Sports Illustrated's Pete Smith is calling on prominent athletes - and their fans - to hold Barstool Sports and founder Dave Portnoy accountable for racist and misogynistic comments. Portnoy has a history of ugly statements, but argues that he's only trying to be funny. He blames critics for trying to "cancel" him.

Smith writes that this isn't about so-called "cancel culture;" instead, he says it's about drawing a line against racism and sexism at a time when social movements are showing progress. Our guests discuss it:

  • Pete Smith, editor of Sports Illustrated's Browns Digest
  • Chris Thompson, engineer, writer, comedian, and activist
  • Brittany Mollis, freelance writer and co-host of the all-female sports podcast "That's What B Said"


In what seemed inevitable, the Rochester Red Wings' 2020 season has been canceled. This comes as Major League Baseball informed Minor League Baseball that it won’t provide players for the 2020 season. 

24 years ago this summer, the Rochester Red Wings played their last regular season game at Silver Stadium. The ball park on Norton Street had been the Red Wings’ home for nearly 70 years. On Sunday – Father’s Day – WXXI-TV will re-air the broadcast of that last game. It's called "Last at Bat: A Silver Stadium Farewell."

This hour on Connections, our guests discuss the impact of Silver Stadium and the Wings, and how baseball has been affected by the pandemic. Our guests:

We continue our conversation about the future of youth sports in America. According to the Wall Street Journal, 20 to 40 percent of all youth sports programs could be lost due to insolvency caused by the pandemic. That could limit opportunities for young athletes with limited financial means who look to club and recreational leagues to play on teams. Meanwhile, experts in the youth sports movement say this moment of pause is an opportunity to reevaluate the youth sports model.

This hour, our guests explore the issues and discuss what an inclusive model would look like in all communities both during the pandemic and in the future. Our guests:

The Rochester Americans season is over. The American Hockey League has canceled the rest of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President and CEO David Andrews says “the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions.” Andrews went on to say, "The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”

What should professional sports do during the pandemic? Major League Baseball is close to a plan that would include home games with minimal fans in attendance, and divisions based on geographic proximity. The season would start in July. Professional football has discussed a season in which the players stay in hotels and don't see anyone outside of league employees. Basketball stars like LeBron James are saying they think they can finish the current season, even without fans.

How much should we expect? What's reasonable? A somewhat serious, somewhat fun discussion that includes:

The pandemic could permanently change youth sports in America. And according to CITY Newspaper editor Dave Andreatta, that might not be a bad thing. Andreatta writes that the quarantine has led many parents to realize just how out of control the youth sports schedules have become. Now that the kids can't play on travel teams, they're able to just... play, at home or in the yard.

So when the pandemic ends, should the manic youth sports schedule end with it? Can we throttle back? Our guests weigh in:

  • Dave Andreatta, editor of CITY Newspaper
  • Dr. Katie Rizzone, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedics and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Craig Cypher, sport psychologist and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lafayette Eaton, president of East Rochester Youth Soccer, and parent of three children who play multiple competitive sports

A local writer and activist has generated some buzz with a piece he’s written about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. Writing as a guest blogger for 540 West Main Communiversity, Chris Thompson explores what he calls Bryant’s complicated legacy and his own mixed feelings about the late basketball superstar. Thompson says the amount of vitriol aimed at Bryant days after his death seems disproportionate, adding “any praise for his life is not an attack on his accuser, and sympathy for his accuser is not an attack on his legacy.” 

This hour, Thompson joins us in studio to discuss his piece, his thoughts on teaching consent and sexuality to men, Bryant’s legacy, and more. In studio:

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

A gift from the foundation of former Buffalo Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson is helping move a Rochester youth sports facility forward.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, continues to award grants to area youth sports organizations and activities years after his passing, and one of the latest projects involves a youth training facility adjacent to the soccer stadium on Oak Street in Rochester.

Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement over the weekend. ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell called the 29 year old’s decision “the most shocking retirement American pro sports has seen since Michael Jordan left the NBA in 1993.” Luck chose to leave the NFL in the prime of his career due to a number of injuries. While fans booed Luck as he left the field, he has received support from a number of NFL greats, including Troy Aikman, Bo Jackson, and Aaron Rodgers.

Luck’s retirement raises questions about the future of the sport: will this be a spark for change? Will more pro players retire early? Will more kids decide not to pursue football at all? The Rensselaer City School District had to cancel its varsity football program for the 2019 season because it didn’t have enough players.

Our panel discusses the implications of Luck’s retirement. Our guests:

  • Mike Catalana, sports director for 13WHAM News
  • Daniel Kelley, former college football player
  • Dr. Mike Maloney, professor of orthopaedics, chief of the Sports Medicine Division, and director of the Center for Human Athleticism and Musculoskeletal Performance and Prevention at UR Medicine