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Sports

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now it's time for sports.

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As concerns over player safety mount, the national governing body for youth and high school football is considering a version of the game that could look radically different from what football fans might expect.

It's a leaner, less contact-inclined game, focused on fostering well-rounded athletes and cutting down on the kinds of bone-rattling, open-field hits that can leave parents cringing in the bleachers.

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It was a match for the ages.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2017 WOMEN'S SINGLES AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP)

SERENA WILLIAMS: (Grunting).

VENUS WILLIAMS: (Grunting).

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Game, Serena Williams.

Japan Returns To Top Spot In Sumo Wrestling

Jan 29, 2017

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And finally time for sports.

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Tennis star Serena Williams has taken her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a win against her sister Venus at the Australian Open Saturday.

The win moves Serena to the top spot in the number of major tennis titles during the Open era, which began in 1968.

It's Serena's seventh Australian Open victory, winning 6-4 6-4 against her older sister. She now returns to the No. 1 spot after losing that ranking in September to Angelique Kerber.

Rafael Nadal has reached the final of the Australian Open, where he will face longtime rival Roger Federer in a matchup that answers the prayers of tennis fans eager to see a ninth Grand Slam final between the pair. Nadal outlasted Grigor Dimitrov in a nearly five-hour match Friday.

"For me, it's a privilege" to face Federer again, Nadal said after his semifinal.

It's been 14 years since the Williams sisters last played for the Australian Open title — but they'll do it again on Saturday, in a final that showcases two of the most successful careers in tennis. At 36, Venus Williams is the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Martina Navratilova's run to the Wimbledon final in 1994.

Wanted: Next Generation Of Luge Competitors

Jan 26, 2017

It isn't easy to find people to do luge, the sport that uses a tiny little sled to rip down an icy track at about 90 miles an hour. That's largely because there are only three places in the U.S. where you can try the real thing.

USA Luge, the organization that recruits and trains athletes for international luge competitions, is looking for the next generation of competitors, and it's throwing regional events to find new talent.

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The U.S. men's national soccer team is back in action with a game against Serbia on Sunday. It's a so-called friendly, meaning it's not part of any official competition.

But it will provide a first look at the team under its new head coach or, more precisely, its new old head coach.

Rio was good to Usain Bolt.

The record-setting sprinter left the 2016 Summer Games with more than just three Olympic golds in hand; he also had a place etched into history as the first athlete to complete a "triple-triple" — or victories in all three major sprint events in three consecutive Olympics.

It turns out Beijing, however, has not been so kind.

"Missed it by that much" — that could have been the simple explanation after American skier Robby Kelley lost control just before the finish line in a slalom race in the Alps in Austria on Tuesday night. But after Kelley crashed, thousands of people cheered him on as he hiked back up the hill to finish his run.

"I just want to cross the finish line every time I go," Kelley said after the race, in comments relayed by the U.S. Ski Team. "I basically always hike. It's something I've always done. My parents told me to never give up, so I wanted to cross that finish line."

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As the Beijing Kunlun Red Stars hit the ice to face off against a team from Moscow, tension is high. A win tonight is crucial to make it to the playoffs in the Kontinental Hockey League, or KHL, Russia's top professional hockey league, second only to the U.S. National Hockey League in talent.

But hardly anyone in the 15,000-seat Beijing arena understands the stakes. In fact, there's hardly anyone here; a vast majority of the seats are empty.

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Later tonight, we'll know who's going to the Super Bowl.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Matt (ph) loads, throws, takes the shot, touchdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Administrations come and go, but now it's time for sports.

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The Asian Football Confederation says it found out that a dozen Brazilian-born soccer players playing for East Timor were registered using phony birth or baptism certificates.

Now, it has booted the East Timor team out of the 2023 Asian Cup. The players involved in the scheme played in 29 matches, which included World Cup qualifying games.

One of the biggest-ever overseas successes for Disney is grounded in a real-life story out of India.

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Three baseball stars who avoided convincing connection to steroid use during their playing days — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez — were elected to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame Wednesday. The stars all received 75 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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In a flood of clemency orders before he leaves office, President Obama commuted the sentences of 209 people and pardoned 64 others on Tuesday. The vast majority of offenders had been convicted of drug-related crimes. Two were involved in cases about leaks of government material. And two were cultural stars of past decades who had run afoul of the IRS.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. And, Steve, I do not have to tell you how excited I was the other night when my Pittsburgh Steelers hung on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, and it is on to the AFC Championship Game against England.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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