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National

  • Schools must provide athletic opportunities for the disabled

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Students with disabilities must be given a shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues, the Education Department said.
    Disabled students who want to play for their school could join traditional teams if officials can make “reasonable modifications” to accommodate them. If those adjustments would fundamentally alter a sport, the department is directing the school to create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing to traditional programs.
    “Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement Friday.
    The groundbreaking order is reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for girls and women four decades ago and could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.
    “This is a landmark moment for students with disabilities. This will do for students with disabilities what Title IX did for women,” said Terri Lakowski, who for a decade led a coalition pushing for the changes. “This is a huge victory.”

  • Ravens upset Patriots 28-13 to make Super Bowl

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Joe Flacco outdueled Tom Brady, throwing three touchdown passes in the second half and leading the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl in 12 years with a 28-13 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday for the AFC championship.

    The win sets up the first Super Bowl coached by brothers, Baltimore's John Harbaugh and San Francisco's Jim. The 49ers won the NFC title earlier Sunday 28-24 at Atlanta.

    The 49ers have been listed as 5-point favorites.

    Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis' final season will conclude in two weeks in New Orleans; he was the MVP of the 2001 game, the Ravens' only Super Bowl win.

    Flacco had two touchdown passes to Anquan Boldin and one to Dennis Pitta as the Ravens outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half. Baltimore's defense made Brady look ordinary and stymied the league's top offense. Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime.

  • 49ers head to Super Bowl, beating Falcons 28-24

    ATLANTA (AP) — Frank Gore ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns and the 49ers rebounded from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC championship game Sunday, sending San Francisco to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

    The top-seeded Falcons (14-4) tried to pull out another season-saving drive at the end, but Matt Ryan's fourth-down pass for Roddy White with 1:13 remaining was knocked down by San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

    The 49ers (13-4-1) will meet the winner of the AFC title game between New England and Baltimore. San Francisco will be trying to join Pittsburgh as the only teams with six Super Bowl championships.

    The victory was sweet redemption for the 49ers, who lost an overtime thriller to the New York Giants a year ago in the NFC title game.

  • Hall of Famer Stan Musial Dies at Age 92
  • Williams, Azarenka advance to 3rd round in Australia

    MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Apart from a swollen lip that helped take her mind off her injured right ankle, Serena Williams emerged unscathed from her second-round win at the Australian Open on Thursday.

    Summoning all her experience from 15 major titles, including the final two of the last season, Williams lifted her tempo on the biggest points — winning an 18-minute game to open the second set, finally cashing in on her fourth break chance.

    Nineteen minutes later, she finished off a 6-2, 6-0 win Thursday over No. 112-ranked Garbine Muguruza with an ace at 128.7 mph — the fastest she can remember serving.

    "I'm on the up and up, I feel. It can only get better from here," she said, adding that she wasn't bothered by the ankle problem that caused concerns during her first-round win.

    "Obviously when you go out to play you're heavy on adrenaline and you're really pumped up," she said. "Usually I feel injuries after the match but so far, so good. I felt pretty, much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel."

    Williams couldn't explain how she hit herself in the face with her racket in the sixth game, a blow that left her bleeding from the lip.

  • Armstrong to Admit Doping in Oprah Interview
  • NHL: Owners Have Approved Labor Deal
  • New Year's Day bowl game recaps

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Stepfan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, Kevin Hogan passed for 123 yards, and No. 8 Stanford won its first Rose Bowl since 1972, beating Wisconsin 20-14 on Tuesday night.

    Usua Amanam made the decisive interception near midfield with 2:30 to play as the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (12-2) ended their four-decade drought in the Rose Bowl.

    The Big Ten champion Badgers (8-6) lost the Rose Bowl in heartbreaking fashion for the third consecutive season. Montee Ball rushed for 100 yards and his FBS-record 83rd touchdown, but Wisconsin managed only 82 yards after halftime.

    With impressive defense of its own, Wisconsin still stayed in position for an upset in the one-game return of Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez, who was back on the Badgers' sideline in his red sweater-vest seven years after hanging up his whistle.

    When Bret Bielema abruptly left Wisconsin for Arkansas after winning the Big Ten title game, Alvarez agreed to coach his fourth Rose Bowl.

  • Reid, Smith Among Firings in the NFL
  • Douglas named female athlete of year

    When Gabby Douglas allowed herself to dream of being the Olympic champion, she imagined having a nice little dinner with family and friends to celebrate. Maybe she'd make an appearance here and there.

    "I didn't think it was going to be crazy," Douglas said, laughing. "I love it. But I realized my perspective was going to have to change."

    Just a bit.

    The teenager has become a worldwide star since winning the Olympic all-around title in London, the first African-American gymnast to claim gymnastics' biggest prize. And now she has earned another honor. Douglas was selected The Associated Press' female athlete of the year, edging out swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors that was announced Friday.

    "I didn't realize how much of an impact I made," said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec. 31. "My mom and everyone said, 'You really won't know the full impact until you're 30 or 40 years old.' But it's starting to sink in."