TIME Sports

Road Racing Champion Receives 4-Year Doping Ban

Mo Trafeh will have to forfeit three of his U.S. championships

(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — Road racing champion Mo Trafeh has received a four-year doping ban for using EPO and will have to forfeit three of his U.S. championships.

The Moroccan-born U.S. citizen announced his retirement earlier this year, saying he had purchased blood-boosting EPO but had never used it.

An investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concluded Trafeh had used the drug and had also evaded sample collectors. An independent arbitrator upheld the USADA ruling, meaning Trafeh will give up his 2012 national title and his 2013 titles in the half marathon and 25K.

The arbitrators called for the start of the four-year suspension to date retroactively, to January 2012. USADA is considering an appeal to make the official start date Dec. 2, 2014 — the day the arbitration panel issued the decision.

TIME Football

FCC Rejects Claim That the Word ‘Redskins’ Is Obscene

Washington Redskins helmets lay on the ground during a game against the Oakland Raiders
Washington Redskins helmets lay on the ground during a game against the Oakland Raiders Ezra Shaw—Getty Images

Denies a law professor’s attempt to strip a radio station of its license because of repeated use of the word

The Federal Communications Commission denied a Washington area law professor’s petition to strip a radio station of its license because of repeated use of the word “redskins” when talking about the football team.

George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf believes the Washington Redskins name is offensive to Native Americans, and should be banned. On Thursday, however, the FCC denied his petition to reject a license renewal by Buckland, Va.-based sports broadcaster, WWXX-FM on the grounds that they use obscene or profane language. The broadcasting licensee’s parent company is part owned by Daniel Snyder, who is also the team’s general manager.

The FCC said the word isn’t obscene, citing a Supreme Court ruling defining obscene material as something sexual in nature. Banzhaf’s petition was one of several to be considered by the FCC.

There has been a growing coalition of groups, politicians, and broadcasters speaking out against the use of “Redskin” as part of the Washington football team name. Last May, 50 U.S. Senators asked Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, and at least one federal agency has deemed it too racist to stand. Over the summer, the U.S. patent office canceled the team’s trademark license. The team, however, has appealed that ruling.

TIME Sports

Obama Says LeBron ‘Did the Right Thing’ for Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirt

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is seen wearing a 'I CAN'T BREATHE' tee-shirt while he warms up before game time against the Brooklyn Nets during their NBA game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 08 December 2014. EPA--JASON SZENES CORBIS OUT JASON SZENES—EPA

The President tells 'PEOPLE' that more athletes should use their influence to address social issues

President Barack Obama applauded LeBron James in a new interview for wearing a shirt dedicated to Eric Garner during a recent game and said more sports stars should use their influence to address social issues.

James sported a shirt with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” instead of his jersey on Dec. 8 in a show of support for Garner, the Staten Island man who was killed in an altercation with police in July, during which the officer used an apparent chokehold.

“You know, I think LeBron did the right thing,” Obama told PEOPLE. “We forget the role that Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Bill Russell played in raising consciousness.”

James’ decision to wear the shirt came as athletes on a number of other teams did similarly in the wake of the grand jury announcement that the officer involved in the fatal incident would not be indicted, setting off a string of protests against police brutality.

“We went through a long stretch there where [with] well-paid athletes the notion was: just be quiet and get your endorsements and don’t make waves,” Obama said. “LeBron is an example of a young man who has, in his own way and in a respectful way, tried to say, ‘I’m part of this society, too’ and focus attention.”

The President added that he would “like to see” more athletes do that, “not just around this issue, but around a range of issues.”

Read more at PEOPLE

TIME Sports

Watch Drake Introduce the Toronto Raptors in a Really Drake Way

The rapper was the guest of honor at Wednesday's game against the Brooklyn Nets

Wednesday night was “Drake Night” at the Toronto Raptors’ Air Canada Centre — though in our hearts, every night is Drake Night.

The rapper returned to his hometown as the team’s guest of honor, and his responsibilities included introducing the starting lineup before the game.

It was great because he got really into it, adding weird little jokes about the players. For example: “From Westchester High, a 6’9″ forward, he recently got a tattooo of a Swiffer Wet Jet, number 15, Amir Johnson!”

Then other Drake things happened, like this:

Fortunately, it appears Drake didn’t attempt any three-point shots. The last time he tried that, he totally airballed, and after that, nothing was the same.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Independent and third party candidates could break D.C. gridlock — if they can get to Washington.

By Tom Squitieri in the Hill

2. A new software project has surgeons keeping score as a way to improve performance and save lives.

By James Somers in Medium

3. The New American Workforce: In Miami, local business are helping legal immigrants take the final steps to citizenship.

By Wendy Kallergis in Miami Herald

4. Policies exist to avoid the worst results of head injuries in sports. We must follow them to save athletes’ lives.

By Christine Baugh in the Chronicle of Higher Education

5. Sal Khan: Use portfolios instead of transcripts to reflect student achievement.

By Gregory Ferenstein at VentureBeat

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.


Reggie Miller: ‘No Question’ Michael Jordan Tougher to Guard Than Kobe

"Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day"

Kobe Bryant has surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA’s career scoring list, but retired NBA guard Reggie Miller believes strongly that Jordan is the better player.

Miller was asked by Dan Patrick Tuesday whether Jordan or Bryant was tougher to guard. Miller said there is “no question” the answer is Jordan.

“Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day,” Miller continued, “and that is not short-changing Kobe Bryant.”

Bryant surpassed Jordan’s career point total of 32,292 during Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves to move into third place on the NBA’s scoring list.

Bryant’s total currently sits at 32,331, but he has played 1,270 games, compared to Jordan’s 1,072. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game over 15 seasons, while Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game during his 18-year career.

Miller, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, faced Bryant 15 times in the regular season and Jordan 49 times. During those games, Jordan averaged 29.5 points and Bryant averaged 22.2 points.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME Sports

What NBA Referees Can Teach Us About Overcoming Prejudices

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers
NBA referee Mark Lindsay #29 officiates the NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on Dec. 8, 2014 in Los Angeles. Victor Decolongon—Getty Images

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.

Evidence indicates that awareness of implicit biases can help eliminate them

Nicholas Kristof recently wrote an article as part of a series for The New York Times about race relations in the United States. Part of this article referenced a paper by Joseph Price and Justin Wolfers (published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2010). This paper provided evidence that NBA referees suffered from implicit bias, which is defined as a “positive or negative mental attitude towards a person, thing, or group that a person holds at an unconscious level.”

Price and Wolfers’ study offered evidence that referees exhibited a negative bias against those of a different race. Specifically, their research indicated that white referees tended to call more fouls on black players, and black referees tended to call more fouls on white players. As the authors noted, this was not because of explicit racism. Rather, it was due to an implicit bias, which Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (a book that inspired the study) indicated most people tend to have.

In response to Kristof’s column, Mike Bass, an executive vice-president of communications for the NBA, posted the following in the comments to he New York Times article:

While Nicholas Kristof calls his readers’ attention to a very significant societal issue, the study by Justin Wolfers and Joseph Price cited to support his assertion that “white N.B.A. referees disproportionally call fouls on black players, while black refs call more fouls on white players” relies on flawed methodology. It is therefore not a valid assessment of N.B.A. officiating.

The researchers considered calls made by three-man referee crews as a single entity, with majority rules determining whether a crew counted as “white” or “black.” A subsequent study commissioned by the N.B.A. and conducted by the Segal Company, a leading actuarial and consulting firm, analyzed calls made by individual referees, making these findings much more significant. Segal ultimately found that the race of officials and players does not affect foul calls in the N.B.A.

So it appears we have two studies. The study by Price and Wolfers says we can see evidence of implicit bias in the data. But the NBA has a different study that fails to find any bias. Who should we believe?

The answer to this question begins back in 2007. In May of 2007, The New York Times published a front-page story that detailed what Price and Wolfers had uncovered. As part of this story, Lawrence Katz, Ian Ayers, and I were asked to review both the study by Price and Wolfers and the NBA’s response. As is noted in the article, the three of us — who all have extensive experience publishing and reviewing academic studies — were not impressed by the NBA’s effort.

But the story didn’t end there. Price and Wolfers were given access to the data the NBA used to supposedly refute their results. In an article published in Contemporary Economic Policy, these authors provide evidence that the NBA’s data actually confirmed the original Price and Wolfers result. In sum, what the consultants provided the NBA didn’t stand up to academic scrutiny (and therefore, we should not believe Mike Bass!).

And the research didn’t stop there. Price, Wolfers, and fellow behavioral scientist Devin Pope recently investigated whether referees have subsequently changed their behavior. And the results of this research is actually good news for the NBA. The original research looked at data from 1990-91 to 2001-02. This latest study considered two additional time periods. First the authors examined data from 2002-03 to 2005-06. As with the original study, evidence of implicit bias was again found in the more recent data.

The authors, though, didn’t stop there. As noted, the publicity for this research occurred in 2007. So at that point, referees were likely made aware of this issue. Did that make any difference? Looking at data from 2006-07 to 2009-10, it appeared it did. Specifically, in the latter time period, the authors “find that racial bias completely disappeared.”

But was it the media coverage? The authors looked at other explanations (changes in the referees, the NBA addressing the issue) but did not find evidence supporting these stories. Specifically, the following was noted in the article: “While it is difficult to completely rule out the possibility that the NBA somehow influenced the referees in our study, the evidence presented in this study suggests that the most likely mechanism through which the change in bias occurred is that the media reporting increased the awareness among referees about their own implicit racial bias and that this awareness led to a reduction in such bias.”

So at this point, the NBA could be celebrating some good news. Yes, there was an issue with implicit bias in the past. And yes, this is understandable since implicit bias is fairly common. But after the issue was publicized, it appears the bias vanished. And that is good news for everyone since it suggests that implicit bias – which, as noted, is an unconscious bias – can be overcome if a person is aware that they have this bias.

The NBA, though, is not celebrating this news. Bass continues to echo the original NBA response and maintains that the original research from Price and Wolfers is not “valid.”

Such a response is disappointing. Again, it would be ideal if the NBA embraced this research. And it certainly would be better if the NBA wouldn’t try and trumpet work of paid consultants that has been refuted by peer reviewed published research.

Despite the NBA’s response, the rest of us should be happy to see this academic research. The idea that NBA referees – who work in an integrated workplace and are also heavily scrutinized – could exhibit implicit bias suggest this problem is indeed widespread. But what we have also seen is that this can be overcome. So in the end, that is good news for everyone–even if the NBA won’t admit it.

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins and continues to serve on the editorial board of bothJournal of Sports Economics and the International Journal of Sport Finance.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

NHL Mumps Outbreak Grows With Sidney Crosby Diagnosis

At least 13 NHL players and two referees were infected in the outbreak

Sidney Crosby became the latest National Hockey League player to receive a positive diagnosis for mumps in an unusual outbreak of the disease which is typically prevented by vaccination.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Crosby’s diagnosis Sunday and on Monday said that the two-time NHL MVP was no longer infectious.

“He probably could have been here today, but we took an extra day to be cautious,” said team manager Jim Rutherford. “As far as I know, he will return tomorrow or the next day.”

The mumps outbreak, which has infected at least 13 NHL players and two referees, is odd given that most U.S. residents receive a vaccine for the disease, which causes headache, fever and swelling of the salivary glands. Crosby reportedly received a vaccination for the disease as recently as this February, according to the Penguins.

Still, doctors say that the effectiveness of the vaccine can wear off over time, and hockey players may be particularly susceptible to the disease given the exchange of saliva during heavy hits.

TIME Sports

Cleveland Cops Want Apology for NFL Player’s Tamir Rice Shirt

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Andrew Hawkins #16 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field while wearing a protest shirt during introductions prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Dec. 14, 2014. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

"It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law"

The head of the Cleveland Police Union is demanding an apology after Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt before Sunday’s game that read, “Justice for Tamir Rice – John Crawford.”

Rice, a 12-year-old boy, died last month after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer who reportedly mistook his air gun for a real firearm. Crawford was shot and killed by police in August while holding an air rifle in a WalMart.

Hawkins wore the shirt coming out of the tunnel at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland before the Browns’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Afterward, Jeff Follmer, Police Patrolman Union president, sent newsnet5 in Cleveland the following statement:

It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.

Last week, Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi wore a shirt that read, “I Can’t Breathe,” during warmups before a game against the Indianapolis Colts. Athletes across the country have worn shirts with the message in protest of a grand jury’s decision not to indict the New York police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.

Last month, St. Louis police offers were angered after Rams players took the field with a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture used by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., and across the country. None of the athletes protesting with the shirts have been punished by the NFL or the NBA.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME Baseball

Sy Berger, Designer of the Modern Baseball Card, Dies at 91

2014 Major League Baseball T-Mobile All-Star FanFest
Fans hold Topps Baseball same day baseball cards during the T-Mobile Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday, July 11, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Taylor Baucom—MLB Photos via Getty Images

Baseball cards actually date to the 1800s, but Berger was responsible for turning them into the version we know today

Sy Berger, who brought about the modern baseball trading card, thus creating an American cultural past-time and a flashpoint for childhood nostalgia, died on Sunday at his home in Rockville Centre, New York. He was 91.

The Lower East Side-born inventor is credited with turning the Brooklyn-based Topps company into the biggest name in the baseball card business, after introducing the first Topps cards in 1951, the New York Times reports.

Though baseball cards date to the 1800s, Berger was responsible for turning them into the version we know today: big, colorful, and imbued with meaning. The Times reports that Berger also collected cards as a kid and worshipped Wally Berger (no relation), of the Boston Braves, as a boyhood hero.


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