This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And I wait all week to say: time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: The Stanley Cup finals are set - left versus right, a frequent flier bonanza. The NBA playoffs feature a thrilling matchup between Texas and Oklahoma, the Old Hands versus the Young Guns. And tennis, red, dusty and with a side of frites - the French Open opens. Here to talk about all of it, NPR Tom Goldman,
One of the ways Spaniards console themselves amid their failing economy is with their beloved sport of soccer. If you can't afford tickets to a game, it's always on TV in your local bar.
"For an escape from work, economic problems β just enjoy it and support your team," says soccer fan Ivan Rassuli, who's having a beer as he watches a match at a bar. "Everybody likes football. Maybe like the NBA or baseball in the United States."
But futbol, as Spaniards call soccer, has followed the same sorry trajectory as Spain's economy.
After a compressed National Basketball season due to a labor lockout, the playoffs have been full of exciting basketball. Robert Siegel talks with sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about the NBA conference semifinal matchups.
A central question of gender and sports is facing officials as they prepare for London's Summer Olympics: In a system that segregates athletic competition by sex for reasons of fairness, where do transgender athletes fit?
The debate over who is the greatest summer Olympian in U.S. history is relegated to a familiar list of names: Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Jim Thorpe, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, perhaps Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Then there's Ray Ewry, an all-but-forgotten Olympic great with a remarkable story.
Ewry won his 10th gold medal in 10 tries by leaping, bounding and hopping to such heights and lengths that spectators were awed β but also dumbfounded β that a human being could perform such feats. In fact, the French dubbed him L'Homme Grenouille, the "Frog Man."
Michael Phelps has won more medals, and more gold medals than any U.S. Olympian. But how many people have heard of Ray Ewry, perhaps the all time greatest Olympic athlete on land? Ewry entered 10 events and won 10 gold medals. That his events no longer exist, and that he won his last gold 104 years ago are what contributes to Ewry's relative anonymity.
Speaking of jumps for the record books, how's this? A man who jumps from 23 miles above the Earth, trying to break the sound barrier, going more than 700 miles per hour with his body. Skydiver Felix Baumgartner wants to do just that. He's attempting a world record-breaking freefall this summer from a capsule attached to a helium balloon. Baumgartner will jump from way up in the stratosphere, 120,000 feet above Roswell, New Mexico. He explained his plan to me today.
Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.
It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past β and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.