SBD/1/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              The state of MLB was the subject of one segment on
         ESPN's "The Sports Reporters," as ESPN's Mitch Albom said,
         "Baseball has been in the news in the spring more than I can
         remember in any other spring.  Some of it has been good ...
         and some of it has been bad."  ESPN's Bill Conlin: "I tell
         people, 'Hey, stop talking about the golden age, we're in
         it.'"  ESPN's Mike Lupica: "Even at its lowest points after
         the strike millions of people go to see this sport in this
         country.  Does it always translate into network television
         ratings?  No, it doesn't.  Does that mean it's still not a
         big-time sport?  It's a huge sport in this country. ... In
         New York, Chicago, Southern California -- all over the map -
         - baseball is getting up off the canvas, and you can't
         ignore it."  But Albom stressed, "You can't deny that
         there's also this big negative kick that baseball still
         hasn't gotten over. ... There's a lot of major problems with
         the game.  If it's getting off the canvas it's still
         reeling, particularly with younger fans" (ESPN, 5/31).
              MORE MLB: NEWSDAY's Rob Parker wrote under the header,
         "There's A Buzz About Baseball."  Parker: "Baseball is alive
         and well.  Fans are interested in the game again" (NEWSDAY,
         5/31).  Story lines such as Mark McGwire's pursuit of MLB's
         single-season home-run record and the emergence of Cubs P
         Kerry Wood were the focus of multiple media hits over the
         weekend in addition to a USA TODAY sports cover story on
         Monday.  In Charlotte, Stan Olson wrote that McGwire "may be
         in the process of surpassing Michael Jordan as the greatest
         spectacle in sport" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/31).  In L.A.,
         Ross Newhan called McGwire "mania ... a high-wattage asset"
         (L.A. TIMES, 5/31).  Mike Lupica said McGwire "is leading a
         charge that has put baseball for April and May back in the
         front of everybody's consciousness" ("The Sports Reporters,"
         ESPN, 5/31).  But in N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote that MLB is
         "wasting a truly unique resource" by not promoting its trio
         of young SS stars in the AL, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and
         Nomar Garciaparra.  MLB "should be mounting a substantial
         advertising campaign through these three photogenic,
         intelligent, skilled players" (N.Y. POST, 5/31).

    Print | Tags: Chicago Cubs, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney

              The "breakup" of the Bulls "couldn't come at a worse
         time" for the NBA, according to Samuels & McCormick of
         NEWSWEEK, who write that while the league "may simply be
         reaching the natural end of a phenomenal growth spurt, it
         also faces real questions about keeping its fans when the
         Jordan era ends."  An "implosion" of the league's "most
         popular team is just one signal that the NBA's golden age is
         in peril."  The Bulls, "an unusually integrated team that
         sends off almost no racial vibes, have only enhanced the
         mostly African-American league's tremendous crossover
         appeal.  The gap they'll leave behind is more generational
         than racial."   But the "fears" of a league-wide decline
         "may be overdrawn," as attendance is "strong, and fat TV
         contracts are in place" (NEWSWEEK, 6/11 issue).
              LABOR: In Boston, Peter May quotes an NBA exec "who is
         privy" to negotiations with the union: "Things so far have
         been fine.  There have been proposals exchanged, but there
         hasn't been anything nasty.  You may not see a lockout.  You
         may not see a normal summer, either, but there are ways to
         get around a lockout" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/31).  But agent Bill
         Duffy is quoted as saying, "I just don't think there's any
         question that the lockout is going to go on for a long time.
         ... We may be willing to work with them on the rookie scale,
         but I don't know any agents who are going to accept a rigid
         cap" (Paul Buker, Portland OREGONIAN, 5/31).  In Chicago,
         Sam Smith wrote of "negligible" progress between the sides
         and wrote that the NBA's TV partners "have been told to
         anticipate a long stoppage of play."  He added that one
         proposal floated by the league had players dividing up a sum
         of money "that would almost double the salary cap" to around
         $44M, but that would "preclude paying huge salaries" to some
         stars (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/31).  NBC analyst Isiah Thomas
         told USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance that he would be willing to
         mediate in the labor talks.  Thomas: "I have some solutions
         to some of their problems because I've seen it from both
         sides of the table."  NBA Commissioner David Stern: "Both
         sides can use all the help they can get" (USA TODAY, 6/1).  
              LIGHTENING UP? In Miami, Steve Wyche reported that the
         league's Rules and Competition Committee is scheduled to
         discuss lockout rules Tuesday.  Wyche: "League sources have
         said the NBA is expected to relax some of the bans issued in
         the 1995 lockout against team-player involvement in charity
         games and other interaction" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/31).  

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, NBC

              Following last week's announcement of a proposed NBC/
         Turner Sports pro football league, MA-based attorney Bob
         Caporale and his partner, Randy Vataha, "are not revving up
         the engines for their proposed All-American Football League,
         which had been slated to start next spring," according to
         Will McDonough of the BOSTON GLOBE.  Caporale: "We are
         holding the launch.  We want to find out for sure what this
         juggernaut is going to do before we reconsider what we want
         to do."  Caporale added: "Going up against the NFL is tough. 
         ... I don't know how much [NBC and Turner] have thought it
         through.  One of the big problems is going to be finding
         stadiums to play in" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/30).
              HERE'S ONE: Mark Williams, GM of the Metropolitan
         Exposition-Recreation Commission in Portland, OR, which
         operates the city's Civic Stadium, on the NBC/Turner league:
         "We would be happy to be a part of it" (OREGONIAN, 5/29).
              NATIONAL REAX: Steelers President Dan Rooney, on the
         proposed new league: "It's their business; I don't know how
         successful it will be. ... But I guess in America everybody
         has the right to do what they want to do" (PITTSBURGH POST-
         GAZETTE, 5/29)   In Philadelphia, Bill Lyon wrote that the
         plan "smacks of sheer spite" and is a reflection of "the
         sorry state of sports: Television can now order up an entire
         league as casually as it creates yet another new and
         brainless sitcom" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/30).  On L.I.,
         Bob Glauber: "[J]ust two quick questions: Who's going to
         play, and who's going to watch?" (NEWSDAY, 5/31).  In San
         Jose, Mark Purdy wrote the "hardest task" for NBC and Turner
         "will not" be getting decent ratings, "but finding the
         cities and stadiums where the teams can play in front of a
         decent-size 'studio audience'" (MERCURY NEWS, 5/31).   
              COULD IT WORK? In Richmond, Paul Woody said with a GE
         and Time Warner league, "the NFL is in for the most serious
         challenge in its history" (TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/31).  In
         Jacksonville, Gene Frenette questioned going up against the
         NFL in the fall: "Give football-starved America a different
         look, but do it in the spring and do it with some fiscal
         responsibility" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/31).  In Toronto,
         Garth Woolsey said the net's would need "only minimum
         ratings" to "make the league fly" (TORONTO STAR, 6/1).  

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBC, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers
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