• Top-ranked golfer will miss British Open with ankle injury
  • Risks in performing other sports are OK for pro athletes

What’s wrong with an athlete having a little fun, especially if it involves something that won’t land him in jail?

It’s a shame the world’s No. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, will miss next week’s British Open after tearing an ankle ligament while playing soccer. Yet it’s certainly nothing for which McIlroy should be criticized.

Sports Line thinks it’s great that quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel have taken batting practice with major league teams, or that quarterback Cam Newton spent time this week practicing with an Australian rules football team. And bravo to Jordan Spieth, who is halfway to this year’s golf Grand Slam, for his recent 2 1/2-hour battle with a 300-pound shark in the Bahamas.

“Everybody needs to have a life, too,” Spieth told reporters this week when asked whether such high-intensity fishing was too big a risk for him.

Team athletes already have lots of restrictions written into their contracts, and an injury incurred in a forbidden activity can lead to a player getting penalized or losing a job.

Sure, a few New Englanders got bent out of shape when quarterback Tom Brady went cliff diving after the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory in February (one fan wrote that Brady “needs to be tucked away safely in a padded room”).

And skier Bode Miller gave the U.S. Olympic team a scare before the 2010 Vancouver Games when he sprained his ankle playing volleyball.

But isn’t that better than an athlete getting hurt in a barroom brawl, or Thabo Sefolosha breaking his leg while being arrested by New York police in April outside a club and missing the postseason for the Atlanta Hawks?

Meanwhile, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants and cornerback C.J. Wilson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sustained potentially career-altering injuries over the Independence Day weekend when they had fireworks go off in their hands. In Pierre-Paul’s case, it might be costly as well -- NFL.com reported the Giants withdrew a $60 million contract offer.

***

When Peyton Manning was a University of Tennessee junior in 1996, the National Football League’s five-time Most Valuable Player pitched his dad, Archie, on the idea of a camp to help high school quarterbacks improve their passing skills at a time when throwing wasn’t emphasized as much as today.

That year, 185 participants turned out at Tulane University in New Orleans. This weekend, 1,200 campers from 47 states and Canada are attending the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

Over the past two decades, more than half of the current NFL quarterbacks have attended as either counselors or campers, including Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota.

“We never thought that we would be doing this 20 years later,” said Archie Manning, who played in the NFL from 1971 to 1982 and is chairman of the National Football Foundation. “It was just supposed to be a fun thing with the boys. I never thought it would be anything more than a regional-type thing.”

There are 120 coaches -- creating a 10-to-1 ratio of campers to coaches. Eighty coaches come from high schools and small colleges, while there are 40 counselors who are starting college quarterbacks -- such as Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, USC’s Cody Kessler and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. Camp fees range from $460 for day-campers to $605 for overnight. A portion of the proceeds is donated to Special Olympics Louisiana, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Brain Tumor Research Center.

Archie and his three sons -- Peyton, Eli and Cooper -- have been a part of every camp. Dartmouth College coach Buddy Teevens and Oregon director of football operations Jeff Hawkins also have “never missed a minute” of the camp. Teevens coached Tulane when the event started and Hawkins was his recruiting coordinator.

Archie Manning said the coaches love the camaraderie of the camp and he’s grateful most of them return every year.

“It’s kind of like a family,” he said. “They like the experience. They like the kids. For me personally, I am probably a little selfish, but it guarantees me four nights with my boys, and I don’t get four nights any other time of the year.”

***

More PGA Tour players live and train at Sea Island on the Georgia coast than any other U.S. golf community, among them Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Harris English and Brian Harman.

The resort has a promotion for the rest of 2015 based on how those five players fare, offering 15 percent off rates at the Inn at Sea Island if one of them finishes in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event.

Johnson, Harman and English are all in the field for this week’s John Deere Classic in Illinois, and there seems to be a good chance the discount will take effect after this weekend. Johnson won the John Deere in 2013 and finished second the past two years. A year ago, Harman beat him out.

***

The Pan American Games open today in Toronto and run through July 26, offering a partial preview of many of the competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The entire Olympic program will be contested for the first time at this year’s Pan Am Games, which will feature more than 6,000 athletes from 41 nations and will include the Pan Am Games debut of golf, canoe slalom, women’s baseball and women’s rugby.

The U.S. is sending a 623-member team that has 111 Olympians -- including 38 medalists and 20 champions. Among them is swimmer Natalie Coughlin, who has 12 Olympic medals, and five-time shooting medalist Kim Rhode.

The U.S. team ranges from 15-year-old table tennis player Kanak Jha to 61-year-old sailor Augie Diaz. The squad also has two sets of siblings, two married couples and a set of father-daughter sailors.

***

-Unless Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom gets a surprise selection as the NL starter or an injury to Albert Pujols leaves the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira as the AL’s only healthy first baseman, neither New York team will be represented in All-Star Game starting lineups for the first time since 1992.

-The New York Knicks will get their first real look at top draft pick Kristaps Porzingis this weekend as the 2015 NBA Summer League tips off -- though the New York Post reported that he could be sidelined with hip tightness. The Knicks will play at least five games in Las Vegas on July 11-20, starting Saturday against San Antonio. The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who was booed on draft day by many Knicks fans, is among nine rookies on New York’s 13-man roster.

-Serena Williams, who is halfway to a tennis Grand Slam and has a chance to win the third of the four legs in tomorrow’s Wimbledon final, has become the first woman to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore. It’s the earliest in the season a player has qualified for the finals since the event moved to its current format in 2003. Williams has won the WTA Finals title five times.

-More than 40 teams are expected to compete as Street Soccer USA, a non-profit that uses soccer to teach life and job skills to homeless youngsters and adults, will have its Times Square Cup on July 12 in partnership with New York City’s Department of Homeless Services.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE