Wrigley Field
Wikimedia Commons
April 01, 2013

Play Ball!

Do you know the first president to throw an MLB opening day pitch? Did you know in 1907, there was an epic snowball fight at an opening day game in New York that determined the outcome? Starting today, Major League Baseball is officially in season, and this hour on Focus, we talked with John Thorn, the official historian of the MLB and Donald Spivey, who has spent his career studying Satchel Paige.

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Taylor Hooton smiling
Family Photo
January 18, 2013

Steroids and Youth Sports

Recently the Baseball Hall of Fame announced it will induct no one for the first time in more than a decade, a move many view as a statement against the use of steroids in professional sports. In addition, cyclist Lance Armstrong is now admitting to using performance enhancing drugs.

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the use of banned substances to gain a competitive edge and how professional athletes use of the drugs influence youth athletes. Andrea Wickerham of Drug Free Sport, the organization that does drug testing for the Illinois High School Association, joins host Craig Cohen to talk about the prevalence of steroid use in high school sports and what’s being done about it. Donald Hooton Jr. of the Taylor Hooton Foundation and Kurt Gibson of the Illinois High School Association also join the program.

Taylor Hooton was 17 when he committed suicide as a result of his anabolic steroid use. His father, Donald Hooton Sr., created the Taylor Hooton Foundation in 2004 after Taylor's death.


October 25, 2012

Labor Disputes in Professional Sports

Michael LeRoy, Professor, School of Labor & Employment Relations and College of Law, UIUC

Host: Craig Cohen

The National Hockey League is currently deep in a labor dispute that has led to the cancellation of some games, and could threaten the entire season. This fall, football fans were up in arms as the National Football League used replacement referees that botched a number of calls while the league negotiated a new contract with the regular refs. Last year, the NBA played a shortened season following a protracted dispute between the players and owners.

Why so much labor/management strife in professional sports, where the players are often millionaires and the owners billionaires, and everyone seems to be making money hand over fist? Who loses in these disputes? Do they reflect attitudes towards labor and management in society at large, or is this just a case of the very rich versus the super-rich? And, ultimately, why should we care?

We’ll discuss recent labor disputes in professional sports, and what, if anything, they tell us about today’s society, with Michael LeRoy, Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations and the College of Law at the University of Illinois.


July 11, 2012

Pay For Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform

Ronald A. Smith, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Sports History, Penn State University

Host: David Inge

Intercollegiate athletics began in the U.S. in the 1850s, but it wasn’t long before people were talking about the need for reform. Penn State historian Ronald Smith says the story of big-time athletic reform is generally one of failure, in large part, because it ignores the one group that has a direct interest in reform--the faculty. We’ll go to the archives for a conversation with Ronald Smith, author of "Pay for Play," a book that explores the history of college athletic reform.

This is a repeat broadcast from Monday, February 06, 2012, 10 am


July 09, 2012

The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View

Doug Glanville, Former Pro Athlete with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers 1996-2004; "Heading Home" Columnist with The New York Times; ESPN Baseball Analyst

Host: Jeff Bossert

In his 2010 book, the former outfielder provides a human side of baseball, discussing issues many fans may not think of, among them:  leaving family when it’s time for spring training, being traded, prolonged losing streaks, suffering through an injury,  and dealing with different player personalities in the clubhouse.   

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, July 29, 2011, 11 am


July 09, 2012

Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick

We’ll explore the life and times of one of baseball’s most eccentric personalities, Bill Veeck. Many will remember him for all of the wacky things he did to get people to the ball park. But this one-time owner of the Chicago White Sox had a serious impact on the game, introducing innovations we now take for granted. He was also an early advocate for the inclusion of black players. Our guest will be Paul Dickson, author of the new biography "Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick."

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, May 11, 2012, 10 am


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