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Volume 24 No. 114

Leagues Governing Bodies

          NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw "is going to become the
     richest union boss in all of team sports," according to
     CNN/SI's Peter King.   Upshaw "is expected" to sign a $1.6M
     per-year deal through 2003 "this week," a six-year extension
     worth $9.6M.  King: "There's going to be a lot of fallout
     over this, because a lot of players have been critical of
     Upshaw over the years.  It's going to be interesting to hear
     the initial reaction from players in the league about
     Upshaw's huge new deal."  CNN/SI's Bob Golic, former player,
     on Upshaw's deal: "This guy is supposed to be helping all
     players as a union leader, not just some players. ... It is
     absolutely a crime if they give this guy this raise, because
     he has not helped all players like his job description tells
     him he's supposed to" ("NFL Preview," CNN/SI, 9/21).

          MLS' "pending" TV deal will see the ABC/ESPN "combo
     paying a rights fee for around 60 games, 12 of which will be
     on ABC next year," network sources told Terry Lefton of
     BRANDWEEK.  The league's first TV arrangement with ABC/ESPN
     "were via a time-buy arrangement, produced by MLS and
     packaged with media buys from MLS sponsors."  Lefton: "Other
     than the benefits to MLS of sheer on-air time, a truer media
     partnership gives ABC incentive to promote MLS and gives MLS
     more inventory to offer potential corporate sponsors."  The
     deal is "expected to be wrapped up within a month."  In
     other news, the league is expected to hold a "'spring
     training' of sorts for all teams" at Walt Disney's Sports
     Complex and will also implement a "fan balloting element" to
     the '98 All-Star game, "which will likely be sponsored by a
     large" mass-merchant retailer (BRANDWEEK, 9/22 issue). 

          NBA Commissioner David Stern, on finding ways to
     address conduct-related problems among NBA personnel: "There
     is nothing special we are going to do.  We are going to
     continue our programs that we have in place and continue 
     our dialogue with the [NBPA] as to what standards of conduct
     are reasonable."  Noting the recent legal troubles of Marv
     Albert and Hornets Owner George Shinn, Stern added, "We're
     not about any kind of witch hunt.  But illegal actions or
     criminal actions which result in convictions are things we
     have to be ready to deal with for all people, not just
     players.  We're prepared to deal with all of it" (Eddie
     Sefko, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/20).  More Stern: "This involves
     a very, very, very small percentage of our players, and on
     one hand concerns us greatly.  But on the other hand, causes
     us to make sure we don't contribute to the stereotyping that
     historically has gone on" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/21).  In
     Boston, Peter May: "It was refreshing to hear Stern confront
     the issue of moral turpitude and not limit it to players." 
     May also noted that NBA GMs "were presented with a rough
     draft proposal about the CBA becoming more of a development/
     farm league for the NBA" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/21).
          NOTES: Stern said TV revenue will be limited to network
     and cable deals, with no plans to offer games on pay-per-
     view (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/21)....In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira
     Winderman wrote the league put together a presentation of
     "questionable music that included a tape of" the Rocky
     theme, "Gonna Fly Now," aired during the Heat-Knicks playoff
     "brawl."  The Heat "was chastised for the musical selection
     and possible incendiary ramifications" (SUN-SENTINEL,
     9/20)....The Competition Committee discussed rule changes
     for this season, including moving the three-point line back
     to 23 feet, 9 inches (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/22). 

          At the league meetings in Orlando, NBA Commissioner
     David Stern suggested Friday "that the owners will exercise
     their option to reopen and renegotiate" the CBA after this
     season, according to Tim Povtak of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. 
     Such a reopening "could lead to a player lockout, another
     decertification effort of the player's union and the first
     regular-season work stoppage in league history."  Stern: "I
     understand the possibilities, but we'll do what we have to
     do.  We think it [the CBA] could use some improvement." 
     Povtak: "Even with ticket prices escalating and the
     popularity of the game moving globally, too many teams are
     beginning to lose money.  Many owners don't like what they
     see in the future."  Stern estimated that "one-third or
     more" of the NBA teams lost money last season and that
     "almost" half "are expected to lose money this season."  The
     NBA would like to close "various loopholes" that enable
     teams to exceed the current salary cap and owners "want a
     new deal before the bidding begins next summer on a new crop
     of free agents."  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "We
     feel that the salary system may be out of whack."  Stern:
     "We would like to come up with a notion that actually sees
     player salaries continue to rise at a rate that keeps pace
     with increases in revenue without seeing ticket prices rise
     at such an extraordinary rate" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/20). 
     Granik, on the number of teams losing money: "That's a big
     difference from a few years ago, when it was only one or two
     teams" (Peter May, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/20).  In N.Y., Mike Wise
     wrote that NBA labor peace "may be threatened again."  The
     league can reopen talks at its option, without union
     approval, but no action can be taken until April (N.Y.
     TIMES, 9/20).  NBPA Exec Dir Bill Hunter: "If the league is
     so inclined to set aside that deal, so be it.  Everything
     will be back on the table" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/20).
          REAX: In Fort Lauderdale, Ira Winderman: "Based on the
     tone of the league's highest-ranking officials, as well as
     the stance of the union's newly elected leadership, a
     showdown appears inevitable for the lone major U.S. sports
     league never to experience a work stoppage" (SUN-SENTINEL,
     9/20).  In Boston, Peter May: "The possibility of another
     summer labor mess is real" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/21).  USA
     TODAY's Greg Boeck writes that "at issue" is the league's
     salary structure, as "owners committed more than" $1B to
     long-term player deals last summer.  But Boeck adds that the
     NBPA "is armed for a confrontation" with its newly elected
     President, Patrick Ewing (USA TODAY, 9/22).  One NBA exec,
     who requested anonymity: "I think there are some big
     questions about whether the league can continue to work this
     way.  Something has to be done."  The exec added: "If we
     ever come to a period of non-growth, then the league is in
     deep, deep, deep trouble" (DENVER POST, 9/21).