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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on NBA TV revenues, MLB, Jason Giambi, NASCAR plus more...

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posted on Mar, 6 2005 @ 06:26 PM
I've heard a lot of commentary in the last 24 hours about the finish of the Daytona 500 and how lots of NASCAR fans were disappointed to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. lose that race and particularly annoyed to see that Jeff Gordon won that race.

That reminded me of a line by comedian Jeff Foxworthy:

"You know why NASCAR fans don't like Jeff Gordon?"

"He ... enunciates!"

I'm sure that Dame NASCAR will chastise me for that last remark.

I mentioned yesterday that the NBA collective bargaining agreement runs out after this season; however, the NBA's TV deals don't expire until after next season. That means there will be some degree of ambiguity in terms of "revenues going forward" while the labor negotiations are ongoing. Over the last 6 years, Time Warner and Disney have split the TV packages among their networks - TNT and ESPN and ABC. For those rights, the NBA has received a total of $4.6B. That's right; the NBA pulls in an average of about $750M per year for television properties that generate ratings lower than the XFL did on average. If you are a shareholder in either Time Warner or Disney, you might consider going to an annual meeting and asking the management geniuses who run your company what makes them think that is a good idea.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the process of being sold and the new majority owner is evidently willing to take on junior partners/investors in that venture. One person reportedly ready to join in this syndicate is Albert Belle. Excuse me; Albert Belle is going to be part of management and part of any activity that seeks to make a positive connection with fans and with the media? Why am I having difficulty with that concept?

Reggie Fowler says that the Vikings will not trade Randy Moss and for some reason that note has been reported on radio and TV and in the papers. Can someone tell me why Reggie Fowler's views on this matter have any meaning at this point of history? What part of the Vikings' decision-making does he control as of now? The correct answer is nada/nil/zippo/nothing. This is a non-story. Even if you think it is a story because Fowler is on a course to buy the Vikings, let me ask you if you believe that statement about trading Moss? And if you do, maybe you also believe that he has climbed Mount Everest three times and collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Weber to write the score for Cats.

However, there is another part of the Reggie Fowler story that seems to have surfaced but is not getting much attention at all. No, I don't mean that he has some kind of business dealings with a guy who had served time for a point-shaving situation in Arizona. That one has been reported and discussed. But in addition to that situation, Fowler and his company are defendants in a Federal lawsuit charging racial discrimination. That's right, Fowler is black and he is charged with racial discrimination against a US citizen of Pakistani extraction who was a pilot hired by Fowler and his company to fly corporate aircraft and who was fired about a week after 9/11. He alleges that he was told by Fowler that people would be afraid to fly with him because of his ancestry and because he is "Arab-looking". Obviously, Fowler denies the allegations or there would be no lawsuit. But the irony here is that the NFL desperately wants to have an owner of African-American extraction because some have charged that they have excluded people of that ilk from ownership positions in the past. Now, their candidate for ownership is charged with exclusion of someone else on the basis of his heritage. Interesting. I wonder what it would take to make that lawsuit go away...

I've also heard a lot of the sports pundits screeching about the complicity of MLB in the steroids abuse scandal over the last decade or two. I've said this before; so let me repeat it here. It is an absolute reversal of roles to expect that the baseball owners would want to do anything to restrict or contain the athletic prowess of the players. When a sport can generate publicity on the basis of the athletic feats of its participants and can be portrayed as "larger than life", that is a good thing for the owners who sell tickets and TV rights. It is in the owners' best economic interests to have players hitting 75 HRs a year and pitchers who can throw the ball 110 mph; the more of them there are and the longer they can stay physically able to perform such athletic feats, the larger the revenues will be. So, don't ascribe a lot of blame here; acknowledge that the owners were trying to behave in an economically rational way.

What is surprising - and what is a perversion of the fundamentals of the US labor movement - is the position of the Players Union during the past two decades. Many of the labor struggles throughout US history were based on creating safer working conditions for workers and on providing workplaces that did not use up young workers and leave them with debilitating diseases/conditions once they were no longer able to do the hard physical aspects of the job any longer. That's the basis of movies that glorified the struggle of workers in the 20s and 30s where Patrick O'Brien - as Fightin' Father Flanagan - would defiantly lead the workers out of the gates of the evil and exploitative industrial plant seeking a better life for the workers. Now in that tradition, what was the role of the MLB Players Union? When it came time to try to negotiate some kind of testing for union members who were injecting/ingesting dangerous substances - and ones that were illegal too - the union said it was an invasion of privacy. The union perpetuated unsafe working conditions and a competitive environment where some of its members behaved in ways that would leave them with debilitating conditions once they were unable to perform the physical aspects of major league baseball. That is a perversion of the US labor movement.

I was surfing through the channels the other day and ran across arm wrestling on ESPN - or maybe it was "The Deuce". I didn't pause to watch but I did have a flashback to ABC's Wide World of Sports back in the 60s when arm wrestling from Petaluma, CA was an annual event. It wasn't riveting TV then; I can't believe it is worth watching today.

Now that Jose Canseco's book has been successful and Barry Bonds' alleged former mistress is embarking on another "tell-all book", Jerry Brewer offered some other potential book projects in a column in the Louisville Courier-Journal. Here are my two favorites:

I'd Like To Thank My Mouth For Ruining Me - - by Freddie Mitchell

Kobe, Myself and I - - by Kobe Bryant

Finally, according to an item in Monday's Starting Lineup in the Washington Post:

"Joe Torre: Expresses concern for how Jason Giambi ... will handle his reception by opposing fans. But something tells us that Giambi can take a lot of needling."

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

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