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University Honors Black Players Dismissed From Team in 1969

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Fifty years after 14 black football players were kicked off the University of Wyoming football team for seeking to wear armbands to protest racism, eight of them returned to the Laramie campus to commemorate the anniversary as the school takes another step toward reconciliation.

University officials planned to unveil a plaque at War Memorial Stadium commemorating the so-called Black 14 on Friday. The marker will join an alleyway mural in downtown Laramie that was dedicated last year and cap five days of ceremonies and discussions about the infamous dismissal of all the university’s black players in 1969.

They are now being recognized as leaders in the tradition of protest in sport. It’s a pantheon that includes U.S. track and field athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists on a 1968 Olympics medal podium to protest racism and injustice.

More recently, former San Francisco Giants quarterback Colin Kaepernick accused the NFL of blackballing him for kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest police violence against African Americans.

Protest is appropriate for athletes who want use their fame and visibility to be heard, Black 14 member Tony Gibson said.

“You can judge them any way you want. But when they’re saying things that matter, or are trying to draw your attention to things that might need addressing, I think it’s very important,” Gibson said.

On October 17, 1969, Wyoming head coach Lloyd Eaton summarily dismissed the black football players and revoked their scholarships after they met with him to propose wearing black armbands during an upcoming game against Brigham Young University.

Black 14 Reunion
AP A 1969 photo provided by the University of Wyoming shows a group photo of 10 of the Black 14 at the University of Wyoming.

The football players wanted to protest racism some of them experienced in previous games against BYU and how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then barred African Americans from the priesthood. Eaton would have none of the idea — and was backed up by the university’s board of trustees and Gov. Stan Hathaway.

They never got a chance to mention the armbands before Eaton lit into them about coming from fatherless families and saying they would only be accepted by traditionally black colleges if they weren’t at the University of Wyoming, they said.

“Our side is coming out. All these years everybody thought we protested and stuff, and we never did,” Black 14 member Ted Williams said.

The healing and reconciliation isn’t complete for some of the men who came back to campus this week. Some struggled for years after they were labeled as members of the Black 14.

Lionel Grimes said the episode repeatedly came up during job interviews, and he wondered how many job opportunities he missed because of it. The anger has taken years to overcome, he said.

“I was angry about the fact that I had to pay to go to school. I was angry at how the coach had insulted not only me, my fellow teammates, my ancestry,” Grimes said.

Most of all, not being able to learn why Eaton acted as harshly as he did bothers Black 14 members. Eaton could have defused the situation simply by telling the players they couldn’t wear the armbands, Grimes said.

“We would’ve just played football. He never gave us the opportunity to sit down and talk to him,” Grimes said. “We were very respectful then.”

Wyoming had won the Sugar Bowl the year before and was off to a 4-0 start before that day. The now all-white Cowboys went on to beat BYU and San Jose State but lost their last four games.

After Wyoming finished 1-9 in 1970, Eaton was demoted to assistant athletic director. He died in 2007, leaving the Black 14 without an apology or explanation.

“To me, the disappointment, my greatest disappointment, is I never had a clear understanding of his mindset. I never had a clear understanding of what compelled him to act against, as I understood years later, some of the wishes of his coaches,” Black 14 member Guillermo Hysaw said.

Eight of the 14 were starters. Eaton’s legacy isn’t confined to the Black 14 episode but ruination of the program, Black 14 member John Griffin said.

“He destroyed the Cowboys football team for a decade or so. He is the one who prevented blue-chip players from coming here,” Griffin said. “That was on him, not us.”

Griffin and some of the others have been back to campus over the decades, including for a 1993 event honoring the best players from each previous decade, but until the past several years reception for the Black 14 was lukewarm, Griffin said.

“Now it’s very sincere welcome back: ‘We’re glad to have you back and we’re sorry,’ ” Griffin said.

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‘You Have to Take a Stand.’ Soccer Phenom Alex Morgan Wants the Respect—and Money—Female Players Deserve

On a drizzly spring evening in New York City, Alex Morgan fixes her gaze on the golf ball at her feet, cocks her arms and then propels them forward with effortless power. The ball leaps off the tee and sails toward the netting between the tee and the Hudson River 200 yd. away. “This is nice,” Morgan says, exhaling between swings. “Really nice.”

The driving range is a favorite escape for Morgan, but she’s spending less and less time there–even as she needs the release more than ever. The reigning U.S. women’s soccer player of the year, Morgan is the sport’s most marketable American star since Mia Hamm and the linchpin of Team USA’s bid to clinch a second consecutive World Cup title this summer. She leads the U.S. into the tournament, which begins on June 7 in France, facing outsize expectations both on the field and off.

As the defending champions and top-ranked team, the Americans are favored to win. But the competition is historically tough. When the U.S. hosted the landmark 1999 World Cup, which led tens of thousands of girls to sign up for youth soccer leagues, only a few countries were considered contenders. Traditional soccer powers like France, England and Spain didn’t even qualify. Now, thanks in part to increased investment from soccer governing bodies and their corporate backers, many more have a real shot in the tournament, which now has 24 teams, up from 16 two decades ago.

Alex Morgan World Cup TIME Magazine Cover
Photograph by Erik Madigan Heck for TIME

“This is the first time I have ever been able to name potential winners on more than one hand,” says former U.S. player Julie Foudy, an ESPN analyst, who sees the U.S., France, Germany, Australia, Japan, England and Sweden as title threats. “Absolutely, this is the most competitive World Cup I have seen.”

Interest should be particularly high in the U.S., where the women’s team not only outperforms the men’s team on the field–the men failed to even qualify for last year’s World Cup–but has outdrawn it too. Four years ago, some 25 million people watched the women’s team beat Japan in the World Cup final–a record U.S. audience for any soccer game.

But the team’s success highlights glaring inequities. Despite the popularity of the women’s team, the men are positioned to make substantially more money. And so on March 8, International Women’s Day, the U.S. players took the unprecedented step of filing a federal gender-discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, the national governing body for the sport. Morgan’s name was listed first in the suit, which accuses U.S. Soccer of paying “only lip service to gender equality.” (The federation, in a legal filing responding to the complaint, 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.”)

“Eventually, you just have to take a stand,” Morgan says while riding in an Uber from her New York hotel to the driving range. “How come we’ve had to fight this whole time, year after year?”

Her stand has inspired other women’s teams around the world to push for equal treatment and has transformed the U.S. women into a cause larger than soccer. At a Los Angeles exhibition game in April, the actors Jessica Chastain, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba and Natalie Portman attended with T-shirts that read Time’s Up Pay Up. At a time of almost paralyzing political division, the World Cup has the potential to be a welcome national distraction, a respite from presidential politicking and cable-news sniping.

“A win for this team is a win for women everywhere,” says former U.S. captain Abby Wambach. “If other women in the business world, in parenting, see these women stepping up and betting on themselves, it gives them the power to want to do it for themselves. And that, my friend, is how the world actually changes.”

No pressure or anything, not that Morgan wasn’t feeling plenty already. Morgan, 29, is the face of Team USA–her steely gaze will be plastered on billboards and dancing across screens in commercials for Coca-Cola, Nike and Secret deodorant. Her millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter give her one of the largest social-media imprints of any female athlete in the world. She starred in a Nickelodeon movie for kids, Alex & Me; wrote a series of books for middle schoolers that was made into an Amazon TV series; and has shared a stage with Taylor Swift.

But Morgan, who in April joined Hamm and Wambach as the youngest U.S. players to score 100 career international goals, has never dominated the World Cup. She was a breakout rookie in a losing effort in 2011, and was hobbled by injuries in 2015 when Carli Lloyd’s heroics powered the U.S. to victory. This year is the best chance for America’s best player to make her mark on the world’s most prestigious tournament–while showing that she should be paid the same as any man for doing it.

Rich Lam—Getty ImagesAlex Morgan #13, Lauren Holiday #12, Abby Wambach #20 and Whitney Engen #6 of the United States of America hold the World Cup Trophy after their 5-2 win over Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.

“We have to do more in general–we have to be the athlete, we have to be the role model, we have to lead the way for the next generation,” Morgan says. “Are male athletes doing that? Are they thinking about anyone other than themselves? I don’t know. We do have more than one job within this role, and are getting paid much less.”

So it’s understandable if the weight of it all weighs on Morgan as she hacks away at the driving range. After a few crisp swings, she whiffs, missing the ball completely. “I’m going back to my 7-iron,” she says when her driver catches air. All that looms in the background is national unity, gender equality and Morgan’s professional legacy. “You can’t think about it,” she says. “But you can’t not.”

Leading the fight for equal pay in sports was far from the mind of the 8-year-old Morgan when she left a Post-it for her mother, Pam, at their home in Diamond Bar, Calif., a suburb east of Los Angeles. “Hi Mommy!” Morgan wrote on a note Pam still has. “My name is Alex and I am going to be a professional athlete for soccer!” She signed it “Ali Cat.”

The certainty was surprising. Unlike most promising young soccer players, Morgan avoided the high-pressure Southern California youth circuit and played many different sports as a kid. Her competitiveness was honed in fierce board games with her parents and two older sisters. “Alex strove not to be the loser,” says her father Michael, a retired masonry contractor. “Because she knew she was going to get party-danced around.”

Morgan began playing elite travel soccer at 14, years after many of her contemporaries. She credits playing a range of sports with preventing her from burning out. “When I went to soccer practice, I was really excited because I hadn’t been there in four days,” says Morgan. She worries that today’s youth system is also pricing out potential soccer stars and is counterproductive to America’s future competitiveness.

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Morgan’s speed and knack for scoring earned her a soccer scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a degree in political economy and met her future husband, Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Servando Carrasco, who also played for the school. Morgan excelled on the pitch for Cal and was named to the U.S. Under-20 team, which functions as a feeder for the top national team. After helping lead the U.S. to the 2008 Under-20 World Cup title with a brilliant left-footed goal in the final, Morgan was called up to the senior squad.

Her impact was immediate. Morgan scored a key goal against Italy to help the U.S. qualify for the 2011 World Cup, and she emerged as a go-to substitute in the tournament. Undaunted by soccer’s biggest stage, Morgan scored in both the semis and the finals in her first World Cup, which the U.S. lost in heartbreaking fashion to Japan.

The performance endeared Morgan to her older teammates, who gave her the nickname Baby Horse. “She ran so fast and has a very specific gait,” says former teammate Shannon Boxx. “Baby horses are little unsteady with her legs, and we kind of saw that.” Morgan disliked the name but knew better than to complain. “When you’re young and have no leverage on the team, you’re like, Sure, I’ll take Baby Horse,” she says. “But after two or three years, I was like, O.K., it’s funny, but let’s move on.”

Baby Horse became a key cog in the team’s gold-medal run at the 2012 Olympics. Her winning goal in the semifinal against Canada–a header seconds before time expired–has become soccer lore. “What’s unique about Alex is the closer she gets to the goal, the slower the game happens for her,” says Wambach, who has written a new book called Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game. “She can see the rotation of the ball, and imagine and create a situation where most players would be like, ‘Oh, this is shut down.’ It’s like something else inside of her body just goes into a natural state of flow that allows her to score goals. Her power is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The Olympics made Morgan into a star. She appeared in McDonald’s ads with LeBron James and helped the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) get off the ground by joining the Portland Thorns for the inaugural 2013 season. Buoyed by endorsement deals, her annual income grew into the seven figures–far beyond that of any other top U.S. women’s player. She published an autobiography in 2015 and began writing The Kicks, a best-selling kids’ fiction series with a 10th installment coming in June.

A run of knee and ankle injuries, however, slowed Morgan’s ascent. She was hobbled by knee problems at the 2015 World Cup and isn’t proud of her individual showing despite the team’s win. “I don’t feel like I met my goals,” Morgan says in late February at a Philadelphia hotel, where the national team was staying for a game against Japan. “In the first half of the final, I was just gasping, dead. My legs would not go. I wasn’t thinking about how to beat my opponent and be that fearless attacker. I was thinking about how to be pain-free.” A year later at the Rio Olympics, Sweden bounced the U.S. in the quarterfinals, the earliest the U.S. women’s team has ever been eliminated from a major international tournament.

It was a low moment. Morgan needed to rekindle her passion for the game. So she did what many other Americans in search of inspiration have done: move to France. After being courted publicly by Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of the French club team Olympique Lyonnais, Morgan agreed to join the squad for its 2017 season. Lyon has become a powerhouse in the women’s game, dominating the competition by attracting top players from around the world, paying them more and treating them like a men’s team. This simple, seemingly intuitive idea is radical in professional soccer, where the men’s teams of top clubs are routinely afforded more perks than their women’s sides. “It was something I needed at the time,” says Morgan. “To focus on soccer solely and entirely, without having my family, without having my friends, not having anyone but the team I went to play for.”

Lyon soared with Morgan, winning the league championship, the French Cup and the Women’s Champions League title–a feat known as the treble. More importantly, Morgan rediscovered the joy of playing. She began meditating and doing yoga, and soon switched to a vegan diet after deciding it was unethical to eat meat.

Save for exalting the beeflike Impossible Burger, Morgan couches her new regimen as a personal choice and keeps the proselytizing to a minimum. But over a dinner of artichokes and stuffed peppers in New York, she says the change has boosted her energy on the field. It’s impossible to argue with the results: from August 2017 through the end of last year, Morgan scored an incredible 25 goals in 26 games. She is decidedly no longer Baby Horse. “She has worked to promote the game, promote her team and promote herself,” says Hamm, who still casts a long shadow over women’s soccer. “She’s done an amazing job.”

As Morgan has developed into America’s leader on the field, she has strengthened her voice beyond it. Among the pro-athlete orthodoxies she’s willing to break: don’t criticize management, and steer clear of politics. After Major League Soccer’s Orlando City team declined to retain her husband, Carrasco, while Morgan was playing for the Orlando women’s team, she called out the clubs’ shared management for breaking what she says was a deal. “We were told it was going to be a long-term relationship between the club and us,” Morgan says now. “When you promote a business acting as a family, I would expect to be given that treatment you promote.”

President Donald Trump is another target. “I don’t stand for a lot of things the current office stands for,” Morgan says. She’s particularly upset about the Administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border, noting that her husband’s family is from Mexico. Indeed, if Trump invites the team to the White House after the World Cup, Morgan says she won’t go. If that turns anyone off, so be it.

“We don’t have to be put in this little box,” Morgan says between sips of red wine at dinner. “There’s the narrative that’s been said hundreds of times about any sort of athlete who’s spoken out politically. ‘Stick to sports.’ We’re much more than that, O.K.?”


A national team doesn’t simply decide to sue its governing body on a whim. The roots of the equal-pay fight go back decades. In the early 1990s, the team flew to a tournament in China in cramped economy seats adjacent to the smoking section. “We were pretty much smoking for 13 hours,” says Hamm, who played on the team from 1987 to 2004. Players recall staying in roach-infested rooms and taking the hotel shuttle bus to a game. “We sit now and we have to laugh,” says Hamm. “If you didn’t, you’d cry.”

Conditions for the team have vastly improved since the 1990s, and U.S. Soccer has invested far more in women’s soccer than most other countries. But plenty of indignities linger.

At one stop on the 2015 World Cup victory tour, a series of 10 exhibition games across the country meant to celebrate the team (and fill U.S. Soccer’s coffers), players were shocked by the conditions at Aloha Stadium near Honolulu. Rocks filled the turf. In some sections, the aging field was pulling up out of the ground. The team felt it was unsafe and refused to play. U.S. Soccer agreed and canceled the game, but it rankled the players that it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t spoken out.

“It falls on us sometimes to decide what’s just, what’s unjust,” says Morgan. “We as players shouldn’t have to make those decisions. But I’m happy we came together and did.”

It was a lesson that informed the decision of five of the team’s star players, in 2016, to file a complaint over inequity in pay and bonuses with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “We realized that just because we had success without being given what we deserve, doesn’t mean we didn’t deserve it,” says Morgan. “That was like a flip of the switch.”

In April 2017, the players signed a new collective-bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer. As part of the deal, the players won control of certain licensing and marketing rights. They partnered with the NFL Players Association and the WNBA Players Association to form REP Worldwide, a new licensing-representation company, in late 2017. REP expects to sign some 25 licensees–for things like jerseys, scarves and digital collectibles–for the women’s soccer players by the start of the World Cup. REP says the players can expect between $ 1 million and $ 2 million in net royalties by the end of 2020.

Despite these gains, the women often end up with less than the men–and that includes the coaches. For the fiscal year ending in March 2018, women’s head coach Jill Ellis received $ 318,533 in total compensation–making her the 10th highest paid employee at U.S. Soccer. Jürgen Klinsmann, who was fired as U.S. men’s coach in 2016, still received $ 3.35 million. Bruce Arena, who replaced Klinsmann and oversaw the failed effort to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, got $ 1.27 million. Even the coach of the Under-20 men’s team made more than Ellis. (U.S. Soccer says she has since received a six-figure raise that will be disclosed in next year’s tax filings.)

“It’s devastating to see a male coach who hasn’t been coach of the men’s team for more than two years still be paid significantly more than Jill, who has a World Cup title on her résumé,” says Morgan. “It’s terrible.”

This long history was on the players’ minds when they decided to sue their employers in an effort to close the pay gap once and for all. As the team’s top player and biggest name, Morgan agreed to be listed first in the complaint.

“I’m not sure our team would have done that three months before the World Cup,” says Foudy, who played on the seminal 1999 U.S. team that won the World Cup on home soil. “We wouldn’t want all that noise. I respect that they’re willing to absorb all that. It’s courageous.”

According to the complaint, U.S. Soccer “rejected requests for compensation for the WNT players that would have been at least equal to that afforded to the male MNT players.”

U.S. Soccer has argued that since the organization signed different collective-bargaining agreements with the men’s and women’s teams, the gender comparisons are unfair. Women’s national team players, for example, can now receive salaries of around $ 170,000 from the federation if they also play in the NWSL, which U.S. Soccer helps finance. The U.S. provides no such base pay to the men’s players, since they can earn contracts playing in pro leagues that are far more lucrative than organizations like the NWSL. According to U.S. Soccer, the men are eligible for higher per-game bonuses because the federation pays them on a per-game basis as opposed to a salary. For example, the men receive $ 17,625 for winning an exhibition game, or friendly, against a top-10 team or Mexico; under the 2017 collective-bargaining agreement, the women get $ 8,500 for a friendly victory over a top-4 team or Canada. Some of the pay gap also comes from the stark differences in World Cup performance bonuses from FIFA. FIFA awarded $ 9 million to the U.S. after the men reached the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup, while the federation received $ 2 million after the women won it all in 2015. FIFA has attributed these differences to the larger revenues generated by the men’s tournament.

The litigation is expected to take months to play out. U.S. Soccer is attempting to get the case dismissed, while the players may try to force a settlement. Whatever the legal result, the U.S. women have already secured a victory. Their push for more equitable benefits has inspired other female athletes to fight for their fair share.

“The women’s soccer team, in my opinion and the opinion of many of my teammates, continues to lead the way in advancing women’s sports,” says Meghan Duggan, a member of the 2018 Olympic gold medal–winning U.S. hockey team, which threatened to boycott the world championships in 2017 unless their pay improved. (The team struck a new agreement with USA Hockey before the tournament began.) The U.S. team’s stand has set off a chain reaction in women’s soccer. The Danish women’s national team boycotted a World Cup qualifying match in October 2017; it has since signed a four-year collective-bargaining agreement that included increased investment in women’s soccer. After refusing to promote their appearance in the 2017 Euro tournament finals, Scotland’s female players signed the first collective-bargaining agreement with their federation. And Norway’s women achieved pay parity with the men.


In some ways, the equality fight is being won piecemeal. The foodmaker Luna Bar pledged to pay each of the U.S. women who made the World Cup team $ 31,250, to make up for differences in roster bonuses. Nike has launched a national ad campaign called “Dream With Us,” built around Morgan and the women’s team as inspirational figures. Still, relying on corporate largess to compensate for a cultural double standard is halting progress at best.

“When I was playing, 75% of my money came from endorsements, 25% came from playing. I would love for that to be flipped,” says Hamm. “It’s frustrating that we’re still having these conversations. I’m proud of the women that they’re saying we’re not taking no for an answer.”

To Morgan, the best way to state her case is on the field. She sees another World Cup win as essential to boosting public support for equal pay. “Seeing women supporting other women on a grander level is pretty unique,” she says. “We need to capitalize on that now.”

The path to victory in France, however, is narrower than ever. The host team is hungry for its first title; the last time a World Cup was held in France, in 1998, the men won at home. England, which reached the semifinals in 2015, won the SheBelieves Cup in March. And Japan, which has reached the finals of the past two World Cups, remains a threat. The U.S. opens against Thailand, on June 11, and must fare well against the other teams in its group, Chile and Sweden, which is led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, to advance.

To prepare, Morgan has studied video of her performances with her personal coach and worked on a bending left-footed shot, from outside the 18-yd. box. She’s also taking extra care of her body. When the national team introduced high-tech wristbands to monitor rest quality, Morgan ditched the device. “I swear when I started wearing it, I stopped sleeping well,” Morgan says. “After two nights, I was like, F this.”

Back at the driving range, the sky clears over the Hudson River as Morgan talks about her ability to compartmentalize. Among the things on her mind is an ambition to launch a media company for girls and women who love sports. But she has balanced performance with the demands of stardom as well as any athlete before her. So why not expect more of the same this summer? “If we do our job,” she says, “people will be captivated. This can be something greater and bigger than there’s ever been before.”

Morgan takes one last swing with her driver. Whack. Her ball flies high and long, straight toward the sunset.

This appears in the June 03, 2019 issue of TIME.
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Why Telling the NCAA to Pay Players Is the Wrong Way to Help College Athletes

The annual March Madness heist is under way. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain: while the cameras show supremely gifted college athletes delivering drama and thrills on the court, the NCAA has licensed every television broadcast to hoard a bonanza for people who never touch the ball.

Well-meaning voices call for the NCAA to pay players, but this demand is misguided. No college should be required to pay athletes, and no pay structure needs to be planned. The central question is whether college athletes should have the bargaining rights that other Americans take for granted. On this point, the NCAA is deaf to persuasion. It will hang on to its windfall tenaciously.

The NCAA system is not a creation of law. It’s a private compact of colleges and their athletic conferences, designed to impose a compensation ceiling on athletes by fiat and to demonize anyone who pays or receives a nickel above essentially the cost of college attendance.

Basic reform is simple: just recognize the right of each athlete to bargain for the value of his or her work. This is not a radical notion. Roughly 14 million of 20 million U.S. undergraduates have jobs outside the classroom, and no one thinks to regulate or confiscate those earnings. Only the players in commercialized college sports are victimized as cash cows, to the tune of several billion dollars per year.

A fair, free-market college sports industry would evolve on its own once athletes have their rights restored. Some revenue would be diverted to those players as the essential core talent, which is only fair. What’s amazing is how long we’ve allowed them to be robbed.

Such a system would favor the same 60 to 100 schools that are dominant already. The major conferences may adopt differing, nonmonopoly standards for their athletic budgets, but the vast majority of athletes would not be affected. A volleyball player at a small college could seek compensation like anyone else, but negligible revenue would make such a request moot. Most college sports could remain amateur in the only true sense of the word, being pursued for love of the game and voluntarily divorced from commerce.

But while the solution may be simple, it won’t be easy. The NCAA constitution blocks athletes from membership while professing devotion to their welfare, and NCAA officials resist the danger of granting college athletes even “limited” rights. Under pressure, they have stuck to the claim of exclusive authority. Small benefits called reform, such as a “full scholarship package” — which includes free tuition and a stipend — shrewdly fall short of rights or independent representation for the athletes.

External forces will be needed to compel significant change, and there is precedent on several fronts. In 1978, spurred by Cold War competition over Olympic medals, Congress passed the Amateur Sports Act to empower active athletes by requiring they have at least 20% representation on each governing committee for U.S. Olympic teams. This small but revolutionary step soon dissolved draconian “amateur” rules that had enriched the AAU, then the NCAA’s biggest rival. Defying hysterical predictions, the compensation since negotiated by Olympic athletes has hardly destroyed worldwide audiences for the Games. A similar law requiring representation for college athletes could be effective, and deserves consideration, but Congress has shown no interest in bucking the college sports establishment.

The courts are another venue for justice. Several times they have struck down the NCAA system as an illegal restraint of trade. Until 1984, the NCAA asserted a sole power to license each college football broadcast. That power vanished overnight when the Supreme Court upheld a demand from the major football colleges, led by Georgia and Oklahoma, to schedule their own unlimited broadcasts. In the late 1990s, when an NCAA rule restricted certain new assistant coaches to a $ 16,000 annual salary, some 2,000 assistants banded to file an antitrust grievance that won them the freedom to bargain, plus a $ 54.5 million settlement. NCAA colleges promptly found ways to pay assistant coaches many times the old limit.

Judges have acknowledged the same legal reasoning in recent cases brought by current and former college athletes. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken recently ruled the NCAA compact a violation of antitrust law because it captures “extraordinary revenues” for member schools by confining players to compensation “not commensurate with the value that they create.” This is a restrained understatement, and courts have not yet granted athletes anything like the direct relief awarded to big football schools and the assistant coaches.

So far, the judiciary seems unwilling to confront the NCAA’s self-serving bromide that economic rights for college athletes would diminish their educational experience. In truth, compensation would give players an incentive to stay in school — and standing to bargain for better academic life. Beyond that, it remains up to the colleges whether they treat prime athletes as legitimate students.

Universities should be a forum for clarity about whether commercialized sports can coexist with academic integrity, but such debate rarely takes place at the institutions born for fearless thought. My alma mater, the University of North Carolina, temporarily canceled a pioneering course on NCAA history as too controversial. Sadly, most professors never examine the conflicted juggernaut right there on campus.

The burden of change may thus fall on athletes. Some have already begun raising their voices. A recent strike by the football team saw the University of Missouri’s president resign quickly, and the University of Maryland dismissed its football coach after players spoke out against him following a teammate’s death in practice. Even symbolic gestures in defiance of NCAA rules, such as wearing an armband or a small patch discreetly labeled something like “RFA” (Rights for Athletes), or selling autographs for charity at a public ceremony, could provoke spasms of attention that sports broadcasts zealously avoid. Truly concerted action could topple the NCAA.

I am cheering for UNC in March Madness as always, and I don’t expect to hear a word about equity for the players. Armchair experts and well-paid commentators will continue to obsess about bracketology, upsets, momentum and a key player’s sore ankle. This is natural, because sports are a designated world where fans escape to cheer and boo as they please. Intrusions from real life can break the spell, provoking resentful cries for pampered athletes to shut up and play.

Sports-think gives fans a presumptive stake to say how college sports should be run, oblivious that the whole NCAA production rests on players who have no voice at all. Athletes become urgently important for moments on the screen, but we force their fundamental rights to fit our entertainment and convenience. Surely this perspective is backward. College athletes are young adults who love a sport they have played all their lives. Some don’t realize how badly they have been used until they are leaving school, which helps perpetuate the exploitation.

Sparks of courage are needed. Fans, being also citizens, should engage the larger arena of fairness. Nonfans should stop wishing for commercial sports to vanish, as though Plato might rescue the academy, and address sports corruption and dishonesty at the heart of our vital universities. My hope for March Madness, now and in the future, is some small sign of agitation over basic rights. Regardless, I’ll chant, “Go Heels!” for Carolina and keep pushing for those armbands.

Sports – TIME


Mike Hopkins, Washington’s Upbeat Player’s Coach, Has a Method to His Madness

Mike Hopkins’s relationship with the players has shifted the culture at Washington, giving the team an upbeat, confident coach who focuses on nothing but winning. 

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Want to Win March Madness? These 10 Players Could Lift Your Bracket to Office Pool Victory

Did Michigan State get a raw deal? Yeah. If the Spartans — who (along with Purdue) won the Big 10 regular season title and took the conference tournament — didn’t deserve a #1 seed, they definitely didn’t deserve a #2 seed. Especially because that puts Duke, the top overall team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, right in Michigan State’s Final Four path. (If seeding holds, #1 Duke and #2 Michigan State would clash in the Elite Eight.)

Meanwhile, should the selection committee have granted St. John’s, who lost in the Big East tournament quarterfinals to Marquette by a cool 32 points, the last at-large bid? With apologies to the Red Storm faithful, you can make a strong argument that no, it shouldn’t have.

All bitter gripes about the brackets, however, should last about three seconds. You can’t change anything now. So grab your pencil, print out a piece of paper and get ready make your picks. (Seriously, just to mess with the IT honcho who runs your office pool, hand him paper brackets, we’re sure he’ll love it.)

To help you along with your NCAA basketball March Madness bracket, here are 10 standout players who could carry their teams to an upset or two, if not all the way to the Final Four in Minneapolis.

Zion Williamson, Duke

Duh, I know. But even hermits have been known to fill out brackets (presumably). And just in case you’re one of those folks who only tunes into college hoops this time of year: Duke freshman Zion Williamson is simply the most freakish player in the game. “There’s never been a player on any level like Zion Williamson,” says ESPN analyst Jay Bilas.

That doesn’t mean Williamson is the best player on the planet. It’s that no one with his build — chiseled 6’7″, 284 lb. linebacker — possesses his skill set. He can jump over the backboard. And Williamson — or just plain “Zion” at this point, ala Serena, LeBron and Neymar — is incredibly fundamental: he can dribble, pass, and owns an effective shooting touch around the rim. “He’s like a mack truck,” says Bilas, “playing lead in ballet.” Let’s just hope his shoes stay intact.

#1 Duke plays the winner of the #16 North Carolina Central/#16 North Dakota State game on Friday, March 22 at 7:10 PM ET on CBS.

Fletcher Magee, Wofford

Magee — “sounds like he should be somebody’s butler,” Bilas deadpans — might be the best shooter in the country. The 6’4″ senior has hit 502 career three-pointers for Wofford, the Southern Conference champs, two shy of the NCAA D-1 record. He shoots an efficient 43% from downtown, a pretty remarkable rate for a guy who hoists an arm-tiring 11 treys a game, and 91% from the foul line.

Magee grew up studying the shot of Philadelphia 76ers guard J.J. Redick, who used to play for the Magic in Magee’s hometown of Orlando; this season, Magee passed Redick on the career NCAA three-pointer list.

#7 Wofford — of Spartanburg, South Carolina — faces #10 Seton Hall on Thursday, March 21, at around 9:40 PM ET on CBS.

Anthony Lamb, Vermont

The player of the year in the America East Conference, Lamb, a 6’6″ junior, has an unusual style in today’s basketball world, which values spreading players across the floor and jacking threes. During Vermont’s America East Conference title game win over UMBC on Saturday, Vermont would dump the ball to Lamb around the foul line, and he’d often bully his way to the basket, a testament to his strength and skill. And Lamb can shoot: he hit 1.5 threes per game this season, nearly double his per-game production from a year ago.

Besides Lamb, who averaged 21.4 points per game this season, the Catamounts feature the Duncan brothers of Evansville, Indiana: fifth year senior Ernie, junior Everett, and freshman Robin. Vermont’s the fifth team in Division 1 history with a fraternal trio on the same squad.

Catch #13 Vermont against #4 Florida St. on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

Miye Oni, Yale

It’s been 24 years since the NBA drafted a player from the Ivy League. Yale’s Miye Oni could end that draught. A late bloomer who had committed to a Division 3 college in high school — and was spotted by a Yale assistant coach while scouting another player — NBA scouts have made regular visits to New Haven to check out Oni’s game. The 6’6″ guard won Ivy Player of the Year honors by doing a little bit of everything; Oni averaged 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

#13 Yale will play #4 LSU on Thursday at 12:40 PM ET on TruTV. Both schools are involved in embarrassing scandals: LSU coach Will Wade was placed on leave after he was caught potentially violating NCAA rules on wiretap. Yale’s embroiled in the college admissions scandal, as a family allegedly paid $ 1.2 million in bribes to get a fake soccer recruit into the school. Folks made jokes on the internet.

Ja Morant, Murray St.

Zion may be the top overall pick in this June’s NBA draft. But Morant, the explosive 6’3″ point guard from Murray St., is almost certainly going top 3. A Murray State assistant coach first spotted Morant, another unheralded recruit, while stopping by a gym concession stand to grab some chips. Best snack ever: Morant’s stewardship on the Murray St. offense is now appointment TV. Morant scores 24.6 points per game on 50% shooting, which is scarily efficient for a point guard, and dishes out 10 assists per game, tops in the country.

In the first round, Morant will duel with one of the country’s other top point guards, Markus Howard of #5 Marquette, around 4:30 PM ET on Thursday on TBS. Grab some more chips for that one.

Tacko Fall, University of Central Florida

Ja Morant, Fletcher Magee — this year’s tournament fields an impressive All-Name Team. Tacko Fall’s another name you won’t forget. The 7’6″ University of Central Florida center shot 75% from the field this season, and swatted away 2.5 shots per game for the Knights, who finished 23-8. That’s right: Fall’s 7’6″, with a 10-foot, 5-inch standing reach, meaning he need not jump to dunk the basketball.

In one of the season’s sweetest moments, Fall was reunited this season with his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in the seven years since he moved to the U.S. from Senegal.

#9 UCF takes on #8 VCU on Friday at around 9:40 ET PM on CBS. The winner most likely gets Duke in the second round.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Ethan Happ, the 6’10” senior center, this season became the first Big 10 player in more than 35 years to score over 2,000 career points and grab over 1,000 rebounds. Don’t discount his passing — Happ has also assisted on 37% of his teammates’ field goals while he’s on the floor, a fantastic rate for a big man.

Happ’s a bit of a throwback, the rare tall pro prospect who doesn’t jack three-pointers — he finished his career 1-16 from downtown. Still, don’t discount the damage Happ, a second team All-American, and his Badgers can inflict on their opponents these next few weeks.

First test for #5 Wisconsin is #12 Oregon, the Pac-12 tournament champions, on Friday at 4:30 ET on TBS.

Eric Paschall, Villanova

One-and-done college players like Zion, who stay in college for a year before leaving for the NBA, rightfully steal most headlines. They tend to be phenomenal. But it’s nice to see players who stick around at college, like Happ and Villanova’s Eric Paschall, get their due. Remember the Wildcats, last year’s national champs? They lost four of their top six players to the NBA this season, but thanks in large part to Paschall — the relatively undersized senior 6’8″ power forward who memorably shot 10-11 from the field against Kansas in last year’s national semifinals — the Cats still won the Big East regular season and tournament championships.

‘Nova’s not a favorite to repeat as national champions. But beware of any team with a skilled bruiser like Paschall, who’s eager to prove that he’s ready to play at the next level, no matter his height.

#6 Villanova opens up its title defense against #11 St. Mary’s on Thursday at 7:20 ET on TBS.

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Hachimura, a 6’8″ junior, is a projected NBA lottery pick: he’d be the first native of Japan ever selected in the draft. As a freshman at Gonzaga, for the 2016-2017 Zags team that reached the national championship game (before falling to North Carolina), he didn’t see much action. Hachimura missed practice time with his teammates to learn English in tutoring sessions (he also picked up the language through TV shows like The Vampire Diaries).

Since then, he’s blossomed. In one of the best regular season games of the season, in Hawaii back in November, Hachimura helped show that Duke — a team that some pundits were predicting would finish with a perfect record this season — could indeed be felled. In a thrilling 89-87 win for Gonzaga, Hachimura scored 20 points, with seven rebounds, five assists, and three blocked shots. Gonzaga could face Duke again in the national semifinals.

But first, on Thursday at 7:27 ET on TruTV, the #1 ‘Zags must advance past either #16 Farleigh Dickinson or #16 Prairie View A&M, who play in the “First Four” on Tuesday night in Dayton.

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

A financial services firm called 361 Capital on Monday released a note —titled “The Psychology of Undermining March Madness Brackets” — applying behavioral research to tournament picks. (Makes sense: the firm’s clients surely want to win their bracket pool’s prize.) As one of its “behavioral biases that can bust a bracket,” the company pointed to “the gambler’s fallacy,” a misconception that an abnormal event is less likely to occur in the future because it just happened in the past. So, 361 Capital warns, don’t feel #1-seeded Virginia is immune to another historic upset at the hands of a #16 seed, just because UMBC crushed the Cavaliers a year ago.

With all due respect to the financial outfit, throw your psychological buzzwords off the court. Virginia’s not going to fall in the first round again, because this year, the Cavaliers have De’Andre Hunter. The 6’7″ sophomore swingman from Philly missed last year’s tournament game due to an injury. But this season, Hunter has emerged as Virginia’s best NBA prospect in the school’s resurgence under coach Tony Bennett over the last decade.

Virginia will try to move on from last year’s nightmare against Gardiner-Webb on Friday, at around 3:10 PM ET on TruTV. With Hunter, a third-team All-American, on the floor, they’re more than likely to avoid another disaster. That’s no fallacy, gambler’s or otherwise.

Sports – TIME


Ole Miss Basketball Players Kneel During National Anthem To Protest Local Pro-Confederate Rallies

Mississippi v Georgia

Source: Logan Riely / Getty

The Ole Miss basketball team is woke (well, some of them). Players on the squad knelt during the national anthem in protest of pro-Confederate rallies happening near their university’s campus.

Deadspin reports that K.J. Buffen, Terence Davis, Luis Rodriguez, Bruce Stevens, Devontae Shuler and Breein Tyree took a knee before the team’s home game against Georgia on Saturday (Feb. 24). A total of eight players kneeled per reports.

Reports ESPN:

Minutes before the game, both teams formed lines for the anthem. As “The Star-Spangled Banner” began, six Rebels players — who appeared to be KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis, Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, Devontae Shuler and Bruce Stevens — knelt one by one. Two more players — appearing to be Breein Tyree and Franco Miller Jr. — took a knee on the song’s final line.

The game was being played while two pro-Confederacy groups organized a march onto the campus in Oxford, Mississippi.

“The majority of it was we saw one of our teammates doing it and we just didn’t want him to be alone,” Ole Miss scoring leader Tyree said after his team’s 72-71 victory. “We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it’s our actual university having these hate groups in our school.”

So no, they weren’t disrespecting the flag or servicemen. Star player Tyree later tweeted: “To the people that fight for this country, my teammates and I meant no disrespect to everything that you do for us, but we had to take a stand to the negative things that went on today on our campus. #WeNeedChange”

The team’s coach, Kermit Davis, was unaware the protest was going to happen, but he supported his players, as he should.


Photo: Getty

The Latest Hip-Hop News, Music and Media | Hip-Hop Wired


Walmart, Target pull children’s game that had players defuse toy bomb

A kids’ game that asked children to defuse a plastic, pretend bomb had parents exploding with anger — and now two major retailers are pulling the controversial toy. The game, called “Cut the Wire,” asks players to defuse a fake bomb before the timer runs out. Should a player cut the wrong wire with the…
Living | New York Post


Seth Meyers Mocks Trump’s Fast Food Feast with Clemson Football Players

Seth Meyers spent most of his first “A Closer Look” segment of the week going through the latest revelations about Trump and Russia. But before he got there, he couldn’t help but spend just a few minutes on the fast food feast the president had with the Clemson University football champions at the White House Monday night.

While Trump’s government shutdown has driven federal workers to show up at food banks by the hundreds, “that’s not the food Trump was concerned with today,” the Late Night host explained.

Early in the day, Trump told reporters that he would be serving the team “McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings with some pizza,” adding, “I would think that’s their favorite food.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Two under-the-radar players are must-haves for Week 17 fantasy

Whether you are playing for your league championship or just looking to dabble in some daily fantasy football contests, Week 17 can be a tricky one. Most people will tell you the only players worth investing in are those who have something to play for in the final week. For some, it’s a chance to…
Sports | New York Post


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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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


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…
ABC News: Sports


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


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


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.


Instagram Photo
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.




Entertainment – Black America Web


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


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