Fate of the Union: What the NFLPA Can Learn From the Fight of ’77

Compared to their NBA and MLB cohorts, NFL players have it rough. Their short careers in a violent sport include nonguaranteed contracts and restrictions on free agency—and owners have always had the upper hand. For one forgotten moment four decades ago, though, the union had the NFL on the ropes … and blew it. With players once again readying for labor war, the lessons of that battle matter more than ever.

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After a Record Women’s Soccer World Cup Victory, the Internet Demands the Team Should Also Win Equal Pay

The U.S. women’s soccer team just beat Thailand 13 to zero in their first match of 2019’s World Cup on Tuesday, crushing several records – and reminding the internet that the team still isn’t paid as much as the U.S. men’s team.

Not only did the women’s team set a record for the highest margin of victory at a World Cup game and scored the most goals in any single Women’s World Cup match, but they have a long record of success. They won three of the last seven Women’s World Cups since the tournament was launched in 1991, including the 2015 title. They also won four gold medals since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 2016.

However, for many people Tuesday’s victory served as a stinging reminder that members of the team are being paid much less than similarly situated members of the men’s team.

On March 8, 28 members of the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a lawsuit against U.S. soccer, accusing it of gender discrimination. The lawsuit has alleged that the organization has given “only lip service to gender equality.”

After the team’s win, many people, including presidential candidates Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, argued on Twitter that women had made their case through that single game.

After the team’s victory, many people pointed out that the women scored more goals in that single game than the men’s team during their last two World Cup tournaments combined. That would be three men’s World Cups, if you include the 2018 tournament where the men failed to qualify.

The U.S. men’s players association released a statement in March to say that they “fully support” the women’s efforts to win equal pay.

Sports – TIME

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The Jets Got Their Man. What Now for GM Joe Douglas and Gang Green?

Douglas on why he took the job, why he has confidence in Adam Gase, and what’s next for the Jets after a wild month. Plus, Pat Bowlen’s legacy, the first-ever Black Quarterback Club Summit featuring Deshaun Watson, Kyle Rudolph on his new contract, more details in the Texans-Patriots GM battle over Nick Caserio, a breakout player in Green Bay, the Ravens’ new speed, and one more reason everyone loves Sean McVay.

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The market’s showing sparks of life with recent mergers, acquisitions

While Main Street investors had some trepidation over their portfolios during the six-week-long pullback in the stock market, the pros see many positives. Sell-offs are a common corrective action, which is needed in order to move higher. The fact is, the stock market just rallied 1,200 points in the first two weeks of June. Much…
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U.S. Runner Gabriele Grunewald Dies of Cancer at 32

(MINNEAPOLIS) — Gabriele Grunewald, one of the country’s top middle-distance runners, has died at her home in Minneapolis after inspiring many with her long and public fight against cancer. She was 32.

Her husband, Justin Grunewald, said she died Tuesday night. “It was one of the most peaceful passings I’ve seen. Everything she did was timed in her own time and perfect,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Grunewald, who often went by “Gabe,” was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma — a rare form of cancer in the saliva glands — in 2009 while running for the University of Minnesota. Following surgery and radiation therapy, she went on to finish second in the 1,500 meters at the 2010 NCAA championships.

She kept on running through three more bouts with the disease, forging a career as a professional athlete and U.S. champion while enduring surgeries, radiation treatments, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. In 2014, she was the U.S. indoor 3,000 champion.

In June 2017, while in between rounds of treatment for cancer that had spread to her liver, she took the starting line for the 1,500 at the U.S. track and field championships and expected to be as competitive as ever.

“Though it would take quite an effort to make the final, I don’t think it is impossible,” Grunewald said before the race . “If I feel good, I hope to mix it up. There’s also a chance I feel lousy, in which case I hope I can just enjoy being out on the track as a competitor for a few minutes. Either way, I’ll be happy to be out there.”

She didn’t advance out of the first round that day. But her smile told the true story — she was exhilarated to be a competitor again, even if for just 4 minutes, 31.18 seconds.

Justin Grunewald, who is a doctor, said his wife’s main objective after her diagnosis was to make sure people with cancer have more and better treatment options. She also wanted people who are diagnosed with cancer “to tackle it head-on while doing what they are passionate about. She wanted people not to lose focus on what was important to them when life got hard,” he said.

Her foundation, Brave Like Gabe, was started to raise awareness of and benefit research into rare forms of cancer. On her website, bravelikegabe.org , she encouraged others who were fighting cancer or adversity to share their stories under the hashtag MyBraveStory.

Grunewald was a competitor and inspiration up until her death. Earlier this month, Justin Grunewald wrote in an Instagram post that his wife was in grave condition and had been moved to intensive care. He said when he told her she was dying, “she took a deep breath and yelled, ‘NOT TODAY.’” He described the next day as a miracle, saying her labs had normalized and she was eating a burger.

Justin Grunewald told the AP that Gabrielle rallied and hung out with family and loved ones for a week. She was moved to comfort care Sunday after her health declined and returned home Monday. “She told me she was ready to go to heaven and a couple days later she did,” he said. “She wanted a couple more days to say goodbye.”

Olympic runner Kara Goucher had fond memories of Grunewald’s performance in the 3,000 at the 2014 U.S. indoor championships. “She kicked away for the win and qualified for world champs,” Goucher said. “You could just see the joy on her face — she was realizing, ‘I’m as good as I hoped I was.’”

Goucher said Grunewald’s legacy is bigger than running, and her unrelenting spirit and choice to share her story publicly invited many people in.

“It’s made me realize how lucky I am to be out running and to be healthy and whenever I hit a road block, I think of her,” Goucher said. “She will never be far from our minds. She’s just made such an impact in all of our lives.”

In his Instagram post announcing her death, Justin Grunewald said: “I always felt like the Robin to your Batman and I know I will never be able to fill this gaping hole in my heart or fill the shoes you have left behind.” He also thanked those who sent messages to his wife in her final days:

“To everyone else from all ends of the earth, Gabriele heard your messages and was so deeply moved. She wants you to stay brave and keep all the hope in the world. Thanks for helping keep her brave in her time of need.”

Sports – TIME

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NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears

NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com Houston, you have a problem. The James Harden-Chris Paul arrangement on the Rockets could be ending soon. And it comes at a bad time for the Rockets, who now could have a chance for the 2020 NBA championship with the Warriors licking their wounds from a brutal Finals loss.

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Benjamin Watson from ‘The New Dad’s Playbook’: Love is everything

The veteran tight end reflects on his book about fatherhood and the challenges of balancing relationships at home with the demands of an NFL career.
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Jason Vargas cramps up in Mets’ pitching nightmare

Mets starting pitchers are dropping like flies. Hours after the Mets placed Noah Syndergaard on the injured list with a strained right hamstring, Jason Vargas left Sunday’s game against the Cardinals with a left calf cramp while batting in the fourth inning. Vargas, who had been pitching exceptionally well recently, allowed two earned runs —…
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Video Shows Sophisticated Attack on David Ortiz, as Ex-Slugger Remains in Intensive Care

(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) — Dominican prosecutors say witnesses and security camera footage show that the attempt to kill former Red Sox star David Ortiz was carried out by two men on a motorcycle and two other groups of people in cars, indicating a new level of sophistication in the attack.

The details were contained in a court document obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Oliver Moisés Mirabal Acosta, who was captured Tuesday night in the town of Mao in the northern Dominican Republic, was driving a grey Hyundai Accent before mounting the bike driven by 25-year-old Eddy Vladimir Feliz García, the document said.

The document also said the two men were seen on security camera footage talking with other people in the Accent and another Hyundai in a nearby street before the shooting at 9:20 p.m. on Sunday.

“In one of the videos it was possible to observe both the accused and the shooter planning the commission of the incident right on Octavio Mejía Ricard Street, which is parallel to the place where the event took place,” prosecutors said.

The document also reveals ineptitude, saying the driver was captured after he skidded and fell off his bike as the pair tried to flee.

Feliz García’s lawyer says his client is an innocent motorcycle taxi driver who had no idea his passenger was going to commit a crime.

Ortiz is recovering from his wounds in intensive care in Boston.

Sports – TIME

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Another report Kyle Kuzma sticking point in Anthony Davis trade to Lakers

Here's where things have stood for a couple of days now: The Lakers have four players in their young core: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. The New Orleans Pelicans want three of them and the No. pick as part of an Anthony Davis trade.

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Meryl Streep Isn’t the Only One to Scream Herself Into Meme Status and This Guy Has a Gatorade Cup

Scream memes are apparently all the rage this summer. After Meryl Streep kicked this week’s meme cycle off with a gut-wrenching howl on Big Little Lies, Toronto Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire made his own mark on the viral internet landscape by shouting into a paper cup during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

In order to be heard over the din of the crowd in Oracle Arena on Thursday, Magloire cut out the bottom of a paper Gatorade cup so he could yell at his players through it. Of course, as soon as fans caught sight of his innovative coaching technique, it was instantly turned into a meme.

As a photo of Magloire holding up his cup-turned-megaphone spread across Twitter, people began adding hilarious captions imagining what the Toronto coach may have been screaming about. The topics ranged from NBA-related shade — “Seth [Curry] shot a higher percentage of threes than Steph [Curry] did this season!” — to passionate food opinions — “BONELESS CHICKEN WINGS AREN’T CHICKEN WINGS.”

See some of the best memes below.

Sports – TIME

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Fan Who Brought a Large Housewarming Plant to the NBA Finals Is Sprouting Up Everywhere

Toronto was full of people celebrating the Raptors’ first NBA title late into the night on Thursday, but there was one fan whose unique championship style stood out from all the rest.

Following the Raptors’ defeat of the Golden State Warriors, a new Internet hero sprouted up in the form of “Plant Guy,” a fan who was carrying around a large housewarming plant with the intent of gifting it to Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

In a video that has since gone viral, Plant Guy chatted with Global News about his vegetal offering. “It’s a plant for Kawhi. It’s a Kawhi plant,” he replied when asked what type of plant it was. “It’s a Kawhi cactus, a ‘Kawhactus.’”

Plant Guy then went on to riff on the popular Toronto cheer, “We the North,” by starting a chant of, “We the forest,” sparking a wave of love on social media. “THIS IS THE GREATEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME!!!,” tweeted one Plant Guy enthusiast. “Plant Guy should be protected at all costs!”

See some of the best responses to Plant Guy below.

Sports – TIME

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Lakers New Favorite to Win 2020 NBA Title After Klay Thompson Injury Announced

The Warriors were the favorites to win after falling to the Raptors on Thursday night, but news of Klay Thompson’s ACL injury changed things.

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Canada Clinches Its First NBA Title as Toronto Raptors Defeat the Golden State Warriors

Canadians descended upon Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday night, hoping to see the Toronto Raptors win their first NBA title, and the first “big four” (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) North American pro sports championship for Canada since the Toronto Blue Jays secured their second straight World Series title way back in 1993 (the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup that same year; incredibly, no Canadian NHL team has won the Cup since). The Raptors’ supporters arrived from every province, it seemed, in Northern California, many wearing the garish purple jerseys — featuring an oversized red dribbling dinosaur — that the franchise sported in its inaugural years, when Toronto lost lots of basketball games.

When Game 6 was over and Toronto pulled out a 114-110 victory to win a third straight Finals game on the road — and clinch the series — Canadian fans refused to leave Oracle.

This was the last game in Oakland for the Warriors, winners of three of the past five NBA titles, before they move across the bay to San Francisco next season. But the Raptors’ fans had taken over the arena. Delirious, they filled dozens of rows in the aftermath of Toronto’s win, serenading NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, underappreciated All-Star Kyle Lowry, emerging superstar Pascal Siakam — who finished Game 6 with 26 points, on 10-17 shooting — and reserve guard Fred VanVleet, the overlooked, undrafted, none-too-athletic 6-footer who ripped the hearts out of the Warriors faithful with a dozen fourth quarter points. VanFleet outplayed Stephen Curry down the stretch.

Even as the team chugged from champagne bottles in the locker room, leaving them strewn all over the floor, fans lingered outside. “It feels so good to shut this place down,” says Ankura Tayal, 36, a chiropractor from Victoria, British Columbia. “Respectfully.”

Entering these NBA playoffs, Toronto hadn’t earned too much respect from many hoops pundits, despite finishing regular season with the second-best record in the league. Five straight playoff exits will earn you plenty of doubters. Milwaukee, with MVP candidate Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia, and even Boston — a talented team that could never quite rally around Kyrie Irving — were trendier picks to win the Eastern conference. But Toronto? Sure, the Raptors had Leonard, the league’s most unassuming, keep-to-himself superstar. But Toronto didn’t feature any flashy lottery picks. VanFleet, for one, was undrafted out of Wichita State. “It’s not the glam stars,” says Van Fleet. “None of our guys probably, other than Kawhi, are in that big boy fan club or the fan boy club of the NBA.”

Sure, the Raptors benefitted from Golden State’s surreal rash of injuries. Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles after playing just 12 minutes in Game 5, his only appearance of the Finals. Klay Thompson was torching Toronto in Game 6 — he had 30 points in third quarter when Toronto’s Danny Green fouled him on a dunk attempt. Thompson landed awkwardly on his knee, but told his coach, Steve Kerr, that he’d need just a two minute rest. Thompson tore his ACL. Both Durant and Thompson are free agents coming up this summer, but could both miss significant portions of next season recovering from their ailments, muddling the plans of both Golden State and the teams that planned on pursuing Durant. (Thompson will almost certainly re-sign with the Warriors.)

Even though Golden State lost a lot of firepower these finals, the Raptors earned the title. Toronto withstood inspired performances from Golden State veterans like Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green: Iguodala finshed with 22 points on 3-6 shooting from three-point range, while Green recorded a triple double: 11 points, 19 rebounds, 13 assists. Curry had a chance to put Golden State up a point in the final seconds, but his three-pointer under pressure bounced off the rim.

Lowry, for one, came out firing in Game 6, scoring ten points in just over two minutes to become the fastest double-digit scorer in the NBA Finals in at least 43 years: He finished with 26. Toronto’s path to the title started last summer, when the team traded popular All-Star DeMar DeRozan — Lowry’s closest friend on the team — to San Antonio for Leonard, another free agent this summer who had expressed no interest in playing in Toronto. So the Raptors took a calculated risk. Rent Leonard for a year, perhaps, but give themselves a better chance at a championship. Lowry felt betrayed. Leonard reached out to him. “I texted Kyle probably a day later — or the day I got traded and told him let’s go out and do something special,” says Leonard. “I know your best friend left. I know you’re mad. But let’s make this thing work out. And here we are today.”

Raising the championship trophy, Canada’s NBA first.

Sports – TIME

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Penn Station construction to close over 10 retail businesses inside

Progress is galloping ahead at Penn Station — and it’s trampling more than 10 retail businesses that have been there for years. Construction is slated to begin next week on a new entrance for the gritty commuter hub at Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street, whose plans were unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month. The…
Business | New York Post

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Activist investor drives to put Callaway Golf up for sale

As golfers stormed Pebble Beach, Calif., for the US Open Thursday, the world’s largest golf club manufacturer found itself under attack by an activist investor. Barry Rosenstein’s Jana Partners unveiled a 9.2 percent stake in Callaway Golf and is urging the company to consider putting itself up for sale, according to a regulatory filing Thursday….
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Can Anyone Save the Scandal-Plagued USA Gymnastics? Li Li Leung Is Determined to Try

There are thankless jobs, and then there is Li Li Leung’s job. As the new president and CEO of USA Gymnastics (USAG), Leung oversees an organization that is struggling to justify its existence. After major sponsors walked away following USAG’s involvement in one of the worst sex-abuse scandals in sports history, the group declared bankruptcy last December, and is now in danger of losing its status as the national governing body for the sport in the U.S.

Leung is the fourth new head of USAG in two years and must now restore the reputation of gymnastics in the U.S. She inherits an organization that many gymnasts feel is working against them. Both gymnasts and USAG officials have revealed that under its previous leadership, it not only failed to immediately report sexual-abuse claims to law enforcement but also tried to keep those reports from becoming public. And even after hundreds of complaints from athletes against one man, former national team doctor Larry Nassar, piled up, USAG appointed a series of people with ties to those involved in the scandal to high-level positions. (In court, more than 150 women and girls, from local athletes to Olympic and world team members, said he sexually abused them over the past two decades, some when they were as young as 8 years old; in 2018, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.) Some of them believe the only way forward is to raze the organization and create an entirely new body to represent gymnastics.

Leung is betting her career that she can rebuild USAG from the inside. As a former gymnast, she wants to make athletes’ concerns more of a priority in order to rebuild the trust that has dissipated like the chalk dust gymnasts clap off their hands. She approached USAG last fall, when her predecessor resigned. “I didn’t reach out wanting to be CEO,” says Leung. “If that meant I would volunteer, then I would volunteer.”

Heading the organization wasn’t exactly a sought-after position, and many potential candidates turned it down. Leung, however, decided to leave a comfortable job at the NBA to take over the disgraced organization. Just two months into her tenure, Leung’s office at the USAG headquarters in Indianapolis is still devoid of any personal effects; there hasn’t been much time for decorating between meeting with every staff member and attending competitive events. (The first former gymnast to lead USAG in 20 years, she has even stretched with the junior national team, and kept up when they performed splits.) A few early mistakes as CEO have raised questions about whether she’s up to the task but haven’t shaken her resolve. “It’s not like you can snap your fingers and have everybody completely move on,” says Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin. “It’s going to take time.”

With the Olympics, gymnastics’ grandest showcase, looming in just over a year, Leung has scrawled a number, 43, on a whiteboard that occupies an entire wall of her office as a reminder of how urgent her job is. “It’s a timeline for me, a countdown of days,” she says, declining to elaborate further.

 

Leung didn’t need this job. As president of global partnerships at the NBA, she was responsible for marketing, negotiating and nurturing relationships with brands such as Nike, Samsung and Audi, and her easy friendliness helped her adapt to living around the world in London, Shanghai, Beijing and New York. But after watching USAG self-destruct over the past few years, she could not sit by any longer. “I kept telling myself, ‘It’s going to get better at some point,’” she says. “Over the course of two years, it didn’t. Because I gained so much from the sport, I felt it was time to pay it forward.”

When she was 7, she and her twin sister, May May, took their first gymnastics class in Ridgewood, N.J. The daring flips, and the license to tumble and catapult their bodies to impossible heights, left the girls smitten, so Leung’s parents soon moved the family to nearby Parsippany so the sisters could train at an elite gym. For 15 years, Leung lived the almost monastic life of an elite athlete, training twice a day, for 35 hours a week, missing most of the traditional teenage rites of passage like football games and school dances. The dedication earned both Leung and her sister gymnastics scholarships to the University of Michigan, and her athletic career even set her up for a less traditional challenge while she was at the NBA–competing in a regional first round of American Ninja Warrior. (The floating steps sunk her.)

In her new role, she is focused on enforcing new athlete safety policies to protect gymnasts. She has been advised not to reach out to sexual-abuse survivors involved in pending lawsuits, although some have contacted her. She told attorneys on the survivors’ committee that when she can, she wants to meet with them. “I don’t see them as adversaries at all,” she says. “I want to hear from them and would love them to be part of the solution going forward.”

Such a partnership with survivors may not be as easy as Leung hopes, given her rough start at the helm. In her first broadcast interview, Leung revealed that she too had been seen by Nassar, but said she was not abused by him because her coach was in the room. Survivors took offense; many had testified that Nassar abused them, under the guise of treating them, while their parents or coaches were in the room unaware of what he was doing. Leung quickly issued an apology on social media. “I could have chosen my words a bit more artfully,” she says a few days after the fallout. “My comment was never meant to diminish the horrific experiences the survivors had to go through. I continue to apologize for that.”

Then Leung hired Ed Nyman, a former gymnast and an expert in biomechanics at University of Findlay in Ohio, who had worked at his wife’s gymnastics facility, to serve as a medical liaison between athletes, coaches and the organization, and to oversee athlete care and wellness. But on his first day, she fired him, after she says she learned he “fail[ed] to disclose athlete safety complaints involving him and his wife’s gym.” Nyman says the complaints were made to SafeSport (an independent body that evaluates any complaints about athlete abuse, regardless of whether they are sexual in nature), did not require a formal investigation and were known to people at USAG. He maintains, “I have never done anything that disqualifies me for this job.”

Despite all the problems USAG must contend with, Leung is determined to turn it around. The U.S. Olympic Committee’s investigation into whether USAG should be decertified as a national governing body is on hold because of the bankruptcy, but she hopes the organization will be financially solvent again by the end of the year. That would give her time to make the case that USAG should remain the representative for the sport at the Tokyo Games in 2020. “My goals are to work in several main areas,” she says of the critical year ahead. “One is finding a fair and full resolution with the [Nassar] survivors. The other piece is athlete safety; we want to empower athletes. And finally, our financial stability is a big part. I believe if you put your house in order and do what’s right, the partnerships will come. That way our athletes can focus on the Olympics without any distractions.”

This appears in the June 24, 2019 issue of TIME.
Sports – TIME

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Racist accusation connects to Texans surprising GM firing: lawyer

Jeff Pope, the one-time Texans’ security coordinator, alleged discrimination against the franchise, filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Texans responded by denying the allegations. “We have just been made aware of Mr. Pope’s claim,” the Texans said in a statement. “We do not comment on pending…
Sports | New York Post

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Inside the short, unhappy life of the Alliance of American Football

Interviews with more than 40 senior AAF executives, lawyers, consultants, team presidents, coaches, players and other sources show the league began imploding even before the first game kicked off.
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‘Enough Is Enough.’ California Governor Calls to Halt Racing at Santa Anita Park After 29 Horse Deaths

The staggering number of horse deaths at the Santa Anita race track has California Governor Gavin Newsom demanding change.

Enough is enough,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and are found fit to compete.”

Twenty-nine horses have died since the park’s racing season began in December, and with almost two weeks still to go before its formal end, alarm over the death toll has grown. Among the variables thought to contribute to the deaths are the use of whips, drugs and medications, and the general track conditions, according to The New York Times and other outlets. But the problem may lie with the nature of the industry itself, although some changes have recently been enacted.

The track shut down in March after the number of horse fatalities reached 23, but reopened just weeks later following the board’s passage of stricter safety reforms. Yet, the deaths continued.

Formal Dude and Truffalino, two horses who raced at the track, are among the most recent racing deaths. The horses, who passed away just one day apart earlier this month, suffered from race-day injuries. For Truffalino, it was believed he died of a heart attack. They join the dozens of other horses who have met an untimely end at the Arcadia track, located just outside of Los Angeles, this year.

According to the Santa Anita website, the park’s board enacted reforms in March to limit the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications in an effort to improve the horses’ health and to prevent life-threatening injuries on race day. The website also states that California racing standards maintain “some of the strictest crop rules in the world.”

In a press release, The Stronach Group, which owns the track, claims that since the reforms passed, there has been a 50 percent decrease in “catastrophic” race-day injuries and an 84 percent decrease during training sessions. The group also says they are working with the California Horse Racing Board to resolve horse safety concerns.

This past Sunday, following the deaths of Formal Dude and Truffalino, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) asked Santa Anita to end their meet seven days early. However, the track currently remains in operation. Santa Anita is also still currently scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup this November.

The CHRB and The Stronach Group did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.

With close to two weeks still left in the current season, and an even bigger event on the horizon, all eyes will be trained on the track—not just to see who crosses the finish line, but to see who might not.

Sports – TIME

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‘It Feels Very Possible.’ How This Transgender Racing Driver Is Hoping to Make Sports History

Charlie Martin hurtles around the racetrack, her gloved hands gripping the steering wheel with only blond hair visible from the top of the driver’s seat. She zooms underneath banners emblazoned with the logo of the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorsport race, her focus unbroken. Eventually slowing to a halt after a 30-minute run, Martin unbuckles her seatbelt. It’s not a helmet that she takes off, but a VR headset; not a racing car that she lifts herself out of, but a state-of-the art simulator at Cranfield Simulation, an aerospace facility about two hours north of London.

The simulator is just one of the many ways Martin, 37, is preparing for the biggest race of her career so far — and the chance to make history. She plans to be the first transgender driver to ever compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France — one of the world’s most prestigious motorsport races. Her journey begins June 15, where she will compete in the Road to Le Mans race as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, marking the start of a three-year program setting her on the road toward the 24 Hours race, and towards making LGBT history. Her story is a rare one in a sport not known for its diversity, and comes at a time when many transgender people are facing a rising backlash for their participation in different sports.

In recent months, several high-profile athletes including tennis champion Martina Navratilova, Olympic medallist Kelly Holmes and long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe have questioned the “fairness” of transgender women competing in elite sport. In 2017, researchers at Loughborough University found that a majority of international sporting policies including the International Olympic Committee and the Rugby Football Union were unfairly discriminating against transgender people, particularly transgender women. And in the U.S., transgender student athletes have faced vitriol and even legal attempts to prevent them from competing in sport.

“There’s no argument about the positive effects of sport, like belonging to a team, and the health benefits,” says Martin, who first fell in love with motorsport when she was eight years old. “To deny that to people is incredibly damaging. I don’t think some of the people who are pushing this argument really understand the impact of what they are doing.”

Racing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019

Growing up in Leicestershire in the English Midlands, Martin first wanted to be a fighter pilot, before shifting her attention to focus on cars and racing. “It’s been the biggest passion in my life,” she tells TIME, sitting among several car models after her first training session of the day at Cranfield. Since buying her own racing car at the age of 23 (“a Peugeot 205,” she recalls), Martin has spent the majority of her life being in and around cars and motorsport.

Now she’s setting her sights on one of the sport’s most legendary races: the 24 hours of Le Mans. Called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency,” the race runs over the course of 24 hours around a punishing 8.5 mile long track in the northern French town of Le Mans. For many drivers, competing at the 96-year-old annual event is the pinnacle of their racing career.

“If someone had told me 10 years ago that I was going to attempt to race the 24 hours of Le Mans, I’d say forget it. If someone had told me 10 years ago I was going to transition and be my true self and race, I’d say what planet are you living on?” Martin says. “But now, it feels very real. It feels very possible.”

Martin remains determined to pursue her goal, to compete in the main Le Mans event in 2022. But first, she will compete in this year’s support race, the Road to Le Mans as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which takes place on the same track as the main race in front of an international audience from June 13 to June 15.

There are several challenges when it comes to endurance racing. Martin’s upcoming race consists of two one-hour long races, with a driver change in the middle. Training the mind to concentrate on keeping up pace and consistency for one solid hour is difficult, as is dealing with difficulties like slower cars, blind spots and traffic.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” she says. Coming to train each week in the simulator for a couple of hours at a time is the closest thing she can get to practicing in the real car, which is based in Luxembourg. Currently, Martin is part of a family racing team with two brothers, David and Gary Hauser, based in eastern Luxembourg. The team also has a 50/50 gender split, with men and women making up the drivers, engineers and mechanics all contributing to the race. And although her training is largely solitary, the draw of the sport for Martin is the teamwork. “Here, the whole team has to work together in endurance. It’s an incredible feeling to be working hard for the same goal.”

As well as the physical and mental test of training for the race, Martin has come up against financial obstacles too. Because of delays in negotiations with backers, Martin has been forced to crowdfund before heading to Le Mans — a source of stress no driver wants to face in the weeks leading up to the race of their life. (She is hoping to raise $ 63,000).

Racing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019
Paola DepalmasRacing driver Charlie Martin at her first race of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in April 2019

But the biggest challenge she’s overcome so far is the decision to transition, she says. Having known she was trans since childhood, Martin experienced severe depression and was suicidal by the end of 2011, after racing for around six years. “I would look at myself in the mirror each day, and I just didn’t know who I was any more. I had lost all sense of connection with my identity.”

Following the experiences of YouTube vloggers who were documenting their own transitions online, Martin was inspired to begin her own transition and decided to put her motorsport career on hold during 2012. She considered leaving the sport entirely, fearing that people might make fun of her and that the activity she loved the most might become the thing she hated.

“For me, transition was the hardest thing I could ever attempt. I had no idea if it was going to go well or badly,” she says. Yet when the British racing community welcomed her back upon her return that September, and when she made a full return to the sport by racing in France in 2015, she felt overwhelmed by the support. “Coming out the other side and feeling that I’m alive, I’m happy, I found what I needed. That’s an incredibly empowering feeling and it made me feel like: What next?” Boosted by this new sense of confidence, she began pushing herself further in the car, improving her performance and earning spots on the podium at races.

However, Martin knows that her experience of being a trans woman with the support of her sporting community is not universal. “The discrimination towards the trans community right now is really tragic, and really damaging,” Martin says. “I think it creates a toxic environment for people; this isn’t just about trans professional athletes. This is about anyone who likes sport, whether they’re a fan, someone who plays football with a local team, someone who wants to go to their local pool or gym.”

The current atmosphere has fueled Martin’s ambition to increase trans visibility in sport and society to empower others. “We should be free to be who we want to be in our life, and do what we want to do. Nobody should limit their vision of what’s possible in life just because of how they were born.”

Sports – TIME

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U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Just Scored the Most Goals Ever in a Women’s World Cup Match

The U.S. women’s national soccer team didn’t waste any time getting down to business in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

In their first group stage match on Tuesday, Team USA soared to a 13-0 win over Thailand, breaking the record for the largest margin of victory ever in a Women’s World Cup match.

Alex Morgan — one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2019 — scored five of the 13 goals to tie the U.S. team record for most goals in a game. Meanwhile, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis added two goals apiece while Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also all put one on the board.

The previous record for most lopsided victory in Women’s World Cup history belonged to Germany, who beat Argentina 11-0 in the 2007 tournament. Germany was also in possession of the second-place record thanks to their 10-0 shutout against Côte d’Ivoire in 2015 while Switzerland was sitting in third with a 10-1 win over Ecuador in 2015.

As for how the USWNT’s rout of Thailand compares to the largest margin of victory in men’s World Cup history, there’s no contest. On the men’s side, Yugoslavia and Hungary are tied for the record with 9-0 wins over Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and South Korea, respectively, giving the women a four-goal advantage.

The USWNT is in pursuit of their fourth World Cup championship. They will play their second group stage match against Chile on June 16.

Sports – TIME

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Former NFL Player Kellen Winslow Jr. Convicted of Raping a Homeless Woman

(SAN DIEGO) — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. — the son of a Hall of Famer who himself earned more than $ 40 million during his career — has been convicted of raping a 58-year-old homeless woman last year in his picturesque beach community of Encinitas, north of San Diego.

A jury returned the verdict Monday in San Diego Superior Court in Vista but was expected to continue to deliberating on two more counts of rape involving a 54-year-old hitchhiker and an unconscious teenage girl in 2003.

The jury also found the 35-year-old former tight end guilty of indecent exposure and lewd conduct involving two other women, but jurors found him not guilty of one count of a lewd act.

Winslow, who played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets, faces up to life in prison if convicted of all counts.

All five women testified during the nine-day trial. Winslow did not take the stand.

Defense attorneys pointed out inconsistencies in the accusers’ testimonies and argued the women invented the allegations to prey on the wealth of Winslow.

Prosecutors say the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow felt empowered by his fame to abuse the most vulnerable.

Prosecutor Dan Owens told the jury of eight men and four women that Winslow is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

The homeless woman in Encinitas, who was 58 at the time, testified that he befriended her and attacked her next to his vehicle after inviting her for a coffee in May 2018.

A 54-year-old hitchhiker said he drove her to an Encinitas shopping center parking lot and raped her in his Hummer in March 2018.

A 57-year-old woman said he exposed himself to her while she tended to her garden in May of 2018. The jury found him guilty of that charge Monday.

After news of the attacks broke, a woman came forward and said Winslow had raped her when she was a 17-year-old high school student in 2003. He was 19 at the time and had come home from college for the summer. She said she passed out at a party in a San Diego suburb and woke up to find Winslow assaulting her.

A 77-year-old woman who went to the same gym as Winslow in the beach community of Carlsbad said he committed lewd acts in front of her, including touching himself, while Winslow was free on $ 2 million bail in February. The jury found him guilty on the charge of touching himself in front of the woman at the gym, but not guilty of committing a lewd act while in the facility’s hot tub in front of the same woman who said it happened on a different occasion.

After the jury sent a note saying it was deadlocked on the eight other charges, the judge sent them back to deliberate. Jurors went home less than an hour later and were ordered to resume deliberating Tuesday.

The panel on Friday sent a note to the judge indicating it was possibly struggling to find agreement.

“The jurors could benefit from an explanation as to what being under oath means,” the note said. “Additionally, how we should follow the law and not what we think the law means.”

The judge told jurors being under oath means telling the whole truth and that they should follow the law how it is written.

Defense attorney Marc Carlos questioned the credibility of the women’s claims, saying they had lied, misconstrued things or were unable to initially identify him correctly.

Defense lawyers also said the sex was consensual and that Winslow had cheated on his wife repeatedly with no-strings-attached sex.

Prosecutors said the crux of the women’s stories didn’t change and that evidence included traces of Winslow’s DNA on one of the accuser’s pants and GPS locations placing him where the women said the assaults occurred.

The five women testified that they didn’t know Winslow was famous when they met him.

Sports – TIME

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Nasty political drama reaches third act in Washington

The financial markets are nervous about lots of things right now — trade wars, the condition of the economy, what the Federal Reserve is thinking. And the biggest of all should be the sour relations between the two political parties in Washington. I’ve said that the political crisis in Washington would play out in three…
Business | New York Post

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The Toronto Raptors Respond to Stephen Curry’s Onslaught, Over and Over

Every time Stephen Curry and the injury-addled Golden State Warriors cut a deficit against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, every time Oracle Arena was ready to raise its ample decibels and will the Warriors to yet another victory, the Toronto Raptors had an answer that deflated all of Oakland, shot after shot after shot.

Curry, who scored his postseason career high of 47 points, hit a 32-foot pull-up jumper late in the first quarter to cut a lead to four. Danny Green, whose playoff shooting struggles led earnest Raptors fans to stop him in the street and encourage him to keep firing away, countered with a three of his own. Curry sunk a fourth quarter shot to trim the lead to 11. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, an All-Star who’s played, according to his critics, an all-too second fiddle to Kawhi Leonard, did one better, with a step back three from deep to push it back to 14. Curry hit three free throws to make it a seven point game in the fourth. Toronto big man Serge Ibaka took a deep two—the most inefficient shot in basketball—and nailed it, rendering it plenty efficient, and giving Toronto more of a cushion.

Every Raptor on the court, it seemed, had an answer for Curry. A Curry steal and two foul shots cut Toronto’s lead to 10 with over three minutes left, which was striking distance for the Warriors, given their three-point prowess. Marc Gasol, however, took the air out of Oracle with a spinning turnaround hook that kind of looked like horse-bleep, but fell. A few minutes later, Fred VanVleet provided the final blow—he launched a three over Draymond Green, like a little kid tossing a prayer against his brother in driveway one-on-one. Swish. Toronto’s lead increased to 15 points with just over 90 seconds left. Golden State coach Steve Kerr called time out and cleared the bench.

Every time a Raptor saw a teammate make a timely bucket, he was inspired to do the same. “When you see shots go in, it could be contagious,” says Danny Green, who finished 6 for 10 from three-point range, taking the fan advice to keep shooting to heart. “Luckily it was tonight.”

Toronto’s 123-109 win over Golden State leaves the Raptors just two victories away from Canada’s first-ever NBA championship. Golden State needs Kevin Durant, who hasn’t played since May 8 because of a calf injury, and Klay Thompson, who missed Game 3 because of a hamstring strain he suffered in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, to heal fast. Without two future Hall of Famers, Curry had to bear too much of the scoring load, sort of like how LeBron James was forced to carry the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 and 2018 Finals. The Cavs lost both those series.

Leonard led Toronto with 30 points, but Lowry’s offensive reemergence—he finished with 23 points on five threes—is particularly concerning for Golden State. Before the game, someone wrote “Let It Rip” on a board in the Toronto locker room. Lowry told Toronto coach Nick Nurse that he’d honor that directive. Nurse had wondered if Lowry wrote the message. “I don’t know who the f–k did it,” says Lowry. “I don’t even care. That was our team’s motto tonight, be aggressive. My job was to score a little bit more.”

Ibaka’s job, meanwhile, was to stuff every Golden State shot out of the sky. Ibaka finished with six rejections in just 22 minutes of action. His performance sent a message: Golden State needs to think twice before driving to the basket. When asked which swat was the most important, Ibaka couldn’t quite answer. “I don’t remember,” says Ibaka. “I had so many.”

We should all have such problems.

After the Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, without Durant, many pundits thought their fourth title in five years was a mere formality. That’s no longer the case, especially with these new injuries to Thompson and the effective, under-appreciated big man Kevon Looney, who suffered a chest contusion in Game 2 and is out for the rest of the finals. Still, the Warriors know they’re generating little sympathy. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” says Draymond Green. “Everybody wants to see us lose. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.”

Curry, for one, won’t panic. “It’s a long series you know,” he says. “It’s going to be fun for us.”

The fun needs to start soon.

Sports – TIME

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How the underdog Raptors have taken control of the Finals

The only Canadian team in the NBA is one game away from winning its first league championship when the Toronto Raptors host the Golden State Warriors on Monday night (ABC, 9 p.m.). As prohibitive pre-series underdogs, Toronto has shocked the basketball and betting worlds. Markets missed the mark by seven, 16.5, and 18 points in…
Sports | New York Post

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Josh Norman’s offseason: Blue Angels, Rio Grande, helping others

The outspoken cornerback revels in his wide-ranging adventures and serving others, and scoffs at the idea that he’s just “a controversial guy.”
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Tuukka Rask Comes Through Again as Bruins Force Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final

Rask made 28 saves in the Bruins 5–1 win over the Blues in Game 6, sending the series back to Boston, where the city eyes its third championship in a year. 

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Rafael Nadal Wins 12th French Open Championship Title

(PARIS) — For a few, fleeting moments Sunday, Rafael Nadal found his French Open supremacy seemingly threatened by Dominic Thiem, a younger, talented opponent challenging him in the final for the second consecutive year.

A poor game from Nadal allowed Thiem to break him and even things at a set apiece. That development brought fans to their feet in Court Philippe Chatrier, roaring and clapping and, above all, wondering: Was this, now, a real contest? Could Thiem push Nadal more? Could he make this surge last? Would Nadal falter?

That the questions arose at all was significant. The answers arrived swiftly. Nadal reasserted himself, as he usually does at Roland Garros, by grabbing 16 of the next 17 points and 12 of the remaining 14 games, pulling away to beat Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 for his record-extending 12th championship at the French Open.

“I gave everything I had,” Thiem said. “It’s amazing: 12 times here. It’s unreal.”

No one in tennis ever has won any major tournament that many times. Then again, no one ever has been as suited for success on any of the sport’s surfaces as this 33-year-old Spaniard is on red clay: Nadal is 93-2 for his career at Roland Garros, winning four in a row from 2005-08, five in a row from 2010-14, and now three in a row.

“I can’t explain my emotions,” said the No. 2-seeded Nadal, who dropped to his back after the final point, getting that rust-colored dirt all over his neon yellow shirt, then wiped away tears during the trophy ceremony.

Looking at the bigger picture, he is now up to 18 Grand Slam trophies, moving within two of Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20.

Thiem, a 25-year-old Austrian who was seeded No. 4 and upset No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, was eyeing his first major title in this rematch of the 2018 final in Paris. But again, he couldn’t solve Nadal.

“First thing that I want to say is congrats to Dominic. I feel sorry, because he deserves it here, too,” Nadal said. “He has an unbelievable intensity.”

So, of course, does Nadal. This had been, by his lofty standards, a rough season, from the most lopsided Grand Slam final loss of his career — against Djokovic at the Australian Open — to entering May without a title for the first year since 2004.

He started to right himself by taking the title on clay in Rome last month, then found himself in a familiar position in Paris: playing in the final, and winning it.

This one began on a cloudy afternoon, with the temperature in the low 60s (mid-teens Celsius) and only a slight breeze. In the initial game — interrupted briefly by a baby wailing in the stands, drawing a laugh from other spectators and prompting Nadal to back away from the baseline between serves — three of the five points lasted at least 11 strokes.

And, thereby, a pattern was established: By the end of the 3-hour, 1-minute match, a total of 46 points went 10 strokes or more. Each man claimed half.

Both would station themselves along the baseline and sprint, scramble, slide, stretch to somehow reach just about every ball, not merely putting a racket on it but conjuring a booming reply. It was an impressive display of athleticism, skill and will, with Thiem managing to give just as good as he got, particularly with his ferocious backhand.

From the get-go, it was such a physical grind that Nadal was soaked with sweat and changed neon yellow shirts after seven games and 45 minutes, eliciting catcalls from the stands.

Early on, there were no signs of fatigue for Thiem, even though he was competing for a fourth straight day, because of rain that jumbled the schedule. Nadal, meanwhile, entered Sunday having played just once in the previous four days.

Not only that, but while Nadal dismissed Federer with relative ease in a straight-set semifinal that concluded Friday, Thiem was forced to work overtime, eliminating Djokovic in a five-setter that wrapped up less than 24 hours before the final began.

Thiem showed he can play defense. Showed he can flip to offense in a blink. Showed power off both sides. Showed precision, too, making only three of the match’s first 12 unforced errors.

Indeed, it was Thiem who nosed ahead first, closing a 12-stroke exchange by ripping a forehand to earn the first break point of the final, then converting it with an overhead to cap a 20-stroke point for a 3-2 edge. He turned with a clenched right hand to face his guest box, where all of his supporters were yelling and shaking fists, too, including his girlfriend, French tennis player Kristina Mladenovic, who won the women’s doubles championship earlier in the day.

Nadal immediately responded. He grabbed the next four games with elan, using a drop shot to help break for a 5-3 lead, then a serve-and-volley to help hold for the set.

That must have been demoralizing for Thiem. But at the ensuing changeover, he didn’t whack a ball toward the stands, as Federer memorably did during his semifinal loss. He didn’t spike a racket or kick a ball. He casually sat in his gray sideline seat, bounced his legs and chewed on an energy bar, furtively glancing to his left at Nadal.

Thiem bounced back, if only briefly. Talk about a stunning shift: Nadal won 25 of 26 points on his serve before — with spectators trading between-point chants of nicknames, “Ra-fa!” and “Do-mi!” — he got broken to cede the second set. That was the only set he’d managed to steal from Nadal in four career meetings at Roland Garros.

Maybe this was going to be a long one.

But Thiem, put simply, wilted a bit. He made three unforced errors in the next set’s opening game to get broken at love, creating an opening that Nadal barged through. By now, Nadal was creating magic at the net, and he won the point on 23 of 27 times he went forward. One drop volley was spun so marvelously that it landed on Thiem’s side, then bounced back toward the net. All Thiem could do was watch — and offer an appreciative thumbs-up.

Soon enough, it was over. The King of Clay, as Nadal is known, still reigns.

Sports – TIME

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The NBA Finals Shoving Incident Reopens Wounds

When Kyle Lowry dove into the stands to save a loose ball during Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the NBA finals — a hustle play that earns almost universal plaudits, at all levels of basketball — the last thing he expected was to be shoved by a fan he didn’t even hit, and be told to “go blank yourself.” For what? Doing his job too well? “I mean, I was furious,” says Lowry. “I’m not going to lie.”

The next day that fury turned to shock — for Lowry, his Toronto Raptors teammates, and the NBA at large. Lowry found out, via text message, that the man who shoved him wasn’t just a fan; he was Mark Stevens, the 59-year-old billionaire venture capitalist who owns a minority stake in the Golden State Warriors. “Unbelievable,” says Lowry. “Even worse. Even worse. He should understand this is what happens. This is basketball. I’m competing. I’m trying to save a basketball. I’m trying to help my team get a possession. It just sucks, man. It just sucks that you got people like that.”

Toronto’s Danny Green was on the court during the incident. “I looked at him and my first thought was, this guy, he’s court side, he’s got to be somebody,” says Green. “If you’re somebody and you’ve been court side before you should definitely know the rules and regulations. He’s an older gentleman, so I’m like what the hell are you doing? You’ve got to know better. You probably have kids.” Stevens is a father of three. “Do you teach your kids to react that way at the game?” Green says. “Why would you do that?… I was shocked, and a little appalled about his behavior.”

The Warriors apologized on Thursday; Lowry and other Raptors praised the team for the quick condemnation of one of its co-owners. Earlier on in the day, Lowry said he hadn’t heard from Stevens. “I don’t care to know him,” Lowry said. “He showed his true colors at the time.” Lowry said Stevens “shouldn’t be part of our league.”

Later Thursday, the NBA and the team announced that Stevens had been banned, effective immediately, from attending NBA games and Warriors activities for a year and fined $ 500,000. Stevens — a member of the USC board of trustees who donated $ 50 million to endow and name the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, and is now managing partner at his family office, S-Cubed Capital — apologized in a statement and said he accepted his punishment. “I take full responsibility for my actions last night at the NBA Finals and am embarrassed by what transpired,” Stevens said. “What I did was wrong and there is no excuse for it. Mr. Lowry deserves better, and I have reached out today in an attempt to directly apologize to him and other members of the Raptors and Warriors organizations.”

2019 NBA Finals - Game Three
Lachlan Cunningham—Getty Images Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors argues with Warriors minority investor Mark Stevens after Lowry chased down a loose ball during Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif on June 5, 2019.

People sitting in court-side seats do occasionally overshadow the players on the court. Up in Toronto, disruptions have tended to be less serious: the rapper Drake has ticked off opposing players and coaches with his all-consuming support for his hometown Raptors. He’s exchanged words with Draymond Green in the Finals, and in the conference finals, Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer suggested he crossed a boundary from fan to active participant.

Part of the NBA’s appeal as a spectator sport is the crowd’s proximity to the floor, at least for those fans lucky enough to afford it. This intimacy makes the games louder and more exciting for the players, and given the prices for the seats, helps fatten their paychecks. But when fans go too far, like Stevens did, this proximity can be problematic, most famously during the 2004 Malice at the Palace in Detroit, a wild melee between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons players that spilled into the stands and scarred the league for a long time.

While this latest fan-player interaction wasn’t nearly as dramatic as that one, it’s caused considerable controversy because a team owner was involved. Outspoken Golden State star Draymond Green, for one, has argued that the term “owner” should be phased out, because it implies that players are property. Green has said the word brings slavery to mind. The racial undercurrents of the league adds another layer of sensitivity: most of the players are black, and an overwhelming majority of team owners are white — Michael Jordan is the lone black majority owner.

Some NBA teams have reportedly moved to phase out the word, and this incident, which involved a white part-owner of a team cursing at and shoving an African-American player doing his job, could speed up the process. “This idea that some white man can put hands on you, and you’re not supposed to respond, I think conjured up a lot of problematic images very specific to race,” says Todd Boyd, professor of race and popular culture at USC.

As for the actual basketball at the NBA Finals: Toronto holds a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 on Friday at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Klay Thompson, who missed all of Game 3 because of his hamstring injury, will be back in the lineup: Kevin Durant is still out. “It’s been a fun Finals,” says Lowry. “It’s been a competitive Finals. It really sucks that this… had to be a part of it.”

Sports – TIME

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Your Ultimate Guide to Team USA as the 2019 Women’s World Cup Gets Underway

The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in France on Friday, when the host county takes on South Korea at 3 p.m. ET. Expectations are high for the top-ranked United States in the monthlong event. The U.S. is seeking a fourth World Cup title after victories in 1991 (the first year of the event), 1999, and in 2015. With a tournament win, Team USA would become just the second-ever country to win back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles; Germany took the trophy in 2003 and 2007.

Four years ago, some 25 million people watched the American women’s team beat Japan in the World Cup final — a record U.S. audience for any soccer game. New York City threw the team a ticker-tape parade, a first for a women’s sports squad. “I was actually thinking, like, shit man, they’re going to close down New York City, New Yorkers can be pissed, not that many people are going to come,” says U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe. But thousands of fans lined the streets of lower Manhattan to fête the World Cup champs. “To be completely blown away like that was very, very special,” she says.

Now Team USA is looking for an even bigger celebration. To help you catch soccer fever this summer, here’s TIME’s guide to the Women’s World Cup.

The path to victory

Team USA was placed in Group F — one of six four-team groupings that make up the 24-team tournament — along with Chile, Sweden, and Thailand. So that you know when to sneak away from work: the U.S. kicks off against Thailand, in Reims, on Tuesday, June 11, at 3 p.m ET. Then, the Americans take on World Cup newbies Chile on Sunday, June 16, at 12 p.m. ET in Paris. The U.S. will be heavy favorites against those two teams, which could set up a showdown with Sweden, on Thursday, June 20, at 3 p.m. ET in Le Havre, for first place in the group. The top two teams in each of the six groups, plus the top four third place teams, advance to the round of 16 knockout stage.

A U.S.-Sweden duel for group supremacy has potential for intrigue, since the winner could face host country France in a quarterfinal (assuming France wins its group). So finishing in second could actually offer an easier path to the semifinals.

The fight off the pitch

The U.S. women’s team enters this World Cup embroiled in a lawsuit with its employer. On March 8, International Women’s Day, the team filed a federal gender discrimination complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, arguing that the organization pays “only lip service to gender equality.” The federation has denied unlawful conduct, attributing any alleged pay discrepancies to “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”

The World Cup also spotlights more indignity for the women: two major regional men’s tournaments, the CONCACAF Gold Cup (which features the U.S. men and other teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean) and the CONMEBOL Copa América (featuring the best teams in South America) are being held at the same time; the finals of the Gold Cup and Copa América are on July 7, the same day as the Women’s World Cup. The men’s World Cup final would never have to share a stage with another soccer tournament. “It’s ridiculous and disappointing,” says Rapinoe.

FIFA has touted its doubling of prize money available to the 2019 Women’s World Cup countries, from $ 15 to $ 30 million (the winning country gets $ 4 million, up from the $ 2 million the U.S. received for winning the tournament in 2015). But the gender pay gap has actually widened, as the men have seen increases too, from $ 358 million in 2014 to $ 400 million in 2018, a bump which increased the difference in men’s and women’s prize money from $ 343 million to $ 370 million.

So FIFA’s raises have still left many women feeling they don’t get what they deserve. The Associated Press has reported that FIFA’s cash reserves soared to a record $ 2.74 billion in the four-year period covering the 2018 World Cup. “They have essentially unlimited resources,” says Rapinoe. “I don’t think that it’s really been a huge change at all. I think sort of the incremental change that we’ve seen is just not enough. I don’t think that’s really the model that needs to happen. I would like to see a major paradigm shift.”

The Americans’ star striker

U.S. striker Alex Morgan — subject of a recent TIME cover story — is the biggest star in U.S. soccer. In April, Morgan, 29, became the third-youngest American player (behind Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach) to score 100 international goals. She has endorsement deals with companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Proctor & Gamble deodorant brand Secret, and a social media following in the millions. According to Hookit, a sports sponsorship analytics company, she delivers five times the social media engagement rate of the number two U.S. women’s player, Carli Lloyd. What’s more, she tops the engagement rate of the top-ranked men’s player, Christian Pulisic, sixfold. Among female athletes worldwide, she ranks fifth in social media engagement, trailing only Ronda Rousey, Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Maria Sharapova.

“I see her behind the scenes day-to-day,” says Rapinoe. “I think a lot of people see her show up and get sponsorships and score goals. But the amount of work she puts into it, and her desire to be as good as she possibly can be, is way more than most. She has that sort of elite mentality, not showing up and hoping that the World Cup goes great for her. But ensuring that the World Cup goes great.”

Read more: Soccer phenom Alex Morgan wants the respect — and money — female players deserve

Vengeance awaits

The last time the U.S. women appeared in a major global tournament, the team made its earliest-ever exit from a mega-event: Sweden, then led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, beat the Americans in 2016 Olympics quarterfinals on a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw. Afterwards, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo caused an international incident by calling the Swedes a “bunch of cowards” for sitting back on defense. (Solo, historically a supremely talented but divisive presence on the team, is gone this year, replaced by Alyssa Naeher, 31, who’ll make her World Cup debut; either Brianna Scurry or Solo has played every minute of every Olympics and World Cup since 2003.)

At the time, the quarterfinal defeat hit the Americans hard. But now it’s serving as motivation. “I feel like the loss in 2016 is fueling this team,” says forward Christen Press. After those Olympics, Morgan needed a reset. She spent part of 2017 playing for Olympique Lyonnais, one of the world’s premier club teams, and started meditating and doing yoga in France. “I hope that defeat and disappointment sticks in our minds,” says Morgan, “because I think it’s important for us to know that feeling when we step on the field on the highest stage again.” So they’ll work harder to never experience it again.

The Sauerbrunn Plan could save us

Pretty much all soccer fans agree that penalty-kick shootouts are a highly unsatisfying way to settle a tie. U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn, however, offers a pretty novel way to ditch PKs.

If a game is still tied after 30 minutes of extra time, instead of penalty kicks, all 11 players take the field for a sudden death session. Sauerbrunn’s twist: every two minutes, coaches must call one of their players off the field. If no one can score on 8v8 or 5v5 or even 2v2, the last player for each team goes 1v1, first score wins. And if that means two keepers are playing a little schoolyard head-to-head game — but on a 115 yard field and in front of millions — even better!

We need to get the Sauerbrunn Plan in front of FIFA. “Put me on the task force,” she says.

Carli’s case

Remember Carli Lloyd? The American soccer star who scored a hat trick against Japan in the 2015 World Cup final, including an almost cartoonish strike from midfield that somehow found the net? The back-to-back winner of the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award, in 2015-2016, has been coming off the bench for the U.S. in the run-up to the World Cup. At a recent media event, a reporter asked Lloyd if she was comfortable in her role. “No, I’m not,” said Lloyd, 36. “I’m not here to be a super-sub, plain and simple. That’s not the type of person I am.”

“I’m a fighter. I’ll fight to the end,” she says. “My age isn’t a factor. My ability isn’t a factor. I feel the fittest I’ve ever felt. I’ve reinvented my game these last three or four years: instead of the athletic, powerful Carli, just head down and go to goal, I’m a way better soccer player. I feel that my mind is the mind of a 36-year-old at the moment, but my body feels like the body of a 26-year-old.”
Heading into the Women’s World Cup, the U.S. has a pretty nice problem: this is one of its deepest teams ever. Lloyd has made her case for more time on the pitch; she’s scored four goals in her last five games for the team. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it doesn’t matter where you start,” says Lloyd, “it matters where you finish.”

Sports – TIME

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A Look Back at 5 Memorable Player-Fan Altercations in Major League Sports

When it comes to sports, emotions can — and frequently do — run high. Sometimes, this leads to fights between players, as was the case when a Chicago White Sox infielder infamously charged the mound after veteran Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan hit him with a pitch. But when fans get in the mix, it’s a whole other ballgame, so to speak.

This issue most recently rose to the surface of sports discourse when a fan shoved Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry after he went flying into the crowd during Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals. It later came to light that the fan in question, Mark Stevens, is a part owner of the Golden State Warriors.

The incident occurred after Lowry slammed into a group of fans seated courtside at Oracle Arena while trying to save a loose ball in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game. Stevens, who wasn’t involved in the collision, then reached over to shove Lowry out of the way. Lowry complained to a referee, and Stevens was ejected from the game.

During a SportsCenter appearance following the game, Lowry said that he felt Stevens should no longer be allowed to attend NBA games. “Honestly, I hope he’s never allowed to come to an NBA game because he shouldn’t have done that,” Lowry told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “There’s no place for that. Luckily, they threw him out. I talked to the league security already and explained myself. The fans have a place. We love our fans. But fans like that, they shouldn’t be allowed to be in there because it’s not right.”

Lowry’s fellow NBA star LeBron James also spoke out against Stevens’ actions. James took to Instagram on Thursday to call for Stevens to be further disciplined.

There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There’s so many issues here. When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don’t know it’s on the back on the ticket itself that states the guidelines. But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for. He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that Something needs to be done ASAP! A swift action for his actions. Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him. You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protected himself. I’ve been quite throughout the whole NBA playoffs watching every game (haven’t missed one) but after I saw what I saw last night, took time to let it manifest into my thinking I couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet on this!

The NBA also issued a statement on Thursday calling Stevens’ actions “beyond unacceptable” and announcing that he will not be allowed to attend games as their review of the matter continues.

The results of this particular altercation seem to be skewing in Lowry’s — a.k.a. the player’s — favor. But ahead of Game 4 of the finals, let’s take a look back at how some of the memorable fan-player confrontations in major league sports history have played out.

The Malice at the Palace

Back when Metta World Peace went by his real name, Ron Artest, and played for the Indiana Pacers, he was involved in a fan-player brawl so infamous that it has been given its own name: The Malice at the Palace.

The events leading up to Artest fighting a fan during a 2004 game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons included Pistons center Ben Wallace shoving Artest after Artest fouled him, Artest laying down on the scorer’s table to try to cool off, and a fan — a man named John Green — throwing a drink at Artest while he was lying there.

What followed was a massive brawl that began with Artest attacking a man who he thought was Green, but was actually just a random spectator.

“There were roughly half a dozen elements that caused that brawl to happen,” Mark Montieth, who covered the Pacers for the Indianapolis Star, told Grantland in 2012. “If Artest doesn’t make that hard foul on Ben Wallace, it doesn’t happen. If Ben Wallace doesn’t react the way he did, it doesn’t happen. If the referees control the situation, it doesn’t happen. If Artest doesn’t go lay down on that scorer’s table, it doesn’t happen. If the fan doesn’t throw the beverage, it doesn’t happen. There was a continuation there, a succession of things. You take away any one of them and the whole thing doesn’t happen.”

Five Pacers and four Pistons were suspended following the melee. Artest was suspended for the remainder of the 2003-04 season — the longest fight-related suspension ever levied in the NBA — while his teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively. Artest also lost approximately $ 5 million in salary.

Green was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years’ probation. He was also banished for life from Detroit home games.

Strangely enough, Artest and Green are now friends.

Albert Belle

Albert “Joey” Belle became known for a number of outbursts throughout his career. But the incident that sticks out in most MLB fans’ minds is when he chucked a loose foul ball at a heckling fan during a May 1991 game between the Cleveland Indians and California Angels. The fan in question, Jeff Pillar, had apparently been taunting Belle, who had spent 10 weeks in an alcohol-rehabilitation program the previous summer, about “throwing a keg party” and inviting him.

The Indians issued an apology to Pillar — who was left with a bruised chest bone — on Belle’s behalf and the American League suspended him for six games.

Shaun Ellis

In the wake of a 13-3 loss to a less-than-stellar Seattle Seahawks squad in 2008, New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis was caught on camera heaving a chunk of snow at Seahawks season ticket holder Robert Larsen as the Jets were pelted with snowballs while running off the field at Qwest Stadium. Despite the fact that Ellis claimed his reaction was “all in fun,” the NFL slapped him with a $ 10,000 fine for the incident.

Larsen also sued Ellis in 2010, a full two years later, for both physical and emotional damages.

Frank Francisco

When an altercation between the Texas Rangers bullpen and Oakland Athletics fans made then-Texas reliever Frank Francisco see red during a 2004 game at the Oakland Coliseum, Francisco hurled a metal folding chair into the stands that hit a heckling fan’s wife in the face and broke her nose. Francisco was ejected from the game, suspended for the rest of the season, and fined $ 10,000 by the league. He was also arrested on a charge of aggravated battery.

The fan’s wife, Jennifer Bueno, later filed a lawsuit against the team, the players and the security firm employed by the A’s. It was settled out of court when the Rangers agreed to issue a public apology as well as a sum of money that was not disclosed.

“It’s going to be something that is part of my life forever,” Bueno said during a 2005 news conference announcing the lawsuit. “I’m fearful of any confrontations happening around me.”

Vernon Maxwell

There are some trash talk lines that should never be crossed — that is, if you don’t want a 6-foot-4 inch, 180-pound NBA player coming after you.

Violence is obviously never the answer, but when then-Houston Rockets shooting guard Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell allegedly heard a Portland Trail Blazers fan making fun of his wife’s recent miscarriage during a 1995 game, he went bounding up into the stands during a timeout and hit the heckler, a man named Steve George, in the jaw. For his part, George, insisted he was simply taunting Maxwell for only having scored five points.

“I’m a fan yelling about the game,” George told the Los Angeles Times. “I was definitely riding Vernon, you know, ‘Five points, four fouls, you’re not having a good night.’ I don’t deserve to get hit in the face for that.”

Maxwell was ejected, suspended for 10 games and hit with a $ 20,000 fine by the NBA.

Sports – TIME

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup Has Started and Google Is Celebrating With a Doodle

It’s day one of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and what better way to celebrate it than a Google Doodle?

Friday’s Doodle features a collage of soccer players, each drawn by a different female artist from the country the players represent. It’s the first in a series; in the coming days, each artist will take full control of the Google Doodle to “capture the local excitement of the World Cup competition as well as what soccer means to the guest artist personally,” according to Google.

The tournament, held this time in France, will progress for a month. The Team USA, headed by captain Alex Morgan, is the oddsmakers’ favorite to win.

The final takes place on July 7 in Lyon.

Among other teams represented on Friday’s Google Doodle are players from Chile, Scotland, South Africa and Jamaica, countries all making their Women’s World Cup debut in 2019.

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Sports – TIME

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