School sports programs focus on safety as participation in football dips

Spurred in part by fears about contact sports and concussions, state and national youth sports programs are pushing new strategies to protect student-athletes from injury. Those strategies include encourage athletes to participate in more than one sport and putting new rules in place to reduce contact between students and better respond to athletes who suffer concussions. Officials from the Michigan High School Athletic Association are among those advocating for students to play multiple sports. Advocates say that can reduce the chance of repetitive injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 45 percent of all athletes specialize in just one sport.

Michigan State University's Clara Bell Smith Center is home to the university's academic support services for student-athletes.

Colleges battle reputation with academic programs for student-athletes

In October, after an eight-month investigation, the NCAA announced it would not punish the University of North Carolina for allowing some of its student-athletes to take fake classes. The case is among the most recent academic scandals in NCAA sports, adding fuel to the debate over whether colleges which part of being a student-athlete is betting emphasized: academics or sports.

The outside of Spartan Stadium's big screen.

Breaking stereotypes about funding of MSU athletics

As tuition costs continue to rise annually, officials at universities with large athletic programs often are criticized for spending on sports programs. The stereotype held by some people is that the university must use tuition dollars to support the athletics budget.

Lansing Lugnuts play-by-play announcer Jesse Goldberg-Strassler comments on a game in the broadcasting booth of Cooley Law School Stadium.

Q&A: Behind the scenes with broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler

A sports broadcaster is the person who brings his audience right into the stadium and uses his voice to describe what’s going on in the field and behind the scene accurately and vividly. It’s a job that so many people dream of and pursue to do. At the same time, it also requires the right judgement.

Irish connection takes runner to next level

The challenge of leaving home to pursue a career in collegiate cross country has been difficult for Robert “Bobby” Crowley. Crowley, 18, was born in Carlow, Ireland. The freshman ran cross country at Knochbeg College before coming to the U.S. and enrolling at Michigan State University. For Crowley, he has witnessed significant culture change.

The MSU men's basketball team had T-shirts made as part of their effort to add something positive to the national debate over race relations.

MSU men’s hoops joins national conversation

At Michigan State men’s basketball media day in early October, head coach Tom Izzo recognized the public debate raging in the country. “There are problems in society,” Izzo said. “The issues involving race equality (are) important to me for a lot of reasons: One, my own household. Two, my own team here.”

That statement came two months after the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and with growing racial tensions across the country. At the time, the members of Izzo’s team did not know what they were going to do.