It hadn't been long after Paul Assaiante's peculiar Wednesday night when he found himself sifting through his email and stopping at a particular message.

It was a number in the email that stuck with the coach hours after -- a number he now attempts to shrug off. But for more than 13 years, that number had grown and grown and grown and taken Assaiante's squash team, the Trinity College Bantams, with it.

"Other people counted it," Assaiante says. "I never liked to. I didn't come here to do that."

The count was 5,078 days.

Since Feb. 22, 1998, Assaiante's squash team at Trinity College in Connecticut had not lost a single match. That's 252 consecutive wins, 13 straight national championships. And the longest winning streak in the history of collegiate athletics.

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By Bianca Schlotterbeck

The London 2012 Olympics are only six months away, and excitement is ramping up. Yet besides putting on a stunning spectacle starting in late July — and the pride of winning gold medals for Team Britain -- London must contend with the aftermath of the Games. This cannot be measured purely by cost alone but by the benefits or problems the Olympics leave in their wake.

The finest Olympics revitalize rundown districts, inspire young people into sports and leave a city with fantastic sites and a healthy profit; Barcelona is a good example. The worst leave nations crippled by debt and half-dead venues – look no further than Athens.

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Slideshow: Olympic Cities: Booms and Busts

The Olympic legacy London hoped for when it won the bid in 2005 was to inspire a new generation of sportsmen and women and to regenerate a rundown area of East London, without the facilities being a drain on public finances. Prime Minister David Cameron told a recent news conference he expected the Games to generate at least $1 billion for British businesses.

So far six of the eight Olympic venues have secured their future, but the prospects for the centerpiece of the 2012 games -- the Olympic Stadium, which cost an estimated $760 million to build -- remain uncertain. This is also true for the Olympics Press and Broadcast Centre.

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By Joel Huerto

USA Basketball recently announced the 20 finalists who will compete for the 12 spots on the senior men's national team that will represent the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Among the finalists are holdovers from the 2008 gold-medal winning team in Beijing: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony. Assuming all eight accept invitations to London, there are 12 players fighting for four spots which leaves USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski the dirty task of having to cut star players without embarrassing them in public.

Injuries will certainly play a big part of the selection process, especially with Bryant (wrist) and Wade (foot). Both have hinted they would love to play in London, but it'll depend on how their teams finish and if their injuries will get worse should they play through the summer. Not having Kobe or Wade in the Olympics will be a huge blow to Coach K but those two were the go-to guys in Beijing. When Team USA needed a basket in the fourth quarter, Coach K called on Kobe's number first and then Wade was a very close second. That was evident in the gold-medal game against Spain when Wade was the catalyst in the first half and Kobe closed the deal.

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NBA, Olympics

Americans are largely underexposed to the sport of handball, though, to be fair, it's possible much of the world is underexposed, as well. At the same time, much of the world has a grasp on the awesomeness of a trick shot, and the tremendous guts it takes to pull it off in a penalty scenario.

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Imagine a job description that reads:

-- Dynamic company seeks energetic individuals accustomed to high pressure environment.
-- Must be able to adapt.
-- Must be flexible ... literally.
-- Minimum four years flying experience ... (and we're not talking about on an airplane).

You might think it would return very few applicants, but in the fantastical world of Cirque du Soleil, the opposite is true. Their sign might as well read "NOW HIRING: Positions include upside-down, one-armed handstand and twisted in a pretzel." It's a company, and a show, unlike any other.

And that's exactly where someone like Raj Bhavsar might choose to send his resume, one filled with prior experiences most human resource directors do not typically come across. For you see, 31-year-old Raj is a two-Olympic gymnast earning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

After spending his post-Olympic career doing gymnastics clinics, speeches, some coaching and some marketing, he came to the realization. "I had this constant urge to be physical," he says backstage at his new office, the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. It's where he finds his urges satiated by his exciting new vocation as part of the newest Cirque creation "Iris" (pronounced "Ee-REECE" due to its French-Canadian beginnings).

"A number of our acrobats were gymnasts in a former life," says Leticia Buckley, the show's marketing and public relations manager. "Our 'Buster' [the lead played by Raphael Cruz] is a skater. And lots of different performers come from clown school. It does run the gamut."

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Can you Tebow underwater?

If anyone has considered that question, it's Missy Franklin, the 16-year old swimming phenom for the U.S. National Team.

The Colorado high schooler is a huge Tim Tebow fan, as evidenced by her Twitter timeline. She's followed the Broncos through their unexpected playoff run and was even honored by the team at the last home game of the regular season. Franklin posted a picture from Sports Authority Field at Mile High during that New Year's Day game and last week she tweeted, "It's
Tebow time:) let's go Broncos!!" as the former Heisman winner knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs.

She's also Tebow-like in another way. Franklin has turned down more than $130,000 in potential prize money and countless more in endorsement offers during her freestyle to fame. Missy the Missile, as she's known for her 6-1 frame, is just a junior and wants to swim for a collegiate team. She's already taken unofficial visits to Georgia and Cal.

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Imagine a game where men, women, young and old can compete on an even playing field. Now imagine that it's a game you already know -- a game you haven't played in years, maybe decades. That was Spud Alford's vision. A game for the whole family. A game that anyone can play just about anywhere.

Welcome to the National Finger Football League.

You might know it as paper or tabletop football. No matter what you call it, the game is familiar to anyone who folded a piece of notebook paper into a triangle and had some time to waste in grade school. Alford and his company, Zelosport, have taken it to a whole new level, though. On Jan. 31, just down the street from where the Super Bowl will be played in Indianapolis, one person will be crowned the king of the first-ever White Castle Slider Bowl -- earning $2,500 cash and White Castle hamburgers for life.

But founding Zelosport and launching the NFFL has not been easy. In fact, it's been a test of will, determination and faith for the 56-year old Alford. The Finger Football championship has been 23 years in the making. The struggles and life lessons of perseverance that led to this success, though, began long before that.

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You don't have to be a fan to understand high school football has significant injury risks, but a much different sport is actually the most dangerous on average for athletes.

Gymnastics is the sport with the most injuries per competitor, according to a report by WCCO's Jason DeRusha. The Minneapolis TV station quotes research from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research that shows during the past 25 years, almost 2 out of 100,000 male gymnasts were paralyzed, while 0.89 of female gymnasts suffered the same tragic fate.

Hockey players aren't far behind. Research reports 1.38 of hockey players per 100,000 have been paralyzed during the past 25 years.

If you've got a daughter, she's at the most risk from cheerleading. WCCO reports that two girls have died and almost 30 were permanently disabled while taking part in competitive cheerleading.

But research shows football is still far and away the most deadly.

More than 110 high school athletes have lost their lives playing football, while 331 suffered permanent life changing damage since 1982. A total of 11 hockey players have been paralyzed compared to eight in gymnastics. Seven soccer played have died in that time period.

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