Category Archives: Sovo Sport

Odell Beckham Jr. Leaves Giants’ Game With Ankle Sprain

CLEVELAND — Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a lower leg injury after a questionable hit Monday during a 10-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Beckham caught an 18-yard pass from Eli Manning and was tackled by cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who drove his shoulder and helmet into Beckham’s left leg. Beckham was flipped over, and his head bounced off the turf.

Beckham popped up, ripped off his helmet and slammed it in frustration. After taking a knee as medical staff members ran out to assist him, he walked slowly off the field and glared at Boddy-Calhoun in Cleveland’s defensive huddle.

Beckham spent a few minutes sitting alone on the bench before heading to the locker room. Television cameras captured him dropping to his knees on the floor in the corridor outside the Giants’ locker room.

The Giants (0-2) said Beckham had sustained only a sprain, but Beckham will have further medical tests on Tuesday. One of the N.F.L.’s top playmakers, the 24-year-old Beckham caught 101 passes and scored 10 touchdowns last season and recently said he wants to be the league’s highest-paid player. He has 288 career receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns.

When the game ended, Beckham, who spent the second half on the sideline in street clothes, jogged to the locker room.

Giants receiver Brandon Marshall also exited the game in the third quarter and underwent X-rays, but the team did not immediately announce the results.

The Best College Football Team You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The final 1943 Associated Press college football poll had a lot of familiar names: Notre Dame, Michigan, Washington and Texas were all ranked in the Top 20.

But among the top 10 were some teams you won’t find in this season’s poll: No. 2, Iowa Pre-Flight; No. 6, Great Lakes Navy; No. 8, Del Monte Pre-Flight; and No. 10, March Field.

The world of college football was transformed for a few years during World War II, when military training camps fielded their own teams, which competed with college football’s best.

The service teams had the advantage of older players, some of them former professionals, who were preparing for military service. Dick Todd, 29, Iowa Pre-Flight’s fullback, had already played four seasons with the Washington Redskins, the team he would rejoin for four more years after the war. Perry Schwartz was an end with the Brooklyn Dodgers of the N.F.L. There were Bears, Rams and Giants alumni as well.

Having lost players to the armed forces, college teams were often shorthanded. Many dropped football altogether. The shortage allowed freshmen to play temporarily for the varsity.

Iowa Pre-Flight was based at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. But the team was distinct from the university’s Hawkeyes.

The Seahawks, as the Iowa Pre-Flight squad was known, were mostly a traveling team in 1943, playing just two home games at Iowa Stadium (now known as Kinnick Stadium). The team was coached by the former Missouri coach Don Faurot, orginator of the Split-T formation, then a lieutenant. Bud Wilkinson, who went on to become a coaching legend at Oklahoma, was his assistant.

The Seahawks were involved in the biggest game of 1943, a battle of unbeatens with Notre Dame. Both were 8-0, although Notre Dame had played a tougher schedule that included wins over Michigan and strong Army and Navy squads.

The Seahawks were hampered by some injuries and by the last-minute transfer of six players, including their starting quarterback, Jack Williams, to other bases.

The game was played on Nov. 21, 1943. American forces had just invaded Tarawa, an atoll in the Pacific. British troops had captured the town of Archi, in Abruzzo, Italy. The Germans and Russians were battling in the Kiev bulge. And the biggest football game of the year was played in South Bend, Ind.

Anticipation was high. Notre Dame had Johnny Lujack at quarterback who, after a stint in the Navy, would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1947 and play for the Bears. He was replacing Angelo Bertelli, who would win the Heisman later that year despite an abbreviated season. Bertelli had been called up to the Marines after Notre Dame’s first six games and eventually fought on Iwo Jima.

Continued Use of Long Putter Raises Concerns on the Senior Tour

The Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee was watching the second round of the United States Senior Open in June when television cameras zoomed in on Bernhard Langer as he attempted a 7-foot eagle putt on the 14th hole.

To Chamblee, it looked as if the butt end of Langer’s long putter was embedded in his shirt during the stroke and as if his left forearm touched his chest, a potential violation of Rule 14-1b. The rule forbids intentionally bracing the club against the body or creating so-called anchor points by pressing the grip hand or forearm against the body as a means of stabilizing the stroke.

“It’s just wrong,” Chamblee, a former player on the PGA Tour, said in a recent interview. “Whether he believed he was or not, the camera clearly showed he was.”

Several times this summer, Chamblee has written and spoken critically about that putt and what he sees as shortcomings of the anchoring rule. And he is not alone. The instructor Hank Haney, who coached Tiger Woods, has questioned on Twitter whether the rule is being properly enforced.

Two rules officials — Jeff Hall of the United States Golf Association and Brian Claar of the PGA Tour Champions — spoke about the issue with Langer, 59, who was cleared of any wrongdoing before his third round at the Senior Open. He ended up finishing in a tie for 18th place. But the controversy has hardly been confined to that putt or to Langer.

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Rule 14-1b, the ban on anchoring a putter, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, more than two years after players were told to prepare for the change. Since then, the broomstick putters have virtually disappeared from the regular PGA Tour, but they remain in use among a handful of players on the senior circuit, the PGA Tour Champions.

One of them is Scott McCarron, who ranks second behind Langer on this year’s money list and in the standings for the Charles Schwab Cup, the senior tour’s yearlong points race. His success and his putting technique, like Langer’s, have been called into question.

“It’s hurting our product and the credibility of the PGA Tour Champions,” said Tom Pernice Jr., a five-time winner on the tour.

Langer, who has earned more than $2 million in 15 starts and won four times, including three majors, attributes the doubts to envy.

“I believe in honesty and integrity,” Langer said in a statement July 7, “and I could not live with myself if I broke a rule and did not incur the penalty.”

The ban on anchoring has been costly for some prominent players who switched to shorter putters as a result. Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark had all won on the PGA Tour with some form of an anchored putter, and their putting statistics took nose dives when the ban went into effect.

In that group, only Scott has hoisted a trophy since, and each player fell in the world rankings as he tried to adjust his stroke.

Langer and McCarron, on the other hand, have maintained their putting prowess. As of last week, Langer ranked second in putting average on the senior circuit this year (1.702 putts per green, an improvement from 1.716 in 2015, before the anchoring ban), while McCarron ranked fifth (1.726 putts per green this season, down from 1.762 in 2015).

“It was curious to me,” Chamblee said. He added that at least 10 PGA Tour Champions players had contacted him by phone or text message to express concern.

“There is no shortage of players who are aghast,” Chamblee said. “I realized there was a great deal of animosity and suspicion, and it needed to be talked about.”

Chamblee is quick to point out that he is troubled primarily by the way the rule is enforced and that he does not believe Langer or McCarron is violating the rule as written. The inclusion of the word “intentionally” in the rule, Chamblee said, provides an unacceptable loophole.

“Intent is the get-out-of-jail-free card for both the player and those who are meant to police the player,” Chamblee wrote in a column for the Golf Channel’s website.

Langer and McCarron have ardent defenders, as well. Rocco Mediate, 54, who used a long putter for about 15 years until 2009, said they deserved credit for figuring out how to use the broomstick putters without anchoring them — a challenge that Mediate found confounding.

Silicon Valley Flocks to Foiling, Racing Above the Bay’s Waves

SAN FRANCISCO — What happens in the San Francisco Bay every Thursday night does not look real or even possible, and it certainly does not look safe. Dozens of people skim across the waters at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, kites far ahead and their boards floating two feet above the chop of the waves. They move so smoothly and quietly that some riders are on their cellphones.

They call it hydrofoiling — or, if you’re hip to it, foiling.

And every week, the foilers of San Francisco race.

“It’s like flying,” said Ariel Poler, a 50-year-old start-up investor, standing by the winged doors of his Tesla and pulling on body armor and a helmet. “The board doesn’t touch the water. It’s like an airplane wing.

“It’s like a powder day,” he added, referring to snow skiing.

He walked into the water, strapped his feet onto the small, oddly shaped board and latched his kite onto his harness. Then he leaned back in the water like an overturned turtle. As the kite caught wind, Poler popped up and blasted toward Alcatraz Island.

The Silicon Valley elite have long loved extreme water sports (there is an entire tech and kitesurfing conference circuit). Now they have upgraded them. And suddenly, the tech world is participating in a sport most of the country has never seen.

In workshops around San Francisco and Hawaii, craftsmen and technologists are hooking hydrofoils — a lifting surface attached to the bottom of a watercraft — onto seemingly everything. Versions include a jetfoiler, which looks like a surfboard with a rudder and a tiny hidden motor; the SUP foil, a stand-up paddle board with a foil; and the kitefoil, which is like a kiteboard but has a foil.

The Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison made foils famous when he allowed them on the America’s Cup boats in 2013, leading to a panic over cost and safety. Since then, private investors around Silicon Valley have been bankrolling the technology.

“Now we all foil,” Poler said.

Just as it did for the America’s Cup, foiling adds both speed and danger.

Anquan Boldin Says Social Strife Prompted His N.F.L. Exit

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y — A deadly, racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Va., prompted Anquan Boldin to reassess his priorities and led to his decision to leave the Buffalo Bills and retire after 14 N.F.L. seasons.

In an interview Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said he was “uncomfortable” with how divided the nation was and wanted to dedicate his entire focus to humanitarian and criminal justice causes.

“I always felt like football would be my passion, football would be the path to a lot of things,” Boldin said. “But just seeing the things that transpired over the last week or so, I think for me, there’s something bigger than football at this point.”

He then clarified that he was referring specifically to what happened in Charlottesville on Aug. 13, when a counterprotester was killed during a rally involving neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups.

“Do I think I can solve all the problems that we have in this country?” said Boldin, a 36-year-old receiver. “Of course not. But I think I have a duty to stand up and make my voice heard and be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.”

Yankee Can Facing Breather

BOSTON — When the Yankees polished off a four-game sweep of the Mets last Thursday night, they could not contain their glee on Twitter. Above a screen grab of the final score of each game, the Yankees posted a message: Bend the knee. It was punctuated with a crown emoji.

Never mind that the Mets had been brought to their knees long ago in a season that had disintegrated from World Series hopes in March to a roster sell-off in August.

There was a time when the Yankees used to reserve their chest thumping for October, when they would let their victories speak for themselves. But playoff success has been harder to come by in the Bronx in recent years, and so maybe it made sense to flex their muscles when they had the chance.

The good news for the Yankees, after series losses to the Boston Red Sox on consecutive weekends left them further behind their traditional American League rival in the standings than they were two weeks ago — by four and a half games, after Boston lost in Cleveland on Monday — is that they now have a chance to regroup. With Boston behind them for now, they get off their own knee and have the opportunity to go back to beating up on another team that has run up the white flag this season, the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers (54-69), like the Mets, seem to be looking beyond their lost season. They have traded away outfielder J. D. Martinez, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila for prospects, and they were even talking with the Houston Astros this month about a deal for their recently rejuvenated ace, Justin Verlander.

A scheduled day off Monday and the Tigers might be just the breather the Yankees need before diving into what could be a grueling final stretch of the season as they try to find a way into the playoffs, either by chasing down the Red Sox or by holding off a crowded field for one of the league’s two wild-card berths. In that race, the Yankees held a two-and-a-half-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins before Monday.

The Yankees, who still have to squeeze in a makeup game with Kansas City, will have only two more scheduled days off the rest of the season. They are set to play 16 days in a row beginning Tuesday. Then, after a day off Sept. 7, they are scheduled to play 13 consecutive days.

Steven Matz Needs Nerve Repair Surgery

Ever since Steven Matz emerged as a core member of the Mets’ stalwart starting rotation in his 2015 rookie season, his path in the major leagues has been repeatedly derailed by injuries.

Matz and his team have received more disheartening news about his troublesome left elbow, as he was found to have irritation of the ulnar nerve in his left elbow after undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging exam and a CT scan. The Mets said he would have surgery to reposition the nerve. He is not expected to return this season.

It was yet another blow for the Mets’ rotation, which began this season with high expectations before being decimated by injuries.

Matz was originally scheduled to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, but Mets Manager Terry Collins said Tommy Milone would make the start instead.

Matz missed the first two months of this season with left elbow inflammation. Upon returning, he posted a 2-1 record with a 2.12 earned run average in his first five starts. But then came a sharp drop-off in his performance, and Matz is now 2-7 with a 6.08 E.R.A.

In May 2010, Matz had Tommy John surgery to repair a tear of his left ulnar collateral ligament. Last October, Matz had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow, ending his season.

Roger Goodell Said to Be in Line for New Five-Year N.F.L. Contract

Commissioner Roger Goodell may get a lot of criticism for the way he has handled issues related to domestic violence, player celebrations and the investigation into so-called Deflategate, but by and large, the N.F.L.’s 32 team owners think he is doing a great job.

As soon as this week, the league is likely to announce that the owners have extended Goodell’s contract for another five years, through 2024, according to people with knowledge of the contract.

The N.F.L.’s annual revenue has nearly tripled, to about $14 billion, since he took over as commissioner in 2006, and the average value of franchises has more than doubled, to $2.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Although television ratings dipped last season, N.F.L. games remain the most popular shows on television. The Atlanta Falcons, the Minnesota Vikings and other teams have also moved into new stadiums that produce more revenue.

“The level of compensation is, to a large degree, about the business health of the league and the increase in value of the franchises,” said Marc Ganis, a consultant to several N.F.L. teams. “The three biggest assignments for the commissioner are collective bargaining and matters related to the players; increasing fans’ interest; and keeping the business healthy.”

The extension, first reported by Sports Business Journal, reflects the owners’ satisfaction with Goodell’s stewardship over the business of the league.

Goodell’s compensation came into focus after the previous collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2011. The following year, the commissioner was paid $44.2 million in total compensation. That figure, released as part of the league’s annual tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service, included a $9.1 million bonus that he deferred during the recession. Even so, Goodell’s compensation was on par with that of some of the best-paid executives in the country.

Typically, Goodell has been paid a salary of about $4 million, with the rest of his compensation coming as bonuses and other benefits. Goodell’s bonus is calculated in part on new business deals he brought to the league the previous year.

Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out of U.S. Open Over Custody Dispute

Victoria Azarenka, a two-time finalist at the United States Open, withdrew from this year’s tournament Monday because of a custody dispute over her infant son, Leo.

“I am sadly unable to compete in this year’s U.S. Open due to my ongoing family situation that I am working through,” Azarenka said in a statement issued by the tournament. “While I will dearly miss being in New York and playing in one of my favorite tournaments where I have enjoyed some of the best moments in my career, I am already looking forward to being back next year.”

Azarenka, runner-up to Serena Williams in the 2012 and 2013 Opens, missed last year’s tournament because of her pregnancy. She gave birth to her son in December and returned to the tour in June, at a grass-court tournament in Mallorca. After losing in the second round there, she showed improvement at Wimbledon two weeks later, reaching the fourth round before losing to second-seeded Simona Halep.

Azarenka split with her son’s father, Billy McKeague, shortly after Wimbledon, and a custody battle followed. While the case is unresolved, the court would have placed restrictions on either parent’s leaving California with the child. Azarenka has withdrawn from two other tournaments, in Stanford, Calif., and Mason, Ohio.

Amir Aharonov, a partner at Tinero, Aharonov and Associates in Los Angeles, who specializes in California family law but is not involved in Azarenka’s case, said: “It’s an automatic temporary restraining order that occurs with the issuance of an action relating to parentage. It’s common, and what it says is, ‘Starting immediately, you and every other party to the action are restrained from removing from the state, or applying for a passport for, the minor child or children for whom this action seeks to establish a parent-child relationship or a custody order without the prior written consent of every other party or an order of the court.’”

New hedge fund bets on sports, literally

Reporting from New York — If you’ve ever deluded yourself that betting on sports was really investing, have we got a hedge fund for you.

Starting on Saturday, the new Centaur Galileo fund in London will be making investments not in the traditional financial playing fields of stocks, oil futures or real estate, but in the actual playing fields of soccer, tennis and horse racing.

Galileo is probably the first hedge fund to make bets on sports events, experts say.

“We put numbers against those things that you and me and everyone in pubs have casual discussions about,” said Tony Woodhams, the managing director at Centaur Group, which operates the fund. “That gives us an edge on these markets.”

It’s not for the average bettor. Galileo requires a minimum investment of 100,000 euros (about $135,000).

Centaur claims to have a proprietary number-crunching system that can make sports bets with far better results than the casual bettor. In fact, the company plans to make money off fluctuations in odds and point spreads that are affected by amateur bets.

“You have a lot of sports fans who are betting for their favorite team,” Woodhams said. “They get excited and discipline goes out the window. All of that provides opportunity for a trader like us to go in a very clinical manner. That’s where the edge is.”

Galileo is only for Europeans for now — Centaur can’t offer it in the U.S. without the blessing of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Woodhams said the company would apply for that approval next year.

So is investing in a sports-betting hedge fund about as sane as pouring money into a Nigerian inheritance deal? There are financial folks who believe such a fund could be a good bet.

Entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner and former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Mark Cuban has long advocated such a fund.

“If they fully commit to a data-driven model, I think they can do well,” Cuban said in an e-mail. “In many respects, stocks are the bigger gamble.”

Others were skeptical, to say the least.

Justin Wolfers, a professor who teaches a class about sports gambling at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said there are people who make a good living from wagers. But he’s not sure Centaur is in their league.

“Is it plausible that these guys could be as smart and savvy as professional gamblers? Yes it is,” Wolfers said. “But any time anyone in any realm of gambling tells me they can print money — I’m always cynical.”

Centaur will have 25 traders working on its London trading floor (though the fund’s official address is in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which has an easier regulatory environment). Most of the traders come from a financial background. One of them, Woodhams said, left a job at Goldman Sachs to set up a sports book trading on cricket and tennis.

“In the U.S. you would probably say he was a gambler,” Woodhams said. “In the U.K., we are beginning to recognize these people for what they are — they are professional traders.”

The traders will use statistical modeling to place bets on websites such as Betfair, which is popular in Britain but banned in the U.S. The bets will not just be on matches’ final outcomes — Centaur will also wager on items such as the over-under that takes into account the total points scored.

If profit is made, Centaur will take a 30% cut, a hefty premium over the usual 20% for hedge funds.

Galileo is not Centaur’s first venture into gambling — it operates a training program for professional bookkeepers and since 2000 has run funds for betting on various sports. But unlike Galileo, the previous funds allowed investors to opt out of recommended bets.