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Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Western U.S. National Parks

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Western U.S. National Parks
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.

The information about mercury, and its appearance in protected areas considered to be relatively pristine and removed from environmental contaminants, is in a recently published scientific report from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

The study of mercury in fish is the first of its kind to incorporate information from remote places at 21 national parks in 10 western states, including Alaska. Western parks were selected for this study because of the significant role that atmospheric mercury deposition plays in remote places, and the lack of broad-scale assessments on mercury in fish in remote areas of the west.

Mercury concentrations in fish sampled from these parks were generally low, but were elevated in some instances. This study examines total mercury in fish, of which 95 percent is in the form of methylmercury, the most dangerous form to human and wildlife health.

Mercury is harmful to human and wildlife health, and is among the most widespread contaminants in the world. It is distributed at a global scale from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions and from human sources such as burning fossil fuels in power plants. Mercury is distributed at local or regional scales as a result of current and historic mining activities. These human activities have increased levels of atmospheric mercury at least three fold during the past 150 years.

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Deloitte Football Money League 2014

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Deloitte Football Money League 2014
Source: Deloitte

Welcome to the 17th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League, in which we profile the highest earning clubs in the world’s most popular sport. Published just eight months after the end of the 2012/13 season, the Money League is the most contemporary and reliable analysis of the clubs’ relative financial performance.

Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Progress Rates for the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 Teams

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Progress Rates for the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 Teams
Source: Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport

There is good news regarding academic success in general for both the men’s and women’s Sweet 16 teams. The GSR and the APR rates of the teams are overwhelmingly high. As in the past, the women still do better than the men. The most troubling statistics in the report come when we look at the historical gap between the graduation rates of white and African-American student-athletes which grew substantially for both the men’s and women’s teams in the 2014 Sweet 16 fields.

Facts for Features — 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four: April 5-7

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features — 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four: April 5-7
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The NCAA Final Four men’s college basketball games will be played April 5 and April 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Sometimes known as March Madness or the Big Dance, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has grown from an eight-team tournament in 1939 to a 68-team, single-elimination playoff with mass appeal. The semifinals and championship games are each expecting more than 100,000 fans, and about 15 million viewers are expected to watch each game on TV. To commemorate this occasion, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts examining the demographics of the host city, as well as the cities represented by the four remaining teams — Madison, Wis. (University of Wisconsin), Gainesville, Fla. (University of Florida), Storrs, Conn. (University of Connecticut) and Lexington-Fayette, Ky. (University of Kentucky).

See also: 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four: April 6-8

MLB Fan Cost Index® 2014

April 3, 2014 Comments off

MLB Fan Cost Index® 2014
Source: Team Marketing Report

The average Major League Baseball season ticket has increased by 2.0 percent to $27.93 for the 2014 season, according to the Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index®.

This minor increase is part of a trend; last season, the average MLB ticket increased by 1.8 percent.

The year before that, there was no percentage increase. In 2010-11, tickets rose by a combined 2.7 percent. The Fan Cost Index (FCI) total, the average price to take a family of four to a game, increased by 2.3 percent to $212.46. The FCI is created by combining four non-premium season tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two programs or scorecards, and two adult-size hats.

TMR uses season ticket pricing and the lowest full-size prices for the ancillary items, so if a team has an $8 beer and a $6 beer, TMR uses the latter to show how much, or how little, one can spend at a game.

NLRB Director for Region 13 issues Decision in Northwestern University Athletes Case

March 28, 2014 Comments off

NLRB Director for Region 13 issues Decision in Northwestern University Athletes Case</strong>
Source: National Labor Relations Board

Regional Director, Peter Sung Ohr, has issued a Decision in 13-RC-121359 finding the Grant-in-aid scholarship football players are employees under the NLRA and has directed an election to take place.

The parties have until April 9, 2014 to file with the Board in Washington, D.C. a Request for Review of the Decision.

2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation

March 18, 2014 Comments off

2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation (PDF)
Source: National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) manages the nation’s most iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors from across the nation and around the world. Trip-related spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. This economic effects analysis measures how NPS visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income.

In 2012, the National Park System received over 282 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $14.7 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 243 thousand jobs, $9.3 billion in labor income, $15.8 billion in value added, and $26.8 billion in output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with more than 40 thousand jobs and $4.5 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally. The sector with the next greatest direct contributions was restaurants and bars, with 51 thousand jobs and $3 billion in output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally.

This 2012 analysis marks a major revision to the NPS visitor spending effects analyses, with the development of a new visitor spending effects model (VSE model) that replaces the former Money Generation Model (MGM2). Many of the hallmarks and processes of the MGM2 model are preserved in the new VSE model, but the new model makes significant strides in improving the accuracy and transparency of the analysis. Because of this change from the MGM2 model to the VSE model, estimates from this year’s analysis are not directly comparable to previous analyses.

What Does it Take to Call a Strike? Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making

March 14, 2014 Comments off

What Does it Take to Call a Strike?  Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Do Major League Baseball umpires call balls and strikes solely in response to pitch location? We analyze all regular season calls from 2009 to 2011—over one million pitches—using non-parametric and structural estimation methods. We find that the strike zone contracts in 2-strike counts and expands in 3-ball counts, and that umpires are reluctant to call two strikes in a row. Effect sizes can be dramatic: in 2-strike counts the probability of a called strike drops by as much as 19 percentage points in the corners of the strike zone. We structurally estimate each umpire’s aversions to miscalling balls and his aversions to miscalling strikes in different game states. If an umpire is unbiased, he would only need to be 50% sure that a pitch is a strike in order to call a strike half the time. In fact, the average umpire needs to be 64% sure of a strike in order to call strike three half the time. Moreover, the least biased umpire still needs to be 55% sure of a strike in order to call strike three half the time. In other words, every umpire is biased. Contrary to their formal role as unbiased arbiters of balls and strikes, umpires are biased by the state of the at-bat when deciding whether a pitch intersects the strike zone.

Tossing the Red Flag: Official (Judicial) Review and Shareholder-Fan Activism in the Context of Publicly Traded Sports Teams

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Tossing the Red Flag: Official (Judicial) Review and Shareholder-Fan Activism in the Context of Publicly Traded Sports Teams
Source: University of Washington Law Review

For some, it comes after their team squanders away a fourth quarter lead in the playoffs, engages in a hasty trade, or makes an ill-advised substitution. For others, an indefensible draft choice, announcement of team relocation, or decision not to re-sign a star player triggers the thought. Whether at a sports bar or on their own living room couch, at one time or another, every sports fan has transported him or herself to the owner’s box and imagined, “If I ran that team, things would be different.” In the face of numerous professional sports team bankruptcies and league lockouts in the last fifteen years, as well as the current economic client, all professional franchises should be reevaluating their ownership structures and investigating new sources of revenue. Although the notion of a publicly owned and traded sports team is not a new business revelation, current economic conditions have reactivated largely dormant discussions of the opportunity. While the decisions posed throughout this analysis are ultimately left to current sports team ownership, this Note is meant to serve as a thought experiment to provoke questions and to spark discussion regarding the viability of a public model of sports team ownership.

Discrimination Inward and Upward: Lessons on Law and Social Inequality from the Troubling Case of Women Coaches

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Discrimination Inward and Upward: Lessons on Law and Social Inequality from the Troubling Case of Women Coaches
Source: Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality

In the Title IX success story, women’s opportunities in coaching jobs have not kept pace with the striking gains made by female athletes. Women’s share of jobs coaching female athletes has declined substantially in the years since the law was enacted, moving from more than 90% to below 43% today. As a case study, the situation of women coaches contains important lessons about the ability of discrimination law to promote social equality. This Article highlights one feature of bias against women coaches—gender bias by female athletes—as a counter-paradigm that presents a challenge to the dominant frame of discrimination law.

New rule on home-plate collisions put into effect; Regulation to reduce injuries on scoring plays to be on experimental basis in 2014

February 24, 2014 Comments off

New rule on home-plate collisions put into effect; Regulation to reduce injuries on scoring plays to be on experimental basis in 2014
Source: Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Monday the addition of Rule 7.13, covering collisions at home plate, on an experimental basis for the 2014 season.

In 2014, the rule being implemented by MLB and the MLBPA will prohibit the most egregious collisions at home plate.

Ted Wells releases Miami Dolphins misconduct report

February 15, 2014 Comments off

Ted Wells releases Miami Dolphins misconduct report
Source: National Football League

Three starters on the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line — Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey — engaged in a “pattern of harassment” directed at Jonathan Martin, as well as another young offensive lineman and an assistant trainer, according to the independent report released Friday concerning workplace misconduct with the team.

Security Tip (ST14-001) — Sochi 2014 Olympic Games

February 14, 2014 Comments off

Security Tip (ST14-001) — Sochi 2014 Olympic Games
Source: U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team

Whether traveling to Sochi, Russia for the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or viewing the games from locations abroad, there are several cyber-related risks to consider. As with many international level media events, hacktivists may attempt to take advantage of the large audience to spread their own message. Additionally, cyber criminals may use the games as a lure in spam, phishing or drive-by-download campaigns to gain personally identifiable information or harvest credentials for financial gain. Lastly, those physically attending the games should be cognizant that their communications will likely be monitored.

CRS — The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues

February 10, 2014 Comments off

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on July 4, 2007, that Sochi, Russia, had been selected as the host city for the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympics. The Olympic Games, which will be held February 7-23, 2014, are the first to be hosted by Russia as a successor state to the former Soviet Union. Reportedly, some 230 U.S. athletes out of approximately 2,900 from some 88 countries, and about 10,000 U.S. visitors, are expected in Sochi. Olympic events will take place at two main locations: a coastal cluster along the Black Sea and a mountain cluster in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains.

Since the 2007 selection of Sochi as the site of Olympic Games, many observers, including some in Congress, have raised concerns about security and human rights conditions in Sochi and elsewhere in Russia. Sochi is in Russia’s North Caucasus area, which has experienced ongoing terrorist incidents, including several bombings in recent weeks. Through hearings, legislation, oversight, and other action, some Members of Congress have expressed concerns over Russia’s hosting of the Sochi Olympic Games and Paralympics, particularly the risks that terrorism and human rights violations might pose to U.S. athletes and visitors. Other broader congressional concerns have included whether the United States should participate in the Games in the face of increasing tensions in U.S.-Russia relations and the Russian government’s growing restrictions on the civil and human rights of its citizens. Some Members of Congress have called for boycotting the Games. Others have cautioned that U.S. citizens should carefully weigh the security risks of attending, and have urged greater U.S.-Russia counter-terrorism cooperation to ameliorate threats to the Games. In the period during and after the Games, Congress may continue to exercise oversight and otherwise raise concerns about the safety and human rights treatment of U.S. athletes and visitors and the impact of the Games and other developments in Russia on the future of U.S.-Russia relations.

Trends in metal prices for Olympic medals

February 10, 2014 Comments off

Trends in metal prices for Olympic medals
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The XXII Olympic Winter Games, 2014 in Sochi — Official Spectator Guide

February 7, 2014 Comments off

The XXII Olympic Winter Games, 2014 in Sochi — Official Spectator Guide (PDF)
Source: Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee
Includes events calendar, maps, spectator tips, transit info, etc.

Women of Asian Descent in Ivy League Golf, 1999–2013

February 6, 2014 Comments off

Women of Asian Descent in Ivy League Golf, 1999–2013 (PDF)
Source: Rutgers University

In the 1999-2000 women’s collegiate golf season the proportion of women golfers competing for Ivy League schools that were Asian (of Asian descent) and played in at least six tournaments was .22. Over the next eight collegiate golf seasons this proportion fell as low as .08 and was .14 for the 2007–2008 season. Then, over the next five collegiate seasons, through 2012-2013, the proportion of players Asian in Ivy League women’s golf who competed in at least six tournaments per season increased to .18, .23, .44, .68, and .56. The marked increase in Asian representation in women’s Ivy League golf was much greater than the increase in Asians in women’s college golf in general and in men’s Ivy League golf. We suggest Asian parents with academically and athletically gifted daughters have turned with their daughters to golf over the past decade or longer to increase the daughter’s chances of admission to selective universities in the US. This emphasis on golf may result from: 1. recognition that Asian women can compete successfully against generally taller Caucasian women given the success of Asian golfers on the LPGA tour since the late 1990’s; 2. recognition that the close parental supervision of children in the Asian family, particularly the girls, and the emphasis on discipline and practice can help build a strong golf game. Short game practice in particular may have a potentially large payoff and does not lead to physical breakdown. Variable effects regression models show that the skill (rankings) advantage of Asians over non-Asians has actually increased in women’s golf in the Ivy League in recent years; thus, Asian representation in women’s Ivy golf should continue to increase.

CDC Traveler’s Health: Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics

February 4, 2014 Comments off

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC wants you and your travel team to enjoy the Winter Games and bring home a suitcase full of gold, silver, and bronze memories. Plan ahead for safe and healthy travel!

  • Get vaccinated. Make sure you are up to date on your routine vaccines, including measles. You may also need hepatitis vaccines.
  • Pack Smart. Be sure to pack a travel health kit and plenty of warm and waterproof clothing and shoes.
  • Check your insurance. Travelers need proof of medical insurance that is valid in the Russian Federation to get a visa. Most domestic insurance plans won’t cover you if you need medical care overseas, so check with your provider to see if you have coverage outside the United States.
  • Stay Safe. When at crowded events, plan where to meet your group if you get separated. Always scout out emergency exits when at large indoor events.
  • Healthy Habits. Always wear seatbelts. Wash your hands well and often. Drink alcohol in moderation and use latex condoms if you have sex.

See also: Russian Federation Travel Alert (U.S. Department of State)

Recreational Water–Associated Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2010

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Recreational Water–Associated Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Recreational water–associated disease outbreaks result from exposure to infectious pathogens or chemical agents in treated recreational water venues (e.g., pools and hot tubs or spas) or untreated recreational water venues (e.g., lakes and oceans). For 2009–2010, the most recent years for which finalized data are available, public health officials from 28 states and Puerto Rico electronically reported 81 recreational water–associated disease outbreaks to CDC’s Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) via the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). This report summarizes the characteristics of those outbreaks. Among the 57 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water, 24 (42%) were caused by Cryptosporidium. Among the 24 outbreaks associated with untreated recreational water, 11 (46%) were confirmed or suspected to have been caused by cyanobacterial toxins. In total, the 81 outbreaks resulted in at least 1,326 cases of illness and 62 hospitalizations; no deaths were reported. Laboratory and environmental data, in addition to epidemiologic data, can be used to direct and optimize the prevention and control of recreational water–associated disease outbreaks.

Survey | More than One-in-Five Fans have a Ritual Before or During Sports Games

January 23, 2014 Comments off

More than One-in-Five Fans have a Ritual Before or During Sports Games
Source: Public Religion Research Institute

Just ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, half of sports fans see some aspect of the supernatural at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events.

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