Every decade or two, an athlete comes along who dominates the Olympic Games in a way never seen before. For the last eight years, that athlete has been United States Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps started his Olympic career in Athens in 2004 with a bang. At the ripe age of 19 years old, he delivered the second-best Olympic performance ever, finishing with six gold medals, he also added two bronze medals to that total. United States Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz, who finished the 1972 Munich Olympics with seven gold medals, was the only competitor standing between him and the history books.
After narrowly missed Spitz’s record in 2004, one would think that it would be difficult for him to top Spitz’s mark. However, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps did the impossible.
After breaking his own world record in his first event, 400m individual medley, Phelps’s march to Olympic glory would be on the broad shoulders of his American teammates. Swimming the lead leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay, Phelps’ gold medal chase seemed to be in serious jeopardy as he could only watch as the U.S. fell behind going into the anchor leg. Teammate Jason Lezak’s remarkable performance saved the day as he put on one of the most spectacular comeback victories in Olympic history, overcoming an almost full-body deficit to preserve the win for the U.S. and Phelps.
Phelps’s seventh gold medal came in controversial fashion as he edged out Serbian-American swimmer Milorad Čavić in the 100m butterfly by 1/100th of a second. Upon realizing his narrow victory, Phelps let out a warriors yell as all his emotions came to surface (see top image).
Čavić tugged on Superman’s cape prior to the epic race, stating “"It'd be good for him if he loses. It would be nice if historians talk about Michael Phelps winning seven gold medals and losing the eight to 'some guy.' I'd like to be that guy.”
Phelps response was simple, "When people say things like that, it fires me up more than anything." Indeed it did!
Racing with United States teammates Brendan Hansen, Aaron Peirsol, and Lezak in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, Phelps won his eighth gold medal, clinching the record for most gold medals in an Olympic Games in the process.
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps became more than just an Olympic athlete. He became a household name. Phelps could be found on Wheaties boxes around the country. He was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He made appearances on numerous hit television shows like Entourage and Saturday Night Live.
After his phenomenal 2008 Olympic performance, Phelps was a celebrity. He single handedly made swimming fun and exciting to watch. Members of the United States Men’s Basketball were present on several occasions to witness Phelps greatness. There was no other Olympic athlete that was talked about more, from SportsCenter to late night talk shows to award shows.
All great careers must come to an end at some point. However, the careers of great Olympians do not normally end when they are only 27. Yet Michael Phelps has announced that after the 2012 London Olympics, he will be retiring from professional swimming. His reasoning?
“I’m so sick of the water. Even when I go to the beach with my friends, they’re like ‘Why won’t you get in?’ And I’m like, ‘Do you have any IDEA how much of my life I’ve spent in the water?’” Phelps said in an interview earlier this year. To hear the greatest swimmer in the sport’s history say he is sick of swimming was a little surprising at first. But if one would look at his life during his training, they would understand.
For over a year now, Phelps has spent every night sleeping from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in a hyperbaric chamber set to 8,000 feet. He has essentially spent his entire life training in pools around the world. Even when he spent weeks in cities such as Shanghai, Rome, and Athens for various Olympics and tournaments, Phelps was barely able to see any of the famous sights because he was getting prepared to race. When asked what he would like to do once retired, Phelps said he wants to “play all of the great golf courses around the world, and maybe even go to a World Cup or Masters.”
In a few short weeks, the career of probably the greatest Olympian ever will be over. With his 14 gold medals and 2 bronze medals, Michael Phelps already owns the most gold medals by an Olympian, and is only three medals short of beating Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record of 18 total medals. Having to win three of the seven races he’s participating in while in London should not be a difficult task for the “Baltimore Bullet” to accomplish. While his toughest competition is most likely his United States teammate Ryan Lochte, Phelps should hold the record for most medals midway through the London Games.
Not only will the U.S. Swimming Team take a hit when Phelps retires, but the entire sport of swimming will suffer from losing the man that’s been the face of the sport for the last eight years. However just like any other athlete at the end of their career, Phelps deserves a chance at a regular life (well, at least a life sleeping in a normal bed without waking up at 5 a.m. every morning to train).
While it will be sad to see Phelps retire at such a young age, it will be a honor to see him race for the United States one last time, and even more of a privilege to see him set the record for most total medals. Good luck in London, Michael!
Check Out Micheal Phelps' two epic races from the 2008 Beijing Games:
Jay-Z stars in a new online ad spot for Duracell Powermat’s line of wireless chargers, which shows the benefits of having a fully charged device throughout the course of a day in New York City.
In January, the musician/mogul/sports-team owner signed to be a spokesman for Duracell Powermat, as well as an investor in the company. The Duracell Powermat is just one of the various wireless charging technologies on the market today — but in our tests, it has proven to be one of the more robust.
The idea is simple: Using the 24-Hour Power System, users can stay fully charged throughout the day, thanks to a kit that includes an iPhone case, a charging mat, and a portable charger.
The spot, created by Woods Witt Dealy & Sons, showcases a day in the life of an average Duracell Powermat user. In addition to a cameo by Jay-Z, the spot also features Jay-Z’s club, the 40/40, which is one of the first locations to have Powermat stations available throughout.
Right now, Duracell Powermat is targeting the New York market and the advertisement will run online and in New York taxi cabs. The wireless power station will get a nationwide rollout this fall.
Let us know what you think of the spot in the comments.
by Christina Warren via Mashable.com
The financial penalties levied against Penn State on Monday morning are clear, but the true cost to the university and football program won’t be known for some time.
The NCAA penalized the school $60 million, among other sanctions. The Big 10 followed suit by announcing that it will donate Penn State’s portion of conference bowl revenue over the next four years to charity, which amounts to a projected $13 million.
On an annual basis, the school looks to lose about $15 million over the periods laid out in the NCAA (five years) and Big 10 penalties (four years). While that is a big number, it’s a number Penn State can absorb if the past is any indicator.
The athletic department had a surplus of $31.6 million in 2010-11, according to Penn State’s financial report filed with the Department of Education. For 2009-10, a surplus of $26.4 million was tallied; it was $19.5 million in 2008-09. Penn State is not subject to public disclosure laws with regards to its athletic department finances, so it’s tough to estimate how much the department has in reserve to assist in paying the penalty.
What we do know is that these reports often do not take into account capital debt service. In supplemental information provided to the Department of Education on Penn State’s 2010-11 report, the university listed $19.6 million in debt service and $15 million in capital expenditures not included in total expenses. It’s unknown if there was any revenue not included in the report, but schools often have to leave out auxiliary revenue such as that generated by a golf course because of reporting guidelines.
The Big 10 penalty is significant – and a first for the conference – but Penn State should still clear $20 million annually from conference distributions, despite the four-year hit it faces. (Last year, Penn State received approximately $24.6 million from the conference.)
But more important than conference distributions to an athletic department like Penn State are donations, the majority of which are tied to football tickets and suites. And that just might be the biggest unknown facing the university.
Penn State’s specific numbers are unavailable, but a look at comparable programs shows just how much of those contributions are attributable to football.
Ohio State attributed 86 percent of its total contributions in 2010-11 to football. For Michigan it was 80 percent. Other schools saw even higher totals, like Florida, which had 94 percent of its contributions come in through football.
“There will still be some concern about supporting the program,” said Harvey Schiller, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference from 1986-90. “People are going to ask questions, they’re going to ask, ‘How are you going to put us in a position to win in the next four to five years?’ It’ll be up to the incumbent athletic department to put a plan together so they have a rebuilding plan for the future.”
That being said, Schiller doesn’t think donors will abandon the athletic program at Penn State wholesale.
He believes about 50 percent of donors will rally around the program: “My experience in the SEC was someone like Alabama could do no wrong. As I would travel around, the anger these [booster] clubs would have against the NCAA for sanctions was unbelievable. It’s in their nature and their DNA.”
Jeff Schemmel, former athletic director at San Diego State University, agrees with Schiller.
“How Penn State handles its next steps from a donor perspective will be critical,” he said. “There’s clearly strong support for Penn State athletics and Penn State football and many of those people will remain on board. I think 50 percent would be a conservative number.”
Schools that have received sanctions have had varied impacts on their finances. USC, which received a bowl ban for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and lost 30 scholarships over three years, took a hit but quickly recovered. In 2008-09, football produced revenue of more than $35.2 million, and the athletic department posted revenue of more than $80.2 million, according to reports filed by the athletic department with the Department of Education. Football saw a sharp decline in 2009-10 to $29 million, which caused total athletic department revenue to fall to $75.7 million. However, football revenue rebounded some in 2010-11 to $31.1 million, the first year of the bowl ban.
Alabama had a bowl ban for the 2002 and 2003 seasons and a 21 scholarship reduction over three years. The financial result? The athletic department saw no decline in total athletic department revenue following its two-year bowl ban.
There’s reason to believe those around Penn State will rally around the program, as Schiller suggested.
Amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations last year, the university posted its second-highest level of donations in its history with more than $208 million in contributions. The only year that number was higher was in 2010 when the university received an $88 million gift to upgrade the hockey program to Division I and build a new arena.
by Kristi Dosh via ESPN
Nike updates its popular FuelBand fitness tracker with a new limited edition"Ice" colorway that wraps the band in a frosty, see-through rubber that gives you a peek into the Fuelband's hardware. The new band will be available at Niketown locations in London, New York, and San Francisco on July 27th and London's Boxpark, the House of Innovation at Selfridges and Nike's 21 Mercer Street store in NY. The new band will also be available online at Nikestore.com on August 12th.
Microsoft and Nike are teaming up to create Nike+ Kinect Training, a new fitness platform that brings Nike+ and Nike Fuel to the Xbox. The home training system features workouts designed by Nike's best trainers and uses Kinect to read your body movement and give you real-time feedback to help correct your positions and movement during your workout. Available Holiday 2012.
Every now and then, an artist emerges within the music sphere who pushes the boundaries – someone whose music matches the tastes of critics, underground fans and mainstream alike.
With the arrival of his first official studio album channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean is the man of the moment. From writing for artists like John Legend, Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, to his excellent mixtape nostalgia.ULTRA and collaborations with Jay-Z and Kanye West, the Odd Future singer has come full circle with his artistry through this full-length release.
What makes channel ORANGE an exceptional body of work is the the melodious melange of multiple genres like contemporary R&B, gospel, blues, jazz, electro, and eccentric alternative elements and the sincere quality of its content, thus providing the album with the potential to become timeless. This becomes apparent from the very start, as the album opener, “Thinkin’ Bout You,” indicates. Having been available for more than one year, the song has lost nothing of the energy that helped to reinforce Ocean’s steadily increasing buzz within the industry. This further becomes visible with songs like “Pyramids,” an extensive, tempo-shifting narrative, as well as “White,” which is powered by a one-minute John Mayer guitar solo. Tracks like the funk-infused “Monks” and the dreamy tune “Pilot Jones” also indicate Ocean’s aptitude to bend different styles and influences. Besides drawing from various genres, the album also beautifully aligns a variety of emotions with tones and a multitude of vibes, as can be heard on the Pharrell Williams-co-produced standout track, “Sweet Life.” It captures the essence of a blissful summer jam but also stresses the uncertainty of one’s financial status. Another highlight of the record – the Earl Sweatshirt-assisted “Super Rich Kids” – offers a catchy and nostalgic account of a spoiled child’s dysfunctional, pampered life, which is backed up by a dramatic, single chord piano stomp.
What further carries this piece is Ocean’s honesty, merged with his profound songwriting abilities. The Andre 3000-featured “Pink Matters” is a lyrical manifesto which fuses a hazy guitar with captivating storytelling. While Three Stacks convinces the listener with his signature flow and thought-provoking lyrics, Ocean presents himself emotionally and sonically naked, offering access to his true feelings and admitting to being torn between his doubts and demons. Another example of how narrative and melody can function together comes in the form of “Crack Rock,” which is a melancholy tale of drug addiction containing an abstract analysis of the hardships of a crack addict. The emotional ride continues with “Bad Religion” and “Forrest Gump.” While Ocean experiences the ups and downs of affection in the former, the latter proves to be the album’s organ-driven emotional center, where he contemplates religion during a cab drive.
Frank Ocean never loses his emotive voice throughout the whole album. While always swaying between various stages of emotions, he retains the core authenticity of his music which is situated between sensuality and perception, thus managing to commodify vulnerability and honesty. With shifting synths and pulses of sound fused with minimalist, mid-tempo drum patterns and Ocean’s soulfully intimate voice, channel ORANGE – which has landed at No. 2 on the prestigious Billboard Top 200 albums – is not only your average chart-conquering record, but a meditative voyage through Ocean’s inner thoughts and is a direct reflection of his personality.