Sports

Behind the scenes with Curt Menefee, ‘leader’ and ‘therapist’ for ‘Fox NFL Sunday’
Sports

Behind the scenes with Curt Menefee, ‘leader’ and ‘therapist’ for ‘Fox NFL Sunday’

LOS ANGELES — Terry Bradshaw spills a cup of coffee, but Curt Menefee doesn’t flinch. Menefee leans toward a tray not visible on television for some tissue to help clean up as Bradshaw continues to make a point about the Cincinnati Bengals.Howie Long helps with the cleanup, and Bradshaw keeps talking. Jimmy Johnson listens intently.Menefee then ribs Bradshaw about needing another cup of coffee, and Johnson uses coffee as a transition to talk about the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.“So Terry spills coffee on live TV … now, how do you react?” Menefee said shortly after while sitting in a dressing room at Fox Studios. “Instead of going into panic mode, we made it part of the show, and we laughed it off and had some fun with it.”It’s a funny moment in the studio. And Menefee, the longt...
Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?
Sports

Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?

The cheers rang long and loud around Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium as fans celebrated Hugo Guillamon’s late equaliser against Barcelona in their final home match before La Liga’s Christmas break.Four kilometres away, on the other side of Valencia’s old city centre, all was quiet around the site of the Nou Mestalla — where the club’s half-built new home has sat untouched for the past 15 years.Through all that time, one of La Liga’s most storied clubs has found itself stuck in this bizarre situation — unable to raise the money to finish a modern new ground, unable to sell its historic home.Meanwhile, a team used to competing at the highest level in national and European competition has found itself fighting relegation, with the club’s historic debts becoming ever more difficult to deal with.On...
Professional tennis is broken. Here’s how to fix it
Sports

Professional tennis is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Tennis is doing what it does every 10-15 years or so — having a reckoning with its endless schedule, its nonsensical governing structure, and a competitive format that even devout fans struggle to understand.The sport is played across the world, with countries on every continent except Antarctica producing top players. No major sport integrates men and women more successfully, or has come as close to pay equality, though there is work to be done on those fronts. Nearly every day of the year, an enticing professional match unfolds somewhere on the planet.And yet, the nearly unanimous opinion of everyone involved in the game — its leaders, its players, tournament organizers, sponsors, media executives, coaches — is that professional tennis is broken, a structural mess that exhausts its playe...
Israeli sisters find strength, support and safe place in college basketball
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Israeli sisters find strength, support and safe place in college basketball

In the days after Oct. 7, in which Hamas militants killed around 1,200 people, Yarden Garzon struggled to eat and sleep. The outbreak of war in Israel and the Gaza Strip was all-consuming to her, as she watched the news from Bloomington, Ind., where she’s a sophomore guard. Yarden, who was born and raised in Israel, worried about her friends, her family, her country. “I think I was more nervous than my mom,” Garzon said. “It was really scary the first week.”Garzon’s parents have been half a world away from her, staying put in their home in Ra’anana, Israel, an affluent suburb north of Tel Aviv about 50 miles from the war’s epicenter. Still, over the last two months as the death toll has risen, her family has spent time in the house’s bomb shelter. Sirens warning of air strikes pierced the ...
The football stadiums that never were
Sports

The football stadiums that never were

Peter Storrie can remember visiting the London studio of Herzog & de Meuron, the renowned Swiss architects, and being shown a striking vision of Portsmouth’s future.“It was something else,” he tells The Athletic. “They put it up on the screen for us and it certainly had the wow factor.”This was 2007 and the ambitious plans were for a new 36,000-capacity stadium on the city’s docks. Storrie, then chief executive, had accepted that Portsmouth would need to leave Fratton Park, the club’s home since 1899, and a proposed relocation could hardly have been more impressive.Located in between the Spinnaker Tower and the historic naval base, a £600million waterfront project that would include apartments and restaurants promised a transformational impact.“This will be the most spectacular stadium...
NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs
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NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs

The Baltimore Ravens scored their most impressive victory of the season Monday night, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 33-19. Along with making them look like worthy Super Bowl contenders, the victory puts them in a fantastic position in the AFC. At 12-3, they’re a game ahead of Miami and have a chance to clinch the top spot next week in a game against those very Dolphins.Meanwhile, the 49ers’ loss sends them to 11-4 and a three-way tie atop the NFC with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. The 49ers own the tiebreaker over both, but with two games to go, there’s still time for the Eagles or Lions to make a move.As for the rest of the NFL, Week 16 saw plenty of movement in the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at where things stand as we enter Week 17.Listed odds to make the playof...
Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat
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Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat

The dunk is basketball’s most lionized play. The most iconic ones are canonized, referenced fondly and often, debated for their merits and significance. The sport’s language has created so many names for it: jam, yam, slam, poster, stuff, hammer. It’s a unique club that only few on this world can join. It’s marvelous.And it hurts like hell.“Can you think of any other concept where your hand swings at something metal?” 11-year NBA veteran Austin Rivers asks. “It’ll probably hurt, yeah?”When asked, players catalog the pain dunking has caused: broken nails; bent fingers; recent bruises; lasting scars; midair collisions; twisted necks; dangerous landings. Injuries that cost them games or even seasons.Derrick Jones Jr., a former NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest winner now with the Dallas Maver...
Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different
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Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s lunchtime on a mid-November Saturday afternoon and the word of the day is eclectic. I’ve just finished my morning round at The Park with a three-putt for par on the forgiving 18th hole, and I saddle up at the cabana, the bar/small bites stand strategically located at the front of the property.A foursome that was a few holes ahead of me is heading off to their vehicles — while allowing for their anonymity, let’s just say they can be members anywhere they want to be in the golf-rich West Palm Beach/Jupiter area. Making the turn to the back nine are the bros wanting to chase down their transfusions with High Noons. Though they represent very different ends of the Saturday golfer spectrum, you recognize both groups as what a golfer “looks” like.But the cabana occup...
No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL
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No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL

Seventeen years and more than 1,200 games ago, Andrew Cogliano remembers how difficult it was to traverse the state of California.The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were three of the biggest, heaviest teams in the league. If you had to play all three in succession? Well, good luck. Not only were those teams willing to play a punishing brand of hockey, but they were all highly skilled and generally successful, too.After a few years in Edmonton where he broke into the league, Cogliano was dealt to the Ducks as a free agent in the summer of 2011 and was part of a team that qualified for the playoffs in six straight seasons from 2012-13 through 2017-18. Those California road trips became regular intrastate battles. And they were vicious.“My first couple years in Anaheim, ...
Football conspiracy theories: Are we in a ‘golden age’ of fan paranoia?
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Football conspiracy theories: Are we in a ‘golden age’ of fan paranoia?

One of the most eye-catching bios on X, or Twitter as we all know it, belonged to a sports writer with one of the UK’s biggest national newspapers. It was plain and simple and boiled down to five words: “Biased against your football club.”Which is true. If you’ve followed football for any length of time, then you know that every arm of the media is out to get the club you support. You should see The Athletic’s morning meetings where we plot against the teams we most want to stitch up (all of them, obviously). Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to get Mikel Arteta banned from the touchline. Or perpetuating bias in favour of London. Or scheming for more points deductions at Everton. It’s All the President’s Men meets 24.Truthfully, more attention is paid to the subsid...