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SBD/February 21, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
MMA fighter Ronda Rousey headlines Saturday's UFC 157 in a bout against Liz Carmouche in Anaheim, and the fight "will make history" as the first women's match for the promotion, according to a sports section cover story by David Leon Moore of USA TODAY. UFC President Dana White after seeing Rousey “become a star” for Strikeforce was “convinced it was time for him to promote a women’s fight for the first time.” White said, “There’s a certain type of person and fighter that makes people come and watch, and she’s got it. First, she’s got to be able to kick some ass. With Ronda, she can do that and she is also beautiful and she speaks well. She’s a home run.” Moore notes now that Rousey has “signed on with UFC, she is expected to make perhaps $150,000 or more per fight if she wins” (USA TODAY, 2/21). SI.com’s Jeff Wagenheim reported when White was “asked again and again to explain his flip-flop” after previously saying he would "never" have women fighters in the UFC, his answer is “always the same: ‘Ronda Rousey.’” Wagenheim wrote, “Even if you don't think women should be fighting in a cage, or even if you're neither in favor of it nor opposed but simply don't care to watch, there's no denying the historic implication here.” The fight is “not as momentous as women's suffrage, not even as far-reaching as Title IX, but when these athletes step through the cage door on Saturday night they'll be staking their gender's place on the sport's grandest stage” (SI.com, 2/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote the Rousey-Carmouche fight "isn't some soft opening or novelty act." White "promises it's part of a long-term investment in women's MMA." It is the UFC "trying to use the star power of Rousey to build entire weight classes, an entire sport nearly from scratch" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/19).
DRAWING A CROWD: In L.A., Brian Martin writes Rousey was “easily the star of the open workout at the UFC gym” in Torrance, Calif. While Rousey has been “in high demand with the media leading up to this historic fight, even she was taken aback by the attendance.” Rousey said, “I didn’t think it would be this big. It’s a little bit surprising. I just feel bad I can’t get to everybody” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/21). Rousey said headlining Saturday's card is "amazing, and the amount of support that I’ve gotten from a lot of the guys has been really touching as well." She said, "It really gives a lot of legitimacy to a lot of the women.” Rousey: “I always want to put on a good show every time I fight. I wouldn’t have got to this point if I didn’t put on a good show every single time” ("The Jim Rome Show," CBS Sports Radio, 2/20).
IF LOOKS COULD KILL: Tuesday night’s edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” profiled Rousey. HBO’s Jon Frankel said working on her cage moves “isn’t the only thing that’s primed Rousey for the big-time.” Rousey posing on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue” naked “doesn’t hurt” and “tends to get people’s attention.” Rousey: “If you want exposure you have to expose yourself to some extent.” Rousey said posing naked in “The Body Issue” was a “good way to promote myself and women’s MMA. It wasn’t like it was Playboy.” Frankel asked, “What if Playboy did call?” Rousey replied, “Then I’d say no. No one should be able to see my cash and prizes for five dollars, I don’t care how much money they gave me.” Rousey: “I probably get more attention fighting because of how I look, but if I didn’t know how to fight and I just looked the way I did, no one would know who I am” (“Real Sports,” HBO, 2/19).
An “American Idol”-inspired format is “just one of several changes ... being mulled” for the NFL Combine, according to Bart Hubbuch of the N.Y. POST. The event has “become so popular in recent years that the league understandably wants to grow it even more.” The NFL “already conducts 10 regional combines for lesser prospects.” An NFL.com report claimed that the “system could soon resemble ‘Idol’ by having those lesser prospects duke it out at the regional combines for an invitation to join the marquee talent in Indianapolis or even a spot at the NFL Draft.” There also is talk among league execs of “having players compete head-to-head in certain combine events ... in order to ratchet up the tension for TV purposes.” NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said, “The combine won’t be maximized until we find a way to link it with the rest of the journey of these guys. From a football operations standpoint, it’s very well-developed. But it’s an immature property, from a fan-access and fan-appeal standpoint.” Hubbuch notes turning the combine into a reality show “would be just another step in the progression that began in earnest in 2005, when the league lifted the once-tight veil on the proceedings by showing many of them live on the NFL Network.” But not everyone in the league is “as ecstatic about capitalizing on the combine’s booming popularity as many of the suits in the NFL’s Park Avenue headquarters.” Even though league officials are “promising to keep their hands off the two combine events -- the medical exams and the individual interviews -- deemed most important by coaches and scouts, people on the football side remain wary of the league turning it into a circus” (N.Y. POST, 2/21).
WORKOUT WARRIORS: NFL.com’s Albert Breer wrote in “an era where everything the league touches seems to turn to gold, the desire of the public to see 22-year-olds running around in Under Armour shorts and shirts might be the brightest of many shining examples.” The event in recent years "has changed, becoming increasingly dressed up, buttoned down and ready for prime time.” Last year, 300 sponsors and fans “were brought in to watch one day of the event live,” and this year, there will be “two such days.” The idea of “opening it up to the public has been floated.” NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said, "There was initially resistance from the old-school purists. But as time moved on, they could see real balance between what they needed football-wise and the entertainment side. Those guys matured in their thinking.” National Football Scouting President Jeff Foster indicated finding a way to "protect the working environment" for talent evaluators is a big consideration. Foster said that “while he can see the limited fan access currently being provided expanding to include all four days, he worries that going further could be problematic.” Breer reported the NFL is "considering the idea of opening the upper deck up to fans, though there is an acknowledgement that interest isn't at the point yet where selling tens of thousands of seats on a weekday would represent any sort of certainty” (NFL.com, 2/18).
THIS IS ONLY A TEST: In Charlotte, Joseph Person reports prospects at the NFL Combine, which starts today, "will be asked to take not one, but two tests aimed at measuring their intelligence and aptitude." But creators of a "new measuring stick called the NFL Player Assessment Test believe for the first time they have a tool that will give teams an idea of a player’s football IQ in addition to his book smarts." The PAT "will help scouts and general managers see what type of learning and motivational styles best fit a player." For years the league has "relied on the Wonderlic, developed in the 1930s to measure the intelligence of job applicants." Many wondered whether the exam was "relevant from a football standpoint." Critics also "claimed the Wonderlic, like other standardized tests, was biased against test-takers from lower socio-economic backgrounds." Attorney Cyrus Mehri, who created the PAT, said the test “is not based on prior knowledge. This has breadth and depth to it" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/21).
A federal judge will not compel NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be deposed as part of the Super Bowl XLV ticket lawsuit, at least not yet. In an order signed yesterday, Magistrate Judge Renee Toliver of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that other execs at the NFL could provide testimony relevant to the lawsuit, which seeks compensation for the fans affected by the seating fiasco at the '11 game. “[T]here is no evidence that Goodell possesses firsthand ... knowledge regarding the relevant issues,” Toliver wrote. However, she did rule that if after deposing NFL execs, the plaintiffs felt they still needed to depose Goodell, she would consider that motion at that time. The '11 game was marred by temporary seats for thousands of fans that were not ready in time for the contest. Most of the fans eventually agreed to the NFL’s settlement terms, but not all have, and the Dallas court has allowed part of their initial lawsuit to proceed.