West Point / Flickr

Earlier this spring, the National Labor Relations Board made big headlines when it granted Northwestern University football players permission to unionize if they chose to. 

That decision has opened up a big national discussion and debate over whether college athletes should be recognized as school employees. 

So we wanted to bring in sports commentator and coach, John U. Bacon. His most recent book is Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football

Listen to the full interview above. 

Sports
10:47 am
Fri May 2, 2014

What did the NCAA teach Mitch McGary?

Credit Adam Glanzman / Flickr

When Mitch McGary played high school basketball in New Hampshire, he was one of the nation’s top recruits. Michigan fans were rightly thrilled when he decided to play for the Wolverines.   

In his first NCAA tournament, last spring, McGary played so well folks thought he might jump to the NBA. Instead, he returned for his sophomore year – then injured his back so badly, he needed surgery mid-season. The Wolverines weren’t doing much better at 6-4, with Big Ten conference play still ahead. It looked like Michigan might miss the NCAA tournament. 

Read more
Stateside
4:48 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Many female athletes have come out, but that news barely makes a ripple

There’s been a lot of media attention surrounding Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. His racist remarks have triggered outrage from NBA players and fans. 

But not too long ago in the world of sports, gay athletes seemed to be getting all the attention. Earlier this year, NBA star Jason Collins announced that he is gay, becoming the first openly gay player in the NBA.

Then, Michael Sam of the University of Missouri came out and became the first publicly gay player on a fast-track to the NFL. But they are certainly not the first athletes to come out.

There are many female athletes who have come out, but that news barely makes a ripple. Dr. P.J. McGann specializes in gender, sexuality and sports at the University of Michigan Sociology department.

She's currently writing a book titled: “The Ballfields of Our Hearts: Tomboys, Femininity, and the Gendered Body."

She joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Sports Commentary
10:39 am
Fri April 25, 2014

A runner's long journey to Boston

Greg Meyers, running at Michigan. Before Meb Keflezighi's win at this year's Boston Marathon, Meyers was the last American male to finish first at the marathon.
Credit Bentley Historical Library / University of Michigan

John U. Bacon's essay about the Boston Marathon.

In 1896, the first modern Olympics in Athens staged a marathon. The next year the Boston Athletic Association followed suit. Just 18 men ran that day, with the winner finishing in about three hours – something office workers can beat today.

Most people thought the runners were crazy – if they thought of them at all.

Marathoners don’t care. After winning the 1952 Olympic marathon, Czechoslovakian Emil Zatopek said, “If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”

Greg Meyer knows exactly what Zatopek was talking about. Meyer grew up in Grand Rapids, and enrolled at Michigan in 1973. That spring, Michigan got a new cross-country coach, Ron Warhust, a Vietnam vet with two Purple Hearts, and a hard-earned lesson: “The world doesn't stop because you’re scared.”

Read more
Sports
3:31 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Tackling the student-athlete double standard

University of North Carolina athletics are cited as one of many universities that prize sports above academia.
Credit User Yusuke Toyoda / Wikimedia Commons

What happens at the intersection of college athletics and college academics? 

To what degree are student athletes allowed to get by with a lighter academic load, enabling them to play the games that are such moneymakers for the school and the NCAA?

That question is being asked more frequently today, often to the great discomfort of those who run colleges and universities, and their athletic programs.

To talk about the student-athlete double standard, we welcomed Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek. His recent piece is titled, "In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes – and Whistle-blower."  

Listen to the full interview above. 

Sports Commentary
7:10 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Remembering the quiet dignity of baseball's Hank Aaron

Baseball legend Hank Aaron
Credit user: Aaron / Flickr

You’ve heard of Babe Ruth. If he’s not the best known American athlete of the last century, he’s in the top five. He was more beloved – by Americans of all stripes – than probably anyone. Ruth loved the fans, and the fans loved him back.

 
In 1961, when fellow Yankee Roger Maris – a nice, humble guy – was approaching Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season, he became so stressed his hair started falling out.

When Hank Aaron started approaching Ruth’s career home run record, he had it worse, for two very simple reasons: 714 home runs was the record in baseball that even the casual fan knew. And second, unlike Maris, Aaron is black. Of course, that shouldn’t matter in the least – but it mattered a lot in 1974.

Aaron grew up in Mobile, Alabama, one of seven children. They say his wrists were strong from picking cotton, and also his unusual practice of swinging “cross-handed” – that is, holding the bat with his left hand on top, instead of his right, a habit he didn’t break until the minor leagues.
 
Aaron made it to the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, one of the first African-Americans to play major league baseball. According to Daniel Okrent, a best-selling author who invented fantasy baseball, this was baseball’s richest decade for talent, because every kid grew up playing baseball – not soccer – and, finally, everybody was allowed to play.

Read more
Soccer
8:58 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Big-time soccer coming to The Big House

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, center, and Manchester United Communications Director Phil Townsend, far left, pose with event organizers.
Credit Steve Carmody

Two of the world's biggest soccer teams are officially coming to Ann Arbor. English champions Manchester United will play Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Big House on Aug.  2. The match is part of an off-season tournament that follows the World Cup in Brazil.

Read more
Sports Commentary
8:33 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Move toward a college football player's union should be a wake-up call for the NCAA

Northwestern's Kain Colter is tackled during a game with Army in 2011. Colter has argued the players should be allowed to form a union.
Credit West Point / Flickr

John U. Bacon offers his thoughts on the decision to allow Northwestern University football players to form a union.

Last week’s ruling made a big splash, but it’s actually very narrow. The decision by the National Labor Relations Board applies only to private schools. Further, the players still have to vote on it, and the university is going to appeal, in any case.

But the players have been very shrewd, starting with their leader, senior quarterback Kain Colter. I got to know him while researching my latest book, and he’s a very impressive young man.   

Read more
Sports
4:07 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Listen to a poem in celebration of opening day for the Tigers

A statue of Ernie Harwell in Comerica Park.
Kevin Ward Flickr

On opening day, the late Ernie Harwell - the voice of the Tigers for 42 years - would recite the poem Song of the Turtle. It signaled spring and a renewed life and opportunities. For Tiger fans, it just wasn't opening day without hearing Ernie Harwell speak those words of that poem.

In memory of the late sportscaster, here's Michigan writer Terry Wooten reading his poem Old Ernie Harwell:

Read more

Pages