The idea of cameras in home team NFL locker rooms is "probably a good idea, considering that notoriously secretive coaches would probably have strenuously resisted it as a suggestion, even though teams can use the video at their discretion and are unlikely to reveal any significant strategic details,” according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The push toward “more video during the game, though, speaks to the league’s larger concern that the quality of television broadcasts, and the quality of the televisions themselves, may prompt more and more fans to stay home instead of going to games, thereby avoiding high-priced tickets, traffic jams and harsh weather” (NYTIMES.com, 4/3). However, Panthers LB Jon Beason said putting cameras in the home team locker room is “absolutely crazy.” Beason said, “There is no way you should put cameras in the locker room. That’s where we change.” NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano noted, “They’re not going to put you up on the screen with your clothes off.” NFL Net’s Warren Sapp told Beason, “I don’t think that we will put you in a position where we’re exposing you, put you in a bad light. We just want to make the fan experience a little bit better.” However, NFL Net’s Heath Evans said coaches with the “old-school mentality” are “probably just rolling their eyes at their owners for ever signing off on this” (“NFL Total Access,” NFLN, 4/3).
WILL THERE BE APPEAL? NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that use of the cameras is “mandatory” and “no team will be exempt from airing footage.” USA TODAY’s Mike Foss wrote, “Pulling the curtain back on the most intimate of team settings is an interesting move by the NFL.” As TV broadcasts “continue to improve, along with the quality of in-home televisions, the league is forced to invent new incentives to drive crowds to games in person.” Foss asked, “Will the promise of locker room cameras convince fans to pay up and head out? It's a gamble made previously by the XFL.” He continued, “Is this the best remedy [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell and the NFL can offer to fans who would consider spending their disposable income on a ticket?” When TV broadcasts “already show player interaction before, during, and after games, a view into a locker room does little to inspire excitement for the stadium experience” (USATODAY.com, 4/3).
The NHL trade deadline passed yesterday, and there “might never have been a deadline as challenging as this one” for GMs, "at least not in the last 15 years or so,” according to Chris Johnston of SPORTSNET. There are “more than a few of them who wanted to be more active than they were.” But with the salary cap “set to drop to” US$64.3M next season and “only a dozen or so games for each team to play in a shortened schedule, the market was narrowed considerably.” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said, “Today was the end of the most difficult trade period I’ve been through in hockey.” Johnston noted there really “weren’t very many sellers” -- the Flames, Stars and Sabres “notwithstanding -- and that was driven by the tight standings and shortened season.” Those that “chose to peddle assets were handsomely rewarded.” The guess “here is that this was more of an anomaly than a trend” (SPORTSNET.ca, 4/3).
STARTING OVER: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes Sabres GM Darcy Regier “didn’t want to use the R-word while announcing that” RW Jason Pominville had been traded to the Wild for two prospects and two draft picks. Gleason: “Reloading, retooling, reworking, reconstructing, take your pick.” Now that the Sabres “can’t get much worse, it’s only a matter of time before the slightest improvement is sold as monumental progress. It’s ridiculous.” They have been “grossly mismanaged for years.” Regier is "in his 16th season and is still learning lessons the hard way, but his mistakes come without repercussion.” Managing a hockey team "isn’t about spending the most. It’s about spending the wisest.” With the Sabres “not getting a bang commensurate with the buck,” Regier “has been exposed.” It “doesn’t take much for a general manager to lose leverage, as Regier found out this season” (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/4). Regier said, “It’s difficult standing here right now to say it’s going to be a year or two years. We’re going to work as hard as we can at this and get it done as quickly as possible” (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/4).
The National Women's Soccer League is “showing signs that its officials have learned from the missteps of past leagues” for women's soccer, according to Allison McCann of BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK. NWSL Exec Dir Cheryl Bailey said, “We asked ourselves: Is there another model we can look out, is there something we can do to have a league and have it be sustainable?” Instead of “trying to fill MLS stadiums and paying players half a million dollars,” the league has “opted to build something slowly over time.” One “major change has allowed any of this to happen," which is the USSF has “agreed to finance the US national team players.” Prior to the NWSL draft, three American, two Canadian and two Mexican national team players “were allocated to each team and will be paid by their respective soccer federations, leaving a $200,000 salary cap to be divided among the remaining 13 players on a 20-roster squad.” Split evenly, this means “about $15,000 per player, but already some teams are reportedly paying players as low as $6,000 for a five-month season.” For most teams, like FC Kansas City, venues “will cost around $1,500 per game.” The Portland Thorns are the first women’s pro team “to fall under the ownership of an MLS team,” the Timbers, and “will have free access to their facilities.” Bailey: “It’s great that we have an MLS team with [an] NWSL team.” McCann noted the “immediate future of women’s professional soccer looks, for the first time, relatively stable -- which means professional female athletes will continue to make $6,000, live with host families, do their own laundry, and play in high-school football stadiums in order for the league to survive” (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 4/2).
In DC, Mark Maske wrote the NFLPA has “asked agents to provide any evidence they can to support suspicions that teams might be colluding to restrict players’ salaries on the free agent market this offseason.” NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith wrote in a memo to agents, “We have heard reports of a concern that teams are working in concert to ‘peg,’ ‘rig’ or ‘set’ market prices on player contracts. If you believe or have information that the teams have been colluding during this free agency period, you have a responsibility as an agent of the NFLPA to come forward and share that information with us.” The NFL “denied that collusion is taking place” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/3).
SOONER OR LATER: USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale writes the designated hitter “eventually will be adopted by the National League, too.” There will be NL owners "fighting it, knowing their payrolls will swell.” But it is “inevitable that change is coming.” No decision has “been made, or even formally discussed, but it’s going to happen, most likely after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig leaves office” in ’14. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said, “I think we’re going to see the DH in the National League. Hopefully we’re just a few years away.” There are “four full-time designated hitters earning at least” $10M this year. That field “will only be inflated in the future” with Angels 1B Albert Pujols, Reds 1B Joey Votto and Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira “all earning in excess of” $20M a year (USA TODAY, 4/4).
EXPANSION PLANS: The AP reported the NASL is “focused on expanding to California" as early as ’15. NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said that S.F., L.A. and San Diego are “potential cities.” The seven-team league “will begin its third season" on Saturday. Peterson “insisted the league’s owners didn’t feel pressure to expand within a certain time frame.” The N.Y. Cosmos “will join the NASL for the fall.” The Puerto Rico Islanders “suspended play for this season but are expected to return next year.” Indianapolis, Ottawa and Virginia also “are planned new teams” for ’14 (AP, 4/2).