Important change to the Opening Ceremonies


Important change to the Opening Ceremonies

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- Lights, camera, action ... Cut! Not the words director Danny Boyle was hoping to shout just days before the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. But the Oscar-winning director of "Slumdog Millionaire" has been forced to trim parts of the ceremony -- including removal of a stunt bike sequence -- to make sure the show finishes on time and spectators can get home before public transportation shuts down. London organizers said Boyle was "tightening" the ceremony by up to 30 minutes to ensure the show, scheduled for three hours, concludes between midnight and 12:30 a.m. "This is like any other piece of film you would make, things end up on the cutting room floor," London organizing committee spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said. The ceremony, with a cast and crew of 10,000, is set for July 27 in the 80,000-capacity stadium in east London and be watched by a global television audience expected at 1 billion. Brock-Doyle said a 3-4 minute sequence featuring stunt bikes has been deleted from the show but the riders will be paid and credited anyway. Boyle is making other changes, too, to keep within the time frame. "It has been an evolution," she said. "It was longer 10 days ago than it was a week ago and was longer a week ago than it is now. It is a matter of tightening. It's not cutting big chunks." Reports in British newspapers said Boyle was angry at having to make the cuts, but Brock-Doyle said he was used to making films or shows fit a time schedule. "He's an award-winning filmmaker," she said. "Things end up on the cutting-room floor. I think he understands that." Boyle's ceremony, called "Isles of Wonder," is inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Tempest." He has revealed that the opening sequence will feature an idyllic British countryside setting complete with live farm animals, including 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese. Former Beatle Paul McCartney has said he will perform the closing act. The International Olympic Committee has pressed London organizers to make sure the show -- which starts at 9 p.m. -- doesn't overrun so that athletes can get to bed at a reasonable hour. Many of the athletes will be able to walk back to their housing, located adjacent to the Olympic Park, after the ceremony. "We've always said it's a three-hour show, but it could end at 12:30," Brock-Doyle said. Organizers are under pressure to make sure spectators can get home on public transportation after the ceremony. The Underground and buses will run until 2:30 a.m. during the games -- an hour later than usual. Brock-Doyle denied the ceremony cuts were prompted by the failure of private security firm G4S to provide the required number of security personnel for the Olympics, a blunder which forced the British government to call up 3,500 extra troops. "This has absolutely nothing to do with security," Brock-Doyle said. The longest part of the ceremony involves the march of athletes into the stadium. Several thousand athletes from 204 national Olympic committees will be taking part. "The bit no one ever knows is really how long the athletes parade will be," Brock-Doyle said. "No one actually knows until the day how many athletes are going to come out. We're using all the tricks of the trade to get people to move fast." The weather could also be a factor. "If it's pouring with rain, some athletes won't turn up," she said.

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Heat-76ers game kneels during performance

MIAMI -- A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt.

Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She said it was her way of protesting racial oppression.

"We're being unjustly killed and overly criminalized," Lawrence wrote early Saturday in a Facebook post. "I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us."

Miami Heat officials said they had no advance knowledge of Lawrence's plan to protest. Lawrence, a social worker, kept the shirt hidden until her performance.

"I didn't get paid to sing the national anthem nor was this moment about any sort of fame," Lawrence wrote. "Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it's a rallying cry."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand while it is played. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports - and many levels, from youth all the way to professional - have followed his lead in various ways.

Heat players and coaches stood side by side for the anthem before their game with Philadelphia, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. The team plans to continue standing that way for the anthem this season as a show of unity.

"Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though he was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

Bortles, Carr still carry quarterback bond since NFL Draft

Bortles, Carr still carry quarterback bond since NFL Draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Derek Carr found a friend in Blake Bortles during the taxing, often invasive pre-NFL draft process. The pair were considered among 2014’s top college quarterbacks, with stats, size, smarts and arm strength to warrant a top selection.

The pair ended up visiting several of the same quarterback-needy teams leading up to the draft and national events like the NFL scouting combine.

They actually crossed paths in Jacksonville as both players were in to visit a Jaguars team in desperate need of a quarterback.

“We were in Jacksonville together, and then we were somewhere else together, I believe,” Bortles said. “I remember Jacksonville vividly because we went and got dinner together the night before.”

They exchanged numbers and texted each other during that spring. It started a friendship that continued on.

“We talk every now and then – I still have his number, still text him here and there,” Bortles said. “We’ll talk in the offseason and throughout the year, but he’s an unbelievable guy. He’s a guy that I definitely check and see how he’s doing throughout the year after every game and rooting for, and look forward to seeing him Sunday.”

Their paths cross again Sunday in Jacksonville, when the Raiders and Jaguars meet in a Week 7 clash important to both clubs. The 4-2 Raiders hope to surge ahead and erase a terrible home loss to Kansas City. The Jaguars want to expand on a two-game win streak.

These upstart clubs are dependent on big offense and steady play from quarterbacks selected two-plus years ago.

Jacksonville picked third, and had first crack at a 2014 quarterback class headlined by Teddy Bridgewater, Carr, Bortles and Johnny Manziel.

They took Bortles, with all his size, arm strength and Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. Cleveland made a colossal mistake and took Manziel, who flamed out after two hard-partying seasons with the Browns. Minnesota traded back into the first round and nabbed Bridgewater, a competent signal caller who suffered a major knee injury that stole his 2016 season at least.

The Raiders were patient, held on to their pick and still got their guy. They selected Carr No. 36 overall, paired him with No. 5 pick Khalil Mack and put the franchise on the right track.

Through two-plus seasons, Carr’s been the best of the bunch, and Bortles is solidly in second place. Carr’s been more productive, earned more wins and taken better care of the football. Both guys can be gunslingers, but Carr is a bit more measured.

Bortles exemplifies the term. He’s willing to take risks for great reward, a style the Raiders defense wants to exploit in this crucial meeting.

Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson knows Carr and Bortles extremely well. He was the Raiders offensive coordinator during Carr’s rookie year, and the quarterback credits Olson for getting his NFL career off on the right foot.

He has worked with Bortles over the last two years and has played a major part in his development.

Olson sees similarities between these two passing talents and their development from rookie starters into their third professional seasons.

“Both guys are great competitors,” Olson told reporters in Jacksonville. “They are individuals who were thrown into the league and had to play early as rookies. Both guys have gone through changes in coordinators, but they are tremendous competitors and the both prepare extremely well. They’re both intelligent guys.”