Tom Mayenknecht: Women’s World Cup will finish strong

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After overall North American interest took a dive with the early elimination of both Canada and the United States — the former in a disappointing group stage and the latter losing to Sweden in a heart-breaking Round of 16 match that ended the Americans’ hopes of a three-peat in what would have marked a fourth consecutive finals berth — it appears the FIFA Women’s World Cup will finish strong with an England-Spain final. In fact, the showdown between two of the world’s most traditional soccer powers should go a long way to further cementing women’s soccer in those two European countries. It’s arguably good global growth stimulus for the rest of the world to have two countries not named the U.S. in the championship final. Having host Australia in the match for third place against Sweden is another bonus for FIFA and event organizers Down Under.

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Meanwhile, the state of men’s professional golf is very much in a state of flux given the sport business soap opera that is the takeover of the PGA Tour by the Saudi sovereign fund (PIF), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t positive growth trends for the sport. Those bull stocks include TopGolf — the golf, food and beverage experience that is riding high throughout the U.S. and could soon find its way into Canada. The dramatic rise of the close to 100 TopGolf locations are a reminder to everyone in the business of sports and entertainment that fans are in the market for an accessible experience and that, ultimately, most of us are social animals looking for a good time.

Most of us are also more engaged with our favourite teams when they are winning. That is why Major League Baseball and its expanded wild card structure appears to be heading to another bullish September. With about 40 games to go in the 162-game MLB marathon, 24 of 30 teams are within 8.5 games of a wild card berth, with 18 of them within five games. That should translate into significant scoreboard watching on smartphones, tablets and laptops in the final six weeks of the regular season. While we’re at it, give the Los Angeles Dodgers credit for yet again for leading the National League West — buoyed by an 11-game winning streak going into the weekend — and chasing Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves at the top of the National League.

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Team president Victor Cui’s job wasn’t to score touchdowns for the Edmonton Elks, who until this week — the week of his departure from the organization — have been all in when it comes to setting new lows in sport franchise futility. That has been a shock to the system of Edmonton sports fans who grew up in the “City of Champions” in the 1970s and 1980s. Most years between 1975-2006, one or both of the CFL team and the NHL Oilers were competitive, if not contenders. Fast forward to 2023, you don’t go 1-9 in the CFL without problems that transcend your top executive and business operations. It’s a bear market that will take several years to climb out of. The big question is whether the Elks’ community ownership model becomes a casualty of this embarrassingly bad run. Yet at least the losing streak is over for the Elks, who took out the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-10 Thursday night.

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