By John Sinnott, CNN
(CNN) - Hardcore Italian soccer "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.
It is "a means to distract opposition players" says Federico, a member of the Irriducibili ("The Unbeatables") group which follows the Rome-based team.
"I am against anyone who calls me a Nazi," Federico told academic Alberto Testa, who spent time "embedded" with Lazio and Roma ultras for the book "Football, Fascism and Fandom: The UltraS of Italian Football," co-authored by Gary Armstrong.
"What I do not like is people who come to my country and commit crimes; Albanians and Romanians are destroying Rome with their camps," Federico adds.
"But I'm not a racist. One day, I was waiting in my car at the traffic lights and, as usual, there was a young female gypsy who was trying to clean the car windscreen and was asking for money.
"Suddenly municipal police officers started to mistreat the girl. I jumped out of my car and almost kicked his arse. I hate injustice."
There is nothing black and white about Italian football.FULL STORY
(CNN) - After 10 years unbeaten, and an incredible 470 successive victories, Esther Vergeer is hanging up her racket.
The 31-year-old has dominated wheelchair tennis for more than a decade, winning seven Paralympic gold medals, 13 world titles and all 21 of the grand slam singles events she entered, plus 23 in doubles.
"A special day: officially stopping tennis," Vergeer wrote on her Twitter page Tuesday.
She won 169 singles titles overall - 120 of them consecutively - plus 159 in doubles, and helped the Netherlands win the World Team Cup 12 times.
"I am impressed I got this far. I sometimes still cannot believe that in all these years I did not have a breakdown. But for now it's enough," Vergeer told reporters.
She was hailed as an inspirational figure by the head of the International Tennis Federation, Francesco Ricci Bitti.
"Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports," Ricci Bitti said.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – In the end, the Braves are keeping with tradition - as in the signature 'A' that is the team's logo.
MLB.com posted a photo of the new navy blue batting practice caps with a red and white scripted 'A.' The team will wear those hats at spring training, which starts Tuesday.
The Braves said a decision on the batting caps had not been made yet when a potential design was leaked several weeks ago. That design drew ire for its "screaming Indian" logo.
"I like the selection we made this year," Braves President John Schuerholz said in a statement Monday. "We had a variety of choices that we looked at, some more thoroughly than others. But at the end, we liked this one."
But writer Paul Lukas of ESPN's Uni Watch blog, who broke the news of the cap design in December, wasn't buying the Braves' statement. He suggested the Braves withdrew the design because of the furor it caused. FULL POST
By Jill Martin Wrenn, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - Basketball star Lisa Leslie battled her way from the courts of Inglewood, California, to the upper echelons of the WNBA to become one of the most popular women's basketball players of all time.
After retiring from play, Leslie finds herself in a new fight - to gain respect for her beloved sport.
"It's a constant battle," she says. "I feel like I'm an activist for women in sports."
Marking its 17th season this year, the Women's National Basketball Association is the country's longest-running professional women's sports league. But the quest for fans, sponsors and exposure in a sports world dominated by men can be slow, and tough.
The league will celebrate the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, with several community events across the country. The occasion will honor female achievement in sports. But some say U.S. attitudes have a long way to go.FULL STORY
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
(CNN) - While this year's Super Bowl commercials ran the gamut from sentimental to silly, some were downright offensive to viewers who used the Twitter hashtag #NotBuyingIt to flag what they considered the most sexist spots of the night.
Web host GoDaddy.com earned more than 7,500 #NotBuyingIt tweets for its ad featuring an intimate smooch between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a bespectacled computer programmer, putting it at the top of the list of offenders, according to Miss Representation, the social activism nonprofit leading the Twitter campaign for the second year.
The "Perfect Match" and its "smart meets sexy" tagline drew criticism from men and women for "stereotyping programmers and objectifying women" in the words of one male Twitter user.
"@GoDaddy, continuing the tired stereotype that programmers are geeks, while women are sex objects. Disgusting," a female user tweeted.
Overall, #NotBuyingIt generated more than 10,000 tweets and reached more than 8 million people on Twitter during Sunday's Ravens-49ers showdown, a spokesman for Miss Representation said, citing statistics from Topsy and Hashtag.org.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Terence Moore has been a sports columnist for more than three decades. He has worked for the Cincinnati Enquirer, the San Francisco Examiner, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AOL Sports. Follow him on Twitter
By Terence Moore, Special to CNN
New Orleans (CNN) – Suddenly, after years of the National Football League advancing toward the end zone of equality in its hiring practices, diversity has been smacked for a sack and a fumble.
Let's get the brutal numbers out of the way, and then I'll move to the contradiction to everything I just said, which is the brilliant career of Ozzie Newsome. I mean, among the recent vacancies in the NFL, where 70% of the players are black, there were eight openings for head coaches and seven for general managers.
None were filled by minorities. Zero. Zilch.
How strange, because this is a 93-year-old league whose most impressive guy at running a franchise these days is darker than Vince Lombardi of the past and Bill Belichick of the present.
I'm referring to Newsome, 56, who harkens of the future, because he has a tendency to stay a few paces ahead of his NFL peers.
They call Newsome "The Wizard" for his ability to keep the Baltimore Ravens vibrant throughout his decade as the NFL's first black general manager. In fact, this Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end-turned expert talent evaluator has replaced the Gatorade bath after huge victories as the rage around the league.
"It's part of the dream, that dream," Newsome told reporters at the Ravens' headquarters last week when describing his NFL success. "I don't know if I'll have to pinch myself to see if I'm still dreaming."
No, Newsome's NFL legacy is real, alright.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu and Greg Botelho, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – The Atlanta Braves are reportedly bringing back a controversial screaming Indian logo in their new design for batting practice caps, unveiled in a blog post on ESPN.
Writer Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, who broke the news of the new cap design, said he got a first look at the hat designs from an "industry source."
He gave a failing grade to the Braves logo featuring a Native American wearing a mohawk and a feather in his hair and belting out a tribal yell.
"Last year the Braves conspicuously avoided using their 'screaming Indian' logo as a sleeve patch on their retro alternate jersey - a welcome move for those of us who oppose the appropriation of Native American imagery in sports," Lukas wrote. "Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn't been permanently mothballed. Disappointing. Grade: F."
Braves officials deferred comment to Major League Baseball, which told CNN that the new batting practice cap designs for several MLB clubs, including the Braves, were still in development and may never end up on the diamond.
"We will unveil the program when it is finalized," the MLB statement said. "We do not know where (ESPN) obtained the designs. We can not make them available to CNN because they are not finalized or approved." FULL POST
Editor's note: Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker and author or editor of 11 books, including "Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays." E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on twitter @kevin_powell
By Kevin Powell, Special to CNN
(CNN) - My cousin Aaron abruptly typed me the news while we were texting back and forth about other matters: a Kansas City Chiefs football player killed his girlfriend, then went to the team's practice facility and committed suicide in front of his head coach and general manager. Left behind was the couple's 3-month-old daughter, who was in another room when her mother was shot multiple times. Like so many Americans, we were stunned.
We would learn later that player was Jovan Belcher, 25-year-old starting linebacker for the Chiefs, a man and an athlete spoken of in the highest regard by everyone from his high school teammates and coaches to his fellow professional football players. They, too, were stunned.
Indeed, what would lead a man who, by all accounts, loved family, friends and football and had overcome great odds to make the National Football League as an undrafted pick out of the University of Maine to take such shocking actions? A man raised by a single mother, he had achieved so much in such a short period that he had widely been considered a great role model for what could be done through hard work, grit and determination.Read Kevin Powell's full column
Editor's Note: Jeff Yang writes the column Tao Jones for The Wall Street Journal Online. He is a regular contributor to WNYC radio, blogging for "The Brian Lehrer Show," and appears weekly on "The Takeaway." He previously wrote the Asian Pop column for the San Francisco Chronicle and was founder and publisher of A magazine. He tweets @originalspin.
by Jeff Yang, Special to CNN
(CNN) – February seems so long ago, and the breathless, ecstatic adrenaline rush of the phenomenon we called Linsanity feels remote and surreal, like a half-remembered dream.
But here we are, with Lin, now a member of an exciting but inconsistent young Houston Rockets squad, back in the headlines again. Unfortunately, it’s not for dropping three-pointers on the Lakers but for dropping quotes in an interview — quotes that in just about any other context, from just about any other player, would have gone virtually unnoticed.
Last week, Lin gave a rare, candid interview to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, in which he admitted that he’d been unprepared for the backlash that he received after the Rockets gave him a lucrative contract - $25 million over three years - based on his lockout- and injury-shortened breakout season.
Referring to vicious talk about whether he was worth the coin in locker rooms across the league — much of which bubbled up into the blogs and back pages, and some of which came from his own former teammates on the Knicks — Lin said this: “I was a little surprised, but I wasn't shocked. I honestly feel it’s part of the underlying issue of race in American society… of being an Asian-American. I haven’t figured it out. I haven't wrapped my head around it. But it’s something I’m thinking about.” FULL POST
By Matthew Ponsford, for CNN
(CNN) - Jason Griffin straps his right arm in bandages, preparing himself to grip the reins a wildly bucking bronco. Tall, broad-shouldered, with a rough beard, he steps into his cowboy boots, fits a Stetson hat and heads out to meet his mount in the rodeo arena.
Griffin is a four-time world champion bareback bucking horse rider - competing in a sport that began in the 19th century heyday of the Wild West.
With each victory - he has also won three all-round rodeo championships - the Texan raises awareness of a strong tradition which is rarely seen in the many novels, films and television series dedicated to the tales of the old West: The historic story of America's black cowboys.
On cinema screens and paperback covers, the cowboys of old were heroic, hard-bitten and - almost always - white.
In reality, the American West of the 1800s was traversed by an assortment of black, white, Mexican and Native American cattle hands. Contemporary records are rare but historians now estimate that up to one in four Texan cowboys was African American, while the number of Mexican cowboys was even greater.FULL STORY