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The 20th annual Taste of Middlesex hosted by the Edison Chamber of Commerce was held at the Pines Manor in Edison on Monday, March 27. Jenna Intersimone/Staff Video

The end of winter signals the start of baseball season for tens of thousands of youth players in the state of New Jersey. For some, it will be the first time playing on a team. For others, it is an opportunity to show off the hard-earned hitting and pitching skills that have developed since last season.

Baseball is a great game, but involvement can bring some risk of injury. Staying healthy and on the field should be the goal of all players, parents and coaches. That said, here are some suggestions to keep youth baseball players on the field:

  1. Warm up! Light exercise involving running as well as multijoint movements like jumping jacks, skipping and bounding should be done as a way to increase circulation. Athletes should exercise to the point of sweating before picking up a ball to start throwing or stretching. Warm muscles are more flexible and may perform better than cold muscles.
  2. Do not pitch with arm fatigue. Studies show that players who experience arm fatigue are at a significantly greater risk for sustaining a serious arm injury. According to the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI), adolescents pitching with arm fatigue were 36 times more likely to undergo shoulder/elbow surgery in their lifetime. Coaches should watch for signs of fatigue, such as decreased ball velocity, decreased accuracy, upright trunk during pitching, dropped elbow during pitching or increased time between pitches. If an adolescent pitcher complains of fatigue or looks fatigued, let him/her rest from pitching and throwing. Some experts even recommend removing young pitchers if they throw more than 25 to 30 pitches in a single inning as rising pitch counts may be indicative of fatigue.
  3. Follow recommended pitch counts for specific ages. Pitch Smart, an initiative by USA Baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB), published an excellent set of guidelines for youth pitchers. Many leagues have adopted these guidelines, but it’s important for parents to take an active role in keeping track of the number of pitches that their child is actually throwing. There are numerous apps that parents can use to track the number of throws. It’s crucial for parents to communicate with coaches about the amount of pitching their child is throwing. This is particularly imperative if a child is playing on more than one team.
  4. Refrain from pitching on consecutive days. Following pitch-count restrictions will often restrict pitching on back-to-back days; however, even if a few pitches were thrown, it is best to have at least one day off to recover. Recovery days shouldn’t involve throwing, batting practice or playing catcher as each contribute to arm fatigue.
  5. Only pitch for one team at a time. If a player is going to play for multiple teams, he/she should only pitch for one team to allow for full recovery. Make sure there’s enough recovery time between pitching. A high school coach may do a diligent job of giving a player the opportunity to rest between outings, but decision making and risk for injury will be compromised if the player is pitching on more than one team.
  6. A pitcher should not play catcher. Playing catcher involves a good bit of throwing, and many catchers do it from a crouched position putting more stress on their shoulders and arms. Spending extended time in a crouched position can create leg fatigue, which can also impact pitching mechanics. According to ASMI data, pitchers and catchers had a 2.7 times greater incidence of major shoulder or arm injury when compared with all other positions. Players should choose between the two positions and be careful of how many throws they make while playing any other position.
  7. Avoid throwing curveballs and sliders, and using a radar gun. Though the research on the impact of curveballs is a bit conflicting, best practice recommendations suggest that young pitchers should work on their fastball, master a change-up and refine their ability to locate the ball in specific spots. Throwing a curveball or slider often changes mechanics in younger pitchers, and this may lead to injury. Use of radar guns with youth pitchers should be discouraged as this practice risks overthrowing and altering normal mechanics in an attempt to bolster their speed on the gun.
  8. An injured player should not be pitching. This should be obvious with an upper body injury. However, an injury to the abdomen, back or lower body will likely change body mechanics that may lead to additional injury. The slogan no pain, no gain doesn’t apply to youth pitchers. Pitching with pain is NEVER OK. Instead, adhere to the slogan when in doubt, get it checked out.
  9. Teach all players on the team to pitch. Coaches should take time to teach everyone on the team how to pitch. Basic instruction on good pitching mechanics coupled with encouragement may provide coaches with multiple pitching options and reduce pitching burden which would fall on one or two pitchers on the team.
  10. Condition the legs with running to prevent fatigue. Leg fatigue is a major contributing factor in pitching performance decline. Find creative ways to make running fun at practice in order to help reduce pitching injuries.

Though it is impossible to prevent every injury, following these suggestions will certainly help players stay healthy and in the game.

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Dr. James T. Monica is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA).

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Forrest Lamp of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In taking a look at 20 NFL mock drafts produced recently by national news organizations, there are two common trends for the Miami Dolphins — guard or defense.

It seems more likely the Dolphins would select a front seven player in the first round and defer the need for a guard to the second or third round. And yet, the most trendy choice among national mockers is emerging as guard Forrest Lamp.

Lamp is certainly worth of close evaluation, as written here, but Miami really, really needs to add youth at defensive line and linebacker.

Here are the most common Miami Dolphins draft choices by mock drafters:

  1. Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky, 6: Chad Reuter, NFL.com, Mel Kiper, ESPN, Tim Rapp, Bleacher Report, R.J. White, cbssports.com, Chris Burke, SI.com, Jared Dubin cbssports.com
  2. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, 3: Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News, Pete Prisco, cbssports.com, Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus
  3. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State, 2: Nate Davis, USA Today, Peter Schrager, Fox/NFL Network
  4. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU, 2: Lance Zierlien, NFL.com, Danny Kelly, The Ringer
  5. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee, 1: Eric Edholm, Yahoo
  6. Haason Reddick, LB, Temple, 1: Todd McShay, ESPN
  7. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt, 1: Dieter Kurtenbach, Fox
  8. David Njoku, TE, Miami, 1: Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
  9. T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin, 1: Charley Casserly, NFL.com
  10. Takk McKinley, DE/LB, UCLA, 1: Emily Kaplan, MMQB.com
  11. (BONUS) Tim Williams, DE/LB Alabama, 1: Rob Rang, cbssports.com

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase eager to help NFL’s Young Guns

Why Miami Dolphins actually want to add cornerback

Why Miami Dolphins think Big 12 didn’t fully prepare Xavien Howard

Miami Dolphins releasing Dion Jordan, one-time No. 3 pick in NFL Draft

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Are you as unimpressed as I am with the miserable excuse for governance we continue to witness from our elected Congress?

Perhaps we shouldn’t expect anything else, considering we’ve embraced a clearly dysfunctional system that requires enormous amounts of money for every candidate who’s serious about election to one of these seats. Then we surround them with lobbyists and special interests all too willing to continually lavish cash and perks on them.

Once in office, most of our so-called public servants suddenly feel beholden no longer to we the people, but rather to those who shovel all the money and goodies their way. To top it off, in this childish process, they grow individually wealthy in the office we entrusted them with–and all without term limits.

The “District of Corruption,” as one social media meme described it, most assuredly has become a verminous “swamp” in dire need of draining and reform. It’s equally apparent to adults out here these pretenders at leadership choose to place their own agendas and ideologies above finding ways to reach accord for the overall best interest of our nation and its people.

The ongoing obstruction and nitpicking is intended to disrupt rather than move us from beneath the crushing weight of one party’s ambitions and agendas.

Such disgraceful partisan gridlock has reached the point where these politicos can’t even find accord within their own parties on how to fix a terrible health-care system even they agree is failing under its own weight.

I foolishly hoped this last surprising election sent a powerful, unmistakable message to each of of these representatives and senators that Americans want them, first and foremost, to get on with the business of placing our country back on track under a well-managed government that values our Constitution, individual freedom and devotion to national safety and economic well-being.

The wiser among the D.C.-elected are well-advised to remember just how angry and frustrated so many Americans were and still are. They did not vote for obstructionists or the circus we’re witnessing, or flagrant rudeness or sidestepping the Constitution.

It’s likely not a stretch to say a majority of us who pay taxes and vote have become flat worn-out and fed up with the whole notion of two parties’ finger-pointing, selfishness, immature partisanship and junior-high behavior while improperly governing this nation, which intelligent adults can and should do.

Among those who’d understand my admittedly cynical yet honest view, I’m certain, are our founders George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin.

They have no questions because each of those honorable and brilliant men, in their individual ways, warned specifically about the realistic dangers and inherent predictable evils we can expect from focusing on political parties constantly at odds with their own selfish best interests at heart.

Of this group, Madison is credited with echoing the feelings of the others: “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and concerting measures in opposition to each other, This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

And just lookee here, folks, at the political evil we created and condoned between then and 2017, only compounded by the overwhelming influence of money and greed on the governance of our nation and its states.

Sidewalks and guns

As for that recently passed law allowing Arkansans with concealed-carry licenses to tote their firearms virtually anywhere they see fit, I turn to the sage from Louisiana who recently said this is bound to create problems out in the hinterland.

“Let me put it this way, my friends,” he said in a distinctly Cajun dialect. “Does having a driver’s license mean you can drive your vehicle anywhere, including on the sidewalks? If not, why not? Because the likelihood of someone being hurt or killed prevents it.”

Newton’s equation

Golf season has launched for thousands of us across the state. More than a handful of readers have asked of late how well the spanking new graphite shaft I wrote about having installed on my driver two months ago is behaving.

Robbie Newton, the craftsman and entrepreneur at Golf USA in Fayetteville, put me through the drills in February before determining which of his custom-made shafts best suited an aging fella like me. He promised I’d finally be able to keep up with other fellas who regularly receive my share of losing bets.

You may recall that, after an hour of testing and measuring and videoing, Newton’s equations showed I needed his graphite shaft No. 31, whose frequency fell between a senior and a regular flex.

I can now report, after more than a dozen rounds with trusty ol’ 31, that Newton, whose shafts are used on the PGA Tour, wasn’t kidding when he said I’d average about 15 to 20 additional yards on my drives. Robbie has been added to my Christmas card list.

————v————

Mike Masterson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 04/02/2017

Match Facts

April 1, 2017
Start time: 0930 local (0400GMT)

Kusal Mendis, who hit his maiden century in Dambulla, has shown signs of his desire to be a leading batsman in world cricket © AFP

Big Picture

Sri Lanka would have felt hard done by after rain ruined the second ODI, when they put up a total of 311. No team had ever won a 50-over game on the island after being set a target over 300.

But after taking Sri Lanka’s last six wickets in the final five overs, Bangladesh must have thought they were in the contest. Taskin Ahmed’s hat-trick would have charged them up even further and considering they had made their highest total away from home in the first ODI – 324 – things had been shaping up brilliantly before the weather intervened.

Bangladesh may be 1-0 up and eyeing a series win, but with Kusal Mendis living up to his promise and the rest of the Sri Lankan line-up batting around his maiden hundred Tuesday, the hosts would feel like they have got their menace back. Upul Tharanga made an eye-catching half-century as well, but the team management would want him to play a longer innings, while also hoping Thisara Perera’s 9 in Dambulla was a one-off low score. The big-hitting allrounder made 55 off 35 balls only a week ago and another such display could help them end a six-match losing streak.

With the action moving to the SSC, and its slow and dry surfaces, Bangladesh would have an easier time putting behind their bowling performance from the last game. They can expect grip for Mustafizur Rahman’s cutters and turn for Mehedi Hasan’s offbreaks. So should the weather hold up well, a contest with a lot of context is on the cards.

Form guide

Sri Lanka LLLLL (completed matches, most recent first)
Bangladesh WLLLL

In the spotlight

After his Test century in Galle earlier this month, Kusal Mendis had said that he wanted to be a leading batsman in world cricket and his 107 off 107 balls in Dambulla was another reminder of this young batsman’s ambition. He was very much on-side dependent but that was mostly because the Bangladesh bowlers preferred to attack his stumps. Sri Lanka would expect more runs from their No. 3, especially in a crunch situation.

He didn’t get going in the first ODI but Mushfiqur Rahim had a pretty good day behind the stumps, despite missing one stumping. He held a fine running catch to dismiss Danushka Gunathilaka, helped in the Tharanga’s run-out and then produced direct hits to end Dilruwan Perera and Thisara Perera’s stay in the middle. All he needs no are some runs.

Mehedi Hasan and the rest of the spinners will look to extract purchase from a usually-response SSC pitch © AFP

Team news

Sri Lanka made three changes to their XI in the second ODI but while their batting clicked, the newly-formed bowling attack couldn’t be tested. They are likely to remain unchanged, but there is a chance Seekkuge Prasanna will enter the XI.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Upul Tharanga (capt), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Asela Gunaratne, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Nuwan Pradeep

Bangladesh have Imrul Kayes, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Shuvagata Hom, Subashis Roy and newcomer Sunzamul Islam on the bench but it is unlikely that they would break their winning combination in the third ODI.

Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Taskin Ahmed

Pitch and conditions

An ODI hasn’t been played at the SSC in six years, but in the interim, it has hosted plenty of List-A games. The average score for the team batting first those games is a remarkably low 146. Sri Lanka’s cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha said he expected this particular track to be batting friendly. Chandika Hathurusingha was slightly surprised that the pitch looked underprepared even two days before the ODI. Weather in Colombo could be troublesome on match day too, with chances of a late-afternoon shower.

Stats and trivia

  • The last ODI played at the SSC was before the 2011 World Cup, while Bangladesh’s last ODI here was in 2005.
  • The rained-out second ODI hurt Bangladesh more as they lost the chance to go up to No. 6 in the ICC ODI rankings. The two teams will retain their places at on the table – Sri Lanka at No. 6 and Bangladesh at No. 7 – regardless of the how the third ODI pans out.

Quotes

“The seniors have responded to [the responsibility of getting a big score] really well. It comes with the belief and maturity of the players. They are really confident in their preparation now.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

COLUMBIA, MO. • The starting pitchers’ duel that drew dozens of scouts to Taylor Stadium on Friday was decided after Missouri and Florida’s staff aces became spectators.

The opener of three-game Southeastern Conference series matched two of the nation’s top college arms, Missouri’s Tanner Houck and Florida’s Alex Faedo, both juniors projected as high first-round prospects for this summer’s MLB draft. A crowd of around 40 pro scouts filled the first few rows of Taylor Stadium, radar guns in hand to clock the two power righthanders who have been teammates on USA Baseball’s collegiate national team.

By night’s end, when No. 23 Mizzou finally nibbled away at the Florida starter and his wicked slider, Faedo’s bullpen preserved a 4-3 victory for the No. 9 Gators.

Challenged by coach Steve Bieser to give his bullpen some relief with an extended outing, Houck (3-3) lasted his customary seven innings but gave up four runs, three earned, on a season-high eight hits and a walk. He hit two batters and struck out eight. Mike Rivera’s two-run homer in the sixth was the first Houck allowed all season and proved to be the difference.

The consolation for Mizzou was that star relievers Cole Bartlett and T.J. Sikkema never left the bullpen and become available for the next two games in the series. Sophomore lefty Michael Plassmeyer (4-0) gets the start in Saturday’s game as the Tigers attempt to break a three-game losing streak.

“I thought Tanner was better (than his last start),” Bieser said. “There’s still room for improvement from Tanner for me. … They were tough early on. I don’t know what they had on him, but they were slapping the ball pretty hard around the ballpark. A lesser guy would have probably given up at that point. But he didn’t.”

Houck relied less on his fastball than in his previous starts and used his slider more effectively, though it was a slider that Rivera punished over the fence in the sixth.

“I came out on the short end tonight,” Houck said. “Between the lines I’m a competitor, so I wanted to go out and beat (Faedo). But off the field I wish him nothing but luck.”

Faedo (5-1) matched Houck’s 117 pitches but avoided the big hit. He allowed one earned run on six hits in seven-plus innings.

The Tigers rallied with a run in the seventh and two in the eighth, but reliever Michael Byrne rescued the Gators in the eighth with a three-pitch strikeout of pinch-hitter Ian Nelson with two Tigers on base. Byrne breezed through three more Tigers in the ninth for his third save.

Bieser’s hitters routinely struggled to resist Faedo’s slider when he tempted them to chase it out of the strike zone.

“As much as we prepared to lay off that pitch, I’m not the guy standing in the box,” Bieser said. “I can see it from the (dugout) and say, ‘Why are we swinging at that?’ There’s a reason we were swinging and why a lot of teams are swinging at it. It’s tight and it’s good.”

After a 20-game winning streak pushed the Tigers (21-5, 4-3 SEC) into rarefied air for a program that’s struggled to compete in the SEC the last few years, Mizzou entered Friday’s series opener having lost three of four.

Houck’s last outing was his shortest of the season as Arkansas scored five runs off the junior ace before he could get through four innings last Friday. The Gators (17-9, 3-4) gave Faedo a run before he took the mound.

Leadoff hitter Deacon Liput singled and later scored on JJ Schwarz’s single off Houck’s foot.

With two outs in the third, Houck was a pitch away from erasing a leadoff walk, but second baseman Matt Berler flubbed a routine grounder off the bat of Schwarz to push across another run for a 2-0 Gators lead.

Mizzou didn’t have trouble reaching base against Faedo but couldn’t capitalize early with runners on base. The Tigers stranded leadoff hitter Connor Brumfield at third in the first inning. In the second, MU wasted a leadoff walk to Brian Sharp. The Tigers left a pair on base in the third.

In the sixth, Kameron Misner’s bunt single and steal gave Mizzou a runner in scoring position with one out, but Faedo retired Robbie Glendinning and Sharp to leave another runner stuck on second.

Mizzou finally got to Faedo with two outs in the seventh on Chris Cornelius’ RBI single into shallow center field. Alex Samples, who led off the inning with a double, ran through third base coach Dillon Lawson’s stop sign and scored under the catcher’s tag.

With Houck out of the game, the Tigers rallied for two more runs in the eighth. Trey Harris reached second when left fielder Ryan Larson dropped a pop fly and Faedo nipped Misner on the foot. Glendinning grounded into a double play, but Sharp singled home Harris to cut Florida’s lead in half. Faedo hit Samples to extend the inning with two outs, his final pitch of the night. Out of the bullpen, lefty Andrew Baker gave up an opposite-field single to pinch hitter Brett Bond, who drove in Misner, but Nelson was no match for Byrne, who froze him on strike three.

An American conservative commentator, Tomi Lahren, has been fired from her job on a conservative news network TheBlaze, after making pro-choice comments during an interview on The View. Lahren, known for her constitutional conservative views, explained that it would be hypocritical of her to say that she’s in favour of limited government interference, but at the same time argue that the government should decide what women do with their bodies.

Lahren stated “I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns and you can stay out of my body as well”. The comments Lahren made about abortion rights prompted her boss, Glenn Beck, to permanently ban Lahren from TheBlaze, with many viewers outraged at Lahren’s pro-choice stance.

While Lahren cannot, and should not, be celebrated as a women’s rights hero, her comments have raised an interesting contradiction in US politics. Pro-choice views clearly exist across the political spectrum, not just on the liberal left. As uncomfortable as it is to find allies with people you fundamentally disagree with, Lahren is exposing the deep-rooted hypocrisy in terms of what it means to be a libertarian. Lahren is right that libertarians cannot on the one hand say the government should have limited involvement in things like gun control, yet at the same time dictate what women can do with their bodies.

In the UK, control over a women’s body is a political issue, but not one that is easily divided down party lines. There are many who recognise the role women have in the workplace, to capitalism and who realise that women need to control their fertility in order to maintain a productive position in the economy. Abortion Rights works with all parties and organisations to ensure that a woman’s right to choose is protected by law; in the health services that provide abortions; in schools where sex and relationship education is taught and in our wider culture to campaign to reduce the stigma and lack of access that allow proper choices to be made.

Lahren is not always a friend of women’s rights, and she may have different reasons to you or I for being pro-choice, but one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime – this figure is the same in England and Wales and the USA. Abortion is a common medical procedure and most people agree with a women’s right to choose. We should stop treating this as a philosophical debate about ethics and recognise the central role it plays in women’s ability to control their bodies and therefore their lives. Maybe then we won’t be so surprised that conservative women have pro-choice views.

We will be watching with interest to see where this conversation takes us.
To join Abortion Rights click www.abortionrights.org.uk/join

A policy panel that then-candidate Donald Trump set up to advise him as president on gun-rights issues has yet to convene and may never formally do so, at least as an official arm of the Trump administration, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Mr. Trump announced the formation of the 64-member Second Amendment Coalition on Nov. 3, 2016, just days before winning the general election. A news release at the time said the group was to be comprised of “grassroots leaders and elected officials who fight for individual liberties, support the right to carry personal protection and will defend the Second Amendment” and that it would “continue to advise Mr. Trump and Governor [Mike] Pence as they protect our Supreme Court and our right to keep and bear arms.”

NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Chairman Chris Cox and Donald Trump Jr. — an avid hunter and outdoorsman — serve as chairmen for the Second Amendment Coalition.

According to USA Today, the White House now says that group was a “campaign coalition” and not intended to be a formal part of the Trump administration.

For their part, coalition members seem of differing opinions about the wisdom or importance of making the group an official federal advisory committee.

While gun-rights advocate John Boch, executive director of Guns Save Life Inc., told USA Today that he welcomed the coalition remaining a private group not formally tied to the White House, Rep. Tom Emmer, Minnesota Republican, said he is looking forward to it being constituted as an official policy arm of administration.

“My assumption is it is viable, it is real, and it’s going to operate in some fashion that will help us as we try to move policy that we think is important to protect Second Amendment rights,” Mr. Emmer said, USA Today reported.

If formally constituted as an advisory arm of the Trump administration, federal law “could require the group to have a charter, open its meetings to the public, maintain records, have procedures for public input and be subject to a number of regulations,” USA Today said.

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US WOMEN’S HOCKEY BOYCOTT

USA Hockey and the women’s national team reached an agreement to end a wage dispute and avoid a boycott of the world championships on home ice that would’ve been a black eye for the sport.

Players and USA Hockey finalized the deal Tuesday night and announced it in a joint statement just three days before the tournament begins in Plymouth, Michigan. It’s a four-year agreement that pays players beyond just the six-month Olympic period.

Captain Meghan Duggan called it a “historic moment in women’s sports.” USA Hockey president Jim Smith said people will look back on this day “as one of the most positive in the history” of the organization.

Before this agreement, players said they were paid $1,000 a month around the Olympics, and the new contract is believed to be worth about $3,000 to $4,000 per player per month. Combined with money received from the U.S. Olympic committee, each player could surpass $70,000 in annual earnings, and that number could reach $129,000 in 2018 if the team wins the Olympic gold medal.

Players also received business-class travel, just like the men’s team, and insurance protection they asked for.

PRO FOOTBALL

PHOENIX (AP) – NFL owners got busy passing several rules changes, adopting resolutions they believe will speed the game and enhance player safety, and perhaps even allow for more personality in player celebrations.

One day after approving the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, the owners sped up discussions on dozens of subjects.

That led to a change in handling officiating of video replays; eliminating “leapers” trying to block field goals or extra points; adding protections for defenseless receivers running their routes; and further discussions with the players about loosening restrictions for on-field celebrations.

The NFL also extended bringing touchbacks out to the 25-yard line for another year; made permanent the rule disqualifying a player who is penalized twice in a game for specific unsportsmanlike conduct fouls; and tabled reducing overtime in the regular season from 15 minutes to 10, a subject likely to be addressed at the May meetings in Chicago.

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A city famous for its over-the-top persona is eagerly welcoming an NFL franchise that boasts an equally outsized reputation and the promise of big-league legitimacy for the desert gambling oasis, which up to now has seen major sporting events just passing through.

Las Vegas is no stranger to big time events catering to all tastes. Champion boxers lace up their gloves at glitzy hotel-casinos on the Strip. Thousands turn out for NASCAR races. The National Finals Rodeo rides into town every year.

With the addition of an NHL expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, and as of this week the Raiders, Las Vegas believes it has arrived as something substantially more than a one-off venue.

Jubilant state and local officials were quick to welcome the team after the league’s relocation approval Monday. Sports fans who had been confined to minor league baseball and an assortment of lower-division hockey teams gathered downtown to celebrate Monday night.

SOCCER

GENEVA (AP) – Lionel Messi is banned from Argentina’s next four World Cup qualifying games, dealing a blow to a campaign by the 2014 runner-up that has stuttered without him.

Messi’s suspension for “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” during a home qualifier last week against Chile started on Tuesday, shortly before his teammates played Bolivia in La Paz.

Without Messi, Argentina went on to lose the qualifier 2-0.

The five-time FIFA player of the year can appeal to FIFA, but is on track to return for Argentina’s final match in the 10-team South American qualifying group, hosting Ecuador on Oct. 10.

GYMNASTICS SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDAL

WASHINGTON (AP) – Retired star gymnasts testified before Congress that they were sexually abused by a former USA Gymnastics doctor and recommended a bill that requires tougher sex-abuse reporting for Olympic sports.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, and three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard recounted their experiences before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

They told the committee of their abuses by Dr. Larry Nassar, who is in jail without bond in Michigan and also faces federal child pornography charges.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is co-sponsoring a bill that requires organizations overseeing Olympic sports to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or child-welfare authorities.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – An Arkansas House committee advanced a measure to exempt college sporting events from a state law allowing guns after the Southeastern Conference appealed for guns to be banned from facilities such as football stadiums.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the new state law last week allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the State Capitol.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the exemption measure after it was amended. Under the amended exemption, college stadiums such as the University of Arkansas’ Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences would be able to designate sensitive areas where they wouldn’t want people to carry concealed handguns. To prohibit concealed carry in those sensitive areas, they would have to put together a security plan for those areas and submit it to Arkansas State Police for approval.

OLYMPICS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has approved the North Korean women’s ice hockey team to compete in an international event next month at Gangneung, a venue for the 2018 Olympics.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the North Korean team would be permitted to stay from April 1-9 to participate in the group rounds of the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.

North Korean athletes haven’t competed in South Korea since the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon.

Relations between the rival Koreas have significantly worsened over the past year after a series of rocket launches by North Korea.

The women’s world championship is one of the many sports events South Korea plans to host at its Olympic facilities to prepare for next the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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The tension is building ahead of the much-anticipated opening round of the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship next weekend at Donington Park…

The rivalry has never been more intense before the opening races of the season.

There is local interest in the form of Lincolnshire ace Peter Hickman, who will be riding for Smiths BMW.

The Louth-based rider finished seventh in last year’s BSB contest, just missing out on the end-of season ‘Showdown phase for the top six.

The grid also features 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and five-time BSB title-winner Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, who is ready to lock horns with his arch rival, returning 2015 champion, Josh Brookes.

Above, Shane Byrne of the Be Wider Ducati team (centre), Leon Haslam of the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team (left) and Jason O’Halloran of the Honda Racing team (right) celebrate finishing first, second and third respectively in Race One of Round 8 of the 2016 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park Circuit, near Louth

Ten riders have already celebrated BSB race victories with Byrne holding the record, but home hero Leon Haslam is feeling bullish about going one better this season with JG Speedfit Kawasaki after finishing runner-up last season to the Kent ace.

Honda Racing unveiled their new Fireblade in pre-season testing and Jason O’Halloran scored a debut victory with the team last season, but Yamaha are also fighting back strong with the

McAMS Yamaha team of race winners James Ellison and Michael Laverty.

John Hopkins proved he is not going to settle for less than podiums when it comes to his return with the Moto Rapido Ducati team; the American determined to fire himself back into title contention after he missed out in 2011 against Tommy Hill in the most dramatic finale in BSB history.

Luke Mossey has yet to claim an elusive first race win, but the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was the man to beat at the recent Spanish test at Cartagena, smashing the lap record and proving that he is out to do more than just repeat his Showdown finish of last season.

Throw into the mix young guns Glenn Irwin, rookie Bradley Ray and Taylor Mackenzie and there is guaranteed to be fireworks at the season opener next weekend!

The MCE British Superbike Championship continues to grow its television broadcast content and reach.

In the UK, each round will be broadcast exclusively live on Eurosport with the traditional hour-long delayed highlights programme on ITV4 for British fans adding up to over 300 hours of coverage. Beyond traditional TV distribution methods the Eurosport Player, ITV Hub and the official BSB YouTube channel will deliver more content than ever before.

The International appeal of the Championship is underpinned by its global TV distribution. Principle broadcast partner Eurosport serves Pan-Europe whilst there is Live coverage on OSN Sports across the Middle East and North Africa, Fox Africa for Sub Sahara countries, Eurosport for Asia and Pacific territories and highlights to the USA, Canada and Latin America on Discovery’s Velocity and Turbo channels respectively.

30 March – 2 April Donington Park GP

14 – 17 April Brands Hatch Indy

29 April – 1 May Oulton Park

16 – 18 June Knockhill

30 June – 2 July Snetterton 300

21 – 23 July Brands Hatch GP

4 – 6 August Thruxton

18 – 20 August Cadwell Park

8 – 10 September Silverstone GP (Triple header)

15 – 17 September Oulton Park

29 September – 1 October Assen

13 – 15 October Brands Hatch GP (Triple header)


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