SBD/Issue 48/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • LPGA Hopes Recent Events Are A Sign Of Brighter Days Ahead

    Things Looking Up For LPGA Since Acting
    Commissioner Marty Evans Took Reins Of Tour
    The LPGA today unveiled the tour's official '10 schedule, which includes 24 events in 10 different countries. The biggest note is that Wegmans will be the presenting sponsor of the '10 LPGA Championship, which will take place in Pittsford, New York, the site of the old Wegmans LPGA (LPGA). USA TODAY's Steve DiMeglio reports things are "looking up for the tour" four months after LPGA Acting Commissioner Marty Evans was named to the position "following a players revolt that ousted Carolyn Bivens." The 24 tournaments next year is up from nine that were "under contract for the 2010 season" when Bivens was ousted in July. Also, "top draw" Michelle Wie on Sunday won her first pro tournament and ShopRite on Monday announced that the ShopRite LPGA Classic "would be back next year after a three-year absence." Evans: "I will say unequivocally we have regained momentum and we're going in the right direction. ... These are exciting times, especially when things looked so bleak earlier this year. We had targeted between 22 and 24 tournaments for the 2010 season, and that's what we will have." DiMeglio notes "all 120 players in this week's Tour Championship were told of the 2010 schedule in a players meeting Tuesday night with Whan, who met with the membership for the first time." Golfer Cristie Kerr said prior to the unveiling of the schedule, "If we get 23, 24 [tournaments], that would be a small victory for us. And you have to build from there." Golfer Angela Stanford added, "Everybody feels good about where we are going. The economy obviously hit everybody, but we are feeling better about our future and our new leadership. And I think sponsors and fans will see that" (USA TODAY, 11/18). Wie said, "I feel like the tour is headed in a really great direction. ... There are a lot of great personalities and this is a really great package, so I think we’re just going to do a lot better" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 11/17).

    BUZZ FACTOR: GOLFCHANNEL.com's Randall Mell wrote Wie's "breakthrough victory" last week was "all the buzz" yesterday at the LPGA Championship in Houston. Wie: "It's been crazy. It's a lot of fun, but my focus is on this week. I want to play even better." Golfer Morgan Pressel said, "Michelle's created a buzz with her win. You knew it was going to happen. I'm glad for her, that she doesn't have that cloud hanging over her head anymore." Golfer Brittany Lincicome: "The better she does, the more exposure we all get. We are all rooting for her. We are obviously trying to promote our tour to be the best we can be. If that's her playing well, or Paula Creamer, we are rooting for them to do well" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/17). Meanwhile, author John Feinstein said of Wie, "Let’s also hope that the LPGA, with all its financial troubles, doesn't start pushing her to do too much too soon" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 11/17).

    LIFE AFTER GOLF: Retired golfer Annika Sorenstam said of her retirement, "I'm lucky in that if I wanted to come back, I could. But I'm very content with where I am today and what I'm doing and all the businesses and family life. So today I have no plans whatsoever, but things change. ... With all this other fun stuff, there's more to life than golf. I'm glad that I've found other things in life and can enjoy a different chapter" (ESPN.com, 11/17).

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  • Would MLS Cup Win By Real Salt Lake Create Problems For League?

    RSL Could Win MLS Cup Despite Having 
    Losing Record During Regular Season
    If Real Salt Lake (RSL) defeats the Galaxy in Sunday’s MLS Cup, it will become the “first club in modern times in any major sport to win a championship after finishing the regular season with a losing record,” creating a “thorny problem for MLS,” according to Martin Rogers of YAHOO SPORTS. An RSL victory would “raise concerns that the current playoff format offers too little reward for several months of toil during the year.” Most soccer leagues “operate on a single-table format without playoffs, meaning the team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned champion.” Finding a “balance between staying true to the roots of the sport and fitting in with a typical American sports model is a significant challenge.” However, MLS currently has “no plans to significantly alter its system and feels it has no need to do so.” League officials likely would spin an RSL title win to “highlight how their competition is one of the most open and evenly matched in the world” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/18). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler notes it is the “second straight year and fourth time in league history” that a team has reached MLS Cup after a losing record during the regular season. Zeigler: “Why let minor details such as a losing record throughout a grueling regular season deter your prospects of winning a championship?” Determining a championship "through the vagaries of a three-week playoff tournament instead of a seven-month, 30-game regular season is counterintuitive to the rest of the planet"  (SIGNONSANDIEGO.com, 11/18).

    SUPPORT SYSTEM: In Utah, James Edwards reports RSL is "doing everything it can to increase the number of supporters" it has at Qwest Field for Sunday's championship game. The team has “worked out a deal with JetBlue to charter a flight on its RealBlue airplane to Seattle.” The cost is $325 and includes a ticket to the match, and is available “exclusively to RSL season ticket holders.” RSL supporter groups also have "arranged for two charter busses to Seattle." The cost is $120 per person and includes a ticket to the match (DESERET NEWS, 11/18).

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  • NFL Filing In American Needle Case Could Impact Labor Relations

     
    The NFL in a brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the American Needle case yesterday argued for a ruling that could have a major impact on labor relations with NFL players, including preventing them from de-certifying the NFLPA, legal experts said. But Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for all four major sports unions in an amicus brief filed with the court in the case last month, said the NFL made a concession about coaches that could help players in the case. The NFL is asking the Supreme Court to decide the question of whether "a professional sports league and its separately owned member clubs, which exist to produce collectively an entertainment product that no member club could produce on its own, function as a single entity," the league's lawyers said in their brief. An NFL victory could, among other things, have an impact on whether unions can de-certify and sue leagues under the anti-trust laws, said Gary Roberts, who formerly worked at Covington & Burling, the NFL’s longtime law firm. Roberts, now the dean of the Indiana Univ.-Indianapolis law school, said, "If the court decides the case in favor of the league, it would immunize it from Section One (Sherman Act) anti-trust challenges, which would be very significant. I don't know if they are going to win, but they should win. I think, inherently, sports leagues are a single business. None of the teams can function independently; none have any independent value, other than being part of the league." However, Kessler, who is also outside counsel to the NFLPA and the NBPA, said the league is “arguing for broad based immunity from the anti-trust laws,” as it applies to competition for players. The league at the same time is conceding that “the NFL would not be a single entity and would be subject to the anti-trust laws for restraint on coaches. It follows automatically that the NFL could not be a single entity for the purposes of restraint of competition for players. We are confident the Supreme Court will recognize the significance of this concession.”

    CASE COULD BRING "DIRE CONSEQUENCES": The NFL through a spokesperson declined comment, but the league's lawyers noted in their brief, that some of the opposing briefs in the case "warn of ... dire consequences for labor relations in professional sports if a league and its member clubs were deemed a single entity." In a footnote, the NFL said, "That argument neglects the labor market for NFL players is organized around a collective bargaining relationship that is provided for and prompted by federal labor law, and that the NFL clubs, as a multi-employer bargaining unit, can act jointly in setting terms and conditions of players employment ... without risking anti-trust liability." Kessler noted that the difference the league is trying to draw between players and coaches is that players have collective bargaining and coaches do not. “But that is only true for the moment,” Kessler said, alluding to the potential of the NFLPA de-certifying. “They say the exemption can be applied in labor markets because there is collective bargaining and that makes no sense because if there is no union in the future, there would be no collective bargaining.”

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  • League Notes

    Shanahan Announces His Retirement,
    May Be In Line For Position With NHL
    In N.Y., Mark Everson cites sources as saying that former NHLer Brendan Shanahan, who announced his retirement yesterday, "may be in line for a position with the NHL." It is "uncertain what sort of position the NHL might have in store for Shanahan, although there has been speculation it could involve working with the NHLPA" toward the next CBA. Shanahan was a "central figure in the last lockout, backing a bid for a players' committee for input on rules and procedures" (N.Y. POST, 11/18).

    MAKING A DIFFERENCE: In Denver, Mike Klis wrote while there is a bit of a backlash to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's conduct policy, it "seems to me like it's working." Goodell said he believes players are "not only aware" of the policy, but it is "changing behavior." Klis wrote the "behavioral transformation" of Broncos WR Brandon Marshall "could be viewed as anecdotal evidence that Goodell's strengthened conduct policy has settled into the players' subconscious" (DENVER POST, 11/15).

    OVERESTIMATING DEMAND: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes billboards in the city for the "past few months ... have trumpeted an upcoming UFL game at Home Depot Center, set for Friday." But the league decided to move the game to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, the home field of the Las Vegas Locomotives. The UFL "at the moment ... greatly overestimated its usefulness," because if there was a "curiosity factor for the UFL in L.A., it has curiously disappeared." Hoffarth: "Go ahead and plant a franchise here next year, and we'll tell you right now -- we're not on board" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/18).

    NARROWING HIS FOCUS: Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo said that he is "likely to step down from his role" as Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) President "at the end of the year." Di Montezemolo said that he is "set to quit FOTA to focus on his role as Ferrari and Fiat president" (AUTOSPORT.com, 11/17).

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