Tom Goldman

Olympic fans, prepare to watch hookers in a scrum who hope not to end up in the sin bin.

The lexicon of rugby, and the men's game itself, return to Olympic competition after a 92-year absence. The return in Rio also involves a couple of debuts: It's the first Olympic appearance for women in the sport, and a first for Rugby Sevens. It's a seven-on-seven game. Traditional rugby has 13 or 15 a side.

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Michael Phelps knows he'll be going to his fifth Olympic Games next month. Phelps officially qualified for Rio on Wednesday, by winning the 200-meter butterfly, a race he described as the hardest swim of his career.

He followed that up with a win in the 200-meter individual medley late Friday at the time the U.S. swimming trials in Omaha, and also qualified for the finals for the 100-meter fly on Saturday.

The wins had meaning far beyond the pool — a symbolic victory over the personal problems he wrestled while becoming the most decorated Olympian in history.

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps made history again Wednesday night. At the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., Phelps qualified for a record fifth Olympic games. He's the first American male swimmer to do that.

But Phelps is one of the few veterans having success so far at the trials. That's because a batch of young, first-time Olympians is stealing the show.

It's a job where the hours are long, you're constantly traveling, and the pay, frankly, stinks. On top of that, there are people doing pretty much what you do — except their jobs, the money, the benefits, the perks are astronomically better.

And yet, the people who do that first job do it willingly.

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET: Ali's Funeral Set For Friday

Muhammad Ali, the man considered the greatest boxer of all time, died late Friday at a hospital in Phoenix at age 74. He was battling respiratory problems.

He died of septic shock related to natural causes, with his family at his bedside, according to family spokesman Bob Gunnell.

Ali inspired millions by standing up for his principles during the volatile 1960s and by always entertaining — in the boxing ring and in front of a microphone.

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Deflategate is the NFL story that just keeps on giving. A federal court panel ruled today the NFL commissioner did have the right to suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

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Sunday's Super Bowl 50 — Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos — could mark the end of an era.

Peyton Manning's last game.

The veteran Broncos quarterback turns 40 next month. After a season plagued by injury and poor play, many suggested it was time to retire. Manning fueled speculation about his future after Denver won the AFC Championship game and microphones heard him tell New England head coach Bill Belichick, "This may be my last rodeo."

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The education at the Rose City Rowing Club starts long before oars touch the water. The first lesson from head coach Nick Haley is about punctuality.

Afternoon practice begins at 4 o'clock sharp at this club in Portland, Ore.

The next lesson is about respect. This one's a big deal at Rose City: Respect your fellow teammates, coaches, the sport itself and — today in particular — the equipment.

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It's the offseason for Major League Baseball, but big news is coming soon. Commissioner Rob Manfred says he will decide by the end of the month whether to reinstate Pete Rose.

The former perennial All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds is one of the greatest players ever; many consider his record for most hits in a career — 4,256 — untouchable.

In football, a sport that demands military-style discipline and singular focus, there's ample precedent for speaking out against the status quo.

What happened at the University of Missouri in recent days, with African-American football players calling for a boycott with the support of coaches, is dramatic, but it's the kind of action that was quite common around 50 years ago, according to historian Lane Demas, a professor at Central Michigan University.

Baseball is a team sport. But as the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets prepare to play Game 1 of the World Series tonight, there's a tremendous amount of focus on one player in particular.

And the spotlight is on New York second baseman Daniel Murphy for good reason.

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Yes, Serena Williams' quest for the tennis Grand Slam is exciting. No one has won all four major tournaments in the same calendar year since Steffi Graf did it in 1988. And now that Williams is in the semifinals at the U.S. Open, she's only two wins away from the rare feat.

But for those who hunger for some ABS news (Anything But Serena) from New York ...

There are two Italian players in the women's semis — reportedly the first time in the Open era that two women from Italy made it that far in the same major tournament.

It's been less than a year since a domestic violence scandal erupted in the National Football League. The infamous Ray Rice video from last September and the league's mishandling of the case plunged the NFL into an unprecedented crisis.

It also spurred the league into action after years of doing little or nothing about the problem of domestic violence. The problem continues, and so do the efforts to fight it.

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And the winner is...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The International Olympic Committee has the honor to announce the host city of the Olympic Winter Games 2022 - Beijing.

(APPLAUSE)

The United States is basketball crazy.

For boys and girls who play sports, basketball is the most popular choice.

But as Americans age, a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals, there's a widening gender gap when it comes to hoops. Why are adult female basketball players giving up the game they once loved?

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Remember the essay LeBron James wrote nearly a year ago, announcing his triumphant return to Cleveland?

"I'm not promising a championship," he wrote. "We're not ready right now. It will be a long process."

Well, time has certainly sped up, especially to the delight of Cavalier fans. The long process he predicted will actually be over with just two more Cleveland wins. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are back at it Thursday night for Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

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Now, many soccer fans reacted to the FIFA arrests with a collective it is about time. But if millions around the world suspected wrongdoing, how might FIFA officials have gotten away with it for so long? Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

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