Category : Sports

(CNS) The Roman Catholic faith of Kobe Bryant RIP

In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.

“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”

Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.

Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Roman Catholic, Sports

(NYT) Is the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme the apex of the cheating era? Or is it acknowledgement that it is just the way things are now in sports.

But the rules are there, and F. Clark Power worries that by flouting them, more is being lost than a sense of fair play. Power is the founder of the Play Like a Champion program, which promotes character education through sports and focuses on proper coaching instruction in youth sports, especially for at-risk children.

He likes to reference what he sees when he witnesses the joy of 7-year-olds playing hide-and-seek.

“Every one of them knows that to have a fair game, you’ve got to keep your eyes closed while you count,” said Power, who has taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1982.

“We need to understand, if we are going to endorse cheating as a means to an end, the children are watching,” he said. “So it becomes a question of how do you want to raise your kids? We can’t get much lower as a culture if cheating is no longer a moral issue but a form of coping. We need to change the conversation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports

Congratulations to LSU, Winners of the NCAA College Football Championship


There was Joe Burrow, getting rid of the ball in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night as quickly as Saints quarterback Drew Brees has done here on so many Sundays.

There was the LSU quarterback, scrambling for three first downs and a touchdown in a critical second-quarter rally when No. 1 LSU found itself trailing for the first time since Oct. 22 against Florida, three months and 33 quarters ago. And there was LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, doing such a number on All-ACC corner A.J. Terrell, Clemson’s best defensive back, that Clemson moved Terrell off of him in the second half.

With its 42-25 victory over No. 3 Clemson, a team that had won its previous 29 games over 741 days, LSU made its pitch to stand among the greatest teams in 150 years of college football. This LSU team that fought to the program’s fourth national championship played the game the way it has played all season — a brand of decidedly 21st-century football replete with a lot of big plays, a passing game as unstoppable as it is irresistible and a quarterback who tortured Clemson with his arm and, when LSU really needed it, his feet.

“This team is going to be mentioned as one of the greatest teams in college football history,” Orgeron said, “15-0, as one of the greatest teams in LSU history.

“But that’s for you guys to decide.”

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Posted in Sports

(Local Paper) How Dabo Swinney’s Christian evangelism boosts Clemson recruiting

Swinney, an evangelical Christian, is reluctant to elaborate with reporters about his faith; he declined an interview request for this story. But in the moments after Clemson’s 44-16 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 7, he made a bold statement in front of a global audience.

“We beat Notre Dame and Alabama. We left no doubt. And we walk off this field tonight as the first 15-0 team in college football history,” he said. “All the credit, all the glory, goes to the good Lord.”

Recruiting new talent is perpetually on the minds of college football coaches, and Swinney, who will lead Clemson against Ohio State in the Dec. 28 Fiesta Bowl, has struck a chord with prospects who come from strong Christian backgrounds.

Players insist Swinney doesn’t force his views on others, but it’s clear faith is imbued in the program.

The results are the envy of the sport: five straight College Football Playoff appearances, two of the last three national titles, 28 consecutive wins.

“Only God can do this,” Swinney said Jan. 7 inside Levi’s Stadium, purple and orange confetti clumping on his pullover. “That’s a fact. People may think I’m crazy or quacky, or whatever.

“But only God can orchestrate this.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Sports

(NBC) 11-year-old Laila Anderson meets her bone-marrow donor for the first time

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

(NBC) College Football Player Saves Young Girl’s Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

Summerville, South Carolina, High School Coach John McKissick, winningest coach of all time, dies

McKissick influenced not only the lives of countless athletes, but also other students and coaches. That influence extended beyond the walls of the school, reaching deep into the Summerville community.

“Coach McKissick has always had a standard he holds all his players to,” Bo Blanton, a Green Wave quarterback from 1974-76, said during a 2012 interview following McKissick’s 600th coaching victory. “He requires you to perform on the field, but he also expects you to represent your high school and community in a manner everyone can be proud of. Just look at the things his former players such as Converse Chellis, George Tupper and Harry Blake moved on to do for their community and state.”

Over the years, McKissick sent countless players off to the college ranks. The players he helped reach the NFL ranks include A.J. Green, Kevin Long, Ian Rafferty, Stanford Jennings, Keith Jennings and Zack Bailey.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Sports, Teens / Youth

(NBC) Duke University Basketball Star Marshall Plumlee Turns In His NBA Jersey For An Army Uniform

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Military / Armed Forces, Sports

Congratulations to the Seattle Sounders, 2019 MLS Cup champions

The Seattle Sounders won their second MLS Cup title in club history when they beat Toronto FC 3-1 in 2019 MLS Cup on Sunday at CenturyLink Field in front of a Seattle record crowd of 69,274. It’s their second MLS championship in the last four years.

The Sounders’ first MLS Cup title in 2016 also came against Toronto FC when they beat the Canadian side in a memorable penalty-kick shootout at BMO Field in Toronto.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Sports

Congratulations to South Africa, Winner of the 2019 Rugby World Cup

South Africa had the Bomb Squad; England blew up. It was a tactical triumph for the Springboks coach, Rassie Erasmus, who, two years ago, was on his way from Munster to run the disintegrating professional game in South Africa only to find when he arrived home that the national side demanded his immediate attention. But the Springboks’ triumph was also based on his belief that sport is equally about the physical and the mental.

South Africa owed their World Cup success not only to the aggression that burned in all their players, even those rather smaller than the forwards who seem as wide as they are tall, such as Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe, but their ability to sustain the onslaught for 80 minutes. The approach saw off Japan, Wales – a side that prides itself on its physicality – and now England. At no point in those matches were the Springboks behind.

Erasmus has, in four games, including the three in the knockout stage, split his bench (known as the Bomb Squad) between six forwards and two backs, rather than the conventional five and three. It gave him an alternative tight five, and with Bongi Mbonambi and Lood de Jager barely lasting beyond the opening quarter against England, his decision was seen to be vindicated.

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Posted in England / UK, South Africa, Sports

(ESPN) The Washington Nationals are 2019 World Series champions

The 6-2 victory capped the most unlikely of World Series. The road team won all seven games. That had never happened before. Only the baseball gods can understand how this stuff plays out sometimes. The team that started 19-31 is the World Series champion — for the first time in franchise history, going back to its birth in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, and the first time for a Washington baseball team since the Senators in the halcyon days of 1924.

The Nationals trailed 3-1 in the eighth inning of the wild-card game. They trailed 3-1 in the eighth inning of the final game of the division series against the Dodgers. This time they decided not to wait that long. Manager Dave Martinez likes to say, “Let’s go 1-0 today.” The Nats went 1-0 in the biggest game of the season.

“You know what? This is — I mean, honestly, all these years, all this hard work, this year, the struggles early — I mean, this is what it’s about right here,” Kendrick told Buster Olney in the immediate aftermath of the on-field celebration as Max Scherzer gave him a big hug. “This is what it’s about. I mean, words can’t even describe this feeling. It’s phenomenal. This group of guys that we got here, we fought all year. This makes it sweet. This is so sweet right now.”

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Posted in Sports

(ESPN) A Long but valuable read–the incredible story of Deandre Hopkins and his Mom

3 years ago, the NFL launched an initiative granting players permission to wear custom cleats to promote their charitable causes. That fall, Hopkins wore pink and blue shoes that had “End Abuse” written on the outside in all caps. Next to the heel, an artist painted four tiny icons of women, one of whom was rendered in a different color from the others, a symbol of the one in four women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

The year Hopkins was drafted, Greenlee started a nonprofit called SMOOOTH (Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing) in order to assist survivors of domestic violence. Her son has quietly worked with her to advance the cause, meeting with the women she has mentored, raising money for her organization and others, and speaking to high school students about his past. While it’s difficult to recount the harrowing sounds he used to hear behind closed doors as a boy, the process of dredging them up can also be palliative, he says. “It’s helped me learn a lot, about life, about how to treat a woman,” he says. “It’s helped me become a man.”

Like her son, who she’s quick to point out is also a survivor, Greenlee harbors painful childhood memories — recollections of being “that 15-year-old girl that took that abuse, that lay on the floor, that didn’t think she was ever going to be anything,” she says. When she visits shelters, she meets women who haven’t shed those feelings of inadequacy. Her foundation has helped dozens of survivors transition to their new lives, giving them vouchers, counseling and even makeovers. “I want to tell [them] … you don’t have to stay there,” says Greenlee, who agreed in May to let a film company produce a movie about her life. “I’ll help you get out of this, just listen to me. Just follow my lead. I’m telling you: There is light after darkness.”

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Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sports, Violence

A Lovely Only a Game Profile of Joe Frazier, originally from Beaufort, South Carolina

On April 7, 1971, just one month after his win over Ali, Frazier became the first African American man to speak before the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina.

“It was an extraordinary event,” Kram Jr. says. “He reached out and tried to implore the members of that assembly to be open to bringing the races together. And, indeed, he wanted to.”

Frazier told the legislature that not much had changed since he left Beaufort, about 140 miles south of the state capital.

“We must save our people, and when I say our people, I mean white and black,” Frazier said in his address. “We need to quit thinking who’s living next door, who’s driving a big car, who’s my little daughter going to play with, who is she going to sit next to in school.”

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Sports

Warm Congratulations to Rafael Nadal, winner of the 2019 US Open Men’s Tennis Final

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Spain, Sports

Congratulations to Bianca Andreescu, Winner of the 2019 Women’s US Open Tennis Tournament

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

A Heartbreaking and Important Washington Post Article on the Suicide of Kelly Catlin

Kelly’s father wants you to know all of it: She took classes at the University of Minnesota in 11th grade, notched a perfect score on the SAT, had enrolled last fall in the computational mathematics program at Stanford’s graduate school. This was a young woman who had become convinced, like so many of her high-achieving peers, that pedaling to the peak of one mountain only meant a better view of the other, taller ones in the distance.

“The very characteristics that made you successful will be self-destructive,” Mark says he has realized, though he prefers to keep himself busy than think too deeply about it, and indeed as much as his daughter was an outlier in life, she was part of a trend in death.

… [he] kept absorbing his daughter’s final words.

“I cry,” Kelly wrote, “because I only ever truly desired Love. Kindness. Understanding. Warmth. Touch. And these things shall be denied, for eternity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sports, Suicide

(ESPN) [Must-Not-Miss story]–Whatever happened to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? ‘So I made this deal with God.’

Twenty-five years old and not far removed from her All-America days at Villanova, [Shelly] Pennefather was in her prime. She had legions of friends and a contract offer for $200,000 to play basketball in Japan that would have made her one of the richest players in women’s basketball.

And children — she was so good with children. She had talked about having lots of them with John Heisler, a friend she’d known most of her life. Heisler nearly proposed to her twice, but something inside stopped him, and he never bought a ring.

“When she walked into the room,” Heisler said, “the whole room came alive.

“She had a cheerfulness and a confidence that everything was going to be OK. That there was nothing to fear.”

That Saturday morning in 1991, Pennefather drove her Mazda 323 to the Monastery of the Poor Clares in Alexandria, Virginia. She loved to drive. Fifteen cloistered nuns waited for her in two lines, their smiles radiant.

She turned to her family.

“I love you all,” she said.

The door closed, and Shelly Pennefather was gone

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sports

(ABC Aus) Israel Folau launches court proceedings against Rugby Australia, NSW Waratahs over unfair dismissal claim

[Israel] Folau claims his contract was unfairly terminated because of his religious beliefs.

Legal experts have said the coming court battle is a “test case” that will establish what holds sway before the courts — an employer’s rights via an employment contract or their employee’s freedom of religious expression.

It is expected to set a precedent for anyone who posts to social media something that is in conflict with his or her code of conduct, be it with an employer or another organisation such as a university or sporting club.

The burden of proof in this case will lie with Rugby Australia to establish that it did not terminate Folau’s contract based on his religious beliefs, but rather that the decision was purely an employment matter.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Telegraph) Tim Stanley–Putting a mini-golf course in a cathedral is an act of desecration

Emptiness can be rich with meaning. When the Romans captured Jerusalem in 63BC, or so says Tacitus, Pompey marched into the inner sanctum of the Jewish Temple and found it empty. No idols, no treasures, just God. To be in His presence was the greatest bounty.

If Pompey besieged Rochester Cathedral today, what would he find inside? A miniature golf course. No joke. Located in the nave, this summer installation consists of nine holes with models of bridges – justified by the kind of silliness that parts of the Anglican Church have become famous for. “We hope,” says the Rev Canon Rachel Phillips, “while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today.” Because contemplating the brotherhood of man is what we all do when playing mini-golf at the sea side. I believe Karl Marx composed Das Kapital at a Butlins in Skegness. No mean feat when trying to putt with one hand and eat a raspberry ripple with the other.

But Rochester isn’t alone! If Pompey’s pagan army is travelling north, it’ll feel right at home at Peterborough Cathedral, where they’re doing “Creative Yoga” under a giant model of the planet Earth, titled “Gaia”. Or kick off your sandals at Norwich Cathedral which is installing a 50ft helter skelter that “aims to give people the chance to experience the Cathedral in an entirely new way and open up conversations about faith.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Entertainment, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Premier) Holy in one: Rochester Cathedral opens crazy golf course

[The] Rev. Phillips said she hopes that these events will lead to more people hearing about Jesus’s message.

“We hope that we’ll reach more people with the message the good news that Christians have to bring that Jesus came to bring peace,” she said.

“He said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers that people might find ways to build bridges in their own life.'”

The Church of England recently announced that Cathedral attendance is bucking the national trend with 37,000 people attending every week.

Anglican leaders have planned a number of ‘seeker-friendly’ initiatives across the country, including a fifty-foot tall helter skelter inside Norwich Cathedral and a gin and prosecco festival at Peterborough.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Entertainment, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

(The Tablet) Both Wimbledon champions are committed Orthodox Christians

“For many young people today Simona is a symbol of diligence, perseverance and hope”, the Patriarch said at the ceremony. “Besides all that, the Romanian Church greatly appreciates the fact that you profess your Orthodox faith by making the sign of the Cross in public thus showing that you faithfully represent the devout, sacrificial and skilled Romanian people”, he added.

Halep received the Romanian Patriarchate’s Cross of St Andrew last year (2018). In an interview a few days after winning Wimbledon, she said that her Christian faith was “most important” for her in her life. “I believe in God even if I cannot attend the liturgy every Sunday”. (Unlike Sunday Mass attendance in the Catholic Church which has been compulsory since the Council of Trent, attending the Sunday Liturgy is not compulsory in the Orthodox Church.)

Novak Djokovic (aged 33), the number 1 tennis player in the world, belongs to the Serb-Orthodox Church. He already received the Serb-Orthodox Church’s Order of St Sava 1st Class in 2011 above all because he promotes many religious and social church initiatives. “This is the most important award in my life as, before being an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian”, he said at the time on receiving the award from the hands of Patriarch Irenaeus of the Serb-Orthodox Church.The Order of St Sava is the Serb-Orhtodox Church’s highest distinction.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Sports

(NYT) First a Championship Ring, Now the Wedding Rings

Mr. Guy dropped another hint six weeks later when he texted her to ask her opinion about a tattoo he was considering. By now, Ms. Jenkins had broken up with the man she had been seen with on Instagram (their relationship lasted just four months).

Ms. Jenkins continued talking with Mr. Guy, who extended a dinner invitation on behalf of his family upon completion of her internship. When that day arrived in August 2017, Mr. Guy opened the door, “and my jaw just dropped,” he said. “She was as beautiful as I had ever seen her,” he said.

Thrown slightly off his game, Mr. Guy began speaking in short sentences again. “The only words I could get out of my mouth were, “How are you doing?” he said.

Ms. Jenkins was back in the familiar company of Mr. Guy’s family, which included his five younger siblings as well as his mother, Katy Fitzgerald, and his stepfather, Tim Fitzgerald. (He is also the son of Joe Guy and stepson of Amy Guy.)

“I came to realize that I truly loved this family,” Ms. Jenkins said. “Kyle is a one-of-kind person who tells me every single day how much he loves me, even on days when I’m not feeling very loved.”

Read it all.

Posted in Marriage & Family, Sports, Young Adults

(Eastern Daily Press) A Profile of Jon Norman, Norwich City Football Club chaplain

However, being Norwich City chaplain is not his main job. Jon is full-time pastor of the huge Norwich Soul Church – which regularly welcomes 1,500 to its Sunday services on Mason Road, Catton Grove. And sometimes, sitting among the regular congregation, there are footballers there too.

Jon grew up in Taverham, near Norwich. A keen footballer, he played in goal for Taverham High School, for Mount Zion church in the Norfolk Christian Football League, and for Norwich United. A Christian from childhood he went on to train as a church leader with the Australian-based international Hillsong Church.

Six years ago Jon and his wife Chantel returned to Norwich after helping lead a large church in Cape Town, South Africa. They launched Soul Church, Norwich in 2014.

A friend had become club chaplain at Leeds and Jon wondered whether Norwich City had a chaplain. He discovered it did, but he was about to retire. Jon’s name was put forward by the national organisation in charge of sport chaplains and he is now about to start his fifth season as Norwich City chaplain.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sports

(Sunday [London] Times) Gambling, Africa’s new child plague

British betting companies and football clubs are “luring” hundreds of thousands of African children into an illegal gambling craze that Kenya’s government says is “destroying” their lives.

Using techniques banned in the UK, the companies appeal to youngsters by using cartoon characters and free branded merchandise. At a British company’s betting shops in the Nairobi slums, The Sunday Times witnessed children as young as 14 gambling freely, in breach of Kenyan law.

Tracey Crouch, who resigned as sports minister in protest at the government’s lack of action over gambling, said she was “deeply concerned” at the revelations, adding: “It is reminiscent of the way that tobacco companies are seeking new markets among young people in Africa.”

Top English football clubs, which have millions of fans in Africa, are closely involved in the promotional efforts. Arsenal sent its former star, Sol Campbell, to Nairobi for children’s coaching sessions with SportPesa, a Kenyan betting company that is its African sponsor. Hull City players went to a Nairobi shanty town, where they handed out SportPesa-branded wristbands and football strips to schoolchildren.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Africa, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Sports

(Local Paper) Clemson’s Dabo Swinney to assistants: Spend time with your own kids, or you’re fired

Rare is it that Dabo Swinney issues threats. The Clemson football coach dances with his players and takes his assistants on annual skiing trips. Fear is not part of his playbook.

But Swinney makes an exception when it comes to safeties coach Mickey Conn, whose oldest son, Brodey, plays on the same football and baseball teams as Swinney’s youngest son, Clay.

“Dabo says, ‘If you don’t go to the games, I’m going to fire you,’” Conn said.

And so Conn goes to the games. He values his employment. He then returns to the Tigers’ facility grateful to work for a boss who emphasizes the importance of family time.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Marriage & Family, Sports

Congratulations to Novak Djokovic winner of the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Final

Posted in England / UK, Serbia, Sports

Congratulations to 2019 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Champion Simona Halep

Posted in England / UK, Romania, Sports, Women

Congratulations to the USA Women’s National Team for Winning the 2019 World Cup over the Netherlands 2-0

Posted in America/U.S.A., Sports, The Netherlands, Women

Congratulations to the USA Women’s National Team for Winning their Semifinal over England Today 2-1

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, France, Sports, Women

(ESPN) Megan Rapinoe’s brother Brian–her greatest heartbreak, and hope

“I want to make a difference,” he says. “I want to be like Megan.”

He had “a really fricking deep conversation” with her about two months ago. They talked about racial profiling; they talked about police brutality; they talked about what Megan’s kneeling meant to both of them. Megan saw that in spite of their very different paths, they’d arrived at similar conclusions.

“My brother is special,” Megan says. “He has so much to offer. It would be such a shame if he left this world with nothing but prison sentences behind him. To be able to have him out, and to play for him, and to have him healthy, with this different perspective that he has now: This is like the best thing ever.”

While Megan is in France, she and Brian text daily — with game thoughts, encouragement and shared excitement.

“This is one of the most exciting things I can even remember … just everything really, you, the school, the program,” Brian texts.

She replies: “People always ask me what got me into soccer … your wild ass of course.”

“Luckily I played a cool sport. What if I’d been into arm-wrestling or something.”

“Oh lawd, yea you really set me up.”

“Get some sleep — love you.”

“Lovee you Bri! Let’s f—ing go!”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Prison/Prison Ministry, Sports