TIME Soccer

Why European Soccer Teams See Gold in America

Manchester United v Los Angeles Galaxy
Robbie Keane #7 of the Los Angeles Galaxy greets Wayne Rooney #10 of Manchester United drurning prematch ceremonies at the Rose Bowl on July 23, 2014 in Pasadena, California. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

There's money to be made in the New World

The summer of soccer isn’t over yet. Following in the footsteps of nearly rabid fan interest in the United States Men’s National Team during the World Cup, and record numbers of American viewers for the tournament, some of Europe’s best teams have landed here in search of pre-season competition — and pre-season earnings on ticket and merchandise sales.

Manchester United is one of eight teams that will contest the Guinness International Champions Cup against the likes of Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, AS Roma, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City and Olympiacos. The tournament features a tasty matchup between Man U and Real Madrid on August 2 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan — a.k.a. “The Big House” – that will break the U.S. attendance record for a soccer match in the U.S., given that all 109,901 seats have already been sold. Matches will also take place in Denver, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles and New York City, among other cities. The championship games will be played in Miami on August 4.

United warmed up for the tournament by tearing apart Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, 7-0, in a friendly at the Rose Bowl Stadium before a crowd of 86,432. This was not a trip that Man U’s new coach Louis van Gaal, even wanted to make. “But the tour was already arranged, so I have to adapt, I shall adapt,” he said. Better get used to it, Louie. Man U’s American owners, the Glazer family, like to bring their assets home for the locals to see.

Big teams have been making periodic visits to the States for decades, although the scale and scope of this year’s visitors is nearly unprecedented. In the past, it’s been more about reconnecting with immigrant fan bases. Napoli and Santos, with Pele, played to nearly 50,000 in Yankee Stadium in 1968, with the European team tapping into a huge base of southern Italians in the metro New York area.

But as the global game, and its glam teams, have become more visible in the U.S. via weekly television exposure, America has become a destination of choice for brand building and income generation. Why train at home or in Switzerland and play friendlies against local clubs when you can get North American fans to pay your team a premium for getting in shape? Top tickets for these games are as much as $250.

In the case of one of MLS’s newest franchises, New York City F.C., ownership, rivalry and brand building interests come home to Yankee Stadium, where Liverpool meets Manchester City on July 30. NYCFC is jointly owned by the Yankees and Man City, while Liverpool is owned by Fenway Sports Group, the same outfit, controlled by John Henry, that owns the Boston Red Sox. Can’t you just smell the hatred brewing?

Liverpool started its tour with a 1-0 loss in sold-out Fenway Park to another American-owned club, A.S. Roma, which is spending its third consecutive summer in the States with a two-week, four-match schedule. Arsenal, which plays a friendly against the MLS’ New York Red Bulls in Harrison, N.J. on August 2, is partly owned by American Stan Kroenke. And Arsenal knows that, as a global brand, it needs to build its fan base in the U.S. Indeed, Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis is no stranger to these shores, having served as deputy commissioner of the MLS before heading to London.

“I can tell you something I’m completely convinced of ,” noted Gunners boss Arsene Wenger on the team’s web site, “before people didn’t know who you were, but now every American guy I met knows Arsenal, knows England and knows the Premier League.” No reason then not to sell a piece of it to them.

TIME NFL

Ray Rice Suspended For 2 Games Over Assault Charge

Ray Rice Press Conference
Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens addresses a news conference at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rob Carr—Getty Images

Rice was indicted for assaulting his now-wife in March

The National Football League confirmed Thursday that the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice has been suspended for two games without pay and given a $58,000 fine after a grand jury indicted Rice with assaulting a woman he later married.

“As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Rice in a letter following a meeting between the two men.

Rice pled not guilty to aggravated assault in the third degree after a physical altercation between him and then-fiancee Janay Palmer left Palmer unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator. A grand jury indicted Rice in March; Rice and Palmer married the following day. Rice settled those charges by entering a pretrial program in May, which meant he was not required to pay a criminal fine or serve jail time. The indictment will be cleared from Rice’s record in one year.

However, the NFL says Rice violated the league’s personal conduct policy, opening him up to punishment by the league.

The running back’s suspension from play will begin on Aug. 30, and he will be eligible to play again on Sept. 12. He will not be paid for those two games plus an additional game, a loss that totals in more than $470,000. He is permitted to participate in training camp and preseason games. The three-time Pro Bowl player can appeal the decision within three days.

Goodell went on to say that Rice was expected to continue counseling.

“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault,” Rice said in a statement released by the team. “As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents.”

“We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be,” General Manager and Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. “That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”

TIME Research

Survey: Teen Use of Human Growth Hormones Surges

Rate of high schoolers admitting use of synthetic hGH, or performance enhancing drugs, jumps from 5% to 11% in one year

The number of teens using synthetic human growth hormones (hGH) without a prescription have doubled, according to a new survey of high school students.

A survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 11% of the 3,705 high schoolers surveyed reported “ever having used” synthetic hGH without a prescription. That’s a jump from the last four years: in 2012 and 2011 the number of teens using hGH was 5%. The survey also found that steroid use among teens went up from 5 to 7%.

African-American and Hispanic teens were the most likely to say they’ve used synthetic hGH, and the researchers found that both boys and girls had claimed to use hGH and steroids without a prescription. The awareness of online steroid and hGH marketing among teens also rose from 17% in 2012 to 22% in 2013, and kids are less likely to think there is a high or moderate risk associated with them compared to earlier years.

The data shows that about one in five teens says they have at least one friend who uses steroids, and another one in five teens say it’s easy to get them.

Prescription and over-the-counter hGH are considered safe for uses that include treatment for muscle deterioration due to HIV/AIDS and longterm treatment for kids of short stature. But as the report points out, some supplement products that are not regulated by the FDA and not safe for teen consumption can make it onto store shelves, and many are sold online.

“The proliferation of commercially available products that are marketed saying they contain synthetic hGH, or promote the natural production of hGH within the body, is staggering,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in a statement.

Teens tend to use synthetic hGH and steroids–which can be injected or taken orally–to improve their athletic performance or physical appearance. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids encourages parents and coaches to talk to young people about the risks. The group has also collaborated with the Major League Baseball Charities to create a program that teaches young athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

TIME Courts

Penn State Ex-Coaches Sue University for $1 Million Over Dismissal

Jay Paterno, son of former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno, speaks during a memorial service for his father in State College, Pa., in 2012.
Jay Paterno, son of former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno, speaks during a memorial service for his father in State College, Pa., in 2012. Gene J. Puskar—AP

One is the son of former head coach Joe Paterno

Two former assistant football coaches at Penn State, including the son of the late head coach Joe Paterno, have filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages from the university, claiming they were unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, the two plaintiffs in the suit, were fired in the aftermath of the Sandusky affair when the new head coach Bill O’Brien signed on. Sandusky was sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison in 2012, after being convicted of child molestation and abuse charges.

Paterno and Kenney argue in the lawsuit that their dismissal was baseless, CNN reports. Since their dismissal in January 2012, they “have been denied lucrative employment opportunities based upon the false light and association by innuendo,” the lawsuit claims.

The two are seeking $1 million in compensation from Penn State for damages to their reputation and inability to meaningfully provide for themselves. They also want Penn State to issue a statement absolving them of any connection with Sandusky.

Penn State said in a statement Tuesday “it is common practice for incoming head coaches to select their own coaching staff,” PennLive.com reports.

Jay Paterno’s father, Joe Paterno, was the head coach of the Penn State team for much of the period that Sandusky served as assistant coach. Paterno Sr. was fired in November 2011 and died just over 2 months later.

[CNN]

TIME Basketball

Clippers CEO: Doc Rivers Will Quit as Coach if Sterling Stays

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks during a press conference prior to a game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, on April 29, 2014 Kelvin Kuo—USA Today Sports/Reuters

Interim Clippers CEO Richard Parsons described the possible departure of Doc Rivers as "a disaster"

Doc Rivers, coach of the L.A. Clippers, will leave if Donald Sterling remains owner, according to interim Clippers CEO Richard Parsons.

Parsons’ comments were made as he testified in a court case that will determine whether Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling had the right to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

Donald Sterling faced NBA banishment after he made racist statements in April this year.

“Doc is troubled by this maybe more so than anybody else,” said Parsons. “If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach.”

Doc Rivers, who has coached the Clippers for just over a year, has been key in trying to sustain calm within the team’s camp.

“If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster,” said Parsons. “Doc is the father figure, the one who leads.”

In a related development, Donald Sterling filed a new lawsuit on Tuesday against Shelly Sterling and the NBA commissioner Adam Silver. He is seeking damages for their allegedly defrauding him, violating corporate law and attempting to sell the Clippers.

TIME NBA

Donald Sterling and Steve Ballmer Meet for the First Time, Unproductively

A supporter holds a photo cutout of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling while standing in line for the NBA Playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles
A supporter holds a photo cutout of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling while standing in line for the NBA Playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 29, 2014. Mario Anzuoni— Reuters

No progress was made on Ballmer's bid to buy the L.A. Clippers, but ESPN reports it was otherwise a "friendly conversation."

It was a private meeting between two men very recently and very publicly ushered from power: one the erstwhile leader of a once iconic tech company whose stock prices swiftly rebounded upon news of his resignation, the other the former owner of a basketball team whose departure from it only parenthetically had anything to do with basketball (in that his apparently racist vitriol was targeted at, well, people the color of some of his basketball players).

The latter, Donald Sterling, was banned from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the remainder of his life after TMZ leaked a recording of some comments he made to his girlfriend V. Stiviano, concerning her friendship with black people. He’s consequently in the throes of selling the Los Angeles Clippers to the former, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who stepped down from the company last year after thirteen tumultuous years at the helm, marked by the surge of the Apple Empire and the ultimate marking of his once-eminent firm as a brand that just wasn’t cool anymore. When all else fails, one supposes, buy a basketball team; Ballmer successfully made a bid of $2 billion to buy the Clippers within a month of the Sterling controversy.

The two men met at Sterling’s Beverly Hills home to negotiate the sale of the Clippers franchise together with Sterling’s wife Shelly. And while the crew reached no definitive settlement, ESPN reports that it was otherwise a perfectly pleasant conversation, considering Sterling’s notorious obstinacy on the matter.

It’s a trickier deal than just writing a check. Two years after Sterling bought the team in 1979, he granted co-ownership rights to Shelly, from whom he has been estranged since December 2012. Donald is banned from the NBA; Shelly is not. The NBA briefly considered snatching all license of ownership from the entire Sterling clan — their son-in-law, Eric Miller, has served as the Clippers’ “director of basketball administration” — but not before Shelly arranged the sale to Ballmer in late May. Donald condemned her actions, and a day later sued the NBA for $1 billion.

He’d drop the suit all of three days later, though he has since called his wife of 59 years a “pig.”

The warring couple met on Sunday to finally discuss business, two days before Shelly was to testify in the civil case between them over whether or not she was justified in her negotiations with Ballmer (she’ll be in court on Tuesday in Los Angeles). After a three hour conversation concerning all the tumult of the last few months — oh, to be a fly on that wall — the two invited Ballmer to come over the next day to further address the matter of the Clippers’ sale, which was supposed to have been finalized a week ago. It’s the first time the two men met in person to talk about the deal.

The NBA, meanwhile, twiddles its thumbs and waits. It’s widely assumed Ballmer will ultimately take the reins from the Sterlings, but if nothing’s certain by September 15, the league has the option to take matters into its own hands and sell the team itself, since the 2014-15 season will begin just six weeks later.

TIME golf

Rory Mcllroy’s Dad Wins $85,000 Bet on Son’s British Open Win

In 2004, Gerry Mcllroy bet his son would win the British Open before he turned 26, at odds of 500-1

Rory Mcllroy’s dad Gerry won over $85,000 from a bet he made in 2004 that his son, then 15, would win the British Open within the next 10 years.

The elder Mcllroy bet 200 pounds ($341) in 2004 that his son would win the British Open by the age of 25 at odds of 500-1, the BBC reports. Rory Mcllroy won the golfing tournament by two shots on Sunday. The bet was made through bookmaker Ladbrokes.

“Nine out of 10 times, these bets come to nothing, but on this occasion the punters definitely knew more than we did,” said Jessica Bridge, spokeswoman for bookmaker Ladbrokes. “And we can only doff our cap to their confidence and foresight.”

[BBC]

TIME

Rory McIlroy Wins British Open for 3rd Major

GOLF-GBR-OPEN
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who is only 25, celebrates his final putt on the 18th hole on the final day of the 2014 British Open Golf Championship. Paul Ellis—AFP/Getty Images

(HOYLAKE, England) — Rory McIlroy completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the British Open to capture the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy led by six shots going into the final round and never let anyone closer than two shots. He closed with a 1-under 71 for a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

Garcia put up the biggest fight. He was two shots behind when he left a shot in the pot bunker right of the 15th green and made bogey. Birdies on two of the last three holes were not enough to catch McIlroy.

McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship. He joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players with three different majors at age 25 or younger.

TIME

ESPN Reaches Deal with Comcast for SEC Network

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Comcast Cable has reached a deal with ESPN to carry the SEC Network.

The network, which launches on Aug. 14, was already set to be carried on cable and satellite providers like DISH Network, Cox Communications and AT&T U-Verse.

The addition of the nation’s largest cable provider announced Friday means the SEC Network will be available in a total of 46 million households nationally, with other negotiations continuing.

The SEC Network will carry at least 45 football games this season.

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