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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues Governing Bodies

          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).