Photo by The Associated Press.Sam Hurd, once a promising receiver with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison for drug trafficking that occurred during and after the 2011 NFL season.Prosecutors in Texas wanted U.S. District court judge Jorge A. Solis to sentence Hurd to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his involvement in cocaine and marijuana trafficking. But a remorseful, weeping Hurd asked for leniency, calling himself “the stupidest drug guy ever.”Hurd had prepared a statement to read, but instead offered an emotional explanation of his crimes, which included a meeting with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) informant and undercover ICE special agent in a Chicago steak house in December 2011, where Hurd was given a kilo of cocaine.“My life is a train wreck because of the bad decisions I made,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated. “Everything I did was a result of my marijuana addiction… I was extremely stupid. I feel the pain I caused my wife, mother, father, sisters and brothers and my community.”Hurd asked Solis for a “second chance” and promised to “be an upstanding citizen and a loving husband and father.”The plea appears to have had at least some impact on Solis, who said he felt inclined to sentence Hurd to 27 years before pointing out that this was Hurd’s first offense and chopped his initial assessment nearly in half. The judge’s final ruling – 15 years, to be followed by five years of supervised release -caused an audible gasp from the gallery.It also helped Hurd that phone records suggested that he was not involved in dealing narcotics with his cousin Tyrone Chavful while Hurd was out on bond in San Antonio following his arrest in Chicago.According to S.I., Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay provided minimal evidence during the hearing and offered only brief cross examinations of Hurd’s character witnesses. Tromblay responded to claims that his office had tried to make an example of Hurd because of his NFL notoriety by saying, “This isn’t because he’s an NFL player–it’s because he’s a drug dealer. He [knew] exactly what he was doing.”
Using Essence magazine as the vehicle, accomplished and respected Fox NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver wrote in a first-person essay that rumors of being replaced by Erin Andrews on the network’s No. 1 team “humiliated” her and that she publicly handled the eventual demotion with class while privately crying in isolation.The word spread that Andrews, hired away from ESPN two years ago, would be bumped up to the broadcast team with play-by-play man Joe Buck and analyst Troy Aikman, displacing Oliver, who had been a credit to the profession for 19 years.“Colleagues, and even coaches and players, would come up to me and say things like, ‘Boy, you’re handling this well. You’re really a class act,’” Oliver, 53, writes for the magazine.“But I let the rumors roll off my back. Without official confirmation about a change in my position, I decided I was going to do my work like I always had. Still, I was humiliated.”In April, Fox executives flew to Atlanta to tell Oliver that she was out and Andrews was in as the sideline reporter. Further, Oliver wrote that the network planned to move her to the hard-to-find Fox Sports 1, but she persuaded management to let her work her 20th season on the sidelines with Fox’s “B” team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch.Remaining above the fray, Oliver was careful with her words, but it was clear the move was based on age and race. “As one executive said to me, Fox Sports will look radically different in the coming years. I assume that means they want to look younger,” Oliver wrote.”It’s not difficult to notice that the new on-air people there are all young, blond and ‘hot’. That’s not to say that Erin isn’t capable. I think she’s very capable. She’s also popular on Twitter and social media, so I can see how that would also make her highly sought after. Still, covering the NFL is a big deal. Stations like ABC and NBC entrust their programming to veterans. So when people talk about all networks making a turn to a particular type of girl on the sidelines, it doesn’t hold water.”Oliver opened up about the pain caused by the demotion, saying she broke down while watching the film Apollo 13.“When I look back at that time, I feel embarrassed that I was so emotional,” Oliver wrote. “Among my friends I’m the tough girl. I am not a crier. But I realize I was in mourning. I had to let it go.”Now, she says she is prepared to tackle her new position with the same professionalism and vigor. But will do so with a nostalgic sense.“Don’t get me wrong, I love being on the sidelines,” she wrote. “I love the ins and outs of the game. But I’m headed into this season knowing it’s time to say my goodbyes. I’m going to savor every moment.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver (Keith Allison/Flickr)NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes even after Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, players who oppose him should still carry on the tradition to visit the White House post-championship.Silver made the statement while speaking to The Guardian in London before the Global Games match between the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers Thursday, Jan. 12.“If a team came to me in the current situation and asked for my view on whether they should go, I would say go, whether it’s President Obama or now President-elect Trump,” Silver said. “Donald Trump, the private citizen, I don’t know well, but I have known him for many years as a fellow New Yorker. He has been to many Knicks games over the years and I’ve been to several games with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. I have no reason to believe he won’t continue to be supportive of the NBA.”But for many NBA players, it’s not a matter of Trump supporting the league but his divisive political rhetoric. Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Iman Shumpert told Complex in November 2016 that he would not visit the White House under Trump’s administration.“I can’t get caught up in the racial, sexist bull—- he’s got going on,” Shumpert said. “That’s his personal thing.”And when the Cavs visited the White House that month, forward Richard Jefferson declared on Snapchat that the team would be the last to carry on the tradition begun 54 years go.“I don’t plan on forcing them to do anything that will be viewed as political in nature,” Silver told The Guardian of player’s personal politics. “But I think as we have done historically, we encourage players to have those conversations with each other, with us and become informed on the issues.”Silver echoed such support in July 2016 when the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty protested the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police and the aftermath. However, he would have preferred that the teams not modify their uniforms in the process.“I actually think it demonstrates that these are multidimensional people,” Silver said. “They live in this society and they have strong views about how things should be. So I’m very encouraging of that.”But when it came to whether or not NBA could hop onboard San Fransico 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, Silver expressed his preference that all athletes remain standing rather than sitting or kneeling.“It would be my hope that they continue to stand for the national anthem,” he told ESPN in October 2016. “I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”
The world of sports research has grown exponentially over the past decade, a trend nowhere more apparent than at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the industry’s highest-profile exhibition.Sloan has ballooned from 175 attendees at its inaugural event in 2007 to nearly 3,000 visitors a year ago at the sprawling Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. (This year’s attendance was slightly lower because of a smaller space, but that wasn’t a function of decreased demand. According to conference organizer Jessica Gelman, the waiting list ran into the thousands.)The flowering of sports analytics has brought lots of attention, and money, to the field. That’s good and bad. Higher-tech statistics require greater investment, which, in turn, introduces the possibility that leagues will be less willing to share new data with the public.Several notable data projects have been featured in Sloan’s panels over the years. Just last week, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) announced an optical-tracking technology to replace the PITCHf/x system. What does this portend for the future of open-source analytics?MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman gave assurances that “fans will be able to see these data.” I hope that he means history will repeat itself. The original PITCHf/x data was stored in public files, which early pioneers of pitch analysis quickly learned to use. Bloggers and hobbyists did such good work that teams began hiring them; Mike Fast, Josh Kalk and other PITCHf/x gurus jumped into the big leagues (yours truly was hired by the Atlanta Hawks). Thus began a symbiotic relationship between MLB insiders and outsiders, made possible by a willingness to give smart people free data and let them run with it.But you can’t help but sense the possibility that the next wave of advanced data won’t be as accessible to amateurs. The tug-of-war between intellectual curiosity and monetization serves as a microcosm of what Sloan is about. It exists in the murky territory between trade fairs and academic conferences, a stark change from its earlier, smaller incarnations.Sloan’s growth has mirrored the growth of sports analytics, but it also underscores the increasing ways in which businesses and teams are looking to profit from a new generation of sports data. I just hope they don’t shut out the public in the process.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) passes against the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Dec. 20. Credit: Courtesy of TNSWith a little under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-15, it seemed that after so long, the Cincinnati Bengals were finally going to end their playoff winless streak that dates back to January 1991. Putting the length of that abysmal streak into greater perspective, in 1991 the price of gas was $1.14 a gallon, the president was George H.W. Bush, and “Home Alone” was No. 1 at the box office. Nonetheless, in embarrassing fashion, the Bengals’ streak was further extended yet another year. The deflating loss left Cincinnati’s fans with an all-too-familiar feeling, as they watched their team go out like the hapless “Bungals” rather than the proud Bengals who looked destined for a deep playoff run during much of the season.There was no love lost between the two teams Saturday night as the fierce rivalry rose to new, unprecedented heights. Dominating defenses, devastating hits, near-brawls and a combined 18 penalty flags were thrown, many of which were personal fouls. Although it was an ugly contest on both sides, it is the Bengals that will be remembered for choking away a sure-victory in such historically disgraceful fashion.After a rough-and-tumble first three quarters, with Cincinnati down 15-0 heading into the final period, quarterback A.J. McCarron quickly began an orange-and-black charge that had Paul Brown Stadium, widely known as “The Jungle,” in a frenzy. McCarron and Co. soon took back the lead when the second-year signal caller tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to wideout A.J. Green late in the game. The comeback seemed all but complete when linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who injured Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger earlier in the night on a sack, intercepted backup Landry Jones deep in Pittsburgh territory. Just as the Bengals looked to have finally broken the sixth-longest postseason drought in NFL history, the meltdown ensued.Almost as quickly as Cincinnati had the ball, it gave it right back to its hated rivals when running back Jeremy Hill was stripped on the opening play of the drive by former Ohio State standout Ryan Shazier. The Steelers indeed recovered the fumble when a first down would have effectively ended the game. Despite being carted off the field and taken to the locker room earlier, Roethlisberger came back out for a final chance at victory and led the Pittsburgh offense from its own 9-yard line to just past midfield. It would need to go further, but it didn’t have to do it on its own. The Bengals did it for them.Roethlisberger overthrew receiver Antonio Brown over the middle on the very next play, where Brown’s head would violently meet Burfict’s shoulder, concussing the Steelers’ star wideout. A 15-yard penalty was handed out, with a possible suspension now pending. The hit was as dirty as any, something that has become Burfict’s calling card. He argued the call for some minutes after and, like all game long, couldn’t keep his emotions together, especially when it mattered most. Neither could cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who received a personal foul after getting into it with Pittsburgh assistant coach Joey Porter. Thirty penalty yards later, kicker Chris Boswell drilled a 35-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh an improbable wild-card round victory.It was an embarrassing display of sportsmanship — or lack thereof. It was, in fact, disgusting, mainly on the Bengals’ part. All game long, coach Marvin Lewis, now the owner of a winless 0-7 record in the playoffs, failed to keep his players in check, specifically Burfict, who played on the edge most of the night. The lack of emotional restraint and composure boiled over to the point of implosion, costing Cincinnati a spot in the divisional round of the playoffs. Fans in “The Jungle” were almost as disgraceful, as they were seen pelting the turf, as well as Roethlisberger during his cart ride to the locker room, with plastic bottles and other debris.When it comes down to it, sure, Burfict racked up six tackles, a clutch sack of Roethlisberger and had what should have been a game-ending interception. Even Jones had a 24-yard punt return to set the Bengals offense up with good field position in the closing stages. And yet, Saturday night’s meltdown in Cincinnati proved that the content of your character always overcomes talent, something that might end up costing Lewis his job as coach of the Bengals.
OSU redshirt junior tight end Marcus Baugh finds his way to the end zone against Penn State on Oct. 22. OSU lost, 24-21. Credit: Alexa MavrogianisSTATE COLLEGE, PA. – The cold and dreary weather in State College, Pennsylvania was just enough to keep the Ohio State football team down. After a rough first quarter of little to no offense, the Buckeyes could not find a way to keep Penn State down, falling 24-21 for their first loss of the season.The miserable weather reflected the sad and somber expressions of the Scarlet and Gray team members as they slowly retreated to the locker room following the final whistle. Redshirt junior guard Billy Price held a straight face while talking to the media, but said he was unsure how to feel following the first mark in the loss column for the Buckeyes.“It’s not a good feeling without a doubt,” Price said. “You gotta respect who your opponent is, and you can’t overlook and you have to execute. Tonight is was … (we) didn’t do so much. I’m kind of numb at the moment, but, ya know, we’ll get back to the drawing board in the classroom tomorrow and we’ll get after what we did wrong and we’ll fix it.”As the rain began to fall, Penn State received the first half kickoff. In a defensive affair that only true Big Ten football lovers could appreciate, the teams traded blows, keeping each other within arms reach. Faced with their second rowdy crowd and hostile environment in two weeks, the Buckeyes struggled to contain sophomore running back Saquon Barkley in the first quarter.Barkley ripped off 53 yards on just four carries in the first quarter. Penn State redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley struggled to find a rhythm in the passing game in the first frame, going 2-for-7 for just 22 net yards, while doing a stellar job of escaping OSU’s pass rush.The second quarter was less about Barkley, and more about the athleticism of McSorley. The redshirt sophomore flashed his playmaking ability. Reeling off a mixture of designed runs and scrambles, while completing his biggest pass of the half, McSorley provided an offensive boost. Lobbing up a 34-yard toss to redshirt junior DaeSean Hamilton, OSU redshirt freshman cornerback Damon Arnette over pursued the route, allowing an easy comeback catch for the receiver.After the chunk play, Penn State junior wide receiver Chris Godwin beat OSU redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley in the back right corner of the end zone.Even when pushed hard in the first half, OSU pushed back just as hard. Led by a pounding run game from redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber, and the elusiveness of redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett in the pocket, the Buckeyes were able to find a way to keep the lead in the first half.Weber was given a steady dose of inside-zone runs, rumbling for 61 yards on 12 carries. Weber’s five yard per carry average was right on par for his season mark.Barrett occasionally struggled with his timing on routes, a part of his game he said he wanted to work on this week. Even with the inconsistencies at times, Barrett was able to complete 13 of 24 passes for 125 yards, including a 26-yard strike to redshirt junior tight end Marcus Baugh for a touchdown.“Overall, I couldn’t tell you our effort wasn’t there,” Barrett said. “There were just some things here and there, the little things that became big things and that’s how we lost.”The second half began with an entirely different attitude for OSU. After an early punt, OSU’s defense locked in, forcing Penn State into a punt of its own.On the ensuing drive, it was junior H-back Curtis Samuel’s time to shine. Following an outstanding lead block from Weber, Samuel busted off a 74-yard scamper through the heart of Penn State. Even with such an incredible first carry of the game for the junior, OSU coach Urban Meyer only let Samuel carry the ball once more, possibly hurting OSU’s chances of winning late in the contest. The score promptly put OSU up 19-7, but the game was about to take a turn for the worse for the Buckeyes.A blocked punt gave OSU an easy safety, but the Nittany Lions took the game into their hands.McSorley responded to his unit trailing with a five play, 90-yard drive. Diving for the pylon, the redshirt sophomore pulled his team within a touchdown.Even with another week in a row of the OSU defense looking surprised on certain plays, redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis said there was nothing up the Nittany Lions’ proverbial sleeve, and the team will need to regroup and focus on its defense to ensure another slip-up is not in the future for the Buckeyes.“Like I said, we just got to come back out and work on it,” Lewis said. “Whatever mishaps we have, we just gotta come back and work on it.”As the special teams unit trotted onto the field, Beaver Stadium fell into a quiet murmur. That low rumble was turned into a roar, as Penn State blocked the punt, OSU’s first blocked punt of the year. The block set up an easy chip-shot field goal for Penn State, bringing the Nittany Lions within four. OSU’s sideline appeared distraught over the sudden energy within Beaver Stadium, looking at each other with empty glares.In an almost cruel twist of a fate, a team known for special teams prowess allowed another blocked kick. This time on a 45-yard field goal attempt. Penn State junior cornerback Grant Haley returned the block for a touchdown, giving the Nittany Lions their first lead of the contest. That lead proved to be enough, as OSU failed to score on its next drive.Barrett was sacked in back-to-back plays to end the game. Meyer said that the lack of protection for his quarterback and push by his offensive line is one of the most glaring issues.“Offensively, we didn’t control the line of scrimmage,” Meyer said. “(Barrett) was under pressure all night when he threw it. And we didn’t move the ball enough with the run game.”OSU returns to Columbus next Saturday to face Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. in Ohio Stadium.
United States Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson (21) heads the ball away from goal during a World Cup Qualifying match against Mexico Sept. 10 at Crew Stadium. The USMNT won, 2-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe Winter Olympics have just ended, but the world’s collective consciousness is already preparing to be taken over by another international sports competition: the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.While the roughly 100-day wait until the opening match on June 12 might seem like a long way off, in playing terms, it’s right around the corner. Most of the qualified teams are competing in friendlies Wednesday, and for many of them the game has some important implications.Wednesday, the U.S. men’s national team is set to play a friendly match against Ukraine in Cyprus, and it’s the final time European-based players will be able to compete for the USMNT before their club season is over in May. Once that happens, coach Jurgen Klinsmann will name a preliminary 30-man squad and take them through a training camp and friendly matches before leaving for South America with his final 23-man roster.There are a number of notable players who are expected to try to use this last chance to solidify their place on the plane to Brazil, transforming an ostensibly meaningless friendly into a final World Cup tryout.One player looking to take his chance will be defender Oguchi Onyewu. A two-time World Cup veteran, Onyewu has hardly been involved with the USMNT over the past few years, and he knows his chances of making it to a third tournament rely heavily on how well he performs against the Ukrainians.Then there’s midfielder Danny Williams, a player whose best performance in red, white and blue came right here in Columbus against Jamaica Sept. 11, 2012. His confident, mistake-free play even led many pundits to believe he could usurp veteran Jermaine Jones’ central defensive midfield position, but since then, Williams has spent the majority of his time on the sidelines. But still, the impression he made about 18 months ago could give Klinsmann incentive to trust Williams should he take his chance.Another World Cup hopeful in the midfield is Brek Shea. A standout in Major League Soccer, Shea has found things difficult since transferring to Europe. He’s made only five appearances for the English Premier League side Stoke City since arriving in January 2013, and is now on loan with Barnsley of the English Championship for the rest of the season. Shea knows he can’t slip up now.And those three aren’t the only ones in that position. Alejandro Bedoya, Juan Agudelo and John Brooks all face a similar challenge when it comes to impressing Klinsmann. The sheer number of World Cup squad hopefuls means someone is bound to miss out.In all likelihood, Klinsmann will give appearances to some players who are nailed on to start the team’s first World Cup group game against Ghana, while at the same time mixing in those looking to catch his eye.Of course, there could be a number of unforeseen circumstances between now and May that shake up the USMNT roster pool, with things like injuries, the emergence of young talent or a simple loss of form.But no matter which way you look at it, the final whistle in Cyprus will mean the journey to the World Cup has reached its final stage.So while many Americans might not see the tournament coming into view, the collection of players hoping to face the likes of Germany and Portugal this summer know that their chance is sharply in focus.
Tavonte Mott is a sophomore sprinter on the men’s track and field team from Nassau, Bahamas. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsAfter Tavonte Mott stepped out of the airport, he was in shock and thought to himself, “What did I get myself into?”Mott came to Ohio State from Nassau, Bahamas, and since then has had success as part of the men’s track and field team. But his success comes with a lot of adjustment.Mott is a sophomore sprinter on the men’s track and field team who has had to overcome obstacles as an international student-athlete.He started running track in ninth grade but after a death in his family, Mott has seen a lot of success in the track-and-field world. Tevaughn Mott, Tavonte’s younger brother, wanted to run track but was unable to because of sickle cell disease. Although his brother was unable to run, he would brag to all his friends about how Mott would be one of the best, Mott said.Tevaughn died in 2013 at the age of 10.“The last time I saw him, I basically made [the promise to be one of the best] to myself,” Mott said. “[His death] motivated me to be where I am today.” Mott has run on eight different national teams for the Bahamas, which has taken him to track meets in China, Colombia and London. After a visit to Ohio State, Mott said it felt like a home away from home, and that track and field assistant coach Joel Brown reminded him of his coach from the Bahamas.“Recruiting internationally is a bit different than here in the U.S. because in an international kid, you have to look for kids at a certain kind of level who can come in and contribute to the team earlier in their career,” Brown said. “But the transition sometimes doesn’t happen that way, and for [Mott] the transition was a big adjustment.”Mott has traveled alone many times before, but he said the time he traveled to Ohio State he felt excited, nervous and scared. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Mott said. The 85-degree weather is one of the things Mott vividly remembers as he was preparing to leave Nassau.He came to Ohio State in January 2018, the middle of winter in Ohio when most students were starting their second semesters. “He’s coming to a place where it’s already cold. There may have been some snow on the ground, and it’s gray here during that time of the year,” Brown said. The weather was one thing that made the transition difficult for Mott, and after three months at Ohio State, Mott was homesick.“I couldn’t sleep; I just wanted to go home,” Mott said. “I didn’t want to be here anymore.”Mott said the first couple of months at Ohio State were mentally draining, and he felt like he was alone.“Sometimes you just feel like there is no one who can relate to you,” Mott said. Although the first couple of months were tough for Mott, he finally found one thing that was refreshing: a fellow international athlete on the track and field team.Bliss Soleyn, a senior sprinter, is the only other international athlete on the team. Soleyn said that being from St. John’s, Antigua, and Mott being from Nassau, Bahamas, made it easy to relate to each other. “It’s pretty cool having him around, having that one person that I can have that downtime and talk in my natural accent [with], and he fully understands,” Soleyn said. Mott said he has enjoyed traveling to different states and building friendships with his teammates.But after a year at Ohio State, Mott said there are still times when he misses home and wishes he was back in the warm weather. “I wouldn’t say the transition was the smoothest of transitions, but with some perseverance as a young person, he was able to get himself together, and now he’s transitioning well,” Brown said.
An Oxford student leader and a man who directed an opera about sex workers were among nine Black Lives Matter protesters charged with trespass after blocking the runway at London City Airport.The protesters chained themselves together on the runway after allegedly breaching the airport’s perimeter fence, disrupting flights for more than six hours in protest at the impact of climate change on black people around the world.It has now emerged that several of those arrested are veterans of protests against climate change and their involvement in the City airport protests has led to accusations that the British offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement has been hijacked by middle-class white activists.Among those charged with aggravated trespass and being unlawfully airside within a restricted area of an aerodrome was Richard Collett-White, 23, a former president of Oxford’s Exeter College Junior Common Room (JCR) student body. Sam Lund-HarketCredit:Global Justice Now Richard Collett-White Mr Collett-White, of Kempston, Bedfordshire, led a student strike against high food prices at the college in 2014, arguing that students were being forced to pay £280 a term “simply for the privilege of setting foot in the only on-site eating place”.Alex Etchart, another of those charged yesterday following Tuesday’s protest, describes himself as a community musician and last year directed an opera about sex workers, featuring real life burlesque dancers and others who work in the sex industry.The 26-year-old, who lives on a houseboat on the Rivert Stort, near Roydon, Essex, has previously taken part in the Occupy London protests and anti-fracking camps.Two of those charged, William Pettifer, 27, who works on an organic farm in Radford, Somerset, and Esme Waldron, 23, a student from Brighton, took part in the blockade of Heathrow Airport in November last year.This saw anti-climate change activists occupy the entrance tunnel to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 for nearly five hours, leading to widespread disruption for travellers. Miss Waldron said at the time: “For most of us, all we gain from new runways is dirtier air, more noise and more floods due to climate change. This is an issue of class; a familiar story of a rich and powerful elite trampling over the livelihoods of those lacking power.”Also charged was Natalie Fiennes, a former student at London School of Economics, who last year took part in the six-week occupation of its central London campus in protest at student fees.Miss Fiennes, 25, of Wandsworth, south London, has also taken part in Climate Camp protests.Those charged also include Ben Tippett, 24, also a former LSE student from Wandsworth, and Sam Lund-Harket, 32, who is a leading activist with the campaign group Global Justice Now.Mr Lund-Harket, who also lives on a houseboat on the River Stort, has previously been active in the anti-climate change groups Reclaim the Power and Grow Heathrow. The others charged were Sama Baka, 27, who also lives on a houseboat at Roydon and Deborah Frances Grayson, 31, of Slough.Ms Grayson was one of six anti-fracking protesters who locked themselves to a fire engine outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe, West Sussex, in August 2013. All nine were released on bail to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 14 September.The protest at the east London, which not only serves business travellers but residents in the most ethnically diverse parts of the capital, was criticised by several veteran black activists yesterday.Stafford Scott, the co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign, wrote on Twitter: “Black Lives Matter is fast becoming a joke” and said the protesters were “embarrassing black people”. 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.
“The majority of people in my year probably did go into small animal practice but it should be considered that there is a much wider job availability within this field,” she said. “It should be noted that true ‘mixed’ practice is now very far and few between.”She put the change partly down to small animal practices being able to make more money. “Farming is a business and sadly the James Herriot days are rapidly disappearing,” she added. Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, said she believed many graduates were still keen to work in mixed practice. In a 2015 survey, 43 per cent of veterinary students nearing graduation said they would consider working at one.But she said young vets were no longer staying in rural or mixed-practice roles, often moving to more cosmopolitan or commercial surgeries.She said issues included being isolated in rural areas and working longer hours than in a larger practice.“I think the challenge is how do we help these small practices to provide those things that graduates rightly need?” she said. “We need to understand the value of vets and value of the services they provide because we can’t continually have vets working excessive hours. If you’re going to be rural, you need to be able to enjoy the parts of being rural.” Julian Norton, who appears in The Yorkshire Vet, a reality television series based on Herriot’s old practice in Thirsk, North Yorks, said the number of applicants for jobs at rural mixed surgeries – where both farm animals and pets are treated – was in decline.Instead, graduates are choosing positions in larger practices where they do not have to make difficult decisions on their own or be called out to muddy farms late at night, he said.“People are turning to surgeries where there are more cats, dogs and rabbits, as there is a general perception that a small animal job is easier,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “There are often less out-of-hours complaints, you don’t have the 2am cow to calve and you don’t have to spend three hours in the mud and rain.“In mixed practice, you have stretches of 19 days without a day off and 11 nights on call, rain lashing down. People don’t want to do that any more.” A few years ago, an opening at Skeldale Veterinary Centre, in North Yorks, would have received at least 50 applications, he said. But recently, one opportunity drew just 10 replies. His concerns are not unfounded; a survey of nearly 7,000 vets by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in 2014 showed the share of respondents employed in mixed animal practices declined from more than 22 per cent to 15.8 per cent in four years, while the numbers working in small animal or exotic practices increased from 48.9 per cent to 53.6 per cent. The RCVS suggested that while the number of vets working in clinical practices will increase, the proportion working for mixed or farm animal equivalents will continue to fall.Part of the problem is that younger vets or trainees at rural practices cannot rely on colleagues or Google if they are unsure about what to do, making their job more difficult, Mr Norton said.He also believes the issue is exacerbated by the fact that some specialists refuse to do jobs on animals outside their own area, possibly due to fears about legal action if they get something wrong. In mixed practice, you have stretches of 19 days without a day off and 11 nights on call… people don’t want to do thatVet Julian Norton A few years ago, an opening at Skeldale Veterinary Centre, in North Yorks, would have received at least 50 applications, Mr Norton saidCredit:Mark Pinder James Herriot photographed in the early 1970s with his dogsCredit:GETTY IMAGES 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. “If you were to ask a vet who sees himself as a horse vet to go and do a different species they would say they are not doing it, they are a horse vet,” Mr Norton said. “A vet is a vet in my mind. Nowadays people are so entrenched in their small field there is quite a reluctance to do things out of their area of interest and that is becoming increasingly the problem across the whole of the veterinary profession.”While he praises the majority of those who work in the industry, he added: “There needs to be an enthusiasm from some people in the veterinary profession to continue to embrace the mixed work.”But one newly trained vet, who graduated from the University of Bristol last year, said while the majority of her year went into small animal practice, it was because of job availability. His tales of veterinary practice and country life have been credited with inspiring a generation of vets.But the days of a James Herriot-like existence – lovingly recalled in his memoirs All Creatures Great and Small and the subsequent TV drama series – may be over as some younger members of the profession are shunning rural and mixed-practice work in favour of treating cats and dogs, it has been claimed.