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Synopsis

A New Era

With its current labor contract heading toward expiration, the NFL Players Association has new leadership for the first time in more than 25 years. Tapped to guide the NFLPA through a critical era that includes negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and bridging the growing divide between the union and retired players is DeMaurice Smith, a highly accomplished Washington-based attorney with no ties to the NFL. In this Real Sports/Sports Illustrated profile, correspondent Andrea Kremer sits down with the recently elected NFLPA executive director to ask why, after years of keeping its leadership "in the family," he's just the right "outsider" to lead the union through the storms ahead.

Demaurice Smith interview

Thrill Ride

In most sports, eight seconds goes by in a flash. In professional bull riding, eight seconds can be a lifetime. The best-known and most-popular rodeo event, it's an extreme sport in every sense of the word. Correspondent Jon Frankel takes a closer look at what is arguably one of the toughest and most dangerous sports on the planet, where the motto could easily be, "it's not a matter of if you get hurt, it's a matter of when."

Bull rider interview

The Next Level

In today's ultra-competitive sports landscape, parents are going farther than ever to produce athletes with the ability to excel at the next level. Whether through private coaching, practicing almost nonstop, DNA testing to predict which sports a child is best suited to play or even selecting sperm donations from top athletes, parents seem willing to go as far as possible to produce children who obtain college scholarships or lucrative professional contracts. Are these parents pushing their kids to extremes, living vicariously through them or just doing everything within their power to help their children succeed? Correspondent Frank Deford investigates.

Man competing with helmet on

Running for Their Lives

In 2008, Real Sports shed light on the little-known practice of thoroughbred horse slaughter for profit. When a thoroughbred race horse reaches the end of its career or is simply no longer profitable on the track, it is often taken directly to auction and sold for meat. Because horse slaughter is no longer practiced in this country, these thoroughbreds are now being shipped by "killer buyers" to slaughterhouses abroad, which are frequently less regulated and less humane than former domestic slaughterhouses. Now, after recently winning the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Sports Journalism for his initial investigation, correspondent Bernard Goldberg revisits the disturbing journey many of these young and healthy horses take from the track, to auctions, to slaughterhouses and finally to the plates of European and Japanese diners, finding some positive changes have been made.

Correspondent: Bernard Goldberg
Producer: Lauren Gaffney, Joe Perskie

146: May 19, 2009