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SBJ's digital feeds will pause for the July 4 holiday. The Daily feed, Morning Buzz, Closing Bell, Global and Newsletters will resume Tuesday, July 5.

Saudi Arabia approaches WTA to host event....LIV Golf to reimburse DP World Tour player fines....Source: NFL seeks indefinite suspension for Deshaun Watson

Saudi Arabia approaches WTA to host event

Saudi Arabia has approached the WTA about “hosting an event, possibly the Tour Finals,” but the WTA has “not entertained the prospect of a tournament there in any formal fashion.” The women’s tennis tour would “be likely to face questions" if it staged events in Saudi Arabia, where “women’s rights have been curtailed and women gained the right to drive only in 2018." WTA leaders have “yet to announce the WTA Finals host city” for ‘22, and it “remains a challenge.” The WTA has “held events in Arab countries," including Qatar and Dubai, for years. But Saudi Arabia has “yet to secure an official tour event in men’s or women’s tennis despite making increasingly serious offers” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/25).

LIV Golf to reimburse DP World Tour fines

LIV Golf will “reimburse pros who have been hit with £100,000 fines” from the DP World Tour for playing in the first LIV Golf Series event outside London two weeks ago (London TELEGRAPH, 6/25). Sanctions announced last week against DP World Tour players competing in LIV events “will double in severity if those golfers continue to take part” in the series. But more defections to LIV “are expected.” There is "speculation around" Matthew Wolff and Tommy Fleetwood, while Henrik Stenson’s management team has been speculated to be "in talks with LIV" (LONDON TIMES, 6/26). 

Meanwhile, the WASHINGTON POST goes with the headline: “Before it even arrives, golf’s rogue tour roils a small Oregon town.” When Pumpkin Ridge “hosts LIV and its growing roster of star golfers, who have eschewed the PGA Tour in favor of the staggering sums of money offered by the Saudi fund, Pumpkin Ridge and North Plains will become, like LIV itself, the divisive epicenter of an earthquake shaking golf.” The N.Y. TIMES looks into whether LIV Golf will "diminish PGA Tour events like the Travelers Championship."

LIV Golf rolls out first ad in major U.S. dailies

LIV Golf rolled out its first ad effort by running full page ads in Friday’s WALL STREET JOURNAL and NY TIMES. The ads feature text written in all caps over a photo of golf ball being teed up. The ad reads in part: “Golf may be steeped in centuries old tradition. We are not here to leave that behind. But what if it were time for golf to evolve, to energize the game? … A game not to be confined to once continent. But to be played in all corners of the globe. We believe golf is a force for good. That is why we want to supercharge the game we love. To grow the game. For those of us who already live for golf and some of us who are just getting started. This is LIV Golf” (SBJ).

Source: NFL seeks indefinite suspension for Watson

The NFL is "poised to argue for an indefinite suspension of at least one year" for Browns QB Deshaun Watson at a hearing scheduled to begin Tuesday in front of the league's new disciplinary officer, former U.S. district judge Sue Robinson, according to a source. The league will contend that Watson "violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and should be suspended without pay for at least the entirety" of the '22 season. The NFLPA is "expected to argue" to Robinson for "far less severe discipline against Watson, perhaps seeking no suspension at all." It is "not clear how long the hearing will last or when Robinson will make an initial ruling" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/25).

The NFL is preparing to "make its case for one of the stiffest suspensions in the sport’s history." Sources anticipated that an outcome could come the "week of July 4," more than a year since the first allegations against Watson surfaced (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/25). Robinson has "no track record of ruling on cases involving NFL players." A source said that her decision "could come within a week but also might take until training camp." The NFL hopes for "clarity on this case before training camp begins" in late July. Once Robinson rules, Watson will have the "option to appeal." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "could either rule on that appeal or call on an independent ruler" (ESPN.com, 6/25)

Raiders' culture blamed for turnover, lawsuits

The LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL takes a deep dive into the culture of the Raiders under the header, "How a 'boys club' Raiders culture fueled turnover, lawsuits and harassment claims.” Raiders employees said that the team “enabled a culture in Oakland and Las Vegas that left them feeling unsupported, underpaid and at risk of retaliation if they voiced concerns.” Those complaints “were echoed in multiple lawsuits” filed over the course of a decade. Women who used to work for the team also “alleged a troubling pattern of harassment, forced demotions and unequal treatment,” with one calling it “a ‘boys club and the Mob wrapped in one.’” The “high-profile exits” of at least 10 Raiders leaders in the past year “underscore the organization’s ongoing internal turmoil.” Raiders Owner Mark Davis said, “Eventually, I will have something to say about all of this, but not right now” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/26).

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale confirms move to LAFC

Real Madrid F Gareth Bale has “confirmed he will be heading” to LAFC. The “blockbuster move would be a free transfer” as Bale's contract is up with the LaLiga club. Sources confirmed that the deal is “expected to be completed using targeted allocation money (TAM),” leaving LAFC with an “open designated player slot.” Bale would be “eligible to play” for LAFC when the MLS transfer window opens July 7, meaning he could “first feature” against the Galaxy at home the following day. In eight seasons with Real Madrid, Bale was “part of five Champions League-winning sides and won LaLiga on three occasions” (ESPN.com, 6/25). The signing of Bale is “one of the most significant in LAFC’s short history” (L.A. TIMES, 6/26). Bale is among the "most dynamic attacking players of his generation when healthy" (AP, 6/25). LAFC "teased an international signing" on its social media accounts yesterday (N.Y. TIMES, 6/26).

Sports world reacts after Roe v. Wade overturned

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued a joint statement Friday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and "eliminate the constitutional right to abortion." The two stated, “We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location” (SI.com, 6/24). The WNBA Seattle Storm released a statement "pledging the franchise is 'ready to fight' for women." The statement said, "Now we have come to this: People have won the freedom to buy guns with impunity while women have lost the freedom to decide their own future. Furious & ready to fight" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/24).

On Saturday, the LPGA issued a statement on ruling, adding, "We encourage and support our employees and members in exercising their individual constitutional right to voice their opinions and vote, as this decision now places important women’s rights in the hands of state lawmakers" (MORNING READ, 6/26).

Dick’s Sporting Goods "went to bat for its employees" following Friday's ruling. The company in a letter noted it "isn’t immediately clear how that would effect its reported 50,000 employees nationwide," but "vowed to provide its workers with 'consistent and safe access' to benefits it provides." Dick’s Sporting Goods said it will "provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursements to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/24).

NASCAR paying tribute to Bruton Smith

All cars in today's NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway will feature a decal in tribute to late Speedway Motorsports Founder Bruton Smith (SBJ). The funeral for Smith is scheduled for 1:00pm ET on Thursday, June 30 at the Central Church Charlotte campus. The funeral is "open to the public," and guests are "asked to be seated by 12:30 p.m." The service also will be "live-streamed on Charlotte Motor Speedway's YouTube channel" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/26).

New Kyle Busch documentary premieres

"Rowdy," a new documentary on NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, premiered to "friends, family and media members on Thursday," three days before today's race at the Nashville Superspeedway. The film centers on a side of Busch that has been "largely absent from the public eye.” While Busch’s "antics are the center of many stories,” the film “recounts the lowest points of Busch’s life, as well as his climbs back to the top.” Producer Chance Wright said, “It’s not the end of his story, but it’s a chapter. There’s more to come, and arguably another film to be made when he’s done.” “Rowdy” is set to "hit theaters across the U.S. for one night only on June 29" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/24).

Construction continues on Wrigley sportsbook

Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and DraftKings CEO Jason Robins participated in a "ceremonial signing of a steel beam" in front of the "steel skeleton of a three-story, 2,200-square-foot sportsbook" coming to Wrigley Field. The sportsbook will open “in the second quarter of 2023,” with operations "run by DraftKings." The food and beverage operation will be "run by Levy," who is the Cubs' concessionaire. Kenney: "We’re a landlord in this project. We get a piece of the food and beverage spend, but we don’t get a piece of the handle.” The sportsbook, which should "hold between 800 and 1,000 patrons," is going to be "open year-round” (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/25).

MLR still has work ahead before '31 WC

The "small crowd" at the Red Bull Arena for the Major League Rugby championship game “indicated the work ahead if MLR is to become a major player on the US stage" before the '31 Rugby World Cup. The season finale on Fox showed that Rugby New York and the Seattle Seawolves "gave it all they could." Both teams “attacked,” while both sets of fans “made noise.” MLR now has a chance to “ponder the future of a league dogged by controversy, after the disqualification" of the Austin Gilgronis and L.A. Giltinis, the top two teams in the west, from the playoffs amid a lawsuit filed by Gilgronis and Giltinis Owner Adam Gilchrist (London GUARDIAN, 6/26).

NACDA convention kicks off in Las Vegas

The NACDA convention kicked off today and will run through Wednesday at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, giving members a “first-hand look at the town in which several championships are expected to be staged in the coming years.” This is the “first time in three years the association has gathered” with more than 6,000 attendees. The event was scheduled to be in Las Vegas two years ago but the pandemic "led to its cancellation.” Orlando was set to host last year, but it "was held virtually." NACDA and 18 affiliate associations “will hold over 500 educational and networking events during the convention.” Former UNLV AD Jim Livengood said, “We needed to show the world what Las Vegas can do for an event like this.” NACDA “will return" to Las Vegas in '24, and is “already scheduled” as part of the convention rotation (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/24).

Speed Reads....

USATF has "moved the final day of its championship meet to a morning start" due to "temperatures projected to be in the mid-90s" today in Eugene, Ore. Today's USA Track and Field Championships '22 was scheduled to run from noon to 3:00pm PT, but will now begin at 10:30am (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 6/26).

DC United's 3-1 loss to Nashville SC yesterday at Audi Field came before an announced sellout of 19,325, the "largest home attendance figure since a sellout for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s visit" with the Galaxy in August '19 (WASHINGTON POST, 6/26).

Ball Arena will "host a watch party" for Avalanche-Lightning Stanley Cup Final Game 6 today. Parking "will be free and concession stands will be open" (DENVER POST, 6/26).

The Bucks and Disney on Friday hosted a screening of "Rise" for Milwaukee community organizations Running Rebels, Journey House, Mentor Greater Milwaukee and Cream Skills Basketball Association. The film is based on the life story of Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo (WISN.com, 6/25). "Rise" currently has an 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (SBJ).

Weekend Hot Reads:

Under the header, "Celtics ownership deserves credit for the team being within striking distance of NBA title No. 18," the BOSTON GLOBE's Christopher Gasper writes there is a "responsibility to recognize owners for doing the right thing, for making decisions that put their organization on a path to success." There is a "lot of credit being dispensed for the Celtics’ NBA Finals season," but one "must start at the top with lead Owner Wyc Grousbeck and co-Owner Steve Pagliuca." They "deserve a salute for the bold decisions to elevate Brad Stevens to president of basketball operations with zero front office experience," and to "replace Stevens with a first-time NBA coach in Ime Udoka." They "look like no-brainers now," but last year at this time were "greeted with great skepticism." There was a "lot of doubt and ridicule regarding the direction of the franchise and the unproven folks ownership installed to guide it," but that has been "replaced by abundant optimism."

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Today's Back Pages....

The Weekend Rap offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post  N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News
 
 
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