3 Stories You Should Know: Villanova Wins, Tennis Ball Controversy, Race In Baseball

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March Madness is officially over...but that doesn't mean we should stop watching its crazy finish. On Monday, the Villanova men beat North Carolina, 77-74, with a three-pointer at the buzzer. But the video of that shot wasn't the only one to go viral. That's our first story on this week's edition of 3 Stories You Should Know.

Sports On Earth senior writer Will Leitch and the Miami Herald's Michelle Kaufman join Only A Game's Karen Given.

1. Villanova Wins 

The Villanova Wildcats are the 2016 NCAA Tournament champions. Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beating three-pointer won the game, 77-74, and it also spawned innumerable Vines and tweets. Will Leitch doesn't hate it.

WL: Obviously, the shot that Kris Jenkins made was amazing, but I have to say, I've found myself getting almost just as much enjoyment, and definitely more repeat viewing, from the shot of the Villanova Pavilion, the pavilion where Villanova plays, where a bunch of Villanova fans were there to watch. And there's this wonderful moment where you see them all raise their hands because you realize that "Oh, Jenkins is putting up the shot." And the shot goes through, and everyone leaps and jumps and loses their minds. There's a video of Charles Barkley. He's jumping up and down. It's Charles Barkley, so when Charles Barkley jumps up and down, it's a formidable thing. This is where we are now, we're in a panopticon culture where we don't just watch the games: we later want to watch you watch the games and have people watch us watch the games. And the scary thing is I'm finding it just as enjoyable.

2. Men's vs. Women's Tennis Balls

It turns out that professional men's and women's tennis players use different balls. Andy Murray taught us this at last week's Miami Open. While men's and women's tennis balls are the same size and have the same pressure, their felt coverings are different. Men play with a heavy-duty felt — which slows them down — while women play with regular-felt balls, making them faster and livelier. As Michelle Kaufman points out, Tennis, of course, isn't the only sport to use different equipment for men and women.

Andy Murray now knows that men and women play with different tennis balls. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Andy Murray now knows that men and women play with different tennis balls. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

MK: And you know, another ball issue is in basketball. The women's basketball is one-inch smaller than the men's basketball, and there was much debate about that because a lot of people felt, "Hey, if women want equal rights and equal pay and all these things, they should play with the same equipment." But women's hands are, 99 percent of the time, smaller, and so the ball-handling is better if the ball is just one inch smaller.

3. 'Whiteness' and Race In Baseball

On Wednesday, writer Jay Caspian Kang published "The Unbearable Whiteness of Baseball" in The New York Times Magazine. Kang looks at demographics in baseball and how race has affected the game as well as the media's portrayal of its players. Karen Given thinks all of the questions Kang raises are exactly what we should be talking about.

KG: I don't know that I necessarily can judge all of the arguments that Kang brings up here. He experiences the world differently than I do. You could say that of any two people. But I do really appreciate the questions that he's bringing up. Questions like: Has the loss of black players in baseball fundamentally changed the game in some way that is for the worse? Has Major League Baseball failed to embrace Latino players? And I'd take it even a bit further and ask, by finally hiring Spanish-language translators and supporting youth baseball in inner-cities, is Major League Baseball really trying to change? Or is this all just a PR stunt?

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This segment aired on April 9, 2016.


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