Monthly Archives: September 2019

How Google Searches Can Predict Hockey Ticket Sales
How Google Searches Can Predict Hockey Ticket Sales

As you can see, there’s a strong correlation. Nine of the 10 most popular teams based on Google searches also ranked in the top 10 in ticket sales this season, the exception being the Philadelphia Flyers.Further, there are huge differences in ticket sales between the top and bottom teams. Whereas fans spent only $27 million on Florida Panthers tickets this season, they shelled out more than $184 million (in U.S. dollars) to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play.Most of the differences are based on discrepancies in ticket prices rather than attendance. The NHL is a terrific live-spectator experience — I say this as someone who spends way too much on Rangers tickets — and most NHL teams can sell out their arenas if they charge the right price. But the right price varies. Whereas the average ticket cost $236 in Toronto, it was $74 in Tampa.The relationship is even clearer if we chart the data:You’ll notice that there are some diminishing returns to having more fans in your area.3I’ve used a logarithmic curve to fit the data, which tracks it more closely than a linear fit. Perhaps this is because there are only so many good seats available for each game or because larger markets like Toronto and New York have more non-hockey substitutes for the fan’s entertainment dollar.Still, the correlation is clear, and very strong. The size of the fan base, based on Google searches, accounts for 81 percent of the differences in ticket sales.4The 81 percent figure reflects the coefficient of determination of the regression line.You could undoubtedly do a bit better still by accounting for other factors, like how well the team has played recently. The on-ice success of the Chicago Blackhawks may explain why they do so well at the box office, for instance.But there aren’t a lot of exceptions, and there aren’t a lot of favorable precedents for a hockey team in Las Vegas. The Nashville Predators are a comparative success story — they’re a very good team that’s made some inroads in a highly non-traditional hockey market. And yet, while the Preds are usually selling out their rink, fans are paying comparatively little for tickets. So Nashville ranked just 24th in NHL ticket spending this year, and the Predators have barely been breaking even financially.Several other teams in non-traditional hockey markets — the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, for instance — are losing money. And most of them play in metro areas with considerably larger populations than Las Vegas.When should you be skeptical of Google Trends data? Sometimes ambiguities of language can cause problems. (Do you mean Kenny Rogers the singer or Kenny Rogers the pitcher?) And as the complexity of the analysis increases, so can the potential for error. It proved to be more difficult than Google expected to determine which searches predicted flu outbreaks, for example — although that was more an issue of flawed analysis than faulty data.In this case, though, Google is just stating the obvious: Putting an NHL team in a small market in the middle of the desert isn’t a good gamble. You may have doubts, as some readers did, about whether Google searches are a reliable way to predict that an NHL expansion team would struggle in Las Vegas. But it’s actually a pretty good way to forecast this kind of thing, and there’s another way to prove it:It turns out that there’s a strong relationship between Google searches and an NHL team’s bottom line. How often fans are Googling the term “NHL” in a metro area reliably predicts how much they’re spending on hockey tickets.In the chart below, I’ve estimated how much fans spent on tickets at each NHL arena during the past regular season. The process is simple: I just took total home attendance and multiplied it by the average ticket price.1The average ticket price is estimated based on a 50/50 blend of face-value and resale-market prices. For face-value prices, I used data from Team Marketing Report. For resale prices, I used data from TiqIQ, averaging prices from the start of the 2014-15 season and its most recent report in February. Then I compared ticket spending against the estimated number of NHL fans in each market based on Google search traffic.2The only new wrinkle: I subdivided fans between the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils based on the relative Google search volume for each team in the New York metro area. The Rangers are more popular than the other teams and capture more than half of New York’s hockey fan base. I did the same in the Los Angeles area; the LA Kings are more popular than the Anaheim Ducks. read more

Baseballs Savviest And Crappiest Bullpen Managers
Baseballs Savviest And Crappiest Bullpen Managers

At a glance, this leaderboard passes the sniff test. Aside from interlopers such as erstwhile Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez and former A’s manager Bob Geren, it’s a list of eight well-respected tacticians. Moreover, the first five men listed have all won Manager of the Year awards, as have seven of the top 10. While it is famously difficult to predict who will win that honor, which suggests the award might not be the most robust measure of managerial quality, it’s still good to know that our new metric isn’t coming completely out of left field. And the bottom-10 list also makes sense, as it could pass as a meeting of the Crusty Old Curmudgeons Society: Jerry Narron90 wRM+ is weighted reliever management plus, a measurement of efficient bullpen management, where 100 is average and higher values are betterSource: FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus Manny Acta87 Joe Torre113 NAMEWRM+ Joe Girardi111 Fredi Gonzalez108 Bob Geren108 Eric Wedge105 The best bullpen managers since 2000 Tony La Russa92 MANAGERWRM+ Bud Black106 As September draws to a close with multiple teams still locked in tight playoff races, baseball fans across the country have ample reason to pore over every last detail of their managers’ decisions. And when it comes to bullpen management, they have a great deal to scrutinize. Mistakes in this arena — which, by definition, almost always occur late in games — usually come in the form of either saving an ace reliever for “his inning” even as the game slips away at an earlier stage, or, conversely, wasting top relievers by deploying them in unimportant situations.Earlier this month, we showed that major league managers have gotten better at avoiding these types of errors over the past three decades. Instead of handing big moments to subpar relievers based on tired notions of seniority,1Such as age, career saves or years of big-league experience. managers are increasingly handing important responsibilities to the best relievers available. But not every manager is equally adept at doing this. Grading individual skippers on their ability to consistently deploy their best relievers in the biggest moments, we find that bullpen management is a repeatable skill that can be fairly assigned to individual managers, and that good bullpen management is worth something on the order of one win per season.Here’s how it worked. First, we ranked the relievers on each team2Excluding relievers who switched teams midseason. in every full season since 20003Moving the cutoff up from 1988 in order to focus on managers who are still relatively fresh in the collective memory. from best to worst in deserved run average (DRA), which is Baseball Prospectus’s context-neutral metric for evaluating pitcher performance.4The stat accounts for, among other things, weather, team defense and umpire performance. We then ranked those same pitchers by the average leverage index — essentially, the importance (and pressure) of the moment — at the point when they first entered the game.5We pulled leverage index data from Fangraphs. Finally, we checked how well each team’s ranking of relievers by leverage index matched its ranking by DRA, a correlation6Specifically, a Spearman correlation weighted by innings pitched. we’re calling a team’s reliever management (RM) score. Effective bullpen managers use their best relievers (those with the lowest DRAs) in the most important moments (those with the highest leverage index), which pushes the RM score toward an ideal of -1.In our last article, we refrained from assessing the reliever usage of individual skippers because we weren’t sure yet whether what we were grading was attributable to the manager’s ability or whether it was just a function of the bullpen he had at his disposal in any given year. So we decided to test that relationship out. If reliever management is indeed a skill, we’d expect to see the same group of skippers be good at it — or bad at it — year after year. You don’t wake up one morning and forget how to drive a car, but sometimes you do hit every red light on your commute to work, or, in this case, get handed a bad batch of relievers.After calculating each team’s RM score, we assigned it to their manager of record that season (the one who managed the most games). Then we looked at whether individual managers’ RM scores were correlated with each other from year to year. Although the effect we found was rather weak — only about 10 percent of the variation in RM score year-over-year is likely attributable to managerial choices — it was statistically significant, even two years out.7We found p-values under 0.02 in both our year-over-year and two-year correlations. So it’s reasonable to assign at least some credit (or blame) for a team’s RM score to the man in the dugout.Still, there’s so much variation in team RM scores from year to year that we needed to use a more sophisticated statistical model to estimate each skipper’s overall bullpen-management ability.8Specifically, we used a Gaussian random effects model with terms for the manager and the year, since we previously determined that bullpen management was a skill that managers are increasingly improving at. A random effects model, in contrast to a fixed-effects model, assumes a great deal of statistical noise around an uncertain mean, then strips that noise away to estimate, as accurately as possible, a “true talent” level over time. When we applied our chosen model to each manager’s raw RM scores for each season, we ended up with an aggregate measure of how likely any given manager was to optimally match their relievers to appropriate situations — good relievers to tense moments, worse relievers to calmer ones.We’re calling the resulting metric weighted reliever management plus (wRM+), and in the style of other “plus” statistics, it’s been rescaled for ease of interpretability: 100 is average, with numbers above 100 corresponding to the percentage factor by which a manager is better than average (or worse than average, for scores below 100). For example, Joe Torre grades out as the best manager since 2000 with a score of 113, meaning his bullpen management was 13 percent better than average. Here’s the rest of the top 10:9To be especially sure we were isolating managerial skill, we limited the table to only include skippers who have managed at least five seasons since 2000. Ozzie Guillen111 Bob Melvin93 Clint Hurdle90 Ron Washington94 John Gibbons91 Jim Tracy108 Bobby Valentine93 Bruce Bochy108 Jim Leyland92 Dusty Baker91 The worst bullpen managers since 2000 Buddy Bell105 wRM+ is weighted reliever management plus, a measurement of efficient bullpen management, where 100 is average and higher values are betterSource: Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus Several of these guys are on the record as advocating innings-based roles, which are the bane of optimal relief management. But even the worst bullpen managers can change their philosophies over time. Hurdle went from having one of the worst RM scores in the league in Colorado to having one of the best in Pittsburgh. His overall ranking is more of a testament to his earlier difficulties than to his current acumen, and to the influence that front offices can have on managerial decision-making.So, now that we have a means of grading individual managers on reliever usage, how much is that actually worth in terms of wins and losses? To answer that, we looked at how many fewer runs were allowed — which in turn points to how many extra games were won — by good bullpen managers versus bad ones, sketching out a rough estimate of how many additional wins a manager’s bullpen smarts have been worth to his team.10For every team in our sample, we looked at how many runs the team gave up and how much the team over- or underperformed its run differential. We found that raw RM scores were significantly — if also weakly — correlated with both runs allowed (with an r of 0.11 and a p-value of 0.015) and whether a team over- or underperformed its run differential (an r of 0.12 and a p-value of 0.02). We used linear regressions of RM scores on these two numbers — and the fact that each win is equivalent to about 10 runs — to derive a total run value for bullpen management.Perhaps surprisingly, we found that bullpen management — good or bad — doesn’t actually affect a team’s overall performance all that much. Certainly it’s not as important as, say, having good relievers to employ in the first place. A manager who’s bad at managing a bullpen (for example, Manny Acta) might be expected to win about 0.5 fewer games per season as a result of his bullpen-management problems than an average manager with the same ’pen, while a good one (such as Joe Girardi) might win 0.5 games more than average over the course of a season. The total effect of this skill has a range of perhaps one win per year.In other words, bullpen management isn’t the be-all and end-all of managerial skills. That fits with what we already knew about managers: How they shape the chemistry and morale of the team tends to be vastly more important than their on-field tactical machinations, no matter how high-profile those machinations might be. And since every team is getting better and better at using their bullpen, the range of this skill is likely to shrink even further. And, more to the point, the single biggest determinant of team success, now and forever, remains the same: player quality.The usual caveats, discussed in greater detail in our earlier article, still apply.11Notably, our simple correlation-based metric doesn’t take into account matchups, reliever fatigue or bullpens changing over the course of a year. What’s more, for now we’re laying all the responsibility for the bullpen at the feet of the manager, when the front office and pitching coach probably also play a role. And our particular ranking method doesn’t account for fluctuations in reliever performance throughout the season — a guy who’s good in the first half but terrible in the second will be viewed as the average of the two — or for bullpens where the range of talent available to the manager is not wide (which makes for less obvious choices).Still, we can say this with some certainty: Effective bullpen management is a skill attributable at least in part to managers, and is not just the result of random variation. Moreover, some managers are far better at handling their bullpens than others, probably to the tune of a win or so at the margins every year (which is not nothing — consider the tight wild-card races in both leagues this year). So your deepest suspicions about bullpen usage were always correct — unless you’re a Braves fan, in which case it’s probably worth sending a note of apology to Fredi Gonzalez.CORRECTION (Sept. 21, 4:35 p.m.): A table in an earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Dale Sveum among the worst bullpen managers since 2000. Sveum shouldn’t have qualified for the list because he managed fewer than five MLB seasons during that period. read more

Magic Johnson Was Never Cut Out To Do This
Magic Johnson Was Never Cut Out To Do This

Just before the start of free agency last June, Los Angeles Lakers President Magic Johnson made a relatively blunt declaration when he said he’d willingly step down from his post if he failed to sign star players. So it was a legitimate jaw-dropper when Johnson, just nine months after landing the world’s best player, opted to resign Tuesday during a tearful, impromptu press conference in the bowels of Staples Center prior to the team’s season finale.Yes, this was a trying year for Johnson and the storied franchise, which fully expected to return to the playoffs after getting LeBron James. But the playoffs didn’t happen, and while Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka deserve a lot of the blame for why things went wrong, no one thought it would result in this — at least not this soon, and certainly not in the bizarre manner in which it played out.In the coming weeks, there will be ample opportunity to analyze what comes next for the Lakers, who still have LeBron, a young supporting cast and enough cap space to make the kind of signing that could make them an actual contender again out West.Normally, we’d be prone to view a team president’s sudden resignation as a sign of enormous trouble for a franchise. The fact that we aren’t talking about how much this will damage Los Angeles speaks volumes about Johnson and how ill-prepared he was for the front-office job in the first place.Team owner Jeanie Buss, who got wind of the resignation after reporters did, now has an enormous task. She has to tap the right person, but based on her hiring of Magic — a choice she made based on trust and their almost 40 years of friendship after contentiously ousting her brother in 2017 — we don’t know yet who she’ll get or what level of experience that person will carry.Nonetheless, that role is vital, both to restoring the franchise to its rightful place — this 37-win season marked a Lakers’ record sixth-straight year with no postseason — and obviously for maximizing the 34-year-old James’s window for championship contention.What we do know now is that Johnson, an all-time great on the hardwood and one of the more personable businessmen in America, simply wasn’t prepared for the cutthroat front-office life, an issue we touched on briefly back when he was hired. Johnson himself says that leaving the role of president will make him happier, as it will allow him to return to his old life, away from the sourced reporting that, to him, likely felt like anonymous backstabbing. And back to a life where he can freely mentor and tweet to congratulate players leaguewide — something he couldn’t do as an executive, because of the tampering rules.From the outset, Johnson struggled with how to play inside those rules. Even more concerning about his front-office tenure: He often struggled to properly assess the value of players and what they brought to the table. Months after taking the gig, he traded a young, talented point guard in D’Angelo Russell to get Brook Lopez and his expiring contract, as well as the pick that would become Kyle Kuzma.1The move also gave L.A. the ability to dump Timofey Mosgov’s hefty contract. While Kuzma has been fine for a young player, Russell has since become an All-Star who has led Brooklyn back to the postseason. And Lopez — whom L.A. let walk in free agency last summer — has been one of the NBA’s best floor-spacing bigs, giving Milwaukee exactly what this shooting-starved Lakers club needs.2On a cheap, $3.3 million contract, too.Similarly, 24-year-old Julius Randle had a career year (21 points, 8 rebounds a game) in New Orleans after the Lakers let their former No. 7 overall pick go in free agency despite his relatively modest price tag.3He signed a two-year, $18 million deal with New Orleans. Instead, L.A. followed up on its LeBron move by then agreeing to deals with Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson, leaving it woefully deficient from a perimeter-shooting standpoint. The head-scratching decisions weren’t limited to the perimeter, though: The Lakers also offered talented big man Ivica Zubac to their Los Angeles counterparts at the deadline, reportedly befuddling the Clippers by trying to unload a solid young player unnecessarily.None of this even gets into the fact that Johnson and the Lakers took their sweet time — waiting until it was likely too late — to try to deal for a second star, which was borderline malpractice considering James’s age. Depending on how you look at it, the failed play to acquire Anthony Davis at the trade deadline was either just the Pelicans being stubborn or them being realistic — and smart — after realizing that the youngsters L.A. was offering in return weren’t good enough (particularly when James was injured) to justify dealing away a franchise player.But that doesn’t excuse the Lakers not being more aggressive two summers ago, when they could’ve made a play for Paul George, who’d made it clear that L.A. was his destination of choice before Oklahoma City gambled on a deal for him. Nor does it explain why the Lakers didn’t do more to engage the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard (and pair him with LeBron) before he was ultimately sent to Toronto. In either case, having a second star likely would’ve provided L.A. with the insulation it needed to withstand a James injury and make the playoffs regardless.And there were the problematic mixed messages that Johnson sent: the preseason comments about how new LeBron teams always take a while to find their stride and the need for patience, but then the reports about him going off on coach Luke Walton just weeks later, apparently for not meeting the expectations he’d just tamped down. Then there was his suggestion that the young players who’d heard their names rumored in potential Davis deals simply needed to be hugged and nurtured after the whole ordeal, which he followed, one day later, by saying that those same players needed to be treated like men, rather than babied through the media.Had Johnson remained on the job, his next true test as team president was a decision about Walton’s future. Johnson told reporters Tuesday that he’d been given the authority to fire Walton, who has history with the Lakers as a former player and still has a good friendship with Buss. But Johnson said he didn’t want to pull that trigger and instead opted to step down himself.Now, it’s Buss’s turn to make a decision again. And while the stakes are incredibly high, with the team at an important crossroads, the Lakers can take solace in the fact that they’re almost certain to now get a more analytical, experienced front-office type than they had in Magic, who was never really meant for the unforgiving nature of an NBA job like this to begin with. read more

Dayton Does Matter
Dayton Does Matter

Most office pools — and a certain billion-dollar bracket contest — insist the NCAA Tournament still has the pleasing, symmetrical, 64-team format: Six rounds, each winnowing the field by half, for a total of 63 games, 63 losers and one winner. Fans, likewise, haven’t gotten over the habit of calling the round of 64, played out over the manic Thursday and Friday of this week, the first round.But the real first round is happening now in Dayton, Ohio, and for the fourth straight year, it really matters. In the so-called play-in games, eight teams will compete on Tuesday and Wednesday for four spots in the round of 64. And two of the winners will have a real chance at a deep tournament run — a better chance than you’d think if you’d glanced at the contenders’ resumes on Selection Sunday. Their first-round — I mean, round-of-64 — opponents could regret having to face them. And you, too, could regret filling out your bracket before the opening-round games are done: North Carolina State and the winner between Iowa and Tennessee could shake up the strong Midwest region.The play-in games aren’t just a gimmick. Like wild-card rounds in the playoffs for the NFL and MLB, they help sort the contenders from the also-rans. Teams that have to play, and win, a contest before facing their next opponent have momentum, an actual phenomenon in college basketball.1As my colleague Benjamin Morris will show in an upcoming article.Most important, play-in games provide vital data about teams’ current strength, which is hard to get from their schedules, littered as they are with non-tournament teams and results from months ago. Winning the play-in game, the most recent and important contest to date against a strong opponent, is a big indicator of a team’s ability today.The baseball playoffs have validated the potency of this combination of momentum and trial by fire. Wild-card teams that have won their first MLB playoff series have won their next series about half the time, despite facing opponents with home-field advantage and, usually, a better record. Winners in the NFL playoff wild-card round, on the other hand, have slightly underperformed expectations, winning three fewer games against rested opponents (out of 124) than would be expected based on their regular-season performance.2This finding is based on NFL playoff data provided by ESPN Stats & Information, combined with Simple Rating System scores from Pro Football Reference, and this formula for converting SRS into win probability (assuming home-field advantage is worth 2.5 points). Why are the NFL playoffs so different from baseball and basketball? Two untested hypotheses: 1) The extra week of rest matters more because the sport is so physically demanding; and 2) SRS understates the gap in quality between bye teams and wild-card winners because many top teams rest starters after clinching byes, artificially deflating their ratings. Also notable: More recently, the NFL playoffs have looked a lot more like MLB’s. Over the last nine postseasons, wild-card winners have won their next game against bye teams 15 times, compared to an expected total of 12 wins.Sorting contenders from also-rans is particularly helpful in college basketball, a sport that’s particularly hard to predict from regular-season results. Each team has played fewer than 10 percent of other Division I teams. Top teams come from more conferences in college basketball than in football, making each team’s average conference game less meaningful as a postseason preview. Many regular-season starting lineups are a mix of new players and players who have never played with them, meaning November results may predict little about March results.From 2001, when the play-in concept was introduced, through 2011, this sorting mechanism didn’t matter much, because the single game decided which team would offer itself up for ritual sacrifice in the next round. In those days, play-in games pitted two would-be No. 16 seeds against each other for a chance at a game against a No. 1 seed. Those games aren’t unwinnable, yet they were never won.Those 10 underdogs did slightly better than expected in the round of 64. Their Simple Rating System3Simple Rating System is, as its name suggests, a basic way of evaluating teams based on their schedule strength and margin of victory. score heading into the tournament, along with the SRS of their top-seeded round-of-64 opponents, suggested they should have lost those games by an average of 29 points. Instead, they lost by an average of 27 points — a layup better per blowout.Since 2011, though, the play-in round has expanded to four games, with four of the teams competing to be seeded from 11th to 14th. These teams have a lot more to play for: They aren’t going to face a top-two seed in their next game, so they have a fighting chance of winning.The NCAA’s move was both innovative and retrospective: The 1983 and 1984 tournaments — with field sizes of 52 and 53 teams, respectively — also had play-in games, then called an opening round. Winners advanced to the first round, which was then also a kind of preliminary round of its own, pitting outsider teams against each other for a chance to play the top 16 teams, which each got two byes.The back-to-the-future tournament restructuring of 2011 immediately paid dividends. Virginia Commonwealth beat the University of Southern California for an 11 seed in the Southwest region, where VCU was a 10-point underdog to Georgetown, according to pre-tournament SRS. Instead, VCU crushed Georgetown by 18 points. And that was no fluke — the Rams then routed third seed Purdue by 18 and went on to the Final Four.VCU’s run is an outlier; you’d want good odds to bet on any play-in winner reaching this year’s Final Four in Arlington, Texas. But it’s also consistent with the historical data. Since 1980,4As far back as our data set goes 61 percent of 109 teams that had to win an opening or first-round game exceeded SRS expectations in their next game, against an opponent with a bye. The data set spans the play-in games of the past 13 tournaments, plus the opening rounds and first rounds in the early 1980s, when more teams got at least one bye. And the average team outperformed its rating relative to its opponent by two points. An extra layup doesn’t matter in a blowout, but it could swing a close 5-12 matchup.The sample size here is too small to be definitive: The standard deviation of teams’ performance relative to expectations is almost 10 points. But other findings corroborate this one. For instance, the analysis so far hasn’t accounted for how play-in teams that won their next game did later on in the tournament. But many went on to make deep tournament runs. VCU was the seventh opening-round winner to get to the Final Four. The 1980 Final Four featured three teams that had to play their way into the main, 32-team bracket. And Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State championship team of 1983 was a No. 6 seed that didn’t get a first-round bye.Seven semifinalist berths is a remarkable yield from this group of teams. Treat the 32 opening-round winners who won their next game as you would any other team in that round of the tournament, and you’d expect seven of them to reach the Final Four. And yet these were no ordinary teams. Each was, after all, flawed — it was in the opening-round game for a reason. None was seeded in the top four in its region.Don’t take this as advice to write in any of this week’s play-in winners for a trip to Arlington. The most important factor in predicting winners will remain teams’ relative strength through the season. But if you’re looking for an edge in a bracket contest, you could do worse than backing a play-in winner. And if you’re a fan of a team slotted to play one, hope your team’s coaching staff has been keeping a close eye on Dayton.CORRECTION (March 19, 11:00 a.m.): An earlier version of this article said four teams would match up in two play-in games. Eight teams will play four play-in games this week in Dayton. read more

Quick Thoughts on Michael Sam to the Rams
Quick Thoughts on Michael Sam to the Rams

I wrote this week that Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive end who came out as gay in February, wasn’t certain to be picked in the NFL draft. Of those players at his position who had been rated as sixth-round picks before the draft — as Sam was — slightly less than 50 percent were chosen by an NFL team.I also wrote that I’d take Sam’s side of the bet given even odds:Personally, however, if the odds are something like 50-50 on Sam being drafted, I think I’d take his side of the bet. Why? A player only needs one team to draft him. A player like Sam who generates polarized opinions might have a better chance of being chosen in a late round by a team like the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks than one who everyone agrees is mediocre.Perhaps this counts as a “correct” (if well-hedged) prediction. But I got one thing pretty wrong. I assumed that Sam would be chosen by a team like the Patriots or the Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers that play in an urban area especially tolerant toward gay people. But St. Louis was probably the best fit all along.How come? Public acceptance of homosexuality certainly varies from city to city and state to state. If we use support for gay marriage as a rough proxy, for example, I estimate that about 47 percent of voters approve of it in Missouri, as compared with 58 percent in California, 59 percent in Washington state and 66 percent in Massachusetts. (Obviously, the percentages are likely to be higher in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle specifically as opposed to the states as a whole. But that’s probably also true for St. Louis, which is considerably more liberal than the rest of Missouri.)What varies a lot more, however, is appreciation for University of Missouri football. Interest in the Tigers is about 50 times higher in Missouri than in the rest of the country, according to the number of Google searches.In other words, a higher percentage of people in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri will know of Sam as a football player and not just as a gay athlete. Here’s hoping that helps him to concentrate on what he does best. read more

Ohio State womens volleyball sweeps Rutgers in regularseason finale

Members of the OSU women’s volleyball team during a game against Nebraska on Oct. 3 at St. John Arena. OSU won 3-2. Credit: Ed Momot / For The LanternThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team capped off its regular season with a dominating effort on Saturday, steamrolling Rutgers on senior night in St. John Arena.It took only three sets (26-24, 25-7, 25-12) and 74 minutes for the No. 16 team to take down the Scarlet Knights (4-28, 1-19), as the Buckeyes led for nearly the entire match.OSU finished the regular season with an overall record of 23-9 and placed sixth in the Big Ten with a 12-8 mark.Fittingly, senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell led all players with 14 kills on a proficient .440 hitting percentage in her final regular-season home game. Fellow senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell added 10 kills at an even better .529 clip.The three other Buckeye seniors saw plenty of action as well. Middle blockers Tyler Richardson and Andrea Kacsits had seven and six kills, respectively, aided by the absence of junior Taylor Sandbothe. Richardson, along with freshman outside hitter Audra Appold, also led her team with three blocks.Freshman Taylor Hughes started and saw the majority of the playing time at setter with 32 assists, but senior Emily Ruetter did contribute four helpers.As the score would indicate, OSU far outpaced Rutgers offensively, posting a .319 attack percentage compared to the Scarlet Knights’ dismal .043 rate.Serving also played a key part in OSU’s commanding win. The Buckeyes racked up nine aces on the night, their second best total of the season.Libero Valeria León led the way with five aces, adding to another solid defensive night for the junior, who had a game-high 18 digs.Although the Buckeyes wound up having an overall impressive night from the service line, the match didn’t start off so well in that regard.Despite Rutgers’ abysmal .105 hitting percentage in the first set, it managed to hang around thanks to four blocks from its defense and four service errors by OSU.The Buckeyes managed to take decisive late lead, 22-17, but a 7-1 run by the Scarlet Knights allowed them to take a 24-23 advantage. Guided by two Campbell kills and a Rutgers error, however, OSU survived its only scare of the evening.Powered by six aces — four from León — the second frame featured the Buckeyes’ most lopsided win in any set this season. Behind a .417 attack percentage (and a brutal minus-.136 rate by Rutgers), the Scarlet and Gray raced out to a 16-2 lead — powered by a 12-0 run — and took an 18-point victory into the locker room for the intermission.It didn’t get any better for Rutgers after the break. With four kills each from Campbell, Mitchell and Kacsits, the Buckeyes attacked .387 for the set, which was more than enough to overpower another lowly percentage (.094) by the Scarlet Knights.While OSU might be done playing at home in the regular season, it could have at least one more match in St. John Arena.The team will now turn its attention to the postseason as it hopes to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament by earning a top-16 seed. The Buckeyes will find out their fate when the selection show airs Sunday at 9 p.m. read more

Ohio State womens hockey desperate for offense in series at Minnesota State

OSU senior forward Julia McKinnon (17) controls the puck during a game against Minnesota on Oct 16 at the OSU Ice Rink. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe turn of the calendar hasn’t translated to better results for the Ohio State women’s hockey team, but it will get a two-game crack over the weekend against the bottom-feeder of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.OSU (7-17-0, 3-15-0) is set to travel to Mankato, Minnesota, over the weekend to take on Minnesota State. The Buckeyes swept the Mavericks (3-19-2, 0-17-1) in a home series in October, and they hope to have the same success this weekend. The Scarlet and Gray enter the weekend having only won one game in their last six contests, but they hold strong with the belief that their work in practice will begin to translate into in-game success.“We haven’t really let off the gas pedal as far as working the girls,” OSU assistant coach Carson Duggan said. “They’ve had a couple of really tough days of practice as far as battling and skating, and their work ethic has been great.”The Buckeyes are on an eight-game winning streak against the Mavericks and they believe that outworking their opponent will help extend the streak to 10 after this weekend.“First and foremost we have to outwork them,” Duggan said. “I thought this past weekend we played a really good brand of hockey and we just have to continue doing that and focus a little more on bearing down and putting pucks in the back of the net. Stick to our gameplan and we’ll hopefully have a successful weekend.”Struggling to light the lampLast weekend, OSU outshot St. Cloud State 25-20 in the first game and 37-17 in the second, but lost both contests 2-1. The team has been happy with its improved offensive production in terms of shots but is still looking to score more goals.“This week we’ve definitely focused on getting those gritty goals,” senior forward Julia McKinnon said. “Not all goals are going to be nice, so I think just getting greasy goals and going to the front of the net and continuing to shoot, one of them are going to go in.”Duggan said she thinks that beyond the ability to score goals, the team also needs to have the drive to put the puck in the back of the net.“It’s a skill but it’s also a will to want to score, you have to bear down and we’ve been really preaching that this week in practice,” Duggan said. “Some of the drills we’re doing are catering to getting more of those garbage goals around the crease versus just the shots from the outside.  I think not staying on the perimeter as much and trying to insert ourselves more into the slot area. So that’s been a priority this week in practice and hopefully that translates this weekend.”OSU has scored just three goals in the last four games, so the team has made that one of the most crucial elements to improve upon.“You can’t win games only scoring one goal a game,” McKinnon said. “I think just moving forward we have to get those goals because you can’t win one-goal games”In the second game of the October series, OSU shut out Minnesota State. Duggan said she believes staying strong defensively depends on eliminating shots off rebounds.“If we continue to stick to the systems and play tough defense, let (sophomore goalie) Alex (LaMere) see all the shots and eliminate their second and third chances, I think that’s the recipe for success defensively,” Duggan said. “The girls know that, so I think they should be ready defensively.”The puck is scheduled to drop in Mankato at 3:07 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.Up nextOSU will continue to set up temporary residence in The North Star State the weekend after taking on the Mavericks when it is slated to travel to Duluth to face OSU coach Jenny Potter’s alma mater, Minnesota Duluth, which swept OSU in December. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. on Jan. 29 and 5:07 p.m. the following day. read more

Ohio State starting quarterback Braxton Miller looks to bounce back

Junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) is tackled during a game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFor the better part of the past two seasons, Ohio State’s junior quarterback Braxton Miller has been the crutch the Buckeyes lean on when things go wrong.But so far this season, Miller’s third as the starter for OSU, that crutch has started to splinter.Now with Iowa and the eighth-ranked run defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision coming to Columbus, Miller said Wednesday OSU has to be careful not to repeat its early season mistakes.“(Iowa has a) pretty good defense, you know, probably the best we’ve faced so far. Got to have good preparation throughout the whole week,” Miller said.Miller made his return from an MCL sprain against Wisconsin Sept. 28, throwing four touchdown passes, but then struggled against Northwestern the following week. No touchdowns and three turnovers, including two fumbles, had fans calling for redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton.Miller said he struggled against the Wildcats with ball security, but the fumbling issues are something that can be fixed.“I’ve been watching film on it. I really wasn’t holding the ball correctly when I was cutting (through) the holes, and I wasn’t holding the ball real tight and it’s an easy fix,” Miller said.Coach Urban Meyer said Miller played well against Northwestern, but he can’t ignore his issues with ball security.“I expect him to be ‘Braxton Miller’ with better ball security,” Meyer said to the media Wednesday. “You take away those two fumbles, he actually played pretty good that game, real good, but that’s like saying take away a bad golf shot on the 18th hole. That’s the way it is.”Despite his praise of Miller, Meyer said he was close to putting Guiton in the game after Miller’s second fumble.Since Northwestern, Meyer said he has noticed Miller working harder on holding onto the football.“I see a guy that I wanted to see and I did see, a guy that recognized the mistakes he made, and then he’s going to work hard to correct them,” Meyer said. “No. 1 was ball security, that was the No. 1 issue.”Miller said Wednesday the coaching staff made him carry a ball during team stretches to practice ball security.“It’s always just keep it tight when I take off and run, QB run or anything like that,” Miller said. “Throughout the stretching at the beginning of practice, it’s ‘hold it tight.’ They had me hold the ball throughout the whole stretch.”Although ball security has been a big focus for the coaching staff, it might not be the only issue Miller is struggling with.Miller said his knee made it difficult to run the way he wanted to against Northwestern, but he is almost back to full health.“I’d say just a little bit on my cutting-wise and you know,” Miller said. “Just not my old self in running a little bit, but I’m still working on it, it should be good.”Miller, though, is still a valuable leader for OSU, senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said after the game against Northwestern.“He’s still vocal. He’s still going to tell us what we need to do,” Brown said. “He’s the quarterback of the team so whenever he talks, everybody listens, and we’re just going to follow his lead and go where we need to go.”Miller will look to right his wrongs from the previous game when the Buckeyes kick off against the Hawkeyes Saturday, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.For Miller, success will depend on if he is able to get back to the standard he’s set for himself.“I wasn’t fully myself throughout the whole game,” Miller said. “Playing on grass a little bit, you know, little bit on my running, I just wasn’t my old self, I felt like and you know just got to keep getting healthy, getting treatment on it and just get back to my old ways.” read more

Mens Hockey No 5 Ohio State downs Mercyhurst to begin second half

Ohio State men’s hockey players celebrate after a goal in the second period of the game against UMass on Oct. 19. Ohio State fell 6-3. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFollowing Ohio State’s 27-day break, the Buckeyes returned to action with a sweep of the Mercyhurst Lakers by scores of 3-1 and 5-4.Ohio State (11-4-3, 4-2-2-2 Big Ten) dominated the Lakers (8-10-2, 6-5-1 Atlantic Hockey) on special teams and limited Mercyhurst’s shots throughout the series to secure the pair of wins.Game 1Ohio State won the first game of the series against Mercyhurst 3-1 including the first goal of the season by Ohio State junior defenseman Matt Miller. The teams failed to find the net in the first period despite a combined 25 shots between the two squads. Mercyhurst had an opportunity to score on the power play in the first 20 minutes, but the special teams of the Buckeyes held strong and killed the penalty. Scoring opened up midway through the second period as sophomore forward Austin Pooley scored for the second time this season. Pooley was assisted by senior forward Brendon Kearney and junior forward Sam McCormick. The goal came shortly after a failed power play attempt by the Buckeyes after Mercyhurst was called for having too many players on the ice. Overall, Ohio State converted on two of its five power play opportunities on the night and killed all six penalties it faced.Neither squad scored for the remainder of the period, and the score remained 1-0 in favor of the Buckeyes until Miller scored to increase the Buckeyes’ lead. Miller found the net during a five-on-three power play after two Lakers picked up penalties within a minute of each other. Senior forwards Dakota Joshua and Mason Jobst assisted on the goal.Mercyhurst scored with under a minute remaining in the game with an empty net to make it a one-score game, but the Buckeyes’ defense held strong and even added an additional empty net goal by Jobst with two seconds remaining to make the final 3-1. Jobst was assisted by Kearney, his second assist of the game. Redshirt senior goaltender Sean Romeo allowed one goal on 20 shots faced, with the one goal coming during a six-on-five. Through his first nine games he started this season, Romeo has allowed 18 goals and is averaging 2.19 goals allowed per game in addition to a .916 save percentage.Game 2In more of a high-scoring affair, Ohio State finished the sweep of the Lakers, winning 5-4 on a game-winning goal by senior defenseman Sasha Larocque.Mercyhurst took their first lead of the series midway through the first period, an even-strength goal by freshman forward Geoff Kitt. The Buckeyes responded just over four minutes later with a goal by junior forward Ronnie Hein, assisted by Larocque and junior forward Tanner Laczynski, his 10th of the season.The Buckeyes followed up the score with a power play goal by senior forward Freddy Gerard, his sixth goal of the season. Gerard was assisted by Hein and Laczynski, his 11th assist of the season.Saturday’s game was the 100th game played by Gerard for Ohio State. Through Saturday’s game, he has scored 18 goals, 26 assists and 44 points during his career at Ohio State.In the second period, Mercyhurst scored two unanswered goals to take the lead over Ohio State, one coming on the power play and the other at even strength just over three minutes in. Junior forward Carson Meyer responded just 20 seconds later to tie the game 3-3, assisted by Joshua and senior forward John Wiitala.With six minutes left in the second period, Mercyhurst found the net to once again take the lead, but less than four minutes later, Meyer once again scored to tie the game. With his two goals against Mercyhurst, Meyer now sits at six goals on the year, tied for No. 2 on the team with Hein. Ohio State scored on three of its four attempts on the power play Saturday night and allowed the Lakers to convert on one of their three attempts. Overall, the Buckeyes were three for nine in the series and killed all but one of the Laker’s nine tries with the man advantage.The tie was eventually broken by Larocque midway through the third period with his second goal of the season to give Ohio State the 5-4 lead, and from there the Buckeyes ran with the lead, limiting Mercyhurst to only seven shot attempts in the third period. Freshman forward Gustaf Westlund assisted on the goal, his 11th of the season.The five goals by the Buckeyes were tied for the most they’ve scored this season, also finding the net five times against Penn State on Nov. 24. The Buckeyes outshot the Lakers 94-47 in the series.Sophomore forward Tommy Nappier allowed four goals on 26 shots. So far this season, he has allowed 16 goals and has a .941 save percentage.The Buckeyes will stay at home to take on Michigan State on Jan. 4 and 5. The puck drops on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. read more

Mother dies from bike crash moments after taking this smiling selfie on her

first_imgCarmen Greenway – described as a ‘very competent’ cyclist – with her husband Rufus and sons Finlay (back) and Rafferty (front)Credit:PA She was just having a lovely time… one second you’re happy and then next second it’s a trainwreckhusband Rufus Greenway Carmen Greenway - described as a 'very competent' cyclist - with her husband Rufus and sons Finlay (back) and Rafferty (front) A mother of two died following a bicycle crash moments after she took a smiling selfie on the way home from celebrating her mother’s birthday.Carmen Greenway, 41, is believed to have had one hand on the bike as she hit a bumpy patch of road and lost control while returning from having dinner at a pub.She fractured her skull and died six days later in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, central London, after suffering a cardiac arrest.Mrs Greenway’s mother was riding behind her when she fell, just 100 yards from her family home. Carmen Greenway with her husband Rufus Her husband Rufus Greenway, an audio-visual company director, said she had probably had a drink on the evening of August 18 before cycling back to Isleworth, west London.The 47-year-old said his wife, who was also his business partner, was a “very competent” cyclist who would regularly take selfies.Asked why she had not worn a helmet, Mr Greenway said: “It was just a gross oversight, maybe overconfidence (that she did not wear a helmet).”It’s unfortunately an unfortunate accident. If she was wearing a helmet she would still be alive.”He said his “media-savvy” wife had been “taking some selfies on the main road”, adding: “She did that regularly.””She was not taking it at the moment of the accident,” Mr Greenway added. “She was 100m from our house, one hand on the bars, quite relaxed, and probably had had a drink. “She cycled that way every weekend and perhaps it’s familiarity breeding contempt.”She was just having a lovely time, happy to be with her mother for her mum’s birthday. One second you’re happy and then next second it’s a trainwreck.” Carmen Greenway with her husband Rufus, an audio-visual company directorCredit:PA Carmen Greenway taking a selfie while cycling to a pub, on the day she fell off her bike and died six days laterCredit:PA “The biggest loss is my children have lost their mother at 41. I’ve lost the love of my life. No rows, no arguments, I thought I was in it for 60 years,” Mr Greenway added.”We were just living an adventurous life together and it was getting better every day. The sanctity of life was being in each other’s arms.”The couple’s eldest child Finlay, 13, had been a “rock”, Mr Greenway said, while four-year-old Rafferty kept pictures of his mother on the wall in his bedroom. Mrs Greenway’s mother Sherry Bennett, who was riding behind her daughter when she fell, told the New Zealand Herald: “Carmen is a very devoted wife and adored her children and adored her husband. She’s a special person. “She was special to me because she was my only daughter. She’s just got this special quality about her, she just exudes love and happiness.”She just had this huge personality that was so infectious. People just wanted to be with her, just gravitated to her. Everyone was her friend.”Mrs Greenway’s funeral was held last month. Carmen Greenway  Mr Greenway called for legislation to be introduced to require riders to wear a helmet, similar to that in force in Mrs Greenway’s native New Zealand.He was in Moscow at the time of the accident, which happened around midnight near the family home, and flew home to be by her bedside.Mr Greenway paid tribute to his wife of nearly 13 years as he told how her death had devastated her family and friends. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Military Wives go head to head with Gareth Malone in battle for

first_imgThe Military Wives Choir has gone up against their former mentor in the Christmas charts, as early figures show they have a lead over Gareth Malone.The famous choir master helped the charity group beat pop group Little Mix in the race to number one five years ago.But now their two singles – the Military Wives’ Home For Christmas and Gareth’s Only You – are competing for the top spot. #HomeForChristmas is number 2 in the classical charts, just behind @realaled! Let’s try and get that number 1 in time for Christmas— MilitaryWives Choirs (@MWChoirs) December 5, 2016 With more than 1,000 wives taking part, the group features 65 choirs who have joined up to release the collection of 12 carols and songs personalised with lyrics reflecting what Christmas means to the military community. Gareth Malone is aiming for the top spot Only You The Military Wives’ album of the same name is currently number two in the Classical Album charts, while Mr Malone’s A Great British Christmas album – which was only released on the 2 December – has not yet featured.“It’s going well so far,” said Rosie Dow, the director of Military Wives.“It’s been a steady start and I think it’s well ahead now.“Gareth is our friend and patron so it’s been great fun taking him on. He hasn’t been involved in this campaign or album. But the women think it’s funny we are going up against him. They love him. We hope we beat him – in a fun and friendly way of course.” One member of the group is Beth Calvert, 34, whose husband Chris is tactical submariner and will be away until the spring.“It’s hard having him away,” said Beth. “I have four kids – ranging from 17 to 9 – and they will miss their dad over Christmas. We have no contact whatsoever and have no idea where he is.center_img “I didn’t see the lyrics of the single until the day of recording. And when I heard them I just burst into tears because it related so much to me, with Chris being away.“We are reminding people that these members of the military can go for months on end with no family contact. For me the choir is a lifesaver because its all wives of submariners – we all understand what each other is going through.”On going up against Gareth Malone, Beth said there had been “a lot of banter” among the ladies but said: “There’s definitely no hard feelings. We didn’t expect to go up against him so it’s all fun and games.” Gareth Malone is aiming for the top spot Only You Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. I didn’t see the lyrics of the single until the day of recording. And when I heard them I just burst into tears because it related so much to me, with Chris being awayBeth Calvertlast_img read more

Altright commentator gets schooled by historian over diversity in Roman Britain

first_img…many of the inhabitants of the ‘vicus’ would travel with the legion, especially if they were considered ‘elite’.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 Lant Street Girl was 14 when she died. She came from the southern Mediterranean.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 “Thank God the BBC is portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse,” he tweeted. “I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?”Step forward writer and historian Mike Stuchbery, who gave PJW a quick history lesson on ethnic diversity in Roman Britain.“Roman Britain was ethnically diverse, almost by design. To begin, occupying legions were drawn from other parts of the Empire,” Stuchbery responded.“Every year we dig up new remains that suggest that Roman Britain, anywhere larger than a military outpost, was an ethnically diverse place.”His full response:  London, as the capital of the province, was especially diverse. People lived, worked & died together from all over.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 We have accounts of ‘moors’, along with (modern-day) Iraqi & Syrian soldiers on Hadrian’s Wall.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 An alt-right commentator who complained about the BBC portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse has sparked a row with a historian on Twitter.Paul Joseph Watson (PJW), editor of alt-right website InfoWars, shared a screengrab of a BBC educational video on life in Britain, suggesting it was inaccurate. PJW hit back in a video post, responding : “The BBC released an educational documentary about Roman Britain depicting what they said was an ‘exploration of life in Roman Britain shown through the eyes of a typical family’.“I tweeted it was historically inaccurate to depict Roman Britain as ethnically diverse, making the point that this was obviously the BBC engaging in politically correct tokenism.” Thank God the BBC is portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse.I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 25, 2017center_img Spiralfields Woman’s DNA can be traced directly to Rome. Probably an aristocrat.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 Not just London, we have evidence of North Africans as high-status individuals in York.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Roman Britain was ethnically diverse, almost by design. To begin, occupying legions were drawn from other parts of the Empire.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017 Well, I had better revise the contents of my bachelors degree in Classical Latin then. Thank you for updating me.— Niclas D (@Vallamnius) July 25, 2017 Every year we dig up new remains that suggest that Roman Britain, anywhere larger than a military outpost, was an ethnically diverse place.— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) July 25, 2017last_img read more

Prince William on being Harrys best man Revenge is sweet

“I’m working on that one,” said the Duke. “You’ll know soon, you’ll know soon.” When he got married in 2011, a mischievous Prince Harry was in charge of his stag do, a teasing speech and a lively after party which has gone down in Royal wedding history.As the Duke of Cambridge prepares to return the best man favour for his younger brother’s wedding, it is little wonder he has only one thing in mind: sweet revenge.The Duke, who was yesterday announced as the best man for Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle, said he was “thrilled and delighted” at being asked, saying he would be “looking forward” to all of his duties. “Losing our mother at a young age, it’s helped us travel through that difficult patch together. You’re like-minded. You go through similar things, it’s a bond and it’s something you know you’ve tackled together and come out better for it.”Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on May 19 at Windsor Castle, with the Duke now expected to organise a stag do for his brother, carry the couple’s wedding rings and speak at their reception. Prince Harry and Prince William On the question of how he had asked the Duke to be his best man, Prince Harry yesterday joked he had “got down on one knee”, clarifying: “He [William] has known for months.”The presence of the Duke, whose attendance saw him leave the Duchess and their three children at home, also gave rise to the question of their four-day-old baby, whose name has not yet been announced. Prince Harry was best man at Prince William’s weddingCredit:Geoff Pugh Prince William helps his little brother Harry in 1987 Prince Harry and Prince WilliamCredit:AFP In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “Prince Harry has asked his brother The Duke of Cambridge to be his Best Man at his wedding to Ms. Meghan Markle.”The Duke of Cambridge is honoured to have been asked, and is very much looking forward to supporting his brother at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on May 19th.” Saying it “feels great,” he added: “Revenge is sweet.”The brothers made an unexpected appearance together last night at the opening of a sports centre for young people in London, working side-by-side in a touching show of solidarity after news of the Duke’s best man role was confirmed. Prince William and Prince Harry play polo in 2002 The decision means the Duke, who is President of the Football Association, will not attend the FA Cup final, which is happening on May 19, the same day as the Windsor Castle wedding.The new father-of-three, whose son was born on Monday, also disclosed he is still “working on” the Prince’s name, promising: “You’ll know soon.” Prince William and Prince Harry play polo in 2002Credit:PA Harry and William in Toronto in 1991Credit:PA Prince Harry went on to tease his brother mercilessly during a none-the-less heartfelt best man’s speech at the wedding reception, allegedly wearing a fez, mimicking the lovestruck conversations between a young Kate and William, and ridiculing his bald spot.Royal men have traditionally had “supporters” by their side at their wedding, with both Prince William and Prince Harry now breaking with the convention to use the more modern term of “best man”. Prince Harry and Prince William The Palace also shared touching photographs of the brothers growing up, including one taken from the personal photograph album of Diana, Princess of Wales, showing Princes William and Harry dressed up as policemen.The Duke has recently spoken about the lifelong close bond he has enjoyed with his brother, saying at a charity event about male mental health in January: “Our relationship is closer than it’s been because of the situation we’ve been through. Asked how he felt about being asked to be Prince Harry’s best man, the Duke said: “It feels great. [I am] Thrilled and delighted obviously.”Revenge is sweet. I’ll be looking forward to it.”The Duke’s own stag do is reported to have been held on a Devon estate, Hartland Abbey, where he and close friends indulged in drinking, clay pigeon shooting, surfing and games. The Duke and Prince spoke as they arrived together at the Greenhouse Centre, which provides sports coaching and safe social spaces for young people. Prince Harry and William The Princes making mischief in 2003Credit:PA The brothers went on to play table tennis against one another, in a neat showcase of their friendly rivalry. A young Prince William and Prince Harry in borrowed policemen outfitsCredit:PA Harry and William in Toronto in 1991 Prince Harry and Prince WilliamCredit:ITV Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Prince William helps his little brother Harry in 1987Credit:PA A young Prince William and Prince Harry in borrowed policemen outfits Prince Harry was best man at Prince William's wedding read more

Sir Cliff Richard Im wary of being around children

Sir Cliff Richard says he avoids the ball boys at Wimbledon and will not be photographed with his arms around children despite being cleared of child sex assault allegations.The singer said he has been left feeling vulnerable after the ordeal, in which the BBC filmed a police raid on his home. He won a privacy case against the corporation and an apology from South Yorkshire Police.He has been a fixture at Wimbledon for decades, famously entertaining the crowds in 1996 by singing during a long rain delay on Centre Court.But he told an ITV documentary: “I’m careful if people ask me to have pictures taken with their children. From Centre Court I walked through a tunnel and came up by seats on Court One, but since what happened to me happened I haven’t gone down there because that tunnel is right by the ball boys’ dressing room.”I cannot bring myself to be anywhere like that on my own.”His friend, Gloria Hunniford, also appears with him in the programme and said: “The saddest thing I heard Cliff say during all of this is, I will never ever put my arms around young people again when I’m having photographs taken.'” The documentary, Sir Cliff Richard – 60 Years in Public and in Private, will be broadcast on December 10. It also features interviews from supporters Olivia Newton-John, Jimmy Osmond and Hank Marvin.It was filmed over a six-month period at Sir Cliff’s home in Portugal and Abbey Road Studios, as he prepared to launch a new album.He has rebuilt his life and his reputation since the police raid but disclosed: “I spoke to my lawyers and I said, ‘What do I do about what people say about me on the internet?’ They said, ‘Get used to it – you’re a celebrity.'” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

The rise of the Yellow Vests increases tensions outside the House of

Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (L) and a pro-Brexit protester argue as they demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in WestminsterCredit:Jack Taylor/Getty Images Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (L) and a pro-Brexit protester argue as they demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster According to HOPE Not Hate, an anti-fascist group, Yellow Vests is also linked to the Liberty Defenders, a group founded by Timothy Scott, who led the Pegida UK group, an anti-Islam group established by Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson. However, the Liberty Defenders last night distanced itself from the Yellow Vests posting a statement online claiming they are “not right wing, just patriotic”. The Yellow Vests is understood to be planning a series of weekend protest in major cities, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester, with many apparently targeting offices of politicians who want to remain in the European Union.Nick Lowles, of HOPE Not Hate, said: “With the Brexit clock running down, the threat from the far right is growing and the risk of disorder and violence is on the rise. While everyone should be allowed to protest peacefully, it is time for the authorities to clamp down on the bullying and threatening tactics used by these extremists before someone is seriously injured.” Now, they target the Houses of Parliament on a daily basis standing opposite pro-European campaigners as both camps compete to be seen and heard on live television broadcasts outside the Palace of Westminster.The group has emerged from the dying embers of the English Defence League, and uses social media to rally supporters who are often bussed into the capital for protests. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, founder and former leader of the anti-Islam English Defence League In December, a group of predominantly middle-aged mes wearing high-vis jackets blockaded a few bridges leading into central London.Armed with loudhailers and carrying flags of St George, they chanted slogans claiming the will of the people over Brexit was being betrayed by the Government.Video clips of the Yellow Vests protests posted online show how the demonstrations became increasingly ugly as anyone who dared challenge them was met with a tirade of foul-mouthed abuse.Inspired by the ‘gilet jaune’ French protesters opposed to Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, the British group has also held demonstrations outside Government buildings, including the Cabinet Office and Downing Street, as well as the Labour Party’s headquarters and even a London radio station. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, founder and former leader of the anti-Islam English Defence LeagueCredit:DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Winston Churchills top hat and cigars liberated from a rubbish dump and

Cigars, a cigar case and a top hat once belonging to Sir Winston Churchill have been found on a rubbish tip.The items were authenticated by an expert on Antiques Roadshow, the long-running BBC programme, after they were brought along by a member of the public who worked at the dump. David Rose, who claimed to have three sheds of salvaged antiques and other artefacts, said: “I’ve worked there for like 15 years and I get to pull out whatever I like, mostly antiques.”Mr Rose refused to tell the programme-makers the location of the dump where he found the Churchill memorabilia, preferring to keep the secret to himself.In the episode staged at Eltham Palace in south east London and broadcast on Sunday night, Mr Rose explained how he discovered the cigar and hat along with more than 200 letters written by a mother, who worked as a cook for Winston Churchill, to her son.In the letters, she gave a detailed insight into Churchill’s everyday life. “She used to write to her son every day about the daily goings of Winston Churchill, what he was getting up to, how he was feeling and just interesting stuff about him,” said Mr Rose. The items he found in the dump appeared to be gifts from Churchill to the mother, including a signed photograph. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mark Smith, the Antiques Roadshow specialist who viewed the memorabilia, said the authenticity would have been in doubt had it not been for the detailed letters that came with the hat and cigars.Mr Smith valued the whole collection at £10,000, an amount Mr Rose then described as “crazy”. Mr Rose remained tight-lipped about the location of the dump, claiming “dozens” of people had asked but no-one had been told. read more

Police force goes to court over plans to make all new officers

All new police officers will be required to have a degree All new police officers will be required to have a degree Mr Skelly said: “I have been raising these concerns with the College of Policing and the National Police ChiefsCouncil (NPCC) for more than two years since the impact of Police Education Qualifications Framework became clear,” he said. “The College has pushed forward ignoring the growing evidence that demonstrates the impracticality of their proposals from Lincolnshire. Their most recent communication states the intention to change Police Regulations to enforce the PEQF recruitment process from next year.” A police force is taking legal action over the controversial policy requiring all new officers to have a degree qualification.Lincolnshire Police is seeking a judicial review of the College of Policing scheme, which was introduced last year, arguing that it will place officers in the classroom rather than out on the front line.Chief Constable Bill Skelly said if the scheme goes ahead he will have around 40 fewer officers available to deploy at any one time, which amounts of 10 per cent of his overall strength.The requirement for all new officers to become graduates was introduced by the College of Policing in order to professionalise the service.New recruits will have to complete a degree course which is expected to require them to spend around one day a week in the classroom.But it has proved controversial with many serving officers, who regard academic qualifications as unnecessary for a job that requires a range of skills that many believe are best learned on the job.Mr Skelly believes implementing the policy in his force area will be unsustainable at a time when he has been forced to slash resources to the bone.He is also worried about the financial impact of having to pay for officers to attend the degree courses at local colleges and impact on the police pension scheme. Four years ago the Telegraph revealed how Mr Skelly’s predecessor, Neil Rhodes, had written to the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, warning her that his force faced going bust under the government’s funding arrangements.Mr Rhodes warned that under that structure, Bobbies on the beat would be a thing of the past in Lincolnshire, while those officers left would take much longer to respond to 999 calls.He said minor offences such as criminal damage and theft would have to be largely ignored, while investigations into issues such as historic child sex abuse and cyber-crime would stop.In a stark assessment, he warned: “If we were a business, then it would be being funded at below the cost of being in business. The cupboard is bare and it is likely that we will be the first force in the country to fall over.”Geographically, Lincolnshire is one of the largest forces in the country, covering almost 2,300 square miles.But with few urban conurbations and a relatively low population, the force has one of the smallest staff of all 43 forces in England and Wales. He went on: “Nobody in my force area, be it members of the public or fellow officers are saying to me, we want cops to have degrees.”What they want are people who can speak to them and relate to them. These are not skills that you can learn in the classroom. “Also I am concerned about what the drop out rate might be for perfectly good officer candidates who perhaps are not academically minded.”Mr Skelly has estimated that implementing the degree scheme will cost his force around £2.5 million a year.He is now seeking to challenge the policy in the courts through a judicial review, in a move that is being supported by his local Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, who is funding the court action.   Mr Jones said: “Protecting the people of Lincolnshire is our number one priority and to do that we cannot support a further loss of officer numbers to this ill thought through scheme.  We believe that losing around 40 officers from the front line withoutchallenging the College would be unforgivable and the costs to the public both financially and in loss of service leave us with no choice.”Mr Skelly said he has already been forced to make £3 million of cuts in his force area and the extra cost of implementing the scheme could result in Lincolnshire Constabulary having less than 1,000 officers by 2020, which he said would be unsustainable.”We will get to a point where we are simply unable to provide the sort of service that the public expects and deserves.”DCC Bernie O’Reilly from the College of Policing said: “The College of Policing is aware of a potential legal challenge in relation to the implementation of the new entry routes into policing.”The training for new recruits seeks to prepare those entering the service for the complexity of the job and has been developed with colleagues from across policing.”We continue to work with Lincolnshire Police to enable them to join the other 30 police forces across England and Wales who are introducing the new training over the next year.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Body heat scanners used on the LA Metro are deployed in London

Scanners used on the Los Angeles Metro to detect deadly weapons are being trialled in London in a bid to tackle the knife crime epidemic.The space age technology works by revealing objects that block body heat and can detect concealed weapons including knives, guns and even explosive devices from a distance of 30 feet.It is hoped the equipment will allow police officers to identify suspects carrying knives in busy areas without the need for body searches.A trial of the technology – which was developed  began on Monday at Stratford station in east London, the scene of a number of violent incidents in the past.The initial five day pilot, which is being run by the British Transport Police (BTP), comes in the wake of a number of fatal stabbings across the capital in recent weeks.Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, Kit Malthouse, said: “We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime in London and across the country. “20,000 more police officers will help but new technology can make an enormous impact on public safety, as this equipment shows.“No one should feel they can walk the streets with a knife and expect to get away with it.” Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith from the British Transport Police, said: “Fortunately, knife crime on the rail network is very low, however we recognise the important role our Force plays in identifying those intent on carrying lethal weapons to commit atrocious crimes.  “In support of the Home Office and other police forces, we are keen to explore how technology can assist us in tackling violent crime head on. We are pleased to partner with them in trialing the Thruvision technology at Stratford station.”  Transport Security Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Improving safety at stations is paramount to ensuring that everyone can use our railways with confidence, and technology should be at the forefront of that mission. This innovative trial is part of this Government’s wider crackdown on knife crime.”The technology enables police officers to see the size, shape and location of any concealed item. It does not show any intimate body parts and it is impossible to tell an individual’s gender, age or ethnicity from the imagery it produces. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Guyana drops 3 places in media freedom ranking

Reporters Without Borders (RWB)  has indicated in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index that there have been significant setbacks in Guyana over the past year, although the constitution guarantees free speech and the right to information.RWB is an entity that campaigns for media freedom and the rights of journalists around the world.The RWB Guyana World Press Freedom Index published on Wednesday has placed Guyana 60th in its world ranking, down by three places from its last ranking; while Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 34th, Jamaica 4th, and the Eastern Caribbean 38th.RWB has said that, in Guyana, “officials often use… defamation laws, which provide for fines and up to two years in jail, to silence opposition journalists”; and that “members of the media regulatory authority are appointed directly by the president. This restricts the freedom of certain media outlets, which are denied licences. Journalists are also subjected to harassment that take the form of prosecutions, suspensions and intimidation”.Reporters Without Borders has said that the 2017 index “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace, and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth propaganda and suppression of freedoms, especially in democracies.”Declaring that the overall level of constraints on media freedom worldwide has risen by some 14 per cent over the past five years, the organisation has said that media freedom has never previously been so threatened.In the past year alone, the organisation wrote, some 62 percent of the 180 countries surveyed have seen “a deterioration of their situation, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was ‘good’ or ‘fairly good’ fell by 2.3 per cent.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGuyana moves up in press freedom ranking but GPA says significant hurdles still remainApril 25, 2018In “latest news”RSF cites efforts to “silence opposition journalists” in GuyanaApril 20, 2019Similar postGovernments urged to encourage free, independent mediaMay 3, 2016In “latest news” read more

Shark bites off tourists arm in the Bahamas

An American woman is scheduled for surgery on Friday in preparation for the fitting of a prosthetic arm after a shark attack in the Bahamas two weeks ago left her without part of her right arm.(WSOC TV Video Screenshot)Tribune 242 reports that the woman was snorkelling in waters near Athol Island around noon on June 2 when the attack took place. She was transported to shore and taken to hospital where she was detained in serious condition.North Carolina residents Tiffany and James Johnson were reportedly enjoying the last stop of their cruise vacation when the mother of three encountered the shark while snorkelling in a shallow reef.“I wasn’t in pain, it just felt like I had bumped into something so I just casually turned to my right to look to see and that’s when I was face-to-face with the shark,” Tiffany Johnson told WSOC.She recalled seeing the shark’s mouth clamped onto her right arm. She struggled with the beast for a few minutes before it tore her arm off.“I kept trying to yank my hand back and the last time I yanked he had cut it clean off so I was able to actually get free,” Johnson told the news station.Her husband jumped in to help when he heard her scream, and she was helped ashore and rushed to hospital.Doctors in the Bahamas stopped the bleeding and administered emergency treatment, but her return to the United States was said to have been delayed because of passport and customs issues.A medical evacuation company reportedly eventually agreed to cover the flight cost to Carolinas Medical Center.“I’m just so thankful. I’m thankful to be here,” Johnson said after the ordeal. “I’m thankful to be able to share this story and I hope, and I know, that it’s going to change people’s lives because you can’t hear this story and not see God in it.” ( Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedUS woman killed by sharks in front of familyJune 27, 2019In “latest news”‘I just gave it my all’ – Shaunae MillerAugust 16, 2016In “latest news”Indian woman fights off tiger with stickApril 4, 2018In “World” read more