Danny Nicholson / Flickr -

Now that the teachers and students are back in school, I can’t resist turning my attention to school sports, one of my favorite subjects.

I am a proud 1982 graduate of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. I can still remember the name of every teacher I ever had. Almost all were very good, and I had more truly exceptional teachers than anyone has a right to expect. I’m still in touch with many of them.

Michigan is ranked No. 4 in the nation after their 51-14 home win over Central Florida.
user Missy Caulk / Flickr -

It was a big weekend for Michigan sports headlined by the Detroit Lions' dramatic 39-35 season opening win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The post-Calvin Johnson era began with Lions kicker Matt Prater redeeming himself for an earlier missed extra point by hitting the game-winning field goal with four seconds left. 

According to, Western Michigan, Central Michigan (both shown) and Eastern Michigan spent $72.6 million in institutional funds on athletics, more than the 10 other public universities in Michigan combined
Flickr user Jacob Enos/Flickr /

MLive recently published an in-depth look at Michigan's public universities, and how they subsidize sports with tuition dollars. 

What stood out more than anything is the fact that among the schools that offer NCAA-level athletics, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan collectively spend more tuition dollars on sports than the other ten public universities combined. 

NBC's coverage of the Rio Olympics has drawn criticism from many viewers.
Flickr user Gareth Simpson / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0


NBC has drawn plenty of criticism for its coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Count veteran sports journalist Joanne Gerstner among the critics.

“It honestly drives me crazy,” Gerstner said about NBC’s Rio Olympics coverage.

“I literally have not run into anyone who said, ‘Wow, I love NBC’s coverage primetime,’” Gerstner said. “Everyone is like, ‘what is this?’”

Muhammad Ali lived with Parkinson's Disease longer than his career as a boxer
Knowle West Media Centre / Flickr -

With the passing of Muhammad Ali, there has been no shortage of praise that has been heaped upon the boxing legend, who to many, was more than just a fighter. Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says while his list of accomplishments in and out of the ring was worthy of admiration, it was how he lived his life in his later years that deserves the most credit. 

Red Wings player hoists the Stanley Cup
Michael Righi / wikimedia commons -

For a record 25th straight season, the Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs. For the seventh straight season, they didn’t get past the second round.

Well, no matter, Wings fans because whether the Pittsburgh Penguins or the San Jose Sharks raise the Cup, they will be following in your favorite players’ footsteps.

How so?

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell at the podium at the 2009 NFL Draft, at the Radio City Music Hall, New York City.
Marianne O'Leary / wikimedia commons

  Last week, more than 4,000 people crammed into Chicago’s redundantly named Auditorium Theater to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announce the names of 256 players. Two-hundred-thousand more watched the action on big TVs in Grant Park.

The NFL's Lombardi Trophy on display
Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr -

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon breaks down how the Detroit Lions did at the NFL Draft, which included the selection of two Michigan Wolverines. Bacon also talks about the NCAA reversing its decision to ban satellite football camps.

Listen to the full interview below.

Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr -

Eastern Michigan University was featured in an episode of HBO's Real Sports, highlighting athletic departments that are losing money and students who are footing the bill. Many have suggested, including Michigan Radio's John U. Bacon, that the school's struggling football program should be dropped or at least moved down to a lower division.

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy
Keith Allison / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It has been a rough week for Detroit sports over the last week. The Pistons and the Red Wings both had their seasons come to an end in the first round of their respective playoffs. The Tigers were swept at home by their division rival, the Cleveland Indians. But on the horizon later this week, the Detroit Lions are getting ready for the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Red Wings will host Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.
Mark Goebel / Flickr -

It’s playoff time for a pair of Michigan sports teams as the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons have kicked off their respective post seasons.

The Wings emerged from the weekend trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning two games to one, with the all-important Game 4 at the Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

The Pistons are in what many are calling a “David vs. Goliath” matchup with the top-seeded Cavaliers, and dropped the first game of the series 106-101 in Cleveland.

Both teams have challenges in front of them. But can they advance?

Jim Harbaugh didn't like the call.
MGoBlog / Flickr -

Mens sana in corpore sano.

Sound mind in sound body.

It’s a simple philosophy, which states that exercise is good for your brain. What was revolutionary a century ago is common sense to us. It’s also the best reason to support school sports, something Americans believe in more than any other culture.

The NCAA's headquarters in Indianapolis, IN.
Intiaz Rahim / Flickr -

This Saturday’s Final Four should be college basketball’s showcase. It features North Carolina and Syracuse, two of the game’s greatest programs.

The North Carolina Tar Heels have won five national titles, and rank near the top of just about every measure that matters. The legendary Dean Smith, one of the most respected coaches in the sport’s history, coached the Tar Heels for 36 years, including a guy named Michael Jordan.

Coach Smith created what they call "The Carolina Way," a shorthand for playing the game right, on and off the court.

Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions
Mike Morbeck / Flickr -

As spring approaches here in Michigan, we near one of the most exciting times of year for a sports fan in the Great Lakes state.

Right now, the Red Wings and Pistons are heading down the stretch of the regular season, fighting for playoff spots, while the Lions are making big offseason moves. On the hardwood, the NCAA tournament is just around the corner as Michigan State and Michigan are hoping to be a part of “March Madness” next month. Not to mention pitchers and catchers have reported for spring training as the Tigers get ready for another season.

The Detroit Lions prepare to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
The Detroit Lions

The Lions have won only one game this year, and in their most recent game, Matt Stafford suffered 13 hits, seven sacks, and the Lions went from a 17-6 lead over Minnesota to a 28-19 loss.

Bacon says to the Ford family's credit, they've stayed out of the way as the team struggles.

"They're pretty much everything you want in owners except an inability to hire the right coach," he says.

Football Roundup

Oct 9, 2015
A football field.
user: Michael Knight / Flickr

On Monday night, the Detroit Lions – the NFL’s lovable losers – found a spectacular new way to break their fans’ hearts.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the team’s best player, was just about to cross the goal line with a go-ahead touchdown when he let a Seattle defender knock the ball out of his hand, and into the endzone.

Michigan Footgolf Club

A combination of soccer and golf, the new sport of footgolf is gaining popularity across the nation.

According to the American FootGolf League, there are more than 250 footgolf courses across the United States, with 25 courses right here in Michigan.

“I’ve been playing soccer my whole life, and I also enjoy golf so it was just a perfect fit,” says Jon Aron, president and founder of the Michigan FootGolf Club.

Fowling Warehouse / Facebook

For Chris Hutt, a long tradition of tailgating and camping at the same lot at the Indianapolis 500 has led to creating a sport and a business.

This new activity is called “fowling.”

And the business is the Fowling Warehouse in Detroit, where players gather to toss footballs at bowling pins.

“Fowling is a combination of football, bowling and a little bit of horseshoes in there as well," said Hutt.

John U. Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon brings us this week's sports roundup:

Tigers approaching the trade deadline

The Tigers came out of this past weekend 11.5 games behind AL Central Division leaders the Kansas City Royals.

After the Red Sox, “beat the crap out of us,” as described by Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, there’s some question as to how things are going to play out approaching Friday’s trade deadline.

This was a big week for the Detroit Red Wings. The team signed defenseman Mike Green and veteran center Brad Richards.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says that while the Red Wings have a top line of players, people often don't realize that in hockey third- and fourth-string players can be just as important. And the Wings need more than a few key players.

But securing top talent says a lot about how the Wings are perceived by NHL fans and players.

Bacon says it shows how strong the organization is when it can recruit top players even when Detroit doesn't have the best reputation in the country. 

Ty Cobb safe at third after making a triple on August 16, 1924.
National Photo Company / Library of Congress

He was arguably America’s first sports celebrity. He paved the way for the "bad boy athlete."

Tyrus Raymond Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Besides being a brilliant outfielder and base stealer, Ty Cobb had a rough reputation: surly, mean, racist, someone who hated women and kids.

John U. Bacon brings us the week’s sports roundup:

Michigan women’s softball team

The Michigan women’s softball team reached the Women’s College World Series only to lose the series 2-3 against the Florida Gators. Bacon believes what head coach Carol Hutchins and her team have achieved is nothing short of a miracle.

Michigan had to play half its schedule on the road before playing their first home game. “Imagine, if you will, the University of Alabama hockey team taking down the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA championship”.


With the Detroit Red Wings' season over, Bacon claims that with trade deadlines and summer camps in August, the Red Wings need to get a new coach by June. Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, is said to be the man to succeed Mike Babcock.

Joe Louis was the guest of honor at the "Champions Day" celebration of 1936.
Boston Public Library /

Seventy-nine years ago this month, Detroit sports teams and athletes celebrated a winning streak that's never been replicated since.

That year, Detroit athletes earned titles that kept piling up: the Tigers won their first World Series, the Lions won their first national championship, the Red Wings took home their first Stanley Cup. Not to mention Joe Louis and a myriad of others that came out victorious. 

West Michigan speedskater April Chernoby takes advantage of unusual ice conditions on Lake Michigan.
courtesy April Chernoby

The beginning of March brought on some unusual conditions along the coast of West Michigan. The ice off the coast of Grand Haven was as smooth as glass - perfect for skating. 

John Bieniewicz was refereeing an adult league soccer match in Livonia last June. 

He died a few days later.

Bieniewicz was allegedly struck by a player who was upset at being ejected from the game. 


An analysis by Forbes' Chris Smith values the University of Michigan's football program at $117 million - behind Notre Dame ($122 million) and the Texas Longhorns ($131 million).

Football teams are school entities, so they can't be bought or sold. Smith calculates the value of the program on four things:

The Wolverines have "arguably the best defense in the nation right now," Bacon told us.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined us in the studio today to analyze what happened in Michigan sports this week.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:

Gordie Howe's Hockey Card at age 43.
Trish Thornton / Flickr

You don’t have to know much about hockey to know about Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. 

This week, we learned his family is “expecting the worst.”  With his days numbered, you’ll be reading a lot about Howe’s hockey heroics.  He set just about every NHL scoring record, and a dozen still stand.  One of the most impressive: he finished in the top five for scoring for two straight decades.

He played in the NHL at 18, and at 51. 

Howe’s heyday paralleled his team’s, and his town’s.

The Wings were a dynasty, winning four Stanley Cups, and nine regular season titles.  No team symbolized the Motor City’s might like the Red Wings. 

Creighton Miller carrying the football for Notre Dame against the 1943 Michigan team. Bob Rennebohm of Michigan (wearing jersey #88) is also pictured.
1944 Michiganensian

Michigan and Notre Dame have the longest running duel among major college powers, and one of the best. But that seems to be coming to an end this Saturday – and with a twist: For the first time, it’s Notre Dame that’s backing out.

The rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame goes back to 1887, when a band of boys from Michigan took a train to South Bend and literally taught their counterparts how to play the game.  

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