UMass guard Derrick Gordon hopes his decision to become the first openly gay player in Division I mens basketball will inspire others. Eric Haase Jersey . "There are a lot of kids out there in my situation, probably far worse situations," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "Maybe I can give a lot of kids that confidence that they need to get over that hump." Earlier Wednesday, Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports. He said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason Collins, who became the leagues first openly gay player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets this season. "Right now Im happy. Im free just to live my life," Gordon told the AP. The sophomore was the Minutemens fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season. UMass reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998 and lost in its first game to Tennessee. He sat out the previous season after transferring from Western Kentucky to be closer to his family in New Jersey, where he played at high school powerhouse St. Patrick. Gordon said he told his parents he was gay March 30, informed UMass coach Derek Kellogg the next day and told his teammates two days later, which was last Wednesday. He said some of them probably have known since last summer. "They could sense it because I kind of separated myself from the team," Gordon said. "I didnt really hang out with them as far as going to parties and stuff. I really kind of kept to myself, kept quiet. We went on road trips -- Id sit by myself and they were always wondering why. I did it because I didnt want to put myself in a situation where maybe something happens and they end up finding out. Then what? Im not going to know how to handle the situation." He said he appreciated the support hes received from his teammates since making his announcement. "Theyre ready to get back in the gym just as much as I am," Gordon said. "I cant wait to get back with them and get ready for this upcoming season." In the Outsports interview, Gordon said he considered quitting basketball last fall and isolated himself from teammates because of teasing. Over the summer, he had "liked" a photo on Instagram of him and his then-boyfriend in front of a gay bar. Gordon said Wednesday that he had talked several times with Collins, who made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues. Collins tweeted that he was "so proud" of Gordon: "Another brave young man who is going to make it easier for so many others to live an authentic life." Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next months NFL draft. Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement: "You have so many in your corner and were all proud and rooting for you." Kellogg and UMass director of athletics John McCutcheon offered their support in statements from the school. The coach said that "I have the most profound respect for Derrick and the decision he has made to come out publicly." He called Gordon "a model student, a terrific competitor, but most importantly, he is a wonderful human being." Mike Hargrove Indians Jersey . MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also will attend the session, which was announced Monday. The league has discussed placing its next two expansion teams in Miami and Atlanta. George Hendrick Jersey . -- Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson couldnt hear himself amid the roar in Koch Arena, so he kept stomping on the floor in a fruitless attempt to get his teams attention.The New York Islanders made a surprise move, re-uniting a pair of linemates with big free agent contracts. Numbers Game looks into the Islanders getting Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. The Islanders Get: C Mikhail Grabovski and LW Nikolai Kulemin. Grabovski, 30, has been a productive centre, scoring 160 points in 261 games over the past four seasons, which ranks 98th among NHL forwards. While that alone is a decent indication of Grabovskis ability to contribute as a second-line centre, hes put up terrific relative possession numbers in four of the last five seasons, the only exception being in 2012-2013 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, when he was effectively buried in a defensive role. That led to his being bought out by the Maple Leafs in one of the more ridiculous decisions in the history of NHL contract buyouts. One year after he was bought out by the Maple Leafs and could only drum up enough interest to secure a one-year, $3-million deal as a free agent, Grabovski signed for four years and $20-million with the Isles. Going to the Islanders should offer Grabovski an opportunity to get favourable matchups, with zone starts tilted towards the offensive zone and softer opposition while opponents send their best at John Tavares line and the Islanders put Frans Nielsens line out for the toughest defensive assignments. Grabovski has scored 20 or more goals three times and topped 50 points twice. His career points per game of 0.59 works out to 48 points over an 82-game schedule, so maybe something around a 50-point season is the best-case scenario, but if Grabovski can put up between 40 and 50 points with typically strong possession stats over the course of his contract, he will be a solid addition for the Islanders. Grabovskis departure from Washington leaves a hole at second-line centre, one that still needs to be filled, unless Marcus Johansson or Evgeny Kuznetsov fit into that spot. Kulemin is a 27-year-old winger who scored 30 goals and 57 points riding shotgun with Grabovski for the Maple Leafs in 2010-2011, but has failed to generate much offence siince, scoring 23 goals and 71 points in 188 games. Oscar Gamble Indians Jersey. But, to be fair, Kulemin has been stuck in a defensive role for the past couple seasons, with primarily defensive zone starts against quality opposition. While Kulemin hasnt scored a bunch in the NHL, particularly recently, hes produced enough to believe that there is more offence to be uncovered. He has 11 points in 20 games for Russia at the past two World Championships and 38 points in 36 KHL games while playing alongside Evgeni Malkin, so its not like Kulemin cant find his way around the offensive zone, but he likely needs a centre that will be the creator offensively. With the expectation that Kulemin will skate with Grabovski, he too should benefit from more offensive zone starts and favourable matchups. Maybe that results in Kulemin scoring 35-to-40 points (that 57-point season in 2010-2011 sure appears to be an aberration) and if that comes with solid two-way play then, even at his lofty price, Kulemin can be a worthy acquisition for the Isles. Toronto didnt seem to be in position to pay Kulemin, and they shouldnt have, based on how he was being used. Wingers that are deployed like Kulemin dont tend to get paid. Kulemins contract also runs for four years, paying him $16.75-million, which is a lot given his recent production, but if he gets more of an offensive opportunity, Kulemin has a decent shot at producing enough offensively to justify that price, which is fair for a second-line winger. All in all, this is an aggressive move by the Islanders and suddenly gives them terrific depth up front. So much that they likely need to find room on the wing for young guns like Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome, but its an enviable problem to have so much talent that some of your centres need to find room to play on the wing. Their defence can still get better, but these signings put the Islanders into the mix among playoff contenders for next season. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ' ' '
CHARLOTTE, N. Miami Marlins Gear .C. -- Carl Edwards said NASCAR is taking the wrong approach in its effort to draw more fans to the race track. If NASCAR really wants to create better competition and higher interest in the sport, Edwards said it needs to focus on changing the setup of the cars and not the championship format. NASCAR will announce its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format on Thursday. It is expected to be to a 16-driver field whittled down through eliminations to four drivers and a winner-take-all season finale; it would be the fourth significant change to either the points or championship format since the Chase debuted in 2004. Edwards said drivers are already doing everything they can to win and the proposed changes that NASCAR chairman Brian France laid out two weeks ago wont change that. "I dont think you can take the top 15 guys in this sport and make them race any harder for wins. I dont think you can," Edwards said Tuesday. Its a sentiment shared by 2012 champion Brad Keselowski, who initially showed public support of the new format but is now reserving judgment until he sees exactly what NASCAR wants to do. France has been adamant he wants drivers to race at 100 per cent at all times and to value winning, and he preached most of last season that the frantic, door-banging battle to the checkered flag at California between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano is the kind of racing he wants to see. "From a drivers perspective, theres nothing left," Keselowski said Wednesday. "Theres no set of rules to make me race harder than I do." Keselowski passed on a chance to move Kyle Busch out of the lead at Watkins Glen last August in what could have been a last-ditch effort to win the race. That victory would have likely ensured Keselowski a spot in the Chase; instead, he failed to qualify and was unable to defend his championship. Keselowski also doesnt think any changes will hurt six-time champion Jimmie Johnson. "No matter what format you put out there, hes the favourite," Keselowski said. "Until thats not the case, I dont see how theres any format that could be wrote, unless its the slowest guy wins, and I dont think theyre going to do that." Edwards said taking away the downforce on cars and making the tires softer is a good place to start. He said it would go a long way toward increasing competitive racing at the front of the pack. "No matter what format we race under I cant just try harder and go up and race with the guy or pass him," Edwards said. "I think the thing we have to focus on as a sport is making sure the cars can race one another. ... Right now, if Im staring at the guy in the front window it doesnt matter if (Im racing) for a billion dollars and 10 championships -- if I cant catch him, I cant catch him." Its not necessarily that Edwards is against the format. But he said if Frances proposals -- with the emphasis on winning races to get into the Chase for the Championship -- come to fruition, it will change the way drivers approach the season. "Things will get really, really interesting around Richmond. That will be insane," Edwards said. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he wasnt excited about the proposed changes at first, but has begun to warm to the idea. "Lets change it all. Im all for it," Earnhardt said. "A lot of times we change things for the fans, and I think the drivers are going to enjoy some of this stuff as much as the fans are." Team owner Richard Petty said proposed changes are a "PR deal" by NASCAR designed to drum up more interest in the sport. He still thinks the best drivers will come out on top regardless of the format. "They just want to shake things up," Petty said. NASCAR is essentially borrowing a page from other major sports such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball where teams -- or in this case, drivers -- are eliminated from playoff contention while the season climaxes with one championship event at the end of the year. Earnhardt Jr. called it a "bold, aggressive" move by NASCAR. "When you look at other forms of sport, theres an elimination factor in the playoffs that we dont have," Earnhardt said. "We, as drivers, dont feel the intensity of an elimination factor being over our shoulders every race. I feel like weve had it easy in that regard where we just tally up points. Coming down to Homestead with four guys (racing for the championship), thats crazy -- but its exciting." However, driver Ryan Newman doesnt necessarily agree with the elimination-style system. "I dont think we can take everything the NFL or NBA is doing and say, We need to do it like this because theyre doing it like that and its working," Newman said. "This is still stock car racing. This is NASCAR. A certain per cent of change is good, but we do not need to copy the playoff system." Adam Conley Jersey . -- Michael Bennett gambled last off-season that playing on a one-year deal in Seattle would pay off in the future with the long-term contract he always wanted. Brian Anderson Jersey . 1-9 on TSN. With more than 65 hours of exclusive live coverage, TSN delivers all the action beginning with Draw 1 on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 2 p.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Top choice Odell Beckham Jr., and three other draft picks have signed with the New York Giants on Monday. That leaves only one unsigned player for the Giants from this months selections, defensive tackle Jay Bromley, taken in the third round. In addition to Beckham, a wide receiver drafted 12th overall, centre Weston Richburg (second round), linebacker Devon Kennard (fifth round) and cornerback Bennett Jackson (sixth round) signed with the team Monday. Beckham joins another LSU receiver, Rueben Randle, in New Yorks passing attack, which lost veteran Hakeem Nicks in free agency. Beckham set an LSU record with 2,315 all-purpose yards in 22013, completing his career with 15 touchdowns and 4,118 all-purpose yards, which ranks No. Jordan Holloway Jersey . 5 in school history. "He has great speed. Hes polished. He has great hands and played at the top level." Giants coach Tom Coughlin said when the team drafted Beckham. "Hes someone we could count on putting the ball in the end zone and we can also feature him in the kicking game as well." Richburg was a four-year starter at Colorado State who made 50 consecutive starts, a school record. He was first-team All-Mountain West in 2013. On Friday, the Giants signed fourth-round running back Andre Williams and fifth-round safety Nat Berhe. ' ' '