This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. And it's time for sports.
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WERTHEIMER: College football fans are saying goodbye forever to the bowl championship series, and as NFL playoffs skip a kickoff today, wild card weather could be a game changer. For more, I'm joined by NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.
OK. We've gotten through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's. But if you're an NFL fan, the next holiday up is Wild Card Weekend. There is football on Saturday and Sunday. Four wild card teams facing four teams that won their divisions. And there are some pretty interesting storylines to cover. Let's cover them with NPR's Mike Pesca. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Storyline number one - not all the teams playing are wild cards. It is called that but they get to play divisional leaders, don't they?
When the White House named the delegation President Obama plans to send to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, many took it as a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Absent were any high-ranking U.S. officials: The president is too busy to attend, the White House said. But on the list were prominent LGBT athletes, which many took as a clear rebuke of Russia's controversial anti-gay laws.
He's the only man with two gold medals in Snowboard Cross from the Olympics, in 2006 and 2010. And now Seth Wescott of Maine is trying for a third in Sochi. But this time around, Wescott's recovering from a torn ACL and a broken tibia, injuries sustained during an annual snowboard trek in the rugged Alaska wilderness last April. Wescott knows it will be difficult to defend his title. But at 37 he's no shrinking violet. He's already setting his sights on the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, when he'll be 41 years old.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is home to the Brooklyn Nets. It's also home to some of the most advanced technology ever to come to a stadium or arena. Many older sports venues have struggled to keep pace with the latest developments in digital devices and social media. But that's hardly the case at Barclays. The venue even has its own app.
January 1st is the day college football fans dream about - or, at least they used to. Not too long ago, it featured the big event: the last and biggest of the bowl games. We'll have to wait until next Monday for the BCS championship, but no worry, there are still some good games on tap for today. And here with a preview is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.
MONTAGNE: Six games today, Mike. Which are the big ones?
Football is often called a "gladiator game." This past semester, several football players took a class at the University of Washington that explores the idea. It turns out that both the professor and her football-playing students found that it's not just a glib analogy.
Apart from the extreme fact that the Roman slaves actually killed each other in their games, there are certain fascinating parallels.
Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.