• Tangled Up In Blue

    by Paul Steinbach October 2009

    They say the best compliment a baseball umpire can get is if neither team can name who called their game. So far in this Major League Baseball postseason, umpires are stealing headlines. "Does Baseball Need Umpires?" asked Jonah Kuri in his Oct. 14 Wall Street Journal column, days after Phil Cuzzi called foul a fly ball off the bat of Minnesota's Joe Mauer that actually fell a foot inside the leftfield line during Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Kuri couldn't have predicted the sorry spectacle that was Game 4 of the American League Championship Series six days later. In the span of 11 batters, umpires Dale Scott and Tim McClelland botched three calls so badly that Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci, who worked a 2007 spring training game as its first-base umpire, called for the creation of a review board - not to grade umps, but to examine everything from individual mechanics to crew dynamics.

  • Also Banned: ACME Rocket-Powered Roller Skates

    by Paul Steinbach October 2009

    Marathon organizers have enough to worry about with participants bent on taking life-saving precautions in extreme heat. But none of those factors led to the disqualification of Jennifer Goebel from last weekend's Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. Goebel's offense? She used an iPod to lend a little kick to her stretch run. Goebel, the second woman to cross the finish line, wasn't the first DQ in Milwaukee on Oct. 4 (Cassie Peller, the apparent winner, was stripped of her title for taking water from a friend outside an official aid station). And hers wasn't the only apparatus to come under marathon organizers' scrutiny that day. During mile 21 of the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota, 81-year-old Jerry Johncock benefited from the bladder-unburdoning powers of a bystander's spare catheter (you can't make this stuff up), only to learn that his successful defense of last year's age-group victory (in which Johncock became the first octogenarian American to cover the 26-plus miles in less than four hours) was facing potential review by USA Track and Field. Johncock called the possibility of being disqualified "a crazy idea" (he was later cleared of any wrongdoing by race organizers - to his ultimate relief), while posts on a runners' forum in Milwaukee termed the rules enforcement that took place there "draconian." According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USATF has relaxed rules against the use of iPods and similar music devices except in cases involving top contenders and when prize money is at stake. Third-place finisher and eventual Lakefront women's champion Corina Canitz donated her $500 prize to charity, while Johncock pocketed $225 for besting the Twin Cities 80-84 field.

  • Another Case of School Colors Gone Wrong

    by Andrew Cohen September 2009

    We all know that universities are far cozier with beer companies than educators of underage drinkers probably ought to be. It's tough, though, when part of your educational mission is to send your boys out onto the gridiron in front of 70,000 paying fans who, let's face it, have been known to - on occasion - pop open a few beers in the parking lot beforehand. So, let's give props to the University of Wisconsin athletic department for "taking one for the team" (in the words of Vince Sweeney, the school's vice chancellor for university relations) by battle against binge drinking by UW sports fans.

  • The Purists' Plunge

    by Paul Steinbach September 2009

    When U.S. Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz spoke at the 2008 Athletic Business Conference, he told a decades-old story about how coaches from the Soviet Union had once asked Spitz why he wore a mustache in competition. At the time, he knowingly relayed the falsehood that the facial hair reduced drag in the water. By the next international competition, every Russian swimmer sported a 'stache. Such was the level of gamesmanship in 1970s aquatics.

  • Meanwhile, Over at the State-Run Lottery…

    by Andrew Cohen August 2009

    As a side note on the whole Delaware sports betting issue…I lost a little more than $2,000 betting on sports online (back when it was legal to do so) over a four-year period. The money went to Jamaica - most, probably, to a scumbag casino owner who wasn't even Jamaican, but some portion of it went to the people who answered the phones, the people who set the odds, the people who cleaned their modest offices. If it were an option to wager on sports here in the U.S., I'm sure I would take advantage of the opportunity. My money would stay here, and the sports book would be taxed and licensed, and if I were ever lucky enough to win (fat chance), I'd pay taxes on the winnings.

  • Study: Recycled Crumb Rubber in Synthetic Turf Poses No Health Threat

    by Michael Popke August 2009

    A New York study claims recycled crumb rubber in synthetic turf poses no threat, but the EPA has yet to weigh in.

  • Bet You're Wondering What the Big Deal Is

    by Andrew Cohen August 2009

    If you make a bet on an NFL contest - let's say you're in Las Vegas on a business trip, and you visit the casino's sports book and put $110 on the New England Patriots to cover the 10 and a half points against the Bills in their season opener - do you think your actions could somehow compromise the result of the game? If enough of you and your drinking buddies put money on the Patriots, will the bookmaker make a quick call to the referee, asking for a phantom holding call or two to keep the Bills in it? Or to a Patriots running back, asking him to fumble at a key moment, allowing the Bills to escape with a mere nine-point loss?

  • New Regulations, Formulations Change Gym Floor Coating Game

    by Nicholas Brown August 2009

    New environmental regulations and more sophisticated polymer formulations have combined to change the gym floor coating game.

  • Legislation Stemming from High School Football Player's Death Affects Kentucky Coaches

    by Michael Popke May 2009

    Legislation stemming from a high school football player's death has coaches in Kentucky heading to summer school.

  • Winning with Asthma Coach's Clipboard Program Available

    by Paul Steinbach May 2009

    The "Winning with Asthma" Coach's Clipboard Program is a free online educational tool that not only explains asthma's causes and symptoms, but lays out strategies for dealing with the disease.