3 Stories: Sports Obits, NCAA 'Spatting,' Aspiring Ninjas

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The pitching mound in Miami after the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez. (Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
The pitching mound in Miami after the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez. (Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

This week's edition of 3 Stories You Should Know begins with an acknowledgement of loss. Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández died last Sunday in a boating accident. He was 24. Also on Sunday, golf legend Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87.

The Wall Street Journal's Rachel Bachman and Sports on Earth's Will Leitch join Bill Littlefield to discuss athlete obituaries, a protest option for student-athletes and the TV show "American Ninja Warrior."

1. Writing Obits For José Fernández And Arnold Palmer

Following the death of José Fernández, Will Leitch sat down to write an obituary. Instead he wrote about the discomfort that can come with writing about the lives of sports figures:

When we look at someone like José Fernández, what he stood for for me — and I think a lot of baseball fans — was, not only this other-worldly talent, but this joy of performance. And how exciting that was and how it was moving the game in a new direction. So I sat down to write that, and then I suddenly felt incredibly cheap. Like, 'Oh, this is this guy that represents this thing in baseball that's very important to me.' But that's just a public persona that I'm seeing. Writing an obit feels like walking into a room that I wasn't invited to, sometimes. And I felt that particularly with the death of José Fernández.

2. A New Avenue For NCAA Protest

Earlier this week, Bill Littlefield learned a new word: "Spatting." It's the act of covering up a corporate logo. Writing for Vice Sports, William Wilson suggested that spatting could help bring about NCAA reform. Bill is optimistic about this idea.

Nike pays the University of Texas, so athletes there wear Nike shoes. And in their contract, Nike has a clause that says they can get a refund of up to $100,000 if the logos on five individual shoes are spatted. That word’s not actually in the contract, but the meaning is clear. A bench player who tried this would probably lose his scholarship and his place on the team. But if a number of prominent players — guys who were critical to the team — did it, wouldn't the universities and colleges pretty quickly decide to offer better medical coverage and vouchers so the athletes could keep on as students after they were no longer eligible to be athletes?

3. Kids Love "American Ninja Warrior"

Rachel Bachman has written about some of the biggest fans of the TV show "American Ninja Warrior." Rachel explains why the show's dynamic obstacle course is so appealing to the younger generation.

As one guy I talked to said, these courses are sort of like the world's biggest 'floor is lava' game. And I think that's one of the things that kids love about it. As these gym owners who are opening up these ninja gyms all over the country are finding their best customers are children.

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This segment aired on October 1, 2016.


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