Nearly 70% of adults have received at least one jab, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. But vaccination rates are varied across the country. Southern and western regions, which are now experiencing Covid outbreaks, have much lower rates.
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Jeremy McMillan will remain on the Texas A&M baseball staff as Sports Performance Coach, working exclusively with the hardball team, head coach Jim Schlossnagle announced Thursday.
McMillan enters his 11th season on the staff as the Aggies embark on the 2022 campaign. His responsibility at A&M is to build a strength and conditioning program that addresses the specific characteristics of the game of baseball. McMillan’s program focuses on a combination of both strength and power development with an emphasis on developing explosive strength, power and rotational ability.
His appointment gives Texas A&M the unique distinction as one of the few schools in the country with a full-time baseball strength & conditioning coach. McMillan supervises and maintains all activities of the new weight room facility in the renovated Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. Additionally, he oversees the nutritional and hydration efforts for Aggie baseball as well as coordinating with A&M athletic trainer Casey Meyer on injury prevention and recovery.
McMillan’s efforts have helped players advance in their baseball careers. While at Texas A&M, McMillan has mentored eight Major Leaguers, including Ryan Hendrix, Corbin Martin, Kyle Martin, Daniel Mengden, A.J. Minter, Tyler Naquin, Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha. He helped develop 13 players who were selected in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the most in school history. At least three player have been drafted in every year of his tenure and he boasts 15 pitchers selected in the first five rounds of the draft since 2016, the most of any Texas school.
The San Antonio, Texas, native arrived in Aggieland after his most recent post with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League where he served as assistant strength and conditioning coach/nutrition consultant.
In his most recent position at the collegiate level, McMillan worked from 2007 to the summer of 2011 as strength and conditioning coach at Texas State where he served with the baseball, soccer, women’s basketball, golf and women’s tennis programs.
During his time at Texas State, McMillan played an important role with Bobcat baseball as the program captured three consecutive Southland Conference regular season championships and an SLC Tournament title while advancing to the NCAA Tournament on two occasions.
McMillan also spent time at the University of New Mexico where he served as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach working with the Lobo baseball, football, swimming and diving, track (sprinters and jumpers), women’s golf and Nordic skiing teams.
Prior to New Mexico, McMillan served as a student assistant at Texas Tech University for a period of three years while working on his undergraduate degree. While at Texas Tech, McMillan worked with baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and the women’s tennis programs.
A member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, McMillan is CPR certified as well as being first aid certified through the American Red Cross. He is a graduate of Texas Tech, where he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science in August of 2006. He is currently working on finishing his master’s degree that he started at New Mexico.
McMillan is married Jackie Barrett (Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2010) and they have a daughter, Ellie, and a son, Callen.
A tale making the rounds in Sri Lanka this week had all the gleaming ingredients needed to rivet a pandemic-weary nation that had been caught in a cycle of debt even before the coronavirus ravaged the economy.
The world’s largest cluster of sapphires, said to be worth up to $100 million, had been accidentally discovered by workers digging a well in a gem trader’s backyard, news reports said.
The details, reported this week by the BBC, gave many Sri Lankans something exciting and hopeful to talk about. In the Buddhist-majority country, famous for its gems, many tend to see the discovery of notable gem specimens as spiritually serendipitous, said Daya Amarasekara, a professor of sociology at the University of Peradeniya, south of the capital, Colombo.
“All this time what we heard was negative news about Covid-19,” he said. “So people are drawn to the mental pleasure they get from the news about the gem.”
But some details of the gems’ discovery proved too good to be true. The rock, though real, had not been dug up in a well, but in a gem mine, an official said.
According to the report on Tuesday, workmen found the 1,124-pound sapphire cluster more than a year ago while digging the well in Ratnapura, a gem-rich area. An accompanying picture showed a craggy boulder about the size of a car tire.
The report identified the rock’s owner only as Mr. Gamage, a third-generation gem trader. He told the BBC that a few stones that had fallen out of the rock as it was being cleaned were later found to be high-quality star sapphires, a type of sapphire known for its optical effect. (A mineral inside the gem reflects light in a star pattern, a phenomenon called asterism.)
The article quoted Thilak Weerasinghe, the chairman of the National Gem and Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka, a government agency, as saying that it was “probably the biggest” star sapphire specimen in the world.
Mr. Weerasinghe later told The New York Times that the rock had been found in 2020, and that he had kept the news under wraps for months because the pandemic seemed like a bad time to sell sapphires.
He also said that the rock had been hauled out of a gem mine, not a well, and that he had asked journalists to withhold some details from their articles for security reasons. He estimated the sapphires embedded in the rock to be worth $100 million.
“It will be a great exhibit for a museum or for someone collecting rare gems,” he added.
At least two Sri Lankan media outlets reported correctly on Wednesday that the gems had been discovered in a mine. “Our story is based on first-hand testimony from the stone’s owner, as well as video evidence of where it was found,” the BBC said in a brief statement. “We stand by our journalism.”
It is not uncommon for some people in Ratnapura to have small-scale gem pits in their backyards. It is also not uncommon for people in Sri Lanka to obscure the details of a gem discovery, said P. R. K. Fernando, the president of the Gemmologists Association of Sri Lanka, an industry group. News about such discoveries can sometimes trigger a frenzy of digging.
“That can be problematic,” he said.
But he said the news of this discovery could help rejuvenate an industry that had struggled during the pandemic.
On social media, the episode prompted some users to wonder if selling the sapphires would at last generate enough foreign currency to help Sri Lanka escape its punishing debt crisis.
Anushka Wijesinha, an economist in Colombo, said that selling the gemstone for $100 million would raise the equivalent of about a third of the annual prepandemic export revenues of the country’s gems and jewelry trade.
“But, of course, the full value may not be realized in a one-shot sale,” he added.
David S. Atlas, a gem and jewelry appraiser in Virginia who is chair of ethical issues at the New York City-based National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, said in an email that the estimated value of any large specimen would be highly speculative and “subject to the greatest level of second-guessing.”
Mr. Atlas said that while the rock might eventually land in a museum collection and prove highly valuable, “there are many more large specimens in collections already.”
“You just cannot predict the value or the quality of smaller gemstones cut from this big piece of mass material in advance,” he added. “Cut it up, produce the gems found within, and then have it properly examined for value. Then we’ll know a whole lot more.”
Either way, the tale about workers unearthing a rock with precious stones spurred social media users to say — seemingly in jest, but who knows? — that they, too, planned to start digging in their own backyards.
Ice Cube tweeted a Big3 clip of famous faces — fighters, NFL and NBA players, and, yes, that was Kanye West in a ski mask — that pop up at Big3 games.
The brightest star of the 3-on-3 basketball league, of course, remains Ice Cube, the revolutionary rapper turned basketball businessman who returns to his roots when he performs Saturday during the Big3 slate of games in Dallas.
The A-listers seem to love Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 basketball league.
Can he get the rest of the sports world to respect the game?
“They’re treating these athletes like they was nobody,” Ice Cube told The Associated Press. “That ain’t cool. You cheered for them. You pretended like you loved them when they were part of the NBA. When they get in a different league, you’re acting like they don’t exist? What kind of (stuff) is that? One day soon, you’ll respect the league.”
After Big3 skipped last summer because of the pandemic, Ice Cube resumed the supreme hustle to help the fourth-year league find its niche — with bigger live crowds, TV ratings that pop and media coverage that treats Big3 as more than a novelty — as it navigates a season where it’s not even the only 3-on-3 game in town. Yes, halfcourt hoops made its Olympic debut in Tokyo, where the U.S. women’s team won a gold medal.
“It definitely helps our effort,” Ice Cube said Wednesday. “FIBA has always controlled amateur sports and so by us having a professional version of 3-on-3, it aligns with the NBA having the professional version of 5-on-5. The stars are aligned in our favor.”
How about an Olympics/Big3 alliance?
“You can’t bring the Fireball to the Olympics,” he said, laughing. “Not yet. They’ll catch up.”
The Big3 league leaders are familiar to hoops fans: seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson leads the league in scoring for the Triplets; and fellow former first-rounders Jason Richardson and Leandro Barbosa are also among key statistical leaders.
Want equality? Lisa Leslie and Nancy Lieberman both coached teams to Big3 championships.
CBS and the Paramount+ service were set to broadcast 24 games this season, and the barnstorming league heads to Milwaukee, Chicago and Las Vegas before the Sept. 4 championship game scheduled for Atlantis Paradise Island in The Bahamas.
Ice Cube — who has collaborated with Dr. J and Dr. Dre — called running the Big3 “without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career.”
“There are so many doubters. There’s so much opposition,” he said. “Nobody wants a new league to come in and flourish. None of the big boys. We take attention away, sponsors away.”
In the wake of the pandemic, the Big3 lost its biggest sponsor in Adidas and the year off flattened the bottom line.
“The thought of not coming back only came to mind when you didn’t know how long the world was going to be locked down,” Ice Cube said. “Things we should have been getting done in December and January, we couldn’t get them done until March and April. It put the league in a situation where we’re still trying to turn a profit. We believe we’ll still turn a profit faster than any league in the history of sports. We’re going to take a very short time, within five years, and that’s pretty remarkable.”
With the Big3, there’s no summer vacation for Ice Cube.
“It’s nothing that we need to do better or bigger,” he said. “We’ve got the biggest stars in the world showing up at our games.”
That includes West, the Grammy-winning rapper who is living inside an Atlanta stadium while working on his new album. West took a break from recording his 10th studio album “Donda” and sat courtside with Ice Cube in Las Vegas.
“It’s always amazing to be with an artist like Kanye who is really just going off his inspiration and not anybody’s mission but his own,” Ice Cube said. “When you see a great painter and he’s painting a great piece of work, you want him to not be hampered with anybody’s influence. You want to see what he’s got. That’s how I look at Kanye. He’s a man that’s like an artist and you should just kick back and see what he wants to show you. Everybody shouldn’t be so judgmental. Accept it or not.”
Ice Cube just wrapped a role in a “War of the Worlds” remake and later this year will start filming on a comedy titled “Oh Hell No” with Jack Black. His supergroup Mt. Westmore — that includes Snoop Dogg, E-40 and Too Short — is scheduled to release an album later this year.
Ice Cube also told AP a new “Friday” movie appears dead.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think Warner Bros. is super-stubborn. They don’t care what the people say or think. They’re going to do what they’ve been doing the last 20 years, just be untruthful about doing this movie. They couldn’t care less.”
Just one more question for Ice Cube: Was he the mystery buyer of the unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album once owned by “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli?
“Nah, I ain’t that guy,” Ice Cube said, laughing. “Even though I’m dying to hear it, I didn’t buy it.”
But he wouldn’t mind selling you on the Big3.
Those of you who live comfortably at the cross section of “football fan” and “Hulu + Live TV subscriber,” now is your time to rejoice — the streaming service has announced that, starting today, the NFL Network is available to those who pay for Hulu’s $64.99 monthly plan (after a seven-day free trial for new users).
The NFL Network joins the plan’s more than 75 existing channels and promises sports, sports, and (you guessed it) more sports to those looking to get their football fix once the season kicks off in early September. And if that weren’t enough adrenaline for you, Hulu has also just introduced a new sports add-on package for Hulu + Live TV subscribers, which includes NFL RedZone, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, MAVTV Motorsports Network, TVG, and TVG2. That means those of you unwilling to wait for the regular season to start in the fall can log into Hulu next month to watch replays of 2020’s NFL RedZone programming, beginning August 23. It also means that if football isn’t your jam (hi), you’ll still find plenty to love about the add-on’s offerings that include access to coverage of motorsports, horse racing, competitive fishing, and more. The sports add-on will cost you an extra $9.99 per month on top of your regular Hulu subscription fees.
Hulu’s introduction of its new sports add-on and the NFL Network to its Live TV plan marks just another rung in the ladder of the service’s push to own the streaming market on all things sports, including a $5.99 per month ESPN+ option — but sadly, no dedicated channel devoted to a sport we’re big fans of, competitive voguing.
Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister and chair of the Global Partnership for Education, which distributes funding from donor countries, was confident that the full $5bn would be raised, but different national budget cycles would mean it would arrive in stages.
DraftKings on Thursday announced a partnership with dining and entertainment concept Sports & Social — an agreement that could bring Sports & Social/DraftKings sports bars to Nashville.
If the concept is approved by regulators, DraftKings plans to bring its sports gaming products “to life by offering engaging, interactive fan-first destinations” to its customers in Nashville and Detroit, Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz said in a news release.
Gambling kiosks and tellers would be notably absent from any Nashville locations. Brick-and-mortar gambling venues are prohibited in Tennessee, the only state to allow sports gaming solely on online platforms. Patrons of Sports & Social/DraftKings sports bars in Nashville would only be able to place wagers online using personal mobile devices.
The concept has not yet been approved by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, the state’s sports gaming regulator. The specific locations of Sports & Social/DraftKings venues have yet to be announced.
“Today, so much of sports betting is focused on the mobile-technology aspect,” Kucharz said in the release. “However, the in-person experience is an integral layer that we look forward to advancing alongside Sports & Social’s premier dining and entertainment offerings.”
Sports & Social venues feature “upscale gaming parlors” and “state-of-the-art audio and visual displays,” and new Sports & Social/DraftKings locations would be designed by ICRAVE to focus on sports and entertainment, according to the release.
Sports & Social is a creation of Live! Dining and Entertainment, a food-and-beverage-focused division of The Cordish Companies. Sports & Social currently operates several locations near sports stadiums, entertainment districts and casinos throughout the nation, including in Atlanta, St. Louis, Arlington, Texas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Baltimore/Washington corridor.
In case you missed it: Sports betting in Tennessee continues to surprise analysts with $1 billion national record
“We are always looking to create new and innovative experiences for our guests and this collaboration will allow us an exciting opportunity to do so, bringing an incredible premier sports-watching experience with sports betting all under one roof,” Reed Cordish, principal of The Cordish Companies, said in the release.
DraftKings’ sports gambling platform operates in 14 states through its online platform and 10 retail locations. The company’s fantasy sports product is available in seven countries, and its sports betting and gaming technologies are used by more than 50 operators in 17 countries.
Reach reporter Cassandra Stephenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.
TOKYO — Six days a week since she was 12 years old, with only a few days of time away each year, Hou Zhihui has been driven by one mission: heaving more than double her body weight into the air.
On Saturday, at the Tokyo Olympics, Hou’s dedication — sequestered from her family, dogged by near constant pain — paid off. She won gold in the 49-kilogram division and shattered three Olympic records, part of a fearsome Chinese women’s weight lifting squad that aimed to sweep every weight class it was contesting.
“The Chinese weight lifting team is very cohesive, and the support from the entire team is very good,” Hou, 24, said after winning gold. “The only thing we athletes think about is focusing on training.”
China’s sports assembly line is designed for one purpose: churning out gold medals for the glory of the nation. Silver and bronze barely count. By fielding 413 athletes in Tokyo, its largest ever delegation, China aims to land at the top of the gold medal count — even if the Chinese public is increasingly wary of the sacrifices made by individual athletes.
“We must resolutely ensure we are first in gold medals,” Gou Zhongwen, the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics.
Rooted in the Soviet model, the Chinese system relies on the state to scout tens of thousands of children for full-time training at more than 2,000 government-run sports schools. To maximize its golden harvest, Beijing has focused on less prominent sports that are underfunded in the West or sports that offer multiple Olympic gold medals.
It’s no coincidence that nearly 75 percent of the Olympic golds China has won since 1984 are in just six sports: table tennis, shooting, diving, badminton, gymnastics and weight lifting. More than two-thirds of China’s golds have come courtesy of female champions, and nearly 70 percent of its Tokyo delegation are women.
Women’s weight lifting, which became a medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Games, was an ideal target for Beijing’s gold medal strategy. The sport is a niche pursuit for most athletic powerhouses, meaning that female lifters in the West must scramble for funding. And with multiple weight classes, weight lifting offers up four potential golds.
For Beijing’s sports czars, it didn’t matter that weight lifting has no mass appeal in China or that the preteen girls funneled into the system had no idea that such a sport even existed. At the weight lifting national team’s training center in Beijing, a giant Chinese flag covers an entire wall, reminding lifters that their duty is to nation, not to self.
“The system is highly efficient,” said Li Hao, the head of the weight lifting squad at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and the current director of the antidoping department at the Center for Weight Lifting, Wrestling and Judo at the General Administration of Sport of China. “It’s probably why our weight lifting is more advanced than other countries and regions.”
Most countries are eager for Olympic glory. The United States and the Soviet Union used the Games as a proxy Cold War battleground. But Beijing’s obsession with gold is tied up in the very founding in 1949 of the People’s Republic of China, which was seen as a revolutionary force that would reverse centuries of decay and defeat by foreign powers.
The first essay that Chairman Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist revolution, wrote was about the need for a country dismissed as “the sick man of Asia” to develop its muscle.
For decades, though, politics got in the way of Olympic achievement. Because its rival Taiwan competed in the Games as the Republic of China, Beijing boycotted the Summer Games until 1984, when Taiwan was renamed Chinese Taipei for Olympic competition.
In 1988, China won five Olympic golds. Two decades later, when Beijing hosted the Games, it surpassed the United States to top the gold count.
London 2012, though, was a letdown and Rio 2016 a bigger disappointment, as China came in third behind the United States and Britain.
Back at home, sports officials redoubled their efforts, even if a growing number of middle-class parents were unwilling to hand their children to the state for grooming as athletes. China was no longer a desperately poor country where the promise of filled rice bowls made government sports schools alluring. Beijing acknowledged that sports shouldn’t be reserved for elite athletes, that every child deserved to run, play and kick a ball.
July 29, 2021, 7:01 a.m. ET
And there was growing recognition that for every Olympic champion, tens of thousands of other children would not make it. For these castoff athletes, life is often difficult: little education, damaged bodies, few career prospects outside the sports system.
Still, Beijing continued with its plans, manufacturing programs in taekwondo, canoeing, sailing and more. Children who could stack bullets on the palms of their hands were dispatched to archery. Country girls with impressive wingspans were directed to weight lifting.
“Children from rural areas or from families that are not so good economically, they adapt well to the hardships,” Li, the Beijing sports official, said of the ideal candidate for weight lifting.
Beijing’s focus has been on sports that can be perfected with rote routines, rather than those that involve an unpredictable interplay of multiple athletes. Aside from women’s volleyball, China has never won Olympic gold in a large team sport.
In Tokyo, Beijing’s strategy had delivered, through midday Thursday, 14 gold medals, edging out the United States and Japan for the lead. China captured the first gold of the Games, in the women’s 10-meter air rifle, and scored its first fencing victory. (The sports in which China is dominant are clustered in the first week of the Games, while the United States’ strengths are spread out.)
But in some of China’s traditional strongholds, like table tennis, diving and weight lifting, hopes of golden sweeps did not materialize. There were other disappointments before the Games began. A top swimmer was banned because of doping. The men’s soccer, volleyball and basketball teams failed to qualify.
The sacrifices made by China’s Olympians are intense. Academic instruction in sports schools remains paltry, and some world champions share dorm rooms with others. They are lucky to see their family a few times a year.
After the Chinese lifter Liao Qiuyun competed in the 55-kilogram weight division on Monday, it was a journalist from her home province who passed her a message from her parents.
For female weight lifters, the costs of China’s sports system are that much greater. While divers and gymnasts must share proceeds from endorsement deals with the state, at least they can leverage their success after retirement. But advertisers don’t tend to be drawn to female weight lifters.
In one case, a former national champion was so impoverished after retirement that she ended up toiling in a public bathhouse. She grew a beard, which she said was the result of a doping regimen forced upon her as a young athlete.
In 2017, after old samples were re-examined, three of China’s four women’s weight lifting golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were revoked because the tests found banned substances.
Doping is rampant in weight lifting, and China is hardly the only country to have been caught. But an individual making the decision to take drugs is not the same as children being directed to do so by the state.
For the Chinese sports machine, all those punishing years of effort can still be foiled in the heat of Olympic competition. On Monday in Tokyo, Liao, the lifter in the 55-kilogram division, began the event as the reigning world champion. Two days before, in a lighter weight class, Hou had taken the gold.
Liao marched onto the stage on Monday with an expression that hovered between resolve and resignation. In the last moments of competition, a Philippine rival surpassed her to claim gold.
Afterward, Liao, 26, stood crying, her breath jagged. Her coach wrapped her arm around Liao and sobbed, too. Eventually, Liao, red-eyed, took questions from Chinese reporters. A silver was a great achievement, one journalist said. Liao looked at the floor.
“Today, I did my best,” she said. The tears flowed again.
The trauma of all those years fighting the unforgiving force of mass and gravity weighed on Liao’s body.
“They’ve been there for years,” she said of her injuries. “Over and over again.”
But unlike Simone Biles or Naomi Osaka, high-profile Olympians who have spoken of the emotional strain of so much pressure, Liao did not address the mental toll of what she has done, day after day, since she was a little girl.
Liao sighed. She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her uniform. The National Games were coming up, she said, and she would be representing her home province of Hunan. Sports funding for China’s provinces depends in part on how each does in the National Games.
The Olympics were over for her. She had a new job to do.
Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.
Over-ambitious or not, Shaban says that back in May he and his family and friends could have lost their lives. But now, through an image that can rise above the violence and pain, he hopes they are on their way to turning things around and with any luck immortalising just one of the stories from Gaza.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage on Wednesday evening and overnight. All times are Eastern.
GOLF The men’s individual stroke play tournament starts at 6:30 p.m. and continues through the evening on the Golf Channel.
FENCING The women’s team foil quarterfinals start at 11 p.m. on CNBC, with the semifinals at 12:55 a.m.
BASKETBALL NBCSN has a replay of the U.S. men’s game against Iran at 11:30 p.m.
WATER POLO The U.S. men face Italy in a Group A game at 1 a.m. on USA Network.
ARCHERY CNBC will cover the elimination rounds of the individual archery competitions starting at midnight.