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Concussion Study to Focus on Youth Hockey Players

Youth hockey leagues in New York City and Pelham, NY, expand their concussion programs and a new NYU study aims to learn more about head injuries and young athletes. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Youth hockey leagues in New York City and Pelham, NY, expand their concussion programs and a new NYU study aims to learn more about head injuries and young athletes. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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HOST INTRO: As concern about head injuries grows, youth hockey leagues around the country have started screening athletes and keeping track of concussions. A new study hopes to learn more about what happens to kids right after they hit their heads. Madeleine Cummings reports.

The NYC Cyclones is one of many youth hockey leagues trying to be proactive about diagnosing concussions.

SOUND: whistle blowing

At a recent game at Chelsea Piers, Mitchell Secora watched from the sidelines as his son scrambled for the puck.

SOUND: skates on ice

The occasional body check had players barreling into the boards.

SOUND: boards being hit

It’s a dangerous sport. Secora’s 13-year-old son, Henry, first got a concussion after a larger kid fell on him at hockey camp. Still, as a parent, he’s not too worried about the small bang ups.

MITCHELL SECORA: the little ones don’t bother me. We’ll keep him off the ice for a week, sometimes two. Other than that I’m not too worried. But if a doctor ever came to me and said he had to stop. He’d stop, it’d be that simple.

Team manager Chris White helps run the league’s concussion program. They’ve expanded it this year, beyond just baseline testing. They’re educating coaches. And enforcing a mandatory concussions course. White says they also brought a doctor to speak to the coaches about symptoms.

CHRIS WHITE: We’re really trying to raise awareness because they’re the first line of defense. They’ve gotta look at the kid and decide whether or not the kid can go out again.

An hour north of New York City, a group of hockey parents met at the Pelham Picture House last month to watch a documentary on concussions and college age football players.

NYU researchers were on hand to explain whether the football data relates to hockey players.

SOUND: And that’s why we’re here, to try to get the answers, for the NFL… (audible groans/laughter) … that’s the truth.

Arlene Silverio organized the event. She’s the [self-appointed] head of the Pelham Youth Hockey Association’s Concussion program. She noticed last season that among the league’s 50 players, 10 had concussions. So she started reading more about concussion rates among young athletes. But she found very little, because most concussion studies are done with college or professional teams.

SILVERIO: “It’s coming from the collegiate, it’s coming from the professional athletes. That data, the research that they’re finding is being extrapolated to children, where really it is not applicable.”

She reached out to NYU, wanting to know if they’d study her league.

NYU agreed to include them in a current study, which includes two college level teams. It has two parts. First, kids were tested a few weeks before the season began. Then, if players suffer concussions on the ice, they will be tested again, on the sidelines, right after it happens.

Laura Balcer is one of the neurologists leading the study.

LAURA BALCER: we’re very hopeful that combining all of these studies together will give us a lot of important information about studying and working on concussion in youth athletes.

13-year-old Jonah Kraftowitz, who plays forward for Pelham, got first concussion playing hockey, just over a month ago.

KRAFTOWITZ: “I had blurred vision, my head was searing pain…”

After some sideline tests and a trip to the hospital, he was officially diagnosed with a concussion. He then went back to the NYU doctors to do a series of follow up tests.

KRAFTOWITZ: “Memory tests.. number tests.. rating numbers. And having to remember words, and balance.”

Since Jonah had done a baseline test months ago, the researchers could compare his test results from before and after the concussion. Jonah’s mother, Amy Dunkin says she’s happy to see more research being done on the issue.

AMY DUNKIN: “I think it’s great that they’re doing it in youth sports because there’s so much they don’t understand and you know with their brains developing… still! The rules have to be different for kids as for adults.

Jonah says he’s not giving up hockey.

KRAFTOWITZ: It scares me but it doesn’t change the way I play. I hope I don’t get another concussion, but I’m not really scared.

The study could shed new light on whether early concussions are something youth leagues should be worrying more about.

Madeleine Cummings, Columbia Radio News.

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Cosmos Overshadowed As Soccer Expands In New York

Cosmos Overshadowed As Soccer Expands In New York



Pele of the New York Cosmos gestures during a press conference at a New York Hotel on Thursday, Sept. 29, 1977. It was Pele’s final media session prior to the Pele farewell game and his subsequent retirement from professional soccer. (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)

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INTRO: New York is getting a second team in Major League Soccer. Reports say that New York City FC — short for football club — will join the New York Red Bulls in the league in 2016. The new team is backed by one of the biggest names in European soccer. But Max Rosenthal reports that the news has some New York fans wondering if a famous name in American soccer is being forgotten.

NARR: For decades, there was no bigger name in American soccer than the New York Cosmos.

(Fade up AMBI from 1976 game “At forward, number 10, Pele” Fade under at applause.)

The Cosmos brought the Brazilian and other world legends to play in the North American Soccer League. The team sold out 76,000-seat Giants Stadium. And now the team is back. In August, the Cosmos start playing in the top minor league in the country. It’s soccer’s version of Triple A baseball. And the team’s history is still so powerful, it attracts fans who weren’t even born the last time the Cosmos played.

ACT: Lucas Vasquez, I’m from Long Island. Carlos Mieles, I’m from New Jersey.

Vasquez and Mieles are freshmen at NYU. Their families are from South America, and they grew up cheering for teams from Argentina and Ecuador.

But they don’t watch MLS. Vasquez and Mieles never connected with the New York Red Bulls, who have played in the league for nearly twenty years. Vasquez says the Cosmos history is a powerful draw.

VASQUEZ: What the Cosmos can bring to the table is they already an identity within New York. Not some foreign company or owner that wants to promote their selves or their own brand. This is an identity that took root within New York and already has its roots their and has people remember that. So this is really a New York based club.

Compare that to the Red Bulls, who play in New Jersey and are owned by the energy drink company of the same name. Vasquez and Mieles are so excited about the Cosmos that they’ve organized a Latin American-style fan group called La Banda del Cosmos. They say they’ve already got about 50 regular members, and they’re expecting big things, both from the group and the team itself.

VASQUEZ: I can see Cosmos really playing in the one of the highest levels, signing players from all over the world and acting like a European club.

For years, MLS wanted to put a second team in the New York area. And when the Cosmos reformed in 2010, many fans thought the team was the obvious choice. Vasquez admits he’s disappointed the Cosmos won’t be in MLS. But he thinks that could change.

VASQUEZ: I think what the Cosmos can do right now is show the league that this is an opportunity they can’t miss.

But that may just be wishful thinking. Mark Noonan was an executive vice president at MLS. Now he runs a sports marketing company in Connecticut. He says it was the stars that made the old Cosmos great. Without those big-name players, the new Cosmos can’t live up to the team’s history.

NOONAN: Now it’s just a name. It’s a name that thirty years later still has recognition amongst the, I would say, hardcore soccer aficionados in this country and perhaps outside of this country. But most kids under the age of 20 don’t have a clue. So trying to recapture what it was is impossible.

BELL: I think it’s like, thirty years later, seeing a woman you went out with in high school. You’re going to be disappointed.

That’s Jack Bell. He runs the soccer blog at the New York Times, and he covered the Cosmos in their glory days. He agrees that the Cosmos name is the new team’s biggest asset. And the team’s biggest moneymaker is the merchandise, like jerseys, that they sell worldwide. For that reason, MLS probably isn’t the best fit.

BELL: You know, the structure’s a little bit different. If they went into MLS, they wouldn’t own their own marketing rights, and that’s a big deal to them right now. It’s weird, it’s kind of the merchandise before the team.

So instead of the Cosmos, MLS is reportedly turning to a European powerhouse.

(Fade up Aguero goal ambi to full at “Aguero…he can win it…Oh! He’s won the title, surely, for Manchester City!” then fade out)

Last year, Manchester City won the English Premier League, the most popular soccer league in the world. Their owner, Sheikh Mansour, is an Abu Dhabi royal. He’s pumped billions into Manchester City over the past five years. And according to published reports, he’ll be the money man behind New York City FC. It’s chance for MLS to bring in not only a big name and big money, but also a big fan base that doesn’t ordinarily watch American soccer.

(Ambi from bar underneath)

The Mad Hatter Saloon is the official hangout of New York’s Manchester City fans. On Tuesday afternoon, a few of them gathered to watch their team’s latest Premier League game. Right now, MLS isn’t high on their agenda.

Frank Desanto is a native New Yorker. He says he never saw the Red Bulls as a New York team.

DESANTO: They play in Jersey. So it’s like, I’m a city kid. I want a team that plays in New York.

Michael Warren is coming from slightly farther away. He’s originally from Manchester, and he’s been a City fan his entire life.

WARREN: Well, longer than you’ve been alive. Over 50 years.

He comes in from Connecticut nearly every weekend to watch Manchester City, but he rarely watches MLS games. That is set to change.

WARREN: It’ll be nice to have a City-connected team playing in the States, absolutely. I was talking to a couple of friends at the weekend and we said that we would probably go to see most of the games.

It’s proof of the drawing power that that Manchester City brand can bring to MLS. But Jack Bell of the New York Times says the new team’s management can’t assume that the brand will do all of the work by itself.

BELL: They seem to think that they’re in Europe. And they’re not, and they still need to sell this team. If they think they can do the same things that they do in the Premier League, I think they’re going to be sorely disappointed.

MLS is expected to formally announce the new team within two weeks. But whatever happens, New York City FC won’t start play until 2016. It will take that long to sort out issues around a proposed new stadium for the team in Queens.

Max Rosenthal, Columbia Radio News.

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Jay-Z Won’t Own The Nets, But He’s Not Going Anywhere

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HOST: The Nets are headed to the playoffs for the first time in six years, and after their first year in Brooklyn. But they will be moving on without minority owner Jay-Z, who is moving into sports management and selling his share in the team to become a sports agent. Lance Dixon reports. 

NARR: On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 hit song “In Paris,” Jay-Z boasts that the Nets could lose all of their games and he’d still be content with the money he’s making.

(Fade in “In Paris” after “he’s making” then fade out.)

The team has won many more than zero games. They won 49 and clinched the 4th seed a week ago against the Indiana Pacers. But their success hasn’t stopped the Brooklyn native from moving to another business venture. He announced a new marketing company earlier this month, Roc Nation Sports. It’s a partnership with entertainment and sports management firm Creative Artists Agency.  He signed his first client earlier this month–New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

But, to represent NBA players, he’ll have to sell his share in the team that he’s been invested in for a decade. The rapper owns less than one percent of the team, but his influence has been huge. He pushed for years for the move to his home borough and was reportedly deeply involved in the team’s rebranding and marketing. The Nets now have the 4th largest selling jersey in the league. Jay also placed his 40/40 nightclub in the Barclays Center. New York Times basketball writer, Howard Beck, thinks that creative imprint will outlast the rapper’s official stake in the team.

BECK: I think if Jay-Z is no longer a part owner, but his club is still part of  Barclays Center and his Rocawear store is still part of Barclays Center. To the public’s perception it’s as if he still has strong business affiliation with them and he will.

Jay-Z says he plans to keep his courtside seats to Nets games, and Beck says that his presence will be just as beneficial as his marketing ideas.

BECK: If Jay-Z remains a fan and a guy who’s gonna wear a Nets jersey in concert and to awards shows or wherever else for branding purposes, or for popularity’s sake, for just connecting with potential fans I think that all remains.

(Fade in Barclays ambi after “Outside” to a bed then fade out after VERNON act.)

Outside of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after a win versus the Washington Wizards, Nets fan Cornell Carelock says he doesn’t view the move as disloyal. He thinks Jay succeeded with the plan he had all along.

CARELOCK: He wanted people to invest in this Brooklyn team, and people that are close by and are gonna be committed fans they’ll do their part in helping to boost this team. 

Henry Vernon says he lives down the street from Barclays and plans to continue his support of the team. He appreciates how easy it is for him to attend games thanks in part to Jay-Z.

VERNON: I used to go all the way out to Jersey to the games, so being that I get on the 3 train–I’m home in 10 minutes, man. So, you know, I don’t have a problem with him at all and I don’t think anybody else will.

No matter what anyone thinks, Jay-Z is moving on. Even though he hasn’t represented athletes before, he has represented and managed artists with his label Roc Nation, ranging from Shakira to Santigold. And he served for three years as president and CEO of Def Jam Records where he helped launch the careers of Rihanna and Ne-Yo. Jordan Kobritz teaches sports management at the State University of New York at Cortland. He thinks that experience could make the transition easy for the rapper.

KOBRITZ: He’s negotiated and been involved in negotiations in big time entertainment deals, so he isn’t exactly a novice to this entire concept.

And his role in Roc Nation Sports is similar to the one he had with the Nets. While he has a larger ownership stake in this case, he isn’t officially a sports agent yet. He’s the big name to represent the brand and create interest, a role Kobritz says he thrives in.

KOBRITZ: He has an instant recognition factor and even some sort of rapport, if you will, with an athlete, so it’s not like he’s actually starting from scratch like some other individual who wants to become an agent.

Jay may still face some problems moving forward. He’s signed a baseball player, but the NFL Players Association has requirements for agents who want to represent their players. These include a bachelors and post graduate degree, passing a certification test and attending training courses. But, if Jay wants to continue to serve as just a star recruiter, and let his partners at the Creative Artists Agency handle things, Kobritz thinks he’ll find success for now.

KOBRITZ: In the short term, he’s affiliating with others who are licensed and do have experience, so I don’t think in the short run it’s going to be a major concern.

And even if major issues arise, when it comes to business moves he will probably do as his 2009 song says and just move on to the next one.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News.

(Fade in “On to the Next One” after SOC then fade out.)



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Female Wrestlers At New York Public School Get Own League

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After years of fighting for equality on the mat, female wrestlers at public high schools
across New York City are now in a league of their own. Jessica Gould reports …

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College Conferences Trade Tradition For TV Cash

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HOST INTRO: The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament continues tonight. Last night was a good one for the Big East Conference, with Syracuse upsetting top-seeded Indiana and Marquette knocking off Miami. The Big East has been a powerhouse. But this will be the last season of the Big East as fans know it. Lance Dixon reports on the latest realignments among conferences in college sports conference.

(Fade in game sound after “Anthony,” fades up then out after crowd cheers.)


Syracuse has been one of the final 16 teams in the tournament 21 times, and in
2003 the Orange went all the way and won a championship, led by current New
York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.

Connecticut, Georgetown and Louisville from the Big East have done the same.
Despite that, the conference is breaking up.


The Big East has been unstable for some time. You’ve had a lot of schools jumping
ship. Getting ahead of the situation. (:09)

That’s Clemson University economist, Raymond Sauer. He says the Big East
started changing in the mid-2000s. Four schools known for football success:
Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College—all left the Big East for
the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now, a group of schools called the Catholic 7
have decided they want out, too. Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Providence,
Seton Hall, Villanova and St. John’s have signed a 12-year $500 million contract
with Fox Sports. Sauer says the schools couldn’t turn down the opportunity.


In the athletic departments these days they’re trading in tradition and history and
rivalries of the moment for dollars from the television contracts. (:11)

It’s not just happening in the Big East. The University of Maryland is moving to
the Big 10 conference after being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference
since 1953. Estimates say the move will earn the school about $100 million by
the year 2020. These deals may sound lucrative, but Sauer says they may not


You look at the top line in terms of revenue and you say, “Yeah ok, that’s great.”
But when you think about the travel costs, and the travel schedules and the fan
interest it might not add up in the end and be a smart economic decision. (:14)

Travel costs will be a factor in the new Big East as most of the remaining schools
are in the northeast, but the latest additions are Creighton from Nebraska, Xavier
in Ohio and Butler in Indiana. Conference officials say it’s all being done in the
name of basketball, the sport in which the Big East made its name. And where
Sauer says most of the money comes from.


You know, the negotiations are between the basketball coach—or the coach of
the revenue sport as it were—the athletic director and the TV networks. And
swimming, diving or wrestling or baseball, they’re pretty much afterthoughts. (:15)

(Fade in ambi of baseball practice slightly after “sees it,” then fades a bit louder and

That’s not the way the head coach of St. John’s baseball team sees it.

Ed Blankmeyer’s team won the conference championship last year. This year,
they’re only 9-15, but the coach is optimistic about setting up a new baseball
identity for the conference.


The three schools they brought in are good baseball schools. The number is small
in seven now—seven baseball schools. But, I think this conference and many of the
other sports has to evolve. (:13)

Blankmeyer expects more change.


I’m disappointed in leaving some of the old-time rivals, but conference alignment or
realignment if you will, I don’t think it’s gonna end. There’s more to come. (:10)

Clemson economist Raymond Sauer agrees. He says these changes aren’t so
crazy, but their frequency over the past few years is unique. As fans continue
to root for their favorite teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, they
may have to prepare to see them in a new conference if their schools think the
money’s right.

Lance Dixon. Columbia Radio News.

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Brooklynites Question Success of Atlantic Yards


Jones Barclays

Workers construct the first residential building at the Atlantic Yards project, behind the Barclay’s center. Brooklyn, NY. March 14, 2013. (Emily Jones/Uptown Radio)

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HOST INTRO: Developers sold their plan to build at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards on the prospect of new jobs and affordable housing for a community desperately in need of both. And so far, they’re claiming success with the first step: the Barclays Center. But some say it’s not quite what developers promised. Emily Jones reports.

[ambi: excited crowd, under narration. At subway: “oh wow! Oh wow!” (1:45 in tape) (note: at other points they also say “Brooklyn Nets!” and “Jay-Z!”]
The Barclays Center is still new and exciting here in Brooklyn. Visitors pause to take pictures on their cell phones as they emerge from the subway. (oh wow! Oh wow!) Today, people are rushing through the cold for a string of Atlantic-10 Conference men’s basketball games. Sunday, they’ll be back for the Brooklyn Nets, the first pro team in the borough since the Dodgers left in 1957. And since it opened in September, Barclays has brought in some of the biggest acts in music: the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, part-owner Jay-Z.

“The 108th mayor of New York City – Michael Bloomberg! Empire State of Mind begins, fade under, hold until “here”
Last month, Mayor Bloomberg made a clear point of the arena’s success when he delivered his state of the city address here.

Bloomerg: (laughter) Now the Barclays Center is the latest sign of just how hot Brooklyn has become.

Bloomberg hailed the affordable housing under construction and the new jobs at Barclays: 2,000 people hired, 75 percent live in Brooklyn. Combine the jobs, housing, and big events, he says, and you get what the developers promised the neighborhood: a stable, vibrant economic and cultural center.

It’s a big change from how the area used to look. One lifetime Flatbush resident stopped to Instagram a photo of the center.

Jones: What’s your name?
Samson: Sammy Samson.
Jones: Do you remember what it was like before the Center was built?
Samson 2: I know this was all like, vacated. I don’t know if that’s the right word I’m using.
Jones: Do you think it’s better now?
Samson: I mean it looks nicer, yeah, definitely. I wouldn’t use the word better but it’s, you know, it looks nice.

Others in the area are unsure about the project as well. Gib Veconi is with Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of community groups working to make the Atlantic Yards project serve the neighborhood. He doesn’t think the jobs at the Barclays Center live up to the developer’s promise.

Veconi 2: Unless you have a living wage job that you can use to support a family, and get benefits, it’s not really that type of stabilizing force.

Only 100 of the 2,000 new employees at Barclays work full-time. The rest are part-time, meaning they don’t get benefits – at least not yet. The union SEIU 32BJ represents the cleaning and security staff, and the crew that converts the Barclays Center between basketball games and concerts. Vice President Shirley Aldoval says because the arena has been open less than a year, employees are still figuring how often they’ll work and whether they’ll stay.

Aldoval 1: So they can work 40 hours or more when there are events going on, when there aren’t events going on they’ll work less. But there’s a threshold, there’s a path for each of these employees to get health insurance and benefits based on the number of events they work.

Workers who pass a certain number of events per year will get health benefits. The specifics of the union’s agreement with Forest City Ratner aren’t public yet. But Aldoval says even employees who don’t work the traditional 9 to 5, 5 days a week will be eligible.

For Veconi of Brooklyn Speaks, the number of jobs created is still an issue. He says the city invested more than 700 million dollars in public subsidies in the arena.

Veconi 1: So is 2000 jobs a fair trade for that? You know it comes out to somewhere around 350 thousand dollars a job. That’s a lot of money.

But the Barclay’s Center and the new hiring there are only the first step in the development.
[Backup beeper, construction sound, fade under]
Behind the arena, excavation is already underway on B2, the first residential building at Atlantic Yards. It’s set to be finished by fall of 2014. The tower will house more than 350 apartments, half of them affordable for low- and middle-income residents. Eventually, the plan calls for more than 6,000 units. (bring up construction, fade) As it stands now, those apartments will be built over the next 25 years. But community advocates are pushing the developers to move up that timeline so Brooklynites can start moving into their affordable housing sooner.

I’m Emily Jones, Columbia Radio News.

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Yankees Fans Resigned to Rivera’s Retirement

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire
after this season. His announcement signals what could be the end of an era of Yankees domination.
Lance Dixon spoke to New Yorkers about what the announcement might mean for the future of the
Bronx Bombers. (:14)

(“Enter Sandman” fades in after 1999, fades out after bed.)

It started in the summer of 1999. That was when Mariano Rivera first started entering Yankees games
in the ninth inning to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” He had a calm demeanor as he would strut out to
the pitcher’s mound and over 600 times he helped guarantee the Yankees’ opponents were put to bed.
After 18 years that career will be coming to an end, and not only Yankee fans are paying respect. (:22)


Mariano Rivera’s probably the greatest closer of all time, in baseball, even being a Met fan I can
recognize that. (:07)

That’s Gerardo Franco, a cab driver, who says Rivera and the other players that made their debut for
the team in 1995 like shortstop Derek Jeter and former catcher Jorge Posada were throwbacks—they
weren’t big free agents, they came up through the minor leagues. Franco says that despite the Yankees’
wealth, you can’t just buy talent like that. (:18)


Those guys they were the heart of the team, that’s the one thing that the Yankees had a real strong
foundation. But, I don’t see them winning anything for at least another ten years. (:09)

Long-time Yankees fans, like Anthony Mendez, said Thursday’s reports about Rivera were not
completely shocking. (:06)


I expected it. I really did, I mean he’s 43 years old. (:03)

Mendez suspects that Rivera would’ve called it quits in 2012 if the closer hadn’t torn his ACL catching
balls in the outfield and missed the rest of that year. (:08)


If he would’ve not gotten injured, I think it would’ve been his last year. (:03)

Even though Rivera’s final season seems to be here, Mendez doesn’t think that rallying around the
record-setting closer will be enough to push the the Yankees to a title. (:08)


I really, I don’t expect much from the team. I know they’ll compete and they’re still the Yankees. So if
anything goes down they’ll probably pick up a replacement somewhere in a big trade or something.

Replacement players may eventually help the Yankees deal with their injury concerns and an aging
roster on the field, but replacing a figure like Rivera may prove tougher. Yankees fan, Daniel Ayata,
recalls attending the game when the pitcher got his 602nd career save, breaking the all-time record.


I’ve been at the stadium plenty of times and the crowd gets loud. But, that was one of the loudest
crowds I’ve seen and witnessed and I was lucky to be there. (:09)

Whether the Yankees win a title or not, fans in the Bronx will have the chance to watch a future Hall-of-
Famer for at least one more season.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News. (:10)

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Pistorius Case Rekindles Familiar Narrative

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It’s been two weeks since Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The circumstances that led to the tragedy are still under investigation. The case has prompted a broader discussion  about the problems of  other athletes, and the guns and mental trauma that may lead to domestic violence. Lance Dixon reports.


Whether Oscar Pistorius purposely intended to kill his girlfriend or not remains uncertain for now.
But, his case raises greater questions about other high-profile athletes involved in incidents of violent
behavior. Sports psychologist Sara Hickmann has worked with the New York Jets and she says that if
athletes are more prone to these behaviors it might have to do with their celebrity status. (:20)

SARA HICKMANN: “It’s more about abusing power and control, and the mentality of, “I own you, you
are here to serve me. I need to call the shots I’m going to do things how I want to. If you push back I’m
going to inflict pain on you and put you back in your place.” (:16)

There are plenty of examples of athletes involved in violence off the field. Like former New England
Patriots receiver, and occasional reality TV star, Chad Johnson, who arrested for allegedly head-
butting his wife. Or Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. He has a history of disputes with former
girlfriends and even his wife allegedly leading to stabbing and choking incidents and more. Nearly all
the charges in these cases were eventually not filed, dropped or reduced. Hickmann says that kind of
impunity is not uncommon. (:29)


“I think often times the consequences are not appropriate or proportionate to the offense and it’s
harder for them to learn, oh this is probably not a good idea, because they haven’t had the same
consequences as the average person.” (:15)

If the athletes own guns the stakes are higher. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was ordered to
give up his seven guns last year after he allegedly punched his girlfriend and dragged her on the ground.
In a separate incident only 11 days later, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his
girlfriend and then committed suicide. Hickmann says that when players she works with are charged
with domestic violence, specific questions arise. (:25)


“Do you have a gun? Do you have a weapon? Do you feel that’s the best thing for you right now while
you’re working through the way you think about your relationship?” (:08)

In suicide cases, brain trauma can be a factor. As it was with retired linebacker Junior Seau who
committed suicide last May. He was found to be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or
CTE, a disease caused by multiple blows to the head and concussive damage. CTE expert, Dr. Julian
Bailes, says other problems are usually involved when CTE leads to suicide. (:22)


“Those problems are often failed businesses, failed marriages, failed finances, and then it goes on to
include things like depression and often alcohol or substance abuse, cognitive impairment and many
end in suicide.” (:15)

Hickmann notes that the competitive nature of sports can lead to aggressive behavior off the field, but
Bailes says that the competitive nature is not just exclusive to athletes. (:09)


“Everybody who’s in a competitive environment probably feels certain pressures and stresses and a
need to perform. So I think that regardless of what sport you’re in or even what profession you’re in.
Some of these are natural aspects of human behavior.” (:15)

We won’t know for sure what Pistorius did that night until his trial begins in June. But, we do know he
was extremely competitive as a double-amputee and that’s why he was celebrated by so many.

Lance Dixon, Columbia Radio News. (:14)

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Is There Any Hope for the Knicks?

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The New York Knicks haven’t won a post-season game since 2001 and they are not doing any better this year. They are losing the series 3-0 against the Miami Heat. Ben Osborne is the editor in chief of the basketball monthly, SLAM Magazine. He told me the Knicks don’t stand a chance. And forward center Amare Stoudemire is not the solution.

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Fencers Prepare for Olympic Games

The Summer Olympics will begin in London in 90 days, and athletes are training harder than ever. Hristina Tisheva found several members of one team that’s bound for London in Manhattan, and has this report.

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Members of the US National team will be competing in London from July 28th until August 5th

HOST INTRO: The Summer Olympics will begin in London in 90 days. In the past week millionaires super stars in the NBA complained that they don’t get paid for their participation.

But for sports like fencing which doesn’t rake in the same cash as basketball, athletes have to eek out living while pursuing their gold. This includes juggling full-time jobs and grueling training sessions. Hristina Tisheva reports.–

We don’t normally think of Olympic athletes training in an office building near Times Square. And yet, four of the fencers on the U.S. team and their coach — do that every day.

On a recent afternoon, two of the fencers warmed up at the gym on the second floor.


The fencers running on a strip in the gym

Dagmara Wozniak showed up just in time to start practice.



“Ready to go?”


They’re all specialists in the sabre, one of three Olympic fencing events, And three days a week, they practice twice a day. The four of them and their coach start with the run of entire gym.

There are 14 strips where fencers can face off and eight targets where they can practice solo. Yury Gelman, the coach of the Olympic men’s team, starts by giving the athletes their instructions.



“You have six minutes. Non-stop. Target work. Start now for like one minute and then using footwork, use lunges. Let’s go. Double-touches, triples touches, lunge…Non-stop, six minutes.”



Fencers hitting the targets.

Gelman owns this gym — the Manhattan Fencing Center. He’s also the personal coach of four of the fencers.

He gives them 20-minute one-on-one lessons every day. When other fencers show up for his regular class at 6:30, the Olympians usually join them.



Gelman, instructing the class to do certain moves, fencers move in  unison, fading out.

The U.S. is producing more Olympic medalists in fencing than ever. Over a century, US fencers won only two medals. Then, in 2004 and 2008, they won a total of eight.

Keeth Smart is one of them. He won a silver medal four years ago as part of the Men’s saber team event.

In Bryant park on a break from his job in finance, Smart says the mentality of U.S. fencers has changed.



Prior to 1992, the expectation of Olympic fencers was to go to the Olympics and take a lot of pictures. Have a lot of fun at the Olympic games. Then after that, beginning in 1996, the goal was ‘We should be Olympics medals. Today, we expect to win medals.’”


Smart says the reason for the change is geo politics.



“Literally, one the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, we had this influx of coaches and that was the start of the great renaissance of American fencing. Because we have all these coaches coming from Ukraine, Russia, Poland.”


As a result, Smart says, U.S. fencers have been learning the same secrets and techniques as former Soviet Bloc athletes.

But even with that coaching, becoming a world-class fencer isn’t easy. The athletes spend amost all of their time preparing for the Games.

Coach Yury Gelman says sacrifices are part of the training for the fencers.



They basically don’t have time for friends. For girlfriend, boyfriends. Definitely no time for video games and stuff like this because it’s practice, practice, practice and a lot of traveling also.”


The athletes travel every other week to World Cup events in different countries. That leaves no time for regular jobs or school.

And there is little money in fencing. At most, the athletes get a stipend of 2,000 dollars a month. Some of them work part-time jobs.

Tim Morehouse was on the team that won the silver medal in Beijing and is on the team now. He says it’s difficult to find the balance between fencing and earning a living.



“Sometimes it gets a little but crazy and I have a lot going on like now but most of the time I find it very rewarding. I feel like I live my days with a sense of a good urgency that I’m doing things that I care about.”


Like any sport on the Olympic level, fencing puts a strain on athletes’ bodies.

In the gym, fencers practice hard despite injuries. Dagmara Wozniak has tendinitis in her left wrist. It’s normally taped in order to keep it from moving.



Not today. I didn’t make it to physical therapy.


She has microtears in her muscle tissue. It always hurts when she’s fencing.



“It could be better. Just trying to keep the pain level down. It’s been ok but I wish it could be better.”


The key to winning a medal in London, according to Coach Yury Gelman, will be dealing with the pressure.

So, for the next 90 days, Gelman and the Olympic team will be working on building their confidence.



Tim and Wozniak fencing and talking. (joking) You know it’s impossible to hit me know, my parry is so good. You can’t get me…You think you’re about to and then…(shouts when lost the point)

As Tim Morehouse gets ready for a practice bout, he says fencers are not motivated by the perks that high-profile Olympic athletes can get.



“I mean it’s a sport you do, because you love it. I’m not doing the sport because I was expecting to get media attention or have million dollar contracts.”


The opening day of the Olympics is July 27. The men’s individual fencing competition starts two days later – on Morehouse’s birthday.

Hristina Tisheva, Columbia Radio News.

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A Possible New Soccer Stadium on the West Side

Pier 40, a potential location for a new soccer stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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It looks like New York City may finally be getting a second professional soccer team. Officials of Major League Soccer say they are focusing on the city as a location for the league’s 20th team. But that’s about all they’re giving away.  Last Thursday, the League bosses met with the owners of a potential stadium location in Manhattan. Hristina Tisheva reports from the waterfront.

Pier 40 on the Hudson River at the West end of Houston Street is already a popular soccer venue. Youth teams train here. Vincent Grady is the coach of the Downtown United soccer club. His young players work out here a lot.

I practice three times a week.  And with my girls’ team I practice three times a week.

The New York Metro area already has a professional soccer team. It’s called the New York Red Bulls and plays in Harrison, New Jersey.

But Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber is focusing on New York as a location for the 20th team in the league because of the city’s soccer history.

In the 1970’s, the New York Cosmos were the biggest name in the sport with German great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazilian soccer legend Pele.  

“Pele scored. The New York Cosmos have just scored…” Crowd cheering.
Time: 0:05

Daily News reporter Filip Bondy covered the team during its heyday in the early 1980’s. He says before the Cosmos and the North American Soccer League it played in folded, the team frequently filled up Giants stadium.

You would go there and there would be 77,000 fans screaming in the seats at Giants stadium. So, it was an amazing time for them. It really was this amazing sense of ‘This is our chance to see real soccer,’ so it was quiet an event.
TIME: 0:17

Bondy says it was an event that helped raise the visibility of soccer and attracted many younger players. He thinks the Cosmos helped to make the United States a more competitive national team.

There is no doubt about it, in my mind, the the U.S. national team would not be where it is right now, and certainly would not have qualified for the World Cup in 1990 because it was really a New York – New Jersey team.
TIME: 0:17

Ever since then, soccer has been getting more popular across the country. Last year, attendance at M.L.S games went up about 6 percent.  Here in the New York Metro area, the Red Bulls drew a little over 18,000 fans to home games. That’s about 2,000 more than the season before.

Dennis Coates teaches sports economics at the University of Maryland. He sees no reason why the greater New York area can’t support a second team.

If the Red Bulls playing in New Jersey draw lots of fans from New Jersey and Staten Island and so on, and nobody from out on Long Island, nobody from Brooklyn and the Bronx and so on, then it’s very possible that if you put a team in downtown New York, it will attract a completely different set of fans than the team in New Jersey.
TIME: 0:22

A new Cosmos club might be that team.

A group of investors revived the old name in 2010. The team made Pele the honorary president, put former French superstar Eric Cantona in charge of development and made the late Italian player and Cosmos legend Georgio Chinaglia the team’s ambassador.

Chairman and CEO Paul Kemsley said that he was confident the Cosmos would become the 20th team in Major League Soccer.

But new owners took over the team last fall and Kemsley resigned. All that’s known about the new owners is that they are from Saudi Arabia. Whoever starts a new team in New York, is going to need a lot of money. MLS has said the new  franchise will cost 100 million dollars.

Meanwhile,  New York soccer fans know no more about what’s going to happen than they did before.

There is going to be a new stadium and it will probably be at Pier 40. But Daily News reporter Filip Bondy says the rumors have been going on for too long,

BONDY: Show me the stadium and then I’ll believe.
TIME: 0:03

The amateur soccer players who were playing there on a recent afternoon, see putting a field at Pier 40 as a mixed blessing.

Can I ask you something? Will we be able to play in the professional stadium?
TIME: 0:03

That is Kevin Castro. He goes to high school in Queens and plays for Downtown United. He and about 10 of his friends, dressed in Barcelona and Manchester United t-shirts and shorts, pick one goal and start passing to each other. They come to Pier 40 five times a week. Castro says building a stadium at the location would mean they would lose their practice ground.

To be honest with you, I don’t really think it’s…It’s nice to have a stadium around, close, to come and watch the games. But it will take everybody’s playtime. This is a field where everybody’s been coming here for a really long time. It wouldn’t be a good thing.
TIME: 0:14

There are still a lot of questions about Pier 40 as a stadium venue. Within a month, The Hudson River Trust, which operates Pier 40, expects a report  compiled by consultants suggesting what commercial opportunities may be possible at the field.
Meanwhile, the new Cosmos organization says it is continuing to meet with M.L.S officials.

Hristina Tisheva, Columbia Radio News.

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Mets Fans Hopeful on Opening Day

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Andrew Parsons: It’s a beautiful day for baseball in Queens, where the Mets won 1-0 in their season opener against the Atlanta Braves.  The team is coming off three straight losing seasons, but Russ Finkelstein says are optimistic that this year will be different.  He joins us from Citi Field where he caught the action.  Russ, how did the Mets play today?

Russ Finkelstein:  Well Andrew, considering how the Mets finished their season last year, I’d say that they played pretty well.  It was a low scoring game.  They played very defensive baseball and the one run they scored off of a David Wright RBI in the sixth inning was enough to get them the win.

Andrew Parsons: Do you think that there’s reason for fans to be excited this year?

Russ Finkelstein:  Well, the Mets are right now in first place, which is something Mets fans don’t really get to say very often.  And considering a couple of injuries they’ve got and the players that are recovering from those injuries I’d say that, you know, fans do have something to look forward to this season.

Andrew Parsons: What was the attendance like at today’s game?

Russ Finkelstein:  Well there was some concern leading up to today’s game that attendance would be low, but the Mets officials have said that they sold 42,080 seats today which is actually the largest attendance in the stadium’s history.  And, you know, I walked all over the inside of the stadium and I only saw two Braves fans.  So I’d say the Mets fans definitely came out to support their team today.

Andrew Parsons:  And what are those fans saying about the team?

Russ Finkelstein:  Well you know in recent years Mets fans haven’t had too much to cheer about.  Like any sporting event, some fans are more optimistic than others.  I did speak to one fan named Carlos Rodriguez and he had this to say:

Carlos Rodriguez ACT:  Honestly, I don’t think they’re going to be better than last year, but I do think they’re going to be decent.  And I think we’re not going to be last place, so I’m happy.

Andrew Parsons: So Russ, the Mets decided to start Pitcher Johan Santana who hasn’t played since 2010 due to a shoulder injury.  How did he look today?

Russ Finkelstein:  Well you know, he lasted for about five innings, and he looked OK.  He didn’t give up any runs, and he only gave up two runs and two walks which isn’t bad considering this was his first game back in over a year.

Andrew Parsons:  Sounds pretty good.  Well, thank you Russ.  Reporter Russ Finkelstein was live from Citi Field.

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Brooklynites Gradually Accept Barclays Sports Arena

Barclays Sports Center in Brooklyn will open on Sept. 28 with a Jay-Z concert. Photo by Hristina Tisheva

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HOST INTRO: The Barclays Sports Center in Brooklyn is the future home of the New Jersey Nets. Many Brooklynites–even sports fans–have complained about the project since it was first announced in 2003. But now that it’s opening in September, some of the arena’s neighbors are looking forward to the jobs it will create. Hristina Tisheva reports.

Tony Delpino just finished basketball practice in a park at Bergen and 6th Avenue… around the corner from the sports center. Bouncing the ball, he passes the construction site but doesn’t even look at it. Delpino doesn’t think it should be there.

SOUND: Basketball bouncing

DELPINO: You move so many people out of the area who lived there their whole lives, so maybe they don’t know anything besides that section of Brooklyn. I can imagine it was hard for them.

Delpino is referring to hundreds of people that the developers, Forest City Ratner, relocated. They got the support of New York’s Supreme Court, which ruled Ratner could use eminent domain — that’s seizing private property without owners’ consent, but compensating them. Even Delpino’s aunt was moved to a neighborhood of her choice – Bensonhurst. He says she was unhappy in the beginning but got over it. Elizabeth Gold is not over it.

GOLD: There also wasn’t even the slightest effort made to think about making this into something special and just another ugly thing.

Gold wasn’t relocated. But she’s lived nearby for 15 years. She hated the way the developers just built whatever they wanted.

GOLD: Some attention to the make up of the neighborhood would have been nice.

A lot of people share Gold’s view. A series of documentaries called The Battle for Brooklyn followed residents’ efforts to stop the project.

DOCUMENTARY: This fight gets ugly at times because you have a community that is at war with itself and you have no adults in the room. It’s left to a corporate entity and a community.

But all the movie did was delay construction for six years. Now rent in the area is up. And some business can’t afford it. One of them is Triangle Sports across the street from the venue at 5th and Flatbush avenues. Ashante Brulan has worked there for 8 years. But he’s not worried about finding new work.

BRULAN: Once they build it, they’re going to need to staff it. So it’s going to create jobs that way. I heard they’re going t hire Brooklyn residents. So, that’s a good thing.

Right now, about 650 people work daily in and around the arena.

SOUND: Fading up and down sound of construction work going on.

Barclays says it will have about 1,000 jobs to fill when it opens at the end of September. It’s not clear how many will go to Brooklyn residents says Barclays vice president of marketing, Elisa Pedilla..

PEDILLA: I can tell you that Barclays center will be an equal opportunity employer so there will be jobs for anyone who is qualified for the positions that we’re going to be posting.

But Brooklyn food vendors will get special treatment. Barclays is already accepting applications online. Some people are still wondering what the fuss is about– including David Philip, who’s been a Brooklyn resident for 25 years.

PHILIP: The space’s been there. It’s been a train yard for years. Nobody complained about a train yard being there. Now because it’s a building, everybody has a problem with that. But it’s a big thing for Brooklyn. It puts Brooklyn back on the map.

Philip says he’s planning to go see a game. And so is everyone interviewed for this story. Even Elizabeth Gold, who resents the project.

SOUND: People playing basketball.

They say they’ll watch the Nets because…they’re right in their backyard. Hristina Tisheva. Columbia Radio News.

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Seeking Calm Among the Chaos

Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

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For runners and cyclists, exercising in New York City can sometimes devolve into war, with dog-walkers and taxi drivers for enemies. Nat Herz recounts his battles in Central Park.

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What’s in Store for Baseball Fans

The Tampa Bay Rays play the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on March 7. Photo by Kathy Willens, AP.

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Baseball spring training started last Saturday. It’s really just a tease of what the regular season will bring. But before that, the Mets’ owners are going to trial. A federal judge ruled on Monday they must pay as much as $83.3 million to the trustee managing the losses in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Tyler Kepner is the national baseball writer for the New York Times. The Yankees are troubled with injuries, the Mets’ financial problems are getting worse, but Kepner says, baseball is safe.

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For New York’s Skiers, No Snow is No Problem

Cross-country skiers practice in Central Park despite the lack of snow. Photo by Hristina Tisheva.

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HOST: Cross-country skiing is an international sport, with many devotees in the U.S. There hasn’t been much snow this year, which might discourage recreational skiers. But not competitive skiers in New York, who are used to training without it. Hristina Tisheva reports that one of the best places to train, snow or not, is right in the center of Manhattan.

NARRATION: On a recent afternoon, Timothy Donahue and Sproule Love are in Central Park getting ready for a workout.

SOUND: Putting gloves on.

SKIERS: “Let’s head out and hit the trails.”

NARRATION: They are wearing black bindings and grey ski-suits. The initials M-N-S-C… for Manhattan Nordic Ski Club… look like the letters on subway trains. These two have been skiing for more than 20 years—and they train here in the park three or four days a week.

SOUND: Skating on asphalt pavement, them talking to each other

But they say they only ski on snow about 8 times a year -when they compete. The rest of the time, they are on roller skis. They are twice as short as normal Nordic skis, with two wheels each.

SOUND: Skating on wheels

Donahue says in a colder climate he would put the roller skis away in November:

DONAHUE: “But if you live in Manhattan, your rollers skis are probably 90 to 95 percent of your skiing. Like I, for instance, I just wore my skis out and I had to get new ones ‘cause I use them too much.”

NARRATION: But Donahue doesn’t mind He says they will still work out in the city even if it snows.

DONAHUE: “Would we drive an hour and a half to go to the nearest ski place and ski for an hour or would we  ski here for three hours? For sure we’d ski here because it’s just as good. Pretty much.”

NARRATION: Donahue has convinced others too. Based on an essay he wrote, the website voted Central park the best roller skiing training cite in the U.S. and Europe. Another fan of the park is Caitlin Gregg. She is a 2010 Winter Olympian, originally from New York City, but now lives in Minneapolis. She trained in Central Park 12 years ago.

GREGG: You don’t have the very long sustained climbs but you definitely have a number of climbs on the North side that give you a good workout.”

NARRATION: Gregg finished in the top 5 at the U-S Cross Country Nationals the year she trained in Central Park. Sproule Love argues roller skiing actually benefits the skier because the pavement is a less forgiving surface.

LOVE: “When you’re on a snow, you can slide a little bit on a ski. But when you have rubber wheels on a ski, if you don’t have good technique, you’re not going to move forward.”

NARRATION: But training on snow — even manmade — allows for a lot of subtle muscle movements for better balance. It also lets skiers know how their skis perform. Six years ago, ski club member Bryan Mazlish approached the city about a snow trail in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Mazlish and park employees analyzed snowfall and temperatures data. He sent a proposal to the Parks Department but, he says, it didn’t go far.

MAZLISH: “Imagine if you tried to talk to Mayor Bloomberg about a pothole on your street, how far you’d get. And that’s what it was like.”

NARRATION: Some skiers argue snow — manmade or natural — is a necessity. Darwin Roosa runs the New York State Ski Race Association, which manages cross-country skiing events. Roosa says the lack of snow this winter has been a problem, and only manmade snow has made some of the races possible. He doesn’t approve of training only on asphalt.

ROOSA: “If someone, a skier, who trains in the New York Metropolitan area only on roller skis and they just don’t have the opportunity to get to manmade snow for training, they could be at a disadvantage.”

NARRATION: But Timothy Donahue and Sproule Love disagree. They think they’ve done very well without snow. Donahue finished second at a race in January in Vermont against skiers from across the country. Love came in 18th in a field of more than 400 skiers in Canada last month. Next weekend, they’ll both competing in the Lake Placid ski marathon. Hristina Tisheva, Columbia Radio News.

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