The average team wins at home 63 percent of the time and on the road just 37 percent of the time. But the differential is much smaller for France and even smaller for Switzerland. In fact, France lost the past two finals it hosted, in 1999 and 2002.Andrew Flowers contributed to the analysis of data supplied by the International Tennis Federation. This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Nov. 24 The State of Football Issue. The farther Cup teams have to travel, the worse they perform (though traveling between 501 and 1,000 miles seems particularly tough). Luckily for Roger & Co.: Lille is just 325 miles from the Swiss capital of Bern, minimizing the French advantage. Roger Federer holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, but there’s one trophy he’s still itching to lift: the Davis Cup. Starting Friday, he gets his best chance yet. In his first Davis Cup final, the 33-year-old ace and his Swiss teammates will battle the French in Lille, France.Yes, playing away from home significantly diminishes the win probability for the Swiss. And because Davis Cup rules dictate that the host country gets to choose the playing surface, Federer will be forced to compete on clay, his least favorite type of court — without much practice, after a back problem kept him sidelined until a short session Wednesday.But the good news for Federer is that Lille is a lot closer to home than Melbourne, where he lost to the Australians in 2003, the only other time he made a Cup semifinal. Plus, Switzerland is one of a handful of major teams to maintain a winning Cup road record since the modern era began in 1972.Of course, the second-ranked Federer is simply better most days than any of his Lille opponents. (France is led by No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.) And he’s so popular globally that he takes home-court advantage with him when he travels. Consider Roland Garros. “When he plays a French player,” says France’s Gilles Simon, “[the crowd] is 50-50, and I’m like, ‘Guys, what’s going on?’ ”The Swiss aren’t likely to feel that much love in Lille. But they still have plenty on their side to get the job done. Here’s a closer look at the factors in their favor. Federer’s 37–7 Davis Cup singles record is even more impressive when you consider that he’s been even better on the road than at home—especially in Europe, where he’s won his past 15 matches.
More details coming soon. According to several sources, Alex Rodriguez will be suspended by Major League Baseball on Monday. Rodriguez and 12 other players are projected to be suspended for their ties to performance-enhancing drugs dispensed at an anti-aging clinic in Miami, Fla.Officials for MLB are reportedly planning to suspend the New York Yankees slugger for the remainder of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season—a move that may end Rodriguez’s career.After weeks of reports stating that A-Rod will settle with a lesser punishment, tense deliberations between Rodriguez and commissioner Bud Selig’s office ended Saturday. Selig later said that he would no longer negotiate with Rodriguez, according to one of the sources.Several other sources say that Selig changed his mind about the settlement because he was furious with Rodriguez for telling reporters he would not negotiate.“All this is about money,” one of the sources said. “This shows the selfishness of this guy that he would go to arbitration and force himself back in the clubhouse and subject the team to a season-long media circus.”
After putting a serious beating on Clemson 51-14, Jameis Winston and Florida State University has gone from No. 5 in the BCS poll to No. 2 in just one week.The Bowl Championship Series standings were released Sunday night and Alabama remained at No. 1, while Oregon fell from No. 2 to No. 3.Two other undefeated teams, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Missouri rounded out the top five schools in the poll.Stanford, which has one loss, came in at No. 6. Below Stanford came No. 7 Miami and No. 8 Baylor, both undefeated.Clemson dropped from No. 3 to No. 9, while undefeated Texas Tech is No. 10.According to ESPN:“The percentage of votes in the USA Today and Harris polls each count for one third of the calculations. A composite ranking of six computers make up the final third. Each team’s highest and lowest computer rankings are ignored in the calculations.Florida State had the best overall computer ranking, followed by the SEC’s Alabama and Missouri. The computers ranked Oregon fourth.”
An alternate payout scheme that seems to have caught on recently is an “Every Score Pays” squares pool. Under this version, instead of waiting for the end of each quarter, a fixed percentage of the pool is paid out after every score change, including extra points. A typical amount is 5 percent of the pool per score. Payouts continue until the funds are exhausted. Any money left over at the end of the game goes to the holder of the final score square. Using detailed play-by-play data from that same 10 season dataset, I also calculated the expected value of each square under this somewhat more complex payout scheme (assuming the 5 percent payout option).In general, regardless of the payout scheme, 0-7 and 0-3 will be valuable squares. 0-0 tends to be a valuable first quarter square due to the likelihood of a scoreless first 15 minutes. And, much like the “9” button on your microwave, the 5-5 square is highly unlikely to see much action this Sunday. Superbowl XLIX takes place Sunday afternoon, and with it, our nation’s annual exercise in modular arithmetic: Super Bowl squares.In a squares pool, participants are assigned a pair of single digit numbers on a 10×10 grid — so I’d have 0 and 7, for example. Each pair of numbers corresponds to a square on the grid, and I’d get paid if the Patriots finished with a score that ended in 0 and the Seahawks with a score that ended in 7 — 20, 17, say. Typically, people get paid according to the score at the end of each quarter, as well, to add a little spice to the proceedings.In most pools, squares are assigned on a random basis, but not all squares are equal in terms of expected value. Football scoring tends to come in chunks of sevens and threes (and, much less frequently, sixes, eights, and twos). As a result, squares containing zero, seven, and three are more valuable than those containing, say, a five or a two.If you’re in an office squares pool, you probably already know your numbers and may be wondering whether your square is any good. Or perhaps you want to engage in a little pre-game arbitrage with other members of your pool. If so, I’ve calculated the expected value of each square, after each quarter, below. (Expected payouts are derived from the outcomes of over 2,500 games from 10 NFL seasons.)
NBA Things That Caught My EyeWater is technically snake oil, I guess?Tom Brady is really great at being a football player, but his provenance as a nutritionist or health expert is suspect. In the spirit of “just because you’re a bird doesn’t mean you’re an ornithologist,” Christie Ashwanden took a serious look at the TB12 method, and the reality is that drinking lots of water isn’t the same as putting on sunscreen, drinking too much water is actually pretty dangerous, and “pliability” could have less to do with Tom Brady’s continued efficacy behind center than, say, a continually successful offensive line that’s been adept at protecting him from injury. On the other hand, as I’m currently on day four of The Gronk Cleanse, I am pretty hammered. [FiveThirtyEight]The Bills are IN! But…The Buffalo Bills have snapped the longest active streak in the NFL and made the playoffs after 17 years of not doing that. The organization is in heaven right now. Still, making the playoffs can have a lot more to do with luck than skill, and this Bills group is pretty middle-of-the-road talent-wise when compared to those 17 other teams. While they finished 9-7, teams that got outscored by 57 points over the course of the year usually get fewer breaks in their direction and finish with six or seven wins. [FiveThirtyEight]Jordan Greenway with a firstOf 1,690 men’s Division I college hockey players, 13 identified themselves as black. One is Jordan Greenway, a Boston University forward who became the first African-American hockey player to represent Team U.S.A. at the Winter Olympics. [The Undefeated]UCF is committing to the bitThe University of Central Florida is claiming that they’re the national champions of college football. Despite not making the college football playoff, UCF argues that, since they went undefeated and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, they get to be champs. This stunt could be a lot of things, but it’s not a half measure by any stretch: Athletic Director Danny White said that the coaching staff is getting their national title bonuses and all. [SB Nation]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?They get a parade!Cleveland went 0-16 this season, joining the Detroit Lions as the only franchises to lose 16 regular season games. Thousands of Cleveland fans will reportedly gather this Saturday to watch a parade commemorating the season of “perfection.” [Cincinnati.com]Four out of five top broadcasts!Off the top 100 most viewed telecasts in 2017, 81 of them ended up being sports events. Live sports continues to be one of the main attractions on the television. Put in a historical context, even the NFL is doing alright: While Fox telecasts of NFL games were down from 2016 and 2015, viewership is still up compared to 10, 15 and 20 years ago, according to Sports Business Daily. [Austin Karp]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL game: Can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions?Big Number21 percentGoing into the NFL Wildcard weekend, New England is the overwhelming favorite to win the Super Bowl, with a 31 percent chance of doing so. Minnesota, Philly, and Pittsburgh have 19, 15 and 14 percent chances of doing so according to out Elo model, so we’d expect about a 79 percent chance one of those teams wins the championship. Now, you may recall none of those teams are playing football this weekend. Among the wild card teams, the ones with the best shots are New Orleans, Kansas City, and Atlanta, with a 5 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl. Still, there’s only a 21 percent chance one of the teams this weekend wins it all. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slack: cwick:Rare D-I women’s quadruple-double recordedquadruple double!neil:Whoa!10 steals 👀cwick:@neil is it easier to get 10 steals or 10 blocks?neil:Way easier to get the blocks (at least in the NBA)There are only 20 games of double digit steals in Basketball-Reference’s databaseThere are 143 double digit block gamesPredictions NFL See more NFL predictions See more college football predictions See more NBA predictions College Football Oh, and don’t forgetBills fans were very generous after Andy Dalton won them a playoff berth We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe All newsletters
Ohio State then-sophomore attack Tre Leclaire calls plays to his team during the first half of Ohio State’s 8-5 victory against Michigan on April 13, 2018. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor In ChiefNo. 15 Ohio State and Boston University both have something in common heading into Saturday’s matchup: they both have goalkeepers coming off career games. The Terriers junior goalkeeper Joe McSorley comes in off a career-high 24 saves in the first game of the season against Providence, while Ohio State redshirt sophomore goalkeeper John Kirson added 16 saves against Cleveland State. Heading into Saturday’s contest, No. 15 Ohio State (1-0) and Boston University (1-0) will have to make the most of the opportunities given to them, especially with the goalie play for both teams in the first game. “I think for a shooting perspective, we have to do a really good job,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said. “It’s something we’ve talked a lot about with coach [Brad] Ross and the staff.”Myers said the Ohio State defense will have to be one that supports each other, making sure the defenders limit the shots that get to the goalie. The Buckeyes opened their season with a 12-9 season-opening victory against Cleveland State, in which both senior midfield Jack Jasinski and junior attack/midfield Tre Leclaire recorded three goals. Ohio State senior midfield captain Logan Maccani said the energy has been high in practices since the first win of the season. “We’ve had a really good week, the energy was high, we were pumped coming off of our first win, but we know there is still room for a lot of improvement,” Maccani said. “We talked a lot about our leaders being energy givers, so that’s one of those things that our leaders have focused on these last few weeks, coming out and starting fast.” In Saturday’s match against Boston University, the Buckeyes will have to focus on sophomore attack Chris Gray, last year’s Patriot League Rookie of the Year who, like Jasinski and Leclaire, is coming off a three-goal performance last week against Providence.Ohio State will have to focus on Boston sophomore attacker Chris Gray. Gray was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year a season ago, and is coming off a three-goal performance in the team’s opener against Providence.“With the dangerous transition game, they present a lot of challenges,” Myers said. “They’re well coached, and they’ve been out here before. This is the second year coming out here, and we’re excited for what should be a great game Saturday.” After a sell-out crowd in the season opener, Ohio State will try and continue to use the Woody Hayes Athletic Center as an advantage. The Buckeyes have never lost inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, winning all 23 games played in the venue.“We really really want to protect this space, but ultimately we’re just going to go out there and do as we’re taught and follow the scheme and things should handle themselves out,” Maccani said.Ohio State will take on Boston University at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at noon on Saturday.
Instagram is the worst social media site in terms of its impact on the mental health of young people, a report has suggested.The #StatusofMind survey found the photo-sharing app negatively impacted on people’s body image, sleep and fear of missing out.However, the survey of 1,479 youngsters aged 14 to 24, found Instagram was positive in terms of self-expression and self-identity.Respondents were asked to score how each of the social media platforms they use impact upon issues such as anxiety, loneliness and community building.The site with the most positive rating was YouTube, followed by Twitter. Facebook and Snapchat came third and fourth respectively.The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report said: “The platforms that are supposed to help young people connect with each other may actually be fuelling a mental health crisis.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Recommendations included introducing pop-ups on sites such as Twitter and Facebook warning users about heavy usage – which the RSPH said was supported by seven in 10 people surveyed – and social media platforms discreetly signposting help to those potentially suffering from mental health issues.Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues. Dr Becky Inkster, honorary research fellow at the University of Cambridge, said: “Young people sometimes feel more comfortable talking about personal issues online.”As health professionals, we must make every attempt to understand modern youth culture expressions, lexicons, and terms to better connect with their thoughts and feelings.” “It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
The spread of invasive Himalayan balsam is now so bad that drivers who see it growing along roadside verges are being encouraged to stop and pull it out or contact the council immediately.The pretty pink plant was first introduced to Britain as an ornamental in 1839, but soon found its way out of gardens and into the countryside, where it has been spreading rapidly ever since.Until now it has largely stuck to waterways, such as canals, but increasingly it is moving into verges and hedgerows – where it has a greater chance of spreading because of walkers and traffic. But experts say even mowing verges and roadsides often does not catch all the plants, and they can quickly regain ground of even just a few are allowed to seed.“Control is difficult, firstly because it’s very difficult to chop down or pull all plants (it often needs lots of volunteers to get each plant) and secondly the seeds often keep arriving from neighbouring areas (such as upriver or from neighbouring land you don’t own),” added Dr Dines“On roadsides, people should let the council know.” “It needs to be cleared away every year,” Paul Greaves, river action group co-ordinator at Eden Rivers Trust in Cumbria, a county prone to flooding during wet weather. “When this area floods, the water flows through here and helps to carry the seeds on. It’s important that we keep on top of the problem.”This species is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales which makes it an offence to plant or allow the species to grow in the wild. But Himalayan balsam is so widespread it is becoming an increasing challenge to tackle. According to the Royal Horticultural Society each plant can produce 800 seeds a year and their explosive pods can shoot seeds up to 22ft (7m) away, which then stick to shoes and car tyres. Bees are also attracted to the flowers and can spread the seeds widely.Once established Himalayan balsam, which can grow up to 10ft in height, outcompetes native species, erodes riverbanks, and clogs up rivers and streams leading to flooding. It is now widespread throughout Britain.Ecologist Louise Wooley, who organises annual ‘balsam bashing’ events in Devon, said: “Every year Himalayan balsam grows exponentially and it’s really reached a point where people are starting to notice it everywhere and it will reach peak catastrophic levels if we don’t do something about it Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Himalyan Balsam FlowersCredit:Moment Open Himalayan balsam in DevonCredit:Papilio / Alamy Stock Photo Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at charity Plantlife, said if people see the plant they should contact their council immediately.“Anecdotally people are reporting that Himalayan balsam seems to be moving into drier situations than before – as if it’s adapting to drier soils.“It used to be confined to ditches, ponds, canals and riversides for example but it is increasingly being seen on just slightly damp ground, such as road verges and hedgerows with wet or damp soil.”To fight Himalayan balsam, plants must be chopped down, or pulled up as they come into flower in June or July. The plant is an annual, so if caught early it quickly vanishes. “It used to be just seen along waterways but now it’s seen along roads. People are driving along and seeing vast swathes of it now and the sooner you get it dealt with the better so if you see it you should stop and try and get it out yourself.“It’s an annual plant so if you snap the plant and just leave it in a pile it will die off quickly before it can seed. We need more people to be getting out there and getting it out of the ground.”A recent study by Durham University found that Britain is one of the worst areas in the world for invasive species – with Himalayan balsam cited as a major problem.Islands and mainland coastal regions often contain higher numbers of established alien plants and animals, because they areas have major points of entry like ports. This month, scores of local groups across the country have been scouring riversides and road verges to remove the plant. The ninth annual 3 Rivers Clean Up event for the Ravensbourne, Pool and Quaggy rivers in London has just finished following a three-week blitz of waterways around the capital. Similar projects are currently taking place in Devon, Yorkshire, Shropshire, West Sussex and Cumbria.
Suicide among women in their early twenties is at its highest level in two decades, ONS figures show, as experts warn of a mental health crisis among young women who struggle with the pressures of modern life and social media.While the overall figures for Great Britain show rates are at a seven-year low, women aged between 20 and 24 are increasingly likely to die by suicide. Last year 106 deaths by suicide were recorded among this age group, the first time the number is been more than 100 since 1992, when it was 111. At 5.2 the rate per 100,000 women in this age group is the highest it has been since 1998, when it was 5.7.Jenny Edwards CBE, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, called the figures “troubling”. “We know that particularly for young women their rate of poor mental health is three times that of their male contemporaries.”Something is going on – social media use is one part but another is relationships between the sexes. They’ve got a lot more insecurity in their lives than their parents did. “There’s a tendency to blame ourselves if things aren’t working out for us. Particularly if the message we’re getting from social media is that everyone else is living fantastic lives, has got good holidays, and good jobs. That’s a fairytale that can affect our overall mental health.” There is a worry that we have a generation of young people who respond with self-harming behaviour to the stresses that they faceProfessor Louis Appleby Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Last year an inquiry into mental health in England found that more than one in four women aged 16 to 24 had anxiety, depression, panic disorder, phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder, and one in five said they had self-harmed at some point in their life. It concluded that young women had “become a key high risk group”.Professor Appleby said that it was “very easy to point to social media”.”There is good and bad in most of these social phenomena,” he said, adding that many young people who struggled with their mental health found the internet a source of support and comfort. In an examination of young suicide victims carried out by his department, one in four of the cases covered had used the internet in some way that was suicide-related, including posting about their plans on social media or researching methods. In recent years suicide prevention campaigns have focused on men, who still have a much higher rate than women in all age groups and are more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women. The most at-risk group is men in their early 40s, among whom the rate is 23.7. Initiatives such as the Campaign Against Living Miserably have focused on encouraging men to open up about their feelings to try and bring down the suicide rate. Charities said the campaigns appeared to be helping as the overall rate of men dying by suicide has dropped by three per cent from 2015 to 2016. But they added that women could be facing many of the same problems.Elizabeth Scowcroft, research manager for Samaritans, said: “A lot of the issues that women face are the same as men. Women might find it difficult to talk about their feelings as well.”We shouldn’t necessarily assume that men and women have completely different risk factors.” Professor Louis Appleby, of the University of Manchester, who leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, said the overall figures were the “best we’ve seen in years”. In England the overall rate fell from 10.1 to 9.5. “You’d have to go back more than three decades to find a drop as big as that in one year,” he said. However, he said that it was important to “keep an eye” on the figures for young people. “There is a worry that we have a generation of young people who respond with self-harming behaviour to the stresses that they face,” he said.
The incident happened at Brighton Crown CourtCredit:Alamy DS Deans, of Sussex Police, said: “Threats are, unfortunately, part of a police officer’s job and we are regularly abused by a very small element of our society. These are taken seriously and they will be investigated as such.”However, it will not deter me or any other officer from continuing to try to stem the flow of drugs into Sussex.”Tuesday’s incident is the second surrounding GeoAmey’s staffing at Sussex courts in as many months.Two dock officers were sacked for falling asleep during the trial of Daryll Rowe, who was found guilty of deliberately trying to infect 10 men with HIV.The pair were removed from court proceedings after being reported for snoring in October. “We closely monitor GeoAmey’s performance to ensure their services remain of the highest standard.”Makai, 46, of Portslade, was convicted at a re-trial after undercover officers discovered his role in a chain which fed heroin from Liverpool to the streets of Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne in 2015.Five other key players were jailed in May for a combined total of 67 years. We closely monitor GeoAmey’s performance to ensure their services remain of the highest standardMinistry of Justice spokeswoman He added: “An investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding this incident.”The prisoner was produced from HMP Lewes, so there was no obligation on escort officers to search him. Nevertheless, GEOAmey searched the prisoner. However, the article was undetected by our officers”.A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an incident at Brighton Crown Court on December 19 and are urgently investigating. A drug dealer pulled out a razor blade in the dock and threatened to kill a police officer in a courtroom security breach being “urgently” investigated by government officials.Louis Makai slashed his wrist at Brighton Crown Court on Tuesday as he was handed an 18-year jail sentence for his part in a £12.5 million drug dealing conspiracy, officials said.Witnesses told how he pointed the blade at Detective Sergeant Julian Deans, the investigating officer who helped to catch him, and said: “When I get out, I’ll kill you.”Both the Ministry of Justice and court security firm GeoAmey, which employs custody officers, are trying to find out how the weapon got into the court room undetected.Makai was treated in court by paramedics but was not taken to hospital, a GEOAmey spokesman said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.