SBD/Issue 234/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Uncapped NFL Season In '10 More Likely As Owners, Union Disagree

    Pash Upset With Economics
    Of Current CBA
    It is "increasingly likely that the NFL is headed to a season without a salary cap" in '10, as NFLPA officials said that team owners "made no proposal in the first two negotiating sessions" for a new CBA, according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. Owners said that their concerns "have been conveyed during a series of less formal conversations," but NFLPA outside counsel James Quinn said, "We're into this 14 months, we're still waiting for a proposal from the NFL that we haven't gotten. That will jump-start the negotiation." NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash said the current CBA "doesn't reflect the current economics of running a football team." Pash: "A very good example is the extraordinary amount of debt the Jets and Giants are taking on to build a stadium. Yes, stadiums are drivers of new revenues, but there are tremendous costs." Pash said that 75% of new revenue "has gone to player costs ... since the current deal was reached in 2006." Battista noted NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, "echoing his predecessor Gene Upshaw," has vowed that "if the cap disappears, the union will never accept one again, removing the cost certainty it provides" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23). Pash said the "only people talking about a lockout" for the '11 season "belong to the union" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/23). On Long Island, Bob Glauber wrote Smith "hopes common sense will prevail, but he isn't convinced." Smith: "I have to believe that given the number of fans we have, given the love of this game, given the way that football has become intrinsically intertwined with our culture, I can't see how anyone would jeopardize that" (NEWSDAY, 8/22).

    WHAT'S THE FUSS ABOUT? SI.com's Peter King writes, "Quite honestly, why should anyone care if there's a cap in 2010? ... Understand the minimum-service time for unrestricted free agents rises from four to six years in 2010, and understand that each team can use a franchise tag AND transition tag to lock up two potential free agents next year, and understand the top eight teams in the league can't sign a free agent until they lose one of similar value. Now you understand why the prospect of an uncapped year doesn't make general managers league-wide lose much sleep. Or any" (SI.com, 8/24). 

    ROOKIE PAY AN ISSUE: In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell noted the concept of a "rookie wage scale likely will be a priority among owners when discussions over a new labor agreement intensify," and Colts President Bill Polian said that the current system that "requires teams to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at unproven players selected in the first round ... 'is crazy.'" Polian: "In a game where people have to earn things on the field on merit, we should not pay the wrong people. ... No business can sustain that model very long" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/23).

    Writer Says Goodell Has
    Taken No-Excuses Approach
    RULING WITH AN IRON FIST: In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's personal conduct policy, "I'd like to see someone with Goodell's bullying zeal rule too harshly on a Goodell mistake to universal applause, so that he would be forced to look more empathetically at whether there is more good or evil in the way he's punishing his workers -- which is with a breadth and hostility unseen before from a ruler in American professional sports." Le Batard: "I don't know if what he's doing is more good than evil." And it is "stupefying that the player's union, whose sole job it is to protect its constituency, has failed so spectacularly here," as this issue is "something union insiders predict might result in a work stoppage when the next contract is negotiated" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/23). In Nashville, Joe Biddle wrote Goodell has taken a "no-excuses approach as he tries to clean up the image of the most popular professional league in sports." But his "time-out approach doesn't seem to be serving as a deterrent," as players are "still breaking the law." While there is "talk around the league that members of the players association believe he has been too heavy-handed," Goodell "needs to stand his ground." Biddle: "It will be his legacy" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/22).

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  • NBA Teams Continue To Trim Expenses On Basketball Operations

    A number of NBA teams this offseason have "nipped and tucked on the basketball side" of operations, "playing hardball on salaries, not renewing an extra assistant coach here or there, keeping training camp at home ... and reevaluating the costs of preparing for each game," according to Steve Aschburner of SI.com. The Grizzlies "got the headlines this offseason when they shuttered their amateur scouting staff," but advance scouting is "an area hit hard by several clubs." Financially, advance scouting is "pricey and has grown increasingly difficult," as courtside seats that "used to be available for scouts, giving them ringside sights and sounds to monitor opposing teams, have been turned into prime and expensive real estate for VIP tickets." The Nets have eliminated their advance scouting position, and VP/Basketball Operations Bobby Marks said, "We spent $80,000 to $90,000 in expenses on the road. Then you've got to factor in the salary. You're looking at close to $200,000." Aschburner noted NBA teams also are looking to "save money by pooling their efforts." The Warriors, T'Wolves and Nets held group workouts ahead of June's NBA Draft rather than individual sessions (SI.com, 8/21).

    Both Celtics, Lakers Set To Exceed
    Next Season's Luxury-Tax Threshold
    LAPSE OF LUXURY: In Boston, Peter May noted there are 12 NBA teams set to exceed next season's luxury-tax threshold of $69.92M, led by the Lakers with a payroll of more than $91M. The Celtics this season are slated to be above the tax threshold, and CEO & Managing Partner Wyc Grousbeck said, "We won the championship paying heavy tax. We had reached the stage where that investment made sense and we are still there today." Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "Everyone trying to win a championship is spending. You have no choice. The way it is now, if you're going to compete, you have to spend the big bucks." Late Jazz Owner Larry Miller was "known for running one of the most frugal franchises," but the team next year looks to have the "second-highest payroll" in the NBA. In addition, Wizards Owner Abe Pollin was "one of the many owners who pushed for the 1999 lockout because salaries had gotten so out of hand," but his franchise for this season will have the seventh-highest payroll in the league (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/23).

    STUDY ABROAD: NBA Commissioner David Stern said that the league "plans to hold a regular-season game somewhere in Europe before" the '12 London Olympics. He added that he "hopes a Pan-Asian basketball league will form in the next two to four years, although it may not be affiliated with the NBA." Stern: "The great upside is that our international presence and the digital medium go hand in hand." In L.A., Mark Medina notes Stern spent a week in Mumbai last month for the NBA's "first fan clinic event in India, part of 345 international events the NBA has played host to in 158 cities and 24 countries in the last year." About 300 current and former NBA players, coaches, dance teams and mascots and "about 50 sponsors have participated in the league's international events." Lakers Gs Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic and F Ron Artest visited China this summer and "put on basketball clinics, as well as promoting their shoe deals," while Lakers G Jordan Farmar this week will be in Taiwan as part of an NBA tour (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).

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  • Inaugural WPS Championship Game Draws Just 7,218 Fans In L.A.

    WPS Championship Game Falls
    Well Short Of Attendance Hopes
    The attendance for Saturday's inaugural WPS Championship game at The Home Depot Center fell "well short of what WPS was surely hoping for, drawing only 7,218," according to Jacqueline Purdy of ESPN SOCCERNET. The game, in which Sky Blue FC beat the Sol 1-0, attracted the "fourth-best turnout in the league this year, just about half the number that saw the Sol win the inaugural match in the same venue on March 29." But Purdy noted those who were in attendance saw a "thrilling game that came down to the closing moments." Sky Blue coach and D Christie Rampone said, " I think we need to spend a little bit more time in the community and start selling the league a little bit better on the players' side. We did a great job on the field, but now it's just being a little bit more mindful and getting the work done off the field as well. I think the league has done an exceptional job. We started small and we're going to build up" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 8/22). WPS Commissioner Tony Antonucci at Saturday's game said that the league was "able to introduce itself as a league that showcased many of the world's best players." Antonucci: "From a business standpoint, we can say we're real, we're here. It's a tangible product now" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).

    YEAR ONE IN THE BOOKS: YAHOO SPORTS' Martin Rogers wrote WPS in its first season has "done as well as it could have hoped for." The league has "marketed itself cleverly, making intelligent use of social networking and the Internet to reach out to fans," while the on-field product has "been strong, and the level of commitment shown by the players cannot be faulted." There have been some "reasonably encouraging signs" regarding attendance, but the overall average was just shy of 4,500 per game and it is "hard to see significant upward movement." Not a single WPS team "made a profit in 2009," with losses between $1-2M for most clubs, and team investors "show every sign of being in this for the long term, but that doesn't mean they will keep throwing money into a bottomless pit." The "projected turnaround in the economy can help -- and compared to the drastic and horrific WUSA losses, WPS is in infinitely better shape" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/21). FC Gold Pride D Brandi Chastain said, "What this league needs is for people who say they are invested in their daughters' future to go to the games. That may be a little blunt, but I'm putting the responsibility on the community and the players and front offices to make sure they do a better job to make sure that people come to the stadiums and buy tickets" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/23).

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  • League Notes

    Busch's Presence In Chase Would
    Be Huge Boost For NASCAR
    In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes there “might be no cure” for NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow, but driver Kyle Busch gives "hope for stock car racing.” Since the cars “aren’t going to become any more exciting, the drivers will have to be,” and "nobody is more exciting" than Busch. He is the only driver in contention on a weekly basis "who is capable of giving NASCAR a necessary jolt” because he is “so unpredictable, so talented and so daring.” If he does not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR “loses big” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/24).

    MAJOR ISSUE: ESPN.com’s Peter Bodo noted the Olympus U.S. Open Series is “having trouble sustaining the kind of traction that the bigwigs at the USTA anticipated” when they created the concept in '04. The idea “was and remains terrific: link up all the North American tournaments that take place in a compressed, orderly fashion leading up to the U.S. Open; give the players a huge financial incentive to win the Series.” However, the "summer hard-court circuit is about maintaining, rather than achieving,” for many top players. It is becoming more “clear that the only tournaments that really matter are the majors” (ESPN.com, 8/21).

    STAYING IN THE GAME: In N.Y., Brian Heyman wrote despite “hitting a few bumps along the way,” the WNBA “has shown the staying power that its forerunners did not.” Average attendance is “on the rise for the third straight year,” and merchandise sales at NBAStore.com are up 10% from '08. Sparks F Lisa Leslie, who is retiring at the end of this season, said, “We’ve just truly evolved, by players individually, our individual talent level has risen, as well as our numbers and our fan support, as well as our corporate sponsorship. I feel very confident about where I’m leaving the game in the hands of these young players like Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird. I think it’s only going to continue to get better” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).

    GROWING THE GAME ABROAD: Tiger Woods said of Y.E. Yang becoming the first Asian-born player to win one of golf’s major championships, "It will be incredible for, not only the people of South Korea, but I think for all of Asia -- that a person who started the game very late in age … has the success he's had, won on our tour, has won overseas, and now ultimately winning a major championship." Golfer Notah Begay III added, "Golf has a tremendous opportunity to reach out to different countries and cross over a lot of socioeconomic barriers" ("Money for Breakfast," Fox Business, 8/24).

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