WBEZ | Sports http://www.wbez.org/news/sports Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Luol Deng reflects on 10 years with the Bulls and upcoming free agency http://www.wbez.org/news/luol-deng-reflects-10-years-bulls-and-upcoming-free-agency-110016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP705998648470.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Bulls traded Luol Deng in the middle of the night: There&rsquo;s been no closure, no time for Deng or fans to reflect on his 10 years in Chicago. The veteran forward&rsquo;s been in Cleveland since early January, learning to play in a different system--and in a different role--with the Cavaliers.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>When WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye Stout saw the Cavs would be playing the Bucks on Friday, she decided to head to Milwaukee to see how Deng is doing. She first asked him if he was surprised by the trade.</p><p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t surprised,&rdquo; he began. &ldquo;No, no,&rdquo; Deng clarified, &ldquo;I should say I was surprised but I expected it...I was hoping to be wrong but, I think I was expecting it.&rdquo;</p><p>Deng said it was extremely difficult to leave all the familiarities of Chicago for something completely new. He said it was one of the hardest things he&rsquo;s ever had to do because he&rsquo;s never really had to make that type of transition. He played four years of high school ball, played with all the same guys in the same club growing up in London. He stayed in touch with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, even after leaving Duke University after his freshman year. But for the 10 years that followed--for 82 games a year--he lived and breathed Chicago Bulls basketball.</p><p>Now, at almost 29-years-old, he&rsquo;s learning to take on a new and different leadership role in Cleveland.</p><p>&ldquo;In Chicago,&rdquo; Deng said, &ldquo;it got to a point where I was so comfortable with everything. I just did me.&rdquo;</p><p>And, while he doesn&rsquo;t expect everyone to believe him, Deng said he&rsquo;s grateful for the challenge.</p><p>&ldquo;Through my whole life, nothing has ever come easy. I&rsquo;ve always had a hard road before I do something great, and I&rsquo;m thankful for it,&rdquo; Deng explained.</p><p>Raye Stout asked Deng what he missed most about being a Chicago Bull. He said he misses his teammates and the coaching staff more than anything.</p><p>&ldquo;I felt like I knew them as well as I&rsquo;ve known myself. I knew how to get everyone going, I knew how to make things easy, how to stay positive...that comfort zone. I didn&rsquo;t really see those guys as teammates. Those guys were really my friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Deng said he will probably stay friends with most of them for the rest of his life. In fact, he&rsquo;s joked with some of the guys still on the team that he plans to sit courtside in Chicago during the upcoming playoffs. But, he doesn&rsquo;t want the TV or attention coming his way--he doesn&rsquo;t want to mess up the flow. And he doesn&rsquo;t want any fans to yell, &ldquo;You should be here,&rdquo; or something like that. He&rsquo;d just love to be there to support his former teammates because he knows their struggle and the focus and effort required during a playoff push.</p><p>And Deng said he&rsquo;s not surprised the Bulls--or All-Star center Joakim Noah--are having a successful season. He said Noah&rsquo;s newfound leadership position is deserved and necessary.</p><p>&ldquo;When you play hard all the time, it becomes who you are,&rdquo; Deng explained.</p><p>Deng will become a free agent at the end of the season. He said he knows it will be a tough decision, but he knows what he wants and has learned a great deal from this experience.</p><p>&ldquo;When I&rsquo;m not happy with things, I know how hard I work to change that,&rdquo; Deng said with a slight grin. &ldquo;Also, I&rsquo;m a competitor. I always take things, and I want things to be my way.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a> and WBEZ sports contributor <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@crayestout</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/luol-deng-reflects-10-years-bulls-and-upcoming-free-agency-110016 Northwestern appeals NLRB ruling on athletes union http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-appeals-nlrb-ruling-athletes-union-109999 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/NU NLRB Kain Colter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Northwestern University is asking the National Labor Relations Board to overturn a regional director&#39;s ruling that the school&#39;s football players are employees under federal law and thus entitled to unionize.</p><p>The university filed a formal appeal Wednesday.</p><p>Northwestern says that it had presented &quot;overwhelming evidence&quot; that its athletic program &quot;is fully integrated with its academic mission, and that it treats its athletes as students first.&quot;</p><p>The players are set to vote by secret ballot April 25 on whether to form a union.</p><p>Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and Ramogi Huma of the College Athletes Players Association met in Washington with members of Congress earlier this month to press their case for unionization.</p></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-appeals-nlrb-ruling-athletes-union-109999 As Gary charter wins basketball titles, public schools fall farther behind http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bowman 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hoosier Hysteria will hit a fever pitch this weekend in Indianapolis.<br /><br />Not only is the city hosting the Midwest Regional for the NCAA men&rsquo;s basketball tournament, but the boys state high school basketball title games as well.<br /><br />Northwest Indiana will be well represented in the tournament with three region teams heading downstate looking for a crown in their respective classes. They include traditional programs like Lake Central in St. John and Michigan City Marquette, as well as relative newcomer Bowman Academy in Gary.<br /><br />Bowman is a charter school trying to repeat as state champions and win its third title in four years.&ndash; unheard of even in this basketball-crazed corner of Indiana. This from a school that started competing only six years ago.</p><p>But neither success nor acceptance has come easy for Bowman, a non-religious school named for African-American Roman Catholic nun Thea Bowman.</p><p>&ldquo;A couple of years, didn&rsquo;t nobody know who Bowman was. We couldn&rsquo;t play a good team for nothing,&rdquo; says Bowman&rsquo;s star guard, 6&rsquo;5 Davon Dillard, a junior who is already being pursued by the likes of Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State.</p><p>Dillard and his teammates chowed down on pizza and chicken wings before boarding two white vans early Thursday afternoon to make the two-hour trek south to practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse &ndash; home of the NBA&rsquo;s Indianapolis Pacers.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gained a lot of respect by proving it on the court, you know. Coming to Bowman, I&rsquo;ve been playing in some of the biggest championship games I&rsquo;ve ever played in,&rdquo; Dillard said. &ldquo;Being able to go down to state every year, that&rsquo;s a good feeling.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Bowman&rsquo;s quick rise also reveals just how far some of the other Gary schools have fallen &ndash; and not just in basketball.<br /><br />&ldquo;We get a lot of criticism but we just stay humble you know. We focus; we play hard, you know, we&rsquo;ve got a good coach in Marvin Rae. He gets the job done,&rdquo; Dillard said.<br /><br />Head coach Marvin Rae agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, when we first started, there was some animosity, actually we didn&rsquo;t play the Gary schools, they opted not to play us,&rdquo; Rae told WBEZ. &ldquo;When we first started, we had to travel to Rushville, Illinois to get games. We had to travel around. Our first year, we literally only had eight games.&rdquo;<br /><br />Suburban schools in Northwest Indiana didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman because of its small size. And &ndash; rightly or wrongly &ndash; because of Gary&rsquo;s reputation as an unsafe place to visit.<br /><br />But the city schools didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman either.<br /><br />&ldquo;I was not going to play Bowman because I knew right away what charter schools were built for: They are built to destroy public school systems,&rdquo; said John Boyd, a former teacher and coach at Gary&rsquo;s West Side High School, a basketball powerhouse and state champion in 2003.</p><p>Despite being a much larger school than Bowman, Boyd agreed to play one game against them in 2009.</p><p>&ldquo;I had gotten sick of people telling me I was afraid to play Bowman when I had some of the best talent in the state of Indiana,&rdquo; Body said. &ldquo;So, we ended up playing them and there was a situation that occurred.&rdquo;<br /><br />What occurred, according to Boyd, was a fight that ended any further games between Bowman and Gary schools.</p><p>But now, because of dwindling finances and declining enrollment &ndash; Gary public education struggling to keep its public high schools open. Of its five public high schools, only two still have basketball teams.<br /><br />Bowman&rsquo;s success &ndash; in the classroom and on the court &ndash; is now luring most of Gary&rsquo;s top talent in basketball and academics.<br /><br />And with other charter schools having varying success in Gary, Boyd says it&rsquo;s only going to get tougher for the Steel City.<br /><br />&ldquo;These charter schools are taking away students from the Gary public schools. Gary is actually a case study in how charter schools can come in and absolutely take over a school corporation which means that yes, Gary will have to close schools until they only have one high school,&rdquo; Boyd said.<br /><br />Gary&rsquo;s charter schools are often criticized for shifting resources away from public schools. Bowman&rsquo;s Rae says while he understands that criticism, &ldquo;we just kind of keep to ourselves and do what we do best and focus on each other,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bowman&rsquo;s success now attracts top teams from all over the region that flock to Gary to play them, with most games attracting the attention of college recruiters. Because of their packed scheduled, Marvin Rae says there&rsquo;s no room to play Gary schools now even if they wanted to.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a matter of do we want to play, at this point our schedule is full,&rdquo; Rae said.<br /><br />Rae insists he&rsquo;s not gloating. As someone who used to play at Gary Roosevelt High School &ndash; a one time powerhouse &ndash; he knows Gary&rsquo;s public schools are stressed.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;If we can sit down and help the Gary community schools and anyone else, we&rsquo;re always open to help anyone with suggestions and ideas,&rdquo; Rae said.</p><p>Even rival coach John Boyd has come to terms with Bowman&rsquo;s unmatched success and called Rae recently to wish him luck in Indy this weekend.<br /><br />&ldquo;They are probably the premier basketball program in Northwest Indiana right now. When you are winning championships you have to be revered,&rdquo; Boyd said. &ldquo;The Bowmans of the world bring attention to Gary, Indiana. We need to want Bowman to be successful.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 Northwestern athletes can unionize, federal agency says http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-athletes-can-unionize-federal-agency-says-109919 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/nu_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>In a stunning ruling that could revolutionize college sports, a federal agency said Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation&#39;s first union of college athletes.</p><p>The decision by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board answered the question at the heart of the debate over the unionization bid: Do football players who receive full scholarships to the Big Ten school qualify as employees under federal law and therefore can legally unionize?</p><p>Peter Sung Ohr, the NLRB regional director, said in a 24-page decision that the players &quot;fall squarely&quot; within the broad definition of employee.</p><p>Pro-union activists cheered as they learned of the ruling.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s like preparing so long for a big game and then when you win &mdash; it is pure joy,&quot; said former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, the designated president of Northwestern&#39;s would-be football players&#39; union.</p><p>An employee is regarded by law as someone who, among other things, receives compensation for a service and is under the strict, direct control of managers. In the case of the Northwestern players, coaches are the managers and scholarships are a form of compensation, Ohr concluded.</p><p>The Evanston, Ill., university argued that college athletes, as students, do not fit in the same category as factory workers, truck drivers and other unionized workers. The school announced plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.</p><p>Supporters of the union bid argued that the university ultimately treats football as more important than academics for scholarship players. Ohr sided with the players on that issue.</p><p>&quot;The record makes clear that the employer&#39;s scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school,&quot; Ohr wrote. He also noted that among the evidence presented by Northwestern, &quot;no examples were provided of scholarship players being permitted to miss entire practices and/or games to attend their studies.&quot;</p><p>The ruling also described how the life of a football player at Northwestern is far more regimented than that of a typical student, down to requirements about what they can and can&#39;t eat and whether they can live off campus or purchase a car. At times, players put 50 or 60 hours a week into football, he added.</p><p>Alan Cubbage, Northwestern&#39;s vice president for university relations, said in a statement that while the school respects &quot;the NLRB process and the regional director&#39;s opinion, we disagree with it.&quot;</p><p>The next step would be for scholarship players to vote on whether to formally authorize the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, to represent them, according to the NLRB decision.</p><p>The specific goals of CAPA include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries and potentially letting players pursue commercial sponsorships.</p><p>But critics have argued that giving college athletes employee status and allowing them to unionize could hurt college sports in numerous ways, including raising the prospect of strikes by disgruntled players or lockouts by athletic departments.</p><p>For now, the push is to unionize athletes at private schools, such as Northwestern, because the federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities.</p><p>Outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter took a leading role in establishing CAPA. The United Steelworkers union has been footing the legal bills.</p><p>Colter, who has entered the NFL draft, said nearly all of the 85 scholarship players on the Wildcats roster backed the union bid, though only he expressed his support publicly.</p><p>He said the No. 1 reason to unionize was to ensure injured players have their medical needs met.</p><p>&quot;With the sacrifices we make athletically, medically and with our bodies, we need to be taken care of,&quot; Colter told ESPN.</p><p>The NCAA has been under increasing scrutiny over its amateurism rules and is fighting a class-action federal lawsuit by former players seeking a cut of the billions of dollars earned from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales and video games. Other lawsuits allege the NCAA failed to protect players from debilitating head injuries.</p><p>NCAA President Mark Emmert has pushed for a $2,000-per-player stipend to help athletes defray some expenses. Critics say that is not nearly enough, considering players help bring in millions of dollars to their schools and conferences.</p><p>In a written statement, the NCAA said it disagreed with the notion that student-athletes are employees.</p><p>&quot;We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid,&quot; the NCAA said.</p><p>The developments are coming to a head at a time when major college programs are awash in cash generated by new television deals that include separate networks for the big conferences. The NCAA tournament generates an average of $771 million a year in television rights itself, much of which is distributed back to member schools by the NCAA.</p><p>Attorneys for CAPA argued that college football is, for all practical purposes, a commercial enterprise that relies on players&#39; labor to generate billions of dollars in profits. The NLRB ruling noted that from 2003 to 2013 the Northwestern program generated $235 million in revenue &mdash; profits the university says went to subsidize other sports.</p><p>During the NLRB&#39;s five days of hearings in February, Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald took the stand for union opponents, and his testimony sometimes was at odds with Colter&#39;s.</p><p>Colter told the hearing that players&#39; performance on the field was more important to Northwestern than their in-class performance, saying, &quot;You fulfill the football requirement and, if you can, you fit in academics.&quot; Asked why Northwestern gave him a scholarship of $75,000 a year, he responded: &quot;To play football. To perform an athletic service.&quot;</p><p>But Fitzgerald said he tells players academics come first, saying, &quot;We want them to be the best they can be ... to be a champion in life.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-athletes-can-unionize-federal-agency-says-109919 Bracket Madness http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/bracket-madness-109893 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kpcc bracket.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>March Madness is upon us.</p><p>Thursday 64 college basketball teams will begin their mad dash through the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four, to vy in the NCAA championship game on Sunday, April 6.</p><p>But bracket madness has been going on a lot longer. Many folks have sweated over their selections or watched office mates - or President Obama - mull, debate, and endlessly discuss their own bracket choices.</p><p>If you&rsquo;re like me though, the word brackets usually conjures something other than basketball. Like those handy crescent-moon shaped punctuation marks. Or supports for a shelf.</p><p>I know I&rsquo;m not alone here. But these days I do feel like an outlier. The President&rsquo;s annual interview with ESPN has helped turn brackets &ndash; or &ldquo;Barackatology&rdquo; -&nbsp; into the must-have spring accessory.</p><p>But used to be, if you weren&rsquo;t a sports fan, a college student or college grad, or someone subject to hard-core inter-office peer pressure, it was pretty easy to maintain your bracket blindness.</p><p>Not anymore.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t get me wrong. I haven&rsquo;t caved. I&rsquo;m not pondering shooting percentages or whether Coastal Carolina has the coolest name in the Big South conference. But these days everything seems to have a bracket. <a href="http://thisismadness.starwars.com/">Star War characters</a>, <a href="http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2014/03/bracket-day-best-fictional-president/359085/">fictional presidents from television or film</a>, <a href="http://jezebel.com/5510811/pie-vs-cake-pie-is-champion">baked goods</a> - all have been entered into those tidy little slots.</p><p>More recently, bracket-mania has hit even closer to home. Yes, public radio shows (and hosts) have a bracket.</p><p>&ldquo;We went through shows that we like from around the country, shows that are interesting and new and that people may not know as well,&rdquo; said Mike Roe, a web producer and blogger with KPCC in Southern California. &ldquo;You know, trying to have a mix of those while also having people&rsquo;s favorites like Wait Wait Don&rsquo;t Tell Me and Radio Lab.</p><p>KPCC started their <a href="http://projects.scpr.org/static/marchmadness/">Public Radio Bracket Madness!</a> last year. The bracket was such a big hit they did it again this year. Next year Roe hopes to expand it to a full 64 shows, just like the NCAA.</p><p>When I asked him why KPCC went the brackets route, Roe gave me a very public radio answer. It&rsquo;s about starting a conversation.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean that&rsquo;s part of what makes it interesting is that it&rsquo;s a thing that you can debate,&rdquo; said Roe. &ldquo;That makes it a blast to be a part of.&rdquo;</p><p>Conversation, debate, passion &ndash; sure. But it&rsquo;s also about money. Roe says his bracket drives traffic to KPCC&rsquo;s website.</p><p>That&rsquo;s exactly what the NCAA figured out &ndash; that the people who fill out brackets far outnumber the sport&rsquo;s fan base. Dave Zirin, the sports editor at the Nation Magazine has done the math countless times.</p><p>&ldquo;Ninety percent of the NCAA&rsquo;s operating budget comes from the television contract for March Madness alone,&rdquo; said Zirin. &ldquo;So everything they do except for ten percent is tied to this tournament.&rdquo;</p><p>So I get why the NCAA loves brackets. But what about the rest of us?</p><p>Zirin chalks it up to our love for underdogs. A bracket &ndash; in sports or pop culture &ndash; is designed to produce lots of upsets. Even the lowliest team can pull a game out from under a top contender when all you have to do is play them once.</p><p>Plus anyone can participate and even win, whether they study records and stats or just pick teams based on their mascots or uniform colors. Take the same model, apply it to baked goods or TV characters, and you get all the pleasures of competition with none of the downsides - like reality.</p><p>Zirin says reality - or the lack thereof - is another big driver. Most of us won&rsquo;t ever be top athletes. But thanks to brackets, we can entertainment another fantasy - about playing basketball, like a boss.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was growing my dreams were about playing for the New York Mets or playing for the Knicks,&rdquo; said Zirin. &ldquo;Basically when they&rsquo;re playing fantasy sports people are dreaming about being owners, about being the executive who sits behind the desk and through their masterwork makes their own decision. It&rsquo;s like everyone is playing risk instead of playing sports.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 08:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/bracket-madness-109893 Economist: College football like NFL but for pay http://www.wbez.org/news/economist-college-football-nfl-pay-109737 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP565441140271.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Major colleges run their football teams just like those in the NFL, relying on players to generate millions of dollars in revenue, an economist testified Wednesday before a federal agency that will decide whether Northwestern football players may form the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.</p><p>&quot;The difference would be ... the NFL pays their players,&quot; Southern Utah University sports economist David Berri told the National Labor Relations Board on the second day of a hearing in Chicago that could stretch into Friday. That colleges don&#39;t pay their football players, he said, likely boosts their programs&#39; profitability further.</p><p>The NLRB is considering whether Wildcats&#39; football players can be categorized under U.S. law as employees, which would give them rights to unionize. The university, the Big Ten Conference and NCAA have all maintained college players are student-athletes, not employees.</p><p>Attorneys for Northwestern began presenting their case opposing unionization, endeavoring to show that the newly formed College Athletes Players Association would provide little tangible benefit to the Northwestern players.</p><p>Asked whether one of CAPA&#39;s stated goals &mdash; to improve football-player graduation rates &mdash; made any sense for Northwestern, the university&#39;s associate athletic director, Brian Baptiste, noted the school&#39;s rate was already No. 1 in the nation &mdash; at 97 percent.</p><p>&quot;I guess you can increase 97 percent,&quot; he said wryly.</p><p>Union supporters say they would be able to force schools to better protect football players from head injuries. Baptiste suggested that only the NCAA, with oversight power across the country, was in position to address that.</p><p>&quot;That has to be done on a national level,&quot; he said. &quot;Northwestern wouldn&#39;t have control over that.&quot;</p><p>Supporters argue a union would provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for greater financial security. They contend scholarships sometimes don&#39;t even cover livings expenses for a full year.</p><p>Baptiste said NCAA rules tie Northwestern&#39;s hands, and they would bar it from assenting to demands from an on-campus football union, including calls to increase the value of scholarships. He said the NCAA caps scholarship amounts.</p><p>Berri, the economist, was called to testify on behalf of the proposed union, which is pushing the unionization bid with support from the United Steelworkers. He sought to illustrate how the relationship between Northwestern and its football players was one of employer to employees.</p><p>Profit numbers attest to the program being a commercial enterprise, he told the hearing,</p><p>Northwestern&#39;s football program reported a total profit of $76 million from 2003 to 2012, with revenues of $235 million and costs of $159 million, Berri testified. The numbers were adjusted for inflation for the private school.</p><p>Berri conceded he didn&#39;t know that maintenance of the Wildcats&#39; stadium was not included in the expense numbers. And he said he also did not know if football profits made up for losses in other, less popular school sports.</p><p>Schools with revenue-generating football teams were in the business of entertainment, Berri said. Asked who provided those services, he responded, &quot;Players are the ones you are watching.&quot;</p><p>Northwestern attorney Alex Barbour pressed Berri about whether he was trying to say the school exploits its football players.</p><p>&quot;There is an economic definition of the word &#39;exploitation,&#39;&quot; he responded. &quot;A worker is exploited ... if their economic value is greater than their wages. ... By that definition, they are exploited.&quot;</p><p>Whether the economist should have been allowed to testify was a point of contention, with Barbour complaining that Berri&#39;s analysis was irrelevant to the central question: Are college football players are employees?</p><p>But after allow the side to debate the issue, the hearing officer overseeing the case, Joyce Hofstra, agreed to let Berri speak, saying the hearing was &quot;novel&quot; and she would err on the side of admitting evidence.</p><p>Barbour had said during his opening statement that allowing a college athletes&#39; union to collectively bargain would be &quot;a Rube Goldberg contraption that would not work in the real world&quot; and would fundamentally change college sports.</p><p>Berri, though, pointed to the NFL and its embrace of a union, saying unionization in its case &quot;did not cause the professional sport to collapse.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 16:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economist-college-football-nfl-pay-109737 Chinese government to pay to stop pollution http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-02-17/chinese-government-pay-stop-pollution-109717 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/(AP PhotoEugene Hoshiko).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences reports that Beijing is &ldquo;&quot;barely suitable&quot; for living because of pollution. Judith Shapiro, author of &#39;China&#39;s Environmental Challenges&#39;, discusses the Chinese government&#39;s battle with toxic air.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-14/embed" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-14.js"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-14" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Chinese to pay to stop pollution" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-02-17/chinese-government-pay-stop-pollution-109717 Northwestern University football union hearings begin http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-university-football-union-hearings-begin-109693 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/nu.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The National Labor Relations Board in Chicago held the first in a series of hearings Wednesday to consider whether college football players qualify as employees. Players from Northwestern University filed a union election petition with the board last month. If approved--and later elected to represent the interests of the team&rsquo;s scholarship players--the College Athletes Players Association would be the first labor union of its kind.</p><p>Unlike their professional counterparts, college athletes don&rsquo;t have contracts--they can&rsquo;t negotiate the terms of their tenure. And athletic scholarships are regulated by the NCAA. Studies show that athletes often spend up to 40 hours a week on their sport; they travel for their sport. Oftentimes, players are told when and where to be and what to eat. But Northwestern says it&rsquo;s all part of the overall academic experience.</p><p>University officials contend that students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, are students, first and foremost.</p><p>Bob, Rowley, director of media relations for the university, spoke to reporters after Wednesday&rsquo;s brief preliminary hearing. He said scholarships are intended to provide for a student&rsquo;s educational experience, even if they&rsquo;re athletic. CAPA attorneys saw things differently.</p><p>Revenue generated by Division I FBS and men&rsquo;s basketball is estimated to be in the billions. CAPA said it is focused on those players because they believe they can make the case that the scholarships are, in essence, compensation.</p><p>&rdquo;If they don&rsquo;t play football, they don&rsquo;t receive the aid...the idea that somehow this is a gift to them, is untrue...if you don&rsquo;t play football, you don&rsquo;t get the scholarship,&rdquo; CAPA attorney John Adam explained.</p><p>Northwestern maintained that the university does not regard, and has never regarded, its football program as a commercial enterprise.</p><p>The key question went unanswered--but it will no doubt be taken up, picked apart and rehashed over three days of testimony before the board next week.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a></em></p></p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-university-football-union-hearings-begin-109693 From Indiana's icy roads to Sochi's ski slopes http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-icy-roads-sochis-ski-slopes-109666 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Olympic photog 2-way.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Winter Olympics get underway today in Sochi, Russia. For most athletes, the Olympics are the pinnacle of their sport.</p><p>The same could be said for the journalists covering the games. Guy Rhodes lives in Northwest Indiana and is a freelance photographer who works with the <em>Sun-Times</em> Media Group.</p><p>Today he&rsquo;s in Sochi to shoot the games for <em>USA Today</em>. WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente sat down with Rhodes before he left town to hear how he&rsquo;s preparing for the games &mdash; and the threat of terrorism.&nbsp;</p><p>You can follow Guy Rhodes at the Winter Olympics and see all his photos <a href="http://www.guyrhodes.com/blog" target="_blank">on his blog</a>.</p></p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 16:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-icy-roads-sochis-ski-slopes-109666 Local high schooler heads to Sochi Olympics http://www.wbez.org/news/local-high-schooler-heads-sochi-olympics-109606 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP193054064810.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ten Chicago area athletes will be competing in the Sochi Olympics next month and five of them are speed skaters.</p><p>The youngest of those speed skaters is 17-year-old Oak Park River Forest senior Emery Lehman.</p><p>On January 17, just a few days before he left for team training in Italy, students and staff packed the lobby of Oak Park River Forest High School for big send off.</p><p>&ldquo;We decided to go with red, white, and blue today,&rdquo; Hannah Silverman, one of Emery&rsquo;s close friends, said explaining the outfits she and her other friends were wearing. &ldquo;So, we&rsquo;re representing the flag, we&rsquo;ve got some flannel red, white, and blue.&rdquo;Emery will be Oak Park River Forest&rsquo;s 12th Olympian.</p><p>But speed skating is not a school-sponsored sport, so how exactly does a kid get into it?</p><p>Emery was nine years old, according to his parents, Dave and Marcia Lehman.&ldquo;She saw a flyer for speed skating and said, to Emery, why don&rsquo;t you give this a try, it might help with your hockey,&rdquo; said Dave Lehman.</p><p>&ldquo;And he didn&rsquo;t want to do it,&rdquo; Marcia Lehman said. &ldquo;And I&rsquo;m like you can try something once. If you don&rsquo;t like it after that, I don&rsquo;t have a problem. But try it once.&rdquo;</p><p>At the time, Emery&rsquo;s was playing youth hockey at the Franklin Park Ice Arena.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember I was a little discouraged because I was wearing the skin suit and I only had hockey skates and everyone was kind of beating me,&rdquo; Emery Lehman said. &ldquo;Once I got speed skates, I remember, just, I&rsquo;m a very competitive kid, so being able to compete with all those kids was a lot of fun.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;They loaned him a pair of club skates and he put &lsquo;em on and he looked down at his skates and looked at me in the bleachers and just shrugged his shoulders and started to skate and he loved it,&rdquo; Marcia Lehman said.</p><p>&ldquo;When he was 12, he won the U.S. short track and the U.S. long track championship,&rdquo; Dave Lehman said, &ldquo;And so that was a nice sign, but probably the biggest was when he was 14 and he broke 7 minutes in the 5,000 meter. No other 14-year-old had ever done that in the world. And so that&rsquo;s when we knew he had a particular talent.&rdquo;</p><p>Emery Lehman trains six days a week, and drives to Milwaukee four of those days to skate at the Pettit National Ice Center. It&rsquo;s the closest Olympic-sized skating oval.When asked if they&rsquo;ve ever done the math on how many hours of training and miles of driving the Lehman family has logged, Marcia and Dave both laughed and said they &ldquo;don&rsquo;t want to do that math.&rdquo;</p><p>Marcia Lehman said Emery took summer school the last few years in order to have a shorter senior year schedule. He attends school in the mornings and drives to Milwaukee to train in the afternoons and evenings. John Stelzer, the athletic director at Oak Park River Forest, said what&rsquo;s more remarkable is that speed skating isn&rsquo;t even Emery Lehman&rsquo;s only sport. He played hockey up until this year and will play Lacrosse in the spring.</p><p>&ldquo;The most incredible thing for me is Emery is really a well-rounded, grounded man,&rdquo; Stelzer said. &ldquo;The fact that he wants to come back and play Lacrosse for his school after being in the Olympics says world&rsquo;s about him.&rdquo;</p><p>A lot of high school athletes do play more than one sport, but an Olympian? His close friends said he does a good job of balancing school, speedskating and a social life. But, they told WBEZ there&rsquo;s one sport he can&rsquo;t quite conquer: &ldquo;People can beat Olympians in ping pong,&rdquo; said Steve Samuels, another close friend. &ldquo;Every week, we beat him in ping pong.&nbsp; He literally has never beaten me.&rdquo;</p><p>Emery Lehman will compete in Sochi on February 8th and 18th in the men&rsquo;s 5,000 and 10,000 meter races.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 14:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/local-high-schooler-heads-sochi-olympics-109606