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"Billions at stake"

Some recent stories worth reading:

Henry Winter interviews Richard Scudamore, the Chief of the English Premier League. Here are some choice quotes:

On revenue streams: "International TV rights were 10 per cent of our income, and are now 28 per cent of our income. We could be at 50 per cent of our income in three years' time [with international rights touching £1billion]."

On battles over rights to information: "We have a class action against Google and YouTube in the US. They have no appetite for taking down clips. If every clip of every goal is available on YouTube, what appetite will Virgin Media have for buying them?"

On the influx of foreign ownership: Scudamore rejects the suggestion that the Glazers, Lerners, Abramovichs and Shinawatras are here solely for the money. "They could get better returns making other investment decisions. It brings them a credibility, a profile, a reputation, whether in their home country or this one, which you can't get with other investment. Any financial aspirations they may have only work if they deliver success. Their interests are aligned to the fans. You don't buy a Rolls-Royce and try to turn it into a Ford Fiesta."

Two stories on stadiums and team value in the NFL: one with a focus on California; one with a focus on New York. The common denominator: modern stadiums offer differentiated seating and entertainment options, and that feature alone is worth millions upon millions of dollars per year.

Here are two from the dark side.

First, a short piece on Michael Franzese, a former "member of the Colombo crime family," whose job was to use players gambling debts to entrap them. Since 1996, he's been giving lectures as part of a gambling education program for NBA rookies. My guess is that his contract with the NBA limits the candor with which he can discuss his former business, but the term "point shaving" hangs over the story like a big dark cloud.

Finally, the concussion discussion is heating up again in the NFL. Professional football is a terrible beauty of a sport, capable of devouring the lives of the men who play it.