Finally this hour, baseball is a game for kids both young and old, so you'd think when a baseball introduces a cuddly new mascot, what could go wrong? Well, this week the Chicago Cubs introduced Clark, an appropriately adorable cartoon bear that looks like it came straight out of a Disney movie, but it was not a hit with Neil Steinberg, a columnist with the Chicago Sun Times and that's putting it mildly.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, some corners of the Internet are melting down because of a reported shortage of Velveeta. And don't try to act like you don't know what that is. We'll talk about the history of the ooey, gooey stuff and why, in a buffalo mozzarella world, we still like it. But first, to football. This is golden time for pro-football lovers. Two teams will book their tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend after a long season of hard hits.
Two recent sporting disappointments underscore the state of interest in women in sports. The first: Lindsey Vonn, sadly acknowledging that her injuries were too serious, announced that she would not be able to compete in the Olympics next month. The second: The owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, acknowledging that they were overwhelmed by debt, just gave up the franchise.
A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a preliminary settlement between the National Football League and retired players and their families over concussion-related injuries. The judge doubted that the $765 million settlement would adequately cover all of the retired players potentially eligible to be paid.
With the Winter Olympics approaching in Sochi, Russia, one of the world's fastest skaters trains far from the limelight. His routine has remained the same for years. He's even been criticized by some skaters, for his dedication to the same coach in Milwaukee.
Marge Pitrof of member station WUWM reports.
MARGE PITROF, BYLINE: Brian Hansen realized long ago that he'd be alone with the sport he loved.
The Winter Olympics next month, held in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia, should provide mesmerizing athletic spectacle on ice and snow. But each Olympics also affords a brief global platform for dissidents in host countries to get the attention of the world — primarily through the media. And the exclusive American broadcaster, NBC, is coming under pressure to do more on behalf of gay rights and journalists there.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held in Boston over the weekend. At stake were national titles and tickets to next month's winter Olympics in Russia. Asma Khalid reports from our member station WBUR.
ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Just 30 seconds into her performance, the two-time national champion, Ashley Wagner, stumbled and fell. The audience gasped. And then she fell again. At the end of her routine, Wagner turned to her mom and mouthed I'm sorry.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And it is time for sports.
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MARTIN: The Baseball Hall of Fame's new class of inductees was announced this past week and it caused quite a stir. The biggest controversy may not even be about who got in, but the actual voting. Also in baseball, A-Rod's suspension - the longest ever for doping in baseball history, although it has been reduced. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us to mull all of this over. Good morning.