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 The defending men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn from the tournament because of a wrist injury.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.”

TIME China

Watch Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Compete in China

Chinese mixed martial arts fighters are beating their way out of poverty, the AFP reported

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Mixed martial arts, or MMA as it’s widely known, is a combination of boxing and Brazilian jujitsu, where almost anything goes during a fight. The sport, widely practiced in Europe and Japan, was unknown in China just a decade ago.

“I didn’t know MMA existed before, when I started fighting in the competition in 2006, I thought it was great fun because there were almost no restrictions,” Chinese fighter Wu Haotian told AFP.

Recently, an increasing number of athletes in China are turning to the sport, which is seen as a springboard out of rural poverty: Fighters can compete for prizes of up to $10,000 in fights in the United States and Hong Kong, the AFP reported.

In the video above, take a look inside a Chinese gym that has already sent several fighters to the U.S.-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

TIME Little League World Series

Chicago Team Could Be First All African-American Squad to Win Little League World Series

LLWS Baseball
The Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team from Chicago participates in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., Aug. 14, 2014. Gene J. Puskar—AP

Jackie Robinson West Is Shooting To Become First All African-American Team to Win Little League World Series

Updated 11:15 a.m. ET

Mo’ne Davis is gone from this year’s Little League World Series. So now let’s talk a bit about a kid named Pierce Jones.

In any other year, when a girl isn’t throwing the first shutout in the history of the Little League World Series, or when she’s not becoming the first Little Leaguer to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Jones’ name would be much more familiar. In the opening game for Jackie Robinson West Little League, hailing from Chicago’s South Side, Jones smacked three home runs and a triple. He led off another game with a long ball a few days later. Jones’ Jackie Robinson team defeated Davis’ Taney squad 6-5 on Thursday, to put the kids from the Windy City in the U.S. Championship Game on Saturday. They will face the undefeated Mountain Ridge team from Las Vegas.

Jackie Robinson is trying to make a little bit of baseball history too. If the Chicago squad can get by Las Vegas and win the championship game on Sunday, it would become the first all-African American team to win the Little League World Series. “I don’t know anyone here,” says Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams, “who hasn’t been watching them.” In fact, last Monday more than five times as many Chicagoans watched the Little League team on ESPN than watched the White Sox play the Baltimore Orioles on Comcast Sports Net.

The kids have given their city a nice psychic lift. “Unfortunately, we’ve woken up to bad news far too often,” says Williams. “Everyone is aware of the murder rate in Chicago, particularly in western and southern parts of the city. Yes, these things are happening, but there are so many superstar people in these communities doing so many positive things. People volunteering to help at-risk youth, kids playing and learning from sports. And these kids, playing baseball, have helped show this city in such a different light. They are changing perceptions.”

And they could give baseball a boost. “This is so great for baseball in so many different ways,” says Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig. “It’s really been a thrill to watch.”

It’s no secret that the percentage of African-American players in the big leagues has drastically declined: 8.3% of players on this year’s opening day rosters were African-American. Back in 1975, 27% of all players were African-American. (Though one baseball researcher, Mark Amour, says the highest percentage of African-Americans in the major leagues was 19% in 1986; Amour argues the 1975 number included all dark-skinned players, including Latino-Americans.) Though a single Little League team can’t singlehandedly reverse this trend, “everything that has happened, having these kids play in prime-time on national television, and getting exposure in different media outlets, is surely raising awareness about baseball in African-American communities,” says New York Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson, who grew up in the Chicago area and donated $5 million to build a baseball stadium at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. Curtis Granderson Stadium also hosts events for 38 youth baseball organizations in the area. “It gets kids’ attention,” says Granderson, who is African-American. ”Wow, there’s an all-black baseball team? I haven’t seen that before.'”

Baseball’s fight for the attention of African-American athletes — and fans — faces serious hurdles. Travel baseball, which is more important than ever on the youth level, is prohibitively expensive, and doesn’t have the same level of grassroots investments — read, sneaker company — as a sport like basketball to offset some of these costs. Then, there’s the “cool/marketing factor,” as Granderson puts it. Granderson points to social media: LeBron James has 14.2 million Twitter followers. Dwayne Wade has 4.38 million. At cafeterias across the country, young African-Americans are talking about LeBron and D-Wade, not Clayton Kershaw (202,000 Twitter followers) and Mike Trout (520,000). So as kids start specializing in a single sport at younger and younger ages, African-Americans are bound to pick basketball or football, both of which offer a quicker, more glamorous path to the pros. Play a little college ball in front of millions, and skip all the bus rides in the minors, which weed out tons of prospects.

If African-Americans no longer feels a connection to baseball, “you’ve got to put a question mark on the game’s status as the national pastime,” says Granderson. “I’m just very excited for these Chicago kids, it’s been amazing how they’ve showcased their skills. And hopefully, the conversation about African-Americans and baseball continues, and some positives for our sport will come out of it.”

TIME Little League World Series

Mo’ne Davis’ Team Knocked Out of Little League World Series

The star pitchers run has come to an end

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Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons lost to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Thursday night, knocking the team out of the Little League World Series and marking an end to the headline-grabbing performance of the Dragons’ 13-year-old superstar pitcher, Mo’ne Davis.

Davis, one of just a handful of girls to compete in the Little League World Series, earned acclaim as a pitcher in the series for her 70 mph fastball and skilled curveball. Davis’ performance has sparked renewed debate regarding the way girls and women are treated in baseball and other sports.

She was unable to pitch in Thursday’s game against Chicago because she threw 55 pitches in Wednesday’s game against Mountain Ridge out of Las Vegas. Davis played first base for part of the Philly-Chicago matchup Friday.

Davis recently graced the front page of Sports Illustrated:

Sports Illustrated

 

[NJ.com]

TIME Baseball

Mo’ne Davis Helps Draw a Record Little League Viewership

Nearly 5 million viewers in all tuned in

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Little League World Series’ sensation, 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis, may have got pulled during her game on Wednesday night, but the event did garner the largest viewership of a Little League game in ESPN’s history, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Despite the 8-1 loss by Davis’ Philadelphia team Taney Dragons to Las Vegas’ Mountain Ridge, the coverage drew a 3.1 rating, which, according to ESPN, was up 155% from last year’s viewership. In Philadelphia, 14.9% of homes tuned in on Wednesday, while 16.3% watched from their homes in Las Vegas. Nearly 5 million viewers in all tuned in for Wednesday night’s game.

Davis was catapulted to fame this summer as the first female in the history of the Little League World Series to pitch a shutout game. She landed a Sports Illustrated cover and a ton of fans.

However, her unfettered success took a turn when she was pulled in the third inning after allowing Las Vegas three runs on Wednesday. She was then unable to pitch against Chicago during Thursday night’s game (because of restrictions designed to prevent arm strain). And because Philadelphia lost 5-6, the possibility of her taking to the mound during a Saturday night rematch with Las Vegas was quashed.

Davis’ manager Alex Rice nonetheless has big hopes for the 13-year-old’s future. “The world’s her oyster, right?” Rice told the Associated Press after the Chicago loss on Thursday. “Mo’ne will figure out her future, and it’s going to be terrific.”

TIME Baseball

Little League Sensation Mo’ne Davis Pulled After Giving Up 3 Runs

Little League World Series - Nevada v Pennsylvania
Mo'ne Davis of Pennsylvania pitches during the first inning of the United States division game at the Little League World Series tournament on August 20, 2014 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Rob Carr/Getty Images

But don’t count her out just yet

Blame it on the pressure of the Little League series, an overnight media blitz or on the Sports Illustrated cover jinx: Mo’ne Davis, star of this year’s Little League World Series, was pulled from Wednesday’s game after allowing three runs against Las Vegas’ Mountain Ridge, ABC News reports.

In the end, Davis’ Taney Dragons suffered a crushing 8-1 blow. While Las Vegas advances to the championship finals, Pennsylvania’s Taney will have to beat Jackie Robinson West on Thursday in an elimination game that will determine who faces off against Las Vegas.

Davis became the first girl to throw a shut out in the Little League World Series and was the first Little League player ever to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, ABC News said.

Superstitious fans are likely to blame Davis’ setback on the curse of the Sports Illustrated cover. Last week’s honor went to Ohio State’s Braxton Miller — but the university announced on Tuesday he’ll miss out on the upcoming season because of a shoulder injury. Tom Brady’s 2008 injury and 2012 loss to the New York Giants came just weeks after gracing the cover of the magazine.

Davis will be eligible to pitch on Saturday if her team advances to the final.

[ABC News]

TIME major league baseball

MLB Upholds First Team Protest in 28 Years in Giants Versus Cubs Game

Chicago Cubs ground crew members struggle to get the tarp on the field as rain falls during the fifth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2014 in Chicago.
Chicago Cubs ground crew members struggle to get the tarp on the field as rain falls during the fifth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2014 in Chicago. Brian Kersey—Getty Images

The Cubs can't even tarp a field, it seems

After protesting that the Chicago Cubs didn’t tarp the field properly in a 2-0 rain-inducing loss Tuesday night, the San Francisco Giants were allowed by Major League Baseball Wednesday night to finish the game Thursday. The heavy fifteen minutes of rain had stopped the game after four and a half innings, and the Cubs were declared the winners only after a 4 hour and 34 minute delay.

It was the first time in 28 years that Major League Baseball upheld a team’s protest, USA Today reports.

The Giants had asked the MLB to forfeit the game, but the League decided that the groundskeepers had worked “diligently” enough to reschedule it. The League’s investigation found that the Cubs failed “to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use,” rendering the ground crew unable to complete the job.

The teams had looked into suspending the game on Tuesday, but since the tarp was manual and not mechanical in nature, the officials had to call the game or wait until the field became playable, according to ESPN.

You can find the MLB’s entire ruling here.

TIME Auto Racing

Tony Stewart to Miss Third Consecutive NASCAR Race

Tony Stewart stands in the garage area after a practice session for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen, N.Y on August 8, 2014.
Tony Stewart stands in the garage area after a practice session for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen, N.Y on August 8, 2014. Derik Hamilton—AP

Since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a race in upstate New York on August 9

Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will not participate in this weekend’s Bristol Motor Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday, marking the third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup race he has missed since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a race in upstate New York on August 9.

Stewart could face criminal charges for Ward’s death, who had exited his vehicle after Stewart clipped his car and sent it crashing into the wall. After exiting his car, Ward wandered onto the track and tried to flag down Stewart, but was struck by Stewart’s fast-moving vehicle as the driver lapped back around.

Jeff Burton will replace Stewart for the second straight week. Burton took the number 14 car for Saturday’s Michigan International Speedway race.

NASCAR announced new rules on Friday to protect the safety of its drivers, requiring that “at no time” should a driver or crew member approach another moving vehicle or the racing surface after an on-track incident that prohibits the car from moving forward.

TIME NFL

5 Best Reactions to the NFL’s ‘Pay-to-Play’ Superbowl Halftime Scheme

Based on no scientific rubric at all

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The National Football League is planning to introduce at least one significant change to its halftime show at the Superbowl: in order to perform, superstar acts will pay for the privilege.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the league is considering three acts for its next halftime extravaganza in early 2015: Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay. But unlike in previous years, these performers have been asked to shill out dough in the form of post-Super Bowl tour income or another “financial contribution.”

The news was not received well in some quarters, but some met it with more humor than others. And so, we bring you: the 6 best reactions on Twitter to the NFL’s new “pay to play” scheme, based on no scientific rubric at all and entirely on this writer’s whim.

 

TIME Basketball

Watch Steve Ballmer’s Volcanic Enthusiasm Erupt at Clippers Conference

The explosion actually ranks pretty low on the richter scale of Ballmer blow-ups

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The Los Angeles Clippers’ cheerleaders better watch their backs, because the team’s new owner, Steve Ballmer, has enough pep to rival the squad.

Ballmer took the stage screaming during a Monday night press conference at the Staples Center, unleashing just a taste of what Microsoft employees have known for years: That this guy is a walking pom pom. On the scale of Ballmer blow-ups that periodically crop up on YouTube, his Monday night performance was relatively restrained.Ballmer in all of his glory is a sight to behold:

 

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