The World Cup Isn't All That's Going On In Sports

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Sports fans of all stripes have had a lot to follow this week: college football scandals and shake-ups, the NBA finals are all tied up, and the World Cup just started! Host Scott Simon and NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman review the week in sports.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: And a lot to follow this week. My gosh - college football scandals and shakeups, the NBA Finals all tied up, and the World Cup just started. Joined now by, for all the sports news, by NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN: I'm already out of breath.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, there is a lot to cover. Let's begin with college sports. The big question being: Are these sports? I mean, University of Southern California -NCAA has found them guilty of a myriad of violations: passing cash and gifts to players, including a couple of great ones - football running back Reggie Bush, basketball star O.J. Mayo. We're not just talking about Happy Meals gift certificates here - $300,000 to Reggie Bush, and I believe a house.

Now, USC has to forfeit their 2005 national football title. What about the Heisman Trophy Reggie Bush won?

GOLDMAN: Well, we should say yet - that is going to be discussed, whether they're going to have to, as they call it, vacate the 2005 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, which was for the national championship. But if they do, and USC loses that, it will just be vacant. There will be no national champion for that year, which is going to look kind of weird.

As far as the Heisman Trophy, that too could be taken under consideration, considering that the games that Reggie Bush played to earn that Heisman Trophy are the ones that are - where he allegedly was taking these gifts that you mentioned.

SIMON: In other college so-called sports news, Nebraska decided to scuttle the Big 12 and got to the Big 10. It's more lucrative.

GOLDMAN: You know, Scott, this is a sad time for people who love these long-time conference rivalries - the history of a Nebraska versus Oklahoma and the like. But those are the fans. The people who run college sports, who run athletic departments and colleges, they know what it's all about. Surprise and shock here - it's all about maximizing revenues, it's about money. And when you talk about money in sports these days, it's about TV money.

And the fact is that the Big 10 and the Pac-10 and the Southeastern Conference, those conferences have bigger TV markets than in Nebraska and Oklahoma and Kansas. That's where the money is and that's where these schools are wanting to go to.

SIMON: Let me move into the purity of professional basketball, though -unimpeachable ethics there. I'm very - I love this series between the Lakers and the Celtics.

GOLDMAN: You know, it's an interesting series - knotted up two games all. So we're now down to the best two out of three, and you really have yet to see the superstars - Kobe Bryant, who's, you know, had a very good series, but he hasn't that that breakout game; the big three for Boston - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - you haven't seen all of them break out on the same day. You've seen some interesting kind of bench players do well.

SIMON: I mean, in the Boston victory they were the ones who sealed and delivered it.

GOLDMAN: Exactly. It was the 5'9" guard Nate Robinson for the Celtics and the 6'9" 290-pound beast of a power forward, Glen Big Baby Davis. Nate Robinson hilariously called it - you know, this unlikely pair - Shrek and Donkey. So, yes, the bench players have come on, kind of some unheralded players have done things.

But I think we're sensing that something big may happen in these next three games, if it goes the maximum.

SIMON: Let's get to the World Cup. The special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. is being challenged this afternoon. I don't mean by the BP oil spill - the USA-England game. You have a particularly special relationship being challenged, my friend, don't you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: My wife is from England. I'm from the United States.

SIMON: I gather. We say that, Eng-a-land(ph) here, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Our two children are up for grabs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: We're going to see who they love. No. To make it easy on them, what we've decided, it is an all-England household. As treasonous as that sounds, it is an all-England household. Basically for this reason, as I've explained to my kids, this means more to England. So we're going to root for the lads and see what happens.

SIMON: I'll say 3-2 England.

GOLDMAN: I'll back you.

SIMON: Okay. NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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