The PGA Tour has made an "audacious bid to take over the European Tour as concerns grow among the professionals over the lack of playing and financial opportunities on the circuit," according to James Corrigan of the London TELEGRAPH. There have been three straight "blank weeks on the European Tour’s calendar," and "inevitably this had led to discontent among the rank and file" on the Tour. But the "dissension even runs as high as the Tournament Players Committee," with committee member Paul Casey "prepared to voice his frustrations." Casey said, “There are so many good things about the European Tour and it can be such an unbelievable product given the places we go to, and the players we have. But we are so far from maximising what we have and we need to freshen things up. It needs some new energy." Corrigan writes the issue is "reaching its head largely because of the incredible turnaround in fortunes in the past few years." The European Tour when the recession hit "seemed in a strong position with Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy refusing to join the PGA Tour and with the banking crisis threatening so many tournament sponsorships" in the U.S. But with the "collapse of the euro, the continent has been transformed into a golfing wasteland as far as professional events are concerned, and with Dubai also encountering economic uncertainty, the much vaunted Race To Dubai has looked increasingly frail, with prize money and the bonus pool being substantially reduced." As a "by-product of running the European Tour, the PGA Tour would achieve its long-held objective of gaining control of at least half of the cash cow which is the Ryder Cup" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/13). In London, Derek Lawrenson writes the PGA Tour’s bid "clearly fits in" with its global strategy. They have "already bought the Canadian Tour -- now known as PGA Tour Canada -- own a version in Latin America and have turned up the heat on the European Tour in one of its heartlands these days: Asia" (London DAILY MAIL, 8/13).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Heat F LeBron James has "decided he will not run" for President or VP of the NBPA, according to a source cited by Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. Interested in union matters and the direction of the NBPA, James had "considered both executive committee positions comprised of players but concluded he would not have enough time at this point in his career to give the positions the necessary attention they require." James "discussed the role with several people and realized he didn't want to commit to something he couldn't focus on 100%, especially at such a critical time for the union." Some union leadership wanted James to "become president or vice president and give the NBPA a significant voice with major star power." Short of becoming an officer, James told NBPA leadership that he "wants to be a voice for change and when his voice is needed he will participate." The NBPA "plans to meet in Las Vegas next week and vote for a new president," and it appears that Thunder G Derek Fisher's run as president "will come to end." A source said that free agent and NBPA Exec Committee VP Roger Mason Jr. "has emerged as a strong candidate to replace Fisher" (USA TODAY, 8/13). ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst cited a source as saying that James "may instead support the possible candidacy" of Heat G and NBPA Treasurer James Jones (ESPN.com, 8/12).
SPEAKING OUT OF TURN: James last week said he felt the union was "going backwards." But Nets G and NBPA VP Jerry Stackhouse yesterday responded, calling James "misinformed." Stackhouse said the union is "in a good place" and "moving in the right direction." Stackhouse: "He needs to be informed in speaking on our union business." He added James' comments felt like a "kick in the stomach." Stackhouse: "I don't think he's had any dialogue with anybody since the All-Star break, but it is what it is. To make that statement about where we are as a union right now, he was misinformed." He added, "I would've liked (James) to come to the meeting next week and hear it and then voice his opinion." CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger noted Stackhouse, Jones, Mason and Warriors F Andre Iguodala have "taken a leadership role in trying to put the NBPA on the right path" in the wake of former Exec Dir Billy Hunter's ouster. Sources said that among the internal discussions has been that the "composition of the 30 player representatives be changed and that a formal role be found for retired players in the union's governance." Union by-laws would "have to be rewritten for such changes to take effect" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/12).
The NBA is "in the process of figuring out the best way to implement HGH testing as part of its drug-testing program," according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "We want to make sure, on behalf of our players, as well, that’s it’s done in the proper way, and that we understand what are the appropriate baselines for a natural substance, like HGH, so we can detect where there are aberrations. That is something we’re very focused on." Silver added that while the NBA has been "monitoring the Biogenesis case as it has developed over the past several months, the league isn’t aware of any involvement of its players with the clinic, contrary to a recent report." Bontemps notes while the NBA is "still in the process of implementing HGH testing, virtually all of its star players ... have been subjected to Olympic-level testing" as part of their participation in int'l competition. Although the implementation of HGH testing is "something that likely won’t be completed" until the NBPA has hired a new exec dir, Silver said that he has "heard nothing but agreement from the players on the need to ensure fairness for all" (N.Y. POST, 8/13).
POPULATION CONTROL: NFL.com's Albert Breer cited sources as saying that the NFL and NFLPA "formalized an agreement late last week on the protocol for a population study to serve as a precursor to full-blown" HGH testing. The sources added that there "hasn't yet been an agreement on when to start collecting." Reportedly, the NFL's position is that a "comprehensive agreement and closure on the entire drug policy should be reached before the population study begins, while the union is open to starting the process of collecting blood for the population study sooner" (NFL.com, 8/12). ESPN.com's John Clayton wrote of possible connections between NFL players and the Biogenesis clinic, "Surprisingly, the NFL hasn't been looking into it. Evidence hasn't been out there linking NFL players to Biogenesis. With all the leaked documents, you would think some football names would have surfaced, but so far they haven't. The NFL has to be monitoring the situation, and they sure need to be looking into it. It would be naïve to think some football players aren't involved" (ESPN.com, 8/11).
HOWARD STERN JUMPS IN ON MLB SITUATION: SiriusXM Satellite Radio's Howard Stern yesterday discussed the PED situation in MLB and said, "My theory is this: You can look at A-Rod and know he does juice and you can look at half the players in Major League Baseball and know they do juice. They've known A-Rod has done juice for years, but this is a way that management gets out of paying off contracts for talent. So all of a sudden when A-Rod isn't in his prime, they go, 'Mmmm, we owe him $30-50 million. You know who we'll blame it on? We'll blame it on steroids.'" Stern wants to blood test all MLB players and "take everyone out who's on juice or on some sort of something." Stern: "Half the guys would be gone. They won't do it. They need them. They're doing it to A-Rod so they don't have to pay him" ("The Howard Stern Show," SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 8/12).
UFC co-Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta projected the promotion's "annual international revenue from sources such as staging fights, media sales, sponsorships and merchandise will outstrip its domestic revenue by 2015," according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. UFC "currently generates about 40 percent of its annual revenue" of more than $500M outside the U.S. The promotion soon will "expand into a new frontier: sub-Saharan Africa, where UFC will make its fights and related content available through smartphone apps in 18 languages." UFC in the region is "strategically circumventing traditional TV broadcasters and working with mobile phone companies instead." One African nation "of particular interest to UFC is South Africa, where the company is looking into staging live events, cutting broadcast deals and distributing programming via cellphones." Fertitta said, "South Africa has a pretty good market for mixed martial arts." In India, UFC will "unveil its popular 'The Ultimate Fighter' reality TV show in Hindi." Other global initiatives "include live events in new markets such as Warsaw and Istanbul" in '14. UFC has "dedicated 20 percent of its 500-worker force to offices around the world," with "about 100 workers in London, Toronto and Beijing" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/11).