Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 113

Leagues Governing Bodies

          BOYS ON THE SIDE: In Toronto, Tom Tebbutt reported that
     the ATP will announce this week "it is dropping its plan to
     have more combined men's and women's top-level tour events"
     (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/29).  WTA players continue to draw the most
     notice at Wimbledon.  In Raleigh, Caulton Tudor writes that
     "the world's most prestigious tennis tournament rapidly has
     become a ladies-before-gentlemen event of the first order. 
     But it's not just Wimbledon.  It's the entire sport, really"
     (NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/30).  In L.A., Lisa Dillman wrote that
     "it is becoming obvious that female tennis players are
     attracting more attention than their male colleagues. ...
     What will truly be interesting in the future is how and if
     the teenagers evolve into leaders, on the equal-pay issue
     and other matters impacting the women's tour" (L.A. TIMES,
     6/29).  In DC, Jennifer Frey wrote under the header, "As The
     Men Face Break Point, Women Stars Grab Center Court"
     (WASHINGTON POST, 6/29)....In Tampa, H.A. Branham: "The
     question becomes how the men plan to turn things around, or
     at least begin to rival a competitor that once presented no
     competition" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/29)....In N.Y., Phil Mushnick
     wrote, "Is there a major sporting event that has vanished
     from the forefront of the American public's consciousness
     faster than Wimbledon?" (N.Y. POST, 6/29).  
          NOTES: The L.A. Times reported that the WNBA's Lynette
     Woodard and ESPN women's basketball commentator Mimi Griffin
     are candidates to head the WNBA players union.  But the
     union "is slow to develop in the league's second season"
     (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/30)....ABL players and their agents
     "are wondering about the rumor" that Michael Jordan "will
     buy the ABL's Chicago expansion franchise," according to
     Earl Gustkey of the L.A. TIMES.  ABL CEO Gary Cavalli
     "wouldn't comment," other than saying that Jordan's
     involvement would be an "exciting possibility."  Jordan was
     not available for comment (L.A. TIMES, 6/30).

          MLB management sources "confirmed Monday that a special
     executive session has been called for July 9 in Chicago
     during which Bud Selig" will be named MLB commissioner "on a
     permanent basis," according to Tom Haudricourt of the
     MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL.  Selig confirmed that the
     meeting had been called, but he would not confirm that he
     had officially decided to accept the job.  A three-fourths
     vote of the 30 MLB clubs is required for election, with no
     more than five clubs in either league objecting.  Only the
     White Sox, Cubs and Giants have been reported to object to
     Selig's election (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/30).
          LET'S PLAY TWO! In N.Y., Murray Chass reports that
     today is the designated date for MLB to submit next year's
     schedule to the MLBPA for its approval, but yesterday MLB
     asked for and received a two-week extension.  Chass reports
     that "the two sides should have little trouble agreeing on
     an official schedule."  Reports have next year's interleague
     schedule for the East divisions including home-and-home
     series between the Yankees-Mets; Blue Jays-Expos; Devil Rays
     - Marlins; Orioles-Phillies; and Braves-Red Sox (N.Y. TIMES,
     6/30).  Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner said playing the
     Mets twice next year is not a "a good idea," calling it
     "overkill, plain and simple" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/30).

          The NBA's "nuclear summer has begun" as Commissioner
     David Stern announced yesterday the league will lock out its
     players beginning midnight Tuesday, according to David Moore
     of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  The recommendation of the
     league's nine-man labor relations committee was "unanimous"
     and the "only action" the owners needed to void the final
     three years of the current CBA.  Moore writes the owners'
     decision "was driven by economics" and there are "strong
     indications this impasse is more complex and contentious"
     than previous disputes between the league and its union
     (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/30).  Stern: "We can't afford to
     play the season under the current system. ... The final
     numbers aren't in, but for the first time, as a whole, we
     believe the league was actually unprofitable last season." 
     Stern, asked if the lockout could threaten the start of the
     season: "Yes, that is fair and accurate.  Unfortunately,
     there are a number of clubs that would do better not
     operating than actually operating.  That's something the
     players don't yet understand."  NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
     said in a statement, "Unfortunately, the owners continue to
     demand unprecedented concessions.  Until the owners abandon
     their posture of seeking one-sided concession bargaining and
     show some willingness to compromise, it is difficult to
     expect any progress" (Greg Logan, NEWSDAY, 6/30).  In S.F.,
     David Steele calls it a "mild surprise" that the league "did
     not even make a pretense of pushing negotiations" with the
     NBPA until the last moment, "announcing its intentions a
     good 32 hours before" the CBA was to expire.  Stern: "We
     were in touch with the union. ... But we really had nothing
     to talk about" (David Steele, S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/30). 
          WHAT IT MEANS: In N.Y., Mike Wise reports that while
     league business will effectively be stopped, previously-
     scheduled charity games "were spared."  Players
     rehabilitating injuries will be forced to work out
     arrangements through the team to be treated privately (N.Y.
     TIMES, 6/30).  In Boston, Peter May reports that teams will
     "forward a player's mail, and the league won't prevent
     players and management from co-mingling in social
     situations, such as weddings" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/30).  USA
     TODAY's Roscoe Nance: "For the average fan, the lockout
     won't have many visible effects" (USA TODAY, 6/30).
          NEXT MOVE: NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik said the
     Larry Bird exception continues to be the sticking point in
     negotiations.  Granik: "At our last meeting, the union said
     to us that unless the owners are prepared to maintain the
     Larry Bird exception they have nothing further to talk
     about" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/30).  Granik: "We tried not
     to focus on the Bird exception as such, but we need an
     agreement that is not open-ended.  There may be one whereby
     we keep 'Bird,' or some elements of it" (DENVER POST, 6/30).
     In Chicago, Lacy Banks reports the owners want to replace
     the Bird exception with a new rule allowing high-profile,
     10-year vets to be grandfathered into the exception. The
     NBPA's Hunter: "But that's only for this year.  It's a one-
     shot deal."  Granik has proposed that a player whose
     contract has expired will be able to re-sign for his old
     deal with a 5% increase.  Teams will be allowed to go "over
     the cap" in signing players with the 5% increase (CHICAGO
     SUN-TIMES, 6/30).  Yesterday, Stern mentioned three economic
     models the league would consider: Decide on a fair share for
     the players and write a check to the union to distribute as
     it wishes; agree on a specific percentage of the gross, and
     if salaries exceed that percentage, the owners would not be
     responsible; or a hard cap (NEWSDAY, 6/30).  Hunter: "Their
     position is no hard cap, no deal. ... For lack of a better
     word, our only position on that is to go to war" (USA TODAY,
     6/30).  More Hunter: "They don't want the top player on any
     team to make more than $10 million a year.  Nobody restricts
     how much money they can make. ... When they say, 'Take it or
     leave it,' we obviously left it ... and there may have to be
     some bloodletting" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30).  Granik said the
     possibility of bringing in a mediator is an option.  The two
     sides are "not expected to meet" until after the union meets
     in Hawaii from July 6-12 (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30).  ESPN's David
     Aldridge reported it "will be a couple of months before any
     serious negotiating gets done" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/29). 
          TV MONEY: NBA owners will receive their TV rights fee
     from Turner and NBC even if the regular-season games are
     canceled.  The payments must be returned in the fourth and
     final season of the TV deal, "depending on the number of
     telecasts missed."  Stern: "That money has to be repaid to
     the networks, so it's not like extra money given to teams. 
     It was arranged so our teams would be in a position to
     survive the season without dire economic consequences in the
     short term" (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 6/30).  In Denver,
     Mike Monroe puts the rights fee for each team at $23M
     (DENVER POST, 6/30).  NBPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler said,
     "What's really driving this [the lockout and CBA reopening]
     is that (the owners would) like to keep more of the TV deal
     than they kept under the old deal" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30). 
     In N.Y., former NBPA President Buck Williams tells Kevin
     Kernan that he believes CBS and Fox are contemplating a new
     league: "There's not a better time" (N.Y. POST, 6/30).
          HOW IT PLAYED: The lockout was the subject of front-
     page stories in USA Today, the N.Y. Post and the Houston
     Chronicle.  ESPN's "SportsCenter" led its early and late
     editions last night with the owners' declaration. 

          NBA Commissioner David Stern "remains a power, perhaps
     the last powerful commissioner," according to Mark Heisler
     of the L.A. TIMES, who writes that a lockout "will be a test
     for him."  Heisler: "Sources suggest that he's still riding
     tall in the saddle, his owners falling in line behind him,
     even if some don't like the idea" (L.A. TIMES, 6/30).  Suns
     President Jerry Colangelo: "I would say that the owners are
     prepared to do what's necessary to correct the system
     because the system doesn't work" (AZ REPUBLIC, 6/30).
          DO OWNERS HAVE THE EDGE: In Denver, Mike Littwin calls
     the lockout "a huge gamble" for Stern.  Littwin: "Who will
     blink? ... [H]ow many paychecks do the other
     multimillionaires want to miss?  And although the owners
     don't want to lose any games, how important exactly are NBA
     games in November?  I give the owners the slight edge. ...
     The NBA union is untested" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/30).  In
     Philadelphia, Rich Hofman writes that the NBA "has all the
     leverage" and that the players "will be lucky to get out of
     this thing with their union intact" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY
     NEWS, 6/30).  In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes that the
     union "will fight to the bitter end.  Or until their
     membership starts missing [paychecks]" (TORONTO SUN, 6/30).
     NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter: "These guys will not submit,
     surrender or cave in as they did, under past history, if
     they faced losing a paycheck" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30).  On
     CBS SportsLine, Andy Jasner calls the players "flat-out
     greedy" (CBS SportsLine, 6/30).  But in Philadelphia, Mike
     Bruton: "If the NBA owners hadn't blinked three years ago
     under the steely stare of a players' union mutiny, we
     wouldn't be on the verge of a work stoppage for the coming
     season" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 6/30).  In N.Y., Ian O'Connor
     predicts an agreement in late October as the "best-case
     scenario," and calls the NBA's statement of unprofitablity a
     "hard-to-believe claim" (DAILY NEWS, 6/30).       
          COULD PLAYERS BREAK? ESPN's David Aldridge reported
     that while the players have saved some money from their
     licensing pool, he believes it will be "very difficult ...
     for players to withstand a very long and prolongated
     lockout."  Aldridge: "I'm sure that as we go into August and
     maybe September and there hasn't been a deal done yet, the
     pressure is going to really start to mount inside, from a
     players' standpoint, to try and make a deal that works"
     (ESPN, 6/30).  But agent Bill Strickland said, "I get a
     strong sense that the players have an absolute resolve about
     not acting hastily this time" (STAR-LEDGER, 6/30).  Agent
     Arn Tellem said that most players "understand a lot is at
     stake and that they have to show solidarity, from stars to
     role players to guys at the end of the bench" (AP, 6/30). 
     Hunter: "They [the NBA] may have miscalculated this time. 
     If they realize the players are in for the long haul, then
     they may become softer in their demands" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30). 
     Agent Marc Fleisher said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the
     lockout went until October.  Agent Joel Bell: "I expect this
     to last for at least the summer" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 6/30). 
          TOUGH TALK: In NJ, Dave D'Alessandro writes the "gloves
     have come off, the rhetoric is about to begin" (Newark STAR-
     LEDGER, 6/30).  Hunter: "[T]he league is profitable, the
     commissioner and the deputy commissioner are the highest
     paid in professional sports, the number of league employees
     is growing and the average salary of coaches is higher than
     that of the players.  So why are things so bad?" (S.F.
     CHRONICLE, 6/30).  Stern: "What we're hearing is, 'Whatever
     we have, we have, and anything else is the owners' problem.' 
     Well, that can't be" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/30).  In N.Y.,
     Kevin Kernan writes that fans "don't care" about basketball
     in the summer, but the "problem is, they may not care come
     November" (N.Y. POST, 6/30).   A N.Y. TIMES editorial states
     "this could be a confrontation in which no one blinks until
     a large part of the season -- or even all of it -- has been
     canceled" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30). 

          NASCAR President Bill France, Jr. was interviewed by
     Tom Groeschen of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.  France, on which
     U.S. markets remain open for NASCAR: "The Northwest is an
     area we're really not in, as far as Winston Cup racing.  We
     are up there, with our truck series, but the weather up
     there ... it rains a lot."  France, on how the Indy Car
     split has affected NASCAR's popularity: "We were running
     pretty good before they split.  I don't attribute our
     success and popularity to their split.  We've probably moved
     a little faster because of it, but we were well on our way,
     on our own" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/29).
          RACING NOTES: IMS President Tony George continues to
     seek an Formula One race for the Speedway. F-1 has not raced
     in the U.S. since '91, and George is competing with bids
     from San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta.  Sanctioning fees
     are estimated at $10M-$15M, which includes travel expenses
     for participants (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 6/28)....New
     Hampshire Int'l Speedway owner Bob Bahre said that he has
     not had any talks with IRL officials about extending the
     facility's contract to host the New England 200.  Bahre has
     lost money for three years "because of low attendance," and
     Sunday's crowd was estimated at 20,000.  Bahre estimated
     that he stood to lose "about" $700,000 (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/29).