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Olympic Reforms, Cubs Gain Lester: The Week In Sports

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

So many bargains this time of year. Hey, want to buy the Olympics? The IOC has reformed its bidding process to make it just a little cheaper to bring the Olympics to a place near you. And National Football League has denied Adrian Peterson's right to appeal his suspension. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hello, Scott.

SIMON: Let us begin with the Adrian Peterson case. He was suspended until after the season after he was indicted for disciplining his son with a switch, for which he has apologized and said, I love my son, and that's the way I was raised, and I'm raising him - until now - that way. Does this decision drive a rift between the NFL and the players' union?

GOLDMAN: It widens one that's already there. The union's been upset throughout the whole saga of the past few months with Peterson and Ray Rice. The union has felt the players who brought their troubles on themselves still haven't been afforded due process in the handling of the cases. The union is highly critical of the arbitrator who denied Peterson's appeal yesterday. Harold Henderson was appointed by the NFL as an independent arbitrator. He is a former NFL executive. And the union says he was biased in his decision. And the Players Association and Peterson say they're going to sue.

SIMON: And this comes after what seems to be - at least with the players, another unpopular decision - this new employee code of conduct, which was tweaked this week - the one Commissioner Goodell brought into place after the Ray Rice scandal.

GOLDMAN: Well, he promised it. In September, amidst the public uproar over his bungling of the Rice and the Peterson cases, Goodell said there'd be a revised personal conduct policy by the time of the Super Bowl in February. And this week - early delivery. The owners unanimously approved revisions that put in place a structure for how the league will investigate possible violations of the policy, how it'll handle players while their case is going through the legal process and how it'll discipline those players. And yes, the union was very upset with this, as well. It said the process was supposed to be collectively bargained, and it wasn't. And again, the union is considering filing a grievance over this.

SIMON: Let's turn to the Olympics. So the price of bribing - I'm sorry - bidding on the Olympics has been lowered by the IOC. What have they done and why can't they practically give away the Winter Olympics?

GOLDMAN: You know, the average cost of the last three Olympic Games was $23.8 billion. If you've got that in your wallet, you can have it. Hey, the IOC loves its money, Scott, but it was listening when several prominent cities that would've been wonderful winter hosts, including Oslo and Stockholm, - they withdrew from the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games. So this week the IOC unanimously approved significant reforms. It's already started to implement. Cost savings could come from possibly holding Olympic events outside a host city or a country and from using existing stadiums rather than building these huge facilities that often end up as white elephants - unused after the party ends.

SIMON: Tom, you know, this is your beat. I can't always pay attention to baseballs, you know, stuff during the off-season. Where did John Lester, the great pitcher of the Boston Red Sox, wind up going? Did you follow that?

GOLDMAN: I think it's a city in the Midwest. Ah (snapping fingers) it's on the tip of my tongue.

SIMON: A city in the Midwest? Excuse me. He signed with the Chicago Cubs, and this is - you know what I think is coming about with General Manager Theo Epstein. So Tom Ricketts, who owns the Cubs - wonderful guy. Here's the speech he told us once that he gives during spring training. He says someday - you may not believe it - the Chicago Cubs are going to win the World Series, and the men wearing that uniform you're wearing now will not be ballplayers. They will be legends. And as soon as he told me that he said that I thought, ha, I know why you're a billionaire. Is this coming about?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) You know, it's one pitcher. But opening the bank vault and getting someone of his pedigree, a guy who has won World Series - you know, it changes the clubhouse. Players know this team is serious about contending. Suddenly, the Cubbies are among the top seven teams, according to Las Vegas, with the best chance of winning the title in 2015, which would be the first time since when, Scott?

SIMON: I believe 19 - oh, who's counting. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.