SBD/8/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              The plan to streamline the ATP Tour in the year 2000
         (see THE DAILY, 11/25) was examined by John Barrett of the
         FINANCIAL TIMES who wrote that while it "may not have gone
         far enough," it would still "represent a big advance."  
         Barrett: "Persuading the players that change is needed if
         tennis is to survive in the ever more competitive field of
         sport has not been easy."  But the Men's Player Council "has
         now approved the master plan."  It has "also been grudgingly
         accepted by tournament directors, many of whom see a bleak
         future for all but the lucky seven that are in the 'super'
         series."  While the ATP Tour would like a "much closer
         collaboration" with the WTA Tour, the women's board has yet
         to approve of any such plan.  Barrett: "The main reason is
         that the women are terrified of being swamped by the men. 
         They are reluctant to face the commercial reality that their
         version of the sport does not attract as much support from
         sponsors and the media" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/6). 
              VIRGINIA SLIMS CUTS BACK: In Miami, Meri-Jo Borzilleri
         cited sources who said that Virginia Slims Legends tour
         officials are "discussing reducing the tour from its present
         calendar of six sites to four, and moving to minor-market
         cities."  Philip Morris USA PR Manager Mary Doherty said she
         couldn't "confirm anything," but added Virginia Slims will
         sponsor a tour in '98 (MIAMI HERALD, 12/6).

    Print | Tags: ATP, Leagues and Governing Bodies

              Application for a first-division women's pro league "is
         being dropped by the National Soccer Alliance [NSA] after
         withdrawal of its primary investor," Discover Channel CEO 
         John Hendricks, according to Jerry Langdon of USA TODAY.  The
         NSA "hoped" to start in '98 then seek sanctioning for 2000. 
         But Langdon reports that the NSA was "opposed by many within
         U.S. Soccer because they feared it would detract" from the
         '99 Women's World Cup.  NSA Exec Jen Rottenberg: "It's
         unfortunate but we don't have the financial support to keep
         an organization going" (USA TODAY, 12/8).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies

              Maple Leafs President Ken Dryden has "triggered
         something of an informal campaign" to have league execs "at
         least study the concept of ejecting fighters from games in
         the future," according to Marty York of the Toronto GLOBE &
         MAIL.  Sources tell York that Dryden will have "two strong
         and prominent allies" in Flyers GM Bob Clarke and Bobby Orr,
         who are "about to make their anti-fighting feelings known"
         (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/7).  But Dryden told the TORONTO
         STAR that the fighting issue "is dead for now.  The league
         isn't ready for it yet.  The real next showdown debate (on
         fighting) is probably a couple of years away" (TORONTO STAR,
         12/7).  In Chicago, Hawks GM Bob Pulford on Dryden's remarks
         that fighting doesn't belong in the NHL: "That's the most
         ridiculous statement I've ever heard" (SUN-TIMES, 12/8).
              NOTES: The Maple Leafs "estimated" that they will save
         $150,000-$200,000 in travel costs by playing Western
         Conference teams once instead of up to five times (Ft.
         Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 12/7)....VP Al Gore attended the
         Capitals first game at MCI Center on Friday (WASHINGTON POST,
         12/6)....The NHL "is strongly considering" holding its 2000
         All-Star Game at MCI Center, but said that a site has not yet
         been selected (WASHINGTON POST, 12/7).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Comcast-Spectacor, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals

              The NBA played its first regular-season game in Mexico
         on Saturday night as a sold-out crowd of 20,635 watched the
         Mavericks-Rockets at the Palacio de los Deportes (DALLAS
         MORNING NEWS, 12/7).  In Ft. Worth, Richie Whitt wrote that
         the "official Mavericks' impression" of Mexico City was that
         it was a "nice place to visit, but they wouldn't want to play
         here."  Mavs President Terdema Ussery doubted the NBA will
         ever base a team in Mexico: "The league may get mad at me for
         saying it, but I just don't think it can happen. 
         Geographically, it may make sense, but I think getting 15
         players to live here seven months a year would be a real
         challenge" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/7).  
              MEXICAN CALI NEWS: In Dallas, David Moore wrote that
         Mexico's "staggering population and growing interest in
         basketball make it a prime target for expansion after the
         turn of the century."  NBA games are seen on TV Azteca, as
         the league has a $3M deal with the station.  Games averaged a
         6 rating/11 share during the '96-97 regular-season and a
         16.1/24 during last year's Finals.  But MLS Commissioner Doug
         Logan, the former CEO of a group that operated the Sports
         Palace in Mexico City in the early 90's and helped secure a
         CBA team to play in Mexico in '94-95 said, "I think that any
         move by the NBA into Mexico in the short term would be
         precipitous."  Logan noted that problems of possible
         expansion into Mexico include the "wild fluctuations" of
         currency, lack of an arena, the average ticket price and the
         "reluctance of fans to purchase season tickets."  Logan said
         the NBA would have to set the price of a Mexican franchise
         between $90M-100M and "believes the NBA owners would have to
         agree to an unprecedented arrangement where the owners of the
         Mexican franchise would be allowed to keep the TV revenue for
         the entire country" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/6).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS, NBA

              Wizards Owner Abe Pollin "became the first" NBA owner to
         say that he would consider signing Latrell Sprewell,
         according to Ric Bucher of the WASHINGTON POST.  Pollin: "I
         would never close the door on someone forever" (WASHINGTON
         POST, 12/6).  But CBA Commissioner Steve Patterson said his
         league would not approve of Sprewell playing in the CBA: "It
         reinforces all the wrong stereotypes" (N.Y. POST, 12/6). 
              EDITORIALS: A sampling of editorial comments on the
         Sprewell incident: In St. Pete, under the header, "No
         Tolerance For Thugs," the TIMES said NBA Commissioner David
         Stern "was right on the money" with his suspension:
         "Unbelievably, Sprewell has his defenders" (ST. PETERSBURG
         TIMES, 12/6).  In San Diego, under the header, "Fitting
         Punishment," the UNION-TRIBUNE said the Warriors and the NBA
         "are to be applauded for giving Sprewell the tough, but
         appropriate, punishment he deserves" (UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/6). 
         In L.A., under the header, "Sports Stars Aren't Immune," the
         TIMES stated the NBA punished Sprewell "correctly": "No
         ordinary working stiff could keep his job after assaulting
         his boss.  Why should someone who plays sports for a living
         be different?" (L.A. TIMES, 12/5).  In Boston, the GLOBE said
         the league took "a rare stand for sanity in big-money
         sports."  It added that Sprewell's agent, the NBPA and
         "various opportunistic pols, who have come to his defense
         merely illustrate how deeply professional sports have been
         corrupted by big money" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/6).  In San Jose,
         the MERCURY NEWS wrote the Warriors showed a "good example 
         by drawing a clear line against conduct they consider
         inappropriate for an employee" (MERCURY NEWS, 12/7).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, Golden State Warriors, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA

              Latrell Sprewell's contract termination by the Warriors
         and his one-year suspension by the NBA dominated much of the
         weekend media.  It was the subject of both NBC's "Meet The
         Press" and ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.  Sprewell's agent,
         Arn Tellem, was the lead guest on ABC's "This Week," along
         with John Feinstein and Walt Frazier.  ABC's Sam Donaldson
         said that NBA Commissioner David Stern and "many owners"
         declined the invitation to appear on the show.  Tellem, asked
         if race had anything to do with the outcome of the incident:
         "I think when you look at it -- I don't think the issue of
         race can be ignored. ... I think it must be looked into." 
         Tellem said that while he has spoken with Johnnie Cochran,
         Cochran has yet to be hired to advise the Sprewell camp. 
         Tellem: "[T]he NBA has a serious fairness problem.  The
         penalty imposed on Latrell is outrageous in my opinion, and
         it exceeds all bounds of any precedent ever in the history of
         sports.  And they did this ... ignoring his due process
         rights."  Tellem, asked by George Will if the NBA had a
         "separate agenda" with the suspension: "[W]ith the league it
         is clear that we are heading into a summer where there could
         be a reopening of the labor agreement by the commissioner,
         and there is no doubt in my mind that they are trying to
         assert all power everywhere to show their strength before
         they go into the labor negotiations" (ABC, 12/7).
              HUNTER TALKS: On "Meet the Press," NBPA Exec Dir Billy
         Hunter spoke to NBC's Tim Russert.  Asked if this was a race
         issue, Hunter said, "I don't think that's the issue at all.
         ... [Y]ou've got a league that's predominately black, and
         you've got an administration that's predominately white.  So
         I think if there are individuals who wish to read the race
         card or race issue into it, they can do that.  But I haven't
         found any evidence of that."  Hunter, on the suspension:
         "[T]here's a public outcry, at least a concern of the public,
         that things are sort of getting out of control, and I think
         the league had to demonstrate that, one, they are in control. 
         But more importantly, I think that the league is posturing,
         because there's a strong possibility that the current [CBA]
         is going to be blown up."  Asked if he was concerned about
         his players' behavior, Hunter said, "Well, I'm concerned
         about the behavior of my players, but I think that the acts
         of a few are reflective of the same kinds of things that we
         see in society."  Russert also questioned Hunter on the
         NBPA's position on the league's drug policy (NBC, 12/7).
              ONE-ON-ONE: Hunter, on Stern: "He tends in many
         instances to play to the public.  I think that he was driven
         to take the action that he has taken, simply because of the
         response of the media" ("This Week in the NBA," CNN, 12/7).
              OP-ED: NBPA VP Charles Smith wrote an op-ed in Sunday's
         N.Y. DAILY NEWS under the header, "Standing Up For Latrell." 
         He argued that the Sprewell matter could have been better
         dealt with had the Warriors resolved the issue themselves,
         "but once the league got involved, the stakes were raised,
         the PR machine was cranked up and the muscles were flexed." 
         Smith noted the public now looks at Sprewell as "a thug," and
         added, "Maybe he doesn't have the corporate look, and maybe
         the NBA would have him shave and cut his braids, but a thug?
         ... The league has even used Latrell in marketing things
         toward children and communities.  If he's such a bad guy, why
         would they do that?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/8).

    Print | Tags: ABC, Golden State Warriors, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, NBC, Walt Disney
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