SBD/22/Leagues Governing Bodies

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         The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
    yesterday reversed a $30.3M judgement against the NFL, saying
    "players cannot sue a league on antitrust grounds when their
    union is engaged in collective bargaining, even if negotiations
    have reached an impasse."  In '90, the Bills' Tony Brown sued the
    league on behalf of 235 other practice squad players -- winning a
    $30.3M judgement two years later on the grounds that the league
    had "violated antitrust law."  Yesterday's decision "orders the
    district court to dismiss the case against the league" (Dave
    Sell, WASHINGTON POST, 3/22).  The decision also "impacts" the
    baseball situation since it would force the MLBPA to "decertify
    before it could file suit" --  even if MLB's antitrust exemption
    were removed.  Judge Patricia Wald, who filed a 25-page
    "dissenting opinion":  "The majority insists its ruling does no
    more than maintain a level playing field.  The reality is that
    [yesterday's] decision sharply tilts the playing field in
    employers' favor and because of that will erode the vitality of
    collective bargaining itself" (Ronald Blum, AP/FORT WORTH STAR
    TELEGRAM, 3/22).

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Bills, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NFL

         Labor talks between owners and players "remained at a
    standstill yesterday," according to Mark Maske in today's
    WASHINGTON POST.  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA
    Exec Dir Don Fehr "ended two days of meetings in Washington
    without scheduling any formal negotiating sessions."  One
    ownership source questioned Selig's resolve to get a deal and
    that Selig's ties to White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, the owners'
    top hawk, are "stronger than ever."  The source:  "Don would like
    to meet.  I'm not sure (Selig is) ready. ... The real problem
    isn't necessarily Fehr."  On the players' side, sources indicated
    that the union may consider ending the strike, which would force
    the owners to vote on a lockout.  But while one union source
    called it a "real possibility," another said it was "not under
    active consideration" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/22).  AP cites sources
    with knowledge of the meetings who report that Selig "talked
    about raising their tax rates and thresholds, not lowering them
    to move closer to the union."  Some involved on the players' side
    said that management officials had told them in recent days "that
    owners want to test the union's resolve, hoping that players
    would break ranks and cross" and that the owners "will attempt to
    delay" the NLRB's decision on whether to seek an injunction
    against the owners (AP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/22).  ESPN's Keith
    Olbermann: "Hopes rose, and were then dashed at the strike
    talks."  Olbermann reported that "key player reps" were told to
    come to Washington for strike talks, but then were told "to
    forget it" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/21).
    Peter Gammons said "most of the optimism has dissipated" from
    earlier this week, and, if possible, "more of a gulf" exists with
    owners citing "economic poverty because so much income is being
    drained out of the industry already."  Gammons: "Both sides seem
    to be focused on everything but a deal right now. ... Meanwhile,
    too many owners are getting harder and harder, saying, 'We've
    come too far not to try to win.' ... This thing may not be over
    for a long, long time" ("SportsCenter, ESPN, 3/21).  In
    Philadelphia, Jayson Stark cites one "baseball man":  "From what
    I'm hearing, it could be an ugly April."  If management is
    successful in delaying the NLRB injunction process, "the earliest
    an injunction would be issued is about two weeks into the regular
    season" (PHILADELHIA INQUIRER, 3/22).
         HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL:  In New York, Tom Keegan predicts a
    pre-Opening Day settlement:  "Shame.  That's the X-factor here.
    As the season approaches and the owners stop to think of the
    shame they are about to create, they will hammer out a deal that
    smarts only a little" (N.Y. POST, 3/22).
         BUD, BUD, HE'S OUR MAN:  Mark Maske reports, "Indications
    are that Selig may be closer than ever to accepting the
    commissioner's job on a more permanent basis, although some
    ownership representatives apparently believe he might have a
    difficult time being approved once the longest and most
    destructive work stoppage on professional sports history finally
    is over" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/22).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Chicago White Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney

         "Cap dodging" in the NFL is the topic of a piece by Len
    Pasquarelli in this morning's ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Citing Deion
    Sanders' recent deal with Sega -- which is reportedly dependent
    on him staying in San Francisco -- Pasquarelli writes, "Short of
    an in-depth investigation of a player's bank accounts and tax
    records, any complicity between an NFL team and a friendly
    corporate entity could be virtually impossible to substantiate."
    The topic was also raised at last week's owners' meetings.
    Saints Owner Thomas Benson:  "You'd need the IRS and the FBI ...
    and you still might not turn up anything concrete."  Commissioner
    Paul Tagliabue has scrutinized the 49ers/Sanders deal and found
    it "to be above board":  "Endorsement contracts for players have
    been part of the game since Joe Namath arrived on the scene, if
    not before that" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/22).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, New Orleans Saints, NFL, San Francisco 49ers

         An arbitration case involving the "criteria used in
    determining the average salary" was decided yesterday leaving the
    NHL and the NHLPA "co-winners."  Arbitrator George Nicolau ruled
    the NHL can establish the methods for calculating the average
    salary -- "a procedural win for the league."  But the NHLPA also
    "won" because marketing agreements between players and the league
    will be included in the calculation (CP/OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/22).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL
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