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SBD/January 26, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith yesterday said that it "may be time for NASCAR to starting thinking about scrapping the Chase completely," according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Smith: "It started off as a good idea but maybe it's time to look for something (else). I know it's not as exciting to the fans now as it was initially. ... I think it started off being very important, but I don't think it's as important as maybe we thought it would be." SMI tracks host three races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but Smith said he "isn't sure those tracks need the Chase to sell tickets." Smith: "We may be looking around here in another year or two and maybe we have done something differently and we no longer have the Chase." Meanwhile, NASCAR is "expected to announce changes to its points system," and Smith yesterday "reiterated his longtime plea for the share of the race winner's purse to be increased." He said he wants a "big difference between first and second place." Smith: "As a race fan, I'm going to get very interested. What if it is $400,000 difference between first and second? You know there's going to be a fight to the finish on that one." He added, "I don't care what you do with the points. ... We can cure this whole thing with the purse" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/25). Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-Owner Felix Sabates said of the prospective changes to the points system, "I think is great to change it because the system we have right now, I will never figure it out. ... I think that they need to give the four worst races of the year and throw them away. So only count, for the Chase, only count 22 of 26 races. That would change the whole dynamics of the Chase" (THATSRACIN.com, 1/24). NASCAR team Owner Richard Childress: "I'm for whatever's good for the sport, whatever's good for our fans. If it simplifies it to where the fans can understand it better I'm for that." Driver Clint Bowyer: "I've been on the way home several times trying to figure out where I was points-wise, especially toward the end of the season. I'd have to wait until Monday morning on NASCAR.com when it's official" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/26).
CHANGE IS COMING: SI.com's Bruce Martin wrote of the proposed changes to the points system, "Knowing NASCAR, it wouldn't have floated these ideas around unless it intends to make a change. ... Will a new system help to simplify a cumbersome and often confusing points breakdown? The answer seems to be a resounding yes." But Martin added, "Unless a significant bonus is given to winning races, will the new points system really be much of a change? Again, it will be simpler to understand, but it may not provide the necessary incentive for drivers to race all out, all the time" (SI.com, 1/24). In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis wrote, "Whatever system they adopt -- and it's pretty obvious it'll be based on a 1-to-43 point scale per race -- it'll be an improvement, but won't be quite as good as it could be." He added, "I expect a small glitch involving the bonus points. And this, it goes without saying, will continue to happen" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/25). In Michigan, Steve Kaminski wrote, "They say they want to make the points distribution system easier to understand. Well, we have managed to survive just fine with the current system for the past 35 seasons, and considering how the TV people update the point standings every five minutes during the weekly broadcasts, it's really not a problem. Let's wait and see what the new system is before we break it down, but this appears to be another attempt by NASCAR chairman Brian France to win back viewers" (MLIVE.com, 1/25).
KEEPING IT SHORT AND SWEET: With Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill indicating he would like to see some NASCAR races shortened, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Everything should be shortened in sports. It's a very good idea" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/25). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "Everything in sports today is too long. People are trying to shorten baseball games. NASCAR: Keep it short, keep it more understandable. Bring it back to the average fan." But Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "The only people that complain are sportswriters and executives at networks. The people love it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash will take $1 salaries in the event of a work stoppage in the sport this fall, the league office informed its personnel in a memo sent this morning. In addition, the memo noted annual bonuses recently approved for league office staff to be paid in April ‘11 will not be paid in full until a new labor deal is reached. NFL VPs will forego 10% of their bonuses, Senior VPs 25% and Exec VPs 35% until a new labor deal is struck. “The entire senior leadership team stands with me in its commitment to resolving the CBA issues with the players’ union,” Goodell wrote. “While several other executives have also volunteered to make additional reductions to their compensation, I have asked them not to take that step as we continue our negotiating efforts.” Pash requested the $1 salary, the memo noted. The CBA expires March 4, and the union and league have been far apart. The ‘11 regular season is scheduled to begin Sept. 8. The NFL already cut back staffing at league HQs in recent years, and Goodell took a 25% pay cut, bringing his pay to just under $10M. Goodell’s next bonus will not be determined until a new CBA is reached, the memo said (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
PLAYERS' POSITION: NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said, "We cannot sell 18 games to our players. We can't ask our players to play two more games without the long-term protection of better health care at the end of our careers. So the 18 games is an impossible sell for us." He added, "To this point, we're kind of stuck at the point we were at in November and we haven't made any headway in that issue" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 1/26). Saints QB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Drew Brees said the players are "certainly being very reasonable" in CBA talks with the owners. Brees: "We're in negotiations right now trying to get a deal done before the March 4th deadline. Although I feel that we are all confident that a deal will get done, I'm just not sure that it will be done by March." Brees added if you "asked every NFL player whether they wanted to play 18 games, there wouldn't be a guy that says, 'Yeah, I want to play 18 games.'" Brees: "The amount of wear and tear that goes on your body in the course of a 16-game season including playoffs is plenty. So to now throw on two added games, very meaningful games, at the end of the season. I don't know if there's enough research at this point to say exactly the amount of risk that adds on to a player in regard to serious injury" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/25). But Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said a deal "won't get done until August because once they get past March there is no incentive for either side" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).
CRACKS WITHIN THE RANKS? With Jets CB Antonio Cromatie criticizing both the NFL and NFLPA for not having a new CBA, FanHouse.com's Kevin Blackistone said, "I'm sure most players are going to feel like Cromartie is feeling. He's just the guy that came out and said it. They don't even want the threat -- the hint -- of having to go without a paycheck." But L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "The players have got to stick together and be quiet and have one spokesman. ... They need one voice here. I guarantee we won't hear any other union player saying anything else from now on" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25). ESPN's Jim Rome said, "Like any other labor discussion, I think these guys are rock solid until they start missing paychecks, and then you start to see the thing fracture a little bit" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 1/25). SportsNet N.Y.'s Brandon Tierney: "When there's labor strife, players crack ... because the owners are always going to be rich. It's easier to maintain solidarity when there's 32 people ... compared to 1,700-1,800 players" ("Wheel House," SportsNet N.Y., 1/25).
MISSING THE MARK: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith has claimed the union is "at war" with the owners, and in Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote, "The war analogies the less creative among us insist on applying to sports are always overblown. Also overblown is Smith's rhetoric." Smith's "fiery words might excite player representatives and players, but they accomplish nothing." Sorensen: "This isn't war. This is business" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 1/25). ESPN's Herm Edwards said, "Both parties have to understand this: You don't negotiate through the press. The fans don't want to hear it. All they want to know is you get a deal done that will help us get back to playing football" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 1/25).
REALLY ALL ABOUT THE FANS? In Dallas, Rick Gosselin noted every time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks "about the NFL's labor stalemate, he stresses the importance of reaching an agreement for the sake of the fans." But if the fan is "so important to the NFL, why do what the league did last weekend" when it scheduled the Steelers-Jets AFC Championship in the evening? TV "wanted the game in prime time, so the league scheduled it for" 6:30pm ET. Gosselin wrote the fan is "important, but not as important in the eyes of the NFL as television." He added if he were commissioner, he would "separate the championship games, play one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, with a noon kickoff for each." Gosselin: "At least give the fans who are paying upwards of $40 to park at the stadium and upwards of $200 to sit in the stands a little sunshine to help combat the cold" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/25).
HBO's "Real Sports" profiled Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman last night, and host Bryant Gumbel noted Aikman has "gone from one of the game's best steely eyed signal callers to one of its clearest-eyed observers, one with strong opinions about the modern state of the sport he loves." Aikman said he is "concerned right now overall with the long-term viability of our sport, and I'm worried that we may be looking back on this period of greed at some point in time and saying, 'Wow, those were maybe some of the missteps that the NFL took that led to their demise.'" Aikman: "I think that we're at a real crossroads as it relates to the grassroots of our sport because if I had a 10-year-old boy, I don't know that I'd be real inclined to encourage him to go play football in light of what we are learning from head injury. So what is this sport going to look like 20 years from now?" Gumbel noted with the NFL "facing its most serious labor dispute in more than 20 years, Aikman sees a major difference between what the owners are saying and what they're trying to do." Aikman: "When you stand and talk about player safety and then at the same time you want to extend the season two more games, there's a contradiction in there." Aikman said he would "never have wanted to play 18 games as a player" because it is "too much." Aikman: "I'm not naïve. I know why it's being done. So do the players. But it's not being done because anyone thinks it's best for the game of football. It's being done to increase revenue." Aikman was asked if he would like to become involved in running an NFL franchise, and he said, "Not the Cowboys. Jerry's got a couple of sons." But he added, "I would tell you that being in that capacity I would enjoy" ("Real Sports," HBO, 1/25).