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Tom Goldman

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and NPR.org.

With a beat covering the entire world of professional sports, both in and outside of the United States, Goldman reporting covers the broad spectrum of athletics from the people to the business of athletics.

During his more than 20 years with NPR, Goldman has covered every major athletic competition including the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, golf and tennis championships, and the Olympic Games.

His pieces are diverse and include both perspective and context. Goldman often explores people's motivations for doing what they do, whether it's solo sailing around the world or pursuing a gold medal. In his reporting, Goldman searches for the stories about the inspirational and relatable amateur and professional athletes.

Goldman contributed to NPR's 2009 Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and to a 2010 Murrow award for contribution to a series on high school football, "Friday Night Lives." Earlier in his career, Goldman's piece about Native American basketball players earned a 2004 Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award from the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University and a 2004 Unity Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

In January 1990, Goldman came to NPR to work as an associate producer for sports with Morning Edition. For the next seven years he reported, edited and produced stories and programs. In June 1997, he became NPR's first full time sports correspondent.

For five years before NPR, Goldman worked as a news reporter and then news director in local public radio. In 1984, he spent a year living on an Israeli kibbutz. Two years prior he took his first professional job in radio in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Alaska Public Radio Network.

In a hectic finish, the North Carolina Tar Heels were able to hold off the Oregon Ducks, 77-76.

North Carolina now advances one step closer to a redemptive title after losing at the buzzer in last season's championship game. This time they'll play Gonzaga Monday night.

Down the stretch, with the Tar Heels holding a slim lead, the semifinal didn't have the feel of a game that close. Perhaps because a series of timeouts disrupted the rhythm; perhaps because there wasn't a sense that the Ducks could make a final push to get past the Tar Heels.

The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament begins today with a game, if history holds, that will have absolutely no bearing on the ultimate tournament outcome in early April.

The University of New Orleans and Mount St. Mary's University kick things off at the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Both teams are No. 16 seeds, the lowest, and they're playing for a shot at the highest seed. The winner moves into the main draw to play Villanova — the tournament's overall No. 1.

No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed.

College basketball fans — the choice is yours. Fill out your bracket now if you haven't already. Or experience angst until Thursday, when the first round of the men's NCAA tournament starts. On Sunday, the selection committee set the field for the annual descent into March Madness.

While the tournament officially starts Tuesday with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, the first round — and where ballots start counting — is Thursday.

The four No. 1 seeds are defending champion Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and Gonzaga.

Traditionally, states that rely on the timber industry, like Oregon, haven't had much to cheer in the last 30 years. Modernization of mills, economic changes and huge declines in logging led to a long downturn in the industry. During last year's presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised to bring back timber in Oregon.

Some in the industry are hopeful, but others aren't waiting. They're moving ahead with innovations they hope are the key to survival.

Tall Timber

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Finally, today, they will play football.

The Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

After an NFL season of sagging TV ratings, it's expected today's game, in Houston, will do what Super Bowls always do — turn 60 minutes of football into a national holiday.

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.

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And it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: It's less than a month until the Super Bowl. And the NFL playoffs begin today. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us now for the first time in 2017. Good morning, Tom.

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Voters in seven more states said "yes" to marijuana this month. Pot now is legal for recreational or medicinal use in more than half the country.

It's still against federal law and classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning U.S. officials consider marijuana to have a high risk of abuse or harm, and no accepted medical use in treatment. Also, it's still banned in professional sports.

To say the mood at Progressive Field in Cleveland was electric the last two nights is the understatement of the baseball season.

The first two games of the World Series brought sellout crowds, mostly made up of Indians fans, totaling more than 38,000 both nights. Everywhere you turned, there were happy Clevelanders sporting Indians jerseys, jackets, hats and t-shirts.

The Cleveland Indians are hot stuff.

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The NFL's New York Giants are heading to London for a game against the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday, without their All-Pro kicker Josh Brown.

The decision to leave Brown behind comes after new information emerged in a year-and-a-half-old domestic violence case. And suddenly, there are new questions about whether the league adheres to its supposedly tougher policy against domestic violence.

In May 2015, Brown was arrested for assaulting his then-wife Molly at their home in Washington state. Brown wasn't charged.

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It's hard enough to race against Usain Bolt, but American sprinting star Justin Gatlin also had to deal with booing last night in Rio as well.

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We've heard a lot about Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky in this opening week of the Rio Olympics.

For good reason.

Together, they've won seven medals so far, six of them gold. But they're only part of the story about American swimming.

The U.S. traditionally has dominated the sport in the Olympics. The performance in Rio is proving to be exceptional.

A Lot Of Momentum

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Olympic fans, prepare to watch hookers in a scrum who hope not to end up in the sin bin.

The lexicon of rugby, and the men's game itself, return to Olympic competition after a 92-year absence. The return in Rio also involves a couple of debuts: It's the first Olympic appearance for women in the sport, and a first for Rugby Sevens. It's a seven-on-seven game. Traditional rugby has 13 or 15 a side.

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Michael Phelps knows he'll be going to his fifth Olympic Games next month. Phelps officially qualified for Rio on Wednesday, by winning the 200-meter butterfly, a race he described as the hardest swim of his career.

He followed that up with a win in the 200-meter individual medley late Friday at the time the U.S. swimming trials in Omaha, and also qualified for the finals for the 100-meter fly on Saturday.

The wins had meaning far beyond the pool — a symbolic victory over the personal problems he wrestled while becoming the most decorated Olympian in history.

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps made history again Wednesday night. At the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., Phelps qualified for a record fifth Olympic games. He's the first American male swimmer to do that.

But Phelps is one of the few veterans having success so far at the trials. That's because a batch of young, first-time Olympians is stealing the show.

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET: Ali's Funeral Set For Friday

Muhammad Ali, the man considered the greatest boxer of all time, died late Friday at a hospital in Phoenix at age 74. He was battling respiratory problems.

He died of septic shock related to natural causes, with his family at his bedside, according to family spokesman Bob Gunnell.

Ali inspired millions by standing up for his principles during the volatile 1960s and by always entertaining — in the boxing ring and in front of a microphone.

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