Could an Alabama Team Under Nick Saban Beat an NFL Team? Several Former Players Think So

It’s long been debated whether or not Alabama’s dominant teams could hold their own against the professionals, so we posed the question to several former Bama stars currently in the NFL—and while some remained measured, others are fully confident in their college coach’s ability.

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Wide House Unveils Flurry of Deals on IDFA Players (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based sales company Wide House has sealed a flurry of deals for two titles playing this week at Amsterdam’s IDFA documentary festival: Ruth Beckermann’s “The Waldheim Waltz,” Austria’s candidate for the 2019 Oscars, and Marcus Lindeen’s “The Raft.” World premiering at February’s Berlinale, where it won the Glashutte Award for best documentary, “The Waldheim Waltz” […]

Variety

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Adam Silver supports ‘Enough’ T-shirts, players speaking out

LOS ANGELES — With NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the stands and supporting the cause, the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks honored the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting by wearing black T-shirts with the message "Enough" on the front. The Lakers and Hawks followed what the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks did on Saturday when players from both teams first wore the T-shirts. "As I’ve always said, our players aren’t just ballplayers, they’re citizens," Silver told ESPN after watching the Lakers beat the Hawks 107-106 on Sunday. "They have strong feelings about what’s happening in society and they react to them. I think this was something that was a groundswell within the league. It came from the players and it spread by word of mouth from one team to another. "It obviously began here in California and other teams around the league supported them," Silver continued. "Again, I support our players’ desire to speak out on issues…
ABC News: Sports

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Education activists were big players in this year’s elections, but they fell short in red states

Democratic challengers backed by teacher activists failed to unseat Republican governors in Arizona and Oklahoma, while ballot initiatives in Oklahoma and Utah were defeated. 
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Christian Dawkins’ emails detail payment plans to several players

Federal authorities have given NCAA officials their approval to move ahead with an investigation of alleged rules violations that came to light during the first of three federal criminal trials involving pay-for-play schemes and other corruption in college basketball, ESPN has confirmed. During last month’s trials in New York, evidence and testimony were presented that alleged potential rules violations involving coaches and players at Arizona, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, NC State, Oklahoma State, Oregon and other programs. ESPN reported in February that as many as three dozen Division I programs, including many of the sport’s traditional powers, might be facing NCAA sanctions once the federal government releases information that it acquired during its clandestine, three-year investigation. Among the most revealing evidence turned over to the NCAA, according to documents obtained by Outside the Lines, is a business plan that aspiring agent Christian Dawkins…
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FIFA warns of World Cup ban for players in breakaway ‘Super’ league

ZURICH — Soccer’s biggest names would be banned from the World Cup if they played in a breakaway European Super League, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday.

Infantino, speaking to a small group of reporters at FIFA headquarters, said the governing body would punish players at clubs like…

Sports – New York Daily News

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Giants players: Talk of throwing in the towel is just ‘disrespectful’

Don’t tell the Giants about the white flag raised outside their building. After trading away their second defensive starter in as many days, the 1-6 Giants don’t believe their front office is surrendering this season and thinking only about the future. “The giving-up-on-the-season narrative, I really think that’s disrespectful to the guys in the locker…
Sports | New York Post

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Amy Schumer supports protesting NFL players by saying no to Super Bowl ads

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The Super Bowl is the biggest night of the year for two things: Pro football and very expensive commercials. Amy Schumer has decided to use one to influence the other.

Her concern stems from ongoing protest actions in which certain players kneel, raises fists, or stand together united during pre-game National Anthem performances. They’re doing it to take a stand against police brutality and racial inequality in America — sticking to the message of exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Schumer isn’t involved in football, but she does acknowledge that there’s one place she can push back: Super Bowl ads. She’s not doing them this year. She also urges Maroon 5 — the next Super Bowl’s halftime band — to drop out. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Nfl, Super Bowl, Amy Schumer, and Entertainment


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The NBA Is Now Policing Player’s Bodies

Hats off to writer Robert Silverman and The Daily Beast as they’ve come up with a searing piece called “The NBA Is Fake Woke.” The essence of the story is that the NBA has received plaudits for its so-called progressivism, but if you look a bit closer at the pro sports league and you’ll find precious little evidence.

Trust us. This one’s more than worth the read. Here’s an excerpt:

It was a small imposition of authority by the NBA in the grand scheme of things, but a revealing one.

Over the summer, J.R. Smith, the oft-shirtless Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard, added a brand new tattoo to some of the few square inches of canvas available on his person. This time he went with a literal brand, inking the logo of the lifestyle and clothing company Supreme across the back of his right calf. The NBA refused to let this combination of self-expression and unpaid sponsorship go unpunished. Should Smith fail to cover up the logo while on the court, he’ll be subject to ongoing fines.

 

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Smith isn’t alone. Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball has the logo of the Big Baller Brand, the company founded by his ur-sports dad, tattooed just above his right elbow. During the preseason, Ball avoided a fine by neatly concealing it with a square bandage.

Why is the NBA micromanaging players’ body art? Well, the NBA has a slew of corporate partners and advertisers, many of whom have their logos embossed directly on team jerseys. Per league rules, players rocking potentially conflicting trademarked imagery is a no-go, either via a tattoo or creative haircut. It could interfere with the direct flow of commerce, you see, and so the NBA won’t stand for it, even if it means making it perfectly clear that this business retains the final decision-making power over its employees’ skin.

Cold, hard financial realities aside, that’s still a terrible look for the NBA, which over the last half-decade has leaned into the skid of progressive politics. More to the point, the sport has been packaged as a place where #Resistance-minded folk who’ve grown weary of the NFL’s honking militarism and inherent brutality can park their entertainment dollars without sullying their conscience.

This, of course, is a branded lie. As the 2018-19 season kicks off tonight, what better way to celebrate than by letting go of the notion that a sports league is somehow woke. In reality, the NBA is a multi-billion-dollar entity whose sole motivation is profit, full stop.

Whoa! Dang. If that doesn’t get your attention and make you think, we’re not sure what will. In any event, there'[s much more. Get it HERE at The Daily Beast.


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Mipcom: Buying, Production Trends at Major SVOD Players – Report (EXCLUSIVE)

CANNES — “Never predict, especially about the future,” the saying goes. Three of MipJunior’s key speakers and kids industry players – from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the BBC –  took that to heart on Cannes’ Saturday afternoon when addressing the panel subject, “View from the Top: Gazing into the Future of Kids Media.” Rather than […]

Variety

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European Soccer Is Set Up to Protect Superstar Players. So What’s Next for Cristiano Ronaldo?

Nine years ago, Kathryn Mayorga signed a non-disclosure agreement presented to her by lawyers for the international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. Last week, in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel and in court filings in Las Vegas challenging that NDA, Mayorga broke her silence and spoke out publicly. She says Ronaldo raped her in 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The allegations are now reverberating through the sporting world. The Portuguese superstar has been world player of the year five times and lifted the Champions League trophy with his club team three seasons in a row. His most recent contract with Nike is reportedly worth one billion dollars. But now Nike has released a statement that the company is “deeply concerned” about Mayorga’s allegations. Ronaldo denied the allegations himself on Instagram on Sept. 30, calling them “fake news.” The Italian club Juventus, which spent $ 117 million to acquire Ronaldo from Real Madrid over the summer, took to social media on Thursday to defend its new star. With controversy swirling, Portugal chose not to include Ronaldo in its squad for the next round of international fixtures, although both sides say the decision is temporary.

What comes next is still uncertain. The Ronaldo case is the the highest-profile story of sexual assault in soccer since the explosion of the #MeToo movement in 2017. Indeed, Mayorga has said she was inspired by reading the testimony of other women who chose to reveal publicly stories they had felt unable to speak about for years.

But as Mayorga tells her story, will Ronaldo face any consequences? One problem here is that the structure of European sports makes it hard for punishments to be leveled in similar situations. Such punishments in North American sports are hardly a given—hockey star Patrick Kane was not sanctioned by the National Hockey League after being accused of sexual assault in 2015, for example. But when they do happen, as with Major League Baseball suspending Addison Russell for 40 games due to an allegation of domestic abuse, the punishments are typically brought by the leagues. In Europe, however, there is no single European soccer league comparable to the NHL or MLB. When he signed for Juventus, Ronaldo left Spain’s La Liga for a different league in Italy, Serie A.

These various national leagues tend to be loose confederations in which the top teams hold outsized power. Serie A is unlikely to act in a way that punishes its top team. It would also be possible for the Italian Football Federation, which oversees both club and international soccer in the country, to level a punishment. But that power is not widely used in cases like this either. In 2016 in England, when the player Ched Evans was released from prison after serving time for rape, neither the league nor the English Football Association stepped in to suspend or otherwise sanction Evans. Ronaldo then has two lines of defense. His club, which invested heavily to retain his services, has spoken in his defense. The league and the national federation have little history of fighting disciplinary battles in similar situations and limited power to effectively challenge Juventus. So long as the club defends the player, the institutions of European soccer are structured to protect players like Ronaldo.

These institutional protections echo Ronaldo’s own protections, as reported by Der Spiegel. His lawyers went so far as to hire private investigators to trail Mayorga as they sought to discredit her accusations. In so many #MeToo cases, powerful men use the legal system to protect themselves from consequences and to silence those who speak up against them.

This has been standard in Ronaldo’s defense, with his lawyers threatening a lawsuit against Der Spiegel. Here, they are using another key institutional protection—defamation laws. Libel law in the United Kingdom places the burden of proof on the defense, meaning that a newspaper sued by Ronaldo for publishing details of the rape accusation would need to demonstrate to the court it had not defamed the soccer star. Much of the initial English-language coverage of the Ronaldo case came from American media, where publishers have less to fear from the legal threats of Ronaldo’s team.

But coverage is now intensifying, despite the legal hurdles. An outcry from women and feminist media critics challenged reporters to investigate the story. Events such as the re-opening of the criminal case by Las Vegas police, the public statement of concern from Nike, and Ronaldo’s and Juventus’ public statements have provided local media with clear facts to report.

And Mayorga’s allegations are not simply a matter of her word against Ronaldo’s. In her legal filing, Mayorga claims that medical examinations from the night of the incident confirm her account. She also brings forward a questionnaire in which it appears Ronaldo admits that Mayorga repeatedly said “no” and “stop” during the event. While these documents are not yet fully public or confirmed, they have been reported by Der Spiegel and would offer more material for investigation were they to become public.

The Ronaldo case, then, is developing slowly. While in the past an allegation like Mayorga’s might have been dismissed, and a denial like Ronaldo’s simply accepted, here the story continues. But it faces even more obstacles than a similar allegation would in American sports. The loose structure of the league system and more restrictive defamation laws both offer added protections to sports figures. Mayorga is speaking out and the platform of the #MeToo movement has enabled her voice to be heard.

Still, the European sporting context offers a variety of institutional supports to a powerful man seeking to avoid punishment after an allegation of assault. The weakness of sporting leagues and defamation law, combined with the vocal support of his club, continue to make it unlikely that Mayorga’s accusations will lead to serious consequences.

Sports – TIME

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LeBron James Is Taking on the NCAA’s Rules Prohibiting Pay for College Players

LeBron James, the best basketball player in the world and one of the most influential athletes on the planet, fights for off-court causes he cares about. In 2017, for example, James starred in Nike’s “Equality” ad campaign, which was released at the outset of the Trump presidency in 2017, following the Women’s March and the President’s executive travel ban that sparked protests across the country. This past summer, James opened a public school for at-risk students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He has criticized Trump for using sports to divide the country. Trump responded by questioning James’ intelligence.

Now, James is taking on a new foe: the NCAA. He’s the executive producer of a new documentary, Student Athlete, which debuts on HBO Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. The film picks apart amateurism in major college sports, a model that allows schools to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, but prevents the cash from tricking down to the players themselves. Instead, it flows to coaches’ salaries and athletic facilities with barber shops and bowling alleys and flat-screen TVs. (James himself notably skipped college, instead going from high school directly to the pros.)

The hypocrisy exposed in Student Athlete is not new: lawyers are challenging amateurism in the court system, while advocates and media outlets have long screamed for change. Still, the film –— which was co-directed by Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy — hits the mark. Over its 88 minutes, Student Athlete packages five stories — on a high school prospect, a former college coach, and three former college players — that show how the system takes its toll. In the opening scene, the viewer meets former Rutgers tight end Shamar Graves, who played for the Scarlet Knights from 2007 through 2009. He’s sleeping in his car.

Student Athlete shines an invaluable light on athletes like Graves, who effectively held an unpaid full-time job while playing his sport in school, managed to earn his degree, but has struggled in his post-college life. Most major college athletes aren’t going pro. Those who sacrificed internships and other career development opportunities in school in order to concentrate on sports may find that the promise of a degree — an education sets you up for life! — falls far short of expectations. A back injury ended the college career of Mike Shaw, a former top-ranked high school basketball prospect who played at the University of Illinois and Bradley University. The film shows Shaw at this graduation ceremony at Bradley. His pro basketball dreams shattered, he’s still hopeful he’ll find his way. We soon learn, however, that Shaw has struggled with his mental health. Shaw shares that he’s rehabbed in a psychiatric hospital.

If the film falls short in one area, it’s in offering solutions for athletes like Graves and Shaw. Yes, the undercurrent is that colleges should pay their athletes. “The thing that’s disgusting,” says John Shoop, a former offensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina and Purdue, “is that coaches are making millions of dollars, and they’re coaching players whose families live below the poverty line.” (Shoop seems to have been blacklisted from the college coaching ranks due to his advocacy for athletes). But not all college athletes would earn lucrative salaries while playing their sports. Graves and Shaw, for example, weren’t stars. If they could have earned money for playing in college, would they find themselves in a better situation today? In recent years, many college graduates have learned that their degrees don’t guarantee stable employment. Is it the obligation of schools to offer full services like post-graduate career training and job placement and health insurance for their athletes? If so, are the schools obligated to do the same for all students?

You can’t blame Student Athlete for largely glossing over the prescriptions for college sports. Quick and easy fixes don’t exist. But the film drops at an opportune time, as college sports are ripe for major reforms. Testimony just wrapped up in the latest anti-trust trial — Alston v. NCAA — challenging compensation caps in college sports. A federal trial that promises to expose the underbelly of college basketball, and resulted from an FBI investigation into under-the-table payments by shoe company representatives and financial advisers to coaches and players, begins in New York this week. College athletes deserve better. Having LeBron James on their team can only help.

Sports – TIME

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