SBD/17/Sports Society

MLB DEFENDS NO-SHOW DURING TOWN MEETING; REVIEWS CONTINUE

          MLB Dir of PR Rich Levin said that MLB "refused to send
     a high-ranking official" to Tuesday night's ESPN Town
     Meeting because the network "didn't invite officials from
     other sports," according to USA TODAY's Hal Bodley.  Levin:
     "We didn't want baseball to be singled out or be the target
     of the program.  ESPN would not do that, so they eventually
     went directly to San Diego Padres owner John Moores." 
     Bodley suggests that MLB President Paul Beeston "would have
     been excellent" on ESPN's panel on racism (USA TODAY, 4/17).
          SHOW SPARKS DISCUSSION: Reaction continues to ESPN's
     "Race & Sports" production: In Orlando, George Diaz: "We can
     hope that most viewers embraced the dialogue and listened,
     the first step toward breaking down the walls of inequity"
     (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/17).  But in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes
     the meeting was "filled with shrill messages and insulting
     messengers.  For crying out loud, there sat Keyshawn
     Johnson, Dennis Green and John Thompson, three men renown
     for selfishness, telling us what's wrong with the world. 
     White America, naturally, was portrayed as the bad guys"
     (N.Y. POST, 4/17).  In Boston, Bob Ryan writes on ESPN's
     special and adds that the NBA "has lapped the field in terms
     of placing both front office and head coaching decision-
     making power in the hands of blacks."  In a sidebar, Gordon
     Edes writes on the Red Sox' growing diversity: Of the team's
     139 full-time employees in '97, 28% were minorities.  The
     team also ranked No. 1 in MLB's study of minority employees
     who are nonplaying personnel (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/17). 
          ANOTHER SESSION? Richard Lapchick, Dir of the Center
     for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern Univ.,
     said his original plans for a race discussion called for a
     "lower-profile session" with President Clinton plus the
     commissioners and decision-makers from each major pro sport
     and the NCAA.  But the White House "opted for TV," which
     "drove the higher-profile types underground and changed the
     nature" of the discussion.  Lapchick: "There were trade-
     offs. ... I think it will be difficult to get a second
     meeting together, but I hope it can be done, and we're going
     to work toward getting it" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/17). 

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