In Salt Lake City, Aaron Falk writes MLS in its 18 seasons has taken "serious strides across the American sports landscape -- and it’s done so while featuring only a handful of household names." But as MLS "works toward commissioner Don Garber’s goal of becoming 'one of the top leagues in the world' by 2022, will it need more individual star power?" While local TV ratings are "solid in many of the league’s markets ... national television ratings continue to be miniscule, drawing only a quarter of what even the modestly viewed NHL brings in." Real Salt Lake Senior VP/Soccer Operations & GM Garth Lagerwey said, "I don’t dismiss the star-power element. But I do think it’s inefficient to constantly go out and try to find the next big thing" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 5/30).
BOUNCING BACK: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said any damage to the league caused by this season's lockout is being repaired now, as the league is "hearing from fans and business partners ... that the season has been terrific." Bettman: "Everybody's grateful that we can just look forward and put on the best sport there is in the world with the best athletes in the world." The salary cap is expected to decrease by about $6M prior to next season, and Bettman said a "number of teams are going to have to make adjustments." He added, "They've had plenty of time to prepare for it. But again, it's part of the system that gives us the great competitive balance that we have. It's what makes the game as strong as it is" ("Sports Talk Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 5/29).
LESS IS MORE? In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman writes with NASCAR trying to "appeal to younger fans, many of whom have the attention span of Twitter's 140 characters, asking them to follow" the Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 is like "requiring the reading of Chaucer during a weekend." Driver Jimmie Johnson said, "I'm not sure (going) from 600 to 500 changes things much. It wouldn't hurt, from the mindset of keeping your fans captive on television or at the venue for however long. ... I'm torn personally on how I'd want that to go." Fleischman writes if race broadcaster Fox "decides the distance is too long, we can expect it will request a meeting." TV nets "usually get what they want" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/30).
PUPPET MASTERS: In L.A., Bill Dwyre wrote the NBA is becoming a league where the "inmates run the asylum," and there has "seldom been a bigger Exhibit A than the firing" of Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. The "likelihood" is that Clippers G Chris Paul "didn't whisper, or speak, at all." Dwyre: "More likely, his agent, [CAA's] Leon Rose, took care of things with as little as one sentence, one shrug, one raised eyebrow." Somewhere "along the line, somebody up high in the NBA needs to take stock." Star players believe they are as "important as the CEO, even though the star salesman has invested no money, taken little risk and made zero strategic decisions." The NBA is "so busy pursuing its popularity, and the cash flow that it provides, that it hasn't taken time to create a culture, especially in situations such as the Del Negro firing, of doing the right thing" (L.A. TIMES, 5/28).