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SBD/August 9, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NFL referee Shannon Eastin tonight “will make history” as the league's first female official during the Packers-Chargers preseason game, and “she is a groundbreaker, but she's also a political pawn in the labor fight between the league and its regular officials,” according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. The question is why the NFL would "want to create a sideshow in the middle of this labor mess instead of waiting to do it the right way.” There is “no need to draw additional attention to the stand-ins, most of whom are lacking big-time football experience.” Admirable and progressive as it may be for the NFL “to promote a woman to that role, the situation feels awkward and rushed because Eastin -- whose experience is limited to high school and small-college officiating -- was not on the short list of the top female candidates before the lockout.” There are women “with more suitable credentials for the job.” It should be “a historic moment, but in reality the NFL has made the mistake of letting her cut in line” (L.A. TIMES, 8/8). Eastin worked the Cardinals’ Red and White scrimmage and coach Ken Whisenhunt said, “I wouldn’t have even noticed she was a woman if somebody hadn’t told me. I think that’s a pretty good sign” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/8). In San Diego, Nick Canepa wrote, “As I’ve already noted, I am not in favor of replacement refs. … But if this is the way they want it, there’s no reason why a woman shouldn’t be awarded an opportunity” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/8).
GOOD FOR THE LEAGUE? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said, “I think it's a great opportunity for her, and for us. She deserves the opportunity, she's well prepared for it, and I think she'll do terrific. So we're excited about that.” He added, "And there are more coming, by the way. We've been working along this path to try to properly train and prepare a female official, and now we have the opportunity” (AP, 8/8). In N.Y., Gary Myers writes in different circumstances, Eastin becoming the first woman to officiate an NFL game “would be a great story.” The game is being “nationally televised and surely the NFL hopes Eastin’s presence takes the focus off the labor issue” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/9).
THE REPLACEMENTS: Fox' Mike Pereira, who formerly served as NFL VP/Officiating, said, "I feel bad for these replacement people because they're so overmatched. There's no question to me that the integrity of the game is going to be compromised" ("The McNeil & Spiegel Show," WSCR-AM, 8/7). In Pittsburgh, Brandon Boyd writes Gene Steratore, one of the locked-out referees, said of replacement refs, “I believe they are put in a position that’s going to be tough for them to succeed. It’s not a fair task for them” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/9). NFL Referees Association President Scott Green said, “To think that you can take seven officials who have not worked, in many cases Division I-level football, put them together and put them on the NFL field has got to be unsettling to players, coaches and fans.” But NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said the league does not “think there’s a direct connection” that player safety would be jeopardized by using replacement refs ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 8/7). In Nashville, David Climer wrote under the header, “NFL’s Substitute Referees Deserve Penalty For Start.” Climer: “Get ready for the preseason -- and maybe the regular season -- of discontent. … Trained, experienced NFL refs make plenty of mistakes. Imagine what it’s going to look like with scrub refs” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/8). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said if “you have inferior referees, you put the integrity of the game at stake and you put the health and safety of the players at stake.” However, he said, “If you go four exhibition games with these people, this is not brain surgery. Most of them have extensive backgrounds (and) they will get better" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/7).
With the issue of "supplementary discipline a large part" of yesterday's agenda, "talks grew increasingly contentious" between the NHL and NHLPA the second day of CBA negotiations, according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. Special Assistant to NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr Mathieu Schneider "wouldn't go so far as to characterize the negotiations as 'adversarial,' but he did concede that there were some tense moments between the two camps." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly "similarly downplayed the tension and described the discussions as 'lively.'" Although the two sides "recently have found common ground in other areas -- legal and health and safety issues, for example -- supplementary discipline may be among the most polarizing of the 'non-core' economic issues that must be brokered should they come to a new deal." It is believed that the NHLPA would "like to see an independent arbiter involved in some capacity on issues of supplementary discipline, especially those that carry significant financial penalties, although Daly said the appeals process was not a large part of the day's discussions." Daly "anticipates that will be a significant issue that must be addressed in the near future." With talks and tensions "ratcheting up, Fehr is expected to return Thursday from Europe, where he briefed players on the proceedings thus far." Discussions over the main financial issues "likely will resume Thursday and Friday at league offices in midtown Manhattan" (ESPNNY.com, 8/8).
WAITING GAME: The league’s first volley a few weeks ago called for a cut in the players’ share of revenue from 57% to 46%, a change that the union said would result in a 25% giveback. The NHL also called for Entry Level contracts to increase to five years from the current three. Daly yesterday said of the union taking more time to respond, "Yes, we’d like to get a counter-proposal. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re in a holding pattern, per se, because we’re continuing to meet and continuing to try and hash through the other issues. But certainly, the sooner we can get that proposal, the better" (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Mark Everson cites sources as saying that Fehr is "not likely to present the union's economic proposal -- the big one -- until the sides reconvene in Toronto, starting Monday." Fehr yesterday "did not join the 'small group' talks that focused on grievance arbitration in the morning, and supplemental discipline in the afternoon." The union "dislikes the Lone Justice format, starring" NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan as "ruler of the rink, with any appeals of his verdicts heard by his bosses." The union would "prefer an independent arbitrator for appeals." Both sides are "waiting to see Fehr's proposals, expecting him to take a militant stance against further concessions on the salary cap" (N.Y. POST, 8/9). SPORTING NEWS' Jesse Spector wrote, "Fans would most like to feel confident in the idea that the 2012-13 NHL season will start on time, and a better gauge of that confidence should come after Fehr returns" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/8).
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT: CSNPHILLY.com's Tim Panaccio noted Flyers LW and player rep Scott Hartnell, "who has attended six sessions, said his impressions so far have been that the owners got everything they wanted in 2005 to assure cost certainty and have now pulled 'a 180.'" The NHL has "never in its history been this strong financially or in popularity." Hartnell this week said, "To use Gary (Bettman's) own words, it's a systemic issue. He doesn't want to look at the rich teams or the teams that are losing money. He wants to look at them all together which is a total 180 from what it was seven years ago." He added, "It's a little frustrating that way, but that's their position and you take it as it is. You have to believe they are 100 percent certain of getting everything (from us). It's up to us to see if it's feasible or not. But you look at the rollback and percentage they want and it's more concessions than we gave up the last time around" (CSNPHILLY.com, 8/8).
TIME TO START SHARING: In Columbus, Michael Arace writes there is a "widening chasm between a dozen or so teams that are printing money and the other 15 to 18 that are struggling to break even, or are bleeding red ink." The beginning of the answer "is in meaningful revenue sharing, of a kind that the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have embraced." Fehr will be "pitching a system of revenue sharing that goes well beyond the relatively paltry system already in place." Arace: "It will not be an easy sell. ... The question is: Will the more powerful owners insist on carving another chunk out of the players? If so, the union will not abide" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/9).
Musical acts are “so eager to get in front of baseball fans” because of the MLB's reach, according to Andrew Hampp of BILLBOARD. During any given week, MLB coverage reaches "upward of 30 million viewers across MLB.com, MLB Network, 30 in-stadium TV networks and broadcast partners Fox, ESPN and Turner Sports, with footage from Fan Cave concerts during promo time across all of the TV broadcasts." When MLB “really gets behind a synch, the impact can be even greater.” Data from Nielsen Soundscan found that after singer Tinie Tempah’s “Written in the Stars” was licensed as the theme of MLB’s postseason marketing campaign, the song “experienced a 77% sales bump" and generated an estimated $40-50M in "free media exposure.” MLBAM Head of Entertainment Ken Krasner said, “We have a lot of relationships with labels and artist managers we can leverage that allow our assets to really shine.” Rapper Nas “sought to tap that fan power when his album 'Life Is Good' hit shelves, teaming with the Fan Cave for a release-week concert that spanned hits, fan favorites and a handful of new songs.” The show “generated more than 5 million social media impressions, press coverage from more than 40 different outlets and upward of 30 user-generated YouTube videos during the first 24 hours alone.” It also was "one of the few stops Nas made during his press tour for the album." The “successful gig has prompted several more bookings -- Neon Trees is scheduled for an Aug. 28 gig, while other upcoming performances this month include OneRepublic (Aug. 9), Gym Class Heroes (Aug. 27) and the Band Perry (Aug. 30)” (BILLBOARD, 8/11 issue).