WHY ARE ATHLETES RELUCTANT TO JUMP ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL?
Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Bradley will
hold a campaign fund raiser on Sunday at MSG called the
"Afternoon of Champions and Legends." Tickets for the event
cost up to $1,000 each, and attendees will include Bill
Walton, Julius Erving, Calvin and Grant Hill, Spike Lee,
Rebecca Lobo, John McEnroe, and Wes Unseld (Bradley for
President). In a Sports cover story, USA TODAY's Michael
Hiestand writes on the "large contingent of sports people
getting involved in politics" by backing Bradley in the 2000
election. But the Bradley campaign "hasn't broken through
that reticence among active athletes," as Grant Hill is the
"only active athlete scheduled to appear at Sunday's event."
GOP political consultant Eddie Mahe: "By and large, the
athletic community has not been political. We always look
to get athletes involved in campaigns, but it's really,
really tough. Their agents won't let them. ... Getting
involved in a campaign could diminish their value in the
commercial marketplace." Agent Leonard Armato: "You're
bound to alienate somebody. I advise them to embrace good
causes, not politicians, to minimize the fallout."
Responding to reports that his client, Shaquille O'Neal,
endorsed VP Al Gore, Armato said, "He didn't necessarily
endorse him. Sometimes, it's difficult to know when he's
joking." Agent Leigh Steinberg said political stands can
"absolutely" hurt athletes' marketability. Steinberg is
close to backing Bradley, but said he "isn't sure who I can
and can't deliver, in terms of players" (USA TODAY, 11/10).
LARRY'S MILLION DOLLAR LEGEND: NEWSWEEK lists Padres
President & CEO Larry Lucchino and Lakers coach Phil Jackson
as members of Team Bradley. Lucchino is listed under "big
fund-raisers," as he "promised [Bradley he would] raise" $1M
in Southern CA (NEWSWEEK, 11/15 issue).