Heat F LeBron James confirmed he is considering running for the vacant NBPA President position, saying the union is "not in a good place right now," according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. James: "I just think the union is going backwards. ... My voice could be huge in that situation." James has yet to decide "whether he'll officially run." He said, "I'm not sure I have the time to do it, but it's something I'm going to think about with my team and go from there. But I think we all can agree there's been a lot of transition in our union in the last couple of years. If it's not me in that seat then I hope it's someone who is comfortable with it and can do the job" (ESPN.com, 8/10).
HOMEWARD BOUND? In Cleveland, Tim Warsinskey noted James on Saturday "was on hand to encourage and celebrate Akron elementary school students who are a part of his Wheels for Education" program at his high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary. There was a "sense the bond he shares with his hometown and old school is gaining strength." But whether or not that "impacts his decision to bring his basketball talents back to these parts next year remains to be seen." Saturday's event was "festive, well-orchestrated," and attracted "about 3,500 to SVSM's Cistone Field" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/11). In Ft. Lauderdale, Shandel Richardson noted James donated new uniforms for all sports at SVSM, and "surprised the student body by participating in the runway fashion show" unveiling the uniforms (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/11).
The influx of Asian golfers joining the LPGA tour in the last 15 years "has transformed the sport, causing athletes and officials to grapple with questions about immigration and race as much as competition," according to Mary Kenney of the N.Y. TIMES. Golfers from Asia have "found profound success" on the tour, as six of the 10 top-ranked players on the Tour are from Asia. The LPGA "offers classes and tutors, conveying to players that their learning English is a priority for the sport’s officials." Japanese golfer Chie Arimura said of her English ability, "It's not scary, but it makes me nervous and uncomfortable." LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said offering English lessons is "similar to offering a shuttle or recommending a hotel: just another optional service the LPGA provides to make its players more comfortable." Whan added that the golfers "pay for the language courses, but the LPGA pays to ensure that the Indianapolis-based Language Training Center follows the tour." He said that players also "study greetings in languages other than English" to prepare them for tournaments abroad. Whan: "The media tent afterward is sometimes more scary for these women than a 20-foot putt for birdie." Bridgestone Golf Exec VP/Marketing & Sales Dan Murphy, whose company is one of Arimura's major sponsors, said that Bridgestone "generally approved transitions like Arimura's," adding that the sport had "outgrown America and that the increasing diversity was positive." Murphy: "The U.S. market is fairly flat, as a market, as a business. So where is the opportunity for golf to grow? It’s internationally, and Asian countries represent a huge opportunity" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/11).
New NFL security policies “banning many types of bags debuted Thursday to complaints” in NFL cities, but Bank of America Stadium on Friday was “more lax with the new rules” at the Bears-Panthers preseason game, according to Jacob Feldman of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Many fans with purses and camera cases that are prohibited were “allowed in with the items this time and given a flier on what the rules are.” Panthers PR Dir Charlie Dayton said that the team “inspected items on a case-by-case basis, letting in items on the borderline” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/10). Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Jill Disis reports several fans attending Bills-Colts yesterday who "hoped to get into the game with backpacks or purses were denied." Many of these fans indicated that they "didn't hear of the rule change, or thought their bags would be small enough." The Colts did not have an "official count of how many people were stopped for having the wrong bags." However, Colts VP/Ticket Operations & Guest Services Larry Hall said that the number of "non-compliant bags was 'minimal'" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/12). In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote Georgia Dome officials “held ‘hundreds’ of purses for fans” during Bengals-Falcons Thursday night. Despite “widespread publicity since the new policy was announced” by the NFL in June, several Falcons fans “clearly didn’t get the memo.” Georgia Dome Communications & PR Specialist Jason Kirksey said, “The biggest thing was the awareness. There were still some people that showed up at the gates that weren’t aware of the rule.” Ledbetter noted fans “lined up at bag check stations before and after the game,” but some fans “took to twitter to call the policy sexist” (AJC.com, 8/9).
Major League Gaming has "gradually emerged as the NFL of the professional gaming world," as it has "played a central role in turning video games ... into an organized, and highly lucrative, form of sport," according to Alan Feuer of the N.Y. TIMES. As the largest "e-sports" organization in North America, MLG has "experienced a similar trend in growth" to the video game industry as a whole. About 8 million people -- "mostly men and mostly in their 20s -- are registered as users on its Web site." The number of unique viewers visiting the site yearly has "rocketed to 11.7 million from 1.8 million" in the last three years, a jump of more than 500%. MLG co-Founder & President Mike Sepso said that "this year would be its best in terms of total earnings." Sepso: "It’s the first full year that we’ll be profitable." Sepso added that 70% of company revenue "comes from advertising." MLG host and VP/Programming Chris Puckett also has "become a boldface name." Feuer noted the company's "next step is to try to break out of the video-gaming ghetto and attract a wider audience." The league starting this month "will gradually unveil an eclectic, five-hour block of evening Internet broadcasts, adding lifestyle shows to its already popular live-streamed competitions." Puckett is "heading up this effort." The ideas he has "kicked around include a John Madden-like show on trash-talking gamers, and reality-television-style documentaries on professional gaming houses -- residential compounds where top teams live and practice together around the clock." Sepso: "We want to approach things like a cable network and program prime time from at least 7 to 11 every weeknight." MLG in a few weeks "expects to announce a wide-ranging partnership with an undisclosed film and television studio to develop projects and to further integrate celebrity personalities into its broadcasts." Puckett's "main objective is to create professional gaming’s equivalent of ESPN’s SportsCenter, a daily digest of gaming news, competition highlights, and game and product reviews" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/11).