Kevin Fixler
    Sport Matters

19 April 2013

Filmmakers need your help via Kickstarter to produce Missy Franklin documentary

Making a documentary about Olympic champion swimmer Missy Franklin seems like a no-brainer. Just 17, Franklin was one of the shining stars at the 2012 London Games, winning five medals and quickly garnering millions of fans. Documentarians Christo Brock and Grant Barbeito were well ahead of the curve in betting on her as the winning horse, connecting with the Colorado high schooler more than two years earlier. But, it turns out, the project had as much to do with luck as it did with the veteran filmmakers’ foresight and preparation.

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31 January 2013

Hall of Famer Rick Barry explains technique of his signature underhanded free throw shot

The free throw. It’s either a basketball player’s best friend or worst enemy.

While shooting percentages of the uncontested 15-footer have steadily increased since the beginnings of the NBA—the league average is better than 75 percent in nine of the past 10 seasons—some of its best players still struggle with the shot.

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30 November 2012

Does tennis have a doping problem?

After the revelation of Lance Armstrong’s systematic doping offered yet one more example of widespread performance-enhancing-drug use in professional cycling, another popular international endurance sport is under heavy scrutiny: Tennis.

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19 June 2012

The Fading of Giants: The Disappearance of the Traditional NBA Center

For avid readers, as well as those who just love the traditional NBA big man, here is the “director’s cut” of my story about the mystery of professional basketball’s disappearing center, which originally published via The Atlantic last month.

On a Saturday morning last October at a small, strip mall fitness club in Sonoma, Calif., former NBA center Clifford Ray sits on a metal bleacher watching a hodgepodge of mostly over-the-hill baby boomers labor up and down a basketball court. The group of males has shelled out a couple thousand bucks of disposable income each to take a weekend’s worth of instruction at Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s annual fantasy camp in Northern California wine country.

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18 May 2012

Special ‘Teammate’ Inspires Top Ranked Cal Bears Softball Team

The players are still filing in for a Wednesday evening practice at Levine-Fricke Field on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley. The tings of batting practice from some of the early arrivals ring in the cages. Once rounded up in the dugout of the tree-shaded diamond, the team hustles down to a lower turf field to begin warm-ups as preparation for their weekend postseason games.

The top-ranked softball team in the land is in mostly a chipper mood, with young women singing and cracking jokes, and why shouldn’t they be? They just finished one of the finest regular seasons in program history with a 50-4 record, won the inaugural Pac-12 championship, and will host their first NCAA regional since 1993.

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12 December 2011

Op-Ed: In death, Fred Thompson’s Oakland dreams live on

Courtesy of Oregon State Athletics

Courtesy of Oregon State Athletics

Fred Thompson was 18 when I met him, and I had never seen a body so large move so fast, and with such agility. He was what makes quarterbacks wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

Sunday would have been his 20th birthday.

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12 August 2011

California Hurdles Champ Has Olympic Potential

For Trinity Wilson, the phone calls and emails have not relented since July 1, the beginning of college recruiting season.

The rising senior at St. Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, Calif., is without a doubt one of track and field’s most highly coveted stars after yet another stellar season. The attention to Wilson, a 5-9 speedster who specializes in the hurdles, should come as no surprise though, because she has been setting age-level world records each year since she was 13.

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5 August 2011

Edgar Castillo Gets Another Shot With U.S. Soccer

Edgar Castillo is not particularly fond of interviews, but the number of requests he receives may soon be increasing, what with his next international match coming against Mexico, a country whose media and fans once called him a traitor.

On Thursday, with the U.S. national team in the midst of a shakeup after the recent hiring of team manager Jürgen Klinsmann to replace Bob Bradley, the 24-year-old Castillo was unexpectedly selected to play in the August 10 friendly. The match in Philadelphia will not only be the first time the archrivals have met since Mexico’s 4-2 come-from-behind defeat of the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in June, but also Castillo’s first chance to play against his old team and the country where he still resides.

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22 July 2011

Missy Franklin: The Next Big Thing In Swimming?

On a cloudless late June Sunday morning in Santa Clara, Calif., the air is already hot enough at 9 a.m. to swallow up any remaining moisture on the athletes’ bodies. The recurrent slosh of the outdoor swimming pool and the deliberately timed sounds of coaches’ whistles help call attention to Olympians and world-record holders, such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, who are on hand at the George F. Haines International Swim Center for the last leg of the 2011 USA Swimming Grand Prix.

But as the preliminary rounds from the final day of this international contest get underway, another name — not unknown, but unidentifiable to those outside of conventional swim circles — sits atop the series’ standings: Missy Franklin.

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11 July 2011

Curt Schilling’s Latest Pitch: Finding Investors For His Video Game Start-up

It’s the bottom of the seventh with the top of the order up to bat and Curt Schilling is on the mound, once again attempting to produce into the late innings.

But this time around, for ol’ No. 38 — one of the Boston Red Sox most lionized pitchmen — it has nothing to do with a diamond, and everything to do with selling an online platform. Since officially retiring from the majors in March 2009, Schilling, 44, has primarily focused his time and financial assets toward his start-up video game company, 38 Studios.

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