SBD/Issue 64/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Woods Taking Indefinite Break From Pro Golf

    Woods Says He Will Focus On Being A "Better
    Husband, Father, And Person" During Break
    Tiger Woods Friday said he has "decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf." In a statement posted on his Web site, Woods said, "I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person." He added, "I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. ... I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem later Friday evening issued a statement in response to Woods' announcement, saying, "We fully support Tiger's decision to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family. His priorities are where they need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's request for privacy. We look forward to Tiger's return to the PGA Tour when he determines the time is right for him" (THE DAILY).

    LEAVING A HUGE HOLE: In L.A., Kraft & Pucin reported Woods' decision will "have the most immediate impact on the PGA Tour, which already has been losing sponsorships and is in desperate need of his drawing power as it prepares to begin a new season." Woods' break is "likely to have a devastating effect on TV ratings for golf, which is a stable of sports programming for the big broadcast networks." When Woods took an eight-month break from golf to recover from a leg injury after the '08 U.S. Open, "many events on the PGA Tour saw catastrophic ratings declines." Author John Feinstein said, "By himself, Tiger is probably 50% of golf. Will the PGA Tour fold up and go away? No. But they have some serious issues. There is a little bit of panic" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Walker & Albergotti noted Woods' hiatus is a "serious blow to the sport of golf, which has relied on Mr. Woods's star power to drive television ratings and sell sponsorships" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/12). In Orlando, Josh Robbins noted Woods' departure will "deprive the tour of its top attraction at a critical time," as it copes with the "adverse effects of the nation's greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/12). In N.Y., Larry Dorman notes most of the Tour's "larger purses directly result from higher revenue from title sponsors, and the PGA Tour is in the midst of negotiating new deals with the sponsors of a dozen events that will expire by the end of 2010." So uncertainty about Woods' future will have a "negative impact on the negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).

    Oberholser Believes Woods' Hiatus
    Will Be A Huge Hit To The Tour
    PGA TOUR'S LOSS: Golfer Arron Oberholser said, "You may have heard a collective, 'Oh s-!' from Ponte Vedra. Let's be honest here: Tiger moves the needle. As much as I like Phil (Mickelson) and as much as I think he's a superstar, he doesn't move the needle like Tiger does. It's going to be a huge hit to the tour." Oberholser added, "I just hope we don't have a lot of contracts up for renegotiation, because we're definitely not sitting in the catbird seat. It's hard to sit across the table if someone asks, 'When is Tiger coming back?' and you have to say, 'We don't know'" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/12). Golfer Greg Norman said, "The tour has got to be worried because what's the definition of 'indefinite.' Does 'indefinite' mean, OK, it might be a year because a lot of issues have got to be resolved. That's the word you've got to kind of drill in on" (NAPLES NEWS, 12/12). Golfer Steve Stricker said, "We need him out here because of sponsorships and just the awareness in our Tour in general" (PGATOUR.com, 12/12). ESPN's Mike Tirico: “If you take the best player, the most recognized player, the one that transcended the fans of the sport to general sports fans and even non-sports fans -- when you take that person out of the day-to-day competition, it can’t help the sport” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/11). Bergen Record columnist Ian O'Connor: "This is an unmitigated disaster for the PGA Tour" ("The Early Show," CBS, 12/12).

    TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: In N.Y. Mark Cannizzaro wrote if Woods "isn't playing and TV ratings dip dramatically, more sponsors will pull out and that could lead to fewer events" on Tour. PGA Tour execs are "holding their collective breath right now for a speedy Woods return." Also, fans "can be sure that every player on the PGA Tour has his fingers crossed for the same, because Woods' presence lines everyone's pockets with money" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). Tirico said, “When you take the meal ticket of the Tour away from the Tour for a while, it will certainly damage the product.” Tirico: “We know the casual fans come to the TV when Tiger plays, … and that’s not going to be there. That hurts the sport, that hurts the Tour at a time when things are not great in general for sports." ESPN.com's Bob Harig: "Despite all that’s been going on, he’d have been a huge draw, and he will be whenever he comes back. When Tiger isn’t playing, it isn’t good for the PGA Tour. You saw that in the second half of 2008, when he missed all that time after his knee surgery” ("SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/11). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote Woods "might not be bigger than the sport ... but he is the biggest thing going right now -- in any sport -- and any tournament without his name attached to the entry list will fail to pique the interest of many casual fans" (ESPN.com, 12/11). In New Orleans, Peter Finney: "It's accurate to say professional golf has never been so one-man-top-heavy as it is right now" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 12/13). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda wrote the Tour "needs Woods more than Woods needs it" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). But NBC's Gary Koch said of Phil Mickelson, “The Tour can certainly heap it on him a little bit and make a big deal of the fact that Phil is so fan friendly” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12).

    Woods' Indefinite Absence Could Cause Change
    To Ways Tournaments Market Themselves
    WHAT LIES AHEAD? YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote without Woods, the Tour "will be playing to half-full houses." It needs to "figure out how to market itself in the post-Tiger era a few years earlier than expected" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/12). In London, Mark Reason wrote golf "is running scared at the moment." IMG Golf Managing Dir for Europe, Asia and the Middle East Guy Kinnings said, "The impact will be on TV viewers and a few PGA Tour tournaments. Hospitality and the events associated with Tiger might be affected, but there will also be huge anticipation for his return" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/13). In DC, Michael Wilbon wrote, "Who knows what will happen here in Washington to the tournament in Woods's name that is scheduled to go to Philadelphia this year and next, then return to Washington in 2012. Who knows what the members at Congressional Country Club think now about being affiliated with a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods. The day before Thanksgiving, it was perhaps the most desired association in all of sports; now that TW logo might represent more baggage than anyone in the conservative golf community wants to carry" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/12). 

    BEST THING TO DO: CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling wrote under the header, "Despite Immediate Pain, Tiger's Sabbatical Best For All In Long Run." His hiatus at least "buys the tour some respite from what would have been an endless crusade for more Woods-related player reaction." Woods has "dragged the tour and its players into the mud with him." The "splatter and collateral damage had not yet been tallied, but it was palpable." Tournaments already had begun to "examine whether it was wise to use Woods' image in their marketing campaigns for 2010" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/11). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica admitted in the "short-run, golf is going to take a big hit." Lupica: "But that's part of his comeback. The comeback begins with people missing him, with people starting to mark time until he comes back whenever that is." He added Woods is "doing the right thing by going away because what he's doing now is he's changing the subject" ("Today," NBC, 12/14). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell: "This won't help the Tour as it tries to secure a new TV contract and renew title sponsorships in a bad economy. Really, though, this may be a case of short-term pain that's well worth the long-term gain" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/11).

    SEEING SOME LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: NBC’s Dan Hicks: “I think for the very first time through this whole ordeal there seems to be a little light at the end of the tunnel for perhaps closure on this whole saga. ... It seems like we might be able to move on here in the not so distant future” (“Shark Shootout,” NBC, 12/12). ESPN.com's Harig noted the drama surrounding Woods in recent weeks was the "elephant in the room at Woods' Chevron World Challenge" earlier this week. The story "isn't going away, but at least it is now on a path to ... somewhere" (ESPN.com, 12/12). 

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: When May Woods Return To PGA Tour Action?

    Arnold Palmer Invitational Seen As Possible
    Event Tiger May Target For His Return
    The odds on a healthy Tiger Woods this coming year missing The Masters, the PGA Tour's first major, normally "would be astronomical," but the circumstances around Woods since his November 27 car accident "have been anything but normal," according to Larry Dorman of the N.Y. TIMES. Woods' announcement on Friday that he is taking an indefinite break from professional golf "will likely shift the focus of speculation from the almost daily updates on his dalliances to what date he will make his return." His recent pattern has been to "begin his United States schedule at the San Diego Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course at the end of January." Woods then normally would play in the WGC-Accenture World Match Play in February, followed by the WGC-CA Championship at Doral and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, both in March (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Paul Newport wrote the "best bet, from a tactical point of view, might be" the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The event takes place in Orlando, "not far from Mr. Woods home, two weeks before the Masters, the year's first major, which he would then also play" (WSJ.com, 12/13). CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Ed Sherman predicts it is likely Woods could return at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Palmer "could help usher Mr. Woods' return to the spotlight." Meanwhile, after Accenture dropped Woods as an endorser yesterday, "you can be sure Mr. Woods has played in his last" Accenture World Match Play event "as long as Accenture remains a sponsor" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 12/14).

    MIGHT BE OUT FOR A WHILE: In N.Y., Hank Gola noted if Woods does not return for The Masters, "he will certainly be back for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach" in June (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson noted Woods can "expect rough treatment from the tabloid British press" if he returns in time for July's British Open at St. Andrews (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). The AP's Jim Litke wrote if Woods does not play in The Masters, "it becomes possible to imagine him letting the rest of the season go." Woods already has won majors at both Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, so he "might rarely have a better chance at the calendar Grand Slam" (AP, 12/12). ESPN’s Mike Tirico: “Any thoughts as to putting a dartboard on a calendar and try and figure out when that would be would be pure guessing and somewhat irresponsible” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/12).

    DON'T SHOOT FOR ANOTHER GREEN JACKET: In Augusta, Scott Michaux wrote coming back for The Masters "would be a grave public relations mistake" for Woods. The gesture would "seem hollow if he resurfaced in time to pursue a grand slam," and he instead "makes a statement if you take that entire notion off the table by skipping the Masters and the Players and writing off at least half of the season" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 12/13). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler: "How long is the break? I really hope Tiger doesn't know. If he does -- if he's already penciling himself in for the 2010 Masters in April as usual, for instance -- that's very cynical" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 12/11).

    Woods Could Become Bigger Target
    To Hecklers When He Rejoins Tour
    COME BACK WITH CAUTION: ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote, "We'd all like to think that crowds at professional tournaments are respectful of the players and wouldn't try to inflict themselves into the competition, but you know there will be some who are so disenfranchised by all this recent news that all it would take is a few of them yelling the names of alleged mistresses in his downswing to severely impede his progress." Woods "certainly won't win back any supporters by continuing the tradition of swearing and club-throwing," so if he is the "least bit worried about keeping folks in his corner, Tiger should wear a perma-smile from first tee to 18th green every round" (ESPN.com, 12/13).

    PONDERING A PERMANENT VACATION: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw wondered, "What if Tiger Woods never comes back?" It would be an "awful thing for the game of golf and the world of sports." Woods leaving golf "at the prime of his career would be far more damaging to his sport" than Cavaliers F LeBron James leaving the NBA or Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols retiring from MLB. Golf would "be forever tarnished if he walked away from the game" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/12).

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Golfers Address Woods' Break From Action

    Ogilvy (l) Among The Golfers Who Believe
    Woods' Break Will Be Bad For The Sport
    A number of pro golfers this weekend responded to the news that Tiger Woods is taking an indefinite break from competitive golf. Paul McGinley said, "Golf needs him back and sooner rather than later. At the moment, with the economic downturn and with competition for sponsors from so many other sports, golf has to have all hands on deck and Tiger is the biggest hand there is" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/13). Nick Price said, "It's hard enough now to find sponsors. Not having Tiger in the field, for however long it is, that's going to be a challenge" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). Geoff Ogilvy: "Indefinite is a scary word. That's not good for us" (AP, 12/12). Sandy Lyle: "He has done an awful lot for golf and the sport needs Tiger to come back. He's put golf on the map." Graeme McDowell added, "We're under no illusions. We're much more prosperous golfers for having Tiger Woods playing in our era. There's plenty of global superstars on the way up to replace him. But they're not just quite ready to replace him yet" (London INDEPENDENT, 12/14). More McDowell: "At a time when the world is having a tough time economically, we don't need any more blows to our sport." Mark Calcavecchia: "We need him out here. What he's done for our Tour and golf over the last 13 years is unparalleled" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). Colin Montgomerie: "It will impact on every tournament Tiger plays." John Daly: "They always say there is no one bigger in golf than the game itself. But Tiger is" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/13).

    MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: Tom Watson yesterday said, "Golf is going to have a hard time, probably, but we'll come through this. I like what Tiger had to say about his issue, and I think he's got to make amends with his wife" (K.C. STAR, 12/14). Steve Stricker said, "Golf is always going to be here and hopefully he gets his life straight at home and comes back. Because we need him back here as well. We all know what he does for excitement levels, purse levels, TV audiences. It all goes up when he's here, so we need him here, too" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). Stricker added, "It's great that he's going to put his family first and work things out. Golf will always be there. He wants to make sure his marriage is right and everything is good on the home front. We'll sure miss him on tour until he gets things taken care of" (AP, 12/12).

    LIFE GOES ON: Chris DiMarco said, "Contrary to what everyone believes, the Tour will go on. Anytime you take the greatest competitor of all time out of the game, though, it will miss him" (PGATOUR.com, 12/12). Stricker said, "There is definitely a difference when he's at an event and when he's not. We'll manage, though. There are a lot of other great players in this game and a lot of other great storylines." Boo Weekley: "The Tour isn't all about Tiger. There are 200, 300 guys out here playing to make a living like he did. It ain't just about one player. He ain't bigger than the game" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 12/12). J.B. Holmes said the Tour "did fine" when Woods took an eight-month break to recover from a leg injury after the '08 U.S. Open. Holmes: "The tour's still going to be here. Different from last time, we don't know when he's coming back. With the knee, we kind of had an idea, but you just never know" (NAPLES NEWS, 12/13).

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Lampooned By NBC's "SNL"

    "SNL" Addresses Woods Scandal With Skit
    Including Impersonation Of Tim Finchem
    This weekend's edition of NBC's "SNL" continued to poke fun at Tiger Woods, with several skits and a news item devoted to Woods. Cast member Jason Sudeikis portrayed PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem in one skit having a press conference. He was sitting at a table with the "PGA Tour" logo on the wall behind him alongside cards of the tour's sponsors, including Rolex, Coca-Cola, MasterCard, FedEx, Buick and Kodak. Finchem: "Yesterday, we got some interesting news. Tiger Woods announced that he was taking an 'indefinite break' from golf. Indefinite? And that's okay! We're going to be fine. People don't just watch golf because of him. We've still got plenty of other superstars. Exciting household names like Geoff Ogilvy. Boo-yah! Trevor Immelman. Can you handle the Immelman? And look out, Tim 'Lumpy' Herron's in the house. Watch out for Lumpy!" At this point, Finchem took a sip from a flask, looking worried about the situation. Finchem: "The PGA Tour will be just fine without Tiger Woods, and you know what? The sponsors, they are excited, too." While Finchem was talking, cast member Bobby Moynihan walked behind Finchem and removed the cards for MasterCard and Kodak from the wall. Finchem: "The PGA Tour: No Tiger, no problem!" Finchem returned again later, this time looking more ruffled, with his tie unbuttoned and new sponsors on the wall behind him. Finchem: "I really want to thank our new sponsors, The Madoff Investment Group, Major League Soccer and the movie 'Old Dogs.' Really happy to have you guys on the PGA team." Finchem appeared a third time, apparently drunk and singing Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." Finchem: "Hi, Tim Finchem, suicide watch." Finchem added, "I want to thank our newest sponsors: the Erie, Pennsylvania, Chamber of Commerce, the letter 'Q' and seltzer. You're looking for bubbles, well you're looking for seltzer."

    PLAYING IN A NEW FOURSOME: The opening skit of the show featured Sudeikis portraying South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Bill Hader portraying U.S. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Will Forte portraying former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) in a C-SPAN segment to "Discuss Media Coverage of Tiger Woods' Affairs." Sanford: "Over the last two weeks, our national media has engaged in an orgy of coverage of professional golfer Tiger Woods and his alleged extramarital affairs. The coverage has been excessive, it has been lurid and it has completely overshadowed coverage of our extramarital affairs." Ensign: "Like Tiger Woods, we have broken our marriage vows, but in addition, as elected officials, we have also violated the public's trust. It's a pretty big deal, yet it seems the media couldn't care less." Edwards: "I had a love child" (“SNL,” NBC, 12/12).

    Woods Served As An Ongoing Punchline
    Throughout Saturday's "SNL" Episode
    SATURDAY NIGHT TIGER: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Ken Tucker wrote, "It seemed as though half of the show [Saturday] consisted of Tiger material" (EW.com, 12/13). In Orlando, Hal Boedeker wrote the show "couldn’t get enough of Tiger Woods" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 12/13). CHICAGONOW.com's Curt Wagner wrote Sudeikis' portrayal of Finchem "was the highlight of the episode" (CHICAGONOW.com, 12/13). The WALL STREET JOURNAL wrote the "sharpest 'SNL' jab was against the media, for its handling of the Tiger Woods scandal" (WSJ.com, 12/13).

    MORE LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Friday said, "A few hours ago on his Web site ... Tiger Woods announced that he will take an indefinite leave of absence from golf. It's a shocking announcement. His fellow golfers are calling it the best Hanukkah ever. Golf is not what he needs to quit. That's like an alcoholic quitting Scrabble. At least when he is golfing, the wife can keep an eye on him, right? ... The only way Tiger Woods I think gets out of this whole thing is somehow during his leave of absence, he finds and kills Osama bin Laden" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 12/11). NBC's Conan O'Brien: "Sources are now saying that Tiger Woods has confessed everything to his wife and she has agreed to stay with him if he takes some time away from golf. Tiger said, 'That's okay because golf was starting to cut into my time with the ladies'" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 12/11). CBS' David Letterman: "We finally heard some good news about the climate. Scientists now have noticed a chill over Tiger Woods' house" ("Late Show," CBS, 12/11).

    GET USED TO IT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Joe Friesen notes while Woods was "once a subject of appreciative awe, he is now fodder for run-of-the-mill ridicule." DailyComedy.com has 574 Woods jokes, and Nielsen IAG measured "more than 20 instances through December 7 where a joke on a late-night talk-show paired Mr. Woods with one of his sponsors" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14). Golf analyst Peter Alliss said Woods "will be a figure of fun to comedians for years to come" (LONDON TIMES, 12/14).

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  • David Stern Calls Legalized Betting On NBA Games A "Possibility"

    Stern Says Legalized Betting On NBA
    Games "May Be A Huge Opportunity"
    NBA Commissioner David Stern has “moved closer than any major commissioner in modern times to an acceptance of legalized betting on his games,” calling it a “possibility” that “may be a huge opportunity,” according to Ian Thomsen of SI.com. When asked if legalized sports betting is “in the best interests of his league,” Stern said, “It has been a matter of league policy to answer that question, 'No.' But I think that that league policy was formulated at a time when gambling was far less widespread -- even legally." Thomsen noted the NBA has “created a variety of constituencies” -- including fans who wear NBA clothing and play videogames -- who have increased the league’s popularity. Thomsen: “Why not make room under the big tent for the minority of fans who like to bet on NBA games?” Stern: “You're arguing there may be good and sufficient business reasons to do that, and I'm going to leave the slate clean for my successor. But it's fair enough that we have moved to a point where that leap is a possibility, although that's not our current position." He added, “Gambling, however it may have moved closer to the line (of becoming acceptable), is still viewed on the threat side. Although we understand fully why, buried within that threat there may be a huge opportunity as well." Thomsen wrote the admission is a “breakthrough,” as Stern long has “objected to legalized wagering on NBA games.” However, the league “has already begun to soften its stance.” The ’07 NBA All-Star Game was held in Las Vegas, and the league last season allowed the Palms casino, which is owned by NBA Kings Owner the Maloof family, to post odds on all NBA games except those involving the Kings” (SI.com, 12/11).

    CURIOUS TIMING: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote for Stern to “even broach the subject now is ridiculous,” and he “made a mistake, at the very least.” Lawrence: “He’s not clear of the Donaghy mess, just because he shook up his officiating hierarchy and hired a former U.S. prosecutor to look into the way the refs go about their business.” However, it is possible Stern made the comments “to send up a trial balloon and see what kind of reaction he’d get” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13). SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Bethlehem Shoals wrote the fact Stern is even thinking of the idea of accepting legalized betting on NBA games is “pretty remarkable.” Shoals: “This might be the worst thing to talk about in the wake of Tim Donaghy’s recent media blitz, or in some crazy way the best possible form of damage control" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 12/11). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Don Walker wrote Stern's "candor is remarkable," as there are not "many commissioners in professional sports who would be willing to talk about gambling" (JSONLINE.com, 12/11).

    STERN ON OTHER TOPICS: The NBA’s CBA expires after the ’11-12 season, and Stern in the SI.com interview noted the NFL, NHL and MLB also face labor negotiations during the same general time frame. Stern: “The potential expiration of all four leagues at the same time should send shudders up the spine of lots of people involved with our industries. Everyone has a different set of relationships, and some require opt-outs and whatever. But that would be the apocalyptic scenario." He said all the leagues are “worried” about what multiple work stoppages would mean to the leagues' television partners. Stern: “We're all working -- in our own ways, unrelated to the others -- to see whether we can make a deal this time." Meanwhile, SI.com’s Thomsen noted Stern “did not come across as a commissioner looking forward to retirement.” Stern: “I just read that [MLB Commissioner Bud Selig] is going out. He’s 75 now; he’ll be going out at 78. I’m a kid. I’m 67” (SI.com, 12/11).

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