SBD/25/Leagues Governing Bodies

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         The Indians' Albert Belle met with AL President Gene Budig
    yesterday for questioning on his recent incident with SI
    photographer Tony Tomsic.  Phyllis Merhige, AL VP/Media Affairs,
    said they would have no comment until the situation is resolved,
    adding, "I can't confirm or deny that there was a meeting."  But
    MLBPA officials confirmed the meeting.  Indians Manager Mike
    Hargrove admitted the image of his team "seems to be taking a
    beating" because of Belle's problems with media and fans.
    Hargrove: "It's regretful if the image of the club is hurt.  I'm
    very sorry for that, but this is not a bad team. ... If
    baseball's success depends on one player, the game is in more
    trouble than any of us realize" (Sheldon Ocker, Akron BEACON
    JOURNAL. 4/25).
         FUNNY GUY:  Sheldon Ocker of the BEACON JOURNAL notes that
    Belle has "not lost his charm" in the wake of the latest
    incident.  Reporter Kelly O'Neal and an ESPN crew approached
    Belle as he stood on the sidewalk in front of the AL office on
    Park Ave.  O'Neal stuck out her hand to make an introduction and
    Belle responded, "You're not supposed to touch me, dear."  Ocker:
    "End of introduction.  End of attempted interview" (Akron BEACON
    JOURNAL, 4/25).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Indians, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Sports Illustrated, Walt Disney

         A U.S. House Subcommittee is set to discuss the issue of
    "franchise free agency" today and whether the NFL should be
    granted an antitrust exemption in order to better control the
    movement of its teams ("SportsView," CNBC, 4/24).... Francois
    Botha has lost his federal appeal of a lower court decision
    stripping him of his IBF Heavyweight Championship for testing
    positive for steroids -- which means there are "no more hurdles"
    blocking a Michael Moorer-Axel Schultz title fight June 22 in
    Germany ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/24).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL, Walt Disney

         The NBA Board of Governors approved the concept of the
    Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) to begin play as a
    summer league in '97.  NBA Commissioner David Stern called
    approval a "first step" in an ongoing process, while adding the
    league's "greatest chance for success" is in the summer when
    arena availability and TV time are most abundant.  Stern also
    said the new league is "dependent upon cable and over-the-air
    network arrangements."  The number of teams, cities, and TV
    arrangements are likely to be announced in early July (NBA).  The
    league would have a 25-30 game schedule from mid-to-late June
    through August.  Players would "be encouraged" to play in
    European or South American leagues during the regular winter
    season, "opening the door for marketing of WNBA merchandise
    abroad."  A TV deal "would not be limited" to current partners
    NBC and TBS, and Stern said the TV response has "been
    gratifying."  Player compensation has not been set.  The league
    would draw on college stars and women who play overseas, who
    would be assigned "on the basis of geographical consideration, as
    well as through the draft."  At the Governors meeting, "many NBA
    owners lobbied to have teams among the first eight" (Cawthon &
    Greenberg, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/25).  ESPN noted teams are
    expected to be placed in cities which already have NBA franchises
    ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/24).  USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes
    the NBA would own all the teams, perhaps as many as eight.  NBA
    VP Val Ackerman, who has been overseeing the league's effort at
    marketing the U.S. Women's National Team, said the WNBA won't
    distract college programs by tempting undergrads to turn pro
    early.  Ackerman:  "There'll be restrictions" (USA TODAY, 4/25).
         RIVAL PIONEER:  The WNBA follows a February announcement by
    the American Basketball League that it would begin a 40-game
    season in eight cities next October.  ABL co-founder Gary Cavalli
    could not be reached for comment.  It was "unclear what impact
    the NBA's decision would have on the ABL's plans" (Mike Reynolds,
    INSIDE MEDIA, 4/24).
         GONE GLOBAL:  CNN's "Moneyline" reported the formation of
    the WNBA comes as the NBA is putting a "full court press" on its
    international audience in the hopes of "evolving as a global
    entertainment company, much like Disney."  NBA Properties
    President Rick Welts:  "The NBA is in a position that no other
    league has ever been in.  If you ever look at that other world
    game, soccer, if you're Brazilian, you think the world's best
    soccer is played in Brazil.  If you're English, you think it's in
    England.  But no one disputes the fact that the 350 best
    basketball players in the world all play in one league."  Last
    year, overseas sales of NBA licensed merchandise reached $400M,
    or 10% of the league's total consumer products sales.  Meanwhile,
    since the '92 Olympics, the NBA has "nearly doubled" its global
    TV audience.  Games are now broadcast in 175 countries and 40
    languages.  Michael Levine, Dir of Marketing at Athletes and
    Artists, says the NBA's global approach is much the same as a
    movie studio's overseas strategy.  Levine:  "They see their
    players just like movie studios see their hot ticket stars, as
    superstars who can be translated into hits overseas much the same
    way they're hits here in this country" (CNN, 4/24).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, NBC, Turner Sports, Walt Disney, WNBA
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