Good morning! Michigan State interim president John Engler, the state's former governor, has resigned amid backlash over his comments about Larry Nassar's sexual assault victims enjoying the "spotlight."
Tiger Woods teeing off at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai in 2017. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
The European Tour returned from its winter break this week, with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship currently underway on this spectacular-looking course.
The big picture: Abu Dhabi is the first of 6 events that will take place in the Middle East this year — a whopping 12.5% of the European Tour's schedule (48 events total).
How we got here: 30 years ago, Dubai was "just starting to introduce itself as a tourist destination, and golf offered a natural fit with its winter sunshine and miles of undeveloped acreage," writes the New York Times' Jeff Shain.
👀 Look: Dubai in 1990 vs. Dubai today
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The NBA's 9th annual London game takes place tonight between the Washington Wizards (18-26) and New York Knicks (10-33).
🎥 Last night: James Harden scored 50+ points for the second straight game, but the Rockets fell to the Nets in OT thanks to Spencer Dinwiddie's heroics.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Rob Friedman, a volunteer high school pitching coach in Atlanta, just launched a new service called FlatGround designed to help under-the-radar pitchers develop and gain exposure, writes Axios' Mike Sykes.
Why it matters: Unless they're lighting up the radar gun, talented high school and amateur pitchers often slip through the cracks. Even the ones who do throw gas struggle getting eyeballs — especially when compared to, say, a teenage hooper whose dunk just went viral.
Between the lines: So far, FlatGround is delivering on what it promised, as 2 of the independent league pitchers Friedman showcased have already been signed — one by the Milwaukee Brewers and one by the Baltimore Orioles.
The big picture: Gone are the days of athletes mailing out their highlight tapes and hoping for a call back. Now, services like FlatGround are harnessing the power of social media to offer an eyeball guarantee.
👋 Bob Costas' 40-year career at NBC Sports is officially over as the two sides have agreed to "quietly" and "happily" break up.
🏈 As reported earlier this month, NFL TV ratings rose 5% this season, which sounds like great news. Growth!!!
📖 I've always been fascinated by the relationships between athletes/coaches and the local beat reporters who cover them, which is why I enjoyed the following article so much.
Jerome Bettis spent his first 3 seasons with the Rams (2 in L.A., 1 in St. Louis). Photo: Brian Bahr/AllSports/Getty Images
24 years ago today, the Los Angeles Rams formally announced their intention to relocate to St. Louis. The league's owners initially disapproved, but the threat of a $2.25 billion lawsuit changed their minds.
Fast forward: The Rams, who moved back to L.A. in 2016, play the Saints in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday. A win would send the franchise to the Super Bowl, which they last won in 1999 (remember this?).
"A generation of quarterbacks are performing at such a high level into their late 30s and, in some cases, early 40s, that they're challenging our notions about longevity and team-building," writes The Ringer's Kevin Clark.
What's happening: According to former NFL QB Matt Hasselbeck, who played for the Colts in 2015 at age 40, the league's new rules governing contact are a game-changer.
Across the 4 major North American pro sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL), 6 teams share the same name.
Answer at the bottom.
Chilean biker Jose Ignacio Florimo Cornejo during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
The Dakar Rally is an annual 10-day, 3,000-mile off-road endurance event, which is being held exclusively in Peru this year after neighboring countries backed out.
The backdrop: First staged in 1978, the Dakar Rally originally took place between Paris, France and Dakar, Senegal — but due to security threats in Northwest Africa, the race was moved to South America in 2009.
Kendall "Our visuals team is awesome" Baker
Trivia answer: Kings (Los Angeles and Sacramento) — Rangers (New York and Texas) — Giants (New York and San Francisco — Cardinals (St. Louis and Arizona) — Jets (Winnipeg and New York) — Panthers (Carolina and Florida)