The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: USOPC review commission sets agenda, speakers; U.S. routs Jordan in FIBA World Cup; 92,003 for women’s volleyball in Nebraska!

A world-record 92,003 for a women's volleyball match? Yes, at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium on Wednesday! (Photo courtesy University of Nebraska)

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1. Commission on the U.S. Olympics & Paralympics hearing set
2. U.S. stomps Jordan, 110-62, moves on at FIBA World Cup
3. Coe: “We have got to be tough” about events
4. Santa Monica moves forward with LA28 venue agreement
5. NBC announces heaviest Paralympics commitment yet

● The Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics unveiled the agenda and panelists for its 6 September hearing in Washington, D.C., with a curious emphasis on youth and community sport rather than elite competitions.

● At the FIBA men’s World Cup, the U.S. finished an undefeated group stage by beating Jordan by 48 points, joining Serbia, Slovenia and defending champ Spain in the second round. The American men will face Montenegro on Friday and undefeated Lithuania on Sunday to try to advance to the quarterfinals.

● World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said the federation will be focusing now on expanding interest in the sport in his final term, and may have to make changes in what sports are highlighted. An added World Championships in 2026 is also possible, with discussions with multiple stakeholders underway.

● The City of Santa Monica, California approved revised commitment letters concerning the use of its beachfront for beach volleyball for the 2028 Olympic Games, and the City Council asked its staff to inquire about having more events in the City, such as skateboarding. But the price is going up.

● NBC released some details on its Paralympic Games coverage in 2024, with 1,500-plus hours of streaming on Peacock, and 140 hours on cable and over-the-air television, including nine hours on NBC. The total program hours are up, but the cable and over-the-air commitment is actually lower than for Tokyo in 2021.

World Championships: Shooting (Poland’s Czapla wins 50 m Running Target Open) ●

Panorama: Commonwealth Games (Jenkins & Smith vie to be CGF chief) = Sports & Cities (Paris ranked top on mega-events and world champs) = University Sport (Matytsin stands for election as FISU emeritus president) = Athletics (3: Kennedy wins Zurich vault with world-leading clearance; Kipyegon says 1500-5000-10,000 triple for Paris!; Allen signed to Eagles practice squad) = Boxing (World Boxing says 40 to stand for elections in November) = Cycling (2: Groves wins La Vuelta stage 5; UCI cancels last two BMX Freestyle World Cups) = Football (Rapinoe to end U.S. national team career vs. South Africa in September) = Volleyball (2: Nebraska draws 92,003 for world-record attendance!; Volleyball World to stream Big 10 matches worldwide) = Weightlifting (Iran sanctions masters lifter for shaking hands with Israeli medalist) ●

Commission on the U.S. Olympics & Paralympics hearing set

The detailed agenda and panelists for what is expected the sole public hearing of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics was released Tuesday, with five panels and a total of 18 speakers.

The hearing will be held on 6 September 2023 at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2123, from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. The program:

Session I: 9:00 a.m.:
Opening Remarks & The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement: A Historical View
● Dr. Victoria Jackson, Associate Professor of History, Arizona State University

Session II: 9:35 a.m.:
Governance & Accountability
● Sarah Hirshland, CEO, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
● Elizabeth Ramsey, Executive Director, Team USA Athletes’ Commission
● Pat Kelleher, Executive Director, USA Hockey, & Chair, National Governing Bodies

Session III: 10:50 a.m.:
Protecting the Safety of Movement Participants
● Ju’Riese Colón, CEO, U.S. Center for SafeSport
● Grace French, Founder & President, The Army of Survivors
● Scott Gray, Minnesota Hockey Safe Sport Coordinator
● Marci Hamilton, Founder & CEO, ChildUSA

Session IV: 1:00 p.m.:
Athletes’ Rights, Equity, & Accessibility and Ensuring Fair Play
● Donald Fehr, former Executive Director, National Hockey League Players’ Association
and Major League Baseball Players Association
● Ed Williams, Former Chair, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s Athletes
Advisory Council (now Team USA Athletes’ Commission)
● Chuck Aoki, Community Access Navigator, University of Michigan’s Adaptive Sports
& Fitness Program and three-time U.S. Paralympian
● Jeff Mansfield, President, U.S.A. Deaf Sports Federation
● Candace Cable, Director of Community Outreach, Resources, & Education at the
Disability Rights Legal Center and eight-time U.S. Paralympian
● Travis Tygart, CEO, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

Session V: 2:40 p.m.:
How to Build a Better Future for Sports in America
● Dr. Vincent Minjares, Project Manager, Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program
● Sally Nnanami, Co-Executive Director for the United States, PeacePlayers
● Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
● Tom Farrey, Founder & Executive Director, Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program

The Commission was formed through the passage of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020, and will complete its work by the end of September. A report is expected to be made report to the Congress by the spring of 2024.

The panel includes 14 members and is chaired by University of Baltimore Law Professor Dionne Koller and former U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council chair Han Xiao. The members include familiar names to Olympic sports fans, including track & field stars Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley, Edwin Moses and Brittney Reese, gymnast Jordyn Wieber and swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar.

For those looking for a discussion on how the U.S. might win more medals at the Olympic Games, the choice of panelists indicates that will be lightly discussed, if at all. Koller and Xiao’s statement noted the broad role the Commission sees for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Movement, including:

“it impacts the millions of people, including so many of our nation’s children, who participate or seek to participate in movement sports in communities across the country. America’s athletes at all levels deserve to engage in sports safely and access sports equitably, with the institutions that oversee these sports governed with transparency and accountability.”

Look for that to be a significant focus of the hearing, although it is questionable whether recommendations to forcibly broaden the USOPC’s responsibility to be a de facto national sports ministry via legislation – including government funding – will get any traction in the Congress in what promises to be a very fractious 2024.

U.S. stomps Jordan, 110-62, moves on at FIBA World Cup

The U.S. men’s national basketball team had little trouble with Jordan in its final Group C game at the 2023 FIBA men’s World Cup in the Philippines, winning 110-62 on Wednesday and finishing with a 3-0 record, and moving on to the second phase of group play on Friday.

The game was out of hand early, with the Americans taking 31-12 lead after a quarter and 62-33 at half. Guard Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves) led the U.S. scoring with 22, with help from Bucks forward-center Bobby Portis Jr. (13), Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (12) and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson had 10. The U.S. shot 48.8% from the field, held Jordan to 33.3% and led in rebounding by 56-34. The Jordanians were led in scoring by U.S.-born Rondae Hollis Jefferson – a former NBA player for three teams – who had 20.

All eight group winners finished 3-0; the Wednesday games included the U.S. finishing up in Group C; Serbia winning its third game to take Group B, with Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic leading in scoring twice; Serbia sweeping Group F, with Mavericks star Luca Doncic scoring 37, 34 and 19 points in the three games, and defending champion Spain taking its three games in Group G, with Juancho Hernangomez scoring 22, 8 and 21 points in their games.

The championship sector of the tournament is now down to 16 teams, who will play two more games in new groups of four, with the top two finishers moving to the quarterfinals:

Group I: Serbia (3-0), Dominican Republic (3-0), Italy (2-1), Puerto Rico (2-1)

Group J: United States (3-0), Lithuania (3-0), Montenegro (2-1), Greece (2-1)

Group K: Slovenia (3-0), Germany (3-0), Australia (2-1), Georgia (2-1)

Group L: Canada (3-0), Spain (3-0), Brazil (2-1), Latvia (2-1).

Teams will play two games each – four per group – against the teams they have not previously faced, so the U.S. will play Montenegro on Friday (1st) and then Lithuania on Sunday (3rd).

The quarterfinals will be played on 5-6 September, the semis on 8 September and the medal matches on 10 September.

Attendance so far has been modest, with an average of 7,918 through the first 48 games of the tournament, being played in Pasay, a suburb of Manila (PHI); Okinawa City in Japan and the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta (INA).

Coe: “We have got to be tough” about events

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (GBR), glowing in the aftermath of a wonderful World Athletics Championships in Budapest (HUN), said a major focus of his final term would be on expanding the sport’s popularity.

A number of his comments were quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian and included:

“The first four years I was stopping this ship from sinking, the second four years was about doing all the things that my predecessors probably should have done – transfers of allegiance, female category, Russia, Belarus, all those things. The next four years have got to be about the product.”

“It’s got to be about competition. We’re not jettisoning the sport, but we have to be tough about [the events]. There are things that are more popular than others.”

● “All our all our tentative conversations which have started here, with the groups that we need to work with, whether they’re the coaches, whether they’re the member federations, we’ve got member federation sessions here, whether it’s commercial partners with the broadcast, or the shoe companies, they all want to be part of that journey. And you know, there’s only one risk for us at the moment given where we are and that’s just our innate conservatism.”

He also said that he was not ruling out the possibility of adding another full-scale World Championship for 2026, for which there is no worldwide event scheduled. Coe has been clear that he wants some sort of highlight event that year, but there is no consensus yet on what it will be.

Any moves to trim the program and move events to a lower level will likely be met with fierce resistance. In an effort to make the 2020 Diamond League meets more attractive, the 5,000 m was dropped in favor of the 3,000 m, and the 200 m, 3,000 m Steeplechase, triple jump and discus were eliminated or relegated to token appearances.

Those announcements, in 2019, were met with a roar of indignation and the formation, in the U.S., of The Athletics Association, which successfully lobbied for their restoration for the 2021 season.

Santa Monica moves forward with LA28 venue agreement

At its last meeting, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved (7-0) a motion to authorize its City Manager to provide letters that reiterate and update the City’s interest and commitment to being the site for beach volleyball for the 2028 Olympic Games.

During the bid process for the 2024 Olympic Games in 2016, the Los Angeles bid committee prepared letters outlining the venue and city requirements for the Games, which were signed by then-City Manager Rick Cole and the then-City Council President, Tony Vazquez. However, as the City’s staff noted:

“Now that LA 2024 has transitioned to LA28, it is necessary to update the Venue and City Guarantee letters accordingly. The Venue Guarantee establishes the minimum terms, including the exclusive use period, rental fee, and reimbursement for the loss of parking revenue. The City Guarantee letter includes commitments by the City to not stage major events during the Games, protect the marketing rights of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (OCOG), provide basic public services, comply with local laws, and collaborate with the United States Department of Homeland Security on public safety efforts. …

“Following Council’s approval of the updated guarantee letters, staff would begin negotiating the Venue City Games Agreement, which would include more detailed terms and conditions. The draft agreement terms would first be vetted through a community outreach process in collaboration with LA28, and then brought to Council for approval in early 2024.

“Once Council has approved the Venue City Games Agreement, staff would then begin negotiating the Enhanced City Master Agreement, which would include all terms and conditions, financial obligations, and detailed commitments for municipal services.”

The beach volleyball plan foresees a 12,000-seat temporary facility on 475,000 sq. ft. of sand north of the Santa Monica Pier, with an operations compound taking up 400 parking spaces in an adjacent City lot in April and May 2028, then expanding to 800 spaces in June and all 1,175 spaces during the Games period in July and August.

The City’s fee was calculated at $1.893 million for the site and another $1.825 million for the loss of parking revenue to the City during the use period, for a total of $3,717,999.

That was then. Referring to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation data, $1.00 in December 2016 is now $1.27 in mid-2023, so the new fee for this site alone will rise beyond $4,721,859, adding more than one million dollars.

All of this will be spelled out in the agreement to come; this process will be repeated and likely made public for each of the publicly-owned venues which will be used for 2028.

The Council members had the usual concerns about trying to retain local business access, use local labor and vendors and minimize inconvenience to residents during the Games, but were also asking about more opportunities.

In specific, questions were asked about the proposed venues for skateboarding and break dancing. The response from the City staff was that LA28 had informed them that the added sports for 2028 had not yet been finalized, and discussions could proceed after that.

Skateboarding is in for 2028 and has been publicly announced by the International Olympic Committee. Breaking is not, and will debut in Paris in 2024, but could be added, with the decision expected at the IOC Session in India in October. Baseball/softball, breaking, cricket, flag football, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsport and squash are reported to be under consideration.

NBC announces heaviest Paralympics commitment yet

The 2024 Paralympic Games will receive a huge streaming showcase on NBC’s subscription Peacock service, and more than 140 hours on cable and over-the-air television.

Tuesday’s announcement noted that all 22 sports will be available on the 1,500-plus hours of streaming coverage, with an additional 140 hours on NBC, CNBC and USA Network. The NBC commitment is for nine hours of coverage, with six in primetime and live coverage on weekends.

The 2024 Paralympics are scheduled for 28 August-8 September, starting 17 days after the end of the 2024 Olympic Games on 11 July.

The coverage total is up from Tokyo in 2021, when 1,000 hours of streaming coverage on the then-new Peacock network was available. However, for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, NBC had dedicated channels available in NBCSN and its Olympic Channel: Home of the Team USA that have not been shuttered. The Tokyo coverage offered more than 200 hours of cable or over-the-air programming, including 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily on NBCSN.

For Paris, NBC will have closed captioning of every Paralympic event, regardless of platform. There will also be audio description on all linear programming.


● Shooting ● Final days of the ISSF World Championships in Baku (AZE) with Poland’s Lukasz Czapla winning the 50 m Running Target Open event, scoring 586 points to 583 for Ukraine’s Ihor Kizyma and 582 for Emil Martinsson (SWE).


● Commonwealth Games ● Faced with an uncertain future for an event which began as the British Empire Games in 1930, two have stepped forward to stand for election to be Commonwealth Games Federation President in November.

As Louise Martin (SCO) is completing her second and final term, the Commonwealth Games Federation announced Tuesday that Chris Jenkins (WAL) and Kereyn Smith (NZL) have been certified as candidates.

Jenkins has been a Vice President of the CGF since 2019 and a Regional Vice President for almost eight years prior, so he is well familiar with the situation. Smith was the chief executive of the New Zealand Olympic Committee from 2011-21 and helped organize the country’s delegations to three Olympic Games, two Winter Games and two Commonwealth Games.

Whoever wins has an enormous task in front of them, after Victoria (AUS) withdrew as the 2026 host and no 2030 candidates ready.

● Sports & Cities ● A ranking of world cities by the major sporting events and world championships held has been released by Scotland-based Quantum Consultancy and Durham University Business School in England, listing Paris (FRA) as the current leader:

“The cities are ranked based on their cumulative event score which considers the number of events a city has hosted or are set to host between 2021 and 2028, as well as the size, scale, and recognition of these events as part of the points-based methodology. The report analysed 355 individual event editions across 95 sports and 156 event properties. In total, 75 host nations and 330 host cities will have hosted this set of pinnacle events between 2021-2028, demonstrating greater diversity in the number and type of destinations hosting these events in comparison with previous years.”

In the top 10 are Paris, Budapest (HUN), Tokyo (JPN), Beijing (CHN), Milan (ITA), Doha (QAT), Belgrade (SRB), Chengdu (CHN), Los Angeles (USA) and Berlin (GER).

Five other U.S. cities made the list: (25) Lake Placid, New York, host of the 2023 Winter World University Games; (34) Orlando, Florida, which will host the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2024; (41) Yankton, South Dakota, which hosted the World Archery Championships in 2021; (45) Eugene, Oregon, host of the 2022 World Athletics Championships, and (=53) Birmingham, Alabama, host of the 2022 World Games.

● University Sport ● Oleg Matytsin, the Russian sports minister, has been nominated to be the “President Emeritus” of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), effectively giving up his claim to return to head that organization.

Matytsin was elected as the FISU President in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. He became the Russian sports minister in 2020 and stepped away from his FISU post on 23 March 2021 on order from the Court of Arbitration for Sport relating to the Russian doping scandals. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Matytsin has not returned to his FISU post and Austria’s Leonz Eder has served as Acting President.

Matytsin has said he could return to head FISU whenever he wishes, but this newest action indicates he will no longer be directly involved (especially with the Russian invasion of Ukraine continuing). The next FISU General Assembly is scheduled for 17-18 November 2023.

● Athletics ● The early event of the Zurich Weltklasse Diamond League meet this year was the women’s pole vault, held downtown, with a sensational win for Australia’s co-World Champion, Nina Kennedy, who grabbed the world lead with her lifetime best clearance and national record of 4.91 m (16-1 1/4). She’s now equal-seventh on the all-time outdoor list.

She bested co-world champ Katie Moon of the U.S., who cleared 4.81 m (15-9 1/4), but could go no higher. Kennedy cleared 4.86 m (15-11 1/4) on her first try, while Moon passed, missed once at 4.91 m and then twice at 4.96 m (16-3 1/4) to settle for second.

American Sandi Morris, seventh at Worlds, cleared a season-best 4.76 m (15-7 1/4) for third.

The main portion of the meet is on Thursday, shown in the U.S. on the Peacock streaming service at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Kenyan distance superstar Faith Kipyegon, 29, who has set three world records this season and won both the women’s 1,500 m and 5,000 m at the World Athletics Championships, said she has her eye on more, much more.

She told the crowd at a ceremony to welcome the Kenyan team home in Nairobi that she plans to attempt an Olympic triple in Paris in 2024, at 1,500 m (where she is twice Olympic champ), the 5,000 m and the 10,000 m:

“Expect more from me since I am still strong. … I will be moving to the marathon after the Paris Olympics. I want to graduate slowly and be consistent in what I do.”

The attempt is not unprecedented, as Dutch star Sifan Hassan won bronze-gold-gold at Tokyo in the women’s 15-5-10 in 2021, and bronze-silver-11th (after a fall near the finish) with the same program at the 2023 Worlds in Budapest.

The Philadelphia Eagles cut wide receiver – and three-time U.S. hurdles champ – Devon Allen on Tuesday, but signed him to the 16-man practice squad on Wednesday.

Although concentrating on football in the 2022-23 season, Allen, 28, ran in seven outdoor meets from 22 April to 9 July, finishing second at the New York Grand Prix in June in 13.04, which ranks equal-fifth on the 2023 world list.

● Boxing ● World Boxing announced that its call for candidates for November elections has produced 40 candidates from 18 countries, meaning six more national federations beyond those announced are in the process of joining. From the statement:

“The nominations, which include 11 female candidates, cover a range of offices including President, Vice President (VP) and places on World Boxing’s Executive Board along with the Chairs of the Sport and Competition Committee, the Medical and Anti-Doping Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee.”

Candidates are being independently reviewed for compliance with the World Boxing requirements for fitness, including conflicts of interest.

● Cycling ● The mostly downhill fifth stage of the 78th Vuelta a Espana finished with the expected mass sprint, but with the same result as on Tuesday, with Australia’s Kaden Groves getting a second straight stage win.

He finished just ahead of Italian star Filippo Ganna and Dries van Gestel (NED) on the 186.2 km route, in 4:23:43, with the first 97 riders receiving the same time. Leader Remco Evenepoel (BEL) extended his lead to 11 seconds over Enric Mas (ESP) by winning an intermediate sprint bonus of six seconds at the 176 km mark.

Stage six will be a stiffer challenge: a 183.1 km route that’s mostly uphill, starting at 167 m in La Vall d’Uixo and finishing on a 7.8% climb to the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre, at 1,947 m!

The final two stages of the 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup were canceled on Wednesday:

“The Union Cycliste Internationale and Hurricane Group regret to announce that the last two rounds of the 2023 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup – scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, on 30 November – 2 December and Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, on 7-9 December – have been cancelled.

“The fourth and final round of the UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup (Park) will be staged in Bazhong, Sichuan Province, China, on 13-15 October.”

No reasons were given.

● Football ● U.S. Soccer confirmed that Megan Rapinoe will play her last match for the U.S. Women’s National Team against South Africa on 21 September in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rapinoe, 38, the 2019 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball winner as the top player in the tournament, announced her retirement earlier in the year and will finish out her NWSL season with OL Reign in October. With the two friendlies against South Africa remaining, she has 201 national-team appearances, with 63 goals and 73 assists. She played in four Women’s World Cup (winning twice) and three Olympic Games (winning once).

● Volleyball ● The University of Nebraska women’s volleyball program is not only a five-time NCAA champion, but wildly popular, selling out 306 consecutive matches at the 8,309-seat Devaney Center.

But on Wednesday, Nebraska undertook to sell out its famed Memorial Stadium for an early-season outdoor match with Nebraska-Omaha, resulting in a stupendous attendance of 92,003! According to Nebraska sports information:

“The attendance of 92,003 set a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s sporting event in the United States. The crowd of more than 92,000 also surpassed what is widely regarded as the world-record attendance for any women’s sporting event.

“The previously recognized world record was 91,648 fans in an UEFA Champions League match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg on April 22, 2022, at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. The previous record for an American women’s sporting event was 90,185 in USA’s FIFA World Cup Final against China on July 10, 1999, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.”

Naturally, this was also an NCAA record for any volleyball match, with the prior high “only” 18,755 for the Nebraska-Wisconsin NCAA championship match in Columbus, Ohio, on 18 December 2021.

And, best of all for the home throng, the Huskers won in straight sets, 25-14, 25-14, 25-13.

In an fascinating marketing move, Volleyball World, the joint venture between the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and its private equity investor, CVC Partners, announced a multi-year deal to stream Big 10 Network matches on its Volleyball World TV service:

● “Worldwide (including North America) streaming of 28 matches from B1G+ inventory – those matches will also air concurrently on B1G+

● “Live streaming of nearly 50 televised Big Ten Network volleyball matches outside of North America and certain Caribbean islands”

This is a unique move to take what has been seen as a provincial product – U.S. college matches – and introduce them to a worldwide audience, in a parallel to the way European football leagues were introduced to U.S. audiences a decade ago.

It does not hurt that, especially for women’s volleyball, the Big 10 is a leader, with five NCAA titles in the last 12 years and another four finalists. The Volleyball World growth strategy has been to acquire rights to every top-level competition it can, and offering volleyball fans a one-stop shop for the sport.

If successful – and the returns are not in yet – this kind of model could be duplicated for other sports, offering a potential for added funding for events which now receive only limited attention and exposure.

● Weightlifting ● According to a report of a post by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), an Iranian lifter who placed third at the World Masters Championships in Poland and shook hands with the Israeli silver medalist, has been banned for life:

“The [Iranian] weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia.”

Rajaei, 36, and a former national team member, shook hands on the victory stand with silver winner Maksim Svirsky during a photo session after receiving their awards in the men’s 35-39 109 kg division last Saturday. The IRNA report said “serious and decisive measures” will be taken to avoid future incidents.

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