HEARD AT HALFTIME: $9 million Federal grant for Oregon22 broadcasting confirmed; NCAA makes first moves to clamp down on pay-for-play

The U.S. team celebrates its CONCACAF Women's U-17 Championship victory! (Photo: U.S. Soccer)

Plus: Boxing: Record-setting Women’s World Championships begin in Istanbul = Football: Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier stopped last year must be played; CONCACAF women’s U-17 medalists headed to India = Judo: USA Judo program helping police use less force = Rowing: China may have canceled events this year, but bids for future Worlds = Sport Climbing: Separate events for Boulder-Lead and Speed for 2024 magnify world Speed records in Seoul = Tennis: ITIA bans six players convicted of match-fixing in Spain = SCOREBOARD => Artistic Swimming: FINA World Cup (by video) wraps in Australia ●

News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:


Travel Oregon confirmed that the $9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration was formally approved in March, to help fund the host broadcast costs of the Oregon 22 World Athletics Championships in July.

In addition to the $9 million grant itself, support costs of $151,632 were also approved for oversight staffing, supplies and other costs. The money will come in quarterly payments of $4,761,432 (first quarter 2022), $2,507,500 in the second quarter, $1,807,500 in the third quarter and $37,500 in the fourth.

The deal is this: Travel Oregon will provide the Host Broadcaster – World Athletics Productions – with promotional videos and photography about Oregon, with accompanying scripts and destination information to be used in the broadcast of the Worlds from Hayward Field in Eugene. A sample script, to be used over a provided image of Crater Lake National Park:

“Crater Lake National Park: Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake National Park is a must see. The lake, fed by rain and snow is the deepest lake in the USA and one of the most pristine on earth.

“Crater Lake is located in Southern Oregon, which is also home to the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the stunning Rogue River, the Oregon Caves and vineyards, chocolatiers, and cheesemakers galore.”

The videos, images and scripts will be provided to individual national broadcasters to be incorporated into their own coverage of the Worlds. Travel Oregon’s grant plan stated:

“Anticipated total value of event exposure for Oregon: $100M in media value, based on research from the World Athletic Championships held in London in 2017. Of this, $77M was generated by the live television broadcasts of the event. The City of London embedded what they called “postcards” and verbal mentions (similar in function to Travel Oregon’s proposed footage, static images and narrative) for an estimated media value of $15M.”

Travel Oregon stated that the “potential” impact of the $9 million grant could include $224-374 million in visitor spending on the Worlds, $31-52 million in tax revenue and 1,800-3,000 future jobs related to tourism. In addition:

“Because the Oregon footage and stills will be permanently embedded in the broadcasts for future rebroadcasts in the years to come, the potential for continuing impacts to Oregon’s tourism economy will last well beyond the nine-day event.”

It will be fascinating to see the after-action evaluation of the Worlds in view of the actual capacity of Hayward Field for the event being under 17,000.

The State of Oregon is investing $31 million of its own money in the 2022 Worlds and the $9 million from the Federal government completes Governor Kate Brown’s promise to provide $40 million of the expected $75 million cost of the event.

The other $35 million is expected to come from USA Track & Field ($10 million), from individual donations ($10 million) and $15 million from ticket sales.


● Collegiate Sport ● The NCAA Division I Board of Directors “issued guidance to schools regarding the intersection between recruiting activities and the name, image and likeness environment.”

The targets are so-called Name, Image and Likeness agreements that are in essence, payments to athletes to attend a specific school. The announcement included:

“Specifically, the guidance defines as a booster any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program, assists with recruiting or assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes or their family members. The definition could include ‘collectives’ set up to funnel name, image and likeness deals to prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who might be considering transferring. NCAA recruiting rules preclude boosters from recruiting and/or providing benefits to prospective student-athletes.”

This new view of booster payments is effective immediately, with a focus on the future. University of Georgia President Jere Morehead noted that “the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer.”

Nothing will happen until they do.

● Boxing ● The International Boxing Association is once again on trial, trying to show that it is worthy to be reinstated as the governing body of its sport, with the start of the IBA Women’s World Championships in Istanbul (TUR).

A record field of 310 fighters from 73 nations are entered, with three champions from 2019 returning: Hsiao-Wen Huang (TPE: 54 kg), Beatriz Ferreira (BRA: 60 kg), and Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli, who won at 69 kg, but will fight at 66 kg this time in the IBA’s adjusted weight classes scheme.

Heavy attention will be paid to the refereeing and judging, including assignments of judges, conflicts of interest and overall fairness. The International Olympic Committee has noted this area as one of its continuing concerns about whether IBA can be trusted as a valid governing body for the sport.

The medal winners in the 12 weight classes will receive prize money of $100,000-50,000-25,000-25,000 for a total purse of $2.4 million.

● Football ● The crazy Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifying match in Sao Paulo that was ended after five minutes due to Covid quarantine issues last September has been ordered to be replayed.

FIFA announced Monday that fines of CHF 50,000 would be maintained against both national federations and that the game must be played.

Exactly why is not clear. The match was abandoned when Brazilian health officials ran onto the field, concerned that Argentina’s England-based players were not in compliance with Brazilian quarantine regulations. But the CONMEBOL qualifying has been completed, with Brazil at 14-0-3 (45 points) and Argentina second (11-0-6: 39) and schedules set for the World Cup, with Argentina in Group C and Brazil in Group G.

The CONCACAF women’s U-17 Championship in the Dominican Republic meant more than the U.S.’s third straight title with a tight, 2-1 win over Mexico.

It’s worth noting that the top three teams – the U.S., Mexico and Canada – all qualified for the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup to be played in India from 11-30 October, an event the U.S. has never won.

After the final in Santo Domingo, American midfielder Riley Jackson received the Golden Ball Award as the best player in the tournament and U.S. keeper Victoria Safradin received the Golden Glove (4-0 record, allowed one goal). The U.S. finished the tournament with a 58-1 goals-against total.

Canada’s Rosa Maalouf won the Golden Boot trophy as the top scorer with 12 goals.

The Dominican Republic is a hotbed for baseball, but not so much for youth football; U.S. Soccer noted the attendance at the final at 50.

● Judo ● This is interesting, in our aggressively divisive times and protests about policing.

USA Judo’s Police Professionals and PAL Program (“P3″) is partnering with The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association 111 Project (“FLEOA 111″) to host a control techniques seminar in Washington, D.C. on 14 May during “Police Week.”

This is a continuation of the P3 program created in 2019 and “aimed at professionalizing public policing by teaching officers how to utilize non-lethal judo techniques, body positioning and other subtleties to deescalate and if necessary subdue suspects without having to use a weapon.”

The program will be led by experts in judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, including judo black belts (and U.S. Army veterans) Joe Yungwirth and Charles Cherry.

Everything helps.

● Rowing ● China was unable to host the 2021 World Rowing Championships last October due to Covid complications and continues to struggle, canceling the 2022 Asian Games, Asian Youth Games, World University Games and both Diamond League track & field meets.

But do not think for a moment that the Chinese are backing away. Last Thursday, bids from China were confirmed for the 2024 and 2025 Beach Sprint Finals, 2024 and 2025 Coastal Rowing Championships, a 2024 World Cup stop and the 2025 World Championships, also being sought by Amsterdam (NED) and Varese (ITA).

The U.S. is a bidder for the 2026 Worlds – in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida – along with Austria (Linz), Bulgaria (Plovdiv) and Lithuania (Trakai). Sarasota-Bradenton also bid for the World U-19/U-23 Championships for 2025 and 2026.

● Sport Climbing ● This sport was included in the Olympic program for the first time in Tokyo, with one “combined” event for men and women. This was highly unpopular with many climbers, especially the Speed competitors, whose event has little to do with either Bouldering or Lead, which are both, essentially, rock climbing.

Speed is a race up a 15 m wall, contested in a one-vs.-one format, and the International Federation of Sport Climbing successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to split the events for Paris in 2024. There will be a combined Bouldering-Lead event and a separate Speed event.

Good news for the Speedsters and a boost for the IFSC, which saw new world records set for both men and women at the World Cup in Seoul (KOR) over the weekend:

Men: Indonesia’s Kiromal Katibin won his second qualification round in 5.17 seconds, 0.03 better than countryman Veddriq Leonardo from the 2021 World Cup in Salt Lake City. Leonardo won the final in 6.96, as Katibin fell.

Women: Poland’s two-time World Champion Aleksandra Miroslaw – winner of the Olympic Speed event in Tokyo, but fourth overall – set a world mark of 6.84 at the Games. In Seoul, she won the qualification round in 6.64, an improvement of 0.20. Miroslaw also won the final, 6.72-7.23, over American 7.23.

The IFSC World Cup comes to Salt Lake City now for two weekends of events on 20-22 May and 27-29 May. More records?

● Tennis ● Six Spanish players were banned from tennis following criminal convictions for match fixing in the Spanish courts, following a finding of multiple instances of match fixing involving organized crime.

None of the players are household names:

Marc Fornell Mestres (highest ATP ranking of 236), Jorge Marse Vidri (highest ATP ranking 562) and unranked players Carlos Ortega, Jaime Ortega, Marcos Torralbo and Pedro Bernabe Franco all pleaded guilty to corruption charges in Spain, resulting in criminal convictions. The players were all given two-year suspended prison sentences, as well as a fine.”

With the conclusion of the court case, the International Tennis Integrity Agency handed down bans against all six: 22 years, six months for Mestres, 15 years against Vedri, Carlos Ortega, Tarralbo and Franco, and seven years and six months for Jaime Ortega.

“The sanctions mean that they are prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by any international tennis governing body or national association for the length of their bans. They are also unable to coach in the professional game.”

Said ITIA chief executive Jonny Gray (GBR): “This is one of the most significant infiltrations of tennis by organised crime that we have seen. We welcome the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the prosecution of entire criminal networks, not just the players involved. This ruling sends a strong message that match fixing is a crime which can see criminal convictions.

“I must pay tribute to our investigations, intelligence and legal teams who have worked tirelessly over the last five years or so to bring this case to its conclusion. We also had excellent co-operation between the ITIA and Spanish law enforcement agencies, as well as the unswerving support of the tennis bodies. Finally, we are hugely grateful to the betting industry for their evidence, leading to these convictions.”


● Artistic Swimming ● Late results were posted for the final day of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Cup in Australia in which the contestants submitted videos of their performances.

Canada’s Audrey Lamonte won the women’s Solo Free at 84.6000, while Americans Megumi Field and Natalia Vega won the Duet Free, scoring 84.8000.

Japanese siblings Yotaro and Tomoka Sato won the Mixed Duet at 83.2667. Canada won the Team Free (84.8000); Israel won the Free Combination event, scoring 84.0667.

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