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Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
December 20th, 2012
10:03 AM ET

Basketball Coach Pat Kelsey challenges political leaders and parents to step up after Newtown massacre

On Tuesday, after the Winthrop Eagles Men’s Basketball team lost to the 7th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes their coach took the opportunity to focus on a much bigger loss. Coach Pat Kelsey gave a fiery post-game speech talking about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and asked for change. In his speech Kelsey said he did not vote for President Barack Obama but challenged the president, the Speaker of the House, parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches and everyone to step up because “this has to be a time for change.” This morning, Men’s basketball Winthrop Eagles Head Coach Pat Kelsey joins “Starting Point” to discuss his passionate speech about the Sandy Hook victims.

Kelsey says the national change that he wants to see from leaders is very similar to his business. He says, “The fights not in the locker room – the fights on the court.” Kelsey says that while he and his coaching staff might argue behind the scenes when the team takes the court they are all on the same page. On the same token he stresses that bipartisanship amongst politicians is important.

Kelsey says moving forward he plans to invest more time in looking into issues like gun control and mental health as well as talking about “the deterioration of the core values of what it means to be an American…right and wrong.” He adds that for “a massacre of these proportions to happen under out watch is scary,” referring to the shooting in Newtown.

On the topic of leadership Kelsey says every parent can set a positive example for their children. He goes on to say, “everybody in a leadership position and everybody to some extent is a leader, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a boss of a company... Set a positive example of the right ethics, the right values, the right way to carry yourself.”

Filed under: Basketball • Gun control • Gun violence • Guns • Newtown • Sandy Hook • Sports
December 14th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Arlington High School womens' basketball team and their coach on losing a game by 105 points

The final score of 107 to 2 at a girl’s high school basketball game in Indiana has a lot of people mystified this morning. On Tuesday, The Bloomington South's Lady Panthers defeated the Arlington High School's Golden Knights. The Knights however is a team made up of a lot of young girls who have never played on a varsity team before and as a result people have been asking if they should have gotten a break. This morning the team joins “Starting Point” with their coach Ebony Jackson to discuss the game.

Jackson says after her team lost the game everyone was in shock the next morning. She adds, “it’s a humbling experience,” but overall she and her team feel blessed because they have each other and the opportunity to “go back to the grind on the basketball court the next morning.”

Briella Tomlinson, a freshman Arlington High School basketball player says the game “was a struggle because not everyone on the team has played before.” Tomlinson adds the game was, “more competitive because [the other team] played longer than most of us.”

When asked if the mercy rule should have been put into play Jackson says she does not see it that way. She says, “I do not believe in the mercy rule. I just believe in character and this is the game of basketball and I believe that all rules and regulations should stay the same.”

Filed under: Basketball • Sports
December 7th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

Round four for Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, John Berman talks with Pacquiao ahead of the big fight

For the fourth time in the past ten years, boxers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will face each other in the ring. The brawl goes down in history tomorrow night in Las Vegas.

While Pacquiao is a fighter by trade, there are many sides to the Filipino champion. “Early Start” anchor John Berman learned all about them when he spent time in the Pacquiao camp recently, talking to his trainers and the boxer himself.

“Manny Pacquiao has won titles in eight different weight classes,” Berman says. And though it won't be the first time Pacquiao fights Marquez, round four is no less important. “All of have been close, all have been tough victories for Pacquiao.” It's a rivalry practically unmatched in sports.

Pacquiao wants this fight to be a knockout. “I want this fourth fight to be the answer of all the doubts that is in his mind,” Pacquiao says. “His fans, they’re still claiming that they won the fights.”

Pacquiao’s fans don’t doubt him. The fighter dabbles in singing, acting and politics. “Pacquiao is a legend back home in the Philippines,” Berman says. “He was elected to Congress there in 2010.”

“I like politics to serve people,” Pacquiao says. “I know a lot of the people in the Philippines live in poverty, and I want to help them.”

CNN will air the fourth and final installment of HBO's 24/7 Pacquaio-Marquez 4 at midnight on Friday.

Filed under: Boxing • Sports
December 7th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn on whether veteran sportscaster Bob Costas crossed the line

Veteran sports caster Bob Costas is used to reporting the headlines – but the newsman made his own this weekend after an on-air rant landed him in hot water.

His comments about gun control and domestic violence in the wake of the tragic murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher sparked instant and intense backlash, causing many to ask the question “should sports journalists editorialize on the news of the day?”

Howard Kurtz, Host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” offers that while Costas had the right to address the issue his mistake was trying to do it in a 90-second spot.  However, Lauren Ashburn of “The Daily Beast” disagreed, telling Soledad we need to “get politics out of sports.”

So what do you think?  Check out the video above, and then sound off in the comments below!

Filed under: Football • Gun control • Sports
December 7th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Making the NFL Safer: Former NFL Linebacker Coy Wire weighs in on suggestion to eliminate kickoffs

In the new cover story for Time Magazine, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell opens up about some of the ways he hopes to reform the sport so it takes less of a toll on its athletes. One of the ideas on the table is doing away with kickoffs, which are seen by many to be one of the most dangerous elements of the game. Right now it's only a suggestion, but it has fans and professionals alike debating the idea and wondering what's in store for the future of football.

The league's already tinkered with kickoffs, moving them up five yards which has limited kick returns. By all accounts, those typically frantic plays present the most risk to players, and studies have shown a correlation to that change with fewer concussions.

Former NFL Linebacker and Sports Analyst Coy Wire supports the decision to eliminate kickoffs from football in order to make the game safer. He views the change as another stage in the evolution of the sport as players get stronger and faster. “It’s necessary to change when change is necessary. Not to change is disruptive,” he says. “The game from its beginnings has always been in a state of evolution to make it better.”

Filed under: Concussion • Concussions • NFL • Sports
December 3rd, 2012
10:23 AM ET

Belcher's agent: No indication of anything troubling the NFL player

The Kansas City Chiefs earned their second win of the season yesterday, beating the Carolina panthers 27 to 21.

The win came one day after police say Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins multiple times and then drove the to the team's practice facility, where he turned the gun on himself.

Joe Linta is the agent for both Belcher and Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs' head coach who witnessed Belcher's suicide. Linta joins Soledad O'Brien and former NFL player Tiki Barber on Starting Point this morning to discuss the tragic incident.

"The how and the why are the questions that are troubling everyone right now," Linta says. "I knew the young man for about five years and I had nothing but fondness and respect for him obviously up until Saturday morning. There was nothing in my relationship with him that would indicate any troubling past, anything that troubled him that would cause him to commit such a heinous act."

Filed under: Crime • Sports
November 29th, 2012
10:42 AM ET

Champion bobsledder Steven Holcomb on regaining his sight to win the 2010 Olympic gold medal

As one of the best bobsledders in the world, Steven Holcomb was seen as a strong team leader and contender for the gold medal leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The fearless bobsled driver raced his U.S. team downhill at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. But, in the prime of his career, Holcomb struggled as he suffered from a degenerative eye disease that was making him blind.

“It’s like opening your eyes under water,” Holcomb explains of his sight with the disease. “I mean, you can tell where people are, but you can't really see who they are. You just know that there's a person there. And you learn how to pick things up with their voices.”

Holcomb joins “Starting Point” on Thursday to discuss his new memoir, “But Now I See: My Journey From Blindness to Olympic Gold,” which traces his struggle with the disease, keratoconus, and explains how he overcame near-blindness through a revolutionary procedure before leading his team to the 2010 Olympic gold medal in bobsled racing.

Filed under: Olympics • Sports
October 2nd, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Emmy-Award winning sportscaster Len Berman presents 'the greatest moments in sports' in new book

Emmy-Award winning sportscaster and New York Times best-selling author Len Berman has covered nearly every major sports event throughout his 40-year career in broadcasting. From multiple Super Bowls to the Olympics, he’s seen it all. The legendary sportscaster joins John Berman and Christine Romans on “Starting Point” this morning to talk about his new kids book, "The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs".

Berman’s sixth book, he says he realized halfway through reading it that “it wasn’t really a sports book. “I know that sounds odd because every story is sports,” Berman says. “I envisioned young kids reading this and they see boys and girls, and blacks and whites, and Latinos and Asian and Native Americans and handicapped, and they’re all succeeding. And I’m thinking, ‘Gee, maybe it’s a book of empowerment.’” Berman then delves into his memories of the greatest moments he’s witnessed and covered in sports.

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Filed under: Book • Sports
September 27th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Veteran NFL referee talks end of NFL lockout

Two days after the hail mary pass that started an uproar, millions of football fans' prayers have been answered. The NFL and the officials' union have reached an 8 year collective agreement.

Forty year veteran NFL referee Red Cashion talks to John and Christine about the benefits that resulted from the lockout.

Filed under: Sports
September 27th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

NFL deal will allow officials to call tonight's game

A deal has been reached.

Referees reaching a collective eight-year agreement with the NFL will begin with tonight's game where the Baltimore Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns.

Former NY Giants Runningback Tiki Barber talks to John and Christine about the kinds of preparation that refs did while waiting for an agreement.

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