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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

GHSA issues public statement after deaths of two football players

The GHSA issued a statement after Tuesday’s deaths of high school football players at Locust Grove and Fitzgerald. One is likely be heat-related while the other is unknown. Here’s the statement …
STATEMENT ON THE DEATHS OF STUDENTS

The Georgia High School Association is deeply saddened whenever a student dies, whether it be in an athletic situation or some other type of situation.  We are devastated to have had two students die after their involvement in football workouts, and we are concerned about the well-being of our athletes in the days to come.
Privacy laws prevent us from discussing any medical information about these situations without the permission of the family.  I can say, however, that the GHSA staff is gathering facts about these situations to evaluate whether our current standards for conducting practices are adequate.
The GHSA is beginning the third year of a comprehensive 3-year study on heat illness and football participation that is being conducted around the state.  This study is being conducted by Michael Ferrara at the University of Georgia, and is attempting to get scientific data on the relationship of heat and football activities in order to reduce the risk of heat illness during football workouts.
GHSA coaches have a great deal of information available to them about the importance of hydrating the players before, during and after workouts – and about modifying or canceling workouts when conditions warrant.  Most even institute a practice of weighing players before and after practice to identify those who need more hydration.  The GHSA web site (www.ghsa.net) also contains information from various parts of the medical community about dealing with heat illness.
GHSA By-law 2.67 sets the guidelines that our schools are to follow:
a)      Each member school shall have a written policy for conducting practices in all sports during times of extremely high heat and/or humidity that will be signed by each head coach and distributed to all players.  The policy shall include, but is not limited to:
(1)         the time of day the practices are to be scheduled at various heat/humidity levels
(2)         the ratio of workout time to time allotted for rest and hydration at various level of heat and humidity
(3)         the heat/humidity levels that will result in outdoor practices being terminated
b)      A scientifically approved instrument that measures the heat index must be utilized at each practice to ensure that the written policy is being followed properly.
c)      Schools may determine the heat/humidity levels using either wet bulb globe temperature readings or head index readings.
It is important to understand that the GHSA only sets the beginning date that practices may occur in every sport.  The decisions about when to begin those practices and how to schedule those practices are left to the professional judgment of coaches and administrators.

Gators basketball: Donovan to face son, Arizona, Syracuse, Ohio State

GAINESVILLE — The Florida men’s basketball team, which reached the Elite Eight last season, will play six games against teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament field, three of which finished in the Sweet Sixteen or better.
In total, Florida will play eight contests against teams that appeared in postseason play last season (beyond conference tournaments). UF will also compete against four in-state opponents and will play games in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Sunrise with its nonconference schedule announced Wednesday.
The Gators will also play an exhibition vs. Catholic on Nov. 3 _ which includes Billy Donovan's son, also named Billy, a 6-foot-1 guard who will be a sophomore. An early-season road test at Ohio State also highlights the November portion of the slate, while the Gators also travel to face Syracuse as part of the inaugural Big East/SEC Challenge.
Florida welcomes Arizona and Florida State to the O’Connell Center and plays a neutral-court contest against Texas A&M in December. UF closes its out-of-league schedule with a home date against UAB, another 2011 NCAA Tournament team.
"We've made it a practice to play a difficult non-conference schedule, and this is perhaps the toughest one yet,'' Donovan said. "That's something that really helps prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. We're also looking forward to playing games in front of our great fans from several different areas of Florida, and we host some exciting matchups on our home court, as well.''
UF opens its regular season with four games as part of the Global Sports Shootout, starting at home against Jackson State on Nov. 11. Florida travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Buckeyes on Nov. 15 for the second half of a home-and-home series that began in Gainesville last November. The Buckeyes are coming off a Big Ten Championship (regular season and tournament) and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
The Gators will have a quick turnaround to face North Florida, finalists in the 2011 Atlantic Sun Tournament, in the O’Connell Center on Nov. 17 before a Nov. 21 meeting with Wright State in Tampa’s St. Pete Times Forum to wrap up the Global Sports Shootout.

2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team Finalized

Via USA Basketball:
After three days of practices with 14 USA team finalists at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., the official 12-member 2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team was announced Wednesday morning by USA Basketball. The U.S. squad that will look to defend the USA’s gold medal at the 2011 World University Games, Aug. 14-21 in Shenzhen, China, features talented international veterans and some of the nation’s top collegians.
Named to the 2011 USA World University Games Team were Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.); Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); Glory Johnson (Tennessee/Knoxville, Tenn.); Lynetta Kizer (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.); Natalie Novosel (Notre Dame/Lexington, Ky.); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.); Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas) and Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee/Morrilton, Ark.).
“Getting the group down to 12 is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my lifetime, in coaching anyway,” said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. “You have 14 people who worked very hard at it, who were very committed to it and it’s not something like they weren’t good enough. It’s about trying to build a team with some versatility. It was very, very hard, but I’m very happy for the 12 young people who made it. They’ll do a great job representing USA Basketball and ultimately that’s what this is all about.
“There’s a step to this. When you had 14 there were things you didn’t want to get into, because they may not be here. They were all on a little bit of an edge, because they don’t know if they’re on the team or not. Some kids handle that differently. They play passive because they don’t want to make a mistake. It’s the whole idea of playing not to lose the game rather than playing to win the game. Now, they know they’re on the team and hopefully after their initial excitement, they can relax and refocus on figuring a way to win. We know the combinations, we know the people we’re going to work with now. It is a process, but I think moving from now until we leave the training center, I think we’ll be focused a lot differently on preparing and practicing for the task at hand, getting ready to play and building a team.”
Assisting Fennelly on the USA sideline are Suzie McConnell-Serio of Duquesne University and Terri Williams-Flournoy of Georgetown University.
The USA team will remain at the USOTC to train through Aug. 7, before traveling to Shenzhen for its final World University Games preparations. The U.S. opens play on Aug. 14 against Brazil, will face Slovakia on Aug. 15 and caps preliminary round action against Great Britain on Aug. 16. Quarterfinals are slated for Aug. 18, medal semifinals will be played Aug. 19 and the finals will be held Aug. 21.

NBA Superstar Aims To Block VH1's 'Basketball Wives'

Legal rumbling ahead of reality show's season premiere on August 29 

VH1's reality series Basketball Wives isn't too popular among NBA players. Already, Chris Bosh and Gilbert Arenas have sued the makers of the show, and others, such as Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, have threatened litigation.
In the past week Arenas filed a motion seeking an injunction against the show. And in response, Arenas was hit with an anti-SLAPP motion contending he's attempting to impinge constitutionally-protected speech.
Arenas, one of the NBA's highest paid players as a guard for the Orlando Magic, is upset that former fiance Laura Govan, the mother of four of his children, is set to star in the latest season of Basketball Wives in Los Angeles, scheduled to debut on VH1 on August 29th.
With less than a month to go to the premiere, Arenas is stepping up his efforts to make sure the show never gets on the air. He's seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent defendant Shed Media, producer of the show, from using his name, from using the term "Basketball Wives" that would suggest affiliation with basketball players such as himself, and from having a show that features Govan.
A hearing on the motion is tentatively scheduled for August 22nd, a week before the show premieres, and if successful, the show might have to be pulled from VH1's lineup.
But Shed Media isn't going to allow Arenas to score an uncontested lay-up. The production company has filed a hard-hitting anti-SLAPP motion against Arenas.  The motion points out that Arenas' name is not directly used and that the show hasn't even hit the air yet. And here's the key passage:
"In a showing of unparalleled hubris, Plaintiff claims that he is so famous and important that simply mentioning the words 'basketball wives' in the same sentence as Govan's name -- even without actually mentioning Plaintiff's name -- impermissibly impinges on his rights. Essentially, Plaintiff claims that because he is famous, his ex-girlfriend is not allowed to talk about her life. Plaintiff is wrong. Govan has a constitutional right to tell her story, even were it to result in an unauthorized biography of Plaintiff."
A hearing on the anti-SLAPP motion is scheduled for August 29, the same day the show debuts. The outcome of the case will further define how far publicity rights extend for celebrities.

Yankees' Alex Rodriguez Facing Possible Suspension For Illegal Poker Games

Aug 3, 2011 - The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, still on the disabled list following surgery for a slightly torn meniscus in his left knee -- he is scheduled to resume baseball activities Thursday -- may have bigger problems than a knee injury.
ESPN New York reports that MLB is investigating A-Rod for participating in illegal poker games:

Major League Baseball is taking "very seriously" the allegations that Alex Rodriguez took part in some illegal, underground poker games, one of which reportedly turned violent, and he could face suspension if his participation in the games is confirmed.

"We're talking to people involved in the investigation and we're taking this very seriously," said an MLB executive who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on condition of anonymity. "Because he had been warned about this before, I would say a possible suspension would be very much in play."
The ESPN article goes on to say that cocaine may have been used at one of these poker games; that one took place at a mansion in Beverly Hills, California, and a fight broke out after someone -- not A-Rod -- lost half a million dollars and refused to pay. A-Rod, according to the article, tried to distance himself from the action, but that could be the least of his problems:
In 2005, Rodriguez had been warned about gambling in underground poker clubs by the Yankees and by baseball commissioner Bud Selig, both of whom were concerned that possible involvement with gamblers who might be betting on baseball games could result in a Pete Rose-type lifetime ban from baseball.

Now, although baseball's investigation centers upon Rodriguez's card-playing and he is not thought to have gambled on the outcome of any baseball games, the fact that he may have disregarded Selig's warning is said to have angered the commissioner.

"Bud's totally fed up with him," said a baseball insider. "It's like there's something new with him every day and it's impossible to keep up with it."
MLB is also investigating A-Rod's continued employment of his cousin Yuri Sucart, who may have been involved in Rodriguez's admitted steroid use, and his possible connections with the ongoing federal investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea, a Canadian doctor who has been charged with smuggling illegal substances into the United States.

State’s top teams converge on Cadwell for 'best baseball atmosphere'

The continued improvements at Cadwell Park are what keep the state amateur baseball tournament returning to Mitchell.

That is what Dale Weber, president of the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association since 1988, said earlier this week.

When this summer’s state tournament kicks off today — Britton plays Irene at 6 p.m. and South Central faces Clark at 8 p.m. in a pair of first-round games at Cadwell — it will be the 25th state amateur tournament to be held at Mitchell’s premier baseball facility. The tournament will run every day through the championship game at 2 p.m. Aug. 14, and The Daily Republic’s Sports section will include an updated schedule each day of the tournament.

“One of the reasons we keep coming back to Cadwell Park is that they keep making improvements all the time,” said Weber, who lives in Salem and played amateur ball for Delmont and Mount Vernon years ago. “The Mitchell Baseball Association needs to be commended for their hard work. We appreciate that.

“The Mitchell Exchange Club does a terrific job with the concessions, as well.”

The first state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell was played in 1975. One of the many recent improvements at Cadwell is the 190 feet of netting from dugout to dugout that serves as the backstop. The backstop was completed in 2006.

“It’s a good spot to see the game, that’s for sure,” Weber said.

This summer, visiting teams and fans will find a new scoreboard, which was installed last week. The scoreboard will have new light emitting diode (LED) lights that will allow numbers to be seen more visibly during dusk, compared to the old scoreboard, which used light bulbs. It also will allow the scoreboard to display the names of the teams playing each game, unlike the old scoreboard, which displayed generic terms such as “home” and “visitor.”

Cadwell Park also will have a new sound system in place this week to help keep fans entertained with music between innings and between games.

Mitchell will host the state amateur baseball tournament this summer and next summer before it returns to Sioux Falls Stadium for one year. Weber said the SDABA has not projected where the state tournament will be played after the next two years, but added that the current schedule — two years in Mitchell, then one year in Sioux Falls — has “worked real well since we started doing it.”

“We’re fortunate in South Dakota that we do have two great facilities in Mitchell and Sioux Falls to hold the state tournament,” Weber said. “I won’t miss a pitch.

“That’s been the case for about 33 years.”

‘A little cozier’

Mitchell native Phil Johnson helped Dimock/Emery win its first-ever state amateur baseball title last year in Sioux Falls.

But he knows this year will have a different feel.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere being in Mitchell than it is in Sioux Falls,” said Johnson, a pitcher/third baseman for the Raptors, who open their state tournament run at 1 p.m. Saturday against Lake Norden. “Everybody from the small towns can make the drive and watch the game here.

“It seems like there are so many towns in this area that just shut the town down and enjoy baseball.”

One of those towns — Canova — won its first state amateur baseball title in 30 years in 2009 at Cadwell Park. The Gang is back this season and will open its tournament at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Crofton, Neb.

“I think it’s more of the small-town spirit comes to life in Cadwell,” Canova coach Dave Gassman said. “The area is surrounded by small towns and Mitchell does such a good job of bringing the small-town feel to Cadwell Park, which is something that doesn’t happen when the tournament is in Sioux Falls.”

Longtime tournament coordinator Jim Johnston, who has been a member of the Mitchell Baseball Association’s board since 1994, said he thinks the intimate feel of Cadwell is its biggest advantage over the large-town parks.

“It is different because Sioux Falls is a ballpark built for sponsors and built for a lot of seating,” Johnston said. “Cadwell Park is just more like the parks these teams play at all year long. I just think they feel more comfortable at Cadwell Park because it’s a little cozier.”

Lucrative venue

Canova won the 2009 state title game at Cadwell Park over Dell Rapids PBR. That game provided the highest single-session gate sales in the history of the state amateur tournament.

Total gate receipts for the tournament came out to more than $45,000, which is believed to be the largest total paid attendance in the history of the tournament.

“The atmosphere is what does it,” said Mitchell native Trevor Oswald, who has played for Canova for the past two years. “Everybody is on top of you, the fans are so into it … the place gets packed and, when you’re talking 2,000 fans at a baseball game, it gets pretty intense.”

Oswald said he has played in state tournaments in the past with amateur teams from Mitchell — Mitchell UPT and the GF Giants, when the teams were in existence. This will be his first time playing at Cadwell as part of Canova’s squad.

“I’d say this is why you play,” Oswald said. “You play to make the state tournament and to play at Cadwell. Most of the small towns don’t get to play at Cadwell unless you make the state tournament, so it’s a pretty big deal.”

Parkston’s Bill Ernster played and coached for Mount Vernon during his amateur days. Now, he is the commissioner of District 5B, which has four teams — Dimock/Emery, the Parkston Mudcats, Platte and Alexandria — vying for a state title over the next 11 days.

“I know our local players love Cadwell Park,” said Ernster, who remembers hitting “a few home runs out of Cadwell” during his playing days. “They’ve told me that much.”

Mitchell Baseball Association President Jim Larson does not hide behind his bias. But he also will not let that change his opinion.

“Cadwell Park is obviously the draw,” Larson said. “Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think it’s the best baseball atmosphere in the state.”

‘What the staff has been working for’

In his 11th year as the ballpark manager at Cadwell Park, Chuck Jones said he and his staff have not changed their approach one bit.

“This is what the staff has been working for all year,” Jones said. “We just got done with two other state tournaments the last few weeks, and we had the same mentality for them. Our goal is to put forth the best facility in the state.”

The Cadwell Sports Complex hosted the women’s slowpitch state tournament last weekend and the 10-andunder baseball state tournament last month.

Jones said his staff’s biggest challenge has been — and will continue to be — the tripledigit temperatures and heat indexes that have blanketed the area this summer. When it is as hot and dry as it has been, Jones said keeping the fields moist and in good condition can be difficult.

“In the perfect world, it’d be a nice 60-degree night with a quarter inch of rain,” said Jones, who was not making any predictions. “It’d be 80 degrees during the day and we’d have a good week.”

The National Weather Service forecast as of Tuesday afternoon predicted a high of 86 today with sunny skies, a 3-7 mph breeze and an overnight low of 65 with a 20 percent chance of rain during the nighttime hours. Thursday’s forecast includes a 20 percent chance of rain, partly sunny skies and a high temperature of 86.

Larson said volunteers and parents within the MBA have filled nearly all the work hours needed for the upcoming tournament.

But, with Mitchell teener teams playing in state tournaments in Sioux Falls this weekend, he said it could be some long days for those volunteers.

“The challenge of this tournament is the length of it,” Larson said. “To get workers to cover all those days … that is a lot of workers.

“Anytime we can, we want to host this state tournament, but it is a challenge that we face.”


Tennis-Federer trusts himself to thrive past age 30

Roger Federer will turn 30 next week, but the Swiss winner of a record 16 grand slam singles titles said on Wednesday he will not pause for reflection since he is too busy plotting for more tennis success.
Federer will spend his birthday on Monday in Montreal at the Rogers Cup tournament, where adoring fans have serenaded him in the past to mark the occasion.
"I'm looking forward to turning 30, excited to see how the Canadians are going to celebrate my birthday this time around, because sometimes they start singing 'Happy Birthday' during my match," Federer told reporters during a conference call.
Federer said the milestone birthday would not move him to take stock of his career and his future.
"My plans are always probably a bit over a year ahead of the time. I'm already way past this point," he said. "I'm already thinking beyond the Olympics next year.
"Birthdays, they happen. They are a part of life. I'm happy I'm getting older," added Federer, who is married and the father of twin girls. "I'd rather be 30 than 20 to be quite honest. This is, to me, a nice time."
Federer said he still loves the game, the lifestyle and the challenge as he ramps up his preparation for this month's U.S. Open, which he won five times in a row from 2004.
What has changed, is his frequency of winning.
Federer, who once reigned a record 237 successive weeks as world number one and enjoyed the top perch for a total of more than five years overall, has slipped to number three behind Australian Open and Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal, the French Open champion.
Federer is 1-3 this year against Djokovic and 0-3 versus Nadal, and his last grand slam triumph came at the 2010 Australian Open.
The Swiss maestro, who is comfortable trading groundstrokes or attacking the net and who has won majors on grass, hardcourt and clay, said he was feeling fine physically heading into the year's last grand slam.
"In the preparation, nothing changes," said Federer.
"Do you listen to your body more? Yes, you do. Are you more wise? Yes, you are. Are you more experienced? Yes. Do you have a thousand matches in your body? Yes, you do. You just go with what you have.
Federer is happiest, of course, when he is winning.
"I've won so much that you feel like if you put yourself in the right position and you do all the right things you'll definitely get a shot of winning big tournaments," he said.
Federer said he draws inspiration from tennis greats who enjoyed longevity.
"Like (Andre) Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, it's very inspiring to see what they were able to do for a very long period of time.
"My planning has always been long term. I'm looking forward to how much more I can achieve from this point on."

Tennis: Shoaib Malik beats Sania Mirza in Tennis Game

SLAMABAD: Former cricket captain Shoaib Malik has taken to playing tennis and is elated at defeating his wife, Sania Mirza in a match on a mini court.
“I play tennis with Sania twice a week. I beat her at a mini-court recently,” Malik said during an interaction with the media.
Malik, who developed interest in the game after his marriage to the Indian tennis star, said he was now aiming to defeat her in a match on a standard court.
He claimed that Sania’s game had improved after their marriage. Malik said he was in India during the historic Pakistan-India Cricket World Cup semi-final but regretted not being able to watch it live.
“I did not have a visa for Mohali,” he said.
He revealed that Sania was passionate about cricket and they supported their respective countries during Indo-Pak cricket matches.
About their marriage, the cricketer said both were happy. They are based out in Dubai but keep on visiting their native countries.
“We live in Dubai but keep visiting both India and Pakistan. The High Commissions of the two countries have been very cooperative in issuing us visas,” Malik said.
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