A new report Monday morning reveals the NBA suffered badly from a highly contagious intestinal virus among players and staff -- on and off the court.

The study, embargoed until Monday at 12:01 a.m., found that as many as 13 National Basketball Association franchises located in 11 different states around the country were affected by a norovirus outbreak last year. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published by London's Oxford University.

A total of 21 unnamed players and three staff members of 13 unnamed teams were affected, and four of the teams had multiple cases of the illness, according to study author Rishi Desai.

The NBA teams with cases played a total of 49 games against one another during the study period. Two of those games were determined to be potential team-to-team transmission events.

Norovirus causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. It's most famous for striking cruise ship passengers, according to WebMD. The norovirus is responsible for nearly 21 million outbreaks each year. Once someone is infected from the bad food, the virus can spread from person to person very quickly, from

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shaking hands or other close contact.

The study concluded that although norovirus outbreaks have been previously reported in recreational sports, this is the first known report of a norovirus outbreak within a professional sports association.

Gastrointestinal illness is the second most common non-game related injury or illness among NBA players, according to 10 years of medical research.

Scientists concluded that to help limit future transmission of the illness, NBA teams should focus on strict personal hygiene, such as washing hands with soap and running water instead of using a hand sanitizer. Experts are also encouraging more frequent disinfection of locker rooms.

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A family from Chicago has ponied up a large chunk of cash to buy an Iowa farm where the iconic baseball movie "Field of Dreams" was shot.

Mike and Denise Stillman didn't purchase the land because they love corn; they believe they can make a profit bringing baseball fans to the Hawkeye State to play ball on the land Kevin Costner made famous.

It's been more than 22 years since the baseball drama was released in April of 1989, but the Stillmans' investment group is hoping they can turn the Iowa field of dreams into a center for youth baseball and softball in the Midwest. Big plans include building nearly a dozen additional hardball fields and an indoor training dome for those chilly prarie winters. According to the blueprint, all the improvements will be ready for the 2014 baseball season.

Nearly 65,000 movie and baseball aficionados visit the location near Dyersville, Iowa every year. Denise tells

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the Chicago Tribune the couple feels the timing is right and they expect big things from this cornfield next to nowhere. "We just know that it's going to be a huge success," she said.

Although Costner was the big star, the motion picture featured Hollywood big shots like Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster as Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham. "Field of Dreams," is the fourth biggest grossing baseball movie of all time, earning $64,431,625. The film was nominated for two Oscars. It was just knocked out of Top 3 status for baseball films this year by Brad Pitt's Moneyball.

The Stillmans watched the Hollywood flick on one of their first dates as college students at Bradley University, and were such big fans they'd listen to the movie soundtrack while studying in their dorm room at the Peoria, Ill., school. While on a visit to the cornfield with their 10-year-old son, they learned the property was for sale.

Mike, 42, runs a Chicago law firm and has season tickets to the White Sox, while his wife Denise, 39, works in the health care business.

It's unknown how much the couple paid for the property, which was originally placed on the market for $5.4 million last year.

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After Bill Buckner misplayed a ball in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, he sold his Boston area home and moved his family to Idaho. It's a much different story deep in the heart of Texas for this year's playoff goat.

Nelson Cruz, who misplayed Cardinals third baseman David Freese's Game 6 fly ball into a two-run triple that could have cost the Rangers the world championship, didn't run and hide after the Fall Classic. Cruz drove his own car to Mesquite, Tex., for an appearance at a sports academy less than 24 hours after the World Series.

Despite being the World Series villain in the eyes of some, Cruz drew a crowd of more than 400 fans, who created a line that wrapped around the Academy Sports and Outdoors location. One fan, Mireya Fraire, camped out overnight to be first in line.

"I have a torn ACL and I've been here all night and I haven't gone home and I slept outside and slept in the car and just really want to see him that bad", Fraire told KDAF-TV in Dallas.

Cruz agreed to sign autographs -- win or lose -- well before the Rangers' disappointing finish in the World Series. He admitted to being stunned that so many Texas fans came out to meet him.

"I was shocked to see all the people," Cruz said. "It made me feel happy and it made the pain go away quickly."

He was thankful for the support, even after the loss.

"It definitely shows how good they are as fans," Cruz told KDAF. "They support us all year. They're behind us whatever happens."

 

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The ALCS MVP, Cruz hit .364 with six homers and 13 RBI against the Tigers, but batted just .200 in the World Series, with two homers and three RBI against the Cardinals.

The Republic of Texas proved it really is light years away from Red Sox Nation.

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When a loan goes bad, lawyers end up being the real winners.

Dave Christian was part of the greatest Olympic upset in the history of the United States. Now he's just plain upset over a sports memorabilia decision his dad made 30 years ago.

Dave and his father, Bill, a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey gold medal winning team, are fighting to get their jerseys back from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Bill Christian loaned the pieces of Olympic hockey history to Hockey Hall in 1981, "never dreaming they would be gone forever," he said.

WCCO-TV Minnesota reports the father and son have been working to get the jerseys back in the past six months. Dave wants to "pass those jerseys" to his children. The people who run the Hockey Hall of Fame don't think that's a good idea, and claim they now own the historic sweaters.

Medal won by son during 1980 Olympics

Jersey as displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

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Dave Christian played more than 1,000 NHL games, scoring 340 career goals with the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks from 1980 to 1994.

The main issue of debate is a letter sent to Bill in 1981 that thanked he and his son for "the donation" of the jerseys. The family admits a mistake was made but says they paid little attention to the letter and intended to only loan the sweaters. Dave points out his dad "is not an attorney."

Representatives of the Hockey Hall of Fame are ready to throw down the gloves, having sent the father and son a letter claiming they are ready to go to court over the Olympic jerseys.

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The high school coach made famous for his mentorship of Michael Oher in the blockbuster film "The Blind Side" is using his 15 minutes of fame as a recruiting advantage.

Hugh Freeze, made famous in the book and film, is now the head football coach at Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference. Freeze told the New York Times that he uses the film's unimagined success to help recruit athletes to the school located in the sleepy college town of Jonesboro.

The Arkansas State coach says that his part in Oher's rise to success is "a great icebreaker." Freeze feels that potential recruit's families often feel they can trust sending their sons to play for him because of the way he treated Oher.

It's interesting to note that Freeze has never actually read Michael Lewis' best-selling book "The Blind Side" on which the film was based. Freeze had his wife Jill tell him the key parts of the book in which he was featured. “It’s my personality that I can’t sit and listen to anyone for more than 30 minutes, except for my pastor,” Freeze told the Times.

Freeze has a few gripes with the Hollywood version of his story coaching at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. He says he "would never" use a cellphone during a game as they claimed in the film. He also is still very close with Oher, who's now playing with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. The two regularly text each other.

"The Blind Side," is the highest grossing sports drama of all time with a jaw dropping $255,959,475 made at the box office.

While many coaches like to boast about how much time they spend breaking down film, Freeze kiddingly says he has attention deficit disorder that hasn't been diagnosed yet. He doesn't watch much video of opponents, but Freeze makes sure to record NASCAR races, only watching the crashes and final 40 laps.

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Arkansas State has had a magical season under Freeze's guidance. The Red Wolves are 5-2 with a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. If they beat North Texas, they'll have their best start since 1986. Arkansas State's offense is ranked higher (31st) than traditional powers Nebraska (35th) and Southern California (37th).

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Forget Bill Belichick or Tony La Russa, the real coaching icon in 2011 is a former high school cheerleader.

Unless you're a real tech geek, chances are pretty good you've never heard the name Amy Jo Martin. The 32-year-old Wyoming native has become the most powerful "coach" for sports stars in social media.

A former PR assistant with the Phoenix Suns, Martin began her career working online promotions for the NBA team. Without permission, she started calling herself the Suns' Director of Digital Media. In that role she built a huge following on Twitter and convinced 25 Suns co-workers to sign up for the microblogging site.

Martin is best known for helping then-Suns center Shaquille O'Neal become arguably the most influential person in sports on social media. The retired future Hall of Fame basketball player has 4,471,667 followers on his @Shaq Twitter page. Thats more than anyone else in sports, not the NBA, NFL or MLB can claim to have more followers, according to wefollow.com.

Shaq was convinced by Martin to join Twitter after someone had created a bogus account under his name and sparked an angry column by someone who thought it was really him. O'Neal is believed to be just the third national celebrity to join Twitter, following Barack Obama and Lance Armstrong.

Martin used Shaq to test out all kinds of hijinks, including Random Acts of Shaqness, which had Shaq using Twitter for the better good. The former Arizona State student also got O'Neal to a play the game "you're twit," where he announced via tweet that any fans who touched him at an Arizona mall would get free tickets. Martin is the queen of shenanigans, talking Shaq into becoming a living statue at Boston's legendary Harvard Square during a more recent escapade.

After her success with Shaquille O'Neal, Martin left the Suns and started her own company coaching clients on how to use social media.

You could call her the Twitter coach to the sports stars, and the list includes some big names.

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Martin's company Digital Royalty claims the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Kings, UFC, Nike, Fox Sports, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Shaq has her clients.

Martin's startup is doing so well, she's moving her 15 employees from Phoenix to Hollywood in order to be closer to entertainment bigwigs. Businessweek reports most of her employees are pretty young women.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship thinks so much of Martin's business they send their fighters to five days of social media schooling each year with her business. The UFC also gives out a bonus of $240,000 for athletes who tweet the best.

Martin convinced UFC boss Dana White to tweet his cellphone number out to fans who wanted to talk about an upcoming fight. Bubba Watson put up a video of himself hitting a golf ball inside his house, over his pool, and then into a bucket before jumping over a pool in an effort to convince Ellen DeGeneres to put him on her show:

Businessweek reports Digital Royalty bills in the mid-seven figures annually, not bad for a two-year-old company.

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Some new research may provide a clue on how to prevent concussions, and it both is, and is not, anything but bird-brained.

Researchers have studied videos of woodpeckers to try and explain why the birds don't get concussions, despite pounding their heads against trees between 18-22 times per second.

The new study shows how the build of the bird's skull actually protects its brain from suffering concussions. The Toronto Star reports that sports equipment companies could use this woodpecker innovation to help stop athletes from having brain inuries.

Scientist Yubo Fan of Beijing's Beihang University reports a woodpeckers skull has evolved over the years with several varied layers of protection that ables the birds' brains to take up to a stunning 1,000 G's of force in search of a meal.

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"We assumed woodpeckers were protected against. . . head injuries, although no studies have been carried out to prove it comparatively,” the study, which was published Wednesday by the online journal Public Library of Science One, said. “Simple reasoning would indicate that if woodpeckers got headaches, they would stop pecking."

This information is potentially enormous for pro athletes. 60% of NFL players suffered at least one concussion in their careers; 26% suffered three or more concussions, according to a 200 study reported by Scientific American. In 2007 a study of 600 retired NFL players with three ore more concussions discovered that 20% had suffered from depression.

Woodpeckers' beaks are an unequal length, the lower is longer, this helps push impact force downwards, away from the brain while banging against the head. The study also uncovered the birds' brains are covered by a unique skull, built with uneven, spongy plates that as a result make it stronger than those of birds of another feather.

Scientists believe that the specially evolved hyoid bone is the key discovery. This bone goes from the woodpecker's beak all the way around the top of the skull in a loop, completely surrounding the bird's brain. As described by the Toronto Star, you can think of it as a seatbelt that keeps the brain from crashing into the sides of the skull during backwards movement. But that's not all.

Since woodpeckers have to fly, the bones are lightweight, while other animals known for banging heads – such as mountain goat rams – have heavy, thick skulls.

The researchers feel some of these odd woodpecker skull features can be transferred over to football and hockey helmets.

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Planking was so last week; it's all about "Tebowing" these days.

There really is no way to stop the phenomenon of Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback has inspired a new mania on the Web in only the past few hours.

It's called "Tebowing." It's the act of "getting down on one knee to start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different," according to the website Tebowing.com.

Tebow has been photographed many times kneeling down with his elbow on his knee and fist or forearm on the forehead. The act of Tebowing, similar to planking, involves someone taking your "action" photo and then posting it to Twitter or Facebook.

The new site shows people Tebowing at a chiropractor's office, in an operating room, at the U.S. Capitol and even in Korea.

While this figures to be a passing fancy, the site is trying to cash in by selling T-shirts and hats with a specially designed Tebowing logo.

Tebow's supernatural powers have helped the Broncos on the field. He already has two fourth-quarter game-winning 13-point comebacks in just four starts. John Elway, by comparison, had two in his Hall of Fame career.

The beloved Broncos quarterback will be under center this weekend as Denver plays host to the Detroit Lions.

Tebow's Story and Heisman Trophy Speech

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Tebow was mic'd up by the NFL during a game last season.

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It could be the greatest trade ever made by a baseball fan.

Joe Reis traded two tickets along the third-base line to Game 6 of the 1991 World Series for four bleacher seats so his family could join him. It turned out to be a life changing decision. Reis ended up being part of Minnesota Twins lore.

That ticket exchange led to Reis sitting in the left centerfield stands on Oct. 26, 1991, at the Metrodome with his wife and two daughters -- 20 years ago Wednesday. He ended up catching Kirby Puckett's game winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning and later became friends with the baseball legend.

FOX 9 News caught up with the man behind the Twins historic home run catch who says despite two decades passing, it's still fresh in his head.

"It seems like yesterday, the memory is so vivid of that whole experience," Reis told the TV station. "I'll never forget the feeling, pulling it in," Reis said. "Opening that glove and -- holy cow, my heart started beating."

While most fans would try to cash in on this magical piece of baseball memorabilia, Reis says he never considered doing anything with the ball other than give it back to Puckett.

"To me, he hit that ball. That was his. I never thought anything other than that, 'We have to give this to him,'" Reis said.

Kirby got his ball back, and all Reis wanted was this photo with Puckett and his family.

It's a mystery as to where the ball from the most famous home run in Twins history is today. Nobody is sure. Reis ended up becoming friends with Puckett. The two played a couple rounds of golf over the years and Reis was invited to the Twins legend's 2001 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Puckett died five and a half years ago after suffering a stroke at the young age of 45. The Twins have taken the seat Reis sat in at the Metrodome before catching the homer; it sits in the archive room at Target Field.

At the time his career ended, Puckett's .318 lifetime batting average was the highest in the American League since Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio.

Here is Reis 20 years later in his office.

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Taxpayers in the Land of Lincoln are outraged at a sweetheart deal handed to the Chicago White Sox.

More than 23 years after the state of Illinois agreed to deal to build what is now known as U.S. Cellular Field, Illinois residents are still paying for it in a big way.

"Bacardi at the Park," a new restaurant, opened outside the White Sox ballpark this season at a cost of close to $7 million to Illinois taxpayers. Out of that money, the taxpayers will get absolutely none of the profits, according to WGN-TV.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf made this deal with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority when he threatened to move his baseball team to Tampa, Fla. way back in 1988. Reinsdorf doesn't have to share profits with the man and woman on the street who paid the $3.2 million in restaurant construction costs, in addition to another $3.7 million for infrastructure upgrades that made it all possible.

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson who signed off on the embarrassing agreement, claims he asked Reinsdorf for "part of the profits," and the White Sox owner said no. Thompson is spinning his bewildering political decision by claiming the restaurant is a success since visitors at downtown hotels are the ones actually paying for the ballpark with a hotel tax. He also says customers of the restaurant pay sales tax, and thus that revenue helps compensate for the $7 million in costs.

So, in short, the people of Illinois built the restaurant, the Chicago White Sox picked who operates it, the Sox get to split profits with Gibson Restaurant Group who runs the restaurant -- which is closed during the offseason - and taxpayers don't get any of the profits.

This is just the beginning: The inhabitants of the Prairie State will be forced to pay for all future development plans around the ballpark, which could include a hotel and parking lot.

The Chicago Tribune reports full-service restaurants at Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field opened recently without using public funds. In Baltimore, the Maryland Stadium Authority said the Orioles would have to help in costs to build a new stadium at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The White Sox (79-83) finished 16 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central during the 2011 regular season. Manager Ozzie Guillen left to manage the Marlins and Robin Ventura took over as skipper in Chicago.

The Sox pay about $2.7 million for rent and ballpark maintenance, which is somewhat based on attendance. The lease with Chicago ends in 2029.

You can check out the video from WGN by clicking here.

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This is new White Sox manager Robin Ventura, whose salary is being paid for, in part, from ballpark revenue.

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