U.S. To Play Brazil In Women's World Cup

Warmed up? We've got football, soccer, baseball and basketball stories spanning three continents and 49 states. Stories include: a debate on NCAA football teams creating self-imposed sanctions for rules violations, an update on the women's soccer World Cup and a roundup of the losses in the sports world. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Tom Goldman.

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SCOTT SIMON, host: Time now for sports.

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SIMON: You all warmed up? Over these next four minutes, we've got football, soccer, baseball, basketball stories spanning three continents and 49 states. Sorry, Alaska. We've got to wait for semi-pro dogsled race season begin up there. Tom Goldman joins us from Portland. Ready, Tom?

TOM GOLDMAN: Ready to go.

SIMON: Let's start with college football, my friend.

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SIMON: Ohio State and West Virginia Universities this week both created self-imposed sanctions for pretty flagrant rules violations. Is this the equivalent of a petulant child who gives himself a two-minute timeout?

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GOLDMAN: Or a kid grounding himself and then watching TV all day.

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GOLDMAN: Ohio State's self-imposed penalties including erasing from the record books its 12 wins from last season, which includes a share of the Big 10 championship and a Sugar Bowl victory. You know, it's embarrassing to do that, Scott, but there's no postseason ban. There's no cutting football scholarships. Those are both punishments that are considered appropriate and effective. The NCAA might still impose those sanctions after a hearing next month.

Now, is it more than coincidence that Ohio State and some of the other top football programs are either in trouble or being scrutinized by the NCAA? A great opportunity to talk about all this at an NCAA sponsored summit next month about Division 1 sports.

SIMON: Where's the summit going to be?

GOLDMAN: Indianapolis.

SIMON: You going to be there?

GOLDMAN: I'll try.

SIMON: All right. OK. Just thought I'd - I can recommend a good place in Indianapolis. More than one.

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SIMON: Women's World Cup this weekend. Tomorrow the U.S. plays Brazil. Do we need a miracle on turf to win this one?

GOLDMAN: Don't know about that. It would help if the U.S. scored more. The Americans have had trouble converting scoring chances. And the U.S. faces a Brazilian team that's hungry for its first World Cup title. The Samba Queens, as they're called, they also have the world's best, most exciting player in forward Marta.

But the U.S. has goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was key in the U.S. beating Brazil for the gold medal of the 2008 Olympics. Should be a great game, Scott. The loser is out, winner moves on to the semifinals.

SIMON: And since you raised the prospect of endings. Yao Ming is closing out his career in U.S. basketball. He made some news, didn't he? Made some history, really. Yeah.

GOLDMAN: He sure did, you know. It's being reported by Yahoo Sports and others that he's retiring after nine injury-plagued seasons. I guess his big 7 foot 6 body couldn't take the pounding of 82 game regular seasons and the playoffs.

You know, if it's true about his retirement, he will be greatly missed. He was an agile big man with a deft scoring touch. Of course, his biggest legacy, he opened Asia to the NBA. And those who covered him loved his sense of humor, too. Here's an example from a press conference a few years ago.

Question: Yao, what kind of American music do you listen to. Answer: I like the national anthem. I listen to it at least 82 times a year.

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GOLDMAN: Ba-boom.

SIMON: No. Funny guy and fun to watch in all ways.

We can't close out the week without talking about this heart-piercing tragedy for everyone, not just sports fans. Down in Texas this week, a father, Shannon Stone, tried to catch a baseball for his six-year-old son sitting next to him at Texas Stadium and fell to his death.

GOLDMAN: A devastating story for so many people. Obviously the Stone family. And for Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. You know, he corralled the foul ball and flipped it to Stone, as a lot of players do to engage with fans. And then Stone was reaching and lost his balance.

Hamilton talked about hearing Stone's son screaming for his dad, then going home to his own children. It's just heartbreaking.

And people are wondering are these stadiums safe. This was the second incident in the past year of a falling fan at the Texas park. Initial reports say everything is to code. The railings are high enough, you know, Scott. And it's very rare that these things happen.

And we have to remember fans at a ballpark aren't like theatergoers sitting in their seats all the time. A ballpark crowd is a very fluid, moving thing. And can you really stop people from reaching for foul balls or balls flipped by a player? You know, it's part of the baseball culture. This was a tragic thing, maybe unavoidable on these very rare occasions.

SIMON: Well, Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman speaking with us from Portland about sports this week.

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SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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