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Volume 26 No. 89

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The USWNT Players Association is merging its equal pay advocacy with the entertainment industry's Time's Up movement with the goal to "raise money to fund the fight for pay equity for women in all workplaces," according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. The team's partnership with Time's Up, which was formed to "tackle workplace harassment and sexual abuse and increase women’s power at all levels," was unveiled prior to Sunday's match at the Rose Bowl against Ireland. That is the "first stop in a five-city victory tour following its World Cup triumph." Twenty-one USWNT members "took part in the initial gathering of the women, who met for a closed-door brainstorming session Thursday afternoon in West Hollywood." Actresses Natalie Portman, Brie Larson and America Ferrera were among the more than three dozen participants from Time’s Up. The women "sorted themselves into one of three breakout sessions -- on policy change, corporate change and cultural change -- to learn more about how they can leverage the powerful platforms they have to advocate for more equitable public policy, coach businesses to do better on pay issues and influence public opinion on the issues." The discussions were "led by experts in the fields of civil liberties, entertainment labor law ... and governmental affairs." The goal of the alliance is "not simply to improve their lot in the arenas of sports and entertainment, but to lift women in all walks of life" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/2).

BOX-ING DAY: Wheaties announced the release of a commemorative limited-edition box featuring the USWNT, timed to coincide with the start of their Victory Tour. The boxes will sell for $23, a nod to the 23 members of the women's team, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to organizations committed to empowering girls through sports (General Mills). 

MLB is on pace for 6,712 home runs this season, up 1,100 from a year ago and topping the record 6,105 from '17
Photo: getty images
MLB is on pace for 6,712 home runs this season, up 1,100 from a year ago and topping the record 6,105 from '17
Photo: getty images
MLB is on pace for 6,712 home runs this season, up 1,100 from a year ago and topping the record 6,105 from '17
Photo: getty images

Washington State Univ. professor Lloyd Smith and Univ. of Illinois Professor Emeritus Alan Nathan said that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "could be ready to present [their] research findings and explain what has caused the baseballs to drive up the home run totals" within a "matter of weeks," according to Josh Peter of USA TODAY. Nathan, chair of the committee formed by MLB in '17 to study home run rates, said that modified baseballs "could be ready" for the '21 season. But MLB Chief Communications Officer Pat Courtney said that the league "has yet to commit." Smith said, "We’ve notified MLB of our progress and their answer has been, 'That’s great, but we can’t get this wrong.’ So we need to test more balls. So far we are at about 80 dozen balls that we’re testing over different areas of the game to see if we’re right, how right we are and if everything adds up.’’ Peter notes MLB is "on pace for 6,712 home runs" this season, which would be 1,100 "more than a year ago, and an increase of more than 600 over the record 6,105 hit" in '17. Concerned about the rising numbers of home runs, MLB "reached out to Nathan" in July '17. Nathan "worked with MLB to assemble a 10-man committee of scientists and he made sure to include" Smith. Smith said that it was the "first time the aerodynamics of a baseball had been tested for a study" (USA TODAY, 8/2).

During Garber's time at the helm, MLS has expanded from 12 to 27 clubs and developed 19 soccer stadiums
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
During Garber's time at the helm, MLS has expanded from 12 to 27 clubs and developed 19 soccer stadiums
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
During Garber's time at the helm, MLS has expanded from 12 to 27 clubs and developed 19 soccer stadiums
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown

MLS Commissioner Don Garber on Sunday will celebrate his 20th anniversary running America’s top soccer league, having grown it to 27 teams with three more set to begin play in the next two years. With 20 years now in the books, THE DAILY looks back at some of the most notable moments during Garber’s tenure.

AUGUST 1999: Garber leaves the NFL to take over as MLS’ next commissioner, replacing Doug Logan. Garber came on at a difficult time for the league, which had only 12 teams and was facing skepticism from the American public. Garber’s first task: broadening the young league’s fan base and improving attendance across the board.

JANUARY 2002: MLS announces a five-year broadcast agreement with ABC and ESPN that includes MLS television rights and rights to the next two FIFA World Cup tournaments. The deal also includes rights to the ‘03 Women’s World Cup.

NOVEMBER 2004: MLS and the MLS Players Union reach a deal on the first CBA in league history, to run through the end of the ‘09 season. The agreement includes graduated minimum salary increases, 401k, guaranteed health benefits, improved life insurance and a neutral arbitration system. Labor is one issue MLS can put aside for now.

SEPTEMBER 2006: The league announces that it will begin placing ads on the front of players’ jerseys in the '07 season. MLS establishes a floor of $500,000 a year for uniform sponsors, with the league collecting a flat fee of about $200,000 from all deals. The league also has the authority to reject deals and won’t allow hard liquor or Internet casinos to buy space.

MARCH 2010: MLS and the MLSPU reach agreement on a new five-year labor deal less than a week before the regular season kicks off. The players come away with some concessions -- notably, a bump in compensation and an increase in guaranteed contracts -- but it is the league that wins out on the contentious issue of free agency.

AUGUST 2010: The MLS BOG approves a contract extension for Garber through ‘14. The four-year deal includes incentives and performance goals that could push his total pay to more than $3M annually. MLS owners expect Garber over the length of this contract to improve the league's television ratings, develop the league's new media business and develop the league's quality of play.

AUGUST 2011: MLS signs a three-year deal with NBC that will see regular-season games return to English-language broadcast television for the first time since ‘08. The deal is valued at $10M per year. The new broadcast partnership provides the league with a chance to grow its base.

JANUARY 2014: Garber signs a new five-year contract that will keep him in his position through the end of ‘18. By now, he has guided MLS through several waves of expansion that has nearly doubled its size from 10 to 19 franchises.

APRIL 2014: Garber is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Doctors say the cancer has not spread. He begins treatment at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in N.Y., to be followed by surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Garber continues managing the league during treatment. In September, he announces he is cancer-free and needs no further treatment.

MAY 2014: MLS signs new eight-year media rights deals with ESPN, Fox and Univision. ESPN and Fox will pay a combined average of $75M for English-language rights to MLS and U.S. Soccer matches. Univision’s Spanish-language deal averages $15M per year. The agreements are priced five times higher than the average annual value of the league's current media deals.

JULY 2015: MLS announces a new CBA. The new CBA is a five-year deal that creates free agency for players 28 years of age or older, with at least eight years of experience. The deal comes at the end of a tense standoff between the league and the players, with free agency and player compensation representing the two major sticking points.

FEBRUARY 2019: MLS extends Garber’s contract through the ’23 season. He will be 66 by the end of this latest deal. During his time at the helm, MLS has expanded from 12 to 27 clubs, added many new owners and developed 19 soccer stadiums in the U.S. and Canada. Later, in May, Garber won the award for Executive of the Year at the Sports Business Awards.