Current Event October 21, 2020
One of the best lacrosse teams in the world was left off the invitation list to the 2022 World Games. The Iroquois Nationals are considered the third best team worldwide. The Native American members of the team come from a generations-long tradition of playing lacrosse, a sport that originated with the Haudenosaunee people. When another team heard how the Nationals were snubbed, they took decisive action. Listen to learn why the Iroquois Nationals were excluded from play and how others responded to what they saw as an injustice.
Current Event October 14, 2020
When a recruiter invited Black high school students in Chicago to take up rowing, most initially declined. Crew was a predominantly white sport and seemed to have nothing to do with them. Those students who eventually joined, however, learned skills and gained insight that transformed their lives. Listen to an author reflecting on his experiences as a member of the first all-Black high school crew team, and hear how being on the team helped him succeed.
Current Event September 11, 2020
Two North Carolina colleges have recently shut down in-person classes and sent students home after a spike in COVID-19 cases. The schools are moving forward with their football programs, however, saying they can keep athletes safe on a largely empty campus, and are testing frequently for signs of virus. Critics say the move puts athletes at risk and wants the NCAA, the organization governing college athletics, to prioritize the students’ health and education over sports. Listen to a sports law professor explain more about the controversy then debate: Should college athletes play if students are not on campus?
Current Event September 6, 2020
Listen to hear about a young skateboarder setting a world record for landing a 1080-degree spin on a vertical ramp.
Vocabulary: uninspired, rotation, opportunity
Current Event August 31, 2020
Another police shooting of a Black man has provoked protests across the U.S., including among professional athletes. Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is paralyzed below the waist. The shooting, which was captured on video, has led to violence on the streets. Athletes have been refusing to play important games, such as NBA playoffs, risking their own professional legacies for the cause of racial justice. Listen to hear why a sports commentator believes these protests reflect an important shift in the relationship between athletes and the owners of the teams for which they play.
Current Event August 27, 2020
The 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo have been postponed until July 2021 due to the pandemic. The delay is forcing some elite American athletes to permanently give up on their Olympic dreams and seek new careers. This is not the first time America has unexpectedly withdrawn from Olympic competition, although the reasons for skipping the games, and their effect on the athletes, have varied. Listen to learn why America has missed Olympic games in the past and how the athletes scheduled to compete in those games coped when their plans suddenly changed.
Current Event August 20, 2020
The Washington Redskins football team is changing its name, which has been considered a racist slur against Native Americans for decades. The team’s owner recently took action in the midst of nationwide protests against racism and America’s reckoning with its treatment of minorities. Listen to hear a Native American activist react emotionally to the football team’s decision and learn which events she thinks created a “tipping point” for the team owner.
Current Event August 19, 2020
A teen in India has become a celebrity after bicycling across the country carrying her dad. Fifteen-year-old Djoti made the trip when she and her father found themselves close to starvation and desperate to return to their home village. Djoti rode roughly 100 miles a day on a bicycle with no gears. Listen to hear the young athlete describe how she felt during the long journey, and learn how sports officials responded to her incredible feat.
Current Event July 15, 2020
With the presidential election months away and the coronavirus pandemic raging, some people are concerned about the health risks of in-person voting. Now, athletes are helping to address that problem. Several NBA teams have volunteered their sports arenas as polling places. The large spaces provide plenty of room for social distancing, which election officials hope will encourage voter turnout. Listen to learn how sports arenas could solve a range of voting challenges and why black athletes are speaking out about political causes more than ever before.
Current Event June 24, 2020
As protests against police brutality and racial inequities continue throughout the country, two national sports organizations have announced changes to their policies. The NFL says it will observe a company holiday on Juneteenth (June 19), the day in 1865 when enslaved people were freed by federal troops in Texas. The NFL commissioner also apologized for not listening to players protesting racism in recent years. And NASCAR announced that it is banning Confederate flags at races. Listen to a sports commentator react to the policy shifts and learn why he is skeptical about whether the NFL’s messaging signals meaningful change.
Current Event June 12, 2020
This past spring, professional baseball shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as summer approaches, there is talk of partially reopening the season, sparking debate about the benefits and risks of resuming play. Some point to the power of baseball to console and unify the nation in times of crisis and say it is needed now more than ever. Others worry about the health risks to the players of bringing them on the field, even without spectators. Listen to hear more arguments for and against reopening baseball and then debate: Should baseball season open during the pandemic?
Current Event April 14, 2020
Sporting events have soothed the nation during difficult times by distracting people from worries and giving them hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when big gatherings can spread disease, public sporting events contribute to the problem rather than offering a solution. Listen to hear an ESPN commentator describe how sports have helped Americans survive past crises, why this one is different, and how sports organizations have helped set the tone for responding to the current pandemic.
Current Event March 20, 2020
A new definition was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, causing some concern. The word, a racial slur against Jews, has been used for years by fans of an English Premier League soccer team to refer to themselves. Opposing fans, though, often use the word in anti-Semitic chants. Some say adding it to the dictionary makes the offensive word seem more acceptable, but the publisher claims the dictionary is simply reflecting common usage. Listen to hear how English soccer fans feel about their controversial nickname and then debate: Should the dictionary reflect offensive language?
Current Event February 20, 2020
Several universities are offering students the chance to major in a subject unheard of just a few years ago: competitive video gaming, or esports. Esports have gained a huge following in recent years, allowing athletes to earn money through sponsorships, merchandise, and tournament winnings. Fans watch games not only online, but also at arenas that can draw thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Listen to hear how schools are preparing students for careers in this growing field and how some people are working to make esports more inclusive.
Current Event November 15, 2019
The Nike Vaporfly, a super-light, bouncy running shoe, is helping athletes achieve record-breaking times, but also raising questions. Some argue the shoe gives athletes an unfair advantage, making sports more about equipment than conditioning. They believe running shoes should be regulated to make races fair. Others say it is impossible to define “unfair advantage” or to know how best to regulate shoes. Listen to hear a Boston Marathon winner explain the technology that has runners buzzing, and then debate: Should athletic shoes be regulated?
Current Event October 18, 2019
College athletes have been banned from earning money from their sports, but a new law in California will change that. Starting in 2023, college players in California will be allowed to endorse products and sign sponsorship deals. Supporters say that the law will finally give skilled college athletes who bring in millions of dollars for their universities an opportunity to profit themselves. Opponents argue the new law will ruin college athletics by making them more like professional sports. Listen to hear from people on both sides of the issue and then debate: Should college athletes profit from playing sports?