Jul 5, 2012

The Deadly Tradition

Producers: Josh Fine, Nick Dolin and Jake Rosenwasser

Among the most entertaining spectacles in college football is the game-day performance of the school band. Shockingly, behind the tradition and prestige of marching bands at historically black universities is a longstanding ritual of violent hazing, where bandmates hit, strike and even beat their counterparts. Two years ago, REAL SPORTS correspondent Frank Deford revealed some of the troubling incidents that led to the suspension of students and band directors, with victims filing and winning lawsuits. Yet the callous practice continued largely unabated. Last fall, at Florida A&M University, which was included in the Nov. 2010 report, drum major Robert Champion died after brutal hazing. Now, Deford leads HBO's cameras back to the campuses to ask: Despite countless warnings, why does this dangerous initiation custom continue?


Producer: Joe Perskie

Born without legs in the late 1980s, Jen Bricker was promptly given up for adoption by her parents. However, her foster parents treated her like a normal child, and she grew up in Illinois playing sports, despite her physical limitations. Around the same time, Romanian-American Dominique Moceanu was emerging as one of the United States' best young gymnasts as part of the "Magnificent Seven" who captured team gold at the 1996 Atlanta games. Aware of her own Romanian heritage, Bricker rooted for Moceanu that summer, and, inspired by her idol, began competing and excelling in the sport. Recently, the two discovered an improbable bond much more profound than their shared interest in gymnastics, which would change both of their lives forever. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg sits down with the two women to hear their moving story.

The Toast of Tinseltown

Producer: Michael Tolajian

Boasting a new $160 million contract, emerging superstar Matt Kemp is the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. Kemp, 27, led the National League in home runs, runs batted in and runs scored last year, and was recently chosen to be a starting National League All-Star for the second straight season, despite a nagging hamstring injury that will keep him from playing in Kansas City. This current success stands in sharp contrast to his humble Oklahoma upbringing. In a REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration, correspondent Jon Frankel talks with Kemp about how the Dodgers have put their faith in him as a leader, and the pressures that come with that vote of confidence.

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