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DON SHULA would neither confirm nor deny a report by ESPN Sunday that he would be offered a job after this season by the NFL as president of league operations overlooking the competition committee and officiating. Shula: "I've made it my practice not to respond to any rumors or speculation by members of the media." Shula signed a 3-year contract extension earlier this year that gives him minority ownership in the Dolphins and a promise of the position as the team's VP of Football Operations (MIAMI HERALD, 10/18). ....In St. Louis, Jim Thomas profiles super agent LEIGH STEINBERG: "Steinberg's recent pet project has become franchise preservation." In baseball, he helped keep the Giants in the Bay Area, and now in football, he is leading the Save the Rams group in Anaheim (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/18)....The U.S. Figure Skating Association promoted MATT PENSINER to Corporate Programs and Events Manager and appointed HEATHER LINHART as Communications Coordinator (USFSA)....DEION SANDERS was interviewed at halftime during last night's game: "I'm not a fighter. I am an entertainer" ("Monday Night Football," ABC, 10/17).
CNBC's Allan Chernoff examined race tracks that are looking to revive business by bringing full scale casinos inside the horse tracks. "They are off and running, running to the card table that is at Hollywood Park. The card club is the new draw for gamblers at the Los Angeles track that was once a mecca for movie star race fans. ... Gamblers wager about $9.5B a year on thoroughbred racing, but the total handle has been stuck at that level for four years running. Meanwhile, track attendance has been dropping and the number of races declining, and fewer horses running. ... All across America, new gaming opportunities are drawing better than the track. Riverboat casinos, casinos at Indian reservations, lotteries -- it is all competition for racing." John Gaines, thoroughbred breeder/owner: "Twenty years ago we had a 90% share of legalized gambling, and today we have an 8% share." CNBC's Chernoff: "Now after several years of losing millions, track owners are deciding if you can't beat them, join them." In one political TV spot this season, track owners in Florida have law enforcement officers promoting a referendum to allow them to build casinos in race courses. And in more than a dozen other states, track owners are pushing for casino gambling at their facilities. J. Brian McGrath, the new Commissioner of the Thoroughbred Racing Association wants to fight back with a cable TV racing channel: "With that mechanism we can educate and attract new fans and ultimately build on track attendance" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 10/17). WOMEN IN SPORTS: ESPN's Robin Roberts reported from the Women's Sports Foundation 20th Anniversary Celebration. Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair and softball pitcher Lisa Fernandez were named Sportswomen of the Year. Roberts: "It's hard to believe that 20 years ago Billie Jean King started this foundation with a $5,000 grant. This year the Women's Sports Foundation will give out over $800,000 to girls sports programs across the country" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 10/17). ESPN's Cover Story was on Billie Jean King's defeat of Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes." King: "I thought it was a matter of life or death. That is how I felt" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/17).