Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Linda McMahon, wrestlers deaths and head injuries - National Business of Sports |

Linda McMahon, Wrestlers Deaths and Head Injuries

By Evan Weiner

September 28, 2010

(New York, N. Y.) -- The wife of World Wrestling Entertainment Czar Vince McMahon and former WWE Chief Executive Officer Linda McMahon is running for the United States Senate for the State of Connecticut. McMahon is apparently running as an outsider who can help create jobs in her state and elsewhere because she ran a successful business. McMahon is no outsider to politics. The World Wrestling Federation lobbied various states to decouple the "sport" from state athletic regulations. The McMahons argued that wrestling was a scripted entertainment and convinced lawmakers that it was really not much different from entertainment shows.

There was a reason that the McMahons wanted to get away from state athletic regulators. Wrestling resides in a murky area in sports and entertainment. The genre has some athleticism but in 1989 Vince McMahon testified before the New Jersey State Senate that his product was not a bona fide competition and that wrestling matches were staged events. McMahon was trying to catch some tax breaks from the state of New Jersey for his live shows and his pay-per-view TV offerings by claiming his genre was not a sport.

The McMahon's successful business was built on a house of cards in 1984 after Vince McMahon decided to "rewrite" the rules of professional wrestling and invade other promoters’ territories. McMahon's World Wrestling Federation had the big east coast markets, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and other cities and the other big wrestling promoters, the NWA's Crockett family and the AWA's Vern Gagne totally misread the landscape thinking McMahon had the money to pull off the national expansion. According to one insider, McMahon did everything he could to find money and rolled the dice on Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1985.

The McMahons won.

Madison Square Garden was packed, the money flowed in and the WWF had a solid financial footing.

McMahon's wrestlers looked like super heroes out of comic books with enormously sculptured bodies. There were also some "steroid-rage" incidents involving some wrestlers outside the ring but steroids were not deemed illegal until President George Bush signed legislation in 1990 banning the substance. Vince McMahon was indicted in November of 1993 on charges of possession of steroids and conspiracy to distribute steroids. McMahon beat the rap after a jury came back with a not guilty verdict on July 22, 1994. In 2005, McMahon’s wrestling circuit was still wrestling with drug issues and following the death of Eddie Guerrero, the McMahons imposed new drug testing policies.

The McMahons knew they had a problem on their hands and according to the WWE website, "(the) WWE implemented a WWE Talent Wellness Program on February 27, 2006. The WWE Talent Wellness Program is administered independent of WWE by (a) team of physicians." The statement goes onto say that "the Substance Abuse and Drug Testing Policy prohibits the use of drugs by WWE talent for other than a legitimate medical purpose pursuant to a valid prescription from a licensed and treating physician. The use of masking agents and/or diuretics to conceal or obscure the use of prohibited drugs is also forbidden."

Despite the policy, wrestlers are still dying in alarming numbers.

The WWF, now WWE, has not faced the same sort of scrutiny that professional sportswriters and other gadflies heaped upon Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and former Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr. Not many professional sportswriters aside from Frank Deford, Phil Mushnick and some wrestling reporters nor the gadflies around wrestling have bothered to take a closer look at the mortality rate of wrestlers who may have been using banned performance enhancing drugs. The percentage of professional wrestlers who died under the age of 50 in the past decade from a drug overdose or of heart attack, liver or kidney failure brought on by drug abuse is high far than the mortality rate in the general population.

The carnage has been documented and the toll is large especially compared with the number of deaths attributed to steroid drug damage in Major League Baseball. The answer in baseball appears to be zero, although Ken Caminiti died of a drug overdose in 2004 at the age of 41. Caminiti was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1995 and discussed his steroids usage with a reporter from the America magazine Sports Illustrated in 2002. Caminiti did not have steroids in his system at the time of his death.

On Monday, Linda McMahon, the Republican candidate for United States Senator will face off against Connecticut Attorney General and the Democrat's candidate Richard Blumenthal in a debate that is being sponsored by Rupert Murdoch's FOX Connecticut and the Sam Zell Tribune Company's Hartford Courant. The debate will be hosted by FOX correspondent Bret Baier. Apparently Zell has cut the staff at the Courant so thin that there is no one from the newspaper who is capable of performing the job as moderator. Baier does work for a news organization that leans right and specializes in going after an old audience who loves the presentation.

Television news reporters are now being regularly tapped as debate moderators despite some rather dismal performances over the years by PBS' Jim Lehrer, WCBS-TV Channel 2 (New York) reporter Marcia Kramer who was woefully unprepared in a 2000 debate between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio in the New York Senate campaign and Gwen Ifell, who let Sarah Palin walk all over her in the 2008 Vice Presidential debate. There was an unremarkable performance by ABC's Charles Gibson in a 2008 debate.

It will be rather interesting to see whether a "TV news talent" like Baier will ask McMahon any of these troubling questions about drug usage in McMahon's WWE or the death of wrestlers. To be fair, Baier also must Blumenthal about his remarks about serving in Vietnam even though Blumenthal did not.

Baier also should ask McMahon about former WWF wrestler and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura interview in 2008 on the Howard Stern radio show that he was fired by the company after Hulk Hogan told Vince McMahon that Ventura was trying to unionize wrestlers.

WWE performers are independent contractors which means that the McMahons do not pay social security benefits, Medicare contributions and unemployment insurance. The McMahons have contended they pay wrestlers extremely well and that makes up for the lack of benefits. It is unknown how many former wrestlers who suffered disabling injuries are now on the government dole getting social security insurance or Medicare to pay medical bills.

If Baier had any backbone, he would ask McMahon what she thinks of social security and health care and how many wrestlers now in their 40s and 50s that performed for her that are getting government support. And to get to a deeper point, FOX's conservative audience that likes morality, Baier's questioning should also include queries about storylines that included something that called the "Mr. McMahon Kiss My Ass Club" where wrestlers performed the act. There should also be a question or two about the debasing of women as part of the on-going “soap opera”.

Linda McMahon has claimed though she was not on the creative side of the business.

But given that Baier is a TV talking head and people look for sizzle not substance in a debate these days, it is unlikely that either McMahon or Blumenthal will getting too many high and hard pitches under the chin.

Congress is beginning to put the spotlight on the devastating injuries that have occurred in the National Football League and how both the league and the National Football League Players Association have failed a good many players whose injuries have permanently disabled them. Former McMahon employees have criticized the company because of there is no union and one father of a deceased wrestler may have touched a nerve that brain damaged football players are beginning to talk about.

Michael Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit -- the wrestler who on June 24, 2007 killed his son and wife then hanged himself -- claimed in a Hartford Courant interview in May that the McMahons didn't take proper care of their employees and just used the wrestlers to line their pockets.

"My son, Chris Benoit, 40, was one of WWE's top superstars. In June 2007, our lives changed dramatically, when he tragically killed his wife, son and himself. The press jumped on steroids as the cause of his actions. But tests showed that brain damage in the form of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, not steroids, was responsible for our loss. CTE, caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, can bring on serious disorders such as a loss of emotional control, addictions to drugs and alcohol, depression, aggressive and violent behavior."

Congress is addressing head injuries in pro football. The very type of head injury that Michael Benoit said his son had from his days as a wrestler. Talk to former football players with brain injuries and they immediately recognize the symptoms.

Baier should ask bring up the whole head injury issue because if McMahon is elected to the Senate and there are additional hearings on football injuries, McMahon just might be appointed to the committee holding hearings. What kind of questions would Senator Linda McMahon ask at a hearing about sports concussions?

Why isn't there a bigger spotlight on professional wrestling's mortality rate? Baier owes it to the non-FOX audience and to the former wrestlers who looked to the government for assistance to really be a moderator and not another FOX pundit. Linda McMahon needs to answer questions about the deaths of the performers in her business.

All of those deaths that should have rattled and ravaged her business, the wrestling industry. Fortunately for Linda McMahon, her husband Vince and daughter Stephanie and her husband Paul Michael Levesque a.k.a. Triple H, there is very little scrutiny of the industry.

Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." He can be reached at evanjweiner

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cablevision-FOX fight is at bad time for N.Y. Giants and Philadelphia Eagles fans

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 11:51




There is nothing better than a fight between a cable television multiple systems operator and a television company when it comes to signing a new "carriage" deal. In New York and Philadelphia, News Corp-FOX Rupert Murdoch's boys (Channels 5 and 9 in New York, Channel 29 in Philadelphia and three of Murdoch's cable networks) are in the red trunks while Chuck Dolan's guys (Cablevision) are in the blue gym shorts. But neither will even get hit with a glancing blow. It will be the Cablevision consumer who will be the one who absorb the punches.

On October 16th, Murdoch's WNYW and WWOR in New York along with Philadelphia's WTXF could disappear from Cablevision's lineup which would deprive Cablevision subscribers of New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and NFL games and would sadden the lives of daytime viewers in the New York area who need a daily fix of luminaries such as Wendy Williams, Dr. Oz and those staged for TV court shows featuring Nancy Grace, Jeanine Pirro, Joe Brown, Harvey Levin and Levin's journalistic effort, TMZ. In Philadelphia, Judge Judy, Judy Alex and Divorce Court aficionados would have to find something else to do along with Wendy Williams, Nancy Grace and Harvey Levin fans.

The subscribers in both areas would also lose the "news" (and miss seeing murder, mayhem, entertainment, sports and weather reports). If things get really sticky, Cablevision viewers will also lose the Major League Baseball Playoffs, the National League Championship Series and the World Series and prime time shows such as "The Simpsons," "24" and "Glee."

Cablevision isn't the only provider of FOX programming. A consumer can always buy an antenna and pull in the Channel 5 and 9 signals in the New York area and the Channel 29 signal in the Philadelphia area. There are also satellite and phone alternatives and for those worried about losing the NFL, there is always DirecTV's Sunday football package.

All is not lost for the over-the-air stations viewers of WNYW, WWOR and WTXF. Nor is it the end of the world for Cablevision subscribers who are fans of FOX Deportes, Nat Geo Wild and the FOX Business Channel. Cablevision subscribers who are so infuriated can look for a different delivery system and Murdoch's people are letting those people know that they have alternatives.

Murdoch's scare tactics for those who cannot remove themselves from their position in front of the TV includes having a website (just like the Disney propaganda sites against Cablevision and Time Warner earlier this year in carriage fights---Disney apparently got what they wanted from the multiple system operators and it will be reflected in higher cable TV fees) that asks people to sign a petition to keep FOX properties on Cablevision. also includes testimonies from people who are irate about the prospect of losing FOX programming on Cablevision and are telling stories about how they have switched to other sources in the titanic showdown.

To make a long story short, Murdoch and Dolan have been business partners — in 1997 Murdoch picked up 40 percent of Dolan's Rainbow Media Sports Holdings for $850 million. The deal gave Murdoch part ownership of Dolan's National Basketball Association's New York Knicks and the National Hockey League's New York Rangers and have a history of working together to make money for one another. Neither is really concerned about the consumer although Dolan always puts out some nonsense about protecting consumers. In 1998, Dolan's Cablevision "partnered" with Murdoch's News Corporation and Liberty Media and "rebranded" Sports Channel New York as Fox Sports New York (FSNY). Dolan's Madison Square Garden Network also became a part of the FOX Sports Network.

In 2005, Dolan and Murdoch ended their alliance because Dolan had some bills he could not pay. Dolan's Cablevision took full ownership of the Garden and the teams, including the Knicks, Rangers and the WNBA's Liberty, as well as MSG Network, Fox Sports New York, FSN Chicago and Radio City Entertainment and 50 percent of FSN New England. Murdoch's News Corp., which held a 40-percent stake in the joint venture, got full ownership of two Fox Sports Net regional sports channels in Ohio and Florida and the two network's advertising operations.

They are not really foes although Dolan beat out Murdoch to buy Long Island's Newsday a couple of years ago. But if there is to be a fight, Dolan and Murdoch are certainly in the heavyweight division.

Both have the right political connections and both can go the distance.

Dolan is a pesky opponent. After losing the New York Yankees cable TV rights, Dolan decided that the Yankees new YES Network was too pricey to be put on Cablevision in 2002. New York State elected officials stepped into the YES Network-Dolan dispute and arranged a temporary cease fire that put the YES Network on Cablevision systems in 2003. Dolan and the Yankees signed a long term agreement in 2004.

Earlier this year, Dolan and Scripps Network Interactive engaged in an 18-day scrap that kept the Food Network and HGTV off of Cablevision systems between January 3 and 21. Then there was the Cablevision-Disney contract battle in March when Disney pulled WABC TV off of Cablevision systems the day of the Oscar presentation show. Cablevision and Disney reached a deal and the Oscar program was restored some 15 minutes after the Academy Awards show started. Dolan and Disney faced some political scrutiny with New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg chided the two entertainment companies.

Disney extracted money from Dolan for the right to carry WABC on Cablevision systems. Dolan, of course, passed on the cost to consumers.

The high end News Corp/FOX-Cablevision drama will probably end with a whimper. Murdoch will get what he wants, Dolan will get what he wants and the consumer, the third party in this heavyweight face off will have to pay the price.

The consumer has little choice if they want cable TV. They are stuck in a system that gives them little choice in what they want to purchase thanks to the 1984 Cable TV Act passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on Capitol Hill and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The law allowed multiple system operators to bundle struggling networks such as ESPN, the Weather Channel, CNN and CNN Headline News onto a basic tier (which was anti-consumer and probably violates antitrust laws) and sell the package as one on a basic expanded tier. Cable TV is an all or nothing business. You buy basic, you buy basic and basic expanded and throw in digital. But you cannot buy an individual sports package or news package. Giants, Eagles, NFL fans along with baseball fans probably don't have to lose too much sleep over the Murdoch-Dolan spat. It will be resolved and if the two heavyweights can't agree, someone in Albany or Trenton or Harrisburg or Washington will get a solution in place very quickly. After all, it is election season and someone will probably want to claim victory for TV viewers.

Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." He can be reached at

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some questions NFL players should be asking
FRIDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2010 08:39

Has the Philadelphia Eagles organization weathered the public relations problem of the first week of the National Football League season after Eagles coach Andy Reid put Stewart Bradley back on the field about four minutes after the linebacker suffered a head injury. Quarterback Kevin Kolb also went down with a head injury in the game against Green Bay. Kolb has lost his starting job but it wasn't because of the injury according to Reid. Michael Vick is playing better.
The Eagles franchise was criticized by medical observers for not giving Bradley a full exam before he went back into the game. But the storyline has shifted from the two concussions to Vick as the Eagles starter. Injuries are not great stories to tell for the football narrative. No one wants to know about the wreckage and carnage of football.
That's football.
Players are trained to play through pain and there is a macho man mentality of never showing weakness. A player can get his "bell rung" and after the initial blow get right back into the action. But there was a toll that was paid by former players and many of them don't tell their stories about life after the cheering stops. Big, strong men who played football in their 20s have problems with their short term memory because of head injuries and suffer from depression and might be more prone to Lou Gehrig's disease because of head injuries.
They also are candidates for serious cardiovascular problems according to a Mayo Clinic study.
Sunday and Monday Night warriors are mere mortals as they get older.
It is doubtful that players give much thought to the issue after they began to feel better. Players don't really look ahead and think about what might happen to them 10 or 15 years after their playing careers are done. But Bradley, Kolb and every player in the NFL should be asking some very tough questions of league officials and the leadership of their players association.
The questions should start with a simple query.
Are all NFL players going to get real post retirement health benefits and if a player is physically disabled because of an injury or injuries suffered on the field, will the players association take care of medical bills or will the disability board turn down the former player forcing that player to seek government programs to pay for medical bills?
Will the NFL retirement and disability board take care of them? In the case of Johnny Unitas and many other players, they answer was no. Apparently players had a choice, retirement benefits or disability benefits. In Unitas' case, the retirement checks stopped when he took disability payments.
What happens if an NFL career lasts just a year before benefits really kick in? Who takes care of that player if in that one year of NFL play something happens that won't kick up until years after the career is done but can be traced back to football?
Will the United States Government be responsible for football related injuries? The answer to that question is yes and it doesn't matter if you are for health care or against it or you want social security or are looking to gut the system. That's why Congress is taking a closer look at the violent world of football.
One former player is claiming that owners don't want to pay medical and disability payments to former players and that the players association has gone along with the owners and not helped disabled players.
Another question. Is the Department of Labor's assertion that the NFL Retirement and Disability Board paying more attention to hiring lawyers and spending money there instead on former players with disabilities true?
The players should be looking into that.
The National Football League Players Association has put out some information saying it has spent $13 million or so to help out disabled players. A little while ago, the former Interim Director of the NFLPA Richard Berthelsen who was the association's general counsel for years took issue with the comment that the former Executive Director, the late Gene Upshaw, did very little to help out former players like John Mackey in times of need. Berthelsen said nobody did more for Mackey than Upshaw. The league and the players have a program, Plan 88 (Mackey's old number with the Baltimore Colts) that was added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2007 providing eligible retired players with up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia or Alzheimer's.
Mackey, the former President of the National Football League Players Association, is suffering from front temporal dementia. The NFL Players Association initially refused to pay a disability income due because some doctors have concluded there is no proven link between brain injury and playing football.
The battle between former players and the football industry over whether playing football causes brain injuries continues. The NFL is telling players if you have a head injury report it immediately.
There is a lot of infighting and frustration among former players and the back and forth e-mails in that group are rather enlightening. A major question has popped up with deserves closer attention. If the National Football League Players Association does indeed decertify in an effort to stop NFL owners from locking out the players following the Super Bowl, what happens to their benefits?
Do the retired players also suffer from the lockout? According to one lawyer, there could be some trouble ahead for the former players.
"Essentially they would cease to exist as a union — which they did once before as you know and won (Freeman) McNeil (the former New York Jets running back and seven other NFL players filed a lawsuit in a Minneapolis court room against the league in 1993 because the players felt the NFL's Plan B free agency gambit was too restrictive. A jury agreed with them which forced the owners to go back to the bargaining table and come up with a free agency system) — and their fiduciary obligation to anyone would likely cease, except perhaps as it pertains to the pension board — and then only as board members and not as a union," said the lawyer.
"So the pension fund would continue — the union wouldn't — in theory, although the same people would be involved as board members. What would change this time is the league would likely make attempts to reunionize the players and start new benefit funds and there is significant doubt that (NFLPA Executive Director) DeMaurice Smith could actually hold enough players together this time.
"Also it isn't a dunk shot that the (President Barack) Obama NLRB will permit decertification given their pro-union stance. Or that it truly prevents a lockout legally. However, at least theoretically it should prevent a lockout because the owners would be in breach of contract as to every multi-year contract they have currently in force because there would be no union to lockout. This is part of the super power that decertification gives the players.
"Lockout is a judicially recognized corollary to a' union's right to strike which is explicit in the National Labor Relations Act. Lockout doctrine essentially says that since workers are likely to go on strike to cause the most economic damage, an employer has the right to lock them out once a CBA expires to prevent the harm of an unplanned strike.
"It may be practically harder to sue under these circumstances jurisdictionally as you would be suing pension board members and not a union for failure to represent or breach of fiduciary duty."
There is always a question of pensions and whether former players can get more money out of the league/players association in the upcoming bargaining sessions. It appears that the NFLPA doesn't really care about the former players, players who helped build the association and went through labor battles with the owners going back to 1956. Former players want a say in how the association is run and want a vote in the association's affairs with respect to the retirement benefits. The former players want the same rights that retired United Auto Workers, which includes the right to vote on strikes and contract ratifications.
There is far more to football than a game that is played on the field. Once the cheering stops for many players, the real physical problems of taking a beating on a daily basis between playing games and practice begins. Once the cheering ends, the player fades into oblivion and it appears that the players association has that viewpoint. The players association under Upshaw just looked to get as much money as possible for active association members. Players still don't have guaranteed contracts and there are many questions about retirement and disability benefits.
The labor battles of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were all about money and not about long time ramifications of playing football. Get the most money was the theme but little attention was paid to severance pay, medical benefits and future pensions. The players association made a major blunder in strategy and the players of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s are seeing the fruitlessness of the CBAs of those days now.
There are a number of former players getting government assistance flying under the radar screen. Congress is asking questions but no one from either party in Washington has answers.
Football is a violent game and players know that the next play could be their last. The players signed contracts and promised to go through a wall for a team. The teams and the players association have not lived up to their part of the bargain and that should be the underlying theme of the next collective bargaining agreement not just a grab for the biggest part of the money pie.
Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Business and Politics of Sports." He can be reached at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Whale, the WHA and a Renegade Cowboy

By Evan Weiner

September 21, 2010

(New York, N. Y.) -- There was an announcement in Hartford, Connecticut that former New England-Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin has taken over the day-to-day business operations of the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack and the team will be renamed the Connecticut Whale. The Hartford team will still be owned by the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden but Baldwin would like to bring the NHL back to Hartford. Baldwin brought the World Hockey Association to Hartford in 1974 after two years in Boston and his team joined the NHL in 1979. The team was moved to Carolina in 1997 playing first in Greensboro and finally in Raleigh.

There is significance in Baldwin’s return. Nearly 40 years ago, Baldwin became a pioneer in hockey by joining with owners to form the World Hockey Association. The National Hockey league took notice and tried to cut off viable markets for the new league by expanding to Uniondale, New York and Atlanta, Georgia.

Baldwin helped altered the course of the business of hockey.

Baldwin has been involved in hockey on and off for four decades and was one of the original owners in the WHA back in 1972. The WHA changed the face of pro hockey and in a sense freed NHL players from being tied their entire careers to one team unless they were traded.

A lot has been written about Curt Flood's attempt to control his career in baseball but Flood never did see free agency. Major League Baseball's reserve clause was broken in 1975, three years after NHL players jumped to the WHA after completing NHL contracts. Hockey and basketball players were more successful at getting free agency than their baseball counterparts. The hockey and basketball players had another league to use for negotiating leverage. New leagues are difference makers. Eventually basketball and hockey players would win free agency even though the ABA and WHA leftovers were gobbled up by the older leagues. The American Football league, the American Basketball Association and the World Hockey Association shook up the established leagues and the newspapers reporters who acted an a public relations arm for the old guard.

Bobby Hull became the first player to make a million dollars a season in hockey. In 1972, the 33-year-old Chicago Blackhawk all-star jumped from the National Hockey League to the upstart World Hockey Association and in the process began a salary escalation in a sport that was notorious for keeping salaries suppressed.

Hull left Chicago for Winnipeg, Manitoba after owner Ben Hatskin agreed to give Hull the money.

"1972, yes you are right, it seems like yesterday," said Hull in a 1990
interview about becoming hockey's first million-dollar player. "That was just by accident. They kept badgering me and badgering me, the WHA, and I told them that I didn't want to go to Winnipeg and I wanted to stay in Chicago and that was the only place I was going to play. Finally, I told them I wanted a million bucks to get rid of me because they wanted to know what it would take to get me to Winnipeg. I told them a million bucks just to get rid of them. Had I known that they were even going to try and raise money, I would have told them ten million bucks or something like that."

Bobby Hull grew up in an age where loyalty meant more than a paycheck, when the National Hockey League had six teams, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York in the United States, Montreal and Toronto in Canada. The
National Hockey League didn't even pay its players as well as those in the "minor pro" Western Hockey League. But it was the top league in the world and players literally fought to stay in it.

Hull would eventually sign after the 11 other WHA owners chipped into and gave Ben Hatskin the money to sign the Golden Jet.

"Had I known they that were even going to think about raising a million
dollars," Hull continued. "Who did I think was worth a million dollars back then? I was the first one. I thought if I threw a million bucks at them, they would say who is this renegade cowboy wanting a million dollars and they would leave me alone.

"In all sports, that was it, that's why I thought it was so astronomical, I thought they'd say get lost. Who was this guy? They gave me a million dollars and then I got $250,000 a year to play. That was a bonus. That was the first million dollars, I don't know anybody else who made it. I know none of the boxers made it at that time, the riders, the jockeys; I know none of the golfers had ever made that.

"Right now, knowing what I know now, I would have said 10 and I am sure they would have balked at that."

Bobby Hull had to win a court battle to go to Winnipeg. So did Boston Bruins winger John Mc Kenzie in order to jump to Philadelphia. His contract, as was Hull's contract was done and the NHL was under the impression it had perpetual rights to players. They didn't, at least according to Judge Leon Higginbotham upheld the WHA's legal claim to NHL players who had signed their contractual obligations.

"The NHL is merely sustaining the fate which monopolists must face when they can no longer continue their prior total dominance of the market," Higginbotham wrote on an action filed by McKenzie.

The WHA was never fiscally stable and a lot of franchises moved or simply went out of business. Players didn't get paid on time or never were paid. But the
World Hockey Association was a good thing for players despite its franchise movement and bankruptcies.

"It allowed a player a choice of playing in the NHL or somewhere else," said Senator and Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Mahovlich, who left Detroit for the WHA in 1973. "Up to that particular time, it was a monopoly and you never had an opportunity to increase your salary, and it wasn't that great for the players. In 1972, when the WHA started, it gave us that chance.

"I think Bobby Hull was the first one to go over to the WHA and gave credibility to the league. It increased our salaries and as time went on and we got competitive with baseball."

The World Hockey Association went after 18 year old players and signed them. There is a list of NHL elite players who began in the WHA in the mid to late 1970s that included Rod Langway, Rob Ramage, Ken Linseman,
Mike Gartner, Mark Messier and a 17 year old named Wayne Gretzky.
It was Linseman who would force the NHL to change its draft rules in 1976. Linseman, who was 19 years old at the time, sued the WHA who would not allow him to join the league as players 20 and younger were not eligible to play in either the NHL or WHA. Linseman won his case and opened the door for "underaged" hockey players. Gretzky would sign with Indianapolis. He was traded after a handful of games in 1978 because the team was broke.

After the Indianapolis Racers folded, the WHA was left with Birmingham, Cincinnati, Edmonton, New England (Hartford), Quebec and Winnipeg. The financially ailing league did get a deal done to merge with the NHL, but the Montreal Canadiens owner the Molson Breweries said no and blocked the agreement. Hockey fans and beer drinkers in Edmonton, Quebec and Winnipeg threatened a boycott of Molson's products and ultimately the beer drinkers and Molson's bottom line won out. Edmonton, New England, Quebec City and Winnipeg were admitted into the league.

The NHL owners picked up an expansion fee, Gretzky stayed in Edmonton, Gordie Howe in Hartford and that ended the player war. The WHA changed hockey in numerous ways. The league went to American Sun Belt Cities, signed European talent and Baldwin's Hartford team had a hand in what eventually became the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, ESPN. The Whale is back in Hartford after the team helped transformed hockey and sports.

Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Business and Politics of Sports." He can be reached at

Monday, September 20, 2010

SenatiorWill the New York Giants or Jets be blacked out on local TV this season?
MONDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2010 12:59
On the opening weekend of the 2010 National Football League season, neither the East Rutherford-based New York Giants nor the New York Jets sold out the New Meadowlands Stadium. In theory, neither the Giants- Carolina Panthers game nor the Jets-Baltimore Ravens contest should have been seen in the New York area. On over-the-area, cable (ESPN, NFL Network) or satellite (DirecTV) in a 75-mile radius of New York City. But the game was on television despite the fact that the Giants and Jets did not sell out all of their inventory (seats) to the games.
Apparently the failure to sell club seats and luxury boxes, the really big-ticket items, doesn't count when it comes to National Football League blackout rules. So for TV purposes, the Jets and Giants not being able to sell out seats because they were designated as club seats or luxury boxes gives the two teams some leeway. The two teams New York City area fan base is much better off in terms of TV than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders fan bases. Tampa Bay failed to sell out the team's Tampa stadium during the NFL's opening week in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
The Chargers' home game on Sunday against Jacksonville was blacked out in the San Diego market because the stadium didn't sell out.
The Oakland Raiders home opener against St. Louis was blacked out on September 19 because the team did not sell out the Oakland Coliseum. Oakland's last home game telecast in the San Francisco Bay Area was the opening game of the 2009 season against San Diego.
Other teams will probably not sell out games during the 2010 and that has caught the attention of Congress. Ohio Senator. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has asked the NFL to take a close look at its blackout policy. The Ohio Senator thinks the league should take into consideration that the country has not recovered from the September 2008 economic meltdown and that people cannot afford pricey tickets.
In 2009, there were 22 blackouts across the league. In 2008, there were just five. The NFL will keep the policy in place even though a Senator is asking them to reconsider. This could get nasty at some point this fall if there is a trend of non-sellouts. Congress created the NFL as the league exists today with the Sports Broadcast Act of 1961 and Congress can make life miserable for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the 31 owners and the people who run Green Bay.
Exhibit A was the 2007 season final Saturday night game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants when New England was on the verge of a 16-0 season. That game was scheduled to be on the NFL Network with just local broadcasts in New York and Boston. The NFL Network was having problems with carriage with various multiple systems operators (including Time Warner, Cablevision and Charter limiting the NFL Network's reach to 43 million households) which meant a great deal of the country could not see the game.
The non-availability of the game caused a stir on the Hill in Washington and by week's end, the game suddenly appeared on CBS, NBC and the NFL Network. When Congress is motivated, things get done in a bi-partisan manner rapidly without rancor.
Particularly in sports.
The NFL blackout rule has been bounced around for six decades. Television is both a blessing and a curse for sports in the minds of some owners and sports officials. What TV really is for sports is a three-hour infomercial selling the product. In this case, the NFL. But in 1950, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell told his owners to blackout home games to get people to buy tickets for home games instead of in front of the television. Bell's plea to his owners came after the Los Angeles Rams ownership saw a 50-percent drop in attendance in 1949 compared to 1948 after the team signed a deal with the Admiral Television Company in Southern California. Admiral was a maker of televisions and used Rams games to sell TVs not unlike David Signoff who put programs on his NBC radio network in the 1920s to sell RCA radios. By 1951, the NFL was in the courtroom defending its blackout policy. In 1953, Judge Allan K. Grim, upheld the league's blackout policy believing that it was not in violation of anti-trust laws.
The blackout problem resurfaced in 1957, when the NFL Championship Game was blacked out in the host city of Detroit despite being a sellout.
Because of the blackout rule, Chicago football fans in the 1950s hardly ever saw a football game. Chicago was the only two-team city in the NFL with the Bears and Cardinals hosting home games on a weekly basis over the course of the 12 game schedule. If the Cardinals and Bears played one another, then one weekend would be freed up for CBS' WBBM in Chicago to televise a game. Eventually the Bidwill family's Cardinals would play two "home" games a year in other locales such as Minneapolis or Buffalo. The NFL finally solved the "Chicago problem" when Bidwill's Cardinals moved to St. Louis on March 13, 1960. The Bidwills went to St. Louis after receiving $500,000 from the Bears, the NFL, and CBS.
Congress really got involved in sports broadcasting in 1961 and changed the sports landscape of the United States. In its early years of television, post World War II, TV contracts were negotiated locally. In the 1950's, the NFL was under a court-ordered injunction that prevented it from signing a single league-wide contract with a network. Instead, each NFL team had a separate deal with a local television station. For instance in 1960, the New York Giants received $340,000 for their deal, but the Green Bay Packers received $105,000. In 1960, the just established American Football League, not limited by the injunction, pooled the broadcast rights and signed a national network contract with the American Broadcasting Company (which was at the time, a limited TV network trying to make inroads against the established Columbia Broadcasting System and the National Broadcasting Company.
On September 30, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-331, better known as the Sports Broadcasting Act, which exempted professional sports leagues from antitrust scrutiny allowing them to sell television rights on a league-wide basis.
After President Kennedy signed the bill, the NFL pooled its television rights and signed a deal with CBS for 1962 for $4.65 million annually.
The blackout policy was challenged again in 1962 when the Giants hosted Green Bay in the NFL Championship at Yankee Stadium. Judge Edward Weinfeld upheld the NFL position and denied an injunction, which would have forced CBS to televise the game in the New York City area. The blackout policy would remain in effect until 1973, when Congress passed experimental legislation, which was supposed to have lasted until 1976, that stated that any NFL game that was declared a sellout 72 hours prior to kickoff be made available for local TV.
The NFL renewed its contracts with CBS for the regular-season and the championship games in the years 1964 through 1967. Sarnoff was extremely unhappy with the NFL spurning his NBC network and decided to bankroll the American Football League. The TV monies poured in but owners had to use those funds to hire expensive talent like Joe Namath who signed a $427,000 deal with the New York Jets in 1965. The NBC-AFL partnership would eventually force the AFL and NFL to merge, a marriage that had to be approved by Congress. That happened in October 1966. By 1969, television income had risen to $1.6 million per team in the NFL and $900,000 per team in the AFL.
Once the leagues merged, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle began dabbling with the thought of a regular Monday night game. In 1966, CBS did two games. But Rozelle thought a regular series would be a ratings grabber. Both William Paley's CBS and Sarnoff's NBC declined because they had hit Monday night programming, but still ratings challenged ABC signed on in 1969 but with the understanding that Monday Night Football would be more than just a game. It had to be entertainment as well, which is why Howard Cosell and Don Meredith became the stars of the show not the players per se. 1969. Monday Night Football debuted in 1970, with ABC acquiring the rights to televise 13 NFL regular-season Monday night games in 1970, 1971, and 1972/
In 1969, four-year television contracts, under which CBS would televise all NFC games (between 1970-73) and NBC all AFC games (except Monday night games), with a division between the networks of the televising of the Super Bowl and AFC-NFC Pro Bowl games, were signed.
Congress created a major revenue source for the NFL by passing the Sports Broadcast Act of 1961 and to this day, both House and Senate members know that. The NFL may be able to fend off Sherrod Brown but what happens if other lawmakers decide this is an issue? If Brown gets addition support on the Hill, Roger Goodell may be explaining why the NFL still needs a blackout rule and how the Giants and Jets haven't sold all of their Meadowlands inventory and yet the league televises Jets and Giants home games in the New York market with less than a full house but San Diego, Oakland and Tampa can't. Things might get nasty later this fall if teams are not selling out but the consumer wants the NFL.
Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaking on "The Business and Sports of Politics" and can be reached at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Jock Sniffers Vaporized USC's 2005 Season and Reggie Bush's Heisman

By Evan Weiner

September 14, 2010

(New York, N. Y.) -- Dear National Collegiate Athletic Association or should this be sent to the jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts of big time college athletic programs? If the University of Southern California and Reggie Bush did not exist in 2005 because Reggie Bush received "improper benefits" while he matriculated in the Los Angeles school --- and played football for now is a ghost team in NCAA record books ---- why aren't you refunding money you took partially based on Bush and his USC teammates prowess to over-the-air and cable television networks, ticket holders to USC games, marketing partners and radio networks who bought your product?

While we are at it, since the 2005 season was vaporized, why shouldn't cable TV subscribers get a refund too for helping to finance college sports programs, particularly the 92 or so percent of the cable TV universe that pays for sports programming as part of the :"basic enhanced" experience and never watches a sports event.

To the people who run USC (and the NCAA), how about a refund on all of those Reggie Bush shirts that you marketed and sold to people. It is funny that schools sell shirts of the team's most popular players yet a lot of those players don't have the means to buy their own shirt. They also don't see a cent from the sales of the shirts.

The NCAA has found fraud based on their rules --- we give the player a scholarship in exchange that allows the player to basically be a pro in training and a school fundraiser --- and the NCAA has penalized the University of Southern California by stripping the school of a title that was won fairly on the gridiron and punishing Bush who is long gone from the school by saying he was ineligible. The 2010 and future teams will be paying the price as USC has been stripped of a number of scholarships.

Bush has given up his Heisman Trophy that he won in 2005. Bush has been vaporized. He and his Trojans teammates don't exist in the paper and viral world anymore. At least according to the jock-sniffers who run the NCAA. So if that's the case, then the NCAA should be returning money to everyone because the august college board has decreed that some sort of fraud has taken place.

But the real crime is that the NCAA is punishing people for violating their rules and yet will not return any money to the victims of the fraud---paying customers, paying marketing partners and television networks. The public according to the NCAA was duped by Bush who took money from what can be best described as friends of the program and thus all of USC's accomplishments of that year have been wiped out.

The jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors, provosts through their proxy, the NCAA, can say all they want about maintaining the integrity of college sports. The integrity of college sports has never existed. It’s an illusion. Big time college sports is a business. The football and basketball programs are cash cows and colleges will attempt to bend every rule in the book to field a good team.

The jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts think having strong teams build campus spirit and make alums feel good about the school. They think the alums will become boosters and pump money into the schools. There is a phalanx of financial support that goes into college sports starting with Congress giving big time sports schools a tax exemption. The networks, Sumner Redstone's CBS, Disney's ESPN, General Electric's NBCUniversal, Ruppert Murdoch's FOX, Turner Sports, the regional sports cable TV networks and all of the broadband components that come with the media lords give money. There are the marketing partners and advertisers including a very involved gaggle of sneaker companies, the boosters and the slums---who presumably buy the luxury boxes and the club seats and leave their cars in special parking areas and dine in stadium and/or arena eateries, everyday fans, and the college kids who are given a morsel and able to buy tickets at a discount rate.

All of those constituencies make the college sports industry work. The players are merely a cog in the machine who get scholarships that allow them to take classes and possibly get educated but the football and basketball players' main concerns are playing for good old fill-in-the-blank college or university. The Ivy League schools allegedly de-emphasize sports and don't give scholarships. But they do give grant-in-aid and if you are a player at Harvard or Yale, you have a great rolodex as the schools of the Ivy League give players the phone numbers of important and not so important alums.

Reggie Bush was supposed to just be a cog. He was supposed to play by the rules approved by the real powers of college sports, the jock-sniffing presidents, chancellors and provosts. He was supposed to be a "student-athlete" which was a term invented by college powers in the 1950's to shield colleges from paying workman's compensation in the event a player got injured. Bush and his colleagues are supposed to not receive any more than $2,000 a year for working an outside job. A rule designed to protect schools not players from a player getting a highly paid do-nothing job from an important alum--the rule theoretically evens the playing field as some schools have rather wealthy benefactors while others don't.

Bush and his fellow players are expected to participate in voluntary workouts and perform while their likenesses are sold by the NCAA to video game producers for profit and their uniforms are also sold for profit to adoring fans. The players don't see a dime from the video games. Their names are not used but their likeness is used and there is a court case taking place to decide whether the players are entitled to video game money.

Bush broke the NCAA rules and he gave up his Heisman. It would be rather interesting to see someone launch a class action suit against the NCAA for selling a product that was fraudulent in the world of the NCAA. A world that is stacked against the student-athlete. But the NCAA will escape unscathed. The 2005 season for USC and Bush never existed. That is the determination of the jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors and provosts who have rigged up a system with a one sided contract that favors schools and gives players little rights.

The players should be grateful that they get scholarships and a chance at an education.

People who watched Bush and USC know that there were games on the field but in the holier than thou bizarro world of college sports, those games never existed yet the NCAA cashed in and made money off of Bush and USC. Bush's exploits are on tape and unless the NCAA gets a court order that destroys the tapes of Bush's 2005 season to destroy all evidence that Bush played, the jock-sniffing college presidents, chancellors and provosts are as fraudulent as they claim Bush is.

If the public was hoodwinked as the jock-sniffers claim, then the people who put up money for the entertainment (and that is what college sports really is) are due damages for investing in a fraud.

Evan Weiner is an award winning journalist, TV-radio commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." He can be reached at
Time to allow sports gambling in Atlantic City
MONDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2010 22:24
HAMILTON, BERMUDA — In the capital city of the British Crown colony of Bermuda, Hamilton, there is a rather non-descript store located beneath the Little Theater on Queen Street. There are two signs in front of the property, one in green and the other in white, which describe the place.
"Sea Horses — Live English and U.S. Horse Racing, International Sports Betting, Open Monday-Saturday."
Seahorses Bookmakers is a Bermuda-owned company that is licensed by the Bermuda government and Americans sitting at home can use their computers to bet on American pro and college sports events. Ironically enough, there is no casino gambling on the Bermuda islands.
The Sea Horses betting parlor is around the corner from the Hamilton City Hall and is about two blocks up from the very upscale waterfront that includes the U.K.'s Marks and Spencer. The sports book is the kind of place that exists in the United Kingdom but not in the United States except in Las Vegas and Dover, Delaware. Inside a cutaway in a building under the Little Theater, on the left side is Sea Horses, a place that will never be confused for Las Vegas or Dover or what might be a sports book in an Atlantic City casino.
There are Venetian blinds on the door and window of the store so you cannot look in. Once inside, the room is small and drab with a bank of lower end televisions showing horse races from various tracks around the world and English football, The dozen or so men, it was all men, were going through racing forms, America football games tout sheets, which resembled betting sheets that were used at high schools in the 1970s around the U.S. that looked like they came straight out of mimeograph machine. The games were listed along with game times, all the game times were listed in Atlantic Daylight Time, so all of the NBC Sunday night NFL games don't start until 9:30 locally. The English Premiership Games start in the afternoon or in the morning with the four hour time difference between Bermuda and the U.K. The bettors don't care about times though.
The English football sheets were slick.
"The Football Pools" had all sorts of betting schemes. But there was something striking about The Football Pools. In the middle of the page there was a logo of the English Premier League. The Premiership is an official licensee of The Football Pools, and another football group, the Scottish Premier League, is an official partner of The Football Pools.
The Football Pools happens to be "The Official Pools Partner of the Professional Football Leagues."
Contrast the U.K. and the various football associations globally attitude toward sports betting with that of the United States. Officials connected with the biggest globally sport are partners in gambling. National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern has thought about gambling proceeds as a possible revenue source for his league.
Stern's Women's National Basketball Association has the Connecticut Sun franchise. That team is owned by the Mohegan Sun casino. LeBron James may have not cared for his former boss — the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — but Gilbert will own the casino that is being built near the Cavaliers arena in downtown Cleveland.
The owner of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings and Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers has a stake in a casino. Mike Ilitch technically doesn't own the gambling hall in Detroit, his wife Marian does along with other Ilitch family members. The Ilitch family is interested in bringing a casino to Hawaii and Long Island.
The National Hockey League took a cut from the Alberta Hockey Lottery and has given some of the Alberta lottery money to the Canada provinces two franchises in Calgary and Edmonton. Some casino money in Pittsburgh has been thrown into newly opened arena in that city which houses the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sports franchises in all sports in North America, even the National Football League, have agreements with casinos and state lotteries. The New York Giants partnered with Connecticut in 2009 on a state lottery promotion.
When gambling suits sports owners, they will embrace the revenues that they derive from slapping a team's logo on a scratch off ticket. But there is still a ceiling on what betting is acceptable and sports books in casinos are not what the owners want and since a good many owners are also one of the powers behind politics, politicians stay away from legalizing betting on pro sports (and colleges) in the United States.
In the 1970s, Major League Baseball Commissioner "suspended" Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for being casino gamblers. Kuhn was worried about the integrity of the game. American sports has never embraced legal gambling because of "integrity" issues and having games fixed. But gambling is widespread across the country and there is legal sports wagering in Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.
In the 1990s, New Jersey politicians wanted to put a sports book in Atlantic City. Stern was among the sports industry leaders to lobby Trenton officials to give up their foolish thought. But Stern has a casino partner in the WNBA and he absolutely knows that NBA games are on legal betting sheets in Hamilton and other places around the world including Las Vegas.
In 2009, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Football League effectively stopped the establishment of a sports book in Dover Downs and two other spots in Delaware. There is NFL football parlay betting at Dover Downs and in Delaware.
Sports leagues have blocked sports betting in the United States by convincing politicians outside of Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon about the evils of betting. In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act allowed just four states to have sports books with New Jersey actually qualifying as a fifth state if the New Jersey legislature passed a measure allowing a sports book because there was gambling in Atlantic City.
New Jersey lawmakers failed to pass a bill.
There are a lot of evils associated with gambling and gambling in many areas of the United States is being used as a revenue stream to help municipalities who are suffering revenue shortfalls as a way to help balance budgets. Gambling establishments also remind people in some form or another to be thoughtful about gambling since gambling addictions can cause massive problems in the proverbial cover yourself by issuing a warning that gambling can be self destructive.
The standard bred horsing racing industry in the United States would probably be close to dead without video slot machines inside racetracks. New York State has been playing around for years with establishing a casino at Aqueduct in Queens in an effort to keep thoroughbred racing alive.
In New Jersey, there are all sorts of proposals flying around to bolster Atlantic City and keep the state's horse tracks alive. But no one wants to wade into the let's legalize gambling on college and pro sports on a national scale even though gambling is out there.
Here's a truth about pro sports. It is not a sacred cow that needs to be treated with kid gloves. It is a business and people bet on pro sports. The whitewashing of pro football includes not saying much officially about point spreads. But as Vince McMahon pointed out in 2000, the biggest building block in his plan to build a football league 11 years ago was getting a Las Vegas line. McMahon ultimately failed because of stupid business practices with the XFL. The point spread and the over-under betting has given football fans an interactive experience for decades, long before the term interactive was invented.
The NCAA men's college basketball tournament is all about "brackets" which really is a code word for betting. Politicians don't want legalized betting on college games for integrity reasons. There have been college basketball betting scandals without legal betting.
So that excuse doesn't wash.
In the pro sports, baseball has worried about fixed games for nearly a century and hired Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis as Commissioner to clean up the game in wake of the 1919 Chicago White Sox World Series gambling scandal. But there is a hollow ring to the integrity of baseball issue when the game is closely scrutinized with owners' collusion in the 1980s and the use of banned substances by players in the 1990s. Baseball is not as pure as Caesar's wife as baseball writers probably could attest if they wanted to break baseball's unwritten code of what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.
There are a lot of "Sea Horses" around the world complete with a website where betting can be found. Betting on professional sports is no big deal in Bermuda, the U.K. and other countries. There sports betting parlors in various parts of the world outside the United States that are in business thanks to professional leagues. Integrity issues disappeared a long time ago in professional sports and the moralists who are disguised as politicians who think of betting as a scourge again sports need to explain away how there a dozens of ways you can spend money on state-based lottery games. Gambling has been a way of generating revenues for states for more than four decades around America.
Politicians might as well go all the way and approve full sports gambling in Atlantic City, Dover and other places. Sports is only sports, an entertainment forum. It's really nothing all that important in terms of lasting culture and legalized betting on sports should be viewed as just another taxation method that brings money into municipal coffers. There is too much hypocrisy and hyperbole around sports and how it builds character and is bedrock for young people. It is just a business. That's all. If people want to bet on sports, which they do, let them go to a casino showroom. What is the big deal? People are going to bet anyway, whether it is in a colorful setting and casinos tend to build the illusion of a setting of glamour or a small, dully-painted square room which looks a little worn around the walls with a cashier's booth tucked underneath a theatre in a capital of a British colony.
Evan Weiner is an award winning journalist, author, radio and TV commentator on "The Politics of Sports Business" and can be reached at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

With education cuts continuing, will Title IX suffer?
School is back in session and for a lot of girls in junior high and high school, it means that they are back on the field playing interscholastic sports. Throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country there is tremendous pressure to cut educational costs and one area that may be impacted at some point in the near future is women's sports.
Women athletes in high school can now get college athletic scholarships, something that for the most part was not available to women athletes before 1972. Some people though would like to go back to the pre-1972 days when men ruled the athletic world on the college level.
So it should come as no surprise on the college level that women's sports programs may face significant cutbacks in the future. There is an impression that women sports have been targeted since the implementation of the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed by the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon. Title IX was a civil rights law pushed by both Republicans and Democrats and became the law of the land when a Republican President signed the bill.
The impression is correct. Women's sports on the collegiate level is never secure in terms of available scholarships.
For even more New Jersey sports, visit the NJNR Press Box
The Title IX legislation premise is rather simple. The United States Code, Section 20 states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
If colleges wanted to receive federal subsidies, they had to get rid of the quota system which prevented some women from going to law schools or study medicine. There is no mention of sports in Title IX yet there has been a battle of the last 38 years over sports funding and how women's sports requirements have taken money away from men's sports.
Soon after Title IX became the law of the land, Senator John Tower, a Texas Republican, tried to exempt sports from the Title IX legislation soon after President Nixon's signature was affixed to the bill because Tower thought men's sports would suffer greatly as money for men's sports would flow to the women. Tower lost as did the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the august body in charge of college sports, did not like the fact that women's sports had to be funded.
There has not been an assault on Title IX and sports so far in the Obama Presidency. During the Bush years, Title IX became an issue but the Bush administration left the law as is and women now compete on high levels in basketball and other sports unimpeded.
But women's sports are still under assault. The International Olympic Committee dumped softball from the summer games and replaced men's baseball and softball with rugby and golf. That decision has not sat well with Brandi Chastain who was a member of the 1999 United States Women's Soccer team that won the Women's World Cup.
"As a female athlete, there were a lot of hurdles I had to jump over," said Chastain who was the only scholarship athlete on her team at Santa Clara University. "But I don't see Tiger Woods and I don't see rugby taking the place of softball. I see that as an IOC (International Olympic Committee) decision. I don't think it is like trying to replace the female athlete so I don't see the battle being there. But the battle I have is that women's softball traditionally has been a wonderful event at the Olympic Games so I would like to see it stay.
"Not only because the US does so well, Japan, China, Australia, Canada are also overachievers at that level and I just think it is important to continue. That's a grass root sport, I think, around the world and it is important for the IOC to recognize it and continue to support it. I don't want to see the IOC become focused only on sports that it can make money. I think the Olympics is bigger and better than that."
The IOC has dropped softball for 2012 in London and said no to softball in Rio in 2016. There are theories as to why the IOC delegates said no. The most common is that the IOC wanted to punish the Americans for not forcing Major League Baseball to send the best known players in the world to the Games and because American women were too gold in softball. Additionally, at the time of the IOC's decision in 2009, Tiger Woods was riding high and would be a valuable addition to the Olympics program for name recognition and more importantly real Olympic gold — Woods endorsement money and some of that cash would make it to the IOC's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Money is always a major IOC consideration. Woods and golf were worth more than a bunch of unknown softball players.
Meanwhile Title IX is always under assault. The Title IX issue is quiet right now but with the drumbeat of cutting educational costs getting louder and louder, it is inevitable that Title IX will become an issue again on the college level.
The basic argument will revert to Senator Tower's assertion in the 1970s that funding women's sports is killing mens sports. That men are losing opportunities because colleges have to give women scholarships in soccer, volleyball, softball and other sports and that men' sports teams are being eliminated.
"It is very easy to give the argument you just suggested," said Chastain. "But (women's soccer player) Julie Foudy having worked with a committee (The Commission on Opportunity in Athletics in 2002) on this and really fighting to keep Title IX where it is, alive and very much in the forefront of what happens. It is not a sports law. It is an educational law and so I think that's one thing that people don't realize.
"I think also what individuals who are quick to say that it is taking away from men's sports don't realize — it is also up to each individual institution to make decisions on where money is spent. Now if you want to have men's football, for example — during a home game stay at a hotel, have catered meals, that (cost) could probably take care of men's diving or men's wrestling for a season. That's a department decision. That's not the existence of women's softball doing that.
"The facts are not straight on really the impact sports are having on each other or supporting each other. So it is critical Title IX exists because, again, I underline this and emphasize this. It is education, it is not about sports. It is education in the classroom and education on the field and that needs to be paramount in the understanding of what Title IX is all about."
Chastain said women athletes needs to be constantly reminded of the opportunities that exist because of Title IX and to this day she does not know why the Bush Administration wanted to weaken the legislation.
"I think it also interesting how perspective changes when families and especially fathers, people who make big decisions have daughters," said Chastain. "I think it was so perplexing when Bush was attempting to lessen the value of Title IX because he has daughters. So to me, it didn't make any sense and I am thankful there was no flip flopping of the law itself. Stability is good."
Title IX has been the law of the land since 1972. Women have made advances in numerous fields including medicine and law, two areas where there was a glass ceiling. It will be interesting to see if there will be another try at changing the legislation after January when there will be a new Congress and the way things are going with cutbacks and disinformation that is put out there on a daily basis, surely Title IX will again be reviewed at some point.
The prevailing thinking is that Title IX seems to be just a jock law that has hurt men's sports. It is not. It was a civil rights law that had bipartisan support in 1972 designed to give women equal opportunities in education with men.
Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaking on The Business and Politics of Sports" and can be reached at

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Both Owners and Players Responsible for Retired Football Players Plight

Both Owners and Players Responsible for Retired Football Players Plight

By Evan Weiner

September 5, 2010

(New York, N. Y.) -- Another National Football League season is starting and for the first time ever, the NFL seems to be taking a closer look at concussions and head injuries. There is a poster in locker rooms urging players to be vigilant about head injuries, But the NFL has known about head injuries for decades. During the week leading up to the first American Football League-National Football League World Championship Game in Los Angeles in January 1967, football people were talking about head injuries at a bar in a Los Angeles area hotel. Among the people at the bar were NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, CBS Sports President Bill McPhail and the 1940 Heisman Trophy Winner Tom Harmon.

Harmon told the assembled people at the watering hole that once face bars were put onto helmets, the game changed. The head because of the helmet with bars became a weapon. Players would have their bells rung but it was a part of football. The head was better protected, so they thought, after more modern ones replaced the leather helmets and the bars were attached to protect the face.

But Harmon knew better in 1967 and a lot of former players are paying the price because no one listened to Tom Harmon at that Los Angeles hotel bar.

That conversation took place 43 years ago. In those 43 years, many players have suffered because of getting their bell rung. The owners and players didn’t care about the long-term possibilities that players would become disabled because of football-related injuries in any collective bargaining agreements for their post career medical care.

The object was getting the best money deal done.

Who is to blame?

The owners or players? The TV executives who underwrote the enterprise? The marketing partners? The fans?

That is a difficult question to answer.

The owners of the 1950s had no idea what they had in terms of a business. The players of those days played football as a hobby because it is one of two jobs they held. There really wasn’t much scrutiny of injuries in those days. Players fought to stay on 33 man rosters because they wanted to play football. There was no money in the game for anyone so it was all about playing football.

In the 1960s, the National Football League and the American Football League Players Associations were just looking for financial gains as television money began flooding the industry. If there were any player agents in those days, they also were looking for financial gains. No one was looking to what would happen to the former players as they got older and how they would be cared for because of football injuries.

No one it seemed worried about the long term of players who were banging into one another at high speeds and using their heads as part of their blocking strategies. A look at various players associations contract talks with the owners and labor actions is an interesting study.

The players association leadership failed their membership. It was all about money and not about safety and health issues after a playing career was done. The 1974-5 labor talks centered on getting players the right to become free agents and breaking a league ruling that required the commissioner to decide on a compensation package for a team should a player decide to go elsewhere after playing out his option.

The NFLPA’s rallying cry was “No Freedom, No Football.”

"The players were with a team in perpetuity," recalled Randy Vataha, the New England Patriots player representative. "No team was going to give up two first round draft picks to sign a free agent.

The NFL's policy was referred to as the "Rozelle Rule," and the NFLPA membership wanted free agency among their 58 demands in 1975. While the Players Association leadership was prepared to sit out until a new bargaining agreement was hammered out, some of the rank and file wasn't.

By the early part of August, about a quarter of the NFLPA crossed the picket lines. On August 11, Association President Ed Garvey sent his players back to work after a federal mediator suggested a 14-day cooling off period. Garvey would pursue another tactic, the Mackey case.

John Mackey was the one time President of the NFLPA.

The New England Patriots struck the final preseason-season game of the 1975 season. The contest with the New York Jets at New Haven was the first ever cancelled game due to a labor impasse.

"There had been a cooling off period and by mid-season 1974, nothing was happening. The players weren't going to strike and there were no negotiations," said Vataha. The guys on the Patriots asked for an update on the negotiations. They were either going to strike or take the last offer on the table.

"So we didn't play and that week we had some meaningful negotiations. But it was evident that we were going to go ahead with the Mackey case."

The Mackey case began on February 3, 1975. It finally ended for the NFL after the 1987 strike. The NFL did cut deals with the players in 1977 and 1982. The only alternative or leverage the players had in the 1970s was the Canadian Football League which signed Joe Theisman, Tom Cousineau and Vince Ferragammo over the years. But the CFL really posed a threat to the NFL.

The players struck on September 20, 1982 and a collective bargaining agreement was ratified on November 17. Seven games were cancelled as a result of the 57-day walkout.

The four-year deal featured an extension of the college draft through the 1992 season; a minimum salary, training camp and post-season pay were increased along with player medical insurance and retirement benefits. There was also a severance package included after a player was cut.

"I think any time you strike, you strike for a reason," said Harry Carson who was playing with the Giants in 1982. "If we could get some benefit from it, I think it was worth it.

"From the first strike in 1982, we got the severance package as part of it, but we should have gotten more. There were a lot of guys who were not necessarily striking for free agency but they wanted more money.

"Looking at it in retrospect, I think the players should have struck for much better benefits because the NFL probably has the worst retirement package in sports."

Twenty-eight years later, the NFL’s retirees still have a rotten retirement package when compared with former baseball players and other athletes.

Carson said one of the reasons football players have not done as well in negotiations with their owners as say their baseball counterparts is solidarity.

"You don't have the same thing. You have so many players and players have their own agendas. It's hard to keep players together once they go on strike.

"Some players are going to cross the picket line and once that happens, you are not going to succeed."

Carson’s words were direct and strong about NFLPA solidarity. Retired players today are still a fractious bunch with different agendas and for the most part have been tossed aside by present day NFL owners and by the players association. The owners care about their team of today, the players association cares about their players of today. The former players have veered off in different directions in their pursuit of getting health insurance and more retirement money.

The NFL was again forced to deal with it players association in 1987.

The players decided to strike after the second week of the season and the NFL reverted to its 1974 tactic of bringing in rookies and free agents and play replacement games. The league cancelled the third week's schedule and resumed with the week four matchups.

In 2000, Hollywood made a movie about the 1987 strike called "Replacements" which was based on the Washington Redskins.

Some teams scouted the best available talent and tried to put together a strong replacement team. Other teams took chunks of local semipro teams, like the New York Giants, and hoped for the best. Others like Philadelphia Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan didn't take the replacement games too seriously and wanted for the players to return.

Like in 1974, veterans crossed the picket lines and by October 25, the NFL was able to claim victory. The players reverted to their old standby; plan B that was court action and that set off years of litigation.

Dallas Cowboy President Tex Schramm was the main force behind the ploy of bringing in replacement players. The league lost a significant amount of games, eight, in 1982 and that was not going to happen again in 1987.

"It was a great time and a lot of fun," said Charley Casserly who was part of the Redskins front office at that time. "Really, the interesting thing was we put together a time, the whole organization and Joe Gibbs did a great job coaching them. Nobody crossed the picket line and we beat two teams, St. Louis and Dallas on that climatic Monday Night that had about 10-12 players cross the picket line. The Dallas team had (Tony) Dorsett, Randy White, Danny White, Too Tall Jones. It was quite a time."

The NFL teams who did compete for players for Schramm's replacement league look anyway for players. Casserley found four players in a Richmond, Virginia halfway house who were playing for a minor league team including Tony Robinson who was the quarterback of the replacement team that beat Dallas.

"We did have a little philosophy on it," Casserly continued. "We wanted players that knew the system. We had to put together a team in 10 days to go play a game. Football unlike all other sports is really a team sport. So we wanted guys who knew the Joe Gibbs system. So we started with players who had been in our camp that year and been in our camp the year before and had been in camps with the Gibbs/(Don)
Coryell system. We got players from everywhere.

"Obviously NFL cuts, but we got players from Canada, players who were cut in Canada. We wanted players in camp who were healthy and ready to go."

The players crumbled quickly in 1987 but years later Dave Jennings, who was a New York Jet punter at the time, thinks the showdown with the owners was worth it.

"The players were not that interested in a long term strike, they were looking at the next paycheck," said Jennings. "It's tough to get players to strike and stay together. In 1987, it was a shorter strike and we had the court cases working and eventually it worked out for us.

"We got nothing from the 1987 strike, we didn't get anything directly, but indirectly we got free agency and you see what happened. Free agency works."

Free agency might have worked but it didn’t help John Mackey. The head injuries he suffered in his career eventually caught up to him. The NFL Players Association initially refused to pay a disability income because there was proven link between brain injury and playing football. The league and the NFL Players' Association were almost shamed into coming up with a program that was named after Mackey's number. It provides $88,000-a-year for nursing home care and up to $50,000 annually for adult day care.

The league and players helped Mackey but there are so many who have fallen through the cracks and depend on government programs to pay their medical bills.

The modern players got money but were failed by their union representatives and agents. The owners who didn’t look out for them failed them. The union led by Ed Garvey and then Gene Upshaw did not take care of their constituency. They got the players more money for playing but failed to take care of the players once they were useless to any teams.

Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Business and Politics of Sports.” He can be reached at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why no company has signed a naming-rights deal with the Giants and Jets

Why no company has signed a naming-rights deal with the Giants and Jets

Fred Wilpon is clearly one lucky owner although New York Mets fans will clearly disagree with that statement based on the on-field results of Wilpon's baseball team. Bruce Ratner was also one lucky owner while he controlled the New Jersey Nets basketball team although Nets fans will clearly disagree with that statement based on the on-court results of Ratner's Nets.
Both Wilpon and Ratner are in much better shape than the owners of the Giants (the Mara and Tisch families) and the Jets (Woody Johnson) in that they got two banks, Citibank and Barclay, to come up with a multi-year, multimillion dollar agreement for naming rights at Wilpon's Queens baseball park and Ratner's Brooklyn multi-purpose arena.
The Mara-Tisch-Johnson troika is still looking for a financial angel and if one major industry player is correct, it may be a long while before the East Rutherford, New Jersey home for the Giants and Jets along with the Arlington, Texas-based Cowboys Stadium and Major League Baseball's Nationals Stadium in Washington, D. C. will get naming-rights partners.
Bill McDonald, Capital One Chief Marketing Officer, just doesn't see too many companies out there who are willing to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million over 20 years to put their name on a side of a stadium or an arena. McDonald signs off on sports marketing deals for Capital One and looks for a worthwhile investment in terms of a marketing strategy. Capital One has a deal with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and with the Citrus Bowl. But Capital One is not going to spend through the ceiling to be a partner of say the Giants/Jets, Dallas Cowboys or Washington Nationals.
For even more New Jersey sports, visit the NJNR Press Box
"We literally see very little benefit from just pure naming rights," said McDonald. "An advertised brand like Capital One, we have 99 percent national brand name awareness. The one percent must be hillbillies lost somewhere in the mountains. Our brand name is out there. So simply paying to get your name out there versus telling a story, being able to do product news advertising, being able to showcase sponsorship properties. It's just not a real efficient buy and we would in fact buy something we already got a ton of."
But that's not all McDonald had to say. In addition to not really reaching the public with just mentions on TV broadcasts or radiocasts, teams just want too much money for the right to plaster the name onto a building.
"The second thing is, a few deals have gone down that have taken the price to incredible levels to where that might make sense for that sponsor but it does not price the market," he said. "So for our money, we have had a lot of places to invest than pure naming rights."
Companies seem to be much smarter in that sense than baseball or hockey teams were in the past. A mediocre player could set the marketplace because one owner gave him a huge deal. Players would similar stats would ask for similar money and other owners thinking that a mediocre player is important would match the salary either in free agency or keeping a player on the team happy.
In the National Hockey League in the late 1980s, agents convinced general managers that their client was a quarter good as Wayne Gretzky who had one year scored 92 goals and that the player should get a quarter of Gretzky's salary. The general manager agreed. There were a lot of 21-22-23-24 goal scorers who got a quarter of Gretzky's salary and that drove up player costs in the NHL.
Companies are not giving big money for naming rights.
One of the most recent deals that was announced in late July was an agreement between the Jacksonville, Florida-based EverBank and the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars. Wayne Weaver's team will get $16.6 million over five years — or nearly half of what the Giants-Jets owners wanted for one season.
Capital Bank is doing business near Jacksonville as the title sponsor of what used to be called the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. It is a multi-year, multi-faceted agreement that McDonald explained is better suited for his bank.
"We are a bowl, that one was interesting because that bowl wasn't just a naming-rights deal," said McDonald. "It's in Orlando, it's the Capital One Bowl and we have a very intricate relationship with the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation. It is community, it is philanthropy, it is kids and it is the city of Orlando. But it is the linchpin to Capital One Bowl Week, the Capital One mascot promotion and an all encompassing college sports-football program that literally led to why not just football? Let's go to NCAA championships and let's launch the Capital One Cup."
The Capital One Cup is a relatively cheap expenditure for the bank and a trophy with the bank's name will be giving to the best overall college sports program in Division 1.
"It is basically self-created; all of dollars in are our media dollars that we would utilize to get the word out. I won't go into specific budgets. But also it is not a black and white spend on the Cup, spend on a product. We tend to weave Cup messaging through billboards, through players of the game, through Capital One Cup moments. So it is more integrated marketing versus an isolation message of nothing but the Cup," said McDonald.
There could one day be a naming-rights partner in East Rutherford, Arlington and Washington as well as New Orleans, Oakland and other venues that lack a corporate name but the days of just buying a name are done. But reinventing ways of selling a stadium name has gone on for nearly six decades. In 1953, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck sold the Browns-owned Sportsmen's Park to St. Louis Cardinals owner and beer baron August Busch Jr. Busch wanted to name the ballpark Budweiser Stadium after his best-selling beer.
National League owners said no and the stadium simply became Busch Stadium. In 1955, Anheuser-Busch introduced the Busch Bavarian label and the stadium's name remained Busch Stadium. Another Anheuser-Busch product, Land Shark Lager, became a stadium naming rights sponsor for one year in 2009. Land Shark Stadium was the home of the Miami Dolphins, the University of Miami football and the Florida Marlins Major League Baseball team.
Sports organizations can be creative.
"Absolutely not," said McDonald when asked if the naming rights agreements are a thing of the past. "I think it will simply reinvent itself. If the sponsorship or naming rights is fairly simple, get your name out there — there is a limited pool of advertisers. Imagine, does Coca Cola need to name a stadium?
"No. It is the most ubiquitous global brand there is. So the name of the game if people have sponsorships need to move. They need dramatically to value up. And advertising such as myself, marketers, are very good at rooting out the bang for the buck. We look at hard media value, we look at sponsorship value and then we will place a value on the intangibles but the days of stick my name on the stadium and have that be worth a ton are probably over."
That is not exactly the news that the Mara-Tisch-Johnson collaboration wants to here but the New Meadowlands Stadium has been open for a few months and no one has put up a shingle with a corporate logo on the sides of the building yet.
Evan Weiner is an award winning author, radio-TV commentator and speaking on "The Business and Sports of Politics" and can be reached at

We Want Tiger Woods Dirty Laundry According to Those in the Know

We Want Tiger Woods Dirty Laundry According to Those in the Know

By Evan Weiner

September 2, 2010

(San Juan, PR) -- It was rather sad walking into a sports bar on a cruise ship and seeing Tiger Woods on a bank of televisions yet again explaining away his actions and his divorce prior to playing golf at a tournament in Paramus, New Jersey last week. Tiger talked just after his ex-wife Elin Nordegren gave an interview to Time Warner's People Magazine, a slick supermarket tabloid type publication. Tiger Woods is ultimately responsible for his life and actions but his sordid tale does not need to be splashed all over the place and it was thanks to Harvey Levin and his TMZ show, a show that is pushed on the American public through the "family values" guy Rupert Murdoch on his Fox owned and operated stations and by Time Warner, Levin's business partner on TMZ, and Murdoch's cable TV news competitor.

Murdoch and his News Corporation (which includes Saudi investors) own FOX News Channel while Time Warner has CNN.

Levin, based on his "success" in reporting the Tiger Woods story, wants to increase his sports coverage and the "gotcha" mentality. Levin was a crackerjack reporter on the OJ Simpson 1994 murder trial while at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. His poor reporting on the story included showing a tape that Levin claimed showed the Prosecutor Marcia Clark entering O. J. Simpson's home prior to getting a search warrant nearly ended the trail. The KCBS tape was discredited which forced Levin and KCBS to apologize for showing "misedited" tape.

Levin, a lawyer by trade, still works in the "news" business. Apparently an apology is all you need to get ahead after making a huge mistake that at one time would have cost him and others their jobs. But no more, mistakes get you better deals. Levin went on and became a legal analyst on "The People's Court" -- one of the legal shows that one insider said was fueled by alcohol and "over-the-top" contestants who might not get all the money that they win in the court case on the show.

Levin is a key player in the TV "news" business. The radio and TV “news/talk” business that has been seized by drug addicts, alcoholics, xenophobes, gamblers, sexual harassers, sexual predators, johns, woman beaters, political operatives and disgraced politicians (and other political operatives) who in some cases ended up doing jail time. These are the people who shape the news debate thanks to their enablers, Murdoch, GE's Jeffrey Immelt, CBS' Sumner Redstone, Time Warner, Chancellor Radio, Premiere Radio, Lowry Mays' Clear Channel and Mark Masters' Talk Radio Network.

Masters employs among others Michael Savage (thrown off MSNBC for gay bashing) and the "embattled" Dr. Laura who decided to quit her radio show after she repeatedly using a derogatory racial term to make whatever point a radio talk show host can make in an entertaining form because her first amendment rights were violated.

A good many of these people who host talk radio or Cable TV news shows are school yard bullies who are never challenged by anyone during their shows (the whole talk show genre is a scam with “screeners” putting on callers and the know-it-all host playing lord over the airwaves with peasants being granted 90 seconds of their precious time usually genuflecting before the talk show lord). Yet when the talk show hosts are caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they scream, poor, poor pitiful me. They also have problems with being called out with Dr. Laura the latest crybaby. Only in radio can someone (a talk show host) can constantly put down callers and hang up on them can be victimized if someone criticizes them. Dr. Laura is quitting her talk show because her first right amendment, she claims, has been violated.

Larry King is being exalted as his retirement date is nearing. Why? Larry King was a below average interviewer with little news or journalistic credibility among the people in the know but he was a star for some reason. Perceived perception more than likely as a persona of Larry King was sold and people bought into it. Larry’s personal life including the eight marriages to seven women and the money problems are perfect in the tawdry world of radio and Cable TV news operatives.

This is the world in which Levin operates and where Tiger Woods got stuck and this world threatens the Professional Golf Association financially--because the PGA has one megastar in Tiger Woods who brings in the cash and got golf into the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The International Olympic Committee saw money in Tiger and added golf to the lineup of sports and ignored baseball and softball. Tiger was gold until Levin’s reportage.

Tiger Woods does not have to be grilled by sportswriters. He is a golfer, nothing more and nothing less. He is not a role model which is little more a sportswriters' word invention to sell newspapers about a century ago when newspaper owners figured out they could report on sports and make some money off of the sports industry.

Hero worshipping is a better term than jock sniffers and sportswriters created hero-athletes. Sportswriters also genuflect in front of jocks and in some cases have been abused both verbally and physically by jocks who have among other incidents poured water over their heads, stuffed them into lockers, have had food and tape recorders flung at them.

Athletes are not and should never have been considered role models. They aren't but the mythology is so well entrenched in sportswriters and sports fans minds.

The sportswriters who cover golf and Tiger Woods sounded like the baseball writers who could not figure out that banned substances were being used in baseball in the 1990s. They had no clue about Tiger. The baseball writers were also ignorant even though the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell and NBC's Bob Costas had publicly said they thought steroids were being used in the game. The golf writers complained they never got to know Tiger and if they did, well they would have said something.

Sure they would have. Sportswriters are an extension of sports public relations departments and there is no quicker way to get access shut down then start saying what you know to be true instead of writing what the industry expects. Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton cut off media access while he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies because of some of the things written about him. The Baseball Hall of Fame has a “media” section and inducts baseball writers into the museum—an absurd notion as writers are supposed cover baseball not be applauded by the baseball industry---and it was rather fitting than one time Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog and New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden went in together as Madden and his colleagues were in Whitey’s words of the mid-1980s one of those “good baseball people” – baseball writers as opposed to other media representatives from radio and TV.

Levin wants to expand his TMZ franchise into sports. It would be a first in the United States but Levin is far behind the Brits and Fleet Street in terms of spewing the sports gossip. Footballer (soccer) star Georgie Best was a darling of the London tabloids for his lifestyle.

Meanwhile the PGA officials have to be wondering about the tour's financial future with Tiger Woods not playing well and the whole Levin pushed narrative about Tiger and his ex-wife. Levin's gang of "journalists" got the story into the public but what should have been a private matter may do some significant damage to the Tour and may harm some people who depend on money raised by the Tour and given to charities.

If Tiger Woods continues to slump and is not in contention for a Sunday victory in any tournament that he has entered, television ratings will slide as Tiger brings eyeballs in front of the TV to watch golf. Redstone and CBS along with Immelt's NBC might and Brian Roberts' (Comcast) Golf Channel decide the Tour is not worth the investment as the networks have deals in place until 2012 that pays the PGA $255 million. Roberts, of course, will run NBC if everyone signs off on the Comcast-NBCUniversal agreement which would give Comcast NBC and the Peacock Network's cable networks which include USA, msnbc and CNBC.

Tiger Woods has already lost endorsements. The PGA could also lose endorsements if people turn away from golf because Tiger isn't playing well and some of those marketing partners may walk away from sponsoring tournaments which could mean that the PGA drops some events. The PGA gives a portion of the revenues from each tournament to charities, it is unlikely Levin's TMZ or his partners Time Warner or Murdoch will make up the charitable contributions.

At the end of the day, Tiger Woods has to take responsibility for his actions but that should have been a private matter. The sports bar on the ship went on with life after the TV banks had Tiger’s talk, there were other games and highlights and there were patrons who sat watching the screen with their drinks in hand. The old Tiger, the pre-November 2009 Tiger showed up on Thursday but it was the post Harvey Levin and TMZ Tiger that came to Paramus on Friday. One day Tiger will become yesterday's news and some other poor and unfortunate fellow or girl will be ensnared by Levin and his ilk. Don Henley's lyrics in his October 1982 song Dirty Laundry are as current and spot on today as they were in 1982 except there are more places where Dirty Laundry shows up then in 1982 as Tiger Woods could have told reporters on Thursday in Paramus.

Henley complained that "Crap is King". So far Tiger has refrained from singing "Dirty Laundry" but dirty laundry is being presented everyday as fact all you have to do is turn on the AM radio dial or flip on cable TV news and it is there in gross tonnage.

Evan Weiner is an award winning journalist, a radio-TV commentator and an author of The Business and Politics of Sports. He can be reached at