Is the NFL Sliding Backward on Race? – National Review


Josh Rosen (with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) and Lamar Jackson at the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, April 26, 2018. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

The league’s annual draft this week raised troubling questions about the way teams evaluate racial- and religious-minority prospects.

The NFL Draft is a blur of deals, gambles on 22-year-olds, and untethered speculation about whether a safety will be the next Ed Reed or the next Matt Elam. Just as baseball’s Opening Day allows every team to feel like a contender for 24 hours, so the draft allows NFL teams to contemplate where to put their future Lombardi Trophies. For one night, each team sees itself moving toward a Super Bowl title.

But the draft can also take on a more polarizing valence. Many observers have argued that two players taken in last night’s draft, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson, were the victims of systemic prejudice perpetuated by the league and its most important appendage, the football media machine. “Systemic Xism” is often deployed as a dog whistle, a coded trope, a euphemism tipping off listeners that one is hip to pop–critical race theory. But the travails of Rosen and Jackson, two of the top five quarterback prospects in the 2018 draft class, deserve a closer look.

In some ways, Josh Rosen is a bit unconventional for a Jewish American: His mother is a Quaker, he attended Catholic school, and he is descended from the famous Puritan, Thomas Cornell. In other ways, he is more conventional: He had a bar mitzvah, his Jewish father is a successful surgeon, and he chose UCLA because of its robust Jewish community. With typical good humor, Rosen took the nickname “The Chosen One.”

Last night, Rosen, whose style suits the pass-heavy play of today’s NFL, was picked by the Arizona Cardinals tenth overall. Rosen, who now has the chance to be the first great Jewish quarterback since Sid Luckman, was taken several spots lower than initially projected. This might not seem like a precipitous drop, but as a quarterback prospect, the gun-slinging Rosen was thought to be at least as polished as Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and USC’s Sam Darnold (who went first and third overall, respectively), and to be a surer bet than Wyoming’s Josh Allen (who went seventh).

The travails of Rosen and Jackson, two of the top five quarterback prospects in the 2018 draft class, deserve a closer look.

So what happened? Some argue that Rosen possessed certain personality traits which tanked his stock. He was too argumentative: He said the NCAA moniker of “student-athlete” was an oxymoron. He was too bookish: He often read on the team’s plane, and pointed out that some of his college teammates had no interest in classes. He was too political: He loudly criticized President Trump on social media. He was too rich: a white-collar quarterback raised in luxury, unlike his three blue-collar competitors. The fact that he stood out in the league’s Wonderlic general-intelligence test was rarely cited in his favor. Teams wondered if he was, in the words of one play-by-play announcer, “too smart for his own good.” Sportswriter and reliable league mouthpiece Peter King said that front-office types didn’t like Rosen and noted that many of them “have an inherent distrust of rich kids.”

At the same time, other quarterbacks were defined differently. Top pick Mayfield, like Rosen, was described as “cocky”…but also “charismatic,” as befits a Texan who played for Oklahoma. Darnold was sold as the prototypical All-American. And Allen, who suffered his own draft-day drop because of reported high-school tweets including racist language, was at worst a loudmouth Wyoming kid. This kind of microcosmic cultural stereotyping is in many respects grist for a media mill that demands hours of draft speculation starting the second the Super Bowl ends. But to doubt whether someone will fit into NFL culture because he’s too argumentative, too liberal, too arrogant, or too wealthy — well, I’ve heard that cluster of attributes before.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens wound up picking Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick last night. Jackson, who will likely back up Joe Flacco during his rookie year, is a more familiar case: a black quarterback who had tremendous success in college but nevertheless drew the gimlet eye of front-office skeptics who, for whatever reason, couldn’t envision him under center. This is one of the oldest and most difficult NFL stereotypes to eradicate: the athletic black quarterback who lacks some intangible ability to play the position. In bygone decades, black quarterbacks were often shifted to other positions; recently, this has become less of an issue, and several of the league’s best quarterbacks are now African American.

But in the months leading up to the draft, the league, as if in tribute to its traditional biases, obsessed over whether Jackson would move to wide receiver — where he could better show off his “athleticism” — or whether teams could adapt their offenses to fit his “skill set.” Anyone with even a passing awareness of how stereotyping cost black prospects a shot at quarterback shot for decades should be jarred by how quickly that hoary old question resurfaced, and anyone who watched Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson play in college and work out before the draft might be scratching his head at the disparity.

Yet enough doubt surrounds the situations of both Rosen and Jackson to afford the NFL plenty of deniability. After all, nothing is a bigger crapshoot than choosing an NFL quarterback. The whole business is murky, and there are plenty of mysteries that complicate the picture. Scouts, general managers, coaches, and reporters have plenty of skin in the game. Teams are driven by the pressure to win; reporters by the need to predict what will happen; analysts by the mandate to deliver correct opinions with insufficient inputs. Each team that chose a quarterback or position player ahead of Rosen and Jackson likely has a raft of defensible reasons for its pick.

Sports keep score. The results on the field will bear out or disprove the decisions made during the 2018 NFL Draft. Baker Mayfield might bring the Browns glory, Josh Rosen might alienate his teammates, and Lamar Jackson might struggle to hit open receivers in the flat. But Mayfield’s cowboy moxie, Rosen’s father’s medical skills, and Jackson’s black skin will have nothing to do with it. To slyly hint or openly declare otherwise is to try and set one of the most purely meritocratic segments of American life back to a worse time — a time when the hue of his skin was seen as an indicator of future success on the field of play. The league and its credulous media mouthpieces should keep that in mind.



7 years after a football accident paralyzed him, she helped him walk down the aisle – CNN


Then, she crouches over his wheelchair, slips her arms under his armpits and heaves.

Chris Norton, 26, was told nearly a decade ago that he might never walk again. Alone in his motionless body, he feared he’d never find love.

Then came Emily Summers.

After working for years to rebuild Chris’ strength, the couple on April 21 managed what even experts once thought impossible: They walked seven yards together — their arms intertwined as Emily bore much of Chris’ weight — down the aisle. The moment, first reported by People, was not just a personal triumph but also the latest chapter in a young couple’s mission to help and inspire others.

“When I walked with Emily at the wedding, it was such a special moment to share with her and to know that we did this together,” Chris told CNN. “It wasn’t just me, or her, but we did this together, and how powerful love can be and how far love can carry you in life and to know that we’ll have each other going forth until we pass.”

‘Not part of the plan’

Chris works hard at the gym in February 2018, to regain some of his strength.

Chris was an 18-year-old freshman when his life changed in an instant, just six weeks into college.

He was playing football for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. On October 16, 2010, it was the third quarter in a game against Central College, and Chris was about to make a play he’d made many times before.

“I was running down to make a tackle at kickoff after we scored a touchdown, and I made a diving tackle at his legs,” Chris recalled. “I mistimed my jump just by a split second.

“Instead of getting my head in front of the legs of the ball carrier, my head collided right with his legs, and instantly, I lost all movement and feeling from my neck down.”

Chris lay in the grass, face down. He couldn’t push up. He didn’t know why.

“‘Chris, you have to get up,” he told himself, embarrassed that the game would stop.

Trainers ran onto the field. A helicopter arrived. Chris knew something was very wrong.

“I just closed my eyes and started praying and trying to block out what was happening around me,” he said. “I did not want to accept what was unfolding.”

At the hospital, Chris learned he’d suffered a spinal cord injury, fracturing his C3-C4 vertebrae. He needed surgery.

“I asked a surgeon, ‘Will I walk again?’ And he said, ‘Chris, I don’t know.'”

“At that point, I just lost it,” Chris said. “I was completely scared for my future because up until this point, as an 18-year-old, my life went according to plan. Everything was working out for me. For me, this was not part of the plan.”

‘Take care of today’

Each day in the hospital was like a fight, Chris said. Now a quadriplegic, he had lost much of the sensation below his neck.

Chris had suffered an incomplete spinal injury, and over time, some feeling returned to his body. Eventually, he’d be able to feel touch — but not temperature, pain or texture — he said.

At first, though, Chris couldn’t scratch his face. He couldn’t bathe. He couldn’t feed himself.

“I know everyone really just focuses on the walking part, but there was so much more that I couldn’t do,” he said.

But instead of focusing on what he couldn’t do, Chris tried to concentrate on tiny successes, like when he started feeding himself, or the day he first drove a motorized wheelchair.

“It’s about sending the correct signal through my muscles to communicate,” he explained. “The signal is getting messed up because of my injury. In training, they’re trying to work me through walking patterns, working through my hands and arms and putting me through the motions I’m used to doing so I can reconnect and get those signals strengthened and controlled.”

A major success came when he returned to school in August 2011.

“I just focus on that day,” he said, referring to every day. “‘What can I do today to get just a little bit better?’ and that’s been my motto. I just knew the future would take care of itself when I take care of today.”

‘She saw me for who I was’

Chris and Emily pose in 2017, several years into their dating relationship.

Three years after his accident, Chris met Emily on a dating app. She was in college at Iowa State University, about three hours away.

“I was nervous because I didn’t know if I would find love,” Chris admitted. “I didn’t know if that was on the realm of that actually happening, for me to find my true love.”

The connection was instant.

“For someone to look past my injury and my physical challenges, and instantly I knew, Emily, she didn’t see that — she saw me for who I was, and I instantly had a connection with her.”

Emily felt a similar vibe.

“I just remember feeling a sense of peace that I knew that if I had Chris, that no matter what I went through in life, that I was going to be OK,” Emily Norton, formerly Summers, told CNN recently. “I could never have imagined this is where we would be right now, thinking back to when we first started dating, that this was the plan that God had for us.”

There was a lot that attracted Emily to Chris. He wanted to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, and so did she. He loved God, and so did she.

By then, Chris had started the Chris Norton Foundation, a nonprofit “dedicated to helping people with spinal cord and neuromuscular disabilities live their best lives,” according to his website. And, he was working as a motivational speaker.

Emily got involved in Chris’ recovery just a few weeks later. She went with him to physical therapy and learned how to help him stretch, exercise and practice walking.

“Now, she can walk me better than any physical therapist I’ve ever worked with,” Chris said with a smile. “She just knows how to get me around, move me around.”

Chris, who was still enrolled at Luther College, moved to Michigan so he could train at Barwis Methods, a program known for helping patients regain independence after a serious injury.

He had a big goal: to walk across the stage at his college graduation.

Chris trained four or five hours a day. Emily, now a college grad, moved to Michigan, too, to support him.

The night before his graduation in May 2015, Chris asked Emily to marry him. She said yes.

The next day, she hoisted him up out of his wheelchair and he made that walk. Chris’ arms shook quickly as Emily positioned him. She stood in front of him, just like a physical therapist, her body weight supporting him as he made tiny, unbalanced steps. The crowd roared as the pair slowly crossed the stage.

“I just always knew that I wanted to marry Emily,” Chris said. “It was even more special that she was the one that walked me across the stage of my college graduation as my fiancée, not just my girlfriend, but someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

With one walk behind them, the couple hatched their next challenge: walking together down the aisle at their wedding.

‘The best thing that we’ve ever done’

Emily spends time in 2018 with one of the couple's foster children.

To focus on Chris’ training and to enjoy more accessibility and sunshine, Chris and Emily moved to Florida in May 2016. Not long after, a call for help came that they couldn’t ignore.

A student Emily had mentored in high school, Whittley, was now 17 and faced aging out of a group home for foster children. She had nowhere to go.

Emily and Chris, then just 22 and 23 years old, became Whittley’s foster parents for a year. They loved it and decided to foster more children. Soon, the couple — in the throes of wedding planning and Chris’ therapy — took in a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old.

“It’s slowly grown … and now we have five kids, 8 and under,” Emily said. “It is the best thing that we’ve ever done.

“Life has never been easier, and I know that’s crazy, but when you find something that you love so much, it just doesn’t seem like work, and it brings us so much joy, and it’s incredible to see the power of love.”

Chris’ motivational speaking supports the family, and he and Emily are also working on a book. Like any couple, they do their best to share the workload, but their situation is not typical.

Chris handles the finances, including paying the mortgage and bills, which he can do easily without moving his body. He has someone come clean the house, do laundry and wash dishes. “I wouldn’t want all that to be put on Emily,” he said.

“With the kids, I know that there wasn’t a lot I could do with helping them put a shirt on,” he said. “I can be more of a cheerleader and helping them grow as a person rather than being physically active.”

Some outsiders have admitted they don’t quite get Chris and Emily’s relationship.

“We do sometimes get that that people think I’m his sister or something, but honestly, just because we are so close and just with everything, me helping him feels like nothing. It’s just what you do when you love somebody,” Emily said. “Chris helps me as much as I help him, not necessarily in a physical way but in emotional ways. That’s the big part for me.”

To Chris, Emily “is just Wonder Woman.”

“We can travel all over the place, and she can get me in these awkward cars and down or up stairs,” he said. “She doesn’t complain. She just loves it and just has so much joy. I’m just in so much awe of her every single day.”

‘We all want to rise again’

Chris calls Emily his "Wonder Woman."

After Chris’ graduation walk, the couple’s story gained national attention, and training for their wedding walk became less a personal duty than a mission to help others find hope, they said.

“I don’t have to walk to be happy,” Chris said. “It’s not me trying to get back my independence. It’s about me not being defined by my physical ability, being defined by a wheelchair — I’m so much more than that.

“We need to spread more hope in the world, and we need to be a light in the world,” he said. “We feel that it’s our calling from God and it’s our purpose, and it just brings me to life and it just energizes me.”

A documentary by Fotolanthropy, which describes itself as a “nonprofit organization that celebrates stories of hope of those who have defied great odds,” follows the couple’s journey to the altar. Called “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” crowd-funding has raised almost half the $250,000 goal to cover production costs.

“What I’m passionate about is to share the experiences from the worst day of my life of suffering a spinal cord injury seven years ago to walking seven yards with my bride, the greatest day of my life,” Chris said. “I think that we all want to come back, we all want to rise again, and I’m just really excited to be able to share that.”



Tiger Cheung is the newest international tennis talent – Maroon


From east to west, the Loyola tennis team searches all across the globe to find their talent. For one such athlete, he came all the way from Hong Kong, China to don maroon and gold.

Freshman tennis player Tiger Cheung was one of the few people brave enough to travel 8,474 miles away from home to play college sports.

Before coming to Loyola, Cheung played for the Diocesan Boys’ School. Cheung himself has played tennis for 10 years and said for as long as he can remember it has been a competitive outlet and passion.

According to Kyle Russell, Loyola tennis coach, Cheung might not have come to Loyola if it was not for the showcase camp at University of Pennsylvania this past summer. Russell worked with Cheung during the camp and, after witnessing his exceptional tennis skills, knew he needed him for Loyola’s tennis team.

“Tiger brings a really positive energy to the team. He’s got a great sense of humor although you wouldn’t know it at first. On the court he’s a beast and is not really afraid of anybody. Even though he’s a freshman, he understands the game as well as anybody on the team,” Russell said.

Aside from Cheung’s pre-existing desire to play tennis in college, he was also won over by the Big Easy. Russell said, “(Cheung) loves the NBA and knew all about Boogie Cousins,” referring to All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

His best recruiting pitch had nothing to do with tennis. Cheung quickly fell in love with New Orleans food, culture and, of course, its sports.

Although Cheung worried the transition would be hard due to the difference in language, he said coming to Loyola has given him the opportunity to meet new people, get more involved with the school, improve his English and learn more about the world.

Coming in as just a freshman, the future is bright for Loyola’s tennis sensation according to Russell.

“Tiger is very talented. When he learns to compliment his talent instead of rely on it, he’ll be a well-rounded and dangerous player. I don’t think Tiger’s ceiling is visible yet. He’s got a lot of upside and he just needs to work to unlock it,” Russell said.

Each and every day, Cheung said he takes the opportunity to become a better athlete by training himself in terms of skills and mentality.

Cheung sees a bright future at as a Wolf Pack tennis player.

“(My) goal as an athlete at Loyola is to help the team to reach the highest limit we can reach,” he said. “But other than that, (I) would also like to learn how to become a leader and inspire others in a good way.”

Lately, his hard work has been paying off on the tennis court. On April 20, Cheung was named Southern States Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. He is the first player of the week nod for the Wolf Pack men’s team this season.

In a recent match against the seventh-ranked University of Mobile, he teamed up with business freshman Sean Presti for an 8-6 win at No. 2 doubles. Later, he played Nicholls State and scored a 6-2, 6-4 victory in singles.

The season may have recently closed for the team, but Cheung said he will keep training and continue raising the bar for his teammates as well as for himself.

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Four remain to compete for the Pac-12 beach volleyball championship – Pac-12.com


• Championship Central | Championship Bracket | Record Book

STANFORD, Calif. – Four teams remain at the Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship, including top-seeded and top-ranked UCLA, No. 2-seed USC and No. 3-seed CALIFORNIA. No. 6 WASHINGTON played spoiler, recording an upset over host-and No. 4-seed STANFORD to advance to the final day and get a chance to compete for the Pac-12 title.

City-rivals UCLA and USC meet for just the third time in the three-year history of the championship in the Saturday’s semifinal. The teams met twice in last year’s event. The Bruins cruised to a 5-0 win over the Cardinal to get to the semifinal dual, taking all five matches in straight sets.

The Trojans defeated Cal, 4-1. The teams split the No. 4 and No. 5 matches, but USC took the next three in the second round, including bouncing back to win a three-setter between Joy Dennis and Cammie Dorn versus Bryce Bark and Madison Dueck. Dennis/Dorn handily won the first set, 21-14, but relinquished a close second set, 21-18. The Trojan pair then outlasted the Cal pair, 15-13.

The biggest highlights of the day came in the final two duals of the day. In the only 3-2 decision so far in the championship, the Bears and fifth-seeded ARIZONA battled in an elimination matchup in the second-to-last dual of the day. The teams split the No. 4 and No. 5, each claiming the matches in straight sets. The Bears’ top-flight pair of Mima Mirkovic and Jessica Gaffney gave Cal a 2-1 lead, winning in straight sets, leaving it up to the twos and threes.

UA’s Hailey Devlin and Stephany Purdue fell in the first set to Bark/Dueck, 21-13, but battled back to win the next two 21-18 and 20-18 to stave off elimination and give Wildcat teammates Kacey Nady and Olivia Hallaran a chance to pull off the upset. Nady/Hallaran forced a third set at No. 2, winning by a 31-29 margin after dropping the first set to Cal’s Iya Lindahl and Alexia Inman, 21-17. But Lindahl/Inman turned up the heat in the third to claim the deciding point, 15-11.

Washington has pulled off an upset in each of the first two championships and it was due for one this year. The Huskies took down the Cardinal in a tightly-contested 4-1 decision. UW claimed the first two duals at No. 4 and No. 5. But Stanford’s Courtney Bowen and Sunny Villapando claimed the team’s first point of the dual, 21-19, 23-21. Though Washington would take the next two points at No. 2 and No. 3 pairs, the Cardinal forced a third set in each match, the No. 2 pair of Courtney Schwan and Destiny Julye eventually recording the deciding point over Stanford’s Morgan Hertz and Amelia Smith, 19-21, 21-16, 15-10.

Earlier in the day, the Wildcats eliminated eighth-seeded UTAH in the opening match, 5-0, to advance to face Cal later in the day. Sixth-seeded WASHINGTON defeated seventh-seeded ARIZONA STATE, 4-1, in the second elimination dual of the day and setting up the Huskies-Cardinal matchup.

The final four teams compete for the Pac-12 crown on Saturday. In a rematch of last year’s semifinal, USC and UCLA square off at 9 a.m. PT. The winner claims the first spot in the championship dual. Cal and Washington go head-to-head for the second time in the championship at 11 a.m. PT. The winner faces the loser of the UCLA-USC matchup.

The Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championship will be televised on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Network Bay Area. Every dual can also be seen on the Pac-12 Now app. For updated scores and bracket throughout the championship, visit http://pac-12.com/beach-volleyball/championship.

2018 PAC-12 BEACH VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Stanford Beach Volleyball Stadium, Stanford, California

Friday’s Results
DUAL 7: #5 ARIZONA def. #8 UTAH, 5-0
1. Natalie Anselmo/Olivia Macdonald (ARIZ)  def. Adora Anae/Dani Barton (UTAH), 16-21, 25-23, 15-8
2. Kacey Nady/Olivia Hallaran (ARIZ) def. Bailey Choy/Tawnee Luafalemana (UTAH), 21-12, 21-17
3. Hailey Devlin/Stephany Purdue (ARIZ) def. Melissa Powell/Kenzie Koerber (UTAH), 21-5, 21-19
4. Brooke Burling/Jonny Baham (ARIZ) def. Berkeley Oblad/Lauga Gauta (UTAH), 21-18, 21-11
5. Caroline Cordes/Makenna Martin (ARIZ) def. Brianna Doehrmann/Lauren Sproule (UTAH), 21-8, 21-9
Order of finish: 5, 4, 3*, 2, 1

DUAL 8: #6 WASHINGTON def. #7 ARIZONA STATE, 4-1
1. Jordan Anderson/Kimmy Gardiner (WASH) def. Kwyn Johnson/Mia Rivera (ASU), 21-15, 21-10
2. Courtney Schwan/Destiny Julye (WASH) def. Frances Giedraitis/Natalie Braun (ASU), 21-17, 21-12|
3. Carly Dehoog/Shayne McPherson (WASH) def. Ellyson Lundberg/Katelyn Carballo (ASU), 30-28, 19-21, 16-14
4. Anna Crabtree/Kara Bajema (WASH) def. Katie Cross/Cierra Flood (ASU), 21-19, 21-14
5. Samantha Plaster/Kate Baldwin (ASU) def. Natalie Robinson/Sam Drecshel (WASH), 21-17, 21-10
Order of finish: 4,5,1,2*,3

DUAL 9: #2 USC def. #3 CALIFORNIA, 4-1
1. Tina Graudina/Abril Bustamante (USC) def. Mima Mirkovic/Jessica Gaffney (CAL), 21-8, 21-14
2. Terese Cannon/Sammy Slater (USC) def. Iya Lindahl/Alexia Inman (CAL), 21-12, 21-16
3. Joy Dennis/Cammie Dorn (USC) vs. Bryce Bark/Madison Dueck (CAL), 21-14, 18-21, 15-13
4. Mia Merino/Carolina Schafer (CAL) def. Jenna Belton/Maja Kaiser (USC), 32-30, 21-15
5. Alexandra Poletto/Haley Hallgren (USC) def. Maddie Micheletti/Grace Campbell (CAL), 21-16, 19-21, 16-14
Order of finish: 4,5,1,2*,3

DUAL 10: #1 UCLA def. #4 STANFORD, 5-0
1. Nicole McNamara/Megan McNamara (UCLA) def. Courtney Bowen/Sunny Villapando (STAN), 21-12, 21-13
2. Lily Justine/Sarah Sponcil (UCLA) def. Morgan Hentz/Amelia Smith (STAN), 21-19, 21-16
3. Savvy Simo/Madi Yeomans (UCLA) def. Kate Formico/Cat Raquel (STAN), 21-15, 21-10
4. Elise Zappia/Mac May (UCLA) def. Cait Keefe/Payton Chang (STAN), 21-15, 21-13
5. Izzy Carey/Megan Muret (UCLA) def. Shannon Richardson/Blake Sharp (STAN), 21-14, 21-14
Order of finish: 5, 4, 1*, 3, 2

DUAL 11: #3 CALIFORNIA def. #7 ARIZONA, 3-2
1. Mima Mirkovic/Jessica Gaffney (CAL) def. Natalie Anselmo/Olivia Macdonald (ARIZ), 21-19, 21-11
2. Iya Lindahl/Alexia Inman (CAL) def. Kacey Nady/Olivia Hallaran (ARIZ), 21-17, 29-31, 15-11
3. Hailey Devlin/Stephany Purdue (ARIZ) def. Bryce Bark/Madison Dueck (CAL), 13-21, 21-18, 20-18
4. Brooke Burling/Jonny Baham (ARIZ) def. Mia Merino/Caroline Schafer (CAL), 21-15, 21-16
5. Maddie Micheletti/Grace Campbell (CAL) def. Caroline Cordes/Makenna Martin (ARIZ), 21-16, 21-19
Order of finish: 4, 5, 1, 3, 2*

DUAL 12: #6 WASHINGTON def. #4 STANFORD, 4-1
1. Courtney Bowen/Sunny Villapando (STAN) d. Jordan Anderson/Kimmy Gardiner (WASH), 21-19, 23-21
2. Courtney Schwan/Destiny Julye (WASH) def. Morgan Hentz/Amelia Smith (STAN) 19-21, 21-16, 15-10
3. Carly Dehoog/Shayne McPherson (WASH) d. Kate Formico/Cat Raquel (STAN) 26-24, 16-21, 15-11
4. Anna Crabtree/Kara Bajema (WASH) def. Cait Keefe/Payton Chang (STAN), 21-11, 21-17
5. Natalie Robinson/Sam Drecshel (WASH) def. Shannon Richardson/Blake Sharp (STAN), 21-16, 21-14
Order of finish: 5,4,1,2*,3

 

Thursday’s Results
DUAL 1: #8 UTAH def. #9 OREGON, 4-1
1. Adora Anae/Dani Barton (UTAH) def. Lindsey Vander Weide/August Raskie (ORE), 19-21, 21-12, 15-3
2. Bailey Choy/Tawnee Luafalemana (UTAH) def. Taylor Agost/Josie Cole (ORE), 21-15, 21-8
3. Melissa Powell/Kenzie Koerber (UTAH) def. Lauren Page/Willow Johnson (ORE), 21-15, 23-21
4. Berkeley Oblad/Laura Gauta (UTAH) def. Maggie Scott/Ronika Stone (ORE), 18-21, 21-11, 18-16
5. Kya Hanawahine/Marine Hall-Poirer (ORE) def. Brianna Doehrmann/Lauren Sproule (UTAH), 21-14, 15-21, 15-10
Order of finish: 5, 4, 2, 1*, 3

DUAL 2: #2 USC def. #7 ARIZONA STATE, 4-1
1. Tina Graudina/Abril Bustamante (USC) def. Kwyn Johnson/Mia Rivera (ASU), 21-15, 21-13
2. Terese Cannon/Sammy Slater (USC) def. Frances Giedraitis/Natalie Braun (ASU), 21-12, 21-7
3. Ellyson Lundberg/Katelyn Carballo (ASU) def. Joy Dennis/Cammie Dorn (USC), 21-16, 21-19
4. Jenna Belton/Maja Kaiser (USC) def. Katie Cross/Cierra Flood (ASU), 21-18, 21-11
5. Alexandra Poletto/Haley Hallgren (USC) def. Samantha Plaster/Kate Baldwin (ASU), 21-16, 21-16
Order of finish: 4, 5, 2*, 1, 3

DUAL 3: #3 CALIFORNIA def. #6 WASHINGTON, 4-1
1. Mima Mirkovic/Jessica Gaffney (CAL) def. Jordan Anderson/Kimmy Gardiner (WASH) 24-22, 23-21
2. Iya Lindahl/Alexia Inman (CAL) def. Courtney Schwan/Destiny Julye (WASH) 12-21, 21-16, 15-10
3. Bryce Bark/Madison Dueck (CAL) def. Carly Dehoog/Shayne McPherson (WASH) 21-18, 21-18
4. Anna Crabtree/Kara Bajema (WASH) def. Mia Merino/Caroline Schafer (CAL) 21-10, 21-13
5. Maddie Micheletti/Grace Campbell (CAL) def. Natalie Robinson/Sam Drechsel (WASH) 21-13, 21-7
Order of finish: 5, 4, 3, 1*, 2

DUAL 4: #4 STANFORD def. #5 ARIZONA, 4-1
1. Courtney Brown/Sunny Villapando (STAN) def. Natalie Anselmo/Olivia Macdonald (ARIZ) 18-21, 21-13, 15-11
2. Morgan Hentz/Amelia Smith (STAN) def. Kacey Nady/Olivia Hallaran (ARIZ) 21-18, 21-19
3. Kate Formico/Catherine Raquel (STAN) def. Hailey Devlin/Stephany Purdue (ARIZ) 21-18, 16-21, 15-7
4. Caitlin Keefe/Payton Chang (STAN) def. Brooke Burling/Jonny Baham (ARIZ) 22-20, 21-16
5. Caroline Cordes/Makenna Martin (ARIZ) def. Shannon Anderson/Blake Sharp (STAN) 21-15, 21-17
Order of finish: 5, 4, 2, 3*, 1

DUAL 5: #1 UCLA def. #8 UTAH, 5-0
1. Nicole McNamara/Megan McNamara (UCLA) def. Adora Anae/Dani Burton (UTAH), 21-12, 21-13
2. Lily Justine/Sarah Sponcil (UCLA) def. Bailey Choy/Tawnee Luafalemana (UTAH), 21-11, 21-7
3. Savvy Simo/Madi Yeomans (UCLA) vs. Melissa Powell/Kenzie Koerber (UTAH), 21-14, 24-22
4. Elise Zappia/Mac May (UCLA) def. Berkeley Oblad/Lauga Gauta (UTAH), 21-13, 21-15
5. Izzy Carey/Megan Muret (UCLA) def. Brianna Doehrmann/Lauren Sproule (UTAH), 21-15, 21-12
Order of finish: 4, 5, 1*, 2, 3

DUAL 6: #7 ARIZONA STATE def. #9 OREGON, 5-0
1. Kwyn Johnson/Mia Rivera (ASU) def. Lindsey Vander Weide/August Raskie (ORE), 21-13, 21-13
2. Frances Giedraitis/Natalie Braun (ASU) def. Taylor Agost/Josie Cole (ORE), 21-14, 21-13
3. Ellyson Lundberg/Katelyn Carballo (ASU) def. Lauren Page/Willow Johnson (ORE), 21-16, 21-7
4. Katie Cross/Cierra Flood (ASU) def. Maggie Scott/Ronika Stone (ORE), 21-13, 21-17
5. Samantha Plaster/Kate Baldwin (ASU) def. Kya Hanawahine/Marine Hall-Poirer (ORE), 21-16, 21-10
Order of finish: 4, 5, 3*, 1, 2



Shankland, Wang Are Surprise Leaders At US Championships – Chess.com


Veal shank is a delicacy in many fine restaurants, and Shankland is still the chef’s special at the 2018 U.S. Championships. GM Sam Shankland (6.5/9), playing in his 10th national championship, won again today in the lone decisive game to retake his position at the top of the menu.

The lead is “only” a half-game as GM Fabiano Caruana managed to hold against GM Hikaru Nakamura for a tough handshake. Shankland very nearly had a full-point lead with two rounds remaining, but Nakamura couldn’t correctly analyze a sacrificial cruncher.

Shankland

GM Sam Shankland hasn’t been confused much these last nine days. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

GM Varuzhan Akobian arrested his three-game skid by drawing GM Wesley So, keeping the defending champion a full point back in lone third and still with long but possible chances. All other players besides the top trio have either been mathematically or practically eliminated.

One big problem for Caruana and So: the leader’s final two opponents are currently at the bottom two spots of the tables.

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Spanish commentator GM Alejandro Ramirez (left) discusses the day with GM Varuzhan Akobian. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

As has become the norm, the ladies produced many more ones and zeros. Today, four more women left winners, bringing the tournament total up to 35 in 54 games. For once, leader WIM Annie Wang (7.5/9) didn’t help the overall rate improve (65 percent), but that was just fine.

She drew as Black against the only woman with reasonable chances to catch her, IM Nazi Paikidze (6.5/9). However, the 2016 champ remains the only one who can thwart the 15-year-old’s plans. A trio of ladies sit on 5.5/9 but can’t really expect to run down both leaders.

Back to the open championship. After trapping GM Yaroslav Zherebukh’s bishop and winning the resulting piece-up ending, Shankland broke into the world’s top 50. More important, he put some distance between himself and the world number-two.

Should he go 2-0 against his remaining opponents, Shankland will creep over 2700 and become only the seventh American player to do so. You can test your knowledge in the comments by trying to name the other half-dozen.

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Chess.com’s interview with Shankland.

One board down from Shankland was Caruana. The two stole glances at each other’s board throughout the round, but those glances became much more infrequent from Caruana as his position deteriorated.

“It doesn’t really matter what [Shankland] does if I lose,” Caruana told Chess.com.

Nakamura

GM Hikaru Nakamura nearly got back to 50 percent by beating the top seed, but instead remained winless. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

“He just outplayed me and I was just busted out of the opening,” Caruana said about Nakamura. “I’m incredibly fortunate just to survive. It keeps my tournament hopes alive.”

“If you told me right now I could get 1.5/2, I think it would be a smart bet on my part,” Caruana told Chess.com about his finish. “I’ll be happy if I get into a playoff with Sam.”

When asked about another “bet,” that being a Twitter poll where 87 percent of respondents preferred the big three over the field before the tournament began, Caruana thought that imbalance was too high. His “rough estimate” was closer to 65 percent.

Of course, pre-tournament he had a big say in the outcome. Now, he’s reliant on GM Awonder Liang (11th) and GM Alex Onischuk (last place) to try to fry the Shank.

So drew Akobian despite the latter inflicting a one-hour time deficit upon himself in the opening. So said he still just tried to play “objective” moves despite his opponent’s clock management.

Wesley So

GM Wesley So checks out the field the lazy man’s way. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Akobian told Chess.com that he feels that he’s been walking into his opponent’s home preparation all event. Today, he was also frustrated that So’s variation was “in his notes” but he didn’t get around to checking the line.

The ladies’ event has long since turned into the girls’ event, or more exactly, one girl’s event. Wang keeps forgetting the gravitas of the stage she’s on. Today she had no issues at all fending off her main rival. In fact, Paikidze was the player bailing out into a draw.

Wang

WIM Annie Wang took a big step toward her first U.S. women’s championship today. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

“I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get to play g4 and attack her on the kingside,” Paikidze said. “I don’t know this opening. I learned it this morning.”

She explained to Chess.com that the …Qa5 and …Bb4 idea was completely new to her.

“Clearly a draw is unpleasant.” It wasn’t just the result, it was the act of acquiring it. 

The players had already repeated the position three times, but had yet to reach move 30. In this circumstance, one can still claim a draw, but you have to seek the permission of the arbiter.

Paikidze

IM Nazi Paikidze, with no desire to go back to the procedures of grade school. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Wang told Chess.com she didn’t claim it because she was unsure of the procedure. Paikidze had a different reason. She knew the process perfectly, but thought it is a bit demeaning to have to summon the arbiter and ask for approval. She likened it to a student having to ask a teacher to use the restroom.

Eventually the fourth repetition also landed on move 30, and the players just called it a day, on their own.

So why did Paikidze play a new opening learned just this morning for the biggest game of the tournament? 

“She tends to repeat lines so I thought I could catch her,” Paikidze said. She may have also been a victim of reading these reports.

Yesterday, Wang’s coach GM Melikset Khachiyan was quoted on Chess.com. He described some of the things he’d been working on with his student. It seems the case was important.

This writer meant to indicate the past perfect tense. Khachiyan was not actively working with Wang at this tournament; all of their work came prior to St. Louis. He was not prepping her before each game. Paikidze thought it was present perfect tense, and reasoned she was going up against the GM’s assistance. Instead, Wang’s been all on her own since arriving.

Media prep is apparently the wrong prep, but Paikidze did like the reference to her love of cats. So like everyone reading, we’re glad she got something positive out of these reports.

Sharevich

Speaking of pets, Chess.com learned today that WGM Anna Sharevich’s dog “Boogie” from yesterday’s report has a famous last name: “Polgar!” It used to be Susan’s. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

GM Irina Krush rebounded with a win, officially ending WGM Tatev Abrahamyan’s chances.

“I was really down in the dumps after yesterday’s game,” Krush said, explaining that she awoke at 6:30 a.m. Her eyes opened, but that’s when the “nightmare” resurfaced.

Krush

GM Irina Krush likened the anguish of yesterday’s loss to breaking up from a relationship. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

She went back to sleep to try to shake the memory of losing a winning position against Wang in round eight. Krush told Chess.com that the loss crept back in her thoughts a little bit during the game today.

“It was just about being able to move on,” she told Chess.com. “I feel like I failed about everything — the game, and coping with how the game went. It’s not really a formula for future games.”

Krush related the experience to ending a romantic relationship, and the only respite to that anguish being sleep. When she awakened today, the tranquility of unconsciousness ended. 

Somehow she fought through all of that to win her game today:

WIM Jennifer Yu’s rebound continued. She won her fourth game in a row.

Jennifer Yu

WIM Jennifer Yu played her first VR game ever after the round. It was a chess game, and she opened 1.b4, just like earlier in the tournament. Was it the world’s first virtual Orangutan? | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

“The beginning was just awful,” Yu said of her early rounds. “I feel like even if I win the rest of my games, I still think it’s going to be a terrible tournament…I played like 1500 or 1800 strength.”

Yu shares one trait with the leader. Like Wang a few days ago, she didn’t know that a norm could be earned in a national championship. Unlike Wang, Yu is already sitting on two IM norms (Could Yu be the first player to earn a final norm in a self-described “terrible tournament”?).

Chess.com will seek clarification on all of the norms as the tournament comes to a close.

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 The 2018 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship are twin 12-player round robins from April 18-30. The time control is 40/90, SD/30 with a 30-second increment from move one. You can follow all the action at the official website. Games will be daily at 1 p.m. Central time (11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. UTC). Chess.com is on site and will be bringing you daily reports and video interviews.

Previous reports:



MGM CEO: 'Poised To Immediately Take Advantage' Of Sports Betting – Legal Sports Report


MGM sports betting

MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren pointed to the New Jersey sports betting case as a potential win for investors.

Murren offered his thoughts on the federal sports wagering ban outside of Nevada — PASPA — unprompted at the end of Thursday’s Q1 earnings call. He envisions a win for New Jersey as a victory for MGM — owner of the Borgata in Atlantic City — as well.

“I think there should be great emphasis on what might happen at the Supreme Court,” Murren said. “Our legal experts seem very confident that PASPA will be overturned.”

That echoes what Murren said during last year’s Q4 call.

“If you add to that the fact that the Supreme Court will likely legalize sports betting this year, MGM is really poised to immediately take advantage of that opportunity. Sports as it relates to our performing events here and as it relates to our industry we believe is a significant avenue of growth for MGM Resorts in the future.”

Why Murren is confident a PASPA repeal bodes well for MGM

Murren highlighted “decades” of “building trust with regulators” in Nevada and the company’s expertise in sports betting as reasons for confidence.

“We intend to be the biggest beneficiary of commercial sports betting if the Supreme Court should overturn PASPA as early as June. We’ll talk to that in great detail at our investor day,” Murren said, speaking of an event planned for May.

MGM’s presence in many states considering sports gambling in case of a PASPA repeal positions it well to benefit. It already offers sports betting via its Nevada properties and has an online sports betting app called playMGM.

Other MGM properties:

  • Mississippi: Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica
  • Michigan: MGM Grand Detroit
  • Massachusetts: MGM Springfield (opening later this year)
  • Maryland: MGM National Harbor
  • Illinois: Grand Victoria

Mississippi in particular could be ready to flip the switch within a few months.

MGM placing its faith in the sports world

While Thursday’s call highlighted some of MGM struggles in Las Vegas and saw its stock drop, Murren sounded bullish on sports aiding the company’s future. MGM partnered with AEG to build T-Mobile Arena on the Strip and is heavily invested in the success of the Vegas Golden Knights.

In addition to hockey, MGM purchased the San Antonio WNBA franchise and moved it to Las Vegas. The rebranded Las Vegas Aces begin play at Mandalay Bay Events Center later this month.

Mandalay Bay also stands as the closest resort to the new Raiders stadium being built directly across the interstate. Murren said Thursday he anticipates the resort being the prime destination for football fans before and after Raiders games.

Photo by Ron Cogswell used under license CC BY 2.0.

Adam Candee

Adam Candee
Adam Candee covers sports business and news in Las Vegas. Adam arrived in Las Vegas in 1989, and is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun and KLAS-TV.