SBD/Issue 59/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NFLPA Set to Fight To Retain NFL Supplemental Revenue Sharing

     
    The NFLPA will file a special master case against the NFL early this week after the league informed the union in a letter last week that it planned to end the supplemental revenue-sharing plan in the uncapped '10 season, according to a union source. The league is contending that the supplemental revenue-sharing system, in which high-revenue clubs share more than $100M with lower-revenue clubs, does not apply to the '10 season, which will operate without a salary cap if there is no labor deal struck by March. “An uncapped year is a totally different system,” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said in an e-mail yesterday. The issue of whether or not low-revenue clubs get the extra money -- first reported by ESPN on Sunday -- could adversely affect the amount of money those clubs can spend in an uncapped year (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Judy Battista notes nine teams "at the bottom of the revenue pecking order" drew from the supplemental revenue-sharing pool this season, and the union is "concerned that even the loss of a relatively small amount of money could imperil the competitiveness of smaller-market teams" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7). NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said in an e-mail, "Revenue sharing helps maintain the 'any given Sunday' dynamic in the NFL. The amount of money some owners propose to pull out of the system in 2011 could mean the difference between playoffs and blackouts for many teams" (AP, 12/6). However, Aiello said, “The union is just trying to make some noise to get some attention. The CBA has special rules to protect competitive balance in the uncapped year. There will still be billions in equally shared revenue in 2010.” The NFL, which has enjoyed the greatest competitive balance of all major leagues because of its lucrative national television deals, shares more than $6B in revenues now (Mullen).

    DOES IT APPLY? Aiello said the league is "simply going forward on the terms the union approved" in March '06. But a union source said that the supplemental revenue-sharing plan -- which was added to the NFL CBA for the first time in '06 -- applies to every year of the agreement, which expires in March '11. The league’s contention that the revenue sharing does not apply to the '10 uncapped season “is not what the CBA says,” the source said. The NFLPA found out about the league’s plan after the union sent a letter inquiring as to whether the league planned to continue the supplemental revenue-sharing plan in the '10 season, a union source said, adding there has been dialogue between both sides over the issue for the last several weeks. "They have not articulated why they plan to do this over our disapproval," said the source. Ending supplemental revenue sharing is “a material change” to the CBA, which must be approved by the union, the source added. The union source requested anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue (Mullen).

    High-Revenue Clubs, Like Cowboys, Reportedly
    Leading Charge To End Revenue Sharing
    SAVINGS PLAN: The NFL did not immediately respond to a question of whether the low-revenue clubs were in favor of this plan. If the additional revenue is not shared, low-revenue clubs would have less to spend on players in an uncapped year and high-revenue clubs -- which have the most to lose during a lockout -- would get the benefit of greater cost savings, a union source said. “It is clear that the high revenue clubs, like the Cowboys, are leading the charge to end this,” the source said. ESPN first reported that Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones was fined more than $100,000 earlier this year for making public comments indicating that the supplemental revenue-sharing plan would end at the end of the current CBA. The NFL first added the supplemental revenue-sharing plan to the CBA in '06, at the insistence of late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw. Under that CBA, players received a percentage of all revenues, including local revenues that were previously excluded from the players' share in prior CBAs. NFL owners have complained that the players received too high a share of revenues under the current CBA almost from the time they agreed to it, and owners voted last year to end the deal two years early (Mullen).

    OUT IN THE COLD: In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad notes the Vikings have been a "major recipient" of supplemental revenue sharing because they "generate among the lowest stadium revenue in the NFL" by playing in the Metrodome (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/7). In St. Paul, Sean Jensen notes it is believed that the end of the program "would cost the Vikings between [$15-20M] a season, further heightening the team's effort to generate support for a new stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/7).  

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  • Tawdry Tiger Scandal Hits PGA Tour At Difficult, Crucial Time

    Will Woods Scandal Damage
    PGA Tour's Wholesome Image?
    The PGA Tour, which had "promoted its wholesome image as its biggest asset," now has a "tawdry mess on its hands" due to Tiger Woods' scandal, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. Chicago-based sports marketing agency rEvolution President & CEO John Rowady said of the impact on the Tour of the controversy surrounding Woods, "What's interesting to me about this situation is that while its bad in the short term, for golf, on a global basis, it has moved from being a sport to having iconic, celebrity status, and a whole host of other people are now interested. And it may be a sport that is not prepared for that kind of publicity." But N.Y.-based Group Gordon Strategic Communications CEO Michael Gordon said, "There's no impact on the sport itself other than the fact its best asset is a little damaged right now." Golfer Padraig Harrington: "I would still say golf -- I know this may be saying it from inside the sport -- is constantly the No. 1 sport with the moral ethics and things like that. So I think we're in a very strong position going forward." Golfer Kenny Perry said the controversy around Woods will not "change our tour next year at all," though "only time will tell" (AP, 12/5). Perry said of the impact on Woods when he returns to competition, likely for the January 28-31 San Diego Open, "Is this really going to get inside his head a little bit and really going to mess with him? Are crowds going to verbally abuse him out there on the golf course? We don't know. I think the sponsors will hang with him. I don't think it's going to change our Tour next year at all" (USA TODAY, 12/7). Golfer Jim Furyk: "From the tour's perspective, obviously the tour would like to see him come back as soon as possible. He's got to think of his family first and himself first. When the time is right, he'll be back." In L.A., Jill Painter writes Furyk and other golfers are "going to have to carry the PGA Tour on their shoulders while Woods is gone." The timing is "tough for the PGA Tour," as "many of the tour's contracts with title sponsors are up for renewal this year." Also, the economy is "struggling and convincing CEOs to part with millions to sponsor golf tournaments is an unenviable task," but "then again scandals never happen at a good time" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/7). GOLF.com ran a special roundtable on the impact of the controversy on Woods, the PGA Tour and its ratings (GOLF.com, 12/6).

    SCANDAL COULD TARNISH RECORD CHASE: In K.C., Jason Whitlock wrote the media coverage of Woods "will forever change the way the sports world is covered," and it also will have a "dramatic, negative impact on Tiger's pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record for career major championships." Woods is going to face "severe harassment as he pursues Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships ... for allegedly cheating on his blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife." Woods' pursuit is "going to resemble" Hank Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record. His galleries "will be peppered with angry detractors who believe Tiger's infidelity makes him unworthy of holding golf's most prestigious record." There also will be a "contentious racial division as Tiger chases Nicklaus" (K.C. STAR, 12/6).

    Attendance At Challenge About
    The Same Even Without Tiger
    TOUR MOVES ON: ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote no tournament officials at the Chevron World Challenge, from which Woods withdrew, would "say anything negative" about Woods, as that "would be crazy." But "surely there is disappointment, if not downright disgust." The show "awkwardly went on" at the tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, though the attendance was "in the same ballpark as it was two years ago -- about 65,000 spectators for the week -- when Woods played and won." That figure "could be due to the fact that many bought tickets expecting him to play," though fans were "offered a refund or a 20[%] discount next year" (ESPN.com, 12/6). Woods in a statement on his Web site thanked the "tireless, dedicated staff, board and volunteers who collectively produce this first-class tournament." Woods: "I am so grateful to them for their efforts, and I am sincerely sorry I was unable to fulfill my duties as host and player in this important event" (TIGERWOODS.com, 12/6).

    RETURN COULD BE LUCRATIVE: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell wrote while it is "not exactly known" at which tournament Woods will return to competition in '10, the "best guess is probably" the San Diego Open. Woods' potential return at the event "might help the tournament formerly known as the Buick Invitational land the title sponsor it has been looking for since General Motors' restructuring plans earlier this year resulted in it ditching its title sponsorships of golf tournaments." While tourney Exec Dir Tom Wilson "can't guarantee anything" to potential sponsors about Woods' return, "hinting at this being the tournament where Tiger makes his comeback could help him close the deal." It is "likely that this tournament will get the most media exposure a non-major has ever received." Joyce Julius & Associates VP/Research & Development Eric Wright said that a title sponsor would get $15-20M in "equivalent advertising from this year's event alone, thanks to at least 500 million impressions in North America from internet, print and radio coverage" (CNBC.com, 12/4). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Jon Show writes if Woods were to return at the February 11-14 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am or February 18-21 Accenture Match Play Championship, it "might draw negative attention to AT&T and Accenture -- two of Woods' sponsors -- or could be viewed as a safe haven for his return." GMR Marketing Senior VP Ed Kiernan: "Given his existing association with the brands, I see his return at one of those tournaments as a natural" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue).

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  • David Stern: Woman In NBA Within 10 Years Is "Good Possibility"

    Stern Says Women Playing In NBA Is
    "Well Within The Range Of Probability"
    NBA Commissioner David Stern said a woman playing in the league is "well within the range of probability," and contends there is a "good possibility" it will be within the next decade, according to Ian Thomsen of SI.com. Stern: "I think we might. I don't want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood." He added, "In basketball, where it's a five-person game and you have zones and you can do a variety of other things -- a fast person with a good shot that can play on the team? I think we could see it in the next decade or so. ... I'll leave it to the real experts to talk about the muscle factor. But there's going to be a very strong woman who has all the moves, who's going to want to play, and she's going to be good." Thomsen noted the "ultimate goal of developing a woman player is an unexpected but natural progression for Stern, who has used social initiatives" to help grow the league internationally. The success of a female player "would introduce the NBA to enormous audiences who wouldn't otherwise have been interested," and some team owners "will be interested in hiring the first woman player, even if it's only to sell tickets." Nets President Rod Thorn said, "That would work if you had the right woman, and particularly if she were a player who played. Initially it would be, 'Wow, I've got to see this, I never thought this would happen so I've got to see it.'" Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "The key is whether the person is playing, or is she just on the team? The story will die down if she's just on the team and not playing a lot. But if she is playing and helping the team improve and win, then it really is a huge story." Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban believes other players would respect a woman "if she could play." But he added, "If it was a marketing ploy, they would resent her taking a job" (SI.com, 12/4).

    AGREE TO DISAGREE: In DC, Tom Knott notes Stern's comments parallel his "forward-thinking approach to the game." However, while the commissioner's "political antenna always has been acute," this "potential offering is beyond the reality of the women's game." Women's basketball "lags considerably behind the men's game," and fans "do not have to watch more than a few minutes of a WNBA game to gauge the pronounced differences in size, speed, quickness and jumping ability." Knott: "If a woman is to play in the NBA within the next 10 years, it would have to be an extraordinary woman. It would have to be a woman we have not yet seen" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/7). The LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: "There is being politically correct, and then there is, well, being just plain silly. NBA commissioner David Stern should know the difference" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/5).

    BEING TOO OPTIMISTIC: Cavaliers F LeBron James said in response to Stern's comments, "Ten years? That's, like, right around the corner. (In) 10 years, I'll be 34. I'll still be in the NBA. I think 10 years is pushing it, honestly." Cavaliers G Anthony Parker, the brother of WNBA Sparks F Candace Parker, said, "No way. My sister is a good player and has great skill, but as far as making an NBA roster? No" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 12/5).

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