Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – April 8, 2016

Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard undergoes blood flow restriction training as ESPN's Stephanie Bell (kneeling) observes. (Michael Sciallo/ESPN)
Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard undergoes blood flow restriction training as ESPN’s Stephania Bell (kneeling) observes. (Michael Sciallo/ESPN)

The Sunday, April 10, edition of Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET, ESPN) will examine the use in pro sports of blood flow restriction training (BFR), a technique that reduces blood flow while exercising targeted muscles without overloading the injured area.

After Dwight Howard struggled with a knee injury last season, the Houston Rockets’ team doctor approached him with the radical idea of using a tourniquet to help him regain strength. ESPN injury analyst and physical therapist Stephania Bell, who interviewed Howard for the OTL piece, spoke with Front Row.

Stephania Bell interviews Dwight Howard about his adoption of blood flow restriction training for the Sunday, April 10 edition of Outside The Lines. (Michael Sciallo/ESPN)
Stephania Bell interviews Dwight Howard about his adoption of blood flow restriction training for the Sunday, April 10 edition of Outside The Lines. (Michael Sciallo/ESPN)

What was it about this technique that you found most interesting?
For anyone who exercises on a regular basis, this concept, at first blush, defies intuitive logic. Imagine someone saying, “We’re going to limit the blood flow to your leg by inflating this tourniquet, then we’re going to ask you to exercise while wearing it. You’ll be lifting a very light weight but you will still make strength gains like you would if you were lifting heavy.” And yet, the basic science literature supports it. I had to learn more.

How did you come across this as an idea for an OTL piece?
When SportsCenter was scouting locations for our Veterans Day coverage in 2014, the producers traveled to the Center for the Intrepid and saw BFR training taking place. They asked me to look into it a bit more and I ended up traveling to San Antonio to research it and to try the tourniquet training myself.

I learned how dramatically it had impacted many of the wounded soldiers, literally changing the rate of amputations and helping members of the elite Special Forces return to action. These soldiers are truly elite athletes so it only made sense professional athletes would also benefit. Now that we’re seeing the rise of BFR training in the sports world, it made sense to bring the story to OTL.

What do you think viewers will find most interesting about this story?
This topic is unfamiliar to most people and it’s natural to have questions, starting with what exactly Blood Flow Restriction training is and its safety. Dwight Howard’s willingness to let us sit in on his actual BFR training session gives the viewer unprecedented access to observe and therefore better understand it. The experts we interviewed address the safety concerns. Viewers have an opportunity to see what some say may be one of the biggest developments in the rehab and sports performance world for years to come.

If the video below does not play on your device, click here.

From her files, Foudy finds inspiration for espnW column addressing USWNT’s wage discrimination controversy

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team made headlines April 1 when it filed a wage-discrimination action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the team’s governing body, the U.S. Soccer Federation.

espnW’s Julie Foudy, a former captain of the USWNT, was involved in many similar battles with the Federation in her playing days.

“I have no idea what this says about my personality – don’t judge,’” said Foudy. “But I’ve always been the type who wants to solve a problem. I want answers. And maybe that’s a good thing when the issue becomes so personal and emotional.”

In this piece for espnW, Foudy ponders why the USWNT isn’t using a specific clause – “a clause for which we fought to avoid the very frustration the current players are voicing” – in a contract agreed upon in 2005 between the team and the Federation.

Foudy unearthed the contract from her old files and reports the USWNT could very well benefit from it. – Tara Chozet

Julie Foudy believes
Julie Foudy believes the USWNT could benefit from invoking a contract clause in its pay dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Journalism On Display

  • ESPN’s award-winning primetime newsmagazine E:60 launches into its spring season Tuesday, April 12, (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) with a one-hour show on former NCAA Final Four hero and Arizona State head basketball coach Bobby Hurley. The E:60 Pictures film “Hurley” encompasses the various dimensions of the basketball phenom who led Duke to its first-ever NCAA title a quarter-century ago. Over the past two decades, Hurley has had to fight back from physical, emotional and financial ruin. And in the process he realized that Bobby Hurley is about much more than just basketball. Jeremy Schaap reports.
  • On yesterday’s edition of Outside the Lines, Andy Katz spoke with former Marist College and Oakland University basketball player Seb Bellin. Awaiting his fifth surgery in a Belgian hospital, Bellin found the will to survive amid the chaos of the recent terrorist bombing in Brussels.
  • As the 80th edition of the Masters Tournament was about to begin at Augusta National Golf Club, writer Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote about star player Rory McIlroy trying to find a balance between life and golf while in pursuit of his first Masters win to complete a career Grand Slam.
  • Also on, writer Eli Saslow has an in-depth look at the story of Texas Rangers prospect Matt Bush’s rediscovery and unlikely comeback. The former first-round draft pick has never gotten higher than minor leagues due to injuries and legal issues, but the Texas Rangers are the third team to take a chance on him. Note: This story also will appear in ESPN The Magazine’s “NFL Draft Issue,” which will out on newsstands next week.
  • As Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game on April 13 nears, fans across Los Angeles will pay tribute to the retiring Lakers star in “Dear Kobe,” Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter. The feature will debut in the 10 a.m. SportsCenter and re-air in other editions throughout the day. PREVIEW
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN; 10 a.m., ESPNEWS; 10:30 a.m. ESPN2) will be John Saunders (host), Israel Gutierrez, Mike Lupica and Bob Ryan.
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