Yesterday the incredibly popular but critically ignored New York-based painter LeRoy Neiman died at a Manhattan hospital of as yet unknown causes, his literary publicist confirmed to ARTINFO this morning. He was 91. He had previously been hospitalized in 2010 for a vascular problem that eventually required his leg to be amputated.Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1921, Neiman became a widely adored artist in the vein of Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade, though his specialty was not quaint Americana, but the dynamism of momentous sporting events like the Olympic Games and the Superbowl, and the pomp of social spectacles such as the Cannes Film Festival. He rendered such scenes in a painting style that blended the Impressionistic nightlife imagery of Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec, with the bold Fauvist hues of Matisse, all rendered with brash, gestrual brushstrokes. Neiman was also a frequent contributor to Playboy magazine after a chance encounter with Hugh Heffner in 1953.These events and more are recounted in his autobiography, “All Told: My Art and Life Among Athletes, Playboys, Bunnies, and Provocateurs,” which was only just published by Lyons Press on June 5. Before dying he promised his archives to Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institute. During his lifetime he donated $6 million to create the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University, and gave $3 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied and later taught for 10 years.“It’s been fun. I’ve had a lucky life,” Neiman said in an interview in 2008. “I’ve zeroed in on what you would call action and excellence.”Source: Art Info
Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is still confused over the Dwight Howard’s decision to leave his team for the Houston Rockets.“It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or even to understand why he left a place like LA,” D’Antoni told “ESPN L.A. Now” hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson. “That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do.”With the departure of Howard, D’Antoni knows he lost one of the best centers in the league, but believes other players are capable of filling his shoes.“Everybody has got to make that decision,” D’Antoni said. “You can debate it all you want. Only Dwight knows. Obviously he didn’t think he would be as happy here as he will be in Houston. That might be the case and he had to make that decision. There will be a lot of speculation. We tried it, it didn’t work out and we go forward. So be it. You hate it, Dwight’s one of the better centers in the league and it would have been a long-term thing, but I looked at it like, ‘OK, you don’t have Dwight, but you got Pau [Gasol].’“So, we’ll see. In the short run, we’ll see what happens. In the long run, obviously 10 years from now Dwight might still be playing and maybe Pau is retired, but everybody has got to do [what’s best for them].”Howard signed a four-year, $88 million contract with Houston, leaving a $118- million deal on the table in LA.
Usain Bolt jogged himself into the 200-meter final at the World Championships despite his sore foot.The defending champion won his heat to qualify for the two assuring spots in the heat. After running like he was taking a scroll in the park, he switched speed when Anaso Jobodwana unexpectedly caught up to him.“At the last minute when I started slowing down, I heard South Africa on my inside,” Bolt said. “I didn’t want to lose the race so I picked up the speed again.”Bolt’s Jamaican teammates Nickel Ashmeade and Warren Weir also made the final. Bolt injured his foot in practice prior to his 100-meter title Sunday. He said a starting block fell on his foot in training.“It was just a mistake,” he said. “I was in training, and I was moving it and dropped it on my foot.”If Bolt is victorious in the 200, he will go for the three golds, where he will also run the 4×100 relay.
Through his open letter to Sports Illustrated, New York Jets’ left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson funneled his fears over his future beyond football after seeing Concussion.“Since seeing Concussion, I can’t avoid wondering if I am in danger of experiencing some degree of brain injury when I am done playing.”The Will Smith starring football drama opened Christmas Day. Ferguson also read “Brain Game”, the GQ article written by Jeanne Marie Laskas. For Ferguson, the film’s impact hit with the force of a blindside block. He was not only devastated by the NFL’s extensive cover-up tactics but a doctor on the Jets medical staff played a major role in the conspiracy.“I feel a bit betrayed by the people or committees put in place by the league who did not have my best interests at heart. Dr. Elliot Pellman was one of the Jets’ team doctors when I was a rookie in 2006, and to learn that he was a part of the group that tried to discredit the scope and impact of brain injuries among players within the league is disheartening.”The dissemination of Dr. Bennett Omalu’s research forced the league to act and Ferguson acknowledges that the NFL has taken steps to make the game safer. However, he still contemplates the part he plays through continued participation, “I fear the unavoidable truth is that playing football has placed me in harm’s way, and I am not yet sure of the full extent of what it might cost me.”It’s not just about how much football will cost Ferguson. An NFL Census taken last season shows that two-thirds of NFL rosters are comprised of black players. Black players held a majority in 10 of the 17 positions analyzed including high impact positions like linebackers (180), wide receivers (159), safeties (121) and running backs (107). According to Ferguson, the NFL acknowledges that one-third of their players will have some type of brain injury during their careers.This means more black players will follow the same pain stained footsteps of Dave Duerson, Terry Long and Andre Waters. With the recent news of the NFL backing out of funding a brain study for Boston University, it cheats and robs the majority of black players of valuable resources. There are still tons of legit questions about if the NFL cares for their former employees once the final whistle blows on their careers. If the NFL keeps doing things like this, then the answer is clear and present. The NFL must better value the lives of their majority black players. This will be a problem in black athletics moving forward and giving black NFL players some hope for a future beyond football should be an worthwhile investment.
Surrounded by reporters the day after the NBA announced a blockbuster new television deal in October, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant contemplated the maximum-salary rule that governs his compensation and that of his superstar peers.“Look at it like this,” Durant said. “Kobe Bryant brings in a lot of money to Los Angeles, that downtown area. People go to watch the Lakers. Clippers are getting up there — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and those guys are bringing in a lot of money as well. Look at Cleveland, look at Miami when LeBron [James] was there. These guys are worth more than what they are making because of the amount of money they bring to that area.”NBA players do not get paid what they’re actually worth. Really young? Really good? Sorry — for you, the market isn’t truly an open one. Analysts — and increasingly players such as Durant and Bryant — can tell you that the maximum-contract rule suppresses the salaries of superstars, that inexperienced players are paid less than their contributions warrant, and that as a result, the NBA’s middle class is paid far too much.In recent years, however, that popular notion appears to have been wrong. I built a model measuring how much NBA teams paid for their players’ wins above replacement (WAR), and it shows that the league has changed. During the 2014-15 season, the middle class was, in fact, paid far less for its production than max-contract players, accelerating a trend that began two seasons earlier. In other words, the role players were suddenly steals.But if this offseason is any indication, max players are the bargains once again. Forgive me for sounding like a bad Internet headline — but you are not going to believe how underpaid Kawhi Leonard is, despite his new max contract. The same salary cap spike that’s made this free-agency period so wacky is shifting what the league’s players are worth yet again.But before we dwell on the future, let’s rummage through the past.For most of the past decade, the hoary aphorisms about which players were relatively cheap (and which were relatively exorbitant) held true. From the 1999-2000 season through the 2010-11 one,1That’s the span between the league’s two season–shortening lockouts. players on rookie contracts (think Derrick Rose when he won the MVP award in 2010-11) generated 23 percent of the league’s WAR but were paid only 12 percent of the league’s money.2Beyond minimum salaries, that is. Throughout this article, I’m adjusting the money teams paid players to account for the fact that the monetary equivalent of “wins above replacement” is “salary above the minimum.” This is because a team should expect a minimum-salary player to produce, by definition, zero WAR. Players on maximum contracts (such as James and Bryant) were also shortchanged, generating 24 percent of the wins but making 22 percent of the money.And the rest of the league — the players I’m calling “middle-class” because they’re neither rookies nor max players (and therefore their earning power isn’t systematically capped) — gobbled up the surplus, making 65 percent of the money despite generating 52 percent of the wins.If the market were truly efficient, all the players would be paid the same for each win; there wouldn’t be a difference between any of the curves in the chart above — they’d just be one big, fat, overlapping line, ebbing and flowing in unison. Instead, the prices per win for players are clearly stratified by type of contract, particularly during the period before the league installed a new collective bargaining agreement for the 2011-12 season.Recently, though, a shift has taken place. Young players are still drastically underpaid, of course; the numbers in the chart aren’t adjusted for increases to the NBA’s salary cap, making the young players’ relatively flat line striking, given that the cap nearly doubled between 1999-2000 and 2014-15. But the price of a middle-class win took a downward turn sometime around the 2008-09 or 2009-10 seasons after years of shadowing the max-salary line.Since then, buying a win from a max-salary player has become more expensive than ever before. While the salary cap rose by 8.7 percent between 2011-12 and 2014-15, the cost of a max player’s wins rose by 39 percent. The per-win price of a middle-class player in that time fell by 15 percent. The middle-class players were the hidden gems.Max deals have always come with risk: Between the 1999 and 2005 offseasons, 57 percent of max contracts weren’t worth it, failing to deliver more value than the teams paid for. But during that era, enough max players succeeded — and tended to be home runs when they did — that on balance, they represented a better deal than middle-class players. After 2005, though, max players became more dangerous to invest in: Only 14 percent of all max deals3Of those that were signed in 2006 or later and have finished since then. since then have delivered a positive return. By the late 2000s, when those contracts were in full swing, max players were collectively providing less bang for the buck than the middle class — a first since the max salary was instituted in 1999.This was a significant development because it suggested a path to contention that didn’t involve superstars (a rarity in NBA history). Traditionally, the market for mid-level players has been a place for also-rans looking for scraps after the hyenas have had their way with the max-contract types. That dynamic reinforced the NBA’s competitive balance problem by effectively forcing smaller-market teams to spend more for their talent, on a per-win basis, than the league did overall. Any mechanism that made it cheaper for those types of teams to buy talent, though, stood to give the NBA a much-needed injection of parity.But an unprecedented rise in the salary cap might end all this. The early indications are that how much a million bucks can buy in each salary class will be upended once again. Just when the guidelines of a player’s worth were beginning to shift in an interesting (and more competitive) direction, the rising cap may bring the old wisdom all the way back around to being right again.To help model this and other matters of NBA interest, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver and I have been skunkworking a little model around here that will (theoretically, hopefully, god-willing) begin to do for basketball what PECOTA did for baseball. Using a player’s advanced metrics4Namely, Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating. and his statistical tendencies, it can project a player’s development into the future by comparing him to similar players from the past. We call it CARMELO.5 We spent a long time backronym-ing this in the office. What we came up with: “Career Arc Regression Model Estimator (with) Local Optimization.”Using the beta version of CARMELO to analyze this summer’s free-agent signings, I found that 10 of the 16 maximum-contract signees (as of July 12) project to bring a team a positive return on investment.6Assuming the value of a non-cost-controlled win scales upward with the cap in future seasons. As a group, it looks like they’ll be underpaid by an average of $5.6 million per year. (Leonard lords above them all: He’s projected to bring $26.9 million of extra value to the Spurs every year.7Whoa — how does that math work out? CARMELO thinks Leonard will generate 54.6 WAR over the life of his five-year deal, which would make his “fair salary” about $45 million per season (remember, the cap increases dramatically over that span). Since he’ll only make about $18 million a year, he projects to generate nearly $27 million in surplus value per season.) That’s quite a bit bigger than the average non-max signee of the summer, who thus far projects to bring his team just $850,000 of extra value per season.In other words, the max player is once again a far better deal than his middle-class peers.The cheapest way to build a great team in today’s NBA remains to concentrate on young players still on their rookie contracts. And it’s worth noting that the long-range implications of the league’s sudden salary cap explosion won’t be fully understood for years. But although basketball’s long-understood rules of value seemed on the verge of disruption in recent seasons, this summer offered an early peek into how teams and players will behave during the coming boom years, and it suggests that everything old is new again. See all the free-agent signings (through July 12), and whether the players will be underpaid or overpaid here:
Throwing-42.0 PLAY TYPERUNS Ball-in-play-4.9 Total63.8 Blocking+11.0 Framing+99.2 It took four tries, but Mike Piazza looks like a likely candidate for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame when voting results are announced on Wednesday. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s BBWAA ballot tracker, Piazza has been named on 86.5 percent of public ballots this voting season, with an estimated 34.7 percent of precincts writers reporting. Last year Piazza was named on 75.1 percent of public ballots but only 62.1 percent of private ballots, so we should expect his combined total to come in well under that 86.5 percent figure. But even if that split persists, Piazza — perhaps aided by this year’s more selective voter pool — should clear the 75 percent threshold and join Ken Griffey Jr. in the Cooperstown class of 2016.Piazza’s bat makes his best case for enshrinement. The slugger, who played primarily for the Mets and Dodgers during his 16-year major league career, retired after the 2007 season with a career .308/.377/.545 slash line and 427 home runs, including a record 396 hit as a catcher. Even after adjusting for MLB’s high-offense environment during his years behind the plate (1992–2006), Piazza is the best hitter ever to play the position. Among catchers with at least 2,000 career plate appearances, only Buster Posey has hit better than Piazza on a per-plate-appearance basis, and the 28-year-old Posey hasn’t yet had his decline phase. Piazza’s career offensive value dwarfs any other catcher’s: His batting-runs total tops the second-ranked catcher’s by 35 percent, and the gap between him and the next-best backstop is greater than the gap between No. 2 and No. 15.But Piazza was more than just his majestic home runs, and any accounting that dismisses his defense underrates his overall value.Since his retirement, Piazza’s reputation has suffered from unproven insinuations about steroid use, but it was also dinged during his playing days by his obvious shortcomings in controlling the running game. Piazza, who barely caught in college and had to learn the position almost from scratch after the Dodgers selected him in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, threw out only 23 percent of attempted base-stealers, compared to the league average of 31 percent over the same span. His weak arm overshadowed everything else he did on defense. As New York Times reporter Alan Schwarz wrote upon Piazza’s retirement, “Piazza was consistently criticized for his defense throughout his career.” Piazza put it less politely in his 2013 autobiography, “Long Shot,” where he wrote that critics implied he was an “imposter behind the plate” and claimed that he was “clinging to the catcher position” toward the end of his career in order to set offensive records at a position where elite hitting is rare.Pitchers who worked with Piazza had much nicer things to say. “He did a lot of things well behind the plate,” Tom Glavine told NJ Advanced Media in 2014. Glavine added:Yeah, he wasn’t the greatest thrower. That unfortunately translated into people thinking that some of [his] other game wasn’t as good as it was. He called a good game. He received the ball fine. He blocked balls fine. But so often catchers are defined defensively on how well they throw and there’s much more that goes into just being a good defensive catcher than being able to throw.In the years since Piazza retired, our understanding of catcher value has evolved. We know now that a strong throwing arm isn’t as vital as it was once believed to be. And we also have a better handle on how to quantify catchers’ other contributions, which allows us to put Glavine’s contention to the test.In a 2006 study, Baseball-Reference founder Sean Forman found that Piazza was a whiz at preventing passed balls and wild pitches. And in an essay for the “Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009” (which is now available online), Craig Wright — who pushed for playing time for a young Piazza during his time as a statistical analyst for the Dodgers — showed that with Piazza behind the plate pitchers allowed an OPS 25 points lower, and an unintentional walk rate 10 percent lower, than they did while throwing to different catchers in the same seasons. Subsequent work by Baseball Prospectus analyst Max Marchi in 2012 and Baseball Info Solutions founder John Dewan in 2013 also supported the idea that Piazza’s presence improved his pitchers’ results, as Piazza was pleased to point out in his book. The more sophisticated our statistical tools become, the better Piazza appears, and the more accurate Glavine’s statement seems.Next week, Baseball Prospectus will release its latest catcher defense ratings, derived from a mixed model that apportions credit for certain outcomes — called strikes, passed balls, stolen bases — to all the participants in a play, controlling for factors like count and batter/pitcher handedness. These stats will allow previously off-limits assessments to be mined from pre-PITCHf/x eras. BP’s new arm ratings, for example, go back to 1950, while estimated blocking and framing ratings, based on ball and called-strike rates, extend to the dawn of pitch-by-pitch record-keeping in 1988 — well before the advent of PITCHf/x data made the first wave of pitch-framing estimates possible. Piazza’s revamped ratings paint him as a net-positive fielder, despite his poor throwing and middling ability to field batted balls. Cumulatively, Piazza is by far the least-valuable throwing catcher since 1950, trailing the second-worst, Todd Hundley, by more than 16 runs. (Coincidentally, Hundley is the catcher Piazza displaced when he was traded to the Mets.) Per opportunity, Piazza ranks in the fifth percentile as a thrower among regular catchers. But he also places in the 74th percentile as a pitch-framer, and the 89th percentile as a pitch-blocker. His arm was just as bad as the naysayers believed, but that weakness wasn’t crippling, and he more than made up for it by blocking balls in the dirt and eking out extra strikes. All of that context is lost to Wins Above Replacement models that aren’t built to account for Piazza’s receiving, and future frameworks that quantify game-calling might put an even more positive spin on his prowess behind the plate.1Marchi’s method, which aimed to include game-calling, yielded the rosiest Piazza appraisal of all.There’s no BBWAA bylaw that says a strong Hall of Fame candidate has to have been great at every aspect of the game. Even if Piazza had been a below-average defensive catcher, he’d be a deserving Hall of Famer on the strength of his offense alone. But Piazza was a more complete player than contemporary writers realized, which makes his 62nd-round-to-riches story all the more remarkable. Although Griffey will get louder accolades during induction week, in part because he’s steered clear of PED suspicion, Piazza’s credentials according to the most modern statistical vocabulary put him in a similar place in the Cooperstown pantheon.Read More:Griffey In His Prime Was The Second Coming Of Willie MaysBaseball’s Hall Of Fame Is Stuck In The ’60s
See more NFL predictions See more NBA predictions NBA Oh, and don’t forgetScott Hanson breaks his streak We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe gfoster:This isn’t final yet right?neil:MLBTR says they’re still waiting for him to approvechris.herring:This is insane.[trade confirmed]neil:Whew. Thank god(I don’t enjoy the Yankees getting great players, but I enjoy writing stories that can’t pub even less)Predictions NFL Things That Caught My EyeGiancarlo Stanton to the BronxThe Miami Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees. Next year the only two hitters with more than 50 homers last season will be playing for the same ball club, with both Aaron Judge and Stanton in the Bronx. Here’s the bigger scoop: Marlins Park blows for batters, and adjusting for the move we’d anticipate his 59 home runs would have been about 66 home runs if he played half his games in a normal park. [FiveThirtyEight]Wildcats favored to win each remaining gameWith a decisive 88-72 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs last week, Villanova is now rated the best team in men’s college hoops per Basketball Power Index. They have a higher than 50 percent chance of winning each of their remaining games. Their overall chance of going undefeated in the regular season is 0.9 percent though. [ESPN, ESPN]Nine out of 10 times one of these teams wins the titleThe Warriors, Rockets, Celtics, Raptors and Cavaliers are all locks for the playoffs, with our CARM-Elo projections giving them all a greater than 99 percent chance of making the postseason. More to the point, there’s an 89 percent chance that one of those five teams wins the NBA title this year, with the Spurs, Thunder and Timberwolves accounting for most of the other 11 percent of universes. [FiveThirtyEight]Short passes are a prelude to puntsWhen a quarterback threw pass past the sticks on 3rd-and-10 or longer in the first 13 weeks of the season, 42.6 percent of the time it converted and became a perfectly good first down. When a quarterback threw a short pass in the same scenario, a decision made over twice as often, they converted 12.5 percent of the time. Stop doing that guys. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our fun new interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Chaos in the SouthThe AFC West has mostly sorted out its ridiculous three-way competition for their division championship with a Kansas City win over Oakland pushing them to a 71 percent chance of taking the division. It’s the NFC South that is truly anyone’s ball game, except naturally the Tampa Bay Bucs who can be found in their safe space of #4 in the division. New Orleans has a 59 percent chance of winning the division, Atlanta a 22 percent chance and Carolina a 19 percent. Each of those three teams has a 66 percent chance or higher of making the playoffs. [FiveThirtyEight]Toronto, the sports capital of North AmericaJust weeks after their amazing win in the Grey Cup, Toronto now has won their second league championship since American Thanksgiving. Toronto FC beat the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup 2-0 on a winning goal from Jozy Altidore. [SB Nation]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number96 percentWith 2 minutes and 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Cleveland up a touchdown over Green Bay with the ball at their own 37 yard line and four yards to convert, the Cleveland Browns had a 96 percent chance of victory and snapping their thus-far totally defeated season. That is not how it went down. Green Bay got that touchdown and pushed the game into overtime, when Davante Adams scored the winning touchdown to continue the Cleveland losing streak. The Browns have three more games. [ESPN]Leaks from Slack: Yo Did Giancarlo Stanton Just Get Traded edition See more college football predictions College Football All newsletters
Kaily Cunningham / Multimedia editorIf there’s one thing Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer wants to avoid in the 2013 season, it’s complacency.“When you get complacent, when you get lax, when you start taking things easy, then that’s when minds wander,” Meyer said in a round table interview at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week.He said instead, members of his team must stay focused.“When your mind’s focused on the next day, all’s good,” Meyer said.He cited the “legendary” focus of Michael Jordan, saying there was “little to ever disrupt his train of thought.”Meyer said focus like that is crucial for his team, on and off the field.“We just had something to disrupt our team’s train of thought. We just turned right. We can’t turn right. We gotta get back straight,” Meyer said, referring to the separate, unrelated legal issues of senior running back Carlos Hyde, redshirt junior corner back Bradley Roby, freshman tight end Marcus Baugh and freshman defensive lineman Tim Gardner.Despite those setbacks, Meyer spoke with confidence about the strengths he sees in the Buckeyes.“And then how do you get it back straight? Those three guys over there (Braxton Miller, Jack Mewhort and Christian Bryant), my strength coach, myself, that’s the essence of a good team.”Junior quarterback Miller said Meyer helps keep him level-headed and able to set an example on the team.“You know, (Meyer is) just keeping me level and making sure I’m on the right path,” Miller said. “He always makes us tell him what’s going on (and) be focused on things that need to be focused on.”For Meyer, a grenade tossed in to thwart his players’ focus comes in the form of free time.Aside from summer strength and conditioning workouts, the players face a relatively higher amount of free time in the summer than any other point in the year.And when school is out of session from May until mid-August, free time can pile up, perhaps explaining some players’ recent run-ins with the law.Meyer said he’s looking forward to the loss of some of that free time.“One of the best things is in 12 days we move into hotels, we wake up every morning and go to work,” Meyer said. “They don’t have time to be dealing with ‘what about this, what about this, what about this.’ The hardest part is when they’re away from you, so I try to temper all those things and worry about getting better day to day.”Mewhort said Meyer’s expectations are clear, and he can’t be to blame for his players’ poor choices.“You know he’s not walking with us everywhere we go, telling us to do this and that,” Mewhort said. “He has a set of core values in place and we know them and we’re told them every day. And we know as players if we violate them we’re going to be held accountable for our actions.”But regardless of what causes off-the-field issues, when a player gets in trouble, the entire team is affected.Senior safety Bryant described what the season would be like without Roby, who was arrested in Bloomington, Ind., and charged with misdemeanor battery July 21.“That would be a devastating loss,” Bryant said. “That’s one of my good friends on the team, we came in together. It wouldn’t sit right with me.”He said with Roby on the field, he thinks the Buckeyes could go 26-0, building upon the team’s perfect 12-0 record from last season.That’s the goal he talked about with Roby just a few weeks ago, Bryant said.“We play the game of football, that’s what we do every Saturday,” he said. “And me, being a leader on the team, and a couple more leaders we talk about it all the time. Actually, me and Roby (were) talking about it maybe two weeks ago; 26-0 that sounds great. I mean, that’s a goal I think everybody is trying to accomplish.”
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney at 2017 Big Ten Media Days at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago on July 24, 2017. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing EditorCHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany addressed a number of topics during his opening speech at Big Ten Media Days on Monday, beginning with the confirmation of a six-year deal with FOX to air 25 football games and 50 basketball games.The deal was first reported by John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily on April 19, 2016, and said that it will run for six years. The deal will allow those games to be aired on both the broadcast channel and FS1. It will begin in the fall of 2017 and will cost FOX $250 million per year. This represents half of the media package for the Big Ten, with ESPN and CBS essentially combining to own the second half until the conference reopens bidding on that other half of the deal. ESPN, CBS, NBC and Turner are all expected to compete for that package.“We’re in a great place,” Delany said. “To have (FOX) as a partner for the next six years is gratifying and exciting.”Delany also announced the conference will now allow conference members to schedule FCS opponents, going back on a rule implemented last season.He said it can be very difficult to get three FBS opponents on a schedule, and so the conference will allow schools to schedule a game against an FCS opponent in years when a team in the conference has fewer than four conference home games.He did add though the conference will allow teams to play FCS opponents, there are several factors for encouraging programs to assemble tougher schedules, which includes impressing the College Football Playoff committee.In addition to those past two topics, Delany was also asked about a rule change implemented by Indiana that does not allow any athletes with former sexual assault charges to compete for the university, and whether he would enforce that rule for all teams in the conference. He said while the conference has had discussions about implementing that rule conference-wide, the Big Ten will allow each school to determine that policy on its own and will not force it on any of the schools.“We recognize that some conferences have adopted policies, adjusted policies,” Delany said. “Institutions will determine whether someone’s prior conduct should prevent someone from playing in the Big Ten conference.”Lastly, Delany was asked about Chris Spielman’s lawsuit against Ohio State. Delany said he does not know much about the case despite having read a few articles about it, and from a Big Ten perspective, he did not have a comment.“We’re defending what I’ve tried to say from the beginning is people have the right to bring a case and the rights to defend themselves,” Delany said.
Christa Quarles, chief executive of booking website OpenTable told The Sunday Telegraph: “Recently there has been a shift away from formalities like tablecloths and waiters wearing white gloves, which some people now view as a bit stuffy.“There’s a noticeable shift towards more casual and individual table decorations, even in restaurants serving fine cuisine. What customers really want is a unique experience.” John Lewis has reported a 10pc fall in sales of all tablecloths – from white linen to more everyday varieties – compared to last year.Instead those families that do eat together are increasingly using table mats and table runners to protect surface from hot dishes while leaving the rest of the wood visible.At the same time an increase in the sale of trays reflects the growing habit of individual family members eating in front of the TV or computer screen.But the death of the once ubiquitous table cloth is not limited to the home.Many of the country’s top restaurants are also abandoning what customers have come to regards as “stuffy” tablecloths in favour of “fuss-free” bare tables. A waiter setting the table in the restaurant l’Espadon at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, in 2009Credit: Maurice ROUGEMONT/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images Similarly, crystal glasses have made way for ‘trattoria’ style tumblers more in keeping with the chaotically communal affair which is now the modern family meal.John Lewis said: “Often associated with formal dinner parties and royalty, crystal stemware is proving less popular for customers’ favourite tipples, although it is still reserved for those special occasions and decanters are still on-trend for the nation’s ‘young fogeys’.”So fold away the linen until your grandparents next appear – they might still expect it after all – grab a plate and tuck in.Items previously on John Lewis’s “dying out” list:BreadmakerCrystal stemmed glasses Formal silverwearCorded phonesThongsFishnet stockings There’s a noticeable shift towards more casual and individual table decorations, even in restaurants serving fine cuisine.Christa Quarles, OpenTable Shimon Bokovza, chief executive of London restaurant Sushi Samba points out that tablecloths are increasingly disliked by both diners and venue owners – who are left to cope with a huge laundry bill to keep them pristine.Tablecloths were first introduced in the late medieval period when spreading a high quality white linen or cotton cloth was an important part of preparing for a feast in a wealthy household.The cloths served as a protector for tables made of expensive varnished wood, such mahogany. Over time the custom of arranging tableware on a cloth became common for people in all walks of life, except the very poorest. But, as eating habits began to change during the late sixties and seventies new table-setting styles were developed to match.As well as replacing tablecloths with table runners and place mats on bare wooden tables, families have increasingly dispensed with silverware in favour of helping themselves from large bowls or casseroles and sharing plates. From the banquet halls of kings to the more humble family dining room a starched white tablecloth draped over a dinner table was once the obligatory setting for any meal.But that once domestic staple has fallen out of favour in an era of more informal, laid-back dining.So much so that John Lewis has placed it on its ‘dying out’ list, along with crystal stemmed glasses and formal silverwearWith the growing vogue for stripped wooden tables and the decline in family meals, tablecloths are being bought by fewer and fewer households. 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.