SBD/January 19, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Says Little Progress Has Been Made On Labor Talks

    Goodell maintains league, NFLPA are not talking enough and need to start bargaining

    The NFL briefed its owners on the status of the contentious labor negotiations yesterday in Atlanta, with the message that there has been little if no progress made in reaching a deal by the March 4 expiration of the CBA. “We need to have a shared commitment, we need to see a parallel commitment by our negotiating partner,” said NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash, the league's chief negotiator. The NFLPA could not immediately be reached for comment, but last week said it was the league, not the union, that was turning down possible meeting dates. Pash replied to that, saying, “There is not a lot to be gained by pointing fingers, that is certainly not consistent with my understanding." He added, “I am not very hard to reach. I am like a high school kid, I am always ready for a date.” The NFL refuted the contention that it had not responded to a late November proposal from the NFLPA. Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy, a key member of the owners' labor committee, when asked if the league has responded, replied affirmatively, though he declined further comment. The NFL has two more owners' meetings scheduled before the CBA expiration -- Feb. 15 in Philadelphia and March 1-3 in Ft. Lauderdale. The league is expected to resume face to face bargaining with the union later this week or early next (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday "reiterated his complaint that the two sides weren't talking often enough," and stressed that a "deal needed to be reached at the bargaining table." Goodell: "There is not enough communication. ... This is not going to get resolved through litigation. It will get resolved through negotiation" (USA TODAY, 1/19).

    OWNERS' FRUSTRATION GROWING: In Boston, Greg Bedard reports despite claims of the NFLPA "making some concessions on the split of revenue," several sources on the ownership side said that "there has been no movement on any major issue in several months." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft: "It's the same. I think there’s more litigation going on than negotiations, so that’s unfortunate. But I guess maybe that’s just the process." Pash said, "If our focus is going to be on litigating, decertification, on meetings in Washington, on media events, it will be hard to get an agreement done. The notion that NFL owners are looking to shut down the NFL is nonsensical. But they can’t make an agreement themselves. They’ve got to have a negotiating partner who is willing to work as hard at it as they are and who’s seriously interested in compromise and in the hard work that goes into collective bargaining. It is not a glamorous process, that’s for sure" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/19). Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones contend that the owners are "trying to be stewards of the game and shepherd it through unsettling economic times." Richardson said, "The labor agreement does not work. Just think about the economics we’re living in now and the concept of wanting more money, more benefits and work less. Doesn’t that seem unusual?" Jones added, "Every place in the world, or in our country, are revisiting how they do business and revisiting their business models; everybody is doing it. It is the time to do it, it is almost irresponsible not to do it" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).

    LEAGUE NOT CONCERNED ABOUT COLLUSION CLAIM: In DC, Mark Maske reports NFL officials and franchise owners yesterday "dismissed the collusion claim filed against teams last week by the players' union, saying the case will have no bearing on the outcome of the ongoing labor negotiations between the owners and players." Pash: "It's something we expected. It's not something that we hadn't anticipated." Pash also acknowledged that the NFLPA "requested player injury information from teams as required by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration." He said that he "does not believe the union will find anything in that documentation it did not already know about player injuries" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/19).

    TIME KEEPS ON SLIPPIN': NFL Network’s Steve Wyche noted the owners left yesterday’s meeting “saying there's serious work to be done to prevent a possible work stoppage” when the CBA expires on March 4, but “despite the impending deadline now just six weeks away, the tone remained optimistic.” However, meeting that deadline “won't happen unless talks with the players' association get ramped up immediately" (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 1/18). ESPN’s John Clayton noted the negotiations will heat up “closer to March than it is anything else.” Clayton: “They can get something done, but time is ticking and it does become very concerning. … Nothing gets done early and now you can see a little concern on the NFL's side and concern on the players' side. But the fact that they haven't met often is probably not unusual” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 1/18).

    KEEP IT IN GOOD TASTE: NFL officials last week warned teams that "any threatening public comments would be taken into account if such remarks led to illegal play during a game that merited disciplinary action being taken by the league," and Goodell Tuesday added that he and other league execs "plan to continue to examine the issue in the offseason." Goodell said that there are "good-taste limits as to what the league should regard as allowable." He added, "I just want to see respect for the game. ... I respect the way that people approach the game. But there is also a line that you don't want to cross. And we just have to make sure that we don't cross that" (, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
  • NASCAR Confirms It Is Considering Adopting Simpler 43-1 Points System

    NASCAR could announce decision on new points system next week

    NASCAR Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston yesterday said that the sanctioning body "hadn't finalized its championship format" for the '11 season, but he indicated that the 43-1 plan tying points to finishing positions is "being considered," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Poston: "It's a way to simplify the system. Some longtime fans still have confusion about how the current point system works." While the Chase for the Sprint Cup "delivered its closest three-way finish last season," NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France "had floated the idea of tweaking it since the summer and NASCAR was considering adding more weight to wins." A decision on the points system "could be announced when France addresses the news media Jan. 26" (USA TODAY, 1/19). Several NASCAR officials who spoke on terms of anonymity indicated that they were "looking for two elements in whatever point system ultimately gets adopted: 1) It had to be easy for fans to understand; and 2) It had to create the greatest possibility of a close championship finish." That ideally would include "multiple drivers heading into the season finale with legitimate chances to win the Sprint Cup title."'s Tom Jensen cited NASCAR sources as saying that the 43-1 points system "was the one that in computer tests and simulations repeatedly created the closest finishes at the end of the year" (, 1/18).

    SO EASY A CAVEMAN CAN DO IT? Fox NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds notes the "talk right now is about a much simpler points system," and it is "so simple that you can explain it to someone in 15 seconds or less." McReynolds: "As a broadcaster for the past 10 years, it has been incredibly hard to explain the current points system to the casual fan. Actually, I doubt any of us have done a very good job because it's so hard to explain. So I am excited to see what is coming down the pike" (, 1/19). ESPN's Rusty Wallace said, "My initial take is that this is a real good thing. A lot of the race fans I've talked to think that the points system right now is really confusing to them. ... This has been kicked around for a long time, and ... I like simplifying everything and if you got 43 cars in the field, it makes sense to give ... the winner of the race 43 points and last place one point" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/18). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said NASCAR changing the points system "makes all the sense in the world." Paige: "If you're consistent during the course of the entire season you're going to have a better chance overall at the end" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/18).'s Bob Pockrass wrote the proposed changes to the points system are a "step in the right direction." But NASCAR "should take this opportunity to put more emphasis on winning and make riding around in a damaged car less important." Pockrass: "Here's an idea: Give the winner 53 points. Second gets 43 points, and the rest get one fewer point per position through 29th place. Give the 30th- through 36th-place finishers 15 points and 37th-43rd 14. Award a bonus point to whoever leads the most laps and a bonus point if a driver completes 90 percent of the laps. That means the maximum number of points a driver can earn in a race is 55 -- at least nine more than second place. That gives the winner a significant advantage under the point-per-position system, putting a bigger emphasis on winning" (, 1/18).

    WINNING IS EVERYTHING:'s Terry Blount wrote, "Any change in the current NASCAR points system should emphasize winning. If the reports on the possible changes are true, the new plan only goes halfway to fixing the problem." The overall points change for each race "would not emphasize winning," which would "increase the problem of points racing that has plagued NASCAR for years." Under the new plan, the "incentive to win is diminished because it doesn't bring enough of a reward." Blount: "If this is the plan, it's half good and half bad. ... Making even less of a difference between winning and finishing second is a step backward" (, 1/18). In Michigan, Steve Kaminski wrote the "potential new system is flawed, so let's hope that France reconsiders it before it is implemented." Kaminski: "First, it doesn't award any bonus points for a driver who wins a race. Plus, NASCAR's point system always favored consistency over winning, and this new idea would only make it even worse" (, 1/18).'s Pete Pistone wrote of the 43-1 formula, "At first glance maybe that's not such a bad thing. Shrinking the points pool will allow fans to pretty easily figure out how many the guy who takes the checkered flag earned and by simple math what the tenth place finisher is awarded as well. It appears that in reality the system will still be based on consistency and that really just a smaller set of numbers will be instituted and in turn provide a relatively easy way for fans to follow along." But Pistone added, "My bigger question is how will it impact NASCAR's overall fan base which has grown increasingly tired of the many moves the sport has made since 2004? Does this latest idea run the risk of running off even more fans rather than attract the new ones the sport so desperately seeks?" (, 1/18).

    BIGGER PROBLEMS THAN POINTS:'s Tom Bowles wrote, "In simplifying the system, it seems NASCAR would be making a ploy to push its attractiveness toward the 18-34 crowd, a generation it's been losing for several years now. But in conversations with fans and people in the garage, not once in five years have I heard someone say NASCAR's biggest problem is the point system is too complicated." NASCAR "needs to do something aggressive to bring a 'Boys, Have At It' mentality from the drop of the green to the drop of the checkered flag." Bowles: "That, more than anything, is what I see missing from this new point system proposal" (, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: NASCAR, Motorsports, Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • Crosby Says He Will Not Boycott All-Star Game; Addresses Hits To Head

    Crosby hopeful to play in All-Star Game as he recovers from concussion

    Penguins C Sidney Crosby yesterday said that he "remains unaware of when he will return from concussion-related symptoms and that he isn't boycotting" the Jan. 30 NHL All-Star Game despite a report suggesting that he might, according to Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Crosby met with the media and said of the report, "That's not even close. I'll be there if I can be there." Crosby added that he "hopes to play in the all-star game but can't make any promises." Crosby: "There's a slight chance I'll be back for that. That's what I'm hoping. ... I still haven't ruled out being there." Yohe notes Crosby was the "victim of two clear head shots, something that the NHL is supposedly attempting to remove from the game" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/19). Crosby's agent, CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson, yesterday said Crosby "hasn't told me anything" regarding a boycott of the game. Brisson: "Of course he's angry that he's hurt. But we've never even discussed the All-Star Game" (, 1/18). FSN Pittsburgh's Stan Savran said of Crosby addressing the report, "I have a distinct feeling that was not scheduled, but once he heard about the reports coming out of Toronto -- and in Toronto it's like the wild, wild west, there aren't many rules of journalism there, they just print things -- I think he wanted to set the record straight. I don't think he any intention of talking to the media." FSN Pittsburgh's Lacee Collins: "For Sidney, who is one of the faces of the league if not the face, he wanted to say, 'No, this is what I'm about.' ... He took every question asked" ("Penguins Faceoff," FSN Pittsburgh, 1/18).

    STILL UP IN THE AIR: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reports despite Crosby dismissing the report, his presence at the All-Star Game "remains up in the air." NHL VP/Hockey & Business Development Brendan Shanahan said that Crosby "told him 'he wanted to do as much as he can' for the showcase event but they did not discuss his attendance" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/19). In Toronto, Chris Stevenson writes Crosby "would be doing the game a service if he were to stand up and say he's skipping the all-star game because he doesn't think the NHL is doing enough to protect its players from headshots." There is "nothing like having the game's best player speak up ... and skip one of the league's showcase events to get the game's business managers in New York to take notice" (TORONTO SUN, 1/19).

    HEAD GAMES: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt notes Crosby yesterday "took a simple open-ended question and ran with it, he went off-script, he said there was something fundamentally wrong with the way the NHL identified and penalized head shots." Crosby: "When I look at those two hits, you talk about blindside, that's a big word, unsuspecting player, there was no puck there on both of them. It was a direct hit to the head on both of them. ... I know it's a fast game. I've been hit a thousand times. When you get hit like that, there's nothing you can do. There's no way to protect yourself." Brunt writes Crosby's comments were "startling because it was the NHL's meal ticket talking, its poster boy, its current great hope for expanding the game's reach beyond its hardcore following" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/19). In Pittsburgh, Shelly Anderson notes the NHL has suspended two players "due to head hits" since Crosby was injured. Crosby said of the league, "It's something they're aware of. The last week or so, I think there's been a couple of suspensions for hits to the head. It's something they're trying to be active with. I think that's the right thing to do" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/19).

    TIME FOR UNION INTERVENTION: In Toronto, Damien Cox writes it is "great that Crosby always wants to be an ambassador for the sport and try to say the right thing." But Cox added of the NHL Winter Classic, "When you're standing in a rainstorm on New Year's Day insisting conditions are great for hockey, somebody's taking advantage of you." What Crosby "really needs is for his fellow NHLPA unionists and the organization's new leader, Donald Fehr, to collectively demand action." The union right now "generally only acts on issues with dollar signs attached," and the players "just seem intent on injuring each other until someone -- anyone -- steps in" (TORONTO STAR, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL, Hockey, Leagues and Governing Bodies
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