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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Tiger Woods today acknowledged that “being paid an appearance fee played a significant role in deciding to open his 2012 season in the Middle East instead of California, where he had traditionally started his golf year,” according to Bob Harig of Woods is making his season debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which begins Thursday. The prize money purse of $2.7M “is less than half of what is being offered this week on the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open but only slightly more than what Woods is believed to be receiving just for showing up.” Asked if the payment of appearance fees influences his scheduling, Woods said, "I'd have to say yes, it certainly does. That's one of the reasons why a lot of the guys who play in Europe and they do get paid. I think the only tour that doesn't pay is the U.S. Tour.” The PGA Tour “prohibits the payment of appearance fees.” The Abu Dhabi tournament “has the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking” and also has “six of the top 10 and 11 of the top 25.” Woods said, “Unfortunately, just scheduling-wise, it didn't just didn't work out. As I said, HSBC has been a huge supporter of (his) foundation. It's one of the reasons I'm here” (, 1/24). Author John Feinstein said, “I have no problem with Tiger Woods wanting to go overseas and wanting to take a two or three million dollar guarantee, that’s a lot of money for anybody." However, Feinstein said he did have an issue with Woods "saying on his website that he’s going to Abu Dhabi because he likes to see new places." Feinstein: "We all know he’s going to Abu Dhabi because he doesn’t want to go to Dubai, where he used to go, because Dubai is sponsored by Omega and he just signed a contract with Rolex. Again, nothing wrong with doing that, a business decision. Just at least step up and say, ‘It was a business decision. I’m going to Abu Dhabi for the money over going to San Diego, where I’ve had great success” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 1/23).

WHO HAS IT RIGHT? ESPN golf experts debated Woods’ start for the ’12 season, and with many top players receiving appearance fees for playing in Abu Dhabi, the question is “which tour has it right?” Senior Golf Writer Michael Collins said, “Obviously the European Tour. They play for less than half the purses on a weekly basis but more and more we see stronger fields (by Official World Golf Ranking) than at PGA Tour events.” Harig said, “The PGA Tour. Paying players to show up is a dangerous practice, and makes it more difficult for some tournaments to compete. It is one of the reasons why the European Tour has pockets of strong tournaments -- and many weak ones.” Senior Golf Editor Kevin Maguire said, “Europe's on the mark here. The top players draw the eyeballs to the TV broadcasts and people to the tournaments, so shouldn't they get more of the loot?” (, 1/23).

VYING FOR YOUR ATTENTION:'s weekly roundtable discussion talked about whether Woods in Abu Dhabi or the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines will "get more of your attention." SI Senior Writer Gary Van Sickle said, “Abu Dhabi bought the stars and the spotlight. I'll be interested in both, but only Abu Dhabi is going to get on the front page of the sports section.” But SI Senior Writer Michael Bamberger disagreed and said, “Abu Dhabi just feels like the ultimate money grab.” SI Writer-Reporter Rick Lipsey said, “Honestly, you wouldn't turn your tube to Torrey over Abu Dhabi if they were on at the same time?” SI Golf Group Managing Editor Jim Herre said, “Everyone will want to know how Tiger's doing in Abu Dhabi, but they'll watch Torrey” (, 1/22).

A month into this "condensed NBA regular season and it’s that very schedule, the non-stop blast of basketball, that’s ruining this regular season," according to Israel Gutierrez of the MIAMI HERALD. The result of the shortened season has been "numerous injuries to some of the game’s most entertaining players and sloppy, uninspired, downright boring games." Games that "keep coming even though some of these uglier contests make you want a break." Games that "keep coming so fast that there’s barely any time to let some intriguing storylines develop." Gutierrez writes it would have been "fun to watch the Bulls play five nights a week," but not when G Derrick Rose "is not in uniform." And it would have been "nice to watch the Mavericks truly attempt to defend their title rather than watch them scramble while Dirk Nowitzki sits out with knee/conditioning issues" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). USA TODAY's Zillgitt & Shuster noted with a 66-game season "packed into four months, some teams are taking a cautious approach with injuries so they don't turn into season-long issues for players." Zillgitt & Shuster speculated Heat G Dwyane Wade and Rose maybe "would have played if it were playoff time." But the Heat have "gone 6-1 without Wade, so there's no reason to get the All-Star back before he's ready." And Rose, who "said his toe might bother him all season, started Monday against the New Jersey Nets after missing four games" (USA TODAY, 1/22). WFAA-ABC's George Riba notes the compressed schedule has "created a league of tired players." Mavericks F Lamar Odom said, "Even being in shape, if you play three games in a row and after that, you have to play a back to back, you're susceptible to injury even if you are in shape." Coaches are "carefully watching the trend." Suns coach Alvin Gentry said, "Our scoring is down almost eleven points a game, and it's that way around the league. There are two teams in the NBA that are averaging 100 points. All the field goal percentages are down. So, the quality of play has suffered a little bit" (, 1/24).

NEXT IN LINE?'s Marc Stein reported Hawks C Al Horford has been named as a "likely down-the-road top contender to succeed the Lakers' Derek Fisher as president of the players' union." Fisher generally earned "strong reviews for his contributions to ultimately getting a deal done to save the season, which is why he'll presumably be asked by his peers to carry on as president in the short term." But when Fisher "has had enough ... word is that Horford will draw strong consideration as his successor" (, 1/20).

MLB team owners have officially ratified and completed the two-year contract extension for Commissioner Bud Selig by a 30-0 vote. Though announced on Jan. 12, the extension as a legal matter was procedurally delayed during owners' meetings in Arizona. Because the deal was not originally on the meeting agenda, it had to be added by unanimous consent. Padres Chair John Moores, livid over league-mandated delays on his sale of the team to team Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad, refused to allow that to happen. Team owners then decided to conduct the formal vote by return ballot over a 10-day period, which satisfied league notice requirements. The extension will keep Selig in office through Dec. 31, 2014, when he will be 80 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

MISSING THE PLATE: Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote, "How did Commissioner Bud Selig allow the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs to create the baseball farce of the year?" Selig allowed the Cubs’ pursuit of then-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein "to overshadow" the World Series. He then "allowed the clubs to extend the deadline for completing an agreement on compensation for Epstein, then abandoned the deadline altogether." By "allowing Epstein to go to the Cubs with the compensation issue unsettled, he put Epstein in position to negotiate his own compensation." Selig also "allowed the Cubs and the Red Sox to violate his rule on minority interviewing in their hiring of new executives" (, 1/22).

USA TODAY's Kevin Allen indicated that "71 NHL players have lost a total of more than 850 games as of Sunday because of concussions." Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke said, "I don't think there is an epidemic. We are diagnosing them properly and the man-game losses are up because we are treating them properly." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the concussion issue is "a difficult one and said the NHL is working to raise 'the level of awareness on the issue among our clubs, coaching and training staffs, team physicians, fans and, most importantly, our players'" (USA TODAY, 1/24).

CLEARING HIS NAME? Radio show host Dan Patrick citing a source yesterday "painted the rosiest of outcomes for Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun, who reportedly has tested positive for a banned substance, made his appeal to an arbitration panel and is awaiting a decision." In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Braun's appeal concluded Friday in N.Y. Patrick yesterday on his show said that he "learned the potential outcome of Braun's ordeal on Sunday." Patrick: "There was a lot of information -- there were stories, there were whispers -- that this was a personal issue, medical issue, that he was taking something ... that may have spiked his test. I since found out that that is not the case, from somebody involved in the process. Ryan Braun may be exonerated here. He may be found innocent. And judging from all the information I was told, there's a good chance that he should be" (, 1/23).

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said that UEFA President Michel Platini "is 'ready' to succeed him as the head of FIFA -- and that the Frenchman will make a good president of the game's world governing body." The PA reported Platini has "so far refused to confirm whether he will stand when Blatter steps down in 2015, but the current FIFA supremo is convinced that he wants the job" (PA, 1/23).