TIME Soccer

Landon Donovan to Play for the U.S. Soccer Team One Last Time

Vancouver Whitecaps v Los Angeles Galaxy
Landon Donovan of Los Angeles Galaxy acknowledges the fans by blowing them a kiss following the game against Vancouver FC at StubHub Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 23, 2014 Jeff Gross—Getty Images

America's most accomplished men’s soccer player is set to bow out in October

U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday that Landon Donovan will make his final appearance for the men’s national team in the upcoming international friendly against Ecuador. The game will be an opportunity for fans to thank him for “all the memories he’s provided over the years,” said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

Donovan, 32, is the most accomplished American currently playing the men’s form of the game. He holds his team’s record for most goals scored (57) and assists (58) and fans overwhelmingly see him as their nation’s greatest player to have graced the beautiful game.

But his valedictory encounter, scheduled for Oct. 10 in East Hartford, Conn., is seen by some as an attempt by coach Jürgen Klinsmann and the country’s soccer governing body to make amends after a public fallout in May.

Just a day before the World Cup tournament kicked off, Donovan was kept off the roster by Klinsmann. The decision was met by fierce criticism from U.S. soccer fans — and particularly Donovan.

“I firmly believe that not only should I be going, but I feel like I really deserved it,” he told reporters at the time. He added that not only should he be in the 23-man squad, but that he should start as well.

Klinsmann, however, held his ground, saying that his former captain was cut because, “I just see some other players slightly ahead of him.”

The Germany legend evidently wasn’t fond of the striker’s showing in the lead up to the tournament. Klinsmann told the New York Times in a June article that he was unimpressed with Donovan’s performance in 2013, when the Los Angeles Galaxy player returned from a controversial four-month sabbatical earlier that year. “I watched the games. What was I supposed to say? That he was good? He was not good. Not then. No way,” said Klinsmann.

Donovan entered the international soccer stage in 2000, and his next and final match for the national team will mark his 157 cap. He’s also set to retire from club soccer at the end of this year’s Major League Soccer season.

TIME Boxing

Pacquiao to Help Set Up Boxing Academy in China

Manny Pacquiao
Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao speaks during a news conference in Macau, on Aug. 25, 2014 Vincent Yu—AP

Manny Pacquiao hopes the institute will foster warmer relations between the Philippines and China

(MANILA, Philippines) — Manny Pacquiao is setting up a boxing institute in China and believes the country of 1.4 billion people can produce professional world champions.

Pacquiao said Wednesday that he has partnered with a Chinese company and the Chinese government to set up an institute in his name, with the aim of imparting the experience that has seen him win eight world titles.

He was speaking from Shanghai where he is promoting his Nov. 22 fight against Chris Algieri for a WBO welterweight title in Macau. He will be defending the welterweight crown he won in a rematch earlier last year with Timothy Bradley, avenging his 2012 loss.

Pacquiao, 35, said the Manny Pacquiao Boxing Education Institute will “start in Beijing, and the plan is for the whole of China.”

While China has produced accomplished fighters and Olympic champions at amateur level, there is potential to translate that to professional ranks, saying the local boxers “just need some knowledge about boxing and should be taught the basics.”

“Of course, with 1.4 billion population for the whole China, they can produce good fighters like other champions,” he said.

Pacquiao, who is also a congressman, told ABS-CBN television in Manila he intends his new venture to also foster warmer relationships between the Philippines and China, whose territorial dispute in the South China Sea has intensified in recent months.

“This will even help in strengthening our relationship … especially since in this project, the Chinese government is involved,” he said.

Pacquiao said he would visit the academy “once a month, once in three months, to supervise them.”

On top of his duties in the academy and as congressman and boxer, Pacquiao has taken on the role of playing coach of a new Philippine professional basketball team which will see action for the first time in October.

He said the team trains every day, except on weekends. “I can handle it,” he said.

The well-loved Bible-quoting boxer is regarded as a folk hero by Filipinos, and his win over Brandon Rios in Macau last November was a boost to a country recovering from Typhoon Haiyan which killed more than 6,300 in the central Philippines.

TIME Innovation

Ralph Lauren Debuts Biometric Shirts at the U.S. Open

Fashion-Wearable Tech
Ralph Lauren's new garment offers smart technology to send heartbeat, respiration, stress levels and other data to tablets and smartphones AP

But don't get excited. You won't be able to buy them until early 2015

Fashion guru Ralph Lauren has sought to morph fashionable sportswear into wearable technology with the launch of the Polo Tech smart shirt, which is being worn by some ball boys at this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament.

The compression garment comes with technology from a Canadian firm, OMsignal, that feeds detailed information about a wearer’s heart rate, breathing, activity and so on directly to a smartphone or tablet.

Silver-yarn-based sensors gauge athletic performance by measuring the expansion and compression of the wearer’s chest along with electrical changes associated with heart rate. The information is collected in a small black-box-type recorder, which can be removed when the garment needs to be thrown into the washing machine.

While the Polo Tech shirt is making a splash at the U.S. Open, the public won’t be able to purchase it until the spring.

TIME Basketball

Manny Pacquiao Has Been Drafted by the Basketball Squad He Coaches

BASKET-BOX-PHI-PACQUIAO
Manny Pacquiao dribbles during a practice session with the Kia Motors team in Manila on August 15, 2014. Jay Directo — AFP/Getty Images

And you thought he was just a boxing legend, politician, actor and singer

Manny Pacquiao has many titles — boxing legend, third-term Congressman, movie star, pop singer and professional basketball coach.

Wait, make that basketball player-coach.

Pacman, as he’s dubbed, was picked up as a player by the Philippine Basketball Association’s Kia Motors team in the first round of Sunday’s draft, according to Sports Illustrated. There are no firm reports on how much sway Pacquiao actually has over the team’s selections, but he has been Kia’s coach since June, according to Bleacher Report.

The Internet responded to the news in jocular fashion.

The 35-year-old icon might have seen his stint as a player coming, however. One Philippine news source claimed earlier this week that the boxer-Congressman had literally dreamed about dominating the basketball court and dunking over his rivals three years ago.

Considering the welterweight is only 5 ft. 6 in. tall, the dunking part is likely to remain a dream.

TIME Basketball

Get Ready for NBA 3.0

Is India the next international basketball hot spot?

India is renowned as a country of cricket fanatics. But that hasn’t stopped the top brass of the NBA from hoping that basketball will sink deep roots into the South Asian nation of 1.2 billion people.

The Sacramento Kings’ interest in rookie Sim Bhullar, whose parents emigrated from India to Canada, may very well prove to be the game changer the NBA is looking for. Although the 7-ft. 4-in. center is not currently on the team’s 15-player roster, owner Vivek Ranadive — the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA team — says he’s placing big hopes on the 21-year-old.

Officials and owners are hoping that Bhullar will boost the sport’s popularity with Indians, just as the entrance of Yao Ming into the NBA in 2002 led to the meteoric rise of basketball’s popularity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“What Yao Ming did for China, we hope players like Sim will do for India,” said Ranadive during an interview at an NBA summer league game in July. “I have this vision — I call it NBA 3.0 — where I want to make basketball the premier sport of the 21st century.”

According to the Kings’ website, Ranadive is planning to take NBA commissioner Adam Silver on a trip to India in the near future.

However, local sports journalists say several things must fall into place before basketball reaches the level of popularity envisaged by Ranadive. At present, the majority of the nation’s domestic basketball players are semiprofessionals.

“As of now, we can’t think of basketball as a profession,” Roshan Thyagarajan, a columnist for cricket bible Wisden India but also an avid basketball fan, tells TIME. “The boards, the associations are not well-oiled. Everything is out of place. So that needs to be addressed immediately.”

Nevertheless, there’s a ton of potential, with India already proving to be a formidable opponent. China might be considered the power to be reckoned with in Asia, but the Indian national team beat the PRC squad 65-58 during a historic win at FIBA 2014 in July.

Photographer Cathy Scholl has been working in India and taking an intimate look at the growing excitement around basketball and the hoop dreams of the men and women who play it. Her images, above, capture a sport making tentative steps in a nation forecast to become the world’s most populous in less than 15 years.

TIME Athletes

Here Are 8 Bizarre Yet Beautiful Photos of Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics

Gymnasts are known for their incredible flexibility, but rhythmic gymnasts take it to new levels, wrapping their bodies around ribbons, clubs, balls and hoops—all with a dazzling smile.

The secret to their rubber-band like contortions? Hours and hours of training, including more time spent in splits—hanging from bars or stretched across foam blocks—than the rest of us would consider humane. These athletes, competing at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, represent the eight top-scoring qualifiers in mind-bending acrobatic routines in the individual all-around finals.

TIME tennis

What It’s Like to Be a U.S. Open Ballperson

Veteran U.S. Open ballboys and ballgirls relive their best and worst moments on the court

+ READ ARTICLE

Zach Rosenblatt works in investor relations at a hedge fund in New York City. Every summer, he spends his vacation days chasing after tennis balls.

But they’re not just any tennis balls — they’re balls that have bounced off the racquets of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andre Agassi, just to name a few.

Rosenblatt, 28, is entering his 15th year as a U.S. Open ballperson.

He’s just one of hundreds of athletic young men and women who silently crouch on the edges of the courts, retrieving balls, handing players towels, and shielding them from the sun — with umbrellas — during changeovers.

“One thing that I think the public doesn’t understand is that it’s hard on your bodies,” Rosenblatt says. “You start when you’re 14, but I’m 28 — a lot of us are up there, [in our] mid-20s, and it hurts.”

It could be an unexpected missed ball that pegs you in the chest at 117 m.p.h., or Federer (a former ball boy himself) hitting a ball right at you just to test your reflexes — the range of stories, along with potential injuries, are endless.

But there are rewarding moments as well. Laray Fowler, 30, who’s been a ballperson for 16 years, was on the court the moment her favorite player, Kim Clijsters, won her first grand slam in 2005.

After the game, Clijsters found Fowler, who had been working for all her matches leading up to the final, and gave her a hug.

“We started crying a little bit,” Fowler says. “And I told her this was the best moment of my life, and it’s something I would never forget.”

Understandably, there are also stories that ballpersons would rather not repeat to the press about some not-so-nice players. But the general consensus seems to be that the perks make the job well worth it. Says veteran ballperson Nathan Hollins: “It’s just probably the best seat in the house.”

TIME swimming

Swimming: Ledecky Leaves Her Mark in Australia

Katie Ledecky
Katie Ledecky of the U.S. smiles as she poses with her gold medal after she set a new world record in her women's 1500-m freestyle final at the Pan Pacific swimming championships in Gold Coast, Australia, on Aug. 24, 2014 Rick Rycroft—AP

And she's still in high school

(GOLD COAST, Australia) — The long, deep breaths were a sign: Elation, satisfaction, relief. And just a touch of exhaustion.

Katie Ledecky had just wiped almost six seconds off her own world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle to win her fifth gold medal of the Pan Pacific championships, rounding off a phenomenal season of competition.

She now owns the world records in the 400- — she lowered her own mark at that distance the previous night — the 800- and the 1,500-meter freestyle events and is the world champion in all three.

And she’s still in high school.

Before the Pan Pacific championships, the bulk of the attention focused on the return to international competition of Michael Phelps, the most decorated swimmer of all time. Ledecky’s performances made sure Phelps had to share the spotlight.

Phelps, who won eight Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and retired after lifting his tally to 18 golds by the end of the London Games in 2012, was frequently asked about his 17-year-old teammate.

“She’s a stud. It’s unbelievable,” Phelps said of Ledecky after she lowered her record in the 400, describing her reaction to all the fuss over her times as “so nonchalant.”

“Watching her swim is remarkable,” he said. “She throws it on the line — she’s very talented, she works hard, and it shows.”

Ledecky enjoys swimming the 1,500, but it’s not an Olympic event for women so it’s not a big part of her longer-term plans beyond the world championships next year. She likes the challenge of it. Her reaction to winning the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle golds were fairly subdued and self-effacing.

Although she said it was “kind of cool” to be the first to set a world record at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre’s new outdoor pool, she said she also loved playing a role in a winning 4×200 freestyle relay for the Americans.

All of her records came in some pretty difficult weather conditions — steady rain and a cold wind off the nearby Pacific Ocean during most of the sessions. It was a final, and uncharacteristic, blast of the last few weeks of the southern hemisphere winter in this part of Australia.

After completing the 30 laps in 15 minutes, 28.36 seconds — her third world record in 15 days — she really let her emotions show, slapping the water in delight after an intense final lap when she pushed harder and harder to the wall.

“That was probably one of my most painful races,” Ledecky said. “But it paid off in the end. I figured pretty early on in the race that I was on world-record pace. I wasn’t sure about the middle if I fell off too much, because it did really hurt. I was pretty sure I had it, but breaking it by six seconds was pretty surprising.”

It was the third time in 13 months she’s set the mark in the 1,500, and the second within three months since her 15:34.23 in June.

“The 1,500 is not a huge priority of mine because it’s not an Olympic event — (but) it’s certainly one of my favorite events,” she said. “It was the last day of the meet — last time I broke it, it was the first day of the meet — so pretty different.”

Now, for a change, the 2012 Olympic 800-meter champion will get a well-earned break from competition before training picks up again for the 2015 world championships.

TIME Football

Bradford Out for Season With ACL Tear

Sam Bradford
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford leaves the field after getting hit by Cleveland Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant in Cleveland on Aug. 23, 2014 David Richard—AP

In all, five St. Louis Rams starters were hurt in the first half against the Browns on Saturday night

(ST. LOUIS) — Jeff Fisher shared the bad news with Sam Bradford on Sunday morning.

By the time the St. Louis Rams coach began his day-after news conference, he’d had several hours to digest the impact of an injury that puts the team’s once-rosy outlook in serious doubt, and to give a vote of confidence to journeyman backup Shaun Hill.

After announcing Bradford’s season-ending torn ACL in his left knee for the second time in nine months, Fisher said speculation about a trade was premature.

At the least, they’ll likely wait to see who hits the market in the first round of cuts on Tuesday when rosters must be at 75 players.

“It makes no sense to jump and react right now and try to fill the hole at whatever cost,” Fisher said. “We’re going to take our time and evaluate this.

“There’s going to be some quarterbacks that are released and there may or may not be some quarterbacks out there that have trade value.”

Fisher confirmed the extent of the injury first reported by ESPN and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said no timetable had been set for surgery.

“We lost Sam for the year,” Fisher said. “The news was devastating to him.”

The coach quickly added that everyone at Rams Park must quickly become accustomed to the 34-year-old Hill running the offense.

“We’re going to move forward, we’re not going to change anything,” Fisher said. “We have to move on and Shaun’s the guy.”

In all, five starters were hurt in the first half against the Browns Saturday night. Fisher called it a “nightmare.”

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was carted off with a knee injury and three others — guard Rodger Saffold and defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers — left with ankle injuries.

Johnson will be out 4-6 weeks with an MCL tear, but Fisher said Saffold, Langford and Brockers could play if needed in the preseason finale Thursday at Miami.

Bradford was injured in the first quarter of Saturday night’s 33-14 preseason victory at Cleveland. He was hit on his left side by Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant as he threw a pass, and hopped briefly on his right leg before dropping to the ground.

Fisher said the injury was a “one in 100″ rarity.

“The knee was locked and something has to give,” Fisher said. “Unfortunately, the ACL gave.”

Bradford, the first overall pick of the 2010 draft, missed the last nine games last season after getting injured at Carolina. The Rams also have rookie Garrett Gilbert and Austin Davis on the roster.

Hill strolled through the auditorium to a meeting as Fisher walked to the podium and Davis also made an appearance during the news conference.

“Shaun’s our guy,” Fisher said. “I brought him here.”

The Rams shifted to a ground-heavy offense after Bradford was injured last year and Kellen Clemens inherited the job. They were 3-4 with Bradford and 4-5 with Clemens.

Unlike Bradford, Clemens was a bit of a scrambler. Hill is more in the Bradford mold of a drop-back passer.

After the game, Fisher thought Bradford might have hyperextended the knee and was “very optimistic.”Bradford walked off the field, and then walked to the locker room after the injury.

Wide receiver Brian Quick said he was assured by the quarterback that he was “OK.”

“It is a tremendous loss for them,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We knew that it didn’t look like much when it happened, but I just think it was a good amount of weight that got put on it. It’s such an unfortunate thing.”

Pettine said there “certainly wasn’t any intent” by Bryant to hurt Bradford.

Bradford had 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions last season. The Rams then upgraded their offensive line by drafting guard-tackle Greg Robinson No. 2 overall.

Bradford played in two preseason games and was 4 for 9 for 77 yards against the Browns.

The 34-year-old Hill has thrown only 16 passes the past three seasons as the backup in Detroit. He made 10 starts in 2010 for the Lions in place of injured Matthew Stafford and beat the Rams for Detroit’s first win after a 0-4 start.

“He makes good decisions, he’s mobile and just understands defense,” Fisher said. “He’s very reliable.”

TIME tennis

Men More Likely to Make Dumb Decisions at U.S. Open

Western & Southern Open - Day 9
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns to David Ferrer of Spain during a final match on Day 9 of the Western & Southern Open at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati on Aug. 17, 2014 Jonathan Moore—Getty Images

In tennis, men's players embarrass themselves more often than their female counterparts, according to a new study that analyzed data from line-call challenges. The authors chalk up these gender differences to overconfidence, pride and shame

This year’s U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 25, is sure to surprise. The defending men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn from the tournament because of a wrist injury. Does Roger Federer, who won five U.S. Open titles in a row from 2004 to 2008, have one last run in him? Will Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic take his first title since 2011? Will a new player, like Milos Raonic, the 6-ft. 5-in. Canadian big server who’s looked strong in the hard-court tune-ups, break through?

On the women’s side, Serena Williams is the wildest of wild cards. She’s the two-time defending champ and still No. 1 in the world. But she’s been strangely inconsistent this season, and the U.S. Open is her first Grand Slam appearance since Wimbledon, site of her bizarre appearance at a doubles match with her sister. The sport is still buzzing from that incident, in which a dazed Williams couldn’t serve the ball over the net. It was equal parts strange and scary.

This year’s U.S. Open is pretty unpredictable. But if a new academic study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sports Economics, holds serve, this much is guaranteed: the men’s players will embarrass themselves more often than their female counterparts.

The study — conducted by economics professors from Deakin University in Melbourne and Sogang University in Seoul — examined line-call challenge data for 331 professional men’s matches, and 149 women’s matches, from 2006 to 2008. The major finding: as the competition got tighter, men were more likely to screw up. During set tiebreakers, female players were more likely to make the correct challenge call, and men more likely to make an incorrect call. (There’s a risk to making a challenge — if the Hawkeye system shows the ump was correct, you lose a challenge and the potential to correct a future call. In the U.S. Open, players are allotted three challenges, plus one extra during the tiebreak, per set.)

What’s more, during tiebreaks, 34% of men’s challenges are “embarrassing” — defined by the researchers as questioning a correct call when the ball is more than 50 mm off the line. Only 9% of women’s challenges are “embarrassing,” a statistically significant difference. Men are more likely to make these stupid challenges when the ball is on the other side of the court, which is a riskier call since the net impedes their view. The higher a man’s ranking, the more likely he is to make an embarrassing line-call challenge. For women, the opposite holds true: the higher the ranking, the more prudent the decision to challenge a call.

The authors chalk up these gender differences to overconfidence, pride and shame. Men are more prone to cockiness, and think that their perspective is always correct, even when the naked eye can see that a ball is in or out, they say. Men also possess a disproportionate amount of pride. They can’t bear to lose, and are more susceptible to making an irrational attempt to reverse an umpire’s judgment. “It’s an ego thing,” says tennis great Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

And if the crowd, and millions watching on television, see them making an embarrassing challenge, men won’t feel as much shame as women. They don’t see the same downside to screwing up. “Guys just don’t care as much about losing challenges,” Navratilova tells TIME. “Women are more concerned about being embarrassed.”

Or, as the authors of the study put it, “at crucial moments of the match, such as tiebreaks … male players try to win at all costs, while female players accept losing more gracefully.”

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