SBD/Issue 51/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • RSL Captures MLS Cup In Front Of Enthusiastic Crowd In Seattle

    Last Night's MLS Cup In Seattle Attracted A
    Crowd Of 46,011 At Qwest Field
    Real Salt Lake defeated the Galaxy in a penalty-kick shootout to win MLS Cup last night in front of 46,011 fans at Qwest Field, the "largest crowd for an MLS Cup since the record crowd of 61,316 at Gillette Stadium" in '02, according to Don Ruiz of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. Fans wearing "bright green Sounders jerseys were prominent" at last night's game, but "fans showed up in jerseys from around the league and around the world." Many were "worn by visiting supporters" from L.A. and Salt Lake City (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 11/23). In N.Y., Mason Kelley writes the "atmosphere at Qwest Field was lively." While both the Galaxy and RSL were "well represented, fans of the expansion Sounders FC took advantage of one last chance to wear their rave green jerseys in 2009, one last chance to create a European-style atmosphere on MLS's biggest stage, with many standing the entire match." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "It's been absolutely fantastic. I've got to tell you, man. I was out taking pictures with my iPhone" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23). Galaxy MF David Beckham said, "There was a buzz in town all week. It was very enjoyable" (SEATTLEPI.com, 11/22).

    GOING OUT ON TOP: In DC, Steve Goff writes the "backdrop was everything that MLS had dreamt, a pulsating setting that evoked visions of soccer's feverish and sophisticated cauldrons in faraway lands." Last night's "drama and tension -- if not the quality of play -- served the championship stage admirably." Garber said, "It's a memorable night for soccer in America. The celebration of the sport in this city has been nothing short of spectacular." Goff notes perhaps the "only negative aspect of playing in Seattle was the artificial turf, which, even on a dry day, sends the ball skipping with unnatural pace" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/23). Garber at halftime addressed the playing surface at Qwest Field, saying, "We don't really have much of a choice here. ... You'd love to find a situation where we have grass everywhere" (DESERET NEWS, 11/23). In Salt Lake City, Gordon Monson notes the press area for last night's game was "full up, not just with reporters covering the L.A. Galaxy and RSL, not just with writers from Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City, but rather with media folks from London and Liverpool and Leeds and Leicester, and a lot of other places." This MLS Cup was "beyond national" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/23). In Seattle, Art Thiel wrote under the header, "MLS Cup Wasn't Pretty, But It Did Sparkle." A "splendid debut season for big-league soccer in Seattle, as well as a fun week of being a host city for a championship, ended awkwardly" last night with RSL defeating Beckham and the favored Galaxy (SEATTLEPI.com, 11/22).

    SEATTLE SLEW: Galaxy coach & GM Bruce Arena said last night's MLS Cup "was a great moment for MLS." Arena: "The city of Seattle really embraced the MLS. It is a beautiful stadium. ... The fans really embraced the season and the team, and it's a fantastic story." In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes, "Short of Sounders FC making it to this game, Seattle soccer fans couldn't have asked for a better way to end this first season" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/23). Meanwhile, Garber said that the "time may have come for the final game to be played on the home pitch of the higher-seeded finalist." Garber: "I think we're getting to the point where the fans matter more than anything else. And a home fan deserves the right -- whether it's a small market like Kansas City or a temporary stadium like San Jose -- to host a final" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 11/23).

    LOOKING AHEAD: AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke this weekend claimed that MLS is "preparing to allow a third designated player per club." Garber last night said, "It's clear that the L.A. Galaxy is a big proponent of the designated player rule, but I can assure you that no decision has been made and frankly no discussions are going to be held at the board level on the designated player rule or the salary budgets or any other things related to what we spend on players until after we get through our collective bargaining agreement negotiations." Meanwhile, Garber said an ownership group looking to bring MLS to Montreal was in Seattle for last night's game and the two sides are "making progress." He added, "We hope to have a 19th team in the league by 2012 and Montreal is still the leading candidate. But we have got some work to do, most importantly, that stadium needs to be renovated and expanded. It's probably not suitable for an MLS team today" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/23).

    Beckham Confirmed He Will Return To MLS
    Next Season After Another Loan To AC Milan
    BECKS COMING BACK: Beckham last night reiterated he will return to MLS next season after another loan to AC Milan. Beckham also confirmed his interest in buying an MLS club after he retires, and Garber clarified that "Beckham's option starts with the MLS' 20th team, which won't arrive until 2012 at the earliest." Beckham last night said, "We've got options of which team (to buy). It will happen eventually, yeah" (AP, 11/23).

    THIS TIME OF YEAR: Garber indicated that MLS "continues to resist" bringing the league's season in line with other soccer leagues in the world. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has urged MLS to do so, but Garber said, "It's not that we have to move to that calendar. President Blatter would love to see that happen. Judging by the weather here, it's kind of hard to imagine playing games here or in Canada in January or early March" (PASADENA STAR NEWS, 11/23).

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  • NFL Requiring Teams To Use Independent Doctors For Head Injuries

    Teams Told To Submit Names Of Independent
    Doctors For League Approval
    NFL team doctors have been told that each team "will now be required to supplement their medical staffs with an 'independent neurologist or neurosurgeon' to specifically help with concussions," according to Jay Glazer of FOX SPORTS. Teams have been told to "immediately find 'independent' doctors and send names to the league for approval." The NFL will then work with NFLPA medical personnel "to determine that each doctor is in fact an expert in this field as well as impartial to the team they are handling." Part of the policy will include the stipulation that players "cannot return to practice or games until he is cleared by the independent neurologist in addition to his team doctor." The league is hoping the new policy, which is expected to be in place "in a matter of a couple of weeks, ... will help in the fight to protect players" from head trauma and concussions (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/22). Glazer also reported the U.S. Department of Defense has “reached out” to the NFL on the concussion issue, and the medical staffs of both the government and the NFL “have been trading information” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 11/22). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not believe there was anything wrong with the league’s previous concussion plan, but he said, “As we learn more and more, we want to give our players the best medical advice, and I think this is a chance for us to expand that and to bring more people into the circle to make sure we’re making the best decisions for our players in the long term." Players did not specifically ask for these changes, but Goodell said they have “always talked about concussions.” Goodell: “One thing that I’ve stressed to them is help us identify the players when they do have some type of a head injury … so we can get the proper medical care to them” (“Football Night In America,” NBC, 11/22).

    NEW POLICY A RESULT OF DC PRESSURE? In N.Y., Alan Schwarz reports the NFL appears to have "begun to embrace the value of outside opinion ... after an embarrassing hearing on the issue before the House Judiciary Committee last month in which the league was compared to the tobacco industry." Texans G and player rep Chester Pitts said, "I don't want to call it forced, but it's been strongly urged because of the awareness of the issue these days. When you have Congress talking about the antitrust exemption and them calling them the tobacco industry, that's pretty big. But it's a good thing it's transpiring." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah in an e-mail said that the union had been "speaking with NFL officials for two weeks about implementing some sort of independent scrutiny for players who receive concussions -- perhaps including an outside doctor present at every game" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23).

    PLAYERS SHOULD BE MADE TO SIT OUT: CBS' Boomer Esiason suggested the NFL implement a policy in which players sit out for four games after a first concussion in a season and are placed on the injured reserve list after a second concussion in the same season. Esiason: “If we’re all worried about concussions and the long-term effects, we have to start taking issues into our own hands” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).

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  • Goodell Wants Players' Input On Issues Through Advisory Forum

    Goodell Selects Tony Dungy To Head 
    Player Advisory Forum
    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on NBC's "Football Night In America" last night to talk about the newly-formed Player Advisory Forum, which will be headed by Tony Dungy. Goodell said, “We are always seeking player input on a variety of matters, both on and off the field. … Tony and I have been talking about how input has been so valuable to the league, and we agreed we could do more. Tony was gracious enough to give us his time and his resources to be able to get the right kind of players in a room and give us that kind of feedback.” Goodell said he hired Dungy for the position because he has a “great credibility with the players and with the NFL in general.” Dungy: “One of the things that we used to say when I was playing -- ‘If Commissioner Rozelle knew this, I wish I could get this message to him.’ I think it’s great when the players can do that.” NBC’s Dan Patrick noted Peter King talked to officials with the NFLPA, and they “wondered about the timing of this. That you’re aligning yourself with some players as maybe a backdoor way of currying favor with them.” Goodell: “I’m a commissioner for everybody in the NFL. That includes the players, the coaches, the owners and the fans. I’ve always reached out to players. That’s not what this is all about, and I’ve invited them if they want to come in. I just met with two teams this week. I regularly seek the input of the players. My record’s clear on that one, and I’m going to continue on that one regardless of the negotiations” (“Football Night In America,” NBC, 11/22).

    TOO LATE IN THE GAME: CBS’ Charley Casserly reported prior to the recent four-game suspensions of Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe and Eagles DB Joselio Hanson, there were discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA “about reducing what is presently a four-game suspension for diuretics to something less than that.” Casserly: “Perhaps two games, perhaps a fine, perhaps a warning or any combinations of those things.” However, the union “did not want to agree to a lesser penalty because they still are opposed to the commissioner having full disciplinary authority. And they did not want to negotiate outside of the context of the negotiations that are going on right now on this whole CBA” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).

    EMPHASIS ON WRONG BOWL? CBS’ Casserly also reported the NFL has sent a letter to teams telling them while players voted to the Pro Bowl from the two clubs playing in the Super Bowl will not participate in the game, it is "essential that they participate in the Pro Bowl player introductions." The Pro Bowl is being held the week before the Super Bowl this season, and Casserly said, "If you want to have a full practice at your facility the Monday before the Super Bowl, which teams have done, ... you’re not going to have all your players there for practice. How do you have a practice the week before the Super Bowl without all your players there? There’s a problem with that." A team's routine and on-field chemistry "the week of the Super Bowl should take precedence over promoting the Pro Bowl” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).

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  • Donald Fehr's Work With NHLPA Creating Optimism Among Players

    Fehr Aiding NHLPA In Search For New 
    Executive Director
    Outgoing MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr is working with the NHLPA in an advisory capacity, and his “presence has generated some optimism among the players that he can turn around” the hockey union, according to Jeff Klein of the N.Y. TIMES. For a union “riven by dispute, the benefit of Fehr’s presence seems to be the one thing most parties agree on.” Hockey agent Jay Grossman said the NHLPA “would be lucky to get someone like Don Fehr, given the position that they’re in.” However, Rangers G and player rep Steve Valiquette said, “He made it clear to us from the outset that he’s not interested in the job.” Klein notes Fehr “has long advised the NHLPA, having been brought in” by former General Counsel Ian Penny. Fehr “has also been part of the working association that has existed for several years among the heads of the baseball, hockey, football and basketball players unions,” but his current work with the NHLPA is “far more extensive than any previous relationship he has had with the organization.” First on Fehr’s "docket is the search for a new executive director" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23).

    POWER PLAY: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin notes hockey agent and former NHLPA Associate Counsel Ian Pulver appeared on the CBC’s "Hotstove" segment on "Hockey Night In Canada" on Saturday and "offered motherhood opinions about players needing to decide for themselves" the future of the union. He said, "It’s a players’ association, not an agents’ association." But Pulver’s fellow panelists on the show -- Mike Milbury and Pierre LeBrun -- "were not buying the blandishments on Pulver’s neutrality" over former NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly. Both “confronted him on his allegiance to the Ian Penny faction which has recently exited the PA after its failed purge this fall.” Meanwhile, former NHLPA Ombudsman Buzz Hargrove last week “was served with papers from the PA demanding the return of any and all confidential information in his possession and to cease and desist commenting on matters of confidentiality” (GLOBESPORTS.com, 11/23).

    JOINING THE RUSH: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote recently-retired NHLer Brendan Shanahan “would be a tremendous addition to the PA, especially now that the players have begun to reshape the union’s constitution.” The union’s “need has never been greater for a smart, respected, high-profile player to come aboard in a position of weight and authority” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/22).

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  • ESPN Analyzes Finances Of MLB Revenue-Sharing Program

     
    MLB does not want fans to know "exactly how many dollars each team takes in from a humongous pot that includes revenue sharing, TV-radio money, merchandising, sponsorships, etc.," but an analysis of MLB's finances provides a "pretty fair idea," according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. At least 10 teams collected $90M-plus during the '09 season "before they opened their ticket windows, let one car into their parking lots or sold one slice of pizza." Each team earned just over $30M from MLB's central fund if you deduct the $10M in "pension and operations fees, or just over" $40M if you do not. MLB shared $400M in revenue this past season, and the "five neediest teams -- which we believe to be the Marlins, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays and Royals" -- each received an average of around $35M, which still leaves about $200M for the "rest of the 'payees' to divvy up." Stark noted 29 of the 30 teams earn at least $15M annually in "local broadcast money, and no team" earns under $12M. So each team last season pulled in at least $80M without counting ticket sales. However, there were at least 12 teams, "depending on how you define 'total payroll,' that aren't spending that same number" on payroll for their major-league roster. This discrepancy comes at a "time when the relationship between owners and players seems to be growing more contentious than it has been in years." Stark suggests MLB should "impose the same sort of tax on teams with payrolls below some minimum threshold, exactly the way baseball taxes teams like the Yankees that spend over the maximum threshold" (ESPN.com, 11/19).

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