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Sports

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Time now for sports.

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Several years ago, I wrote a sports Christmas story. It was about a greedy basketball superstar who, imbued with Yuletide cheer, helps save his small-market franchise.

A big-time producer wanted to make a TV movie out of it. So off I went to Hollywood to turn my story into a script and thereby, in keeping with the Christmas spirit, make a killing.

Let me tell you: It's hard to write a Christmas story about sport.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's talk monster trucks.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

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The U.S. Women's National Soccer team finished its 2014 season with a second-place finish Sunday in the rainy final of the International Tournament of Brasilia. Brazil and the U.S. played to a 0-0 draw.

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How every week I look forward to saying, time for BJ Leiderman's Sports theme.

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Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was sentenced to 18 months' supervised probation today after pleading guilty to drunken driving.

He was arrested in September after leaving a casino in downtown Baltimore. Police documents show that he swerved over a yellow line while going 84 in 45-mph zone. Police say Phelps failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test. In Maryland, the legal limit is 0.08.

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Soccer's governing body is meeting Thursday in Morocco, a day after the American lawyer, who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup, quit in protest at how FIFA handled his report.

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Sports Illustrated named its sportsman of the year the other day, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants, which reminded me once again that you only hear the word "sportsman" anymore about the time when Sports Illustrated names its Sportsman of the Year. The term seems so archaic that it would be as if Time magazine annually chose a Gentleman of the Year.

FIFA, soccer's governing body, said an appeal by an American lawyer who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup is inadmissible.

Today, like every Sunday in the fall, millions of Americans are tuning in to watch some of the country's most popular sport: football.

And for several million of them, your regular ol' football game isn't fast-paced enough: They're tuning in to NFL RedZone.

NFL RedZone is the frenetic channel run by the NFL Network that, for seven hours straight, switches between football games in an endeavor to show every single score of as many as 12 simultaneous games.

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University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the winner of this year's Heisman Trophy by a landslide. It's the first win for the Ducks.

The Associated Press reports:

"A pinpoint passer with wide-receiver speed, Mariota came into his junior the season as the favorite to win the Heisman and delivered a performance that turned the presentation ceremony into a foregone conclusion.

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n.

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The sun has set in Liberia's eastern border town of Ganta, and the red dirt roads are humming with motorbikes and boomboxes.

As Ebola starts to lose ground in the West African country, life is slowly returning to normal. Liberia's nightlife, which stalled after officials declared a state of emergency in early August, is gradually picking up. And the hangouts where Liberians pay a small fee to watch soccer are once again packed with fans.

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The Golden State Warriors have revised their new arena's design, after critics said that from overhead, at least, the building looked just like a toilet with the seat and lid down.

In the latest change in a high-profile move from Oakland to a spot near the Golden Gate Bridge, the Warriors released images of a new design today.

As it nears the end of a season marred by allegations of domestic abuse by players, the NFL's owners voted to strengthen the league's personal conduct policy Wednesday. The changes include a "baseline" suspension of six games without pay for a first violation in domestic abuse and sexual assault cases.

Oscar Pistorius will see another day in court. A South African judge ruled today that prosecutors can appeal the culpable homicide verdict handed to the athlete earlier this year for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He will now face murder charges.

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A common complaint I've long heard was that current athletes were selfish and not politically involved like their passionate forebears –– players like Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe.

My response was, "Well, how many of the modern athletes' peers are especially engaged in social controversy?" It wasn't fair to compare the sensibility of the athletes of, say, 1995 or 2005 to those of 1965; the apt comparison is with other members of their own cohort.

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered two fractured in his back Tuesday but escaped without other injury, after a vehicle he was driving crashed around 12:30 p.m. ET. The truck reportedly flipped several times on a bridge in central Charlotte, where Church Street passes over Interstate 277.

"The severity of Newton's injuries was not immediately available but witnesses told Channel 9 that Newton's truck flipped four times," WSOC Channel 9 TV reports.

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