MLS Exec VP/Communications Dan Courtemanche said that the league's '14 schedule "will look similar to this year's, contradicting a report that suggested major changes were planned," according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. Peltz noted next year's schedule is "expected to be announced before this year's MLS Cup championship game Dec 7." Courtemanche acknowledged that the "question of making significant changes in the schedule was posed in a recent fan survey, part of the market research the MLS regularly conducts to gauge fans' interest and preferences" (LATIMES.com, 10/14). In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald wrote there are "many more reasons" why a change to a European-style schedule "won't happen than why it will." One key reason is a "winter-centric schedule would cause huge problems in the league's many cold-weather markets." But there are "two big forces that are pushing MLS" to such a schedule, and "they aren't necessarily bad forces" -- U.S. men's national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann and FIFA. Still, it would be an "enormous gamble for the league to give up games in mid-summer, its most profitable time of year." Tannenwald: "I don't think it's a gamble worth taking" (PHILLY.com, 10/14). SI.com's Brian Straus pointed out potential weather problems, but also noted MLS would be "giving up dates in the summer, when most compete only with baseball and when families might be more likely to buy tickets." A winter break would "cut short the season's momentum and any budding storylines." While the MLS Cup Playoffs currently "might be overshadowed by the NFL and MLB in the fall," they would likely be "overshadowed by the NHL and NBA in the spring" (SI.com, 10/14).
SOME SUPPORT FOR A CHANGE: FS1’s Eric Wynalda said he would "applaud the idea of changing" the MLS schedule, as it would allow some players "to be included in the transfer market" and would "prevent our games of relevance from being up against the likes of NCAA football, the NFL and baseball when it matters." Wynalda: "No more games of relevance in bad weather with no one watching.” FS1’s Cobi Jones added, “In the past this would have been trouble. But now when we look at the MLS, it is a strong league now and people are paying attention to it. I think the fan base is there, so any type of switch that happens I think the MLS is good to go, they can handle it. Do it now, don’t worry about the World Cup. There is never really a good time for something this major” (“Fox Soccer Daily,” FS1, 10/14).
WELCOME WAGON: ESPNFC.com's Jeff Carlisle cited a source as saying that Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is "looking to partner" with David Beckham "to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami." The source yesterday indicated that Ross' RSE Ventures is "looking to provide marketing services to the investment group being put together by Beckham, and possibly provide a temporary stadium solution for the proposed team." Beckham has been "negotiating with Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure to come up with the necessary funds." The source said that if Beckham and his partners are "successful in landing the team, Ross will work in conjunction with the group, and that Ross wouldn't provide any of the start-up money needed by Beckham's consortium." The source added that Beckham and Claure's negotiations are "ongoing, but that Beckham was also talking to investors from as far afield as Qatar, Singapore, and Japan" (ESPNFC.com, 10/14).
NFL Chief Diversity Officer Robert Gulliver and Senior VP/Player Engagement Troy Vincent have put together a list of eight former coaches and GMs to "begin the process of improving" diversity hiring, according to Peter King of THE MMQB. The NFL Head Coach and GM Advisory Panel, which had its first meeting last Thursday in N.Y., includes former GMs Ernie Accorsi, Ron Wolf, Charlie Casserly and Bill Polian, former Chiefs president Carl Peterson and former coaches Tony Dungy, Dennis Green and John Madden. A league memo stated that the committee "hopes to have a plan to help the process by late November, and it won’t advance only the names of qualified African-American coaches." The call for the committee came after no minority candidates were hired for 15 head coaching and GM positions last offseason (MMQB.SI.com, 10/14). ESPN's Adam Schefter said the committee members are "some great minds to identify the best minority candidates for teams to interview and hire." The committee is "hoping this gains some traction” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 10/14).
European Tour Tournament Committee Chair Thomas Bjorn last week confirmed that the Tour will "try to get more of its PGA Tour-based players to return to Europe more often," according to Alistair Tait of GOLFWEEK. Bjorn said, "There will be new regulations where you have to play more in your own country, and if there’s also more than three events in one country then they will have to play at least two of the three. It does not affect that many players because if you look at the schedule in general we don’t have big issues. It’s really only in Sweden where there’s been concern from promoters and sponsors." Tait noted the European Tour "increased the number of tournaments required for membership from 11 to 13 a few years ago to try to get more top players coming back," but that "hasn't really worked" (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/14).
WORTH THE EFFORT? Golfer Brandt Snedeker in a recent Golf Magazine article called the PGA Tour's drug-testing program a "waste of time and money," as only two players have been caught using PEDs in the six years it has been in place. Golf Channel’s Tripp Isenhour said, “Golf is an honorable sport. Brandt makes a good point: We do call penalties on ourselves and police ourselves. That doesn’t mean that the world is pure as the wind-driven snow for the PGA Tour players. There might be some guys trying to bend the rules a little bit, but Brandt also talked about those players getting called out and they kind of have a scarlet letter around them.” Isenhour: “The players know of the ones trying to bend the rules" (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 10/14).
CHANGING THE CULTURE: PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua talked about his first year with the organization and said the goals he set forth during the year were designed to "change some of the culture, particularly at HQ, to make it a more accepting culture in terms of really welcoming ideas from anyone, at any level.” Bevacqua said, “We can get great ideas whether you have been at the PGA of America for a month and you’re 24-years old, or if you’ve been there for 30 years. Kind of welcoming opposing points of view and hopefully leading to better solutions." He added, “We feel that we have two primary purposes: To serve our PGA members and to grow the game. So every decision we make as staff, every recommendation we make to our officers and our board, absolutely needs to come back to those two critical functions” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/15).