The NBA player agents advisory group that has been
working with the NBPA met in N.Y. last Friday and "received
an ominous report," according to ESPN's David Aldridge.
Agents "were told the union has acquired the signatures of
85% of all players authorizing the union to decertify if
talks with the league break down." Decertification would
"force the league to deal independently with each player and
leave the league vulnerable to lawsuits." Aldridge adds
that the union "appears much stronger" than it was in '95
and sources say that the Jazz "have come around after being
one of the strongest anti-union" teams during the previous
labor negotiations. Aldridge: "Sources indicate that nine
of the Utah players have signed the decertification
agreement, and one of those nine is Karl Malone, who has
never been a supporter of the union in past years. Malone
declined to comment" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/14). In
Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom: "[T]his spat will be settled by
two different groups: the wives of NBA players and the
mothers of their children" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/15).
A MILLION REASONS: The NBA announced a 7.1% increase in
average per-game '98 playoff attendance over last year.
Through the '98 Conference Semifinals, 1,058,257 attended 54
games for an average of 19,597 per game. In '97, 1,006,694
attended 55 games for an average of 18,303 per game (NBA).
One of Indy-car racing's largest problems is a
"noticeable lack of identifiable heroes," according to Robin
Miller of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS. It's a "malady that
plagues" the IRL and, "to some extent," CART, as they
"battle NASCAR for television ratings, media coverage,
endorsements and fans." Miller writes that "long before the
IRL/CART war of 1996, Indy-car racing had suffered a massive
star outage," and that the "only recognizable names to most
of the non-racing world are" Michael Andretti, Al Unser,
Jr., Bobby Rahal, Arie Luyendyk and Tony Stewart. He
blames the "old regime at the United States Auto Club and
CART's lack of awareness -- plus NASCAR's marketing savvy
for its drivers." Miller: "The on-track competition in CART
and the IRL has been better than NASCAR the past two years,
but the split and poor TV ratings haven't helped cultivate
many new national names" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/15). In
Chicago, Skip Myslenski writes from the Indy 500 time trials
that the IRL "doesn't have marquee names to match those in
CART." He adds that when IRL Founder Tony George split with
CART he "drained glamor from this race. That's why
excitement is down, anticipation is minimal and scalpers are
left holding fistsful of tickets" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/15).
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS: In Indianapolis, Robin
Miller also examines the costs of fielding race teams for
the IRL and CART, and writes that while Tony George's
pursuit for affordability and cost-conscious rule can make
it cheaper to run an IRL team, for the "front-runners ...
the price of speed can be almost as expensive as it is for
CART." The cost for one "ready to race car" for the IRL
goes between $375,000 to $425,000. For CART, the cost can
hit $600,000 "before the engine goes in" (STAR-NEWS, 5/15).