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Volume 24 No. 116

Leagues and Governing Bodies

A survey of retired NFLers "found that nearly nine in 10 report suffering from aches and pains on a daily basis, and they overwhelmingly -- 91 percent -- connect nearly all their pains to football," according to Jenkins, Maese & Clement of the WASHINGTON POST. The newspaper's online survey of more than 500 retired players "paints a rare portrait of the toll a career in the NFL has on the long-term health of those who competed in the bruising game." The results also "present a striking paradox: Nine in 10 said they’re happy they played the sport," but "fewer than half would recommend children play it today." The Post also "conducted extensive interviews with more than three dozen retired NFL players." Most said that they "accepted a certain amount of pain as the fair exchange for football’s compensations." In the survey, 46% of players said that they would "recommend children play youth or high school football today," while 30% said that they would "neither recommend nor discourage it" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19).

NO LOVE LOST: The Patriots last week released DT Kyle Love after he was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, and while SI's Jim Trotter called it a "classless move" by the franchise, he noted NFL teams are “protecting themselves from a liability standpoint with these players and their health." Trotter said, “Look at these concussion lawsuits. ... From what I’ve been told, some teams are already taking out insurance to protect themselves in case they lose that lawsuit. So from that standpoint, this doesn’t surprise me” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 5/17).

Incoming IndyCar President of Operations & Competition Derrick Walker knows "many challenges" remain for the racing circuit, and "getting the fans back is the biggest one of all," according to Chris Estrada of Walker appeared on NBC Sports Network's coverage of the Indianapolis 500 Bump Day yesterday and said, "There are a number of challenges and I’m not sure if there’s any one ahead of the others, but if I had to pick one, I’d say the biggest challenge we’ve got is to get the fans re-ignited with what we’re doing." Walker said IndyCar officials need to "appeal to a bigger fan base and we’ve got to get some of those fans who have gone off to some other sport or have choices that they didn’t have before and now have them -- they don’t all tune in when we want them, so we’ve got to find a way to connect with the fans." He added, "We’re charged with that responsibility: Get the fans back.” Estrada noted the sport’s off-track headlines "have sometimes had a tendency to overshadow positives achieved on the track." Walker "recognizes that such a situation can’t exist going forward." Walker: "We can’t do it in a vacuum. We’ve got to be all together and we’ve got to get behind a common purpose, a common goal." Walker begins his new job next Monday (, 5/19).

BUMP DAY LACKS DRAMA, AGAIN: The DETROIT FREE PRESS reports Bump Day "lacked the usual drama, tension and rumors," as all nine drivers who "made attempts on the second and final day of Indy qualifications made it into the 33-car field." It was "no typical second day of qualifying," as the first nine drivers "all qualified on their first attempts, assuring race organizers of a full field." No other driver "even made an attempt" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/20). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports there were no bumping attempts "for the second consecutive year -- and just the third time in modern IMS." The first nine cars qualified "in the first hour, leaving only practice for the rest of the day." That was "fun, to an extent, but the day lacked intrigue" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/20).

Singapore-based MMA promotion One Fighting Championship has “quickly grown into a major regional player with its predominantly Asian roster of fighters and consensual approach,” according to the N.Y. TIMES' Christopher Clarey, who wrote under the header, “Promoters Circling One Another As MMA Takes Root In Asia.” One FC’s approach is “pan-Asian,” what Founder & CEO Victor Cui “calls a ‘Champions League’ approach” to MMA. The promotion last year signed a 10-year deal with Fox Star Sports and Cui said that One FC “has 12 events scheduled this year in six Asian countries.” Plans are to double that total next year. Singapore’s “soon-to-be-completed 55,000-seat National Stadium” is “one potential site.” Cui also has “expressed a longer-range desire to move into the Middle East.” Other MMA promotions also are “organizing events in Asia,” including Hong Kong-based Legend Fighting Championship and UFC, which has “had an office in Beijing” since ’10. UFC Exec VP & Asia Managing Dir Mark Fischer: “It’s very new here and in some markets still quite niche, but the growth so far has really been outstanding. Since we set up here about two and a half years ago, we’ve seen MMA gyms popping up everywhere in all the major cities across Asia.” But Clarey reported UFC “action on the ground in Asia has been nonexistent until recently.” It has staged “only three events in the region, but two of those were in Japan and Macau in the last six months.” UFC has “tentative plans to add stops" in Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul and "perhaps other Asian cities in the next year.” Fischer said that market surveys “showed that awareness of the UFC among adults in China’s major cities had increased to 60 percent, from 25 percent, in the last three years.” But Fischer added that the timing was “still not right to stage a full-fledged UFC event in China" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).

THAI ONE ON: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reports locally based combat sport organization Lion Fight Promotions is “hoping to emerge from UFC’s massive shadow.” Lion Fight is “counting on increased fan interest in the sport of Muay Thai to generate enough revenues by year’s end to let the company break even.” Muay Thai fighting is “similar to UFC battles, but without UFC’s ground fighting, wrestling and grappling.” Lion Fight President & CEO Scott Kent “bought into the sport by investing about $500,000 to start” the company, signing a sports marketing specialist “to find sponsors and joining forces with Mark Cuban’s AXS TV network to broadcast” its fights. Kent’s investors include Las Vegas Harley-Davidson President Don Andress, whose company “will sponsor fight events.” Kent said that he also “enlisted a high-profile investor” in N.Y.-based Fortress Investment Group Founder Wes Edens, and another investor is Ken Gardner, a “former Las Vegas air conditioning company owner” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/20).