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  • THE STATE OF SPORTSMANSHIP TAKES CENTER STAGE ON ESPN

              ESPN aired a special "Outside the Lines: Is Winning the
         Only Thing?" last evening, which was followed by a two-hour
         "ESPN Town Meeting" hosted by Bob Ley.  The "Town Meeting"
         panel included: Liberty F Rebecca Lobo, NBA Senior
         VP/Basketball Operations Rod Thorn, NHL Senior VP & Dir of
         Hockey Operations Brian Burke, NFL Dir of Football
         Development Gene Washington, Hurricanes LW Stu Grimson,
         Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Indians P Orel Hershiser,
         Bears LB Bryan Cox, Jaguars LB Jeff Lageman, Baltimore Sun
         columnist Milton Kent, basketball TV analyst Quinn Buckner,
         NCAA Exec Dir Cedric Dempsey, USOC Exec Dir Dick Schultz,
         GWU men's basketball coach Mike Jarvis, and ESPN college
         football announcer and former coach Bill Curry (ESPN, 11/4).
              QUOTEBOARD: Joe Dumars, '97 NBA Sportsmanship Award
         Winner, on the state of sportsmanship in the NBA: "I don't
         think it's as prevalent as it used to be.  It's taken a back
         seat."  More Dumars: "You [ESPN] can do a special, and we
         can talk about the values of sportsmanship on one hand, and
         on the other hand, the leading shots, highlights ... that
         you see in sports every night, are the outrageous and
         unsportsmanlike, so I think there's a double standard here. 
         On one hand we complain about it, and on the other hand,
         it's the first thing you see every night."  Brian Burke,
         asked if violence is necessary in the NHL: "What
         distinguishes hockey in North America from hockey anywhere
         else in the world is the amount of contact, which is not
         only expected, but encouraged.  We don't back away from
         that.  Our fans demand it, we expect it as part of the game
         ... and without it ... hockey in the rest of the world, in
         my opinion, is very boring."  Burke said the NHL uses player
         "suspension way more than the fine" for discipline.  Burke:
         "The backbone of our system is -- you want to act up, you're
         going to sit."  Rod Thorn, on suspensions: "That's the
         biggest deterrent you can use" (ESPN, 11/4). 
              THE MEDIA'S ROLE:  Baltimore Sun media columnist Milton
         Kent: "They [the public] say on the one hand that they are
         repulsed by violence ... and yet, can anyone imagine
         watching ... 'SportsCenter' without seeing those clips of
         the smashmouth violence, of a person like a Bryan Cox sort
         of popping off?"  Cox: "There's nothing wrong with ESPN
         showing those highlights because, again, that's their
         profession, that's what they do."  NFL's Gene Washington:
         "It's ratings driven, and I don't think any of us are naive
         enough to think otherwise.  Companies make money by selling
         advertising, it's ratings driven."  Burke, on the media's
         coverage of violence in the NHL: "It drives me nuts.  It
         drives me out of my mind every night.  I'm at a game ... I
         see a great game ... I go back and turn on 'SportsCenter,'
         and the first thing they show is a fight, and it drives me
         crazy. ... Fighting is a part of our game, [but] that
         doesn't have to be the lead story every single night on
         ESPN."  Orel Hershiser: "Why can't we in sports have the
         silent majority that loves sportsmanship and wants to see
         more of it in the game raise our voices and say, 'There is
         another way.'"  ESPN Managing Editor Bob Eaton: "Our job at
         ESPN is to cover sports, to cover it as completely as we
         can, and in a manner that will interest our audience."  Jeff
         Lageman responded, "Why not show some positive side of an
         athlete?  Why not have a show called 'Outside the Lines: The
         Great Things About Athletes?'" ("ESPN Town Meeting," 11/4).
    
    

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