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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues Governing Bodies

          Rams President John Shaw testified on behalf of the St.
     Louis Convention and Visitors Commission in its antitrust
     lawsuit against the NFL, according to Tim O'Neil of the ST.
     LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.  Shaw said that the team "won a rich
     financial deal" because the league's policy against franchise
     relocations put St. Louis at a "huge disadvantage" in
     bargaining.  Shaw: "I felt St. Louis was at a huge
     disadvantage.  If they wanted a team, if they wanted the
     Rams, they basically had to give in to our terms."   Shaw
     said that he told St. Louis officials that getting the Rams
     would be "costly."  Shaw: "For the Rams to move, the deal
     would have to be incredibly lucrative for us."  Shaw added
     that at the time of the team's relocation from Anaheim, the
     league "proposed charging the Rams as much" as $100M.  He
     said that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told him the $7.5M
     relocation fee that the city of St. Louis was willing to pay
     "wouldn't be enough ... because the NFL television contract
     had more than doubled in value since 1988."  Shaw also said
     that "several other team owners told him they were afraid to
     move because of league pressures."  Shaw will continue to
     testify today (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/31). 
          

          The NBA opens its season tonight with 14 games on its
     schedule and much of the media focus continues to be on the
     league's naming of its first two women officials and a N.Y.
     Times article from last Sunday on the drug and alcohol use
     among its players.  On Wednesday, NBA Commissioner David
     Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik discussed the
     state of the league in a conference call with the media.
          TWIN TOWERS: Granik, on if there will be a new "code of
     conduct" from the league for its players: "I don't think
     there's a new code of conduct as such, but I think we have to
     decide to become more aggressive with the players and our
     teams about reminding them what conduct is expected of
     players who are competing in the NBA."  Stern: "Asking our
     players to behave in a certain way, and asking our teams to
     behave in a certain way doesn't seem, to us, to be too much
     to ask. ... [W]e're going to be asking our players, our teams
     and ourselves to be a little bit more vigilant because there
     is an opportunity to lead."  Stern discussed revising the
     league's drug testing policy to cover marijuana.  He said he
     would like to discuss "the entire issue of marijuana and
     other things" with the NBPA, but, "frankly, we've been unable
     to get the players association to address that issue. ...
     [W]e're dumbfounded by the approach.  We think that there is
     an extraordinary opportunity for our current players to
     follow the leadership mold of those that preceded them and we
     also think that [NBPA Exec Dir] Billy Hunter does not voice
     the feelings or aspirations for sports that a very
     significant number of his players do. ... [O]ur goal is to
     ... cut down on the use of marijuana if its occurring. ...
     And it's a bad example for professional athletes to set.  But
     apparently Mr. Hunter has a different agenda, and we'll just
     have to see how that works out" (THE DAILY).  In N.Y., Mike
     Wise wrote that, "Within hours after Stern criticized the
     players association for its refusal to address the league's
     concern over marijuana use, Hunter fired off a scathing
     statement aimed at Stern's 'misrepresentation of the issue'"
     (N.Y. TIMES, 10/30).  In Tacoma, Dave Boling wrote that Stern
     gave a "[g]ood speech.  And frankly, I love Stern's tough
     talk.  And it's nice to think that such a visible enterprise
     as the NBA would rise to the forefront of this issue.  But
     few of us are going to swallow such a heavy dose of altruism
     when everybody knows the NBA is not in the business of trying
     to lead by example" (NEWS TRIBUNE, 10/30). ESPN's David
     Aldridge: "Marijuana continues to be a hot-button issue for
     the league and the players' union" (ESPN, 10/30). 
          NEW REFS: The league's appointment of Dee Kantner and
     Violet Palmer as the first women officials "is pure P.R.
     genius, a move that strikes precisely the right kind of chord
     in a society more sensitive than ever to gender equality,"
     according to Steve Bisheff of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. 
     Bisheff: "Not only is [Stern] more progressive and free-
     thinking, he also recognizes the immense public relations
     value attached to a move like this" (OCR, 10/30).  In S.F.,
     Gwen Knapp wrote Stern "went to the to hoop hard this week,
     throwing down an historic dunk, scoring big points for NBA
     public relations."  Knapp: "It was a power move,
     enlightenment as a marketing tool" (S.F. EXAMINER, 10/30). 
     An S.F. CHRONICLE editorial: "All we ask if that the league
     give these women a chance to succeed or fail on the merits of
     their work" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/31).  In San Jose, Ann
     Killion: "The NBA isn't in the business of losing
     credibility.  The same respect the league received when it
     launched the WNBA should hold here.  The thinking then was
     that the NBA wasn't going to pour money into a losing
     proposition.  The thinking now is that the NBA isn't about to
     turn itself into a laughingstock" (MERCURY NEWS, 10/30).  In
     Chicago, Bob Verdi: "If your initial response to the news
     contained a trace of skepticism, you were not alone.  We are
     always suspicious of big business and the NBA is a big
     business that prides itself on setting trends.  But I'm going
     to believe the NBA is sincere on this matter, that it's
     taking the high road, that Kantner and Palmer ... are at
     least as qualified as the male candidates" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
     10/30).  A HARTFORD COURANT editorial: "Critics who say the
     hiring is a move by NBA to get more publicity are
     overestimating the draw of officiating" (COURANT, 10/31).  
          OVERALL: In previewing the NBA season, Stefan Fatsis of
     the WALL STREET JOURNAL asks, "Will mounting labor tension
     make the league yearn for old-fashioned distractions such as,
     oh, Dennis Rodman kicking a cameraman? ... [F]ans might do
     well to shout the NBA's 'I Love This Game!' mantra now,
     because they may not like what happens in 1998" (WALL STREET
     JOURNAL, 10/31).  In Chicago, Michael Hirsley examines TV
     ratings for a post-Michael Jordan NBA: "A lot of casual fans
     have been drawn to NBA telecasts by Jordan's aura.  How many
     of them can connect similarly with potential superstars Grant
     Hill, Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway or [Kevin]
     Garnett?  Who will want to 'be like Allen Iverson?'" (CHICAGO
     TRIBUNE, 10/31).  In S.F., David Steele: "It's the dawn of
     another season in the NBA.  And for the first time in years,
     the skies are dark, with forecasts of clouds for the
     foreseeable future" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/29).  In L.A., Mark
     Heisler: "Storm clouds are gathering over a league in which
     things have never been better and worse at the same time"
     (L.A. TIMES, 10/29).  In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz: "The NBA
     has problems. ... [T]he quality of play is eroding.  The NBA
     is shrewd at peddling stars, but in the rush to hype an
     increasingly artificial product, the league has lost
     substance" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/29).