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WNPR News sports coverage brings you a mix of local and statewide news from our reporters as well as national and global news from around the world from NPR.

Flickr Creative Commons, ensceptico

The person with the best take on the death of Christopher Hitchens would have to be Christopher Hitchens.

Here he is:

"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more."

Courtesy of Joe Cahn

I was in the parking area next to Yale Bowl two Saturdays ago as word spread around the clumps of tailgaters that there had been a fatality in one of the lots. Details were sketchy, but everyone seemed to know that people had been hit by a motor vehicle. And for a lot of us, the shadow of that tragedy hung over the whole day. My son was with me, and he has a knack for summing things up. "Imagine dying because you decided to go to a football game," he said sadly.

Great American Losers

Oct 11, 2011

It’s one of the most famous baseball radio broadcasts ever: Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges yelling, “The Giants win the pennant.”

Those words made Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca want to throw his radio out the window...he was the pitcher that gave up the blast. It’s been 60 years since the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and Branca still lives with this legacy.

gongus, wfyurasko, andrechinn, Flickr Creative Commons

Even though I deplore what he said about President Obama on Fox & Friends and even though he seems, in general, like kind of a deplorable person, I kinda wish everybody would reconsider the idea of dropping Hank Williams Jr. from Monday Night Football's opening. There's some ethos of excess and yahooism that Hank captures perfectly, and, really, here at NPR, we've learned some hard lessons abou tossing people named Williams aside just because they said something stupid on television.

Flickr Creative Commons, 104Muttons

What are we watching when we watch (and cheer about) a college game?

Historian Taylor Branch disputes the notion that we are watching a logical, natural outgrowth of the college's academic identity. If you're a student, are those your fellow students playing football? If you're an alumnus, are those people on the basketball court extensions of what you used to be?

Photo / Jayel Aheram via Creative Commons

WANTED: Point Guard. $70K/yr. Must work weekends. Student-athletes generate billions of revenue for universities and private companies while they earn nothing. Some who’ve been badly hurt don’t get the care and coverage they’d get with workers comp. Others see their scholarship canceled after a year and find themselves on the hook for expensive tuition if they want to go further. Others object the the use of their images on licensed products long after their scholarship expire. Atlantic and Taylor Branch tackled this in a feature last week.

Yesterday two Big East schools, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were accepted into rival league the Atlantic Coast Conference. This has schools scrambling to determine the future of their sports programs, including UConn, which according to some sources is already in discussions with the ACC. Joining us to talk about this shake up is Hartford Courant sports writer Dom Amore.

ElvertBarnes, Flickr Creative Commons

I don't really know how anybody knows this, jut we're told that 19 million people play Fantasy Football and that businesses lose nine billion dollars in productivity to be obsessing about their teams and picks.

We're told that the business end of Fantasy Football -- not the money the players put in the pot but the huge industry of advertising supported sites that feed their obsessions -- is worth somewhere between one and four billion dollars.

Photo by Avinash Kunnath (Flickr)

We talk with Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs about the “resignation” of UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway. He is leaving the post he's had since 2003. Although the athletics program has enjoyed success, Hathaway was criticized for low attendance and fundraising.

The move may indicate new President Susan Herbst's commitment to revamping the school's athletic program. Jacobs praised Herbst's handling of the situation:

Baseball Legends

Jul 19, 2011
Courtesy of Boston Public Library

Today,  a baseball celebration - about heroes and the places where they play.  We’ll talk with the author of a new oral history of Fenway Park; with the organizers of a Hartford Little League trying to stay afloat; and hear a classic public radio documentary about the real homerun champion.

Flickr Creative Commons, peterrieke

Heartbreak is embedded in baseball at a granular level. Football, basketball, boxing, hockey ... these sports can knock the spiritual wind out of you, but not the way baseball can.

There's something about the slow unfolding of the game that mirrors Shakespeare's history plays and the work of the Greek tragedians. Is it a coincidence that the great yearly festival of Greek tragedies was held in late March/early April, which roughly coincides with the start of our baseball crop cycle?

Christine Zenino

There's something Shakesperean about Jim Calhoun. I'm just never sure which play he's in. Henry V? Lear? Richard III?

On Monday night, he was Henry V, leading his troops into battle. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers," indeed. But since 2008, he has auditioned for other roles. Sometimes exploding like Lear and sometimes appearing to connive like Richard.

Flickr Creative Commons, Murray State

Let me just throw it down right here. Bisons over Huskies. Not that I believe the UConn men will lose to Bucknell in the first round, but I will be rooting for that to happen. I've really had it with the UConn men's program. I'll happily root for the women.

What UConn Huskies and Crows Have in Common

Mar 14, 2011
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/malfet/

A Yale University ecologist has turned to college basketball to explain patterns of biodiversity. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen takes us down the court.

Ecologist Robert Warren is a post-doc at Yale’s environmental school. He says in any natural system you’ll find “a remarkably consistent” pattern:

"No matter what system you're in... jungle, woodland, you get a few very common species and lots of uncommon. And this is really intriguing for ecologists because there are very few patterns that we see repeatedly that are kind of universal.”

Long Distance

Feb 24, 2011
creative commons, jonwick04

A new edition of a classic McKibben book about what it takes to be a world-class athlete and where the true meaning of endurance can be found.

At 37, the celebrated writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben took a break from the life of the mind to put himself to the ultimate test: devoting a year to train as a competitive cross-country skier. Consulting with personal trainers, coaches, and doctors at the US Olympic Center, he followed the rigorous training regimen of a world-class athlete.

Flickr Creative Commons, by Pulloa

Last winter, West Hartford residents David Foster and Denis Horgan began collecting used baseball equipment to be sent to kids across Cuba.

Flickr Creative Commons, phrenzee

Today we'll be analyzing the commercials from last night's Super Bowl. Why? Because, as one writer for Salon.com put it, "We all accept the Super Bowl as less of a game than a pop culture nexus point -- a place where the American self-image asserts itself with familiar rituals ... while cautiously acknowledging the present and looking to the future. The Super Bowl's expansive and awkward mix of performers, images, products and messages is a spectacle of its own."

Flickr Creative Commons, daveynin

I've been a Packer's fan since I was about 14 years old.

Flickr Creative Commons, psd

Steve Rushin is fearful of robots. First they replaced his father's pin-setting job. Now they're coming for him.

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