SBD/Issue 29/Leagues & Governing BodiesPrint All
Goodell Says NFL Considering
More Int'l Games In Future
BUILDING INTEREST: Chargers-Saints is the second NFL regular-season game to be played in London, following last year's Giants-Dolphins matchup, and NFL officials said that the “goal now is to instill a more abiding interest in American football.” NFL U.K. Managing Dir Alistair Kirkwood: “Last year was a launch, this year is about the X’s and O’s of converting people to being life-long NFL fans.” USA TODAY’s Jeffrey Stinson noted the NFL has launched a Web site that “will be touted during the game to better explain the sport to would-be fans.” The league also will expand the “amount of NFL team merchandise at the game and in stores around the city.” Last year, Kirkwood said that gear “sold out at the 30 booths at Wembley.” The NFL has increased the number of seats to almost 83,000 from 80,000 last year, and Kirkwood said that as of midweek there were a “few hundred tickets” remaining.” The BBC public stations are broadcasting the game live along with Sky Sports. Last year, the BBC “only ran highlights” (USA TODAY, 10/23). Kirkwood said, “The Wembley games will go down well, but the danger is that it will come across as a circus coming into town. The biggest challenge is to use the game as a stimulation for interest in the sport. We have an opportunity over these four years to grow the sport substantially” (LONDON TIMES, 10/24). More Kirkwood: "We have a decent fan base, but the challenge is growing that base five or six times over by building a bridge from the hype around the Wembley game (to) people wanting to tune in to Houston versus Minnesota (the following week)" (SI.com, 10/24).
BUZZ KILL: In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes under the header, “Amid Goals, Grog, NFL Not Main Attraction.” Canepa, covering the game in London, writes the game is “fine with many of those who don’t mind novelty stores. But most I’ve seen and talked to here can’t be bothered with big men wearing pads and helmets damaging the hallowed Wembley Stadium turf” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/24). Canepa Wednesday wrote there is “no buzz on the street. … The NFL isn’t on everybody’s mind, not even this week.” Brian Smith, a former San Diego citizen who now lives in London, said, “I’ve felt no more buzz for this game here than last year’s (Giants-Dolphins). The game may have sold out in a few hours, but most people don’t have a clue it’s going on” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/22). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “The game’s sold out, but the Brits have already turned thumbs down on American football. … American football is not wanted in Western Europe" (“PTI,” ESPN, 10/21). But Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson said of fans in London, “I thought they were very excited about us being here. They were really interested in American football and I think that’s evident in how many tickets have been sold” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/22). Saints coach Sean Payton said, “I watched on television [Tuesday] and there was all sorts of news and information not only about this game, but our sport in general” (Saints).
SHOULD NFL BE IN ENGLAND? ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said playing games abroad is "something that has been made up by management that doesn’t have to go over there and play." Schlereth: "I know that you want to increase the popularity to the world of this wonderful, wonderful game. But to make two teams go over to England and play is ludicrous to me” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/24). In California, Marcia Smith writes, "Does it bother anybody that the NFL is over there, fertilizing its global appeal, and not here, getting loved and thinking about moving into a proposed $800[M] stadium on a City of Industry hilltop?" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/24).
LIVE FROM LONDON: In San Diego, Jay Posner notes CBS will broadcast Chargers-Saints to 33% of the country in the 1:00pm ET window. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the game, and CBS Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow and the net's top production crew will also be on site. Barrow said that he will “have the same allotment of cameras and video machines available Sunday, albeit in a different production truck.” He has been “told the camera and video operators who will fill in for regular crew members who didn’t make the trip have the requisite knowledge of American Football.” Barrow’s “hope is that the telecast doesn’t look any different than a normal NFL game” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/24).
SOMETHING TO LEARN FROM: In London, Kevin Eason writes when English Premier League (EPL) CEO Richard Scudamore announced his plan to play a 39th game abroad, the "football world exploded with derision.” Yet the NFL “has overcome the same objections from fans in the United States and, for the second year running, is staging a match an ocean from its homeland that will spin a profit for each of the 32 NFL franchises.” Unlike the EPL’s “rapacious every man-for-himself attitude to cash, though, the proceeds are shared in a league in which the biggest teams are only as strong as the weakest.” Kirkwood said, “It is not exactly the same situation as the Premier League. But there is a level of co-operation between teams to ensure their own survival and a healthy league” (LONDON TIMES, 10/24).
Selig Could Make Schedule
Changes To Next Year's Playoffs
CLOUDY SKIES: With the series now shifting to Citizens Bank Park, talk Thursday night was already focusing on Saturday’s weather forecast, which currently calls for rain in Philadelphia. Selig: “It’s looking a little better (for the evening), but we’re spending a lot of time watching that, listening to the meteorologists. They’re going to get rain. It’s just a question of when and for how long. It’s pretty tough to estimate.” Selig as of Thursday night remained optimistic Saturday's game would be played (Fisher).
Stern Touts Attendance Figures, Sponsorship
Renewals As Reasons For League Optimism
RETURN TRIP: Stern said that while "logistics would make an All-Star game in Europe difficult ... fans there might not have to settle for exhibitions much longer." Stern: "To the extent that we're asked the question, what about a regular-season game, we decided, 'OK, with the lead-up to the Olympics, we'll pop a regular-season game or two or more, I don't know exactly how many, over there by the 2012 Olympics." Stern said that playing in Europe "is good for the league," and added that "even with the current financial crisis....the NBA sold out four preseason games in Europe and two in China earlier this month." He does not expect the economic crisis "to have any real affect on the league's overseas plans." Stern: "We don't think that that's going to impact us in any harsh or painful way other than perhaps our rate of growth. But growth it will be" (AP, 10/23).
NBA To Allow Joe Maloof And Family's
Casino To Accept Bets On NBA Games
NOTES: T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor was unanimously picked to be NBA BOG Chair Thursday, replacing Heat Owner Micky Arison (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/24)....NBA Commissioner David Stern will be at the Ford Center for Wednesday night's Bucks-Thunder game, the Thunder's first home regular-season game in Oklahoma City (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 10/24).
Gartside (l) Calling For Restructuring
Of English Premier League
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is "going through the analysis" of lengthening the regular season and reducing the number of preseason games. Goodell: "We haven’t come up with any final conclusion, but we think it merits discussion and consideration. ... We have to evaluate how we prepare our players, how they play during the season and how do we make the game as safe as possible for them” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 10/24). But "Inside The NFL" co-host Cris Collinsworth said expanding to 18 games was an “awful” idea because “it’s all about money.” Collinsworth: “No one who ever played in a 16-game schedule would ever advocate going to 18 games. You’re going to end up with nothing but back-up players playing in the playoffs." CBS' Bill Cowher, subbing for regular co-host Warren Sapp, said, "The quality of play will go down because you’re going to have less experienced players playing” ("Inside The NFL," Showtime, 10/22).
BACK IN SEPARATE CORNERS: MMAWEEKLY.com's Tom Hamlin reported Affliction has "rejected a bid to partner with" UFC. Sources said that the "basics of a deal had been brokered to allow Affliction back into the organization as a major clothing sponsor," including a possible co-branded apparel line. In return, Affliction would "agree to cease operations as a fight promoter." However, talks began to break down when Affliction ran several ads during CBS' October 4 EliteXC broadcast "trumpeting Fedor Emelianenko's return," which made UFC execs "wary the deal was not being taken seriously" (MMAWEEKLY.com, 10/22).
RESPONSE TO TRAGEDY: In N.Y., Michael Obernauer reports Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) "has ratified a series of new medical safety measures" which are "intended to prevent a recurrence of the inadequate medical response" to Rangers prospect and KHL club Avangard Omsk RW Alexei Cherepanov, who died after collapsing during a game earlier this month. The regulations "require two properly staffed ambulances to be on duty at all KHL games, and call on the federal ministry of health to raise the standards governing what equipment is mandatory in ambulances" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/23).
EURO ALLIANCE: FROM THE RINK's James Mirtle reported the leading professional hockey leagues in Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland have established a new organization called "Hockey Europe" to "help negotiate for their rights with the NHL and KHL." Finland's SM-liiga CEO Jukka-Pekka Vourinen will be Hockey Europe's first President & GM, and the organization "has its registered office in Cologne, Germany." Mirtle wrote, "United, these leagues are much stronger than on their own" (FROMTHERINK.com, 10/22).