In Face-off With IRS, the Boston Bruins Win Big – Laura Saunders July 7, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET


Hockey team prevails in tax case about deducting cost of meals, a ruling that could have wide impact

The owners of the Boston Bruins, whose players include Patrice Bergeron, above, won a tax case that experts say could have broad implications.

The owners of the Boston Bruins, whose players include Patrice Bergeron, above, won a tax case that experts say could have broad implications. Photo: John Russell/NHLI/Getty Images

​The Boston Bruins ruled the world of professional hockey six years ago when they last won the Stanley Cup. But the team’s victory last week over the Internal Revenue Service will likely resonate far beyond the rink.

In Jacobs v. Commissioner, the owners of the National Hockey League’s Bruins argued the team should be able to deduct 100% of the cost of certain meals they provided to players and staff. Under current law, only 50% of the cost of many business meals is tax-deductible.

The Bruins’s victory has potentially opened up a new tax maneuver for many businesses. Now they may be able to write off twice as much as they thought allowable for meals provided to large groups at business meetings far from company headquarters.

“This decision goes completely for the taxpayer and opens the door to meal deductions that many people assumed weren’t possible,” says Eddie Adkins, national technical leader for employee benefits with accounting firm Grant Thornton.

A spokesman for the IRS, which still has time to appeal the decision, had no comment. A Bruins spokesman said, “We are pleased with the decision.”

Article continues:

University of Missouri president resigns amid race row – By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Updated 12:54 PM ET, Mon November 9, 2015 | Video Source: CNN


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(CNN)Several University of Missouri organizations, including the football team and the student association, saw their demands met Monday when university system President Tim Wolfe announced he was stepping down amid a controversy over race relations at the school’s main campus.

Saying he takes “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” he asked that the university community listen to each other’s problems and “stop intimidating each other.”

“This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”

His decision, he said, “came out of love, not hate,” and he urged the university to “focus on what we can change” in the future, not what’s happened in the past.

His decision came after black football players at the University of Missouri — with their coach’s support — threatened not to practice or play again until graduate student Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike. Butler, who was protesting the state of race relations on the main campus and had demanded Wolfe’s removal, tweeted Monday morning, “My body is tired but my heart is strong. This fight for justice is necessary.”

He tweeted after Wolfe’s news conference that he had ended his hunger strike and said, “More change is to come!! #TheStruggleContinues.”

Article continues:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/09/us/missouri-football-players-protest-president-resigns/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Black Missouri Tigers players to strike over racial harassment on campus – Guardian Sport Sunday 8 November 2015 00.14 EST


  • Athletes call for the resignation of university president
  • Legion of Black Collegians put out message of discontent
University of Missouri

Black players from the Missouri Tigers football team say they will not participate in team activities until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigns.

There have been several incidents of racial harassment in recent weeks on the college campus and Wolfe has come under criticism for his handling of the situation. In one recent incident, excrement in the shape of a swastika was smeared on a dormitory wall while other students have complained that racist slurs are common at the university. Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student at the college, is currently on hunger strike over the issue.

On Saturday night, the Legion of Black Collegians posted a message on Twitter calling for Wolfe to resign.

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet said. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

Athletes from the team, including star running back Russell Hanbrough, featured in a photo accompanying the tweet.

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/nov/08/black-missouri-tigers-players-to-strike-over-racial-harassment-on-campus

One Black Baseball Manager Is Not Enough | FIX IT – Tomas Rios 11.03.156:34 PM ET


 This Sept. 20, 2013,  file photo, shows then-Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker (12) in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Washington Nationals say they have hired Dusty Baker as their manager. The team announced the move on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

Dusty Baker wasn’t even the first choice to be the Nationals’ new manager. Now he is, sparing MLB from a season without a black manager, despite rules meant to make sure this never happens again and a league that is 40 percent people of color.

Major League Baseball will enter its 2016 season with at least one black manager because a team owned by the 86th-richest man in the world tried to save a few bucks. After announcing Bud Black (note: he’s actually white) as their new manager last Wednesday, the Washington Nationals promptly filled the well with strychnine by offering Black a 1-year, $1.6 million deal they presumably pulled out of a condemned bargain basement.

The Nationals, while still negotiating with Black, then circled back to their second choice, Dusty Baker, who quickly agreed to terms and will thus spare MLB the ignominy of its first opening day without a black manager since 1988.

In the 41 years since Frank Robinson became the first black man to be hired as a MLB manager, there have been just 26 more black managers in the major leagues. If one is looking for what that presumed progress has amounted to, consider that apparently all it takes for a black manager to land a MLB gig in 2015 is a willingness to live with being the second choice—even in the eye of the public—and some lightspeed organizational stupidity.

Going by the words of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, none of this dreck should have been lit aflame in the first place.

“Communication in the clubhouse, communication with the coaching staff, is vital,” Rizzo said when asked in a press conference what the team would seek in a replacement for fired manager Matt Williams. “We feel that where we’re at in our timetable of winning a championship, we certainly would lean toward someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level.”

Article continues:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/03/one-black-baseball-manager-is-not-enough.html

Betting on the Fantasy World – By Max Miceli Oct. 30, 2015 | 1:01 p.m. EDT


Fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have carved out a booming online niche – but can they sustain their success?

The Associated Press

An employee at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, walks past screens displaying the company’s online system stats in Boston.

It’s Sunday morning, and 26-year-old Ethan Sturm logs on to his computer at home in Boston and begins his search. Scrolling through the thousands of potential competitions he can enter via the daily fantasy sports site FanDuel, Sturm picks out a few contests and starts crafting his lineups.

He doesn’t want to get into any of the larger tournaments, preferring to face off against 100 or so competitors or less. He uses what’s called a lineup optimizer – a tool available for free on other fantasy sports sites that projects player output – to help him make his decisions, and figures out how much money he wants to wager.

[DEBATE CLUB: Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?]

This is Sturm’s first year playing daily fantasy football – a variation on the more popularly known and season-long fantasy sports leagues – but he trusts his instincts and knowledge of the game, gleaned from years of playing in normal fantasy leagues and countless hours listening to podcasts on his commute to work.

Some liken it to the high-risk, high-reward atmosphere of day trading, in which small fortunes can be made and lost on the whims of volatile financial markets. Others take a less forgiving view, saying such activities amount to legalized online gambling and that they need to be stopped – or, at the very least, monitored much more closely.

Daily fantasy allows a player to join any number of leagues on a given day, pay a small entry fee, construct a lineup and win – or lose out on – cash prizes that depend on the contest. The only constraints on the fantasy roster are fictitious salary caps: The site assigns dollar values to specific players based on their projected performance, and contestants are required to submit lineups with players whose arbitrary values don’t exceed the cap.

At first, Sturm started with free competitions on FanDuel that reward winners with small sums of cash, but he quickly graduated to wagering money.

“Early this year, I won a $20 (tournament),” Sturm says. “I’ve just kind of been using that as my bankroll for playing in small tournaments.”

Meanwhile, 750 miles and a half-dozen states away in North Carolina, 42-year-old Paul Guerrero is doing nearly the same thing.

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/10/30/draftkings-fanduel-and-gambling-on-the-world-of-fantasy-sports?int=a14709

Noah Syndergaard challenges the Royals to a fight after beating them in Game 3 – By Jeff Passan Oct 31 2015


Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at Oct 31, 2015 4.36

NEW YORK – In the afterglow of a World Series debut in which he threw a 98-mph fastball in the general vicinity of the leadoff hitter’s head, won the game and capped that victory by threatening to kick his opponents’ asses, Noah Syndergaard, the New York Mets starter with the last name of a Viking, the nickname of a comic-book superhero and the disposition of a man with no damns left to give, sneered at the fauxtrage burbling around him.

Syndergaard is 23 years old, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound Texan, stubborn as a steer. So, yeah, he said. He did throw that fastball over the dome of Alcides Escobar, the Kansas City Royals‘ leadoff hitter with a propensity to whack at first-pitch fastballs. He did it because the idea of Escobar standing comfortably in the batter’s box, dead red on that pitch, bothered him.

“If they have a problem with me throwing inside, then they can meet me 60 feet, 6 inches away,” Syndergaard said. “I’ve got no problem with that.”

Alcides Escobar was left sprawled on the ground after the first pitch of Game 3. (AP)

Alcides Escobar was left sprawled on the ground after the first pitch of Game 3. (AP)

Until Friday night – until the Mets’ bats reanimated and Syndergaard threw triple-digit petrol, until the Royals’ starter wilted on the mound and their gloves followed suit in the field and especially until the pitch that sizzled to the netting behind home plate – the World Series looked like a one-sided affair. Not only did the Mets’ 9-3 victory in Game 3 halve the Royals’ advantage in the series, it reminded them New York wasn’t going to hand a championship over willy-nilly.

Article continues:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/noah-syndergaard-challenges-the-royals-to-a-fight-after-beating-them-in-game-3-072118401.html

 

The Science of an Insane Hitting Streak – Robert Silverman 10.25.1512:01 AM ET


Until just a few years ago, sports analytics experts believed hot streaks like the current unprecedented one by the Mets’ Daniel Murphy were a statistical fluke. Now? Not so much.

There’s no way to explain what Daniel Murphy—maybe the hottest player in the history of professional baseball—is doing right now. Even science can’t explain it.For 30 years, the general consensus among sports analytics experts was that any single scalding or ice-cold stretch of play is an example of statistical noise that has no predictive value, and a prolonged period of success shouldn’t be treated in any way differently than we would if we started flipping a coin and landed on heads again and again.

But you’d be hard pressed to find an athlete or fan anywhere that doesn’t see this as profoundly wrong and an example of data wonks missing the forest for the trees.

Now, after all, it turns out the conventional wisdom—those armed with no advanced metrics but a working pair of eyeballs—might have been right all along.

In case you haven’t been following the New York Mets’ giddily improbableborderline-miraculous trek to the World Series, their offense has been powered by an utterly average 30-year-old second baseman that never bopped more than 14 homers in a single season who, for reasons unknown, has transmogrified into the greatest hitter in postseason history.

Over the last nine games Murphy’s hitting an otherworldly .421 with a 1.026 slugging percentage, including a record-breaking 1.294 in the League Championship Series. He’s crushed seven dingers, including one in each of the last six games, a playoff feat that’s previously been accomplished by absolutely no one.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/25/the-science-of-an-insane-hitting-streak.html

DOES WINNING AT FANTASY SPORTS REQUIRE SKILL OR DUMB LUCK? – DAVEY ALBA : 10.17.15.. 7:00 AM


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Poker is gambling. Everyone knows that. But if poker is a game of “chance,” then why are some people so much better at it than others? For daily fantasy sports sites, that fine line between games of skill and games of chance could determine whether they stay in business.

Over the past week, regulators and law enforcement have taken significant interest in the heavily advertised and nominally regulated industry. The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether daily fantasy sports sites violate federal law. Nevada regulators decided that such sites constitute gambling and told them to cease operation until they secured proper licenses. In Florida, prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate their legality. Then there’s the New York Attorney General’s inquiry, not to mention a class-action suit filed in federal court against the two biggest operators, DraftKings and FanDuel.

Daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel, as we’ve written, have always operated in murky territory. But they’ve been exposed to harsh light following revelations that a DraftKings employee inadvertently released company data on player lineups before the third week of NFL games. That same week, he won $350,000 at FanDuel, raising suspicions that he used insider knowledge to cash in.

Daily fantasy sites operate under an exemption to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The law effectively bans online gambling in the US by prohibiting banks and credit card companies from transferring money to online gambling sites. Congress made an exemption for fantasy sports sites, which lawmakers deemed a “game of skill and not chance.”  The thing is, most games involve skill and chance. There’s no catch-all test to quantify how much skill and how much chance are involved in a particular game—and no legal standard that identifies a threshold at which gaming becomes gambling.

‘Games of Skill and Not Chance’

The actual language of the law singles out fantasy sports and says all winning outcomes in such games “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are “determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of [athletes] in multiple real-world sporting.”

This is the carve-out often bandied about as the reason why the fantasy sports industry has so far escaped regulation. When lawmakers passed the in 2006, fantasy sports were predominantly played in small groups among friends. That changed radically about a year later, when daily fantasy sports emerged. The game migrated online, where anyone could join in. Players could create multiple lineups and play daily. Some players use custom-built models and computer software to crunch data and improve their odds.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/10/does-winning-at-fantasy-sports-require-skill-or-dumb-luck/

The Deals That Made Daily Fantasy Take Off – By Matthew Futterman and  Sharon Terlep Oct. 16, 2015 8:55 p.m. ET


Federal probes of FanDuel and DraftKings pose this question: How did they get so big?

FanDuel and DraftKings control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, spending lavishly on ads and awards.

FanDuel and DraftKings control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, spending lavishly on ads and awards. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

FanDuel and DraftKings, intense competitors that control some 95% of the North American daily-fantasy-sports market, have made a splash in recent months with lavish spending on advertisements and cash awards for the winners of their contests.

But with the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation opening probes this week into the business model of these companies, and after gaming regulators in Nevada ordered the sites to cease operations in their state, the question is this: Where did these troubled companies come from, and how did they get so big so fast?

FanDuel says it will dole out $2 billion in prizes this year. DraftKings has pledged to give away at least $1 billion. The companies are valued at $1.3 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.

New-York based Fanduel, which was early to the market in 2009 and long the dominant player, started with a relatively muted approach. It gave fantasy-sports players a chance to compete for prizes by building virtual teams of athletes. In 2013, it raised $11 million in financing from venture-capital companies. The following year it raised another $70 million.

But what pushed the business to its current frenzied level was the fast rise of Boston-based DraftKings, founded in 2012, which adopted a more aggressive fundraising and marketing posture and quickly came to rival FanDuel in size and profile.

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