TIME Winter Olympics

Which Cities Even Want the Olympics Anymore?

More democracies are taking a pass

For fans who love a cozy, idyllic Winter Olympic site—in a place without a tainted human rights record—the host city selection for the 2022 Games wasn’t an inspiring bake-off. On Friday in Kuala Lumpur, the International Olympic Committee awarded the Games to Beijing over Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing becomes the first city in history to host both a summer and winter Olympics. The Bird’s Nest, where Usain Bolt thrilled the world with his record-breaking sprints, will host the opening and closing ceremonies, like it did in the summer of 2008. The nearby Water Cube, where Michael Phelps won eight golds, will freeze over and host curling.

The win is yet another symbol of China’s clout. Beijing has little snow and few mountains? So what: organizers say they’ll create enough snow, and build a high-speed rail line to Zhangjiakou, 90 miles (145 km.) outside the city and host of mountain events. Worried about Beijing’s air pollution? Well, the city controlled its smog during the 2008 Olympics. “It will be sunshine and white clouds,” said a Beijing 2022 communications official. China put on a great show in 2008, and will likely do the same in 2022.

But what does Beijing’s win say about the Olympics? Winter wonderlands like Oslo and Stockholm dropped out of the 2022 bidding, concerned about the costs. The Sochi Olympics, whose tab ran to over $50 billion, was the most expensive ever. The International Olympic Committee is pushing something called Agenda 2020, which emphasizes lowering the price tag for staging the Olympics. But any good intentions can’t curtail the costs, as organizers of the Boston bid found out the hard way earlier this week. The public, increasingly wise to the dismal economics of sporting events, decided the party and publicity wasn’t worth the cost and hassle. The city dropped its bid.

Academic studies are conclusive: for cities and regions, sports investment rarely delivers its financial promise. Just ask Athens, where the 2004 Olympics cost taxpayers billions. After taking on the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup. In 2022 Beijing, with its ill-fitting climate, will host the Winter Olympics. Qatar, with its 100-plus degree temperatures, is slated to stage a World Cup. Sense a pattern? Autocratic regimes, with a history of human rights abuses, are taking hold of the world’s sporting carnivals. More and more democracies, pressured by their outspoken opposition movements, simply don’t want them.

TIME NFL

What the NFL’s First Female Coach Thinks About Tom Brady and Life in the Locker Room

Jen Welter talks to TIME about her coaching philosophy, the challenges ahead, and the league's latest controversy

The Arizona Cardinals introduced Jen Welter this week as a preseason and training camp coaching intern for the team’s inside linebackers, making her what is believed to be the first woman to hold any kind of coaching position in the NFL. Welter is used to breaking barriers: In 2014, she became the first woman to play a contact position in a professional men’s game, when she suited up at running back for the Texas Revolution, a team that plays in the Champions Indoor Football League.

Welter, 37, played 14 seasons in the Women’s Football Alliance, won two gold medals with the American team at the International Federation of American Football’s Women’s World Championship. She was linebackers and special teams coach for the Revolution last season.

TIME spoke to Welter on Tuesday from the Cardinals practice facility.

It’s 2015. The NFL has been around for a long, long time. What took so long for there to be a female coach?
How many times have we heard that the final frontier of women in sports is football? It really has been that gladiator sport, that last bastion of women don’t go there. It is a game where people believe that you have to be big and tough and strong and to have played the game and been in the trenches. And the truth is that women haven’t been playing football nearly as long as men. And the history of women in football is relatively short. So it’s understandable that it would take time.

But now we’re getting into the days when I had the longevity, because the sport was around enough, to have played for 14 years. You start to say, “Hey, wait a minute. These girls aren’t going anywhere.” And it took that credibility of guys seeing you be in the game for that long, and being dedicated and realizing that you do know it, you do love it, and you’re not just around it for the wrong reason. To start to put women in positions where they could contribute to football. And I think that that’s the blessing. It’s not going to change overnight. But it takes a history.

Given that football, as you say, has that gladiator, macho culture, and is the ‘last bastion of women don’t go there,’ why do you think NFL players will listen to you?
It’s not about what I think. It’s that I’ve been in this situation before. I have coached guys before. It wasn’t that I went in day one and tried to change them in football. I was there, I was consistent, I added to their game when I could. I took a lot of time to get to know what the needs of the players were. And once I saw the needs of the players, I would step in and help them. Some of the moments were more on the sports psychology side to be honest. Telling him how to be that ‘it’ player, or if you did this after the play, you know that message it would send. It’s just getting one or two of those guys to listen and buy in. Then when somebody sees that happening and they get better, oh my goodness it gets to be really competitive. Everybody wants that.

We had a joke—it wasn’t a joke, it was a very known secret I guess, on the defense that caught on was ‘Coach Jen’s Notes.’ I started with the linebackers but as the season went on I ended up working with the d-line and linebackers. And the guys were like, ‘hey, don’t you have notes for us?’ And I said, ‘you want my notes?’ They said, ‘yeah coach’. And I feel like, and I say this very jokingly, but it was serious cause at first it was almost like they didn’t want anybody to know they were getting notes from me.

And yet by the end of the season I had players who were leaders on my team, when a new guy came in, they’d be like, ‘listen, you need to give your email to coach Jen. She does the game breakdowns, her notes are the best, and you need to look at them.’ And it became an expectation. But it takes those leaders to really buy in.

I’m patient. I’m not going to jump up in anybody’s face and make them try and listen to me. As a player I would have respected that. So I think having that background as a player and knowing what I would look for and how to be respected, I think that that’s what these guys will respond to. At least I hope so.

Is your goal to be NFL head coach?
If that is the direction is where God puts me on this path, that’s what I will do. I lovingly say that I believe God put blinders on my life in terms of what I could accomplish and be capable of, because if I would have looked up and said to somebody, “I was going to do this,” they would have told me I was crazy. As soon as I started playing football, I knew it was my destiny. I couldn’t ever picture it.

As somebody who has a doctorate in psychology, people hire me all the time to talk about goal setting and breaking things down step by step. I couldn’t see this goal to have it. I just had to literally put my head down and trust the path, and do the right things everyday to be successful. And trust that process. And so if in doing this, that’s the path I’m meant to be on, then that’s exactly where I’ll go. But I can’t see that yet.

What do you anticipate being the toughest part of the job?

The toughest part, I think, is really guys knowing how they can act around me. Yesterday somebody said, “Come on gentlemen, let’s go.” And they were like, “Oh my gosh Jen, we’re so sorry.” And I said, “Just say guys it works for everybody.”

I’m used to rolling with the punches. I’ve been around guys in professional football for two years now. I’ve had friends in it forever. But it takes times for guys to see that and know it. And I laugh a lot. I smile a lot. I love those moments. I know they’re challenges to most people and they’re scary, but to me those are the priceless moments. I think it was a big turning point for the guys when I played. We were with the running backs and the coach was like, “Hey running backs, do you have your balls?” And one of the linebackers said, “Yeah, all but Jen.” And I looked at him and I said, “That’s okay, baby, when I need ’em I’ll get yours from your wife’s purse.” And just that moment of not being offended, of rolling with the punches and laughing, it opened up so many. Because they realized that they didn’t have to not be guys around me.

I don’t want to change who they are. I don’t want them to be like, “Oh my gosh coach, blah blah blah.” My guys would get protective at times. If I walked into a conversation they’d say, “Earmuffs, coach.’ I’d be like, “Okay.” And we would joke about it. On the outside, dealing with those issues is a horrible challenge and we don’t know how people are going to do it. Or deal with it. But when you do it, and you get through those moments and you share that laughter, those are the things that truly bond your team and are priceless. Those are the moments you love and you cherish and you laugh about years and years later.

Now that you’re in the NFL, I have to ask: what do you think about this Tom Brady ruling?
You can’t ask me about Tom Brady and want me to say anything about him other than I think he’s an absolute phenomenal player. … And he’s such a humble, good guy that loves the game of football. I hate to see anything tarnish that reputation. I can’t speak to a ruling like that. And I think that there are so many things in football that need to be fixed, that we’re spending, and pardon the pun, but I really am tired of hearing about Tom Brady’s balls. I’d rather move on.

It is kind of serendipitous though or funny or God’s irony that the same day we announce a woman coach in the NFL, we can’t get off Tom Brady’s balls.

Do you think it’s unfortunate that it kind of overshadowed you?
It’s those things that happen years later. Hopefully people will forget about Tom Brady’s balls long before they’ll forget that a girl is coaching in the NFL.

What got you into coaching football in first place?
It was actually former Dallas Cowboy (and first-year Texas Revolution head coach) Wendell Davis who approached me initially about coaching. We met and sat down and had a conversation. He knew I had played for the team the year before. He was just trying to get an understanding of the team, asking me a lot of questions about how things were and what was good, what was bad. As we started talking he started grilling me about football ins and outs, Xs and Os. Like, “What, am I being tested right now? All right. If you’re going to put me on the spot right now, I’ll step up.” And we really got into some great football talk.

Two days later he said, “You know Jen, in the car ride when we left”—and he was with his defensive coordinator at the time—he said, “all we could talk about was how we needed you to coach our football team. How she’d be fantastic.” And I told him, “No. Oh no.” And he was like, “Well, why?” And I said, “I still might play and I might do this.” He said, “Jen, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. You’re not going to get this opportunity from another guy. So you need to just step up and take it. There’s never been a girl who’s coached before and you’re the right one so do it.” And Wendell just has this way about him. I did turn him down on that phone call but on the next one, he broke me down and I said yes. He really twisted my arm, but he was right. And I’m very thankful for that.

What do apply from your psychology doctorate into coaching?
Everything. My masters is in sports psychology. My doctorate, though it’s in general psychology, we focused entirely in sports. I took everything I learned, cause I was playing, I took everything I learned in psychology and looked for an application to sports and to athletes in general. And I think the biggest thing that most people don’t realize is that athletes are humans too. We see them as players, but we tend to be very bad at looking past the helmet and seeing the people. And a lot of the challenges I saw with my players last season were less about the Xs and Os, and more about life. And I hope, as a coach, that I can help these guys be better men, not just better football players. That’s the goal.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon just won a summer league championship. You’re the NFL’s first female coach. The U.S. women’s soccer team captivated the nation, Serena Williams is going for a Grand Slam. Do you think women and sports are having a huge moment, and if so, what long-term can come out of it?
I think the difference with women’s sports now is that people are finally paying attention. Women have been talented athletes and very powerful in sports for a very long time. But they haven’t had the support around them. You know, my first Super Bowl check [Welter refers to the titles she won in the Women’s Football Alliance as Super Bowls] was for 12 dollars. I had to fundraise $3,000 to represent my country as a pioneer as a woman in football. And we thought when we won gold medals we were changing the world for women’s football. We got back and no one even knew what we did.

It takes the support. It’s not just the talent. The talent has been there, there have been amazing women in sports for so long. Unfortunately no one knew they existed. And what’s changing now is that people are getting excited about women in sports. And they realize that for our girls to grow up, and grow up into very strong, successful women, they need to see positive role models. Not just Instagram pictures.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

TIME NFL

‘Here’s Why Deflategate Is Still Ridiculous’

Four takeaways from the latest Deflategate news

Not-so-great news, football fans: as training camps kick off this week, pressure gauges and needles are still a hot topic. Did you ever think, upon waking up the morning after the AFC championship game in January, a Patriots romp over the Colts, and hearing about New England possibly deflating footballs, that a few months later this silly-sounding scandal would result in the NFL suspending its Super Bowl MVP, best player, and biggest celebrity for a quarter of a season? That NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would hand down the original four-game suspension to Tom Brady back in May, refuse to recuse himself as appellate judge, and uphold his original ruling upon appeal? That the story of the 2015 NFL season now involves injunctions and smashed cell phones and lawsuits?

Seemed ridiculous at the time. But then again, the NFL seems to specialize in off-field rumpuses. Below are four takeaways from the NFL’s decision to uphold Brady’s suspension.

1. The NFL Created This Mess. Fundamentally, the NFL volunteered to make this a scandal. First off, if mucking with air pressure gives a player a competitive advantage—as Goodell’s decision released Tuesday afternoon contends—then why didn’t NFL rules dictate that someone keep a close eye on the game balls before kickoff? (The NFL is correcting the flaw this year, an acknowledgement that the old policy made little sense).

As Ted Wells’ Delfategate report points out, the Colts gave the NFL office a heads-up about their suspicions that the Pats were deflating footballs. So why didn’t the NFL issue the Pats a warning, or more closely watch the Pats ball attendants to prevent them from allegedly cheating in the first place? And third, why did someone, presumably from the NFL camp, leak PSI information—which turned out to be wrong—to the media in the first place, helping propel the scandal in the Super Bowl walkup?

2. Roger Goodell Says Deflation is Like Taking Steroids. To justify the length of the four-game suspension, Goodell likens deflating footballs to inflating your body via steroids, since both presumably offer a competitive advantage. Yes, he went there, comparing shooting yourself up with body-altering substances to letting some air out of a football.

Goodell also notes that, under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “the first positive test for the use of performance enhancing drugs has resulted in a four-game suspension.” So, Brady’s alleged attempt to cheat should also warrant four games. But where’s the positive test in Brady’s case? Goodell is basing his punishment on circumstantial evidence, but no accepted smoking gun like a positive test. The NFL can punish PED users without a positive test—a so-called non-analytical positive—but this is rarely done. In 2007, New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison admitted to using a banned substance and was hit with a four-game suspension. But Brady is not admitting to anything. Is this a fair standard for the Pats QB?

3. Tom Brady Needs A Better Cell Phone Plan. In his decision, Goodell said Brady destroyed his cell phone right before investigators interviewed him, so they could not look at potentially incriminating texts. This looks ridiculously suspicious, and will help plenty of fans conclude that Brady is guilty. Brady also said that he regularly smashes phones, and this particular destruction just happened to coincide with the date of the Deflategate interview. This stretches credulity. From the beginning, the NFL has said it offered Brady the chance to cherry-pick any correspondence from his phone to hand over investigators. So why destroy it in the first place?

4. Tom Brady Needs A Grip. One of the weakest parts of the Wells report was its incrimination of Brady based on his mere texts, phone conversations, and meetings with ball attendants after Deflategate broke. Brady wouldn’t communicate directly with them after any other game: suddenly, they’re in constant contact. Must be getting their stories straight, right? That conclusion, however, never felt convincing. If you’re in Brady’s shoes, and you’re a superstar whose clean-cut image is taking a beating because you allegedly cheated, you might be talking to ball attendants more than usual just to find out what the heck is going on. However, according to Goodell’s decision, Brady suggested that they were talking about the upcoming Super Bowl. “I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls,” Brady testified.

Brady turned a weak portion of the Wells report into a strength for Goodell. The commissioner could now say that if breaking in the balls was so important, why didn’t Brady conduct such communication during other regular season or playoff games? Sure, the Super Bowl is important. But it seems off that Brady would suddenly be so fanatical about the grip of the football, to the point that he had to huddle with ball attendants pronto.

Neither the NFL nor Brady did themselves huge favors in this whole appeals process. And it doesn’t look like this story is going away. Where’s Week 1 when you need it?

 

TIME

Boston Will Be Better Off Without Olympics

The gamble just wasn't worth it

The people got this one right. Boston’s Olympic bid, which came to an abrupt end on Monday, never attracted high enough approval ratings in Beantown. Both the United States Olympic Committee and Boston’s political leaders realized that moving forward in the face of widespread public opposition to the bid would embarrass everyone long-term. Might as well cut bait now. It was a mess, but at least now it’s over.

Boston joins cities such as Oslo, Stockholm, Lviv, Ukraine and Krakow who have all recently reconsidered Olympic bids — and then dropped them. (These international cities all bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be awarded on July 31 to either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan). Many people, it seems, have wisened up to basic sports economics: the Olympics are just as likely to produce eye-popping cost overruns as they are canoeing medals.

“There’s a lot of evidence that people are Olympics and World Cup weary,” says Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics and World Cup. The book includes ample academic research showing the gamble, indeed, is a losing one. “Billions of dollars are spent on a giant party, and the public gets nothing back,” says Zimbalist.

Zimbalist studied the Boston bid, and is convinced that both the city and state of Massachusetts are better off without it. “I don’t think it made a lot of economic sense,” Zimbalist says. Other cities will still compete with one another to convince the International Olympic Committee to award them the 2024 Summer Games: Hamburg, Rome, Paris and Budapest have all announced intentions to bid. Toronto, fresh off hosting the Pan American Games, may jump in.

Will another U.S. city emerge to replace Boston by the Sept. 15 bidding deadline? All eyes are now turning to Los Angeles, a city with a built-in advantage: L.A. has hosted the Olympics twice before, in 1932 and 1984. In ’84 Los Angeles did not have to dazzle the International Olympic Committee with a sparking, and expensive, bid book. Tehran dropped out, so L.A. had enormous leverage since the city was essentially bidding against itself. According to Zimbalist’s book, the ’84 Games produced a $215 million surplus (and not coincidentally, landed the organizer of those Games, Peter Ueberroth, on the cover of TIME as 1984 Man of the Year). The city’s existing Olympic infrastructure could defray some of the cost. “It’s not unthinkable that Los Angeles can do it the right way,” says Zimbalist.

Still, predicting the cost of an event that will place almost a decade from now is a very tricky business. If recent history is any guide, Los Angeles should take a pass too. It’s already got plenty going for it. Why bother with such a gamble? If a city like Paris feels the need to go all in, well…Paris sounds nice enough in summer.

 

 

TIME Boxing

Why Floyd Mayweather Lost His ‘Fight of the Century’ Title

floyd mayweather Boxer
Gregg DeGuire—Getty Images Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. arrives at Spike TV's "Guys Choice 2015" at Sony Pictures Studios on June 6, 2015 in Culver City, Calif.

The reason one of boxing's sanctioning bodies stripped the champ of his welterweight title

On Monday the World Boxing Organization (WBO) stripped Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the welterweight title he secured after he defeated Manny Pacquiao in the May 2 “fight of the century” (which was anything but).

According to WBO rules, Mayweather has two weeks to appeal this decision. Here’s everything to know about why Mayweather lost his belt:

Why was Mayweather stripped of his title?

For bureaucratic infighting, something boxing is very familiar with. By beating Pacquiao, Mayweather was recognized by three of boxing’s alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies — the WBO, the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the World Boxing Council (WBC) — as the welterweight champ.

The WBO rules, however, dictate that “no WBO Champion may hold a non-WBO Championship in a weight class that is different from the weight class of his WBO Championship.”

In other words, the WBO can’t recognize Mayweather as its welterweight champ so long as he keeps on to the super-welterweight division titles he holds from the WBA and WBC. Mayweather refused to vacate his other titles by a July 3 deadline, and pay the WBO a $200,000 sanctioning fee. So the WBO stripped Mayweather of his welterweight title.

Does this impact the outcome of Mayweather-Pacquiao fight?

Not at all. Mayweather is still the WBA and WBC welterweight champ. The fight was still a boring fight.

Does this impact all the crazy money generated by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight?

No. The fight still set all kinds of financial records: most pay-per view subscriptions, close circuit revenue, live gate. So what’s one world title when you’ve made between $220-230 million on a fight, as Mayweather reportedly did for fighting Pacquiao?

What does Mayweather think about it?

The man Forbes recently named the highest-earning celebrity in the world hasn’t publicly weighed in on the WBO’s decision — but his reps are outraged. “It’s a complete disgrace,” Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, told ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael. “Floyd will decide what, or if any, actions he will take. But in the meantime he’s enjoying a couple of hundred million he made from his last outing and this has zero impact on anything he does.”

Will this impact Mayweather’s legacy?

Another no. Most sports fans couldn’t care less whether a boxer holds the WBC or WBO or ABC or WTF titles. Mayweather, 38, is a technically brilliant fighter with a 48-0 record, whose escapist style has frustrated punch-thirsty fans who tune into his megafights. He’s likely to retire after his next bout, in September.

Mayweather’s troubling domestic violence history will carry much, much more weight on people’s judgments of him than any bureaucratic snafu. This whole mess just captures the trouble with boxing: there’s no unified leadership, no organizational structure to push the sport into the future, and attract new passionate fans.

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