Sports

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NASA Goddard Photo and Video, Flickr

Last Sunday afternoon, Kris McNeal, 26, and Zach Chase, 25, rode their bikes into Duluth, Minnesota after a more than 5,300 mile bike ride around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The duo had previously completed a 1,700-mile trip from Seattle to Mexico, but that seems like child's play compared to this 97-day long trip.

Averaging about six hours of riding per day, McNeal and Chase covered between 60 and 70 miles before making camp each night. They got their first flat tire after 3,000 miles and ended up having 15 flats by the end of the trip.

Screenshot from Video / The New York Times

Flint’s Olympic female boxer Claressa Shields will fight for a gold medal.  The boxer's family and friends gathered to watch their hometown athlete in her semifinal match this morning.  

It was an all-out brawl of a fight, fast and breathless and dominated by Shields. She took down Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova 29 to 15.

Cheers erupted from the crowd of supporters packed into a bar in downtown Flint. Marcella Adams is Shields’ mother. She says she may just pass out if her daughter wins the gold.“I might just faint! I almost fainted right here!”

jeltovski / http://mrg.bz/PpvEAw

Football practice starts up at high schools across the state this week. But for one athlete's family, the biggest day of the season is tomorrow.

That's when the Michigan High School Athletic Association will decide whether Eric Dompierre can play football his senior year. Dompierre has Down Syndrome, but that hasn't kept him from playing with Ishpeming High's team the last three years. Now nineteen, Dompierre is too old to be eligible for the team.

Michael Pead / Wikimedia Commons

The London Olympics features 26 summer sports, with 39 disciplines, and 302 separate competitions, in a desperate attempt to get everyone to watch. 

So you’ve got the Ancient Sports, or the Events No One Watches Anymore, like horse riding, rifle range, and archery -- also known as, Things You Did in Summer Camp, But Stopped Doing After You Learned How To Drive and Talk To Girls.  Why not include making moccasins and key fobs?     

USOC

Jordyn Wieber is the defending world all around women's gymnastic champion.  But, the DeWitt teenager will not have the chance to compete for the Olympic title in London.     

Wieber finished fourth in today's competition in London.  The top 24 go on to compete for the all around title.  However, Olympic rules prohibit more than 2 athletes from one nation to compete for the all around title.  Wieber finished behind two of her teammates in the initial scoring.  

user Malinaccier / Wikimedia Commons

A former National Football League player from Michigan filed a lawsuit yesterday against the league and four others for failing to warn him of football-related head injuries, reports the Associated Press.

Derrick Walker lives in West Bloomfield, and he began his football career playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines where he served as co-captain in the '80s.  Since then, the plaintiff went on to play tight end professionally for the San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. 

Over that time period, Walker's lawsuit says he was concussed multiple times which led to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches and difficulty sleeping.  Now he's seeking at least $500,000 in damages, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are inadvertently benefiting from sanctions handed down against Penn State today.  

Michigan Olympians

Jul 20, 2012
Betsey Armstrong
Michael Larson / USA Water Polo

In the opening ceremonies next week, when the United States’ flag bearer declines to dip the Stars and Stripes for Queen Elizabeth, he or she will be following the lead of Ralph Rose, a Michigan alum who refused to lower the flag in the 1908 London Olympics, for King Edward VII. 

Rose explained, "This flag dips for no earthly king." 

Wolverines have also made their mark on the podium, winning 138 medals, including 65 gold. This year, Michigan is sending 26 athletes and coaches to London, who will compete in nine different sports. 

The list includes Betsey Armstrong, a graduate of Ann Arbor Huron High – widely considered the greatest high school in the history of Western Civilization —who will play goalie for the water polo team.

Tiffany and Jeff Porter both set hurdling records at Michigan, before getting married – even as Tiffany was becoming a doctor of pharmacy. 

There’s Connor Jaeger, an engineering student who walked onto the swimming team, and finished as a three-time NCAA All-American.  

There’s Sam Mikulak, a gymnast, who broke both ankles at a meet last year on the same landing.  He finished his remaining events – and learned afterward he’d fractured both ankles.  Not all tough guys play football.

And there’s Jerome Singleton.  When he was just one year old, doctors amputated his right leg below the knee.  He went on to become an engineering student, and a world-class paralympian – Michigan’s first.  

Read about two University of Michigan gymnasts as they prepare to compete in the London Olympic Games.

Courtesy Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race

It's a big weekend for sailors.  This is the 88th year for the Bayview Mackinac race. It starts in southern Lake Huron and ends at Mackinac Island.

This year's event has drawn 222 boats, crewed by about 2,000 sailors.

Greg Thomas is the race chairman.

"Maybe when you stand on shore, and you see a sailboat out there, it doesn't look like there's a lot going on," Thomas says. "But there's a lot going on.  It's very high-tech, there's a physical fitness part to it, an athleticism part to it, and a mental part to it."

Go Blue / The University of Michigan

A committee of 12 university presidents recently approved a plan to create a four-team playoff for Division I college football – the last major sport to have one.  That has Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon wondering what good will come of it – if any. 

Well, it’s finally upon us.  No, not the apocalypse – Mayan calendar be damned – but a bona fide, Division I, college football playoff.

Jordyn Wieber
Jordyn Wieber webmasters / Facebook.com

In last night's U.S. Olympic Trials for women's gymnastics, Jordyn Wieber placed second all-around, securing a spot on the team headed to London this summer.  The 16-year old DeWitt native nearly cinched the top score, impressing judges in San Jose's HP Pavilion with her performances on the uneven bars, the balance beam and in her floor routine.

In an interview with USA Gymnastics, Wieber, already named the 2012 National Champion in women's gymnastics, said,

"It feels amazing to be an Olympian. This is definitely the best day of my life and knowing that all of my hard work has paid off is amazing. I'm just so proud of each and every girl who competed here today."

The University of Michigan's Bob Chappuis hurdling a tackler.
Michiganensian (1947) / University of Michigan

One of Michigan Football's most famous players died earlier this month. Bob Chappuis played for the Wolverines in the '40s. He was a College Football Hall of Famer and a World War II hero. But that’s not how Chappuis described himself.

You can read about Bob Chappuis’s heroics as a World War II tailgunner, or as a Michigan Wolverines tailback, just about anywhere -- from his Time magazine cover story in 1947, to his obituary in the New York Times last week.  But my favorite stories are the ones he told his granddaughters.

I met Chappuis in 2000, while writing a story about his famous Michigan football team.  But I really got to know him when I coached his grandson Bobby’s high school hockey team.When Bobby went to Culver Academies for a post-grad year, I joined the family to see him graduate.

We all relaxed in a hotel suite, eating and drinking, while Chappuis’s teenage granddaughters goaded him to tell stories.  He could not refuse them, but he shared stories you couldn't find in magazines -- like when his father told him he could go to any school he wanted -- except Ohio State.  

Chappuis skipped the part about leaving college to volunteer for the Army, where he served as an aerial gunner on a B-25.  But his son interjected to explain how their granddad’s plane was shot down over Northern Italy, forcing the crew to parachute behind enemy lines. 

Chappuis waved it off.  “Everybody says we’re heroes.  But what kind of idiot wouldn’t jump from a burning plane?”   

He told his granddaughters how they hid in a ditch behind some bushes while Italian soldiers marched by. One of his crewmates grabbed a knife, and motioned to attack. Chappuis grabbed his shoulder, pushed him down and whispered, “They’ve got us outnumbered 30 to 3, and they’ve got guns.  I think you’ve seen too many Hollywood movies.  We are staying put.”

Smart move.  They were rescued by a family, who hid them in their attic.  They buried the Americans’ identifying clothing – but Chappuis drew the line at his Michigan ring.  “This stays with me,” he said. 

New legislation in Michigan seeks to protect student athletes from concussions.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan public school district plans to do away with fees parents pay to allow their children to participate in sports.

You may not have realized this, but the best thing President Obama may have going for him in November is that the Detroit Tigers are having a pretty disappointing season.

That may sound nuts to you, but there is documented evidence of this:  Throughout history, whenever the Tigers have done spectacularly well in an election year, the Republicans almost always win. When they’ve disappointed fans, the Democrats usually triumph.

NASCAR

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced to his first Sprint Cup victory in four years, ending a 143-race winless streak Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

For the first time in almost 18 years, a Wolverine will don jersey number 48 this season. The number was previously retired for Michigan's 1934 MVP and the 34th President of the United States.

USOC

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jordyn Wieber's winning streak is still going after she claimed her second straight title at the U.S. gymnastics championships Sunday.

(courtesy of allposters.com)

Big Ten officials are seriously looking at a plan to create a potentially lucrative national college football playoff system.   Just how lucrative remains an unanswered question.

After a four-year absence, the Detroit Grand Prix returns to Belle Isle this weekend.

The event officially kicked off Friday—despite steady rainfall--with a “free day” open to the public. It featured practice laps, some qualifying races, and other events away from the racetrack.

Races continue over the weekend, culminating with the Chevrolet Indy Grand Prix race on Sunday.

Grand Prix Chairman Bud Denker says he had “goosebumps” when he threw the green flag to kick off racing Friday morning.

Scott Galvin / U-M Photo Services

The University of Michigan softball team won the Big Ten title this year – for the fifth year in a row, and 15th time overall. It went to the NCAA tournament – for the 18th straight season.  Winning titles is what they do.   

And this was not even one of head coach Carol Hutchins’ best teams. 

Facebook/Chevron Houston Marathon

Nick Stanko is a small guy with a shaved head. He’s an art teacher at Haslett High School, east of Lansing, and he also coaches the track team.

Stanko is hard-core about running. He’s tried out for the Olympic team twice and even the kids on his track team admit he’s a big deal. Senior Ryan Beyea told me he likes to brag to kids at other high schools that he gets to train alongside the legend, Nick Stanko.

In January, Stanko traveled to Texas to compete in the Olympic trials for the marathon and Beyea and some of other kids went down to support their coach.

Running track
Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann / Flickr

Remember Field Day?

For most of us, it was a hallowed year-end school tradition, right up there with ice cream socials, and signing yearbooks.

The kids loved it, of course, and looked forward to it every year. 

But not at Burns Park, one of Ann Arbor’s oldest, most desirable and most educated neighborhoods – and occasionally, one of its kookiest.

There is a reason many townies jokingly refer to it as “The Republic of Burns Park.”

Flint's hometown darling, 17-year old boxer Claressa Shields, will be heading to London this summer to compete for Olympic gold.

The Detroit Free press reports that Shields confirmed the news from  Qinhuangdao, China where she had been competing in the AIBA women's world championships.

From the Freep:

Shields earned her spot into the Games when England's Savannah Marshall -- who defeated Shields in the second round earlier this week -- won her semifinal match today and advanced to the finals of the middleweight division.

Despite her early round loss, the Free Press writes, standings worked in Shields' favor and she earned one of the few Olympic berths from continental America.

Women's boxing will be making it's Olympic debut in London.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

U.S. National Archives / Flickr

Teresa Bloodman’s son was thrilled to play on his freshman basketball team for two months.  But, when the coach held a third round of tryouts so the football players could come out for the team, he cut Bloodman’s son.

Teresa Bloodman was so livid she sued the school, the district and the state.  She claimed cutting her son was arbitrary, that the lack of a formal appeals process was a violation of due process, and that her son has a constitutional right to participate in school sports.

Mitch Loeber / flickr

A new poll finds that even kids from some middle-income families are cutting back on sports, because of "pay to play" fees in middle and high schools. According to the poll, conducted by Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, a majority of schools now charge students a fee to play sports.

One in five families earning $60,000 a year or less said their kids participated less in sports because of "pay-to-play" fees. The drop in participation was even greater for families earning between $30,000 and $60,000.

Researcher Sarah Clark, Associate Director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, says schools might want to consider installment payments to ease the burden.

"I personally have heard some parents talking about how difficult it is to come up with all that money all at once, where, if they could stagger it out, it might be a little easier to do," said Clark.

Clark says only six percent of families reported getting the fees waived.

She says sports participation helps kids improve their grades and their health, and it can help keep them from dropping out of school.

This week, the University of Michigan celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX, with a host of speakers and panels discussing the historic legislation and its impact on girls, women and the United States itself. 

Before Title IX, only one in 30 girls played high school sports. 

Today, more than half do. 

After a single paragraph, and an unforgettable tennis match, that changed our nation forever.

It all started pretty quietly. 

Just a sentence buried in the back of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. 

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

(courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Saturday is expected to be the busiest day of the year at Michigan’s four horse racing tracks.

The tracks usually see a big boost in simulcast betting from the Kentucky Derby.

Brett Boyd is president of the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association.    He says Michigan’s ailing horse racing industry relies more and more on the money wagered on the three races.

“This weekend we really hoping the folks come out to one of those four facilities…wager on the Derby…have some fun and make some money,” says Boyd.

Michigan’s horse race tracks have dwindled from 8 to 4 in recent years.   Industry officials blame competition from casinos and other types of gambling, including online gaming.

Brett Boyd hopes the state legislature will change state law to make the tracks more competitive.  Otherwise, he expects two more Michigan horse race tracks may soon close.

 

user wane / YouTube

At age 16, Austin Hatch from Ft. Wayne, Indiana was looking forward to a bright future as a University of Michigan basketball recruit.

Here he is talking about his decision to commit to the school:

Nine days after this video was posted Austin Hatch was in a plane crash near Charlevoix, Michigan that killed his father, his stepmother, and a family dog.

Austin survived, as did a second family dog.

The small plane was being piloted by his father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, an anesthesiologist from Indiana. A recent NTSB report found the plane stalled due to inadequate airspeed.

Tragically, this was the second time Austin Hatch and his father had been in a plane crash.

MLB

7:00 p.m.

The Detroit Tigers issued a statement by Delmon Young:

"I sincerely regret what happened last night. I apologize to everyone I affected, the Ilitch family, the Detroit Tigers’ organization, my teammates, my family, and the great Tigers’ fans that have supported me since day one. I take this matter very seriously and assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player.” 

The team also released by Young's attorney, Dan Ollen:

“I represent Delmon Young with respect to the incident that occurred last night. With this matter now in the legal system, Delmon is unable to make any further statements or discuss this matter in further detail. All future press or investigative inquiries should be directed to me. Let me be clear, there are many false allegations regarding the actions of my client and I am confident that the legal process will separate fact from fiction and discredit these reports.”  

 

4:00 p.m.

The Detroit Tigers released this statement regarding Delmon Young's arrest:

We are aware of the situation, however it is our club policy not to comment on pending legal matters. As we understand it, this is an allegation and we need to allow the legal process to take its course. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time. Per a provision in the Major League Baseball Basic Agreement, any allegation that involves alcohol is referred to MLB's Employee Assistance Program.

11:59 p.m.

Detroit Tigers outfielder, Delmon Young, was arrested early this morning in New York on an "aggravated harassment as a hate crime," according to the Associated Press.

The team is in New York for a three-game stand with the Yankees.

Here's what happened according to the Associated Press:

Young was standing outside of the Hilton New York at about 1:30 a.m., where he was staying ahead of a series with the New York Yankees that starts Friday night. Nearby, a group of about four Chicago tourists staying at the hotel were approached by a panhandler wearing a yarmulke. After, as the group walked up to the hotel doors, Young started yelling anti-Semitic epithets, police said.

It was not clear whom Young was yelling at, but he got into a tussle with the Chicago group, and a 32-year-old man sustained scratches to his elbows, according to police.

Both Young and the group went inside the hotel, and at some point, police were called, and Young was arrested, police said.

Police said Young appeared to be intoxicated. He could be arraigned later today.

Delmon Young is the younger brother of former Tiger Dmitri Young.

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