TESS VIGELAND, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Tess Vigeland. It is Saturday, so perhaps you parked yourself on the couch and watched sports all day. Perhaps you didn't. If you are in the latter category, don't fret. We are here with a wrap-up of everything you missed and need to know. A Martinez is the co-host of Take Two on member station KPCC here in Los Angeles. He's also the guy we turn to for all things sports.
And A, the Masters is underway so let's talk golf, which suits you to a tee.
A MARTINEZ: Agh. Great joke there, Tess. By the way, I hate golf.
VIGELAND: Oh, no.
: Yeah - no, I hate playing golf. I should say that. But you know what, Tiger Woods, I like watching Tiger.
VIGELAND: Well, but the big story this year is that he is not at the Masters. You know, usually we would be talking about the news as who is there. But of course when he doesn't show up somewhere, that's what the news is. He's still recovering from back surgery. How are golf fans dealing with his absence?
: Well Tess, I can't speak for golf fans. I can speak for me though, and here's the thing. Without Tiger Woods, I'm not watching golf. And when it comes to ratings, I mean, Chicago Tribune estimates that the broadcast itself could lose as many as 20 percent of its audience from the year before because Tiger isn't there. You look at the tickets for the Masters, typically they go for 1,000 bucks. On the resale market they're not even close to that because Tiger isn't around. So his presence or his absence is a huge impact all the way around financially.
VIGELAND: So should we start preparing for a Tigerless future? I mean, you know, he's out of the Masters for the first time in 19 years. He's got this back surgery. He's been out for other things recently. Are we at the end of the Tiger era?
: Well, at the very least we're end of the Tiger being dominant-as-a-golfer era, that's for sure. And after his very public humiliation, now all the injuries that are piling up, certainly he won't be the dominant player that he used to be on the golf course. And for a lot of people that is a very sobering thought because, Tess, lots of people have made a lot of money off of having Tiger on the course and having him in front of TV screens.
And now golf has to figure out a way to replace him, and there is no way because he is really one of the greatest golfers, if not the greatest golfer, of all time. He's a personality as well and golf has struggled over the years to come up with reasons for non-golf fans to tune in.
VIGELAND: All right. Well, let's move onto college sports. The NCAA Basketball March Madness just ended but Kentucky, but coach John Calipari is in the news. He's got a new book out where he is comparing the NCAA to the Soviet Union. He says it's powerful but crumbling. Is this a fair comparison?
: The NCAA does have similarities with the Soviet Union, at least in the way we used to perceive the Soviet Union, in that it was absolute; iron fisted, no room for any kind of sense of humor at all, or at least maybe some kind of a practical judgment. Now that all of a sudden players feel a little bit more empowered now, all of a sudden you can start to see some cracks in the wall. And that's what Calipari's talking about.
VIGELAND: Are there any suggestions that he is making as to how to reform the NCAA?
: Yeah, he does lay things out. And first of all, he injects himself, in that he could've helped bridge the gap between the players and the athletes and - the student athletes I should say - and the NCAA. But that's John Calipari for you, always thinking that he can do a lot more than maybe he's capable.
VIGELAND: He could solve the problem.
: Yeah, he has a few things that he spelled out in his book. Players should receive stipends of $3,000 to $5,000. I don't know how likely that's going to be. The NCAA should cover players' insurance premiums, and that you feel - at least on the surface it feels reasonable considering how much the NCAA makes.
And the other one, athletes should be allowed a one-trip flight home every single year. Yeah, that sounds OK for Christmas and holidays but then you're debating about who gets the trip, who doesn't, who's worthy? Is the football team more worthy of the trips as opposed to the women's softball team? There's all kinds of interpretive things that all of a sudden could lead into some problems.
VIGELAND: And how is the NCAA responding?
: They are saying that they do need to at least review some of their policies to try and see where they can help students athletes a little bit more. But, you know, the thing is who wants to share wealth if you don't have to? And I think they're going to probably try and look to ways to where they make themselves happy, but also try to make someone else happy as well. So straddling the fence, Tess Vigeland, usually means that you fall. And when you fall on a bike or on a fence usually it's very painful.
VIGELAND: Indeed. A Martinez is the co-host of "Take Two" on member station KPCC. Thanks A.
: Thanks Tess. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.