Good morning. It’s Friday, December 9, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
NBA Commissioner David Stern announced yesterday that owners and players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday. While expected, the final, formal approval of the new CBA now allows the league to once again move forward with business operations including training camps and free agency which officially open today. Players approved the deal through electronic voting with balloting beginning on Wednesday night.
With free agency ready to rumble, NBA TV is jumping into the free agency season with free agency and training camp coverage this afternoon with special editions of NBA GameTime. The Eastern Conference free agency and training camp show will begin at 2p with Matt Winer. The Western Conference edition will air at with host Rick Kamla, before concluding with a special two-hour GameTime beginning at 7p to recap the stories of the day.
Movement on the Dodgers front: A Delaware bankruptcy judge said yesterday that he has decided to overrule an objection by FOX Sports and approve the sale of television and media rights for the LA franchise as part of the team’s plan to exit bankruptcy, according to the AP. Fox Sports attorney Greg Werkheiser asked the judge to stay his ruling for 14 days so Fox can file an appeal in U.S. District Court.
With college football’s regular season all but wrapped up, CBS Sports announced that the network’s national coverage of the SEC on CBS this season scored as the highest-rated regular-season college football package on any network for the third consecutive season, with games averaging a national household rating/share of4.2/9. The channel drew the three highest-rated college football telecasts of the 2011 season including LSU/Alabama, LSU/Georgia and LSU Arkansas.
The UFC’s sibling MMA promotion Strikeforce is set to continue its run on Showtime, according to UFC President Dana White. While the promotion’s television deal with the network is set to expire in February, White told reporters Thursday that recent talk have been fruitful and a new deal could be announced as early as Monday. The UFC’s parent company Zuffa purchased the promotion earlier this year. “Just sit and wait and watch what I do,” he said. “Trust me, it’s going to be just fine.”
The San Diego Chargers announced on Thursday that Sunday’s home game against Buffalo will be blacked out on local television due to a lack of ticket sales. Around 5,000 tickets remain for the game with the Chargers falling below expectations this season.
More NCAA realignment fallout. Air Force officially announced that the academy will not join western teams Boise St. and San Diego St. in a move to the Big East. Meanwhile Navy officials told reporters that they would also be unable to move anytime soon do to previous commitments, keeping two more slots open for the Big East to fill before they can create a championship game in football. Meanwhile, Boise St. moves its Olympic sports back to the WAC while San Diego St. is poised to take their sports to the Big West.
Persistent calls to eliminate the BCS are fine with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, but don’t count on his support for a “Plus One” playoff. Delany said at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, which also featured Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky and Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, that “As long as I can go to the Rose Bowl, I’m OK without automatic bids.” Thompson noted that his suggested eight and 16 team playoff proposals, however, “hasn’t gone real well.”
The IndyCar Series announced that the league will not return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next season, following Dan Wheldon’s fatal accident earlier this year, and that the track’s future in the sport will depend on what it learns from the investigation, according to the AP.
MSG Sports and StarGames are broadening their partnership and tennis platform, joining forces to present The Montreal Rendezvous on March 2, 2012 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. The new event is a collaboration between the Bell Centre’s production arm evenko, MSG Sports and StarGames and salutes past and current champions of the game including Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang, who are all set to compete in the inaugural event.
On deck this weekend (no pun intended) will be the 112th meeting of the Army/Navy football classic, with CBS set to air the game live from FedEx Field in Landover, MD, on Saturday at 2:30. The game marks the third year that the contest will be played on the second Saturday in December to conclude college football’s regular-season. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson call the action with Tracy Wolfson reporting from the sidelines.
The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge announced the 12 host cities that will serve as starts and finishes for the second annual stage race set to take place in Colorado this summer. Recently upgraded to a 2.HC ranking, the highest registration level next to the Tour de France, the race will take place from August 20-26 beginning in Durango and ending in Denver for stage 7 of the event. Other cities on the challenge include: Montrose, Aspen, Beaver Valley/Vail Valley, and Boulder.
DeepStacks has announced a new televised poker event set to hit North America in 2012. The DeepStacks Poker Tour is launching in Feb. 2012 with stops in New York, California, Nevada, Oregon and Quebec in its first season. Although broadcast partners were not announced, Joe Stapleton will commentate along with analyst Tristan “Cre8tive” Wade.
FOX Sports is partnering with Skip Gambert & Associates, a custom dress shirt designer and manufacturer, to outfit all of its studio and game broadcasters in 2011 and 2012. The arrangement began with the 2011 NFL on FOX and FOX College Football campaigns and will continue throughout the upcoming NASCAR on FOX and MLB on FOX seasons.
UEFA has extended its sponsorship agreement with Ford for the UEFA Champions League seasons through 2015. In renewing the partnership, Ford will now be able to claim 20 years of being a sponsor
NASCAR has announced that five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 11 other drivers will join 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart as part of the inaugural NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint preseason fan event scheduled for Jan. 21 in Charlotte, N.C. Driver appearances will include driver autograph and on-stage question-and-answer sessions.
Beyond Sport awarded NHL Green is with the 2011 Sport for the Environment Award for the league’s success with the NHL Food Recovery Program, which utilizes prepared but untouched meals from all 30 NHL facilities, and provided the food to over 163,000 meals to local shelters across North America. According to estimates provided by the U.S. EPA, the League reduced the equivalent of 79 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide (MtCO2) from the environment through this initiative.
The Boston Red Sox are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s first game next season with a yearlong celebration honoring the history of the venue along with special events. The actual anniversary will be observed on April 20, 2012, with a 3:05 p.m. game against the Yankees, echoing the afternoon game the team played against the Yankees’ precursor, the Highlanders, in 1912. The Red Sox also announced a charitable campaign called “100 Acts of Kindness,” which will involve donations, volunteer efforts and community events. Other activities will include Throwback days, a special logo, a coffee table book on the ballpark’s history and commemorative tickets.
MLB Advanced Media added sports journalists Richard Justice and Paul Hagen, formerly of the Houston Chronicle and Philadelphia Daily News, to the company’s team. The pair will provide perspectives of the game in print and as on-air analysts.
PlayUp announced a partnership with Military Traveler that kicks off ahead of this weekend’s Army/Navy football game with a “Military Traveler App” room where active and retired military personnel can follow the action in real-time and message about the rivalry. Prior to the 2:30p kickoff, registered users of the Military Traveler app will receive a notification announcing the “Military Traveler App” hangout room being open.
The Main Event
Friday: NCAA Tournament upstarts Richmond and VCU square off on ESPN2 at 8p.
Saturday: Army/Navy game on CBS at 2:30p.
Sunday: Giants/Cowboys square off for supremacy of the NFC East on NBC at 8:20.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
ON THIS DAY in 1987: Larry Bird ends his streak of 59 consecutive free throws.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who is the all-time leader for the Knicks in steals? Answer: Apparently, that stumped ya. Patrick Ewing with 1,061. Kudos: Rich Boland – DISH Network/NY; Keith Bielory – NBC Sports/NY; Sarah Galvin – Flashpoint Marketing Inc./NY.
In The Know: What team did Larry Bird beat for his first NBA Championship? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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