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Sports: The Heat's Glow, Olympics And Title IX


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It's time for sports. We're joined by NPR's Tom Goldman.

Morning, Tom.


SIMON: And, of course, Jerry Sandusky was convicted late last night for the sexual abuse of 10 young boys. A longtime assistant football coach at Penn State, a pillar of the community, known for his charitable work. You were in State College to cover the story when it broke.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, and we're left kind of wondering about the lessons of this. Certainly, it's a warning about deifying men like Sandusky. And it happens so much. And it happened for so long in sports especially.

You know, beloved coaches like he was, revered to such a point that he was given a pass a lot of times. People who suspected something wrong, people who knew something was wrong sometimes looked the other way or convinced themselves that it couldn't be because he was the great defensive coordinator of the great Penn State football program. So, you know, we have to beware, obviously, of making anything so great that it blinds us to reality.

SIMON: Switching gears, Miami Heat finally won their NBA championship. Finally. I mean, two years after being together. I loved watching the Oklahoma City Thunder all year, but during those last three games, the Heat looked like the big kids had shown up on the court. What do you see in their future?

GOLDMAN: I'm looking in my crystal ball. Good things, Scott. You know...

SIMON: Time will tell, Tom.

GOLDMAN: Time will tell. But as long as the Heat have a healthy LeBron James, who knows how to win, which he does now, everyone starts out the season at least playing for second. That was the transformation that was key for Miami. By his own words, James stopped fighting himself. He got back to the joy of hoops and not worrying about what the outside world thought about him.

He won his first at the age of 27. Michael Jordan, you've heard of him, won the first of six when he was 28. Be worried, rest of NBA.

SIMON: Michael Jordan at one point stopped driving and doing the layups and the dunks and adjusted his strategy to shoot the fadeaway jumper. Is LeBron that kind of player to be able to adjust, because the toll his knees and other joints are taking must be extraordinary now?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, actually LeBron did the opposite this year. He showed us he can evolve by largely leaving his jump shots behind and finally taking full advantage of the most fearsome athletic talent in the league - maybe in all of American pro sport - and he got his 6'8", 250-pound body to the basket repeatedly. And it helped infuse his team with a toughness that they displayed all the way to the title Thursday night.

SIMON: Track and Field trials for the Olympics began in Oregon this week. You're there in Portland, where they love Korean enchilada food carts and people running in ovals. Give us an insight or two.

GOLDMAN: Well, just these first couple of days we are finding out that the hype about the U.S. being dominant in the decathlon - remember that great competition - it appears to be true so far. Today, is the final five events of the 10 event competition. Yesterday in the first five, Oregon native Ashton Eaton had one of the greatest days ever in the sport. He jumped 27 feet in the long jump. That's a world record, 10.21 in the 100 meters. That's also a world record. Going in today, he was 17 points behind American-record pace.

Behind him in the standings in second and third place, Trey Hardee, the reigning world champion, and 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Brian Clay. If those guys qualify and get to London it could be a sweep.

SIMON: Fortieth anniversary of Title IX, what's the legacy?

GOLDMAN: Nothing less than a social revolution. It changed the relationship between the sexes. Sports was forever a man's thing. It's now a big part of women's and girls' lives too. But there still has to be vigilance. Compliance with the law still not a given in many schools. And there has to be a vigilance that, you know, to make sure Title IX compliance doesn't force so-called minor men's sports to close-up shop.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.