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  • ABL EYES SECRET AGENT MEN; RIDING THE TRAIN WITH K.C. JONES

              The ABL has learned that "some of its players are
         paying too much for representation -- as much as 10% of
         their contracts," according to USA TODAY's Valerie Lister. 
         By comparison, the "highest percentage" allowed by the NBPA
         is 4%.  ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said the league will produce a
         document "that is kind of a guide to selecting an agent." 
         Cavalli: "We've tried to suggest in the document that the
         percentage be 3 to 7 but definitely not in the 10-to-20
         range."  The guides will be distributed during the ABL's
         All-Star weekend in January, along with an informational
         panel during a players' breakfast (USA TODAY, 12/9).
              THAT NOTION JUST CROSSED MY MIND: In Hartford, Bruce
         Berlet writes that a week on the road with the ABL Blizzard
         "confirms the suspicion: The rest of the league isn't like
         Hartford.  Smaller arenas.  Smaller crowds.  Less promotion. 
         Less media coverage.  But there are two constants: suspect
         officiating and the appeal of Blizzard coach K.C. Jones. 
         League and Blizzard officials made a brilliant moving hiring
         [Jones]. ... Newspapers and TV trumpeted his arrival in
         Denver, Portland, Seattle and San Jose" (COURANT, 12/9).
    
    

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  • ARE CANADIAN RACES SECURE AFTER LOSING TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP?

              The Molson Indy races in Toronto and Vancouver are "not
         threatened" after Imperial Tobacco announced that it was
         dropping its sports sponsorships.  Imperial's Player brand
         had a C$1.5M involvement in the two races.  Molstar
         VP/Properties Mike Smith called the news a "big hit" but
         said the races "will continue."  Smith: "We'll continue
         looking for new sponsors.  I suspect it'll take two or three
         to recoup the loss."  But Montreal's Canadian Grand Prix
         "faces a more challenging sponsor search" as Player's title
         sponsorship of the Formula One race averaged C$4M.  Event
         spokesperson Richard Prieur said they are currently in
         sponsorship talks with other companies (TORONTO SUN, 12/9). 
              
    

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  • MLB UMPIRES FORCED TO GET BACK ON THE CLOCK BETWEEN INNINGS

              Arbitrator J.H. Jordan has ruled in a dispute between
         the MLB Umpires Association (MLBUA) and the AL and NL over
         the length of time between innings, according to Bob
         Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS.   Last summer, the two
         leagues filed a grievance stating that umpires had "refused
         to enforce" the 2:25 commercial break between innings during
         nationally televised games on Fox and ESPN, and started
         games before the commercial break had ended.  In a ruling
         favoring the leagues, Jordan said there is a "well-
         established past practice" that umpires monitor the time
         between innings to comply with league directives.  Jordan
         also "instructed the league and union to meet and resolve"
         the issue of any possible financial damages caused by the
         actions during the '97 season (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/7). 
         MLBUA Exec Dir Richie Phillips "did not immediately" return
         a call from the AP seeking comment (PHILA. INQUIRER, 12/9).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, News Corp./Fox, Walt Disney
  • TEAM SPREWELL SET TO MAKE PUBLIC APPEARANCE TODAY

              Latrell Sprewell will hold a press conference today "to
         press his grievance against" the Warriors and the NBA,
         according to David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  The public
         appearance will come amid reports that Sprewell and his
         former coach P.J. Carlesimo "exchanged apologies in a
         telephone conversation over the past weekend."  Sprewell's
         S.F. attorney, Kurt Robinson, told KNBR-AM radio that "his
         client and Carlesimo had spoken on the phone."  Sprewell
         reportedly "apologized for his actions, Carlesimo apologized
         for his role in it, and the two accepted each other's
         words."  The Warriors had no comment and have "refused
         comment on any aspect of the case since Thursday, citing
         pending litigation."  For the press conference today, NBPA
         Exec Dir Billy Hunter is expected to join Sprewell, along
         with Robinson, his agent Arn Tellem and attorney Johnnie
         Cochran (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/9).  The press conference will
         be carried live in the Bay Area (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/9).
              UNION STRATEGY: ESPN's David Aldridge reported that a
         public apology to Carlesimo "is only one of several issues
         that Sprewell's camp is wrestling with."  Aldridge: "Should
         race, for example, be emphasized?  The union has little
         interest in exploring that angle, and, according to sources,
         neither does attorney Johnnie Cochran. ... Sprewell's appeal
         ... likely will argue that the league's year-long penalty
         violates a labor tenet known as graduated discipline." 
         Citing suspensions previously given to Dennis Rodman, Vernon
         Maxwell and Nick Van Exel, Aldridge said that "the union
         will argue that Sprewell's penalty vastly exceeds those
         already established" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/8).
              EDITORIALS: In Seattle, the TIMES called NBA
         Commissioner David Stern's one-year suspension of Sprewell
         "right on all counts."  Stern "has grown increasingly
         intolerant of unacceptable behavior. ... This is welcome
         after recent years of boorish or thuggish behavior" (SEATTLE
         TIMES, 12/8).  The N.Y. TIMES writes that the league's
         decision "sends a strong message to players and fans that it
         will not tolerate thuggery" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/9).
              TOP TEN: Letterman's Top Ten last night was "Other
         Things That Will Get You Suspended From the NBA."  No. 10)
         Show up to a game in the same dress as Dennis Rodman;  No.
         9) Suck the air out of the basketball and then tell everyone
         how "baked" you are;  No. 8) Get caught chugging a bottle of
         Michael Jordan's cologne;  No. 7) Exceed maximum height of
         19 feet 6 inches; No. 6) Suggest that the referee blow
         something other than his whistle;  No. 5) At halftime, roast
         team mascot on a giant spit;  No. 4) Invite Karl "The
         Mailman" Malone to "sort your package";  No. 3) Slam-dunk
         your ass into a spectator's nachos;  No. 2) Drop your shorts
         and dribble without using your hands and No. 1) Scratch up
         the court with your high heels ("Late Show," CBS, 12/8).
              
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, ESPN, Golden State Warriors, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • USA TODAY EXAMINES NHL'S "GROWING PAINS" IN "PIVOTAL" YEAR

              The state of the NHL was examined by USA TODAY's Sharon
         Raboin under the header, "NHL Fights Growing Pains. 
         Tradition, New Ideas Collide In Critical Olympic Season." 
         Raboin: "As the NHL strives to become a prime-time major
         league, hockey's bloodied, blue-collar tradition is knocking
         heads with the social and business realities of modern
         sports.  How the league deals with this pivotal season could
         determine the future of the NHL as an organization on par
         with the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball."  With the
         "watershed event" of Olympic participation approaching, the
         league "is struggling with the problems of what NHL
         Commissioner Gary Bettman calls 'a game that was
         underexposed and, as a result, underappreciated.'"  Among
         challenges facing the league: a "violent image that become
         tinged with racism" because of two incidents this season;
         "low" TV ratings; "high" ticket prices and "increasing a new
         fan base without alienating the old one."  Raboin:
         "Arguably, the NHL has never been more popular or
         financially sound."  But Bettman said, "That doesn't mean
         anything to me.  We need to be as strong as we can be, not
         stronger than we've ever been" (USA TODAY, 12/9). 
              FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Raboin adds that "fisticuffs are part
         of the attraction and repulsion of the sport.  Fights fill
         television highlights but scare off much of the wider fan
         base hockey needs to grow."  But NHL Senior VP/Operations
         Brian Burke said, "We don't have a violent sport.  We have a
         contact sport.  We're not embarrassed by the amount of
         contact.  It's a real selling point" (USA TODAY, 12/9).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, NFL, NHL
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