NFL to trump NBA in global expansion race?
The Vince Lombardi Trophy stands between the helmets for the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII.
January 31st, 2014
02:14 PM ET

NFL to trump NBA in global expansion race?

Having looked at both American Football and basketball’s plans to grow their markets beyond the U.S., my hunch is we should see an NFL team based overseas before an NBA franchise.

However, I would not be surprised if neither league actually moves a side to foreign soil, even though global expansion is viewed as essential to growing their respective businesses.

The view of the NFL as a global sport is accentuated during Super Bowl week. The clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos is expected to attract more than 2013’s worldwide audience of 111.3 million viewers. FULL POST

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Filed under:  U.S. Sport
January 30th, 2014
04:03 PM ET

Sochi 2014: Will the Winter Olympics be safe?

In the last few weeks we've had suicide bombers in Volgograd killing more than 34 people, and Islamic militants promising a "present" to organizers and visitors to Sochi in February.

At least five Olympic committees have received letters in Russian making “a terrorist threat” before the Winter Games, and security forces are hunting a woman suspected of planning a suicide bombing who is believed to already be in Sochi.

For any journalist covering a major event like this, the experience should be about reporting mind-boggling feats of skill and endurance. But Sochi feels different and I’m sure many – be they athletes or journalists – will travel to the Black Sea resort with feelings of trepidation. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Olympics
January 29th, 2014
02:58 PM ET

Can Rory McIlroy turn the tables on Tiger Woods in 2014?

Form can fluctuate, but class is ever present. It’s a saying that comes straight from the commentator's book of clichés, but is intriguing nonetheless, especially when examining the potential fortunes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in 2014.

Woods is the undeniable world No.1, with five victories last year on his home circuit. McIlroy, on the other hand, endured his most frustrating season after some incredible hype 12 months ago, only to rescue his year with a splendid victory at the Australian Open in December.

The form right now would suggest that Northern Ireland’s young star is on the verge of reclaiming his rightful position at the top of the game, whilst Woods, who arrived here in Dubai on Monday night, could not have been pleased with his disappointing performance on the PGA Tour at the weekend, where he missed the 54-hole cut. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
Tennis' bizarre convention of the losing speech
A back injury derailed Rafael Nadal's Australian Open hopes.
January 28th, 2014
12:32 PM ET

Tennis' bizarre convention of the losing speech

By Will Edmonds

Almost five years to the day after reducing then world No. 1 Roger Federer to tears after capturing his first, and to-date only Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few of his own when the Spaniard stood up to give a speech after losing the Australian Open final to Stanislas Wawrinka.

Surely this is one of the strangest conventions in all of sports?

Minutes after falling agonizingly short of achieving a goal they have dedicated their lives to, tennis players are expected to show sportsmanship, humility, composure, gratitude and perspective, often in a second or third language, in front of a crowd of thousands and a television audience of millions.

You would never expect the losing team's captain in the Champions League final to take the stand and address the crowd and you might place yourself in serious danger if you tried to force a microphone into the hand of a man who hasjust lost a heavyweight boxing bout.

Is tennis just more sophisticated; more traditional; more civilized?

Who knows, but what is clear is these tearful toasts are often being remembered long after the results have been wiped from the public’s memory.

Aside from having to congratulate the victor, thank the tournament organizers, the sponsors, umpires, ball boys and of course, the fans, tennis players are increasingly using this platform to express emotion and connect with their fans.

Back in the 1980s American John McEnroe broke protocol by walking off the court to a cacophony of boos during Ivan Lendl's victory speech at the French Open.

Four years later on the same court, Frenchman Henri Leconte was similarly booed when he tried to break down the technicalities of why he lost to Sweden's Mats Wilander in the final.

These days, tears are standard protocol, and never more so than in the aforementioned 2009 Australian Open final when Federer famously broke down after losing to Nadal, in a manner the likes of which the tennis world hadn't seen since Jana Novotna in the 1990s. Novotna famously cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder after losing a Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf.

Federer would soon be back on the winner’s podium, and over the following months would get the opportunity to hear some of the most memorable runner-up speeches.

After the 2009 French Open final, having lost to Federer in straight sets, Robin Soderling joked: "Nobody beats Robin Soderling 13 times in a row."

Not so jovially, a few weeks later, Andy Roddick called out "You've won five times!" in response to Federer's assertion that he knew how Andy was feeling after his excruciatingly close five-set loss in the Wimbledon final.

In 2010, perhaps the humblest of speeches was uttered by a man not known at the time for his humility, when Andy Murray proclaimed: "I can cry like Roger. It's just a shame I can't play like him."

It was a statement which helped win the Scot a raft of new fans.

Professional tennis is competing with a multitude of sports for television revenue, sponsorship and ticket sales, and these speeches - often revealing players' humanity when their defences are down – arguably helps fans connect to the game's stars and just as importantly they make headlines. The media can't get enough of them.

Unlike in team sports, where support for clubs is often passed down in the family and developed in communities, maintaining and growing a fan base in an individual sport such as tennis is dependent on establishing personal connections between the players and supporters.

Seeing these players shed a few tears or a little humility helps show that these guys are people - just like you and me.

So, as a tradition, it is bizarre and as a requisite, it's brutal, but for the growth of the game, it is crucial.

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Filed under:  Tennis
Roger Federer's longevity his greatest achievement?
Roger Federer has looked impressive at the Australian Open, but he had no answer to Rafael Nadal's dominance.
January 24th, 2014
12:20 PM ET

Roger Federer's longevity his greatest achievement?

In defeat there was honor and hope, as well as another record.

Roger Federer may have finished shy of adding to his record 17 grand slam titles, falling to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semifinals in all too familiar fashion, but the 32-year-old tennis great did add to his ever-increasing list of achievements by making his record-breaking 57th consecutive appearance at a grand slam.

While this may not the most glamorous milestone in the history books, in many respects it is one of the most important. FULL POST

How not to appoint a football manager
David Moyes has had a challenging start to his career as Manchester United manager.
January 23rd, 2014
12:30 PM ET

How not to appoint a football manager

For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.

It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”

But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.

FULL POST

On the road
January 16th, 2014
01:12 PM ET

Postcard from America: Does sport need a soundtrack?

Tickets to the big games aren’t cheap these days, and since the teams you’re paying to see can’t guarantee a winning performance – or even a decent one – they try at least to give you value for money.

In the U.S. they try harder than anywhere, and as such it sometimes feels as though you’re at a pop concert, tapping along with your foot as the buckets drop and the goals fly in. Sport and music are big players in the global entertainment industry, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they work together.

On our high-definition televisions, sports highlights are often packaged up and edited to the beats of the day, and somehow they seem even better with a soundtrack. FULL POST

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Filed under:  U.S. Sport
'Baby Fed'
January 15th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

Five future tennis stars to watch

After nearly a decade without any real change at the top of men’s tennis, and not one player in the top 10 under the age of 25, could 2014 be the year the next generation of stars make their presence felt?

As the first grand slam of the season kicks off in Australia, here are five potential champions of the future to keep your eye on. FULL POST

Ballon d'Or awards: What's the point?
Cristiano Ronaldo was named world player of the year for the second time, following his initial 2008 success.
January 13th, 2014
07:27 PM ET

Ballon d'Or awards: What's the point?

By James Masters

The two greatest players in a generation – a host of conspiracy theories and an award ceremony which will lead to yet more debate over which man really rules the world.

As the football world converged on the Swiss city of Zurich on Monday, the cynical could be excused for rolling their eyes at another mind-numbingly dull FIFA ceremony – sorry “gala” - which appeared to last half a lifetime.

The awkward interviews, the pre-rehearsed throwaway lines and the pictures of delegates fighting furiously to stay awake are all part of the production. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
'I'm gay'
January 10th, 2014
01:38 PM ET

Does football take homophobia seriously?

The chanting in the stand starts: “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?”

There are a few laughs, not much else. It’s all been heard before.

“Stand up, ‘cos you can’t sit down.”

Yes, we’ve heard that one too. FULL POST

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