Marketing consultant Tobe Berkovitz said that the NFL's move to "ban all bags, backpacks and purses from games could be a jackpot for stadium vendors," according to Smith & Goodison of the BOSTON HERALD. The NFL last week "announced fans would be able to put personal items in clear, plastic tote bags sold at merchandise shops and on the NFL’s website." The bags -- "outfitted with handles and printed with a team logo -- weren’t for sale online" as of last week, and there is "no indication how much the tote bags will cost." Berkovitz said, "They will sell plenty of them because the fact is anything with a team logo sells if people like their team" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/16). ABC's Susan Saulny said the NFL "knew this call wouldn't be popular, but they see it less a penalty than a precaution that's meant to enhance public safety." Saulny: "League officials said the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, where deadly explosives were hidden in backpacks, factored into the decision. Smaller bags also mean faster screening and faster entry." NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller said, "By taking this minor step per person we create a major improvement. It really does dramatically increase our security posture at our stadiums." ABC News consultant and former FBI special agent Brad Garrett said, "Football is such a national pastime in the U.S.; if you are a terrorist bad guy, that would be a great target. I think it's a reasonable approach" ("GMA," ABC, 6/16). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted as part of the policy, "seat cushions have been banned." The explanation of the new policy "does not mention chairbacks or stadium seats, but those might be prohibited as well." The Packers are "in discussion with the league about stadium seat carry-ins and perhaps will have a clearer sense of what the policy will be in the next week or two" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/15).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Massachusetts officials ahead of the scheduled UFC on Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17 in Boston are "refusing the UFC’s request to relax rules barring foreign-born fighters from hitting the octagon without Social Security numbers," according to Dave Wedge of the BOSTON HERALD. The "wildly popular" UFC held its first major event in Boston in '10, "just months after the state legalized MMA-style fighting following years of controversy." Under federal Social Security Administration rules, a fighter "can get a temporary number after a 10-day grace period." State Department of Public Safety Communications Dir Terrel Harris said that UFC has "petitioned the state for a one-time exception to allow foreign fighters to square off ... with or without a valid Social Security number." But state law is "clear that officials are prohibited from issuing an MMA license to any fighter without proper documentation." The fight card "features a main event" between Brazilian national Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and U.S. fighter Chael Sonnen (BOSTON HERALD, 6/18).
MISFIRE IN MANITOBA: In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen writes "independent reviews" of UFC 161, the promotion's first appearance in the city, "mostly panned" the event. MMA writer Mike Sloan said that the main event fight between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson was "'three rather pedestrian rounds,' on a night that wasn't up to par." Local fight fans "were assured this was no second-rate slugfest." But MMAFighting.com's Luke Thomas wrote, "There were terrible decisions, boring fights and a lot that felt underwhelming." BloodyElbow.com's Zane Simon wrote, "All told it was a mixed event, not great, not terrible" (WINNIPEG SUN, 6/18).
Many MLBers are "calling for stronger sanctions" to players caught using PEDs, and some "may be ready to do something about it," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Astros C Jason Castro said, "There's been a lot of talk about what could happen next as far as the guidelines and punishments and penalties for failure to adhere to the standards and testing." He added, "Players are getting involved. And it's a good thing to see because it's our careers and it's our game and we want a level playing field." Angels DH Mark Trumbo said, "Guys who deliberately bend the rules and do what they were doing, as opposed to guys who are caught with a tainted GNC supplement, it would be nice if there was a difference between the two. For deliberate cheaters, I say throw the book at them." D'Backs P Heath Bell: "We just want the game to be as clean as possible without somebody trying to cheat the system. We just want to make sure the system doesn't have any loopholes. Unfortunately, it does, but I think we're trying to clean it up" (LATIMES.com, 6/15). On Long Island, Steven Marcus noted former MLB arbitrator Shyam Das, who overturned the suspension of Brewers LF Ryan Braun in February '12, believes any potential "player discipline in cases governed by the sport's joint drug agreement will stay within baseball's domain." Das said that the arbitrator's role is to "judge the ultimate fate of any player suspected to be in violation of baseball's joint drug agreement, and the arbitrator's decision is not likely to be challenged outside of baseball." Das said, "Baseball, like most other private employment collective bargaining, is covered by federal law." He added, "They would have to prove bias, something along those lines. Neither party would have much of a chance if it went to court" (NEWSDAY, 6/16).
HEADING TO THE POLLS: In Boston, Stan Grossfeld wrote under the header, "Fenway Park Fans Are Sick Of Steroids In MLB." Of more than 100 fans chosen at random, 76% said that they "want MLB to clean up the game, and 24 percent said they want MLB to move on" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/16). Also in Boston, Nick Cafardo reported about a half-dozen Red Sox players last Thursday had to "produce urine for a performance-enhancing drug test" at Camden Yards in Baltimore. One player said, “Yeah, it’s always after we’ve had a good series against someone. It’s like clockwork. When you’re going good, they’re right there waiting to test you" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/16). The N.Y. Daily News' Mike Lupica said, "The same people who criticized (MLB Commissioner) Bud Selig for not doing enough in the old days now want to bang him around for doing too much." Lupica added of the case against players tied to the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic, "Good for baseball for going at this case hard. Swinging for the fences whether it ends up swinging and missing or not. If baseball can make its case, I hope Selig throws the book at these guys and it ought to be the record book" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 6/16).
The USTA in a lawsuit "accused the makers of a new documentary" about tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, "Venus and Serena," of "copyright infringement for using more than 20 minutes of video from the 2011 United States Open and previous ones without signing an agreement," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The USTA in the lawsuit also said that filmmakers Maiken Baird and Michelle Major "used four times more video than would have been permitted in an agreement." The association added that the filmmakers "used video that was 'not in the best interest of the sport': Serena Williams’s 2009 vitriolic tirade against a line judge." The filmmakers' spokesperson Davidson Goldin said that talks "collapsed over an agreement to use archival footage when the USTA refused to let them use" the '09 clip. The filmmakers "used it anyway, saying it fell under the fair-use exception to a copyright owner’s right to control his or her intellectual property." Baird and Major said, “In trying to censor this film about the Williams sisters, the USTA is simply making up an agreement that never existed -- we shot footage at the U.S. Open with the USTA’s permission and of course never agreed to pay them for our own work" (NYTIMES.com, 6/17). In N.Y., Josh Kosman reports the lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in White Plains, N.Y. federal court, "seeks a permanent injunction" against the film. The film "opened last month in limited release." It was "expected to air on Showtime." However, the channel yesterday said it is in "discussions with the filmmakers and their representations about this film" (N.Y. POST, 6/18).