Josef Martinez  of Atlanta United after scoring against the Portland Timbers in the   MLS Cup  in Atlanta  on December 8th. Photograph:  Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

Rather than pay fading stars millions to attract casual fans, MLS champions have built a proper team

Ali in Beirut in 1985 after he was sent to help secure the release of US prisoners. Photo: Arnaud Borrel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Boxer was sent a number of times to negotiate the release of American prisoners

 William Goldman at the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game at Madison Square Garden in December  2003. Photograph: Ray Amati/Getty Images

America at Large: The screenwriter missed his own Oscar win to watch the New York Knicks

Joe Frazier drops Muhammad Ali during the 15th round  of ‘The Fight of the Century’ at Madison Square Gardens. Photograph:  Keystone/Getty

Jerry Perenchio was the brains behind ‘The Fight of the Century’ won by Joe Frazier

Hall of Fame inductee Willie O’Ree is honoured prior to the 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic Game at the Scotiabank Placein Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The first black man to play in the NHL has finally been recognised in the hall of fame

Jon Gruden is finding it quite tough at the Oakland Raiders with just one win from eight. Photo: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

America at Large: TV broadcaster signed with former club for most lucrative contract ever but has lost eight of first nine footbal(...)

James and Mbappe exchange shirts last August.

Barcelona may play Girona in Miami while jerseys are becoming a lot more common

 Quarterback Steve Young of the Los Angeles Express in action  during an USFL game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles in 1984, California. Photograph:  Alvin Chung/Allsport

One of the many ‘colourful’ club owners was Donald J Trump of the New Jersey Generals

Beto O’Rourke, running for the US Senate seat, addresses supporters during a campaign rally at Texas Southern University in Houston last week. Photo: Loren Elliott/Reuters

Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke isn’t a typical senator but is he hoping to shake up the state of Texas

Conor McGregor walks into the cage before fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov in their lightweight title bout at UFC 229 in Las Vegas. Photo: John Locher/AP Photo

In a sport where verbal crime pays, the Irishman is laughing all the way to the bank

Katie Ledecky of the United States leads the field in the  800m freestyle final at the  2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

After winning four Olympic golds in Rio, the swimmer was happy to be just another teenager starting college

Anthony Kim of the USA celebrates with an American flag after the USA 16 1/2 - 11 1/2 at the 2008 Ryder Cup in Kentucky. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Brash youngster who beat Sergio Garcia in Valhalla has been missing in action

The basement where boxers trained in the Kronk boxing gym. The Kronk was a place that welcomed any kid searching for a purpose or an outlet. Photograph: Getty Images

Gym produced 30 world champions, three Olympic golds, and saved lives of hundreds more

American actor Burt Reynolds holds a helmet while standing in a ‘Mean Machine’ football jersey in a still from the film, The Longest Yard, directed by Robert Aldrich, 1974. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images

After Reynolds's death last week he was honoured by his old college football team

Former Germany striker  Gerd Mueller in action for  the Fort Lauderdale Strikers  during an NASL game circa 1979. Mueller played for the Strikers from 1979-81. Photograph: Getty Images

There would be no Major League Soccer today without him and a few other visionaries

 Attorney Gloria Allred holds a t-shirt that reads ‘$7.25’ during a press conference about the low pay and treatment of former Houston Texans cheerleaders, outside the National Football League  headquarters on Park Avenue,  in New York City. Photograph:  Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Latest lawsuit alleges humiliating treatment of poorly-paid women by Houston Texans

University of Maryland player Jordan McNair, who died in June after collapsing during a training session. Photograph: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images

American sport is in a toxic cycle of win at all costs – even if the cost is a player’s life

Mike Trout: despite comparisons to Mickey Mantle, the New Jersey prodigy doesn’t even feature on the top-five-selling baseball jerseys.  Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Angel could be the greatest ever but he is also America’s best kept secret

A combination photo of NBA basketball player LeBron James and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Robert Galbraith/Reuters, Leah Millis/File Photo

Basketball star has long been an outspoken activist and won’t back down even for Trump

 Jimmy Garoppolo: “Even social media, I’m not out there a ton. But my life’s looked at differently. I’m under a microscope.”  Photo: by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tabloid spotlight on San Francisco’s quarterback after date with adult film star

Katie Taylor celebrates her win over Victoria Bustos  after their WBA & IBF world lightweight title unification bout in New York City. Photograph:  Elsa/Getty Images

Can a sport be deemed professional if most participants cannot earn a living wage from it?

Papa John’s founder  John Schnatter  in Indianapolis, Indiana, in May 2015. File photograph: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

America at Large: Pizza company founder’s use of N-word led to immediate backlash

Kevin Na holds aloft the trophy after winning A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier last week. Photo: Getty Images

A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier on the PGA Tour is the latest propaganda exercise

 John Sterling: New York Yankees’ radio broadcaster. The team plays 162 regular season games and he hasn’t missed a single one since 1990. Photograph:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

America at Large: No catchphrase too corny for New York club’s long-serving commentator

  Poet Donald Hall, who died aged 89 last weekend, at his home in Wilmot, New Hampshire in June  2006. Photograph: Bob LaPree/The New York Times

Poet and baseball devotee tried out for Pittsburgh Pirates and wrote over 50 books

In April 1983 Muhammad Ali set off on an eventful roadtrip. Photo: Getty Images

In 1983 Ali set off on a drive from Chicago to LA in a gold-plated 1978 Stutz Bearcat

Dwayne Wade: “I think enjoying wine comes with age and sophistication and a certain kind of maturity.” Photograph: dwadecellars.com

Just what is it that has America’s NBA stars dribbling by day and drinking fine wines by night?

 Becky Hammon in 2016, as assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Photograph:  Christian Petersen/Getty

She’s proven she’s good enough but will a team be bold enough to give her the chance?

The Incredible Hulk and Lou Ferrigno at a celebrity red carpet event in Los Angeles, California, in 2017. Photograph: Getty Images

A history with steroids does not disqualify ‘The Incredible Hulk’ from serving on Trump council

Jack Johnson on July 4th, 1910, before his successful title defense against ‘’The Great White Hope’’ James J. Jeffries in Reno, Nevada. Donald Trump has said that he may offer the former world champion a full pardon. Photo: Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images

America at Large: Trump has said he may offer a full pardon to convicted boxer Jack Johnson

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his  goal against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. Photograph:  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sweden’s outspoken veteran embracing one last spin on the celebrity merry-go-round

William Nack at the premiere of Secretariat in 2010 Photograph: Alberto E Rodriguez/Getty Images

Late, great writer had exceptional talent and love for scribes such as Seamus Heaney

Flowers lie at centre of the ice as people gather for a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt Broncos, to honour the victims of a fatal bus accident on  April 8th. Photograph: AFP Photo

You must understand that in Canada, there is hockey and then there is everything else

Conor McGregor during the weigh-In  last August in Las Vegas for the  Mayweather fight. Photograph: Derek Hogan/Inpho

McGregor earned more in a carnival sideshow last summer than he earned in cage career

Delonte West: suffered with  bipolar disorder that eventually cost him his NBA career. Photograph: Michael Mulvey/Washington Post/Getty Images

Revelations from stars like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan bring issue to the fore

Some commentators in the American media are questioning whether any club should be getting into what is essentially a moral judgement for the individuals involved.

Spring training in Arizona includes a lecture from lobby group ‘Fight The New Drug’

George Plimpton plays against a blindfolded Paul Magriel in 1977

America at Large: The professor of mathematics became a backgammon master before hitting the poker tables

Neil McNab in his playing days for Manchester City in 1985. He made a total of 260 appearances for the club and was one of their finest players during that decade. Photograph:  Mark Leech/Getty Images

Tiny fraction of the club’s massive wealth would clear former stalwart’s medical bills

 Wendell Carter Jnr  of the Duke Blue Devils. His  mother  is named in a  federal case because she received a free meal worth $106.36 from an agent who was interested in her son. Photograph: Getty Image

America at Large: Taking advantage of young players is at the very heart of the college game

Barry Bonds: In the pantheon of chemical cheats, the former San Francisco Giants player is regarded as up there with the greatest in any sport. Photograph:  Harry How/Getty Images

Retiring the number 25 shirt worn by San Francisco’s baseball cheat an absurd idea

 Muhammad Ail takes a punch from  Al ‘Blue’ Lewis during their non-title bout at at Croke Park in July 1972.  Photograph: Tommy Collins

Man who fought at Croke Park in 1972 was a survivor from Detroit’s meanest streets

 Philadelphia Eagles fans wear their underdog heads before the start off the NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA

Dave Hannigan: The City of brotherly love quickly descends to hate when it comes to sports

Ragan Smith is congratulated by Bela Karolyi during the  2016 US  Olympic Trials. Photograph:  Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Generations of physical, emotional and psychological abuse runs through Karolyi Ranch

 New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts as Tom Brady  looks on before the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photograph: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New England Patriots’ remarkable coach is closing in on a sixth Super Bowl success

Senator Orrin Hatch speaks at the memorial service for Muhammad Ali after his death in 2016. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Late boxer befriended and campaigned for Orrin Hatch despite their clear differences

 A Buffalo Bills fan shows his enthusiasm  during the game against the Indianapolis Colts last month  at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Photograph:  Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Dave Hannigan: First NFL play-off spot in 18 years beckons in Florida for die-hard fans

San Francisco Demons in action against Los Angeles Extreme in 2001. A league then that will mandate blind patriotism and ignore the possibility of brain trauma could just work in Donald Trump-era USA. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

America at Large: Man behind failed XFL wants another go at cashing in on national obsession

Former NBA basketball player Charles Barkley campaigning in support  of Democratic Alabama senate candidate Doug Jones during a rally at Old Car Heaven in Birmingham, Alabama. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

America at Large: Former NBA star helps Doug Jones turn the tables in senate race

George Chuvalo taking on Muhammad Ali in Vancouver in a 1972 rematch. The Canadian pushed Ali the distance for a second time. Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Fighting Ali is nothing compared to the battles the ‘toughest man in Canada’ has faced

Baker Mayfield of the Oklahoma Sooners tries on the Golden Hat Trophy after a win over the Texas Longhorns in October. Photograph: Richard W Rodriguez/Getty Images

College football’s best quarterback is special, but maybe not special enough for the NFL

Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in Miami Beach, Florida in 2014. Photo: Uri Schanker/GC Images

America at Large: Golfers queuing up to be extras in the president’s tragi-comic farce

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media after the NFL owners meeting at the Conrad Hotel. Photo: Catalina Fragoso/USA TODAY Sports

Despite plenty of reasons to leave the NFL commissioner is set to extend his contract

Aaron Hernandez stood in Attleboro District Court in 2013. Photo: Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Hernandez was found to have one of worst cases of CTE ever seen in someone so young

 Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots and trainer Alex Guerrero.  Guerrero became godfather to one of Brady’s children, and is regarded as a member of his and his wife’s  extended family. Photograph:   Getty Images

Patriots star has very close relationship with sinister character and questionable concoctions

Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines celebrates a knockout win against Fadhili Majiha of Tanzania during their bantamweight fight at The Venetian in Macau in 2015. Ancajas will fight Jamie Conlan in Belfast next month. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

‘Head Knucklehead’ Sean Gibbons has lined up Jerwin Ancajas to fight Jamie Conlan

McKayla Maroney pulls “that face” after receiving her silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Photo: Thomas Coex/Getty Images

Olympic silver medalist was abused by USA team doctor Larry Nassar from the age of 13

 Soviet Georgian chess player Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian playing American Bobby Fischer in in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1971. Photograph:  Keystone/Getty Images

Former New York priest played a huge role in Bobby Fischer’s rise to world champion

Billie Jean King was ferried to the court on a throne fit for Cleopatra, carried by four shirtless hunks from Rice University. She defeated Riggs in three sets to claim the $100,000 winner-takes-all purse.

Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs showdown in 1973 a bizarre interlude in a turbulent time

 Tiger Woods  and his son Charlie Axel Woods  attending the US Open  at Flushing Meadows in New York. in New York. Photograph: Elsa/Getty

Bizarre odyssey from icon to ignominy a cautionary tale for our times

Carl Pownall shows off his impressive Subbuteo set and stadium. Photograph: Getty Images

In an extract from his new book, Boy Wonder, Dave Hannigan reflects on his Subbuteo love affair

A protest at  efforts by the Trump administration to phase out DACA, which gives certain rights to immigrants who arrived in the US  as children without proper papers before January 1st, 2007. Photograph: Getty Images

Repatriation has already begun of those brought to live in the US as children

This is the NFL. Pills, thrills and headaches. For the rest of your truncated life.  Photograph:  Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Passion for the game so fervent it’s capable of warping the mores of an entire nation

 Gennady Golovkin training for his forthcoming showdown with Canelo Alvarez on September 16th. Photograph:  Harry How/Getty Images

Top Rank’s agreement with USA’s top sports channel will raise profile of boxing’s best

Conor McGregor’s brash attitude and hyperbole perfectly capture the current generation of youth in Ireland. Photo: Getty Images

Like Christy Ring, Roy Keane and Brian O’Driscoll before him, he captures imagination

Fans enter Yawkey Way before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Photograph: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Shadow of racism surrounding former owner leads to bid to change club’s address

Jockey Mary Bacon   in 1978.

Pioneering jockey’s career fell apart after her appearance at a Ku Klux Klan rally

“Within minutes of bouncing it around, he beseeched his grandfather to lower the hoop in his driveway from 10 feet to seven and a half, and began taking pot shots” Photograph: Inpho

Bitten by the basketball bug, it’s almost time to enter the fraught world of the local league

New Jersey governor Chris Christie confronts a Chicago Cubs baseball fan during a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee. Photograph: WISN-TV/ABC/handout via Reuters

With a huge ego and ‘always right’ attitude, New Jersey governor may have found a calling

Kike Tyson, Milan Tyson and  Mike Tyson enjoying the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

One-time ‘baddest man on the planet’ surviving and thriving after all the wild years

Audie Attar stands sentry in the background as Floyd Mayweather jibes Conor McGregor during their final press tour stop in London. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Audie Attar has swapped battling prejudice for smiling benignly at McGregor’s racist jibes

 Dom Dwyer  celebrates scores on his debut for the  US against Ghana on July 1st in East Hartford, Connecticut. Photograph:  Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Sporting Kansas striker marks a new era in the US pursuit of dual nationality players

Pete Flynn prepares the field for the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets during the last home match at Shea Stadium on April 8th, 2008. Photograph: Photograph:  Nick Laham/Getty Images

Leitrim native’s lifetime of service to New York Mets made him a much-loved figure

Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham and Mayor Carlos Gimenez attend a press conference in 2014 to announce their plans to launch a new Major League Soccer franchise at Pamm Art Museum in Miami, Florida. Photo: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

Former Manchester United player’s proposed franchise has faced numerous problems

Aaron Judge: added 30lbs of muscle to his frame since being drafted in 2013.

New York agog as muscle-bound newcomer rips up the record book with relish

Tiger Woods: like some child actor, preparing him for every feasible challenge on the course often involved neglecting his life off it. Photograph:  Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Basketball icon seems to have coped better with the pressures of fame and celebrity

Members of the Shamrock Rovers squad of the 1960s at a commemoration lunch in 2007. Their US adventure is chronicled in ‘Summer of ’67: Flower Power, Race Riots, Vietnam and the Greatest Soccer Final Played on American Soil’ by Ian Thomson. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

In 1967, the US hosted its first and only soccer season, and Irish players met the stars

 PK Subban  against the Anaheim Ducks  in  the  Stanley Cup playoffs  in Anaheim, California. Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Those who love him enjoy his antics, others say he doesn’t take hockey seriously enough

Former  Republican presidential hopeful and ex-Florida governor  Jeb Bush who has bid  $1.3bn for the Miami Marlins as part of a consortium including iconic former New York Yankee Derek Jeter. Photograph:  Justin Sullivan/Getty

Iconic ex-New York Yankee joined by Jeb Bush as consortium bid for baseball club

With revenues way down and expenses going up, around 100 high-profile employees were let go last week by the network. Photograph:  Mike Windle/Getty Images

Cable sports network loses 10m subscribers as technological revolution bites

Clubs take a bizarrely comprehensive approach each April when trying to figure out which of the best college prospects may be able to cut it in the more demanding professional game. Photograph:  Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Twelve-minute 50-question multiple choice test still used as aid in choosing draft players

BIG3: In a league of thier own.

Game’s marquee names come out of retirment to play new leagues’s half-court format

 Carli Lloyd   lifts the trophy as the USA celebrate winning the Women’s World Cup in 2015. Photograph: Ben Nelms/EPA

Irish women’s team receive same level of annual funding as girls’ U-15 squad in US

 Lonzo Ball (right) is expected to be a top three pick in this summer’s NBA draft unless clubs are scared off by his father’s antics. Photograph:  Andy Lyons/Getty Images

America at Large: Father of basketball prodigy Lonzo Ball shouts loud to get attention

 Christian Pulisic (right) is the youngest player to score for the USA in a World Cup qualifying match. Photograph: Getty.

Borussia Dortmund’s 18-year-old prodigy living with a nation’s high level of expectation

“When you live in fires and funerals and strikes and rats and crowds and people screaming in the night,” Jimmy Breslin once wrote, “sports is the only thing that makes any sense”

Pulitzer prize winning journalist and writer fell foul of conservative New York GAA mafia

 Trainer Lou Duva talks to to Pernell Whitaker during a fight against Oscar De La Hoya  in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Al Bello/Allsport

New Yorker was corner man, trainer, manager and promoter with 19 world champions

PJ Conlon during a Spring Training game between the Houston Astros and New York Mets in February. Photograph: Getty Images

PJ Conlon is a 24-year-old native of Belfast who has high hopes at the New York Mets

 Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson: “It’s not about what I did when I played. It’s about the new Lakers.”  Photograph:  Elsa/Getty Images

Legendary figure returns as president with the aim of returning the club to NBA heights

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma celebrates with the team’s supporters after victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Women’s Final Four National Championship   in 2015. Photograph: Mike Carlson/Getty Images

University of Connecticut women’s basketball team have won 100 games win in row

Jordan Speith: said  he didn’t sign for professional autograph hunters who collect stuff just so they can later sell it online for profit. Photograph: Tyle Terada/USA Today Sports

Sports memorabilia remains a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the USA

Golden State Warriors head coach  Steve Kerr.  “You want to solve terror, you want to solve crime. This is not the way to do it.” Photograph:  Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Personal history lends fitting weight to the words of Golden State Warriors’ coach

Bill Belichick: the New England Patriots head coach has formed a very successful partnership with his iconic quarterback Tom Brady. Photograph: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots coach aiming to make history by claiming a fifth Super Bowl

Johnny Manziel’s contrite public statements  indicate he may just have started to realise how much he has squandered in his career. Photograph: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Quarterback who has squandered so many chances has embarked on rehabilitation tour

Green Bay Packers quarterback has family issues but has brought the game to another level

Linda McMahon was a failed Republican candidate for the US Senate in 2010 and 2012. Photograph: Abigail Pheiffer-Pool/Getty Images.

Forensic examination of professional wrestling magnate’s resume raises many troubling questions

Martha Firestone Ford: Detroit Lions have come a long way since the owner called the players together and told them she was sick of losing. Photo:  Diane Weiss/Getty Images

Remarkable 91-year-old owner has overseen a transformation in NFL team’s fortunes

George Karl: “I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs – like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping.” Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Veteran coach points to major drugs issue within “cleanest” of USA’s big three sports

Conor McGregor  celebrates his KO victory over Eddie Alvarez  in their lightweight championship bout  at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photograph:  Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sports review of 2016: Dave Hannigan on the Irish phenomenon’s seemingly unstoppable ascent to fame

Muhammad Ali goads Antonio Inoki at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan during their mixed bout in 1976. Photo: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali one of a number of boxers to dabble in bizarre mixed combat sport bouts

Boxer Bernard Hopkins fights for the 65th and last time at The Forum  in California on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

On Saturday the ex-con from North Philly will fight for the 65th and final time, aged 51

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