Running back Todd Gurley of the Georgia Bulldogs is getting  a  free  college  education in return for bringing his considerable talents to bear for the Bulldogs every autumn.   Photograph: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Signing autographs and footballs for money brings wrath of NCAA down on one player

A memorial to Tom Cutinella, who died  after being injured during a high-school football game, at Shoreham-Wading River High School in Shoreham, New York.

Three deaths in quick succession have once again put the focus on the dangers of grid-iron football

Mike Trout (right) of the Los Angeles Angels: in an ESPN poll earlier this year that asked American kids, 12 and older, to name their favourite athlete, Lionel Messi finished fourth while Trout ranked 100th.  Photograph:  Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The prospect of the sport’s grey-haired supporters’ base dying off is a very real concern

Dubliner Conor McGregor (left) has entralled the Irish public when he beat Diego Brandao of Brazil at the O2 Arena, Dublin, in a UFC fight in July. Photograph: Inpho.

Despite celebrating 21 years, the mixed martial arts sport’s maturity is in real doubt

Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley (right) and Tom Watson.

Over there in Europe the competition seems to really matter. Over here, it doesn’t.

Shantel Jackson: ex-fiancee of Floyd Mayweather jnr looks on as her attorney Gloria Allred holds up a photograph of the couple after announcing a lawsuit against the boxer for battery, assault, invasion of privacy, defamation and false imprisonment. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jackson claims she wasn’t allowed leave his house unless escorted by a TMT employee

Michael Sam during pre-game workouts for the St Louis Rams in Miami. Photograph: Marc Serota/Getty Images

First openly gay NFL player joins practice squad of self-styled “America’s Team”

Before the fall: Joe Paterno   watches as his Penn State Nittany Lions team play Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois in 2009, three years before his  sacking over allegations he helped cover up child sexual abuse allegations against his assistant coach.  Photograph:  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sacking of Joe Paterno, the 'winningest' coach in US college history continues to generate controversy

John Isner returns a serve against Andy Murray, from Great Britain, during a match at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, in Mason, Ohio. Photograph: Al Behrman/AP

There was a time when 10 of the top 17 male players were American, but times change

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