The AFP's John Weaver notes tennis chiefs have "played down fears that the Asian swing will become the perennial victim of player pull-outs at the end of the gruelling season after high-profile absentees at the Shanghai Masters." The question "of burnout was bubbling away again in Shanghai, missing a clutch of top 20 players" for the tournament which finished Sunday. ATP World Tour Int'l Group CEO Brad Drewett said, "Top players consistently say how much they enjoy playing here and they mean it. Players are very well treated here and that's part of what makes playing these events so attractive." He added that withdrawals were "not unique to Asia and it was important not to draw sweeping conclusions from just one tournament" (AFP, 10/19).
CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH: In L.A., Nick Green wrote despite the "stuttering economy MLS is thriving with big crowds watching gifted players in soccer appropriate venues." MLS still has a "long way to go in the U.S.," as it is "not even the most popular soccer league in the country." But in the "bigger picture, MLS has never been healthier than it is now." Green noted there are three reasons for that -- soccer "is cool," it has "unprecedented visibility" and MLS also has put "a better quality product on the field" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/18).
UP AND DOWN: ESPN.com’s Michael Cox wrote although it is in the financial interests of EPL owners to “scrap relegation, even supporters of those clubs threatened by demotion wouldn't wish to see the concept thrown out.” The chance of “guaranteed survival for next season would appeal, but a couple of years of pointless games would quickly become tiresome,” as attendances “would fall; no one would care.” The move is “highly unlikely to happen in the short term because the Premier League would require approval from the Football Association, which would strongly oppose the idea.” Still, the more the EPL's global appeal “widens, the less influence the FA has” (ESPN.com, 10/18).