Gronk the elf. A brutal season-ending injury did not keep Rob Gronkowski from embracing the Christmas season. Just days after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in a Dec. 8 game against the Cleveland Browns, the New England Patriots tight end visited Boston Children’s Hospital to spend time with the young patients. Dressed as an elf, the wheelchair-bound superstar hasn’t allowed his diagnosis—he’ll miss the rest of this NFL season and likely part of the 2014 season—to drag him down.
Putting MS on ice. Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding also has made the best of a bad situation this month, putting up tremendous numbers in the NHL despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The inflammatory disease that targets the brain and spinal cord can lead to symptoms such as muscle spasms, chronic pain, visual problems, and depression. Yet Harding, 29, has outplayed the league with a 1.51 goals-against average and a .939 save average.
For years, Harding played as the Wild’s backup goalie, never truly standing out or earning the starting position. But this season, he has taken advantage of the opportunity to start and has made waves throughout the league. Additionally, he has started a charity, Harding’s Hope, to raise awareness and funding for MS treatment.
“I would like people that have MS not to worry about the decision to either take their medication or put food on the table,” Harding said. “If I can help take away the stress of them not being able to pay their bills, I think that would help them live a more healthy and fulfilling life.”
In the extremely competitive Western Conference, the Wild are 37-20 as they face the final stretch of the season. Minnesota placed Harding on the injured reserve list so he could adjust his MS medication, but the team expects him back in action by next Friday.
Battle of the sexes canceled. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) officials called off the highly publicized match between a female and a male scheduled for today. A Brazilian MMA organization, Shooto Brazil, had hyped the fight as a “first-ever,” and both combatants had weighed in and spoken to the media about the match.
As it turns out, the proposed fight was just a stunt to draw attention to “Lei Maria da Penha,” a Brazilian law targeting domestic violence against women.
“We can’t do something like that. [The promoter] can ask everything, even a MMA fight with three guys against one, but we obviously won’t allow it,” said Brazilian Mixed Martial Arts Confederation member Osiris Maia. “There’s no way a man should fight a woman. This is being done only to show the society the importance of ‘Lei Maria da Penha.’ You can’t have a man beating a woman in a sport, so it shouldn’t happen anywhere. That’s what they want to show.”