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Volume 24 No. 154

Leagues Governing Bodies

          The NHL's participation in the Olympics is examined by
     Bob Verdi of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.  Verdi: "Hockey wants so
     badly to be like other sports that it is trying the worst
     way possible: by joining Olympic overkill. ... Pro hockey
     players don't belong in the Winter Olympics."  Verdi adds
     that while some of Commissioner Gary Bettman's "strategies
     to elevate hockey's profile have worked ... [t]he Olympic
     interval is totally unnecessary and potentially damaging to
     the NHL."  By closing down the league for 2 1/2 weeks "the
     NHL could lose its already tenuous grasp on the American
     public.  Canada won't be a problem, but in the United
     States, the competition is fierce from basketball, pro and
     college."  Another "downside risk" for the NHL is that the
     season will run too late.  Verdi: "[T]he NHL still has too
     much to prove in North America.  The Olympic diversion
     accomplishes nothing" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30). 
          OLYMPIC TESTING: On CNNSI.com, Michael Farber writes
     that the NHL and NHLPA "have identified players who could
     make their countries' Olympic teams in Nagano next February
     and have asked them to provide urine samples to get them
     used to Olympic drug testing procedures."  Farber adds that
     "total confidentiality has been assured" (CNNSI.com, 9/25).
          JAPAN GAMES: In Toronto, Randy Starkman writes on the
     NHL doubleheader in Japan this weekend between the Canucks
     and Mighty Ducks.  While the games are "guaranteed sellouts
     at the 10,000-seat Yoyogi Stadium," the holdout of the
     Ducks' Paul Kariya, who is of Japanese descent, "will be the
     story in hockey articles written" this week in the Japanese
     press.  Starkman: "This could defeat the NHL's purpose in
     starting its season in Tokyo: to expand its markets and grow
     the game of hockey" (TORONTO STAR, 9/30). 

          MLB announced its second-highest total attendance in
     history as 63,196,222 fans attended games during the '97
     season.  This year's total is second only to the all-time
     record of 70,256,459 in '93.  Overall, MLB teams averaged
     28,288 in '97, the third-highest average in history and a
     5.2% increase over '96's average of 26,889.  Six teams, the
     Braves, Orioles, Indians, Mariners, Dodgers and Rockies,
     drew more than three million fans.  Every MLB team drew over
     one million fans for only the sixth time.  Attendance was
     boosted by the 214 interleague games, which averaged 33,407,
     up 20.4% over intraleague action (MLB).  See (#30) for final
     AL attendance.  For the NL, see tomorrow's DAILY. 
          TWO VIEWS: USA TODAY's debate is on realigning baseball
     with the newspaper's editorial board in favor of realignment
     and the opposing view written by former editor of The
     Baseball Encyclopedia, Rick Wolff (USA TODAY, 9/30).