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Posted at 06:44 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Rutgers apologizes to Penn State for the ‘regrettable behavior’ of some of its fans


Penn State’s Bill Belton runs into the end zone for the winning touchdown past Rutgers defenders. Penn State won, 13-10. (Abby Drey/AP/Centre Daily Times)

Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann apologized to Penn State fans on behalf of her school. Nittany Lions fans ran into quite a bit of off-color signage alluding to the child sex-abuse scandal that rocked the school in the worst of ways in 2012. That’s when the NCAA levied unprecedented penalties on the school’s football program, which it’s only now beginning to crawl out from under.

Well, Rutgers fans decided to poke fun at Penn State’s sordid past when the Nittany Lions traveled to Rutgers to play them over the weekend.

Much of the signage Penn State fans saw is NSFW, but these “Beat Ped State” T-shirts set the tone for the kind of crude humor that went viral.

The shirts, among other lewd jokes, did not please the school, which led Hermann to put out a statement on Monday apologizing for the “classless display,” evidence of which accidentally made it to Rutgers’ official Facebook page.

“On behalf of Rutgers University and the Athletic Department, we would like to apologize for the regrettable actions of a handful of Rutgers fans on Saturday that do not convey the message of good, competitive spirit that we look forward to having with our new Big Ten rival Penn State University,” Hermann wrote. “Some of the signage and t-shirts that we have been made aware of were both inappropriate and offensive.”

Hermann went on to note that she spoke with and apologized to Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour before adding one last remorseful sentence: “It is unfortunate that the actions of a few spoiled an otherwise historic and recording-setting night that Rutgers fans provided for our first Big Ten football game.”

By Marissa Payne  |  06:44 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:24 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Oscar Pistorius can compete again, South African Olympic committee says


(Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

Oscar Pistorius has been cleared to represent his country on the track again, the South African Olympic committee said (via the Guardian). The news comes just three days after the racer was found guilty of the “culpable homicide” of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the South African court system.

“As he stands right now, he’s free [to compete],” chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic committee Tubby Reddy told the Associated Press. The reason is because the country’s Olympic committee has no regulations that bar athletes with criminal records from competing.

Of course, one thing still could stand in the way between the double-amputee runner and Rio 2016 — his sentencing. Pistorius is facing up to 15 years in prison. But he could also avoid jail time altogether. There is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide in South Africa, so if Judge Thokozile Masipa is feeling especially benevolent on Oct. 13, when the sentencing hearing is scheduled, Pistorius could walk — or run — free.

Pistorius, meanwhile, has not given any indication that he will attempt another Olympic bid. But the 27-year-old has also not ruled it out. According to his agent Peet van Zyl, Pistorius will “sit down and take stock” of his racing future after the sentencing hearing, the AP reports.

“It’s all up to Oscar. He must decide what he wants to do,” Van Zyl told the AP, adding, “I don’t know what his mindset is now.”

Pistorius represented South Africa in the the men’s 400-meter race, as well as the four-by-400-meter relay race at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He did not medal in either. The “bladerunner,” as he’s come to be known, fared much better in the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He won gold medals and set new world records in both the 400-meter and four-by-100 meter relay.

By Marissa Payne  |  06:24 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:51 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Panthers Coach Jerry Richardson says Greg Hardy ‘is on the team,’ could play Sunday


(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy may have been deactivated ahead of Week 2′s game against the Detroit Lions, but the team made very clear Monday that it has no imminent plans to suspend him. Hardy, whose punishment-free domestic violence conviction has become ever-more scrutinized in the wake of the firestorm over Ray Rice, is still a full-fledged member of the team.

“Greg is with the team,” coach Ron Rivera said (via NFL.com) during a press conference on Monday. “We’re going to go through this week and evaluate circumstances. It’s a fluid situation.”

Indeed, the situation has elicited fluid in the form of tears from Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who cried over it while collecting an award last week. But if the situation is that upsetting to the team, many question why more hasn’t been done. Critics say the situation is less fluid and more cut and dry. The Charlotte Observer writes:

“[T]he Panthers risk their reputation and owner Jerry Richardson jeopardizes his moral credibility by covering for a player convicted of assaulting a female. The Panthers can say they are letting the legal process play out, but it appears they just want to bulk up their pass rush. If Hardy’s conviction is overturned, the Panthers could reinstate him at that time. The Panthers should suspend him.”

The team, however, doesn’t see it that way. Instead, they benched the star (but didn’t suspend him) because of the “changes in the climate,” Rivera said on Monday (via SBNation), alluding the shift in public opinion over domestic violence brought on by Rice’s case.  The team’s decision not to dole out at least a suspension to Hardy, however, signifies that the Panthers could easily roll back the other direction should public opinion change due to the news cycle moving on. In the meantime, the Panthers will continue to pay Hardy his nearly $800,000-per-game salary whether he plays or not as long as he’s not suspended, but simply deactivated.

Going forward, Rivera said today that depending on circumstances that come up as Week 3′s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers approaches, Hardy could suit up again as soon as Sunday.

By Marissa Payne  |  05:51 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:31 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Fans in Brazil have adopted the Japanese tradition of cleaning up after themselves at soccer stadiums


Soccer fans/the cleanup crew. (Themba Hadebe/AP)

Win, lose or draw — there’s never an excuse to leave your section of a soccer stadium less tidy than how you found it. That’s been the view of Japanese fans for years, and now, thanks to those fans demonstrating their practice at the World Cup in July, Brazilian fans seem to be getting in on the cleaning action. Per Yahoo! Sports:

Following a 2-0 win over Vitoria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba — one of the World Cup host venues built for the tournament — a large number of Atletico-PR supporters stayed to pick up trash in the stands. According to Globo, the club provided 20,000 trash bags, which the fans dutifully filled and piled up.

This is a pretty swell change of behavior, considering soccer fans don’t tend to have the best reputation. Most recently, Brazilian fans dealt with a blowout World Cup loss to Germany by reportedly setting a bus on fire. And before the World Cup began, a Brazilian fan was killed when another decided to throw a toilet bowl into the crowd. (Seriously.)

Lest you think Brazil is the only country that carries a reputation for having ill-tempered soccer fans, think again. Studies have connected violence at soccer games to difficult preexisting social issues. While there’s no study that’s looked at the opposite — that doing good deeds at soccer matches signifies a society is on the right track —  it at least means one thing — less gum stuck to people’s shoes.

By Marissa Payne  |  05:31 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:32 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Vikings GM says decision to reinstate Adrian Peterson has nothing to do with his playing ability

The Vikings reinstated star running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, just days after the team benched him for being indicted on felony child abuse charges. But that has nothing to do with the Viking’s offensive breakdown against the New England Patriots last Sunday, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in a Monday afternoon press conference.

“We did not have all the information on Friday,” Spielman explained, talking about the day Peterson was indicted. “We have a lot more information today.”

The problem is, the more information that’s leaked, the more disturbing the situation seems. This led reporters to probe Spielman about whether Peterson’s quick reinstatement had more to do with the Peterson-less Vikings losing to the Patriots, 30-7, over the weekend.

“It has nothing to do with that,” Spielman said, adding, “It has nothing to do with him as a football player.”

Spielman later deflected another reporter’s question about ex-Vikings running back Caleb King, who was cut in 2012 for being arrested in an alleged beating, and ex-Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who was cut in 2013 just hours after being charged with domestic violence. The Vikings cut both players almost as soon as they were arrested, and well before their full legal processes played out.

“We’re looking at each of these cases individually. I’m not going to go through [each case],” Spielman said, before repeating much of what owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said in their Monday morning in a press release.

“The issue of child welfare is extremely serious and should be taken seriously,” Spielman said, adding that, at this point, it’s up to the legal system to determine just how “serious” Peterson’s actions were.

“This is a difficult thing to navigate — how a parent disciplines his child,” Spielman said. “We believe [Peterson] deserves to play while the legal process plays out. We are trying to do the right thing.”

Peterson, meanwhile, who released a statement today that he is “not a child abuser,” has Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer’s full support.

“We have good guys on this football team and I will continue to preach being good people that the fans are excited about,” Zimmer said. “It’s also important that when I ask these people to fight for me — run through the wall for me — that I do my very best to support them.”

By Marissa Payne  |  04:32 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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