The LPGA starting this week will "enforce a dress code policy that cracks down on athletic wear," according to Ashley Mayo of GOLF DIGEST. In a July 2 email to tour players, LPGA player President Vicki Goetze-Ackerman "outlined a list of items that will no longer be allowed." Plunging necklines, joggers and leggings -- unless under a skort or shorts -- are "not allowed." The length of skirt, skort and shorts must be "long enough to not see your bottom area." The email noted appropriate attire also "should be worn to pro-am parties." The harsh language "begs the question" of which LPGA player "began dressing offensive enough to drive the implementation of this new policy?" Goetze-Ackerman's email also explained it is an LPGA player's "job" to notify her clothing sponsors of this new policy, and that "penalties for violating the dress code will be a $1,000 [fine] and it will double with each offense." Mayo noted in an era when "Instagram 'golf babes' are dressing more provocative than ever," perhaps the LPGA is "trying to set an entirely different tone in an effort to command respect and separate itself as a highly different, more professional product" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 7/14). GOLF.com's Kevin Cunningham wrote the news is "surprising coming from the LPGA because that Tour has often [led] the way in making the game exciting to young players and fans" (GOLF.com, 7/14).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is "determined to alter the sport in ways that should make it more attractive to the next generation of fans, along with the critically important television audience," according to David Lennon of NEWSDAY. But his "growing frustration" with the MLBPA, which has "filibustered Manfred’s most recent efforts, was evident" at last week's All-Star Game. As other pro sports leagues "continue to tailor their game to the changing times, Manfred finds himself stuck with the status quo" in '17. The evolution of MLB "continues to move at a glacial pace, just like the playing of the sport itself" (NEWSDAY, 7/17). Orioles 3B Manny Machado, who attended the ASG festivities in Miami though was not on the AL roster, said the game was "a little boring to watch." Machado: "I don’t know how people go out there and watch games. Now I know why sometimes people don’t come to games." In DC, Samantha Pell noted Machado is "hardly the first" MLBer to "call out baseball’s lack of intrigue from a fan perspective," as players like Nationals RF Bryce Harper have also done so (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/15).
MIAMI AS A HOST: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wrote the "good news for baseball is ratings were up" for the ASG, though "only slightly over last year's record low." The "bad news" is the ASG was beaten in the ratings by NBC's "America's Got Talent," meaning "more people were tuned into Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum" than Yankees RF Aaron Judge and Harper. MLB may "consider itself the national pastime, but one of its biggest events was far from Must-See TV." The Home Run Derby is "almost as popular" as the ASG itself, and "inadvertently may have led to the exodus of bored and anxious fans in Tuesday night's game." Meanwhile, some longtime MLB reporters were "in agreement that Miami seemed ill-prepared to host the All-Star Game, from security mixups to long concession lines and right down to the confused operators of the main video board." Sullivan: "The Marlins treated it like it was just another sparsely attended regular-season game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/15). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Eric Fisher writes "signs of weakness among South Florida fans abounded" at the ASG. Many corporate sponsors and business partners "grumbled about the transportation logistics of getting in and out of Marlins Park, getting to other All-Star events in Miami and South Beach, as well as the ongoing renovations to the Miami Beach Convention Center where FanFest was held." Topps Dir of New Product Development & e-commerce Marketplace Jeff Heckman said, "There were definitely fewer people at FanFest, and sales there for us. All in all, it was a pretty underwhelming experience" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/17 issue). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote it was "amusing and a little sad to watch Fox and MLB do handstands Tuesday night in an effort to make baseball great again." The "tidy, low-scoring All-Star Game sometimes felt like a desperate plea to support the erstwhile national pastime." Shaughnessy: "Everyone seemed to be saying, 'Please like us. Please come back to baseball'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/14).
BACK AT THE WALL: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler wrote under the header, "Did Baseball's Steroid Era Really Ever End?" MLB "once again is confronted with explaining why a record amount of cowhide is leaving the building, more than that magical summer of ’98 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reinvigorated the game." MLB "doesn’t want to admit what other leagues have come to privately understand: that testing programs don’t eradicate doping, they merely eradicate the suspicion of doping." If the ticket-buying public "believes players are relatively clean, that’s just as good as players actually being clean" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/16). Also in San Diego, Kirk Kenney noted at the All-Star break, 3,343 home runs had been hit this season in MLB. That would "produce 6,126 homers, which would not just break but obliterate the record 5,693 homers hit in 2000 season during the height of the Steroid Era" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/16).
MLB MUSINGS: The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE writes it is "difficult to tell" if Judge's "sheer physical size or the impact he has had on the game in just three-plus months" is bigger. He has "captivated the nation’s biggest media market and was the biggest star" at the ASG. Phillies P Pat Neshek said, "He looks like Paul Bunyan. He’s bigger than everybody, he carries that bat on his shoulder like an ax" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/17). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman dubbed Manfred his "Dweeb Of The Week" for his comments on the Dodgers' TV blackout. Manfred’s "unwillingness to dive in and help resolve a four-year rights dispute for Dodgers games" in the L.A. market "strikes us as elitism and a cop out." Raissman: "That is not good for the game, the fans who pay the freight and marketing of the players to a broad audience" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/16).
With more than 30 expansion franchises expected to join its second and third-tier soccer divisions in the U.S., the USL is building out a preferred supplier program to aid both new and existing owners in its leagues. The league, which currently operates a 30-team second-division league and is planning to launch a third-division league in ’19, has signed its first partnership for the program with T&B Equipment, which will be its official modular stadium and seating supplier. As part of the deal, T&B will be an official supplier for all of the league’s related properties, which include USL, USL D-III, the Premier Development League and the Super Y League. Recently, T&B constructed USL club Phoenix Rising’s new soccer complex, a modular venue that features 6,200 seats and 15 luxury boxes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. USL President Jake Edwards said by building out this new program, it will better help new owners to hit the ground running. "It’s critically important to launch sustainable clubs, and to be able in an 18-month ramp-up period be able to aid that process by helping to build a venue and put in all of these other products, it really takes a lot of the headaches out of it,” Edwards said. “For our existing clubs who are building new stadiums or upgrading their own, this also provides them with a tremendous opportunity.”
GET WITH THE PROGRAM: Edwards said that he envisions that the program will have a number of partners that could provide the clubs everything from modular stadiums and field lightning to CRM systems and executive search assistance. While some of these services will be optional, others -- including those that are for products that the teams are required to buy, such as goal nets or other equipment -- will be mandatory to purchase through that specific vendor, which will also provide the clubs and the league a larger discount as well as consistency in quality. Any of those deals mandated official suppliers will be approved by the league’s BOG. “Through programs like this we’re able to provide these partners with a real business opportunity to work with us as we scale out the league, as well as give our clubs access to companies that are best in class,” Edwards said, noting that the league is hoping to announce additional partnerships in the coming months. “We respect that some owners will want to have their own direction for their teams, but we want to also be able to work with them and essentially put all of these services on a plate for them to succeed with out of the gate.”
In N.Y., Ken Belson in a front-page piece reports some former NFLers "may get very little" from the league's concussion settlement, but others with severe neurological diseases may receive as much as $5M. Now lawyers, lenders and would-be advisers are "circling, pitching their services and trying to get a cut of the money." It may be "standard practice for big legal settlements, but the fact that many players are cognitively impaired and may struggle to understand the terms of the services offered to them has raised alarm among player advocates, legal ethicists and the lawyers for the players who sued the NFL (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).
IT'S IN THE CONTRACT: In Boston, Ben Volin wrote the focus of NFLers "shouldn’t be on getting fully guaranteed contracts" in the next CBA. If contracts became guaranteed, owners "would simply adjust by giving players shorter deals and less money up front." Instead, the players "need to focus on eliminating the two significant artificial barriers that limit their earnings." The NFLPA’s "top priority needs to be fixing the rookie contract system." In the old CBA, rookies had "more room to negotiate their first contracts, and could renegotiate after Year 2." But if players "could renegotiate after Year 2, and owners have to start worrying about holdouts and big contracts for youngsters, the veteran middle class will look more attractive in free agency, and star players will see their values increase as well" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/16). In Orlando, David Whitley wrote under the header, "NFL Players Shouldn't Gripe Over NBA Salaries." CBAs give players in both leagues roughly 50% of the income. There are 53 players on NFL active rosters and 12 on NBA active rosters. Whitley: "Is the math that hard to figure out, guys?" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/16).
FASHION STATEMENT: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio cited a source as saying that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "continues to be miffed about Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s decision to wear the Barstool Sports Goodell-with-a-clown-nose T-shirt while disembarking from the plane that brought the team back from Super Bowl LI" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/16).