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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mice ascend Everest to combat doping in sport

Edmund Hilary may have been the first man to conquer Everest but soon his feat will be repeated by a band of mice. As well as making history, the mice may reveal the natural biochemical changes that take place at high altitude, which could lead to a test for athletes who have had their genes manipulated.

High-altitude training benefits athletes by stimulating production of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that allows blood to carry more oxygen. Yet it is possible to cheat by artifically boosting EPO levels, either by taking supplements or maybe by manipulating athletes' genes.

While today's tests can identify athletes who have taken artificial EPO, they cannot distinguish between EPO occurring naturally and as a result of gene interference. "Gene doping isn't yet in widespread use but it is important for those involved in anti-doping to stay one step ahead," says a spokesman for the anti-doping authority UK Sport.

Tejvir Khurana and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who began ascending Everest on Monday with the mice in tow, hope to find molecular "signatures" in the mice's tissue and blood that are only present if EPO is produced in the normal way. If present in humans, such markers could help develop a gene-doping test.

"The practical challenges they will face are fascinating," says Mike Grocott, an expert in extreme-environment physiology at University College London. "Parts of the ascent are technically difficult, particularly if you are carrying a mouse."

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Soccer Parents: Why They Rage


Wonder if you could be one of "those" parents who rant and rage at their kid's soccer game? (Credit: iStockphoto/Julie Johnson)

Wonder if you could be one of “those” parents who rant and rage at their kid’s soccer game? Well, you don’t have to look much farther than your car’s rearview mirror for clues.

According to a new study if you have a tendency to become upset while driving, you’re more likely to be the kind of parent who explodes in anger at your kids’ sports matches.

Research by kinesiology Ph.D student Jay Goldstein of the University of Maryland School of Public Health found that ego defensiveness, one of the triggers that ignites road rage, also kicks off parental “sideline rage,” and that a parent with a control-oriented personality is more likely to react to that trigger by becoming angry and aggressive.

By surveying parents at youth soccer games in suburban Washington, D.C., Goldstein found that parents became angry when their ego got in the way. “When they perceived something that happened during the game to be personally directed at them or their child, they got angry.” says Goldstein. “That’s consistent with findings on road rage.”

And the parents who Goldstein defines as control-oriented were far more likely to take something personally and flare up at referees, opposing players, and even their own kids, than autonomy-oriented parents, who take greater responsibility for their own behavior.

“In general, control-oriented people are the kind who try to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’” Goldstein says. “They have a harder time controlling their reactions. They more quickly become one of ‘those’ parents than the parents who are able to separate their ego from their kids and events on the field.”

However, Goldstein says, even autonomy-oriented parents get angry, and when they do, ego defensiveness is the trigger. “While they’re more able to control it, once they react to the psychological trigger, the train has already left the station.”

Effect on Kids

Fan rage in professional sports has been studied, but there is little data on why parents erupt in anger at their kids’ sports matches, something that’s happening more often, according to coaches.

“What effect does that have on the kids? Parents have tremendous influence over how their child interprets an experience by what parents do and say,” says Goldstein, who once ran youth soccer events professionally. His interest in finding out more about parental anger started with an incident at one of those tournaments.

“A parent snapped and struck a child, not her own. I thought ‘there’s more to this than being a bad parent.’ What would trigger that kind of reaction?”

Getting Angry

In 2004, Goldstein enlisted voluntary input from 340 parents attending their kids’ soccer games in the Washington suburbs. Before the game, parents filled out a questionnaire that would identify them as either control or autonomy oriented.

As soon as the game ended, parents answered another questionnaire that revolved around what, if anything, during the course of the game may have caused them to become angry, defined as “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.”

More than half of the parents, 53 percent, reported getting angry, to some degree, during the game. The sources of the anger were most often the referee and their own children’s teams. Most parents reported getting only slightly angry for less than two minutes.

About 40 percent of the parents reported responding to their anger with actions that ranged from muttering to themselves to yelling and walking toward the field.

“Regardless of their personality type, all parents were susceptible to becoming more aggressive as a result of viewing actions on the field as affronts to them or their kids,” said Goldstein. “However, that being said, it took autonomy-oriented parents longer to get there as compared to the control-oriented parents.”

Interventions

Goldstein hopes to follow with more studies that look at other geographic areas, populations and sports. “This study was predominantly white middle class parents,” he says.

He also hopes to study effects of sideline rage on the kids. “Parents won’t change until they realize they’re hurting their children.”

Goldstein’s goal is to use his findings to develop interventions that can help parents recognize the onset of anger triggers and control their reactions.

Co-author on the paper is Seppo E. Iso-Ahola, professor in the kinesiology department of the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

Jay Goldstein’s tips for not becoming one of those parents

When you feel your anger rising at something you see on the field:

  • Controlled deep breathing exercises (inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds)
  • Suck on a lollipop (Occupies your mouth and reminds you that you’re there for your child.)
  • Visualize a relaxing experience like floating on water.
  • Repeat a calm word or phrase.
  • Do yoga-like muscle stretches.
  • Replace angry thoughts with rational ones, such as “This is my child’s game, not mine,” or “Mistakes are opportunities to learn.”
  • Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. Count to 10 and think about possible responses.
  • If you did not see the game, first ask your child “How did you play?” rather than “Did you win?”
  • Praise your child’s effort, then, maybe, comment on the results.
  • Use humor, but avoid harsh or sarcastic humor. Picture the referee wearing Elton John glasses.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr Hypermiles to Victory in NASCAR Racing


Who says racing has nothing to do with fuel economy? Honestly, I was rather shocked to hear about the prominence of hypermiling techniques in racing, especially NASCAR. Perhaps the revolution is hitting home with more people than the news would lead us to believe. Here’s the word direct from Earnhardt and ESPN:

Knowing the race was going to be extended beyond its scheduled 200 laps, Eury told Earnhardt to shut the engine off and coast whenever he could under the caution flag in a desperate effort to save more gas.

Junior did just that, coasting fast enough at times that he passed the pace car — until NASCAR warned Eury to have Earnhardt cut it out.

“I didn’t know how much they were going to worry about it,” Earnhardt said. “All the cars out there are gassing it, shutting ‘em off, coasting about a half straightaway, cranking ‘em back up, gas it, coast. Everybody’s doing it.

For those of you who don’t know already, this technique is oftentimes called “Pulse & Glide,” and is widely used by ecodrivers looking to get better gas mileage. P&G works by making your engine work only when it’s most efficient, and shutting it off at other times.

P&G, as the name suggests, has two main components. The pulse is an acceleration phase with lots of throttle, and the glide is a coast in neutral or with the engine off. People using P&G for fuel economy will often pick a median speed and pulse up to 10 MPH above that and then glide down to 10 MPH below, so that they can maintain an average speed around where the would be driving anyway.

It works because your engine is most efficient in high load operation, and then uses no fuel if you’re coasting with the engine off, as Earnhardt did. Rather than being in a constant low load, inefficient state, the combination of burning more during acceleration and then none during coast averages out to savings. While it may seem counter intuitive, Earnhardt’s victory clearly shows that it’s a viable technique.

Now, that said, I do not recommend using P&G in traffic where other drivers might not know what you’re doing or it might be dangerous. It’s best at low speeds (where aerodynamics is not so much of a factor) and when you have an open road that you know well. For a better description of P&G, see this MetroMPG.com article. For more fuel efficient driving techniques check out the 100+ EcoDriving Tips list.

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Playoff win at Torrey Pines ranks high, but doesn't top '97 Masters

Sobel

By Jason Sobel
ESPN.com
(Archive)

SAN DIEGO -- Last September, I sat facing Tiger Woods, looked him in the eye and asked, "What's the greatest win of your career?"

Without blinking, without thinking, without hesitation, he responded, "1997 Masters."
Tiger Woods

Augusta National/Getty Images

Tiger Woods didn't just win his first major as a professional golfer in April 1997. The 21-year-old demolished the field, winning by a tournament-record 12 shots.

No other explanation was necessary. In case you don't recall that victory, welcome back to the planet Earth. The short story: Competing in his first major championship as a professional, the 21-year-old phenom of mixed ethnic background delicately carved his way around lily-white Augusta National and into the global consciousness.

It was at once a dominant, defining moment in the game, while at the same time helped to bring golf to the masses and boosted its popularity among various races and cultures. If Woods someday finished his career without ever one-upping that moment, he could be excused for such a shortcoming; it's not a moment that should so easily be outdone. On Monday, however, after flummoxing Rocco Mediate through 19 extra holes of play at Torrey Pines to win the championship despite an excruciating knee injury that caused him to wince and double over in pain on multiple occasions throughout the week, Woods suggested that the 2008 U.S. Open may have been the best of his 14 career major titles so far. Of course "best" is a vague term, one that needs description, definition and explanation. Using historical importance, dominance, dramatics and entertainment value as a guideline, let's break down each of Woods' major victories in order, from No. 1 to 14. 1. 1997 Masters
Woods' initial major championship remains the standard-bearer against which all his subsequent accomplishments should be measured. The win didn't just change the game; it changed the world. His jaunt through Augusta National broke down barriers, dispelling the notion that golf was a homogenous game built only for those of a specific bloodline. One day after Woods won that tournament, masses of people were inspired to try the game on courses and driving ranges around the world. That weekend golf became cool. It became popular. It became young and hip and brash -- all because of a young man named Tiger Woods, who usurped the world's best players by a record 12 strokes on the game's grandest stage. Tiger's Take: "I never thought I would have a lead like I did. You envision dueling it out with Nicklaus or Watson or Faldo, but never to do it in the fashion I did." 2. 2008 U.S. Open
On its own, the torment at Torrey Pines may have been Tiger's most nail-biting, odds-defying victory to date. The six-hole stretch on Saturday that featured two lengthy eagle putts and a chip-in birdie that propelled him into the lead was brilliant; the make-or-break final-hole birdie putt on Sunday was triumphant; the 18-hole standstill with Mediate and ensuing sudden death victory on Monday were exhilarating. But it all holds extra cachet because of how badly injured Woods' not-quite-fully-rehabilitated left knee really was during the tournament and how little preparation he was able to do beforehand. Tiger's Take: "I think this is the best, just because of all of the things I had to deal with. … It's a close one to the first one I won. But with all the things considered this week, yeah." 3. 2000 U.S. Open
Two words: Utter dominance. There has never been a major so soundly ruled over than this affair at Pebble Beach. Officially, Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez tied for second place at 3 over par. Tiger? He was 12 under. Most players win the U.S. Open by 15 and then wake up when the alarm goes off. Woods' dream was reality -- and doesn't even crack the top two on his list anymore. Tiger's Take: "I got the trophy. Now I get to go home. But you don't really understand exactly what you've done, until time passes. And I'll appreciate this win a lot more in the future than I do right now, because I'm too close to the moment. And I had a wonderful week, a great week, actually, but I can't really tell you historically what it really means. I've been told that I've set a few records, but I don't really know what they are. I haven't had time. … The only thing I know is I got the trophy sitting right next to me."
Tiger Woods

AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Nearly two months after his father died, Tiger Woods won the 2006 British Open. Woods embraced caddie Steve Williams on the 18th green in a clear display of emotion rarely shown publicly by the world's No. 1-ranked golfer.

4. 2000 British Open
Asked on Monday to name his third greatest major feat (after this week's Open and the '97 Masters), Woods chose this one -- and for good reason. His compelling domination at St. Andrews led to an 8-stroke victory, but more importantly sealed his place among the all-time legends of the game, as Tiger joined Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player as the only players to claim the career Grand Slam. Tiger's Take: "It's the ultimate," Woods said. "This is the home of golf. This is where you always want to win. To have a chance to complete the slam at St. Andrews is pretty special. I was able to bring it home." 5. 2001 Masters
No player in the modern era has ever accomplished the Grand Slam, winning all four professional majors in the same year. But after beating David Duval by two strokes for his second Masters win, Woods staked a claim to what became known as the Tiger Slam, as he held all four major trophies on his mantel at the very same time. Tiger's Take: "When I won in '97, I had not been a pro a full year yet. I guess I was a little young, a little naive, and didn't understand what I accomplished, for at least a year or two after that event. This year, I understand. I've been around the block. I've witnessed a lot of things since that year. You know, I have better appreciation for winning a major championship, and to win it -- to win four of them in succession -- it's just, it's hard to believe, really, because there's so many things that go into winning a major championship." 6. 2006 British Open
Solemn and steely-eyed on the course, Woods never displayed the internal emotion that he was carrying throughout the four rounds … until his final putt dropped. Less than three months after his father, Earl, passed away, Tiger broke down in a rare display of public effusion, clutching caddie Steve Williams in a tight embrace while tears welled up in his eyes. Tiger's Take: "At that moment, it just came pouring out and of all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, and I just wish he could have seen it one more time. I was pretty bummed out after not winning the Masters, because I knew that was the last major he was ever going to see. So that one hurt a little bit. And finally to get this one, it's just unfortunate that he wasn't here to see it." 7. 2000 PGA Championship
Proving that sometimes the greatest challenges can come from the unlikeliest of sources, little-known Bob May matched Woods shot for shot at Valhalla. In a major championship version of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better, Tiger showed that he was better than the absolute best May had to offer. The result was entertainment for the ages. Tiger's Take: "The fireworks started on the back nine. This is probably one of the greatest duels I've ever had in my life. Hats off to Bob. He played his heart out.'' 8. 2005 Masters
You'll remember The Chip. You know, the one on 16 that landed some 30 feet above the hole only to funnel toward the cup and hang inexplicably on the lip before swooshing its way into the hole. The bogey-bogey finish that followed? The playoff against Chris DiMarco? They all take a backseat to one of the most memorable shots of Tiger's career, which led to his first victory in his last 10 major appearances, the culmination of massive swing changes in previous years. Tiger's Take: "More than anything, it's validation of all the hard work I've put into it. Hank [Haney] and I have put some serious hours into this and, you know, I read some of the articles over [the] past year of him getting ripped, I'm getting ripped for all the changes I'm making, and to play as beautifully as I did this entire week is pretty cool." 9. 1999 PGA Championship
With only one major to Woods' credit -- and none in his previous 10 attempts -- those who had anointed Woods as the Next Big Thing were already looking for the next Next Big Thing. They thought they had found it in Sergio Garcia, an excitable 19-year-old Spaniard who had the look and athleticism to be Tiger's longtime rival. Woods got the best of his young peer that week -- and the chalk outline of Garcia's major career may still rest somewhere on the final holes at Medinah. Tiger's Take: "To come out of it on top took everything out of me. I just tried to hold him off and did the best I could." 10. 2002 U.S. Open
A return to a municipal facility brought a sense of energy back to the Open and no player was better suited to win one for the blue-collar crowd than Woods. To this day, it remains the lone major in which he and Phil Mickelson finished as the top two competitors, though in reality Tiger's 3-stroke win wasn't met with much of a challenge down the stretch. Tiger's Take: "It's so hard to describe how good it feels to win a major championship, because it takes so much out of you, and it's so difficult to do because you have to really play well. And you've got to be at the top of your game in order to win a major championship. You can't go out and slop it around and win. And it's just really neat to look at the guys on the list that I'm a part of now. And hopefully my career will keep being positive." 11. 2002 Masters
By lengthening their course nearly 300 yards, Augusta National officials believed they were "Tiger-proofing" the Masters and setting a more level playing field. Think again. Woods surgically dismantled the larger ballpark, winning by 3 strokes to earn his second-straight green jacket and third overall -- trailing only Nicklaus and Palmer on the all-time list. Tiger's Take: "I keep saying it -- you've got to have some good breaks. I played well this week, made some good putts when I really needed them, but I had some good breaks as well. I was able to somehow finagle a way to get up and down and save a lot of pars this week." 12. 2007 PGA Championship
Frankly, we're still trying to figure out how Woods doesn't own the all-time major championship single-round scoring record by his lonesome, rather than sharing it with some two dozen others. He shot 63 in the second round at Southern Hills, but was left befuddled when his final birdie attempt of the day failed to find the bottom of the cup, leading him to call it a round of "62½." That score did give him the 36-hole lead, though, one which he would never relinquish en route to claiming his first major win since his daughter, Sam, was born. Tiger's Take: "It's a feeling I've never had before, having Sam there and having Elin there. It feels a lot more special when you have your family there. … So it's evolved, and this one feels so much more special than the other majors. … I was so excited and just want to give Elin and Sam a kiss and get back to signing my scorecard." 13. 2005 British Open
What does it say about a man who can claim a Claret Jug for the second time in as many attempts at the vaunted home of golf, and still have it rank so far down on this list? On a week remembered more for his idol Jack Nicklaus' retiring from major competition, Woods conquered St. Andrews to the tune of a 5-stroke victory -- his largest winning margin at a major in five years. Tiger's Take: "It's pretty cool. I've kind of gone one past halfway. Jack's got 18, now I have 10. Man, I tell you what, I honestly -- when I first started playing the tour -- I didn't think I'd have this many majors before the age of 30. There's no way. No one ever has. Usually the golden years are in your 30s for a golfer. Hopefully, that will be the case." 14. 2006 PGA Championship
There's no such thing as a "bad" major title and picking one would be like naming a least-favorite child. But Woods' victory at Medinah is certainly the least memorable of the 14 wins. He took sole possession of the lead on the opening hole of the final round and never relinquished it, earning a 5-stroke victory without ever seriously being challenged. If you dozed off and don't remember, don't feel too guilty. Tiger's Take: "It was a special day out there. I just had one of those magical days on the greens today. I just felt like if I got the ball anywhere on the green, I could make it. It's not too often you get days like that, and I happened to have it on the final round of a major championship. So it was a really neat feeling to have." Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.

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Woods set to have season-ending knee surgery

Tiger Woods walked tenderly out of Torrey Pines with a U.S. Open trophy he was destined to win on a left leg worse than anyone imagined. A group of children called out to him and Woods looked over and waved.

It turned out to be a most symbolic gesture.

So long, Tiger.

See you next year.

Woods revealed Wednesday he has been playing for at least 10 months with a torn ligament in his left knee, and that he suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg two weeks before the U.S. Open. He said he will have season-ending surgery, knocking him out of the final two majors and the Ryder Cup.

"I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time. I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open," Woods said on his Web site. "Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee."

He sure wasn't listening to doctors by playing the U.S. Open, a victory that now looks even more impressive.

Out of competition for two months because of April 15 surgery to clean out cartilage in his left knee, he suffered a double stress fracture in his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open.

Hank Haney, his swing coach, was with him in Florida when doctors told Woods the preferred treatment was three weeks on crutches, followed by three weeks of rest.

Woods since his injury

How good has Tiger Woods been since he says he injured his ACL running at home after last year's British Open? Look at his results (he also played on the U.S. Presidents Cup team):

Event Finish Money
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Won $1,350,000
PGA Championship Won $1,260,000
Deutsche Bank Championship 2nd $522,667
BMW Championship Won $1,260,000
Tour Championship Won $1,260,000
Target World Challenge Won $1,350,000
Buick Invitational Won $936,000
Dubai Desert Classic Won $417,000
WGC-Accenture Match Won $1,350,000
Arnold Palmer Inv'l Won $1,044,000
WGC-CA Championship 5th $285,000
Masters 2nd $810,000
U.S. Open Won $1,350,000

According to Haney, Woods looked at the doctor and said: "I'm playing the U.S. Open, and I'm going to win."

"And then he started putting on his shoes," Haney recalled. "He looked at me and said, 'Come on, Hank. We'll just putt today.' Every night, I kept thinking there was no chance he's going to play. He had to stop in his tracks for 30 seconds walking from the dining room table to the refrigerator.

"He was not going to miss the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. There just wasn't any discussion."

And it was a U.S. Open that will be talked about for years.

Despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament and the double stress fracture, Woods managed to win a major that required five days of flinching, grimacing and a long list of spectacular shots that have defined his career.

He went 91 holes on a leg that got worse each day, finally defeating Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole of a playoff.

"When I talk about golf, he doesn't count," Mediate said Monday after the playoff. "He's not normal."

Woods, 32, did not say when he would have surgery, but he canceled a clinic that was scheduled for Tuesday at Comerica Park in Detroit. Haney said the typical recovery is six to eight months. This will be Woods' third surgery in five years on his left knee.

"There will be debate whether he rushed back for the U.S. Open," said Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG. "But I don't think there will be any debate that he rushes back from his next surgery. He won't need to. Augusta is in April. And if things go according to plan, he'll be able to play an event or two or three."

Woods first went to Haney toward the end of 2002 to overhaul a violent swing that was putting enormous pressure on his left knee. Haney suspects the pain has been increasing, and Woods stopped hitting balls after his rounds at last year's British Open.

"He's been playing way less than 100 percent for a long, long, time," Haney said. "It has limited him a lot in practice. He's going to come back better than he's ever been."

Woods was already plenty good, with 65 victories that rank third all time on the PGA Tour, and 14 professional majors that are second only to the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. This is the 500th week Woods has been ranked No. 1 in the world.

Even in his abbreviated 2008 season, he won five of seven tournaments worldwide. Dating to the discovery of the torn ACL, Woods won nine of 12 tournaments, including two majors, and never finished lower than fifth.

"While I am obviously disappointed to have to miss the remainder of the season, I have to do the right thing for my long-term health and look forward to returning to competitive golf when my doctors agree that my knee is sufficiently healthy," Woods said. "My doctors assure me with the proper rehabilitation and training, the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects."

Woods will miss a major for the first time in his career -- the British Open next month at Royal Birkdale and the PGA Championship, where Woods is the two-time defending champion, in August at Oakland Hills in Michigan.

"Tiger is an enormous attraction, there's no denying that," Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said. "But the Open Championship has had many exciting finishes which Tiger has not been part of, and I'm sure there will be more. It's very sad. We're very sorry that he's succumbed to the injury and he won't be competing in the Open.

"We hope he has the speediest recovery."

SportsNation
What would have been best for the sport of golf?
Woods delivers memorable U.S. Open performance but misses rest of season
Woods skips U.S. Open but plays remainder of schedule

Woods also will miss the Ryder Cup in September, meaning the ninth player in the U.S. standings will qualify for the team. Coincidentally, Woods had mathematically clinched a spot on the team by winning the U.S. Open.

"We sent him flowers for winning the U.S. Open. Now I wish I had put in a note of condolences," U.S. captain Paul Azinger quipped. "But this is not about Tiger and the Ryder Cup. It's about Tiger getting better and his march to history."

The majors won't miss Woods nearly as much as the PGA Tour -- and the networks that televise it -- especially in the second year of the FedEx Cup, which Woods won in a landslide last year.

He still might be on top of the points race in August leading to the playoffs. Even with Woods no longer playing the rest of the year, he will keep his spot in the playoff events for which he is eligible.

"Tiger is our tour," Kenny Perry said from the Travelers Championship, which starts Thursday at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. "When you lose your star player, it definitely hurts."

Woods had committed to playing in next week's Buick Invitational. He hosts the AT&T National the week after that, at Congressional Country Club in Washington, D.C.

"I'm sorry about Tiger having to miss the rest of the year due to more knee surgery," Phil Mickelson said in a statement. "I know how frustrating it was to lose most of last summer to my wrist injury but I expect him to be back as strong as ever and look forward to competing with him as soon as possible."

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said his concern was for Woods' health and well-being.

"For an athlete as talented and competitive as Tiger Woods, taking the rest of the season off must have been an incredibly difficult, yet necessary decision, one that we understand and support completely," Finchem said in a statement. "The fact that he needs additional surgery only makes his performance and victory at last week's U.S. Open all the more impressive. First and foremost, our concern -- as it would be for any of our players facing surgery or illness -- is for Tiger's health and overall well-being, both on and off the golf course. We wish him the best toward a speedy recovery."

Woods is private about his health and personal life, never more so than at the just-completed U.S. Open. He didn't say anything about the torn ACL or the stress fractures, and wouldn't say how he was treating the knee, only that it was more sore as the week went on.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was when the injury first happened.

Woods said he tore the ACL while jogging at home after the British Open last July. He played on, going on a streak that included seven consecutive victories, including the Dubai Desert Classic on the European tour and his Target World Challenge, an unofficial event.

He did not play overseas late last year for the first time since 2003, hopeful that rest could allow him to play more this year. But the pain intensified through the Masters, where he finished second, and Woods said the cartilage damage developed from the ACL injury.

He bypassed surgery on the torn ligament April 15, hopeful that by cleaning out the cartilage he could make it through the year. What he didn't anticipate were the stress fractures as he tried to get ready for the Memorial.

"The stress fractures that were discovered just prior to the tournament unfortunately prevented me from participating and had a huge impact on the timing for my return," Woods said. "I was determined, though, to do everything and anything in my power to play in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which is a course that is close to where I grew up and holds many special memories for me."

Woods has won eight times at the public golf course in San Diego -- a U.S. Open, a record six times at the Buick Invitational and a Junior World Championship as a teenager.

He called his U.S. Open victory "probably the best ever."

On Wednesday, he explained why.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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Can Professional Sports Govern Themselves?

Another sports figure is ratting out to the government and turning the sport he represented on its head. Former NBA referee and current convicted felon, Tim Donaghy continues to spill his guts to the federal government like water flowing over Niagara Falls. Donaghy has previously pleaded guilty to federal charges that he shared inside information on NBA games with gamblers. He is now alleging that there was a conspiracy between certain NBA referees working during the 2002 NBA playoffs to assure that a series presumed to be the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings would go to a seventh game. He has also made allegation regarding the “targeting” of players by the refs in the Dallas Mavericks 2005 playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Denials have flown from every angle, crisscrossing with reckless abandon. Other referees involved have disputed these allegations.

Sports media outlets are ablaze with debate on whether Congress should step in and hold hearings on whether the Donahy allegations represent an isolated instance or whether the integrity of the game as a whole has been flagrantly compromised. NBA Commissioner David Stern accurately and understandably points out that Donaghy is a convicted felon who would say anything to reduce his sentence. That does not necessarily mean his allegations are not true. Has the public confidence in the integrity of the outcomes of all NBA games been compromised? Should we just all chalk this up to a vindictive guy about to hit the prison hoops circuit getting his last digs in?

There certainly is plenty of precedent for Congress to step in and hold hearings when there is a loss of public confidence or a perception that the event going consumer is “being scammed”. It often does not even have to rise to that level. Public outrage over one particular incident is often impetus enough

In the aftermath of the on-track euthanizing of the filly Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby , under strong pressure from PETA, The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold hearings entitled “Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns: The State of Thoroughbred Racing and the Welfare of the Thoroughbred Racehorse.” Safety issues in the sport will be examined.

As if the subject had not been beaten to death, the same subcommittee again recently invited testimony on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. Representative Bobbie L. Rush(D-Ill) and others are seeking to establish uniform testing and punishment in the four major sports.

Just when we thought New England Patriot turncoat Matt Walsh had finished glomming his 15 minutes of fame and Spygate had died the unceremonious, irrelevant death it deserves, congressional media hound Arlen Specter rears his ancient head. It now appears that the ugly “spector” of Congressional hearings will no longer hang over us like bats in the night ready to suck the life out of every red-blooded football fan. Arlen Specter has finally realized that no one cares and has dropped his call for an investigation.

How can we not talk about the Congressional steroid hearings that started with the tell-all memoir of Jose Canseco and ended with the startling revelations of Mindy McCready with Roger Clemens caught right in the middle. (Does that qualify as a threesome?) These hearings were called “Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to Eradicate Steroid Use.“ Ironically one of the dignitaries calling for these hearings was Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

In 2005, after the murder-suicide involving professional wrestler Chris Benoit, Rep. Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Tom Davis, its ranking minority member, asked WWE to provide documents giving the committee a detailed look at WWE’s drug-testing policy and drug test results. Hearings went forward in February 2008; It is unclear at this point if anything further will be done.

There is also precedent outside of sports for such investigations when it was felt that there was a loss of “public trust or confidence” in the integrity of a certain industry. I am referring to the Quiz Show Scandals and the Comic Book Hearings of the 1950s.

Is Congress wasting its time and our money on such mundane issues as steroids and alleged game- fixing? After all, Congress did not see fit to involve itself in one of the most egregious instances of game fixing in the history of professional sports, the 1919 Blacksox Scandal. Would Congress have invovlved itself had baseball not taken aggressive steps to clean up the gambling?

In the grand scheme of things, there are certainly more emotional issues at our doorsteps. American soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. People having to choose between a gallon of gas and a month’s rent, or feeding their kids.

Does the fact that we have these terrible issues mean that we should ask our elected representatives to ignore these seemingly trivial issues? If we were not at war and the economy was booming, would we still view these sports issues as trivial? More importantly, is the lack of public trust in an industry really trivial? There is so much more at stake. Billions of dollars in jobs, revenues, public tax concessions, public stadium financing etc. These all have a significant impact on our economy.

What should the standard for intervention be? There is a huge difference between isolated acts of dishonesty and acts so integral to the proper functioning of the industry that all is compromised. Spygate is a perfect example. These were isolated acts They did not undermine public confidence in the integrity of the outcome of professional football games as a whole.

What are the players’ reactions to the possibility of Congress butting-in in their respective sports Should there be a governing body that oversees the 4 major sports?

Patrick Johnson is a wide receiver for the Toronto Argronauts of the Canadian Football League. He has also played for the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins. He earned a Super Bowl ring when the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV.

Pat had this to say:

“I would be in favor of congressional intervention depending on the into sports scandals. “We are considered “role models” to the many youth and others who only dream to have the jobs we have. We should not have to hide behind the “perception” that we have created to shape and mold the minds of those who watch every week. We as pro athletes are perceived to be fair and honest when it comes to taking drugs that may illegally alter, or enhance the performance of an individual.

I am in favor of this because with the latest developments in our world and in MLB, something has to be done by our federal government. Are our leagues corrupted at the top? Are these leagues letting their premier players skate by drug testing because of their bottom line? We have no idea of knowing. Are our strings being pulled? These are some of the things I think about when thinking of the NBA scandal. How can a guy throw games for over a decade not be found out about? Is it still going on now? How would even know if it was? If government intervened, it would bring to light what the underbelly of pro sports is really about in some cases. Here in the CFL we don’t have any testing in place and as far as I can see, we don’t have a widespread issue with illegal drug use.”

Jim Leyritz is a former MLB player. He played for several teams throughout his career. He was best known as a member of the New York Yankees and for his home run off Atlanta Braves closer Mark Wohlers in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series.

Jim had this to say:

Professional sports need some type of outside monitoring. Is congress the answer? All the professional sports have shown at one time or another they cannot monitor themselves. Football and Baseball with the drug polices, hockey with the abortion of a strike and of course now the NBA with the refs. Let us not forget the Tour De France controversy and our Olympic Athletes. All of these sports should have an outside governing body. We have given all sports enough rope in the past. They all have proven monitoring from a third party would be beneficial to Players, teams, owners and most of all the Fans.”

Should Congress step in to the NBA situation or any professional sports scandal? Should we leave it to them in investigate their own? There is a strong argument that if something is amiss, market forces will be all that is needed to correct the problem. No one will attend events. Revenues will drop drastically. Action will be taken. Should there be an independent governing body for the four major sports? What should the standard be? Can we ever truly know that all is on the up and up? Should we make an effort to know or is ignorance bliss as long as we are entertained and the Las Vegas line is thriving? Who has the job of getting to the truth? Can an entity investigating its own be truly objective?

Who will be looking for the blue dress?

Original here

Celtics wins 17th NBA title with 131-92 rout of Lakers

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer