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The many crimes of Mel Hall: He was a flamboyant player, a charismatic coach, and a sexual predator

*Editor's Note It is the policy of not to publish the names of minors who come forward with allegations of sexual abuse or rape. It is also the policy not to publish the names of adults…
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5611 words)

Why We Play

Reconciling our love of sports with the risks associated with them:

When I graduated after four seasons of high school rugby, and prepared to head off for four more seasons in college, I felt transformed. I no longer called myself a tomboy, and rugby was no longer a crutch.

So much for the revenue side of the balance sheet. Rugby had, for a time, given me everything. But around the same time I'd begun to outgrow my need for it, I'd also begun to understand its potential cost. I racked up pulled muscles and strained ligaments, and chipped a bone in my ankle that still aches under pressure, more than 15 years later. I played with women sporting twin scars on their knees from ACL surgeries. I saw a man come off the pitch one afternoon with his ear torn half off. I helped concussed teammates stagger off the field, unable to remember their own names, and suffered one concussion myself — a minor one, but still an injury with the terrifying power to reach back in time and erase my memories from even before the hit. I had one friend, on my college's men's team, who swore he would quit after three concussions, but he only counted the big ones. Once, I saw him pick himself up after a collision and line up alongside the wrong team. And then, finally, I watched that young man break his neck under the floodlights on a cold night in northern England. I was haunted by the question of my own potential regrets.

PUBLISHED: June 25, 2014
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5110 words)

Why We Play: Doing what we love, despite the risks

I can still hear the quick crunch of his vertebrae cracking. That's the meddling of hindsight, of course — he was too far away, out in the middle of the night-dark field, and there were too…
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5138 words)

Learning to Pitch: Remembering a summer with Bob Welch

We met in the Clark Fork. That's the Clark Fork of the Columbia River. I had gone back to school for a graduate degree, was training hard for a 50-mile trail race, and was wearing only tiny shorts…
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4664 words)

A Son of the Game: Mariano Rivera III tries to make a name for himself in baseball

Officially, the box score will say that there are 180 people gathered around the diamond at City Park in New Rochelle, N.Y. In fairness, 90 seems a much more reasonable estimate. It's Friday, March…
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7661 words)

A miracle put on ice: Four years after the 'Miracle on Ice', the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team never had a chance

This is the tale of a team you don't care about. Admittedly, it's an unconventional way to kick off a story. But the sentiment is true. Unless you're some sort of hockey savant, and your walls are…
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7513 words)

The only game in town: 8-man football is a way of life in Eastern Montana, where small towns fight to survive

On a recent Saturday afternoon, 12 miles from the Canadian border, the hometown Scobey Spartans prepared to kick off to the Wibaux Longhorns in an 8-man high school football game. The Spartans were…
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5690 words)

Over the edge

Cody Adams takes a drag off his cigarette, and looks over at Andy Smith. "You scared yet?" he asks. "Definitely scared," Smith tells him. "I'm trying to convince myself that I'm not." "It's good to…
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6147 words)

Andre Dawkins has a story: And the Duke guard would rather not talk about it

I'm driving east on U.S. 264, headed home from Duke University's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Clouds cover the setting sun behind me. I feel like I need a shower. I just interviewed a kid who didn't want…
PUBLISHED: Oct. 31, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6987 words)