Tom Goldman

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


This week marked one of the biggest dates on the American sports calendar: the start of a new NFL regular season, with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons. But there was a third player in the game, too — a musical one.

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The new NFL season is upon us, but the league can't shake some unfinished business. And the Williams sisters hit the hard courts of the U.S. Open. Hard-headed analysis already from Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

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SIMON: The NFL is back - well, preseason anyway - and has some rule changes. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman gets our head in the game. Tom, thanks very much for being with us.

It's been well-documented in recent years that minor league baseball players don't exactly share in the riches of the game. Most minor leaguers make an estimated $7,500 for a year. Major league players average more than $4 million.

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CTE has been part of the national lexicon in the U.S. since the 2015 movie Concussion dramatized the discovery of this degenerative brain disease among football players.

American tennis player Serena Williams will play in the Wimbledon Ladies singles final for the tenth time on Saturday. She is favored against Germany's Angelique Kerber to win her eighth Wimbledon singles title. And Williams has lost only one set in her six matches so far.

"There's a sense we've seen this movie before," says Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Jon Wertheim.

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At the World Cup in Russia, it finally happened.

It took a record 37 matches, but Tuesday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Denmark and France played to a scoreless tie. Or if you want to sound like someone who knows futbol, a nil-nil draw.

It was the tournament's first. According to FIFA, international soccer's governing body, the 36 matches that preceded Tuesday's double goose eggs "smashed" the previous record, when it took 26 matches at a World Cup to finally get to a scoreless tie.

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The United States is among the notable no-shows for the month-long World Cup tournament. It's the first time since 1986 the U.S. men haven't qualified for their sport's biggest event.

Soccer officials say they are moving on from criticism and controversy to get the men's national team back on track. But some wonder whether they're focusing on what really needs to be fixed — from improving coaching to broadening the appeal of the sport at the youth level — to put the American team back on the world stage.

Still stings

With a few minutes left in game two of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, this past Sunday, something unremarkable happened: Quinn Cook scored.

It was a layup, and it happened when the game already was decided and the bench players, like Warriors reserve guard Cook, were on the court. Unremarkable. Still, there was Cook in a Warriors uniform, playing and scoring in the Finals. Kind of amazing for those who followed his story.

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DETROW: Tiger Woods made his much-anticipated return to the Masters this week, and Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher who can hit, is tearing it up for the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles.

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy ended his drought in convincing fashion Sunday.

The four-time major tournament winner went on a final-round birdie binge to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla. It was his first victory since 2016. McIlroy pulled away at the end with five birdies on the last six holes for an 8-under par 64.

As dominant as his win was, McIlroy shared the spotlight with Tiger Woods, who finished eight shots back.

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GONYEA: Tiger Woods is building another comeback, and the Paralympics are intersecting with global politics. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins me now. Good morning, Tom.

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Today, at the Winter Olympics, Team USA did not get the results it was hoping for, in skiing or in men's figure skating. We have two reports from our Olympic team in Pyeongchang, beginning with NPR's Tom Goldman.

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