Serena Williams called comments by Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev “sexist and racist” when he referred to the No. 1 women’s player in the world and her older sister Venus as “brothers.”Williams was aghast when she learned Tarpischev, on a Russian talk show with former Olympic singles champion Elena Dementieva, interjected on a question about playing against the Williams sisters to say, “The Williams brothers … It’s scary when you really look at them.”The Women’s Tennis Association is seeking to have Tarpischev suspended for a year. He was fined $25,000.“I think the WTA did a great job of taking [the] initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.”Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was “a humorous show.” When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: “I can’t comment. I don’t understand it.”In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any “malicious intent” and said his quotes had been taken out of context.Tarpischev has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia’s only WTA event, for all of its 18 years as a women’s tour event, and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. During the 1990s, he was the personal tennis coach to Russian president Boris Yeltsin and served as his adviser on sports matters.Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, also in Singapore for the WTA Finals, said of Tarpischev’s comments: “I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee.”
For several years, NFL higher-ups have been a bit sour on the extra point. It slows down the game; kickers make them so often that they’re not really exciting, or even tense; and even if one is missed, it’s less “OMG, did you see that?” and more “WTF, kickers are terrible!”In preseason games, the NFL has experimented with narrowing the goal posts and/or moving back the spot of the kick on attempts. It is rumored to be considering eliminating the extra-point option entirely.That’s one way to encourage two-point conversions. But it’s not as exciting as the idea that the Indianapolis Colts are offering. This week, the Colts caused some buzz by making a crazy-sounding suggestion to the NFL’s competition committee: If a team converted its two-point attempt, it would get a shot at an additional point by attempting a 50-yard field goal.Considering that kickers now make 50-yard attempts about two-thirds of the time, this essentially means that successful two-point tries would be worth 2.66 points. That would clearly affect coaches’ strategy after a touchdown — or at least it should. Currently, a team needs to be able to convert a two-point attempt 50 percent of the time to make it a better option (barring tactical reasons) than an extra point. But in the Colts’ extra-extra-point scenario, a team would only have to convert its two-point attempt from scrimmage about 38 percent of the time.In 2014, teams made 48 percent of their attempts, which is just about in line with how they’ve done for the past decade. So under the proposed change, going for two would probably be right in most circumstances. (That’s a small sample size, though. It’s unclear exactly how good teams really are at converting two-point attempts because they are taken so rarely and teams don’t take them with equal frequency.)Even if the Colts’ rule came to be — and that’s a very unlikely prospect — the coaches wouldn’t necessarily catch on even though the math would be in their favor. Many coaches still kick field goals on fourth and goal from the 1, and that is generally a much worse mistake.But suppose for a second that the strategy did catch on. It would likely have a big ripple effect. Having a kicker who can convert from 50 yards consistently would become a lot more valuable. Also, knowing that teams could come back from nine points down on a single possession might make coaches play more aggressively in a number of different situations.The competition committee has already rejected the idea, meaning that it’s unlikely to be adopted any time soon. (It will still be offered up to the owners next week, but without the committee’s endorsement.) But that leaves room for my alternative: How about any time that a team converts a 2-pointer, it can either take the two points or take one point and try again? Then no lead would be safe.
LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers might be trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-2 in the NBA Finals. The Cavs might, as their Vegas odds suggest, have a mere 12 percent chance of winning the NBA championship. But according to just about every statistical measurement available, the self-proclaimed “best player in the world” is having a series for the ages.Build a bare-bones performance metric that simply adds a player’s points, rebounds and assists and then divides by the number of games the team played,1Using team games penalizes players who missed games — you can’t add value if you don’t play. and James’s 2015 finals ranks as the best of the past 30 years.Get more complex — using, say, a points above replacement (PAR) estimator based on the single-game version of Daniel Myers’s Box Plus/Minus2Which takes into account the location and strength of opponent for each game. — and James ranks sixth among all NBA Finals participants since 1985.3Despite not ranking in the top 25 in our bare-bones metric (and so not making the chart above), Magic Johnson’s 1988 finals performance places second in PAR per team game.So at either pole of the complexity spectrum, James has been the top player of these finals. (Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post and ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton came to similar conclusions using a few more metrics of varying intricacy.) And from a historical perspective, output of this level usually leads to winning the NBA Finals and the NBA Finals MVP: Every player near James’s combined total of points, rebounds and assists ended up garnering MVP honors.In a vacuum, then, James’s performance has been so historically strong that it would be a shame for him not to win the award.But on the other hand, if the Warriors win the series and the MVP goes to James, it will be the first time that a member of the losing team has received the honor since 1969, when Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers won in spite of the Boston Celtics’ championship. And, as Pelton notes, the culture of denying MVP honors to a nonchampion has grown in the intervening years, across all sports.In the NBA alone, nine players since 1985 have been the best player in their series by PAR through five games yet failed to win the MVP after their teams lost. (To a certain extent, this also speaks to what can happen between Games 5 and 7 of a series between closely matched teams.) In 2011, Dwyane Wade — then James’s teammate on the Miami Heat — outplayed Dirk Nowitzki to a greater extent than James has outplayed presumptive Warriors MVP candidate Stephen Curry4Andre Iguodala actually leads Golden State in PAR during the series. thus far yet still lost the award to the Dallas Mavericks star. So as great as James has been, it might not be enough to justify the award if Cleveland loses the series.There’s one more angle to think about, though, when it comes to James’s 2015 finals performance. It may be that all our stats and metrics simply break down when forced to consider the unparalleled burden that James has been forced to carry on this undermanned, undertalented Cavaliers squad. James’s 41.1 percent usage rate in this series is the largest of any finalist since 1985, breaking Michael Jordan’s mark of 39.6 percent for the Chicago Bulls against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. James is also logging an incredible 45.6 minutes per game, the eighth-most of any qualified5Minimum 140 minutes played in the series. finalist since 1985.As Tom Haberstroh wrote over the weekend, James’s physical workload during these finals has been termed “unfathomable” (among other things) by sports science experts. At the limits of human endurance and on-court influence — through his shooting and passing, James was involved in 70 of Cleveland’s 91 points in Game 5 — there may be no numbers that can do justice to how irreplaceable James has been for the Cavaliers in this series.They don’t necessarily give out awards for being completely and utterly essential to your team, of course. And, as always, “value” is in the eye of the beholder. But whether the Cavs win or lose, it’s not hard to imagine this series going down as a testament to James’s singular talent, stamina and durability. And if that doesn’t constitute “value,” I’m not sure what does.
‘Do Bailon ki Katha’, ‘Namak ka Daroga’, ‘Eidgaah’ – if these titles from Premchand’s works have made you sit up and notice then there’s a reason for you to celebrate this summer. Delhi government’s Hindi Academy brings you a children theatre festival ‘Is Greeshma Premchand Hain Bachchon Ke Sang’ from 20 June.In an attempt to enrich the lives of 8 to 16-year-old children, Hindi Academy introduced a month long workshop from 20 May . In this workshop, 400 students from 10 schools in the capital are spending their time learning the intricacies of Hindi literature, honing their theatrical skills while acquainting themselves with the legend called Munshi Premchand. The workshop is being conducted by 10 directors chosen by the Academy who are grooming the children in the art of Premchand’s theatrics. The directors who are helping the projects in different schools are Haider Abbas Naqvi, Rajesh Kumar, Kumar Vir Bhushan, Bipin Pachauri, Rahul Saxena, Jawed Ibrahim, Mita Mishra, Mohammad Ali Ashraf, Amandeep Garg and Harshita Guha. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting”Premchand was a writer who went deep into the roots of Indian society and presented a true picture of it. So if we want to bring our children closer to Hindi literature, the job has to begin with Premchand,’ says Dr Harisuman Bisht, famous author and Secretary of Hindi Academy.The workshop will culminate into a grand festival for theatre that will be presented by the children over five days at the Little Theatre Group Auditorium at Mandi House.