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Old 07-28-2002, 09:57 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #82 - Today's NFL, Robbing From the Poor

The Sports Central Newsletter
July 28th, 2002 - Issue #82

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor 07.28.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- The Lancaster Report 07.28.02
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Robbing From the Poor to Give to the Rich"
- Marquee Matchup (MLB) 07.28.02



Hello folks,

We're back in full force this week with a dosing of sports trivia, the returning Lancaster Report, Mike Round's always insightful and entertaining Feature Article, and last, but not least, this issue's Marquee Matchup. All this is following a couple of shortened newsletters with vacations getting in the way. Hey, you can't blame us for wanting to soak up a few rays while the weather is still nice.

Be sure to check out Patrick Moran's latest offerings. He obtained a full-access media pass to go backstage at the recent Dan Marino vs. Jim Kelly charity football game and was able to interview former NFL kicker Scott Norwood, who is forever remembered for his 47-yard missed-kick in Super Bowl XXV. Check out Patrick's interesting article with the former NFL star: https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle138.shtml

Lastly, it's no secret that Major League Baseball and the NBA have been receiving more negative press than good in recent years with strikes, contraction, steroids, and players skipping school getting in the way of things. But where has America's beloved NFL been in all of this? Out of the negative spotlight, that's what, and with that in mind, Mike Round brings the game's popostrous shortcomings into focus in his latest column below.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think. Does the NFL really deserve more negative attention or is it really a model child in the day of fraudulent pro sports leagues? We welcome your comments: mailto:[email protected]

Until next time,

- Marc James
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Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes.

In this issue, we're featuring another challenging sports trivia question to test your knowledge. Answer correctly, and we'll mention you next issue!


Who was first to win Super Bowls as a player and a head coach?

A) Dick Butkus
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B) Jimmy Johnson
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C) Mike Ditka
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D) George Seifert
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What's on your mind in the sports world? Send us your comments at mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase and we might use them in a future issue.



By Ross Lancaster

"America and Formula One"

Most of you who are reading this newsletter likely know whom Formula One superstar Michael Schumacher is. However, unbeknownst to almost all of you is just how great Schumacher really is.

Last week, the man called Schumi by fans and followers of the sport, won his eighth race of the season and clinched his fifth driver's World Championship, tying the record set 55 years ago. Schumacher, who drives for the world renowned Ferrari team, held off McLaren's Kimi Raikonnen for the last five laps after Raikonnen, a second-year driver, slid on a patch of oil left by another car, giving Schumacher a piece of history.

The title-clinching race came in the 11th race of 17 in the Formula 1 World Championship, which meant that the title was captured with more than a third of the season to go. Such an accomplishment may not be appreciated to its full extent by the average American sports fan. However, this is equivalent to say the Rams clinching home field advantage in Week 11, or the Yankees clinching the AL East at right about this point in the year, late July. However, when a form of racing is arguably the second most popular sport in this country, why do we pay no attention to these great drivers and great accomplishments?

There are three simple reasons. One is that Formula 1 uses about half of an oval every year (first two turns and front stretch of Indianapolis) and NASCAR races on just about all ovals, and ovals are easier to follow for the average American viewer. The second is that the top racing series in the world races just twice every year in North America, meaning that to watch a race live, one would have to get up around 9 AM just to watch a race. The third is the biggest: no American presence. In NASCAR, all of the drivers are American, while the last American in F1 was Michael Andretti, who only lasted one season with McLaren.

However, I guarantee that even if you are not a race fan, the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, which will be shown by ABC on Sunday, September 29, will not let you down, and will give you a great appreciation of these great machines and great drivers.

"The Angels in First Place"

On a baseball note, the Anaheim Angels are exceeding everyone's wildest expectations and then some. In a division where two of the best teams in baseball lie, the Angels are defying baseball convention, and as of Saturday, are in first place in the highly competitive AL West.

The Angels got there with an 8-0 shutout of the Mariners led by rookie pitcher John Lackey and good offensive play from solid players like Tim Salmon and Scott Spiezio. The win moved Anaheim into first place for the first time since May 5, 2000.

The Angels now being in first place contributes to the fact that many of the good teams this season (Braves, Twins, Yankees) are playing non-selfishly and as a team. So while the Union and the owners bicker over issues in the next month and a half, it is at least good to know that a fair amount of teams are playing the game the way it was meant to be played.

Editor's note: Don't miss Ross Lancaster's MLB game preview in his Marquee Matchup between the Mariner's and Angels below.



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 07/22/02 - 07/28/02:


MLB: Contract owners, not teams
By James Anderson

With a potential baseball strike looming on the horizon, the question fans are asking is what is the give-and-take going to consist of between the owners and players? There are only so many issues available to negotiate on and contraction of teams is one of them. Forget about contracting teams; get the worthless owners out of the game,



TENNIS: The return of the tennis jedi
By Michael Cecilio

The definition of a jedi, according to Keikimo: an "ambassador," a "peacekeeper," "special, powerful." On-court and off-court, Lindsay Davenport embodies all these traits and her entry at the Bank of West Classic marks the return of our Tennis Jedi to the Sanex WTA Tour, says SC's Michael Cecilio.



MLB: National League contenders
By Sean McDonald

As the July 31st trading deadline draws closer, SC's Sean McDonald looks at the teams in contention for a playoff spot in the National League and gives his thoughts on what moves the pennant and wild card contenders should make to bolster their rosters for the stretch run.



NFL: Norwood returns a decade later
By Patrick Moran

Scott Norwood returned publicly to Buffalo for the first time in over 10 years this past weekend. Norwood is forever linked in infamy with Buffalo after missing a 47-yard field goal that would have given the Bills a Super Bowl XXV victory. SC's Patrick Moran caught up with the former Bill who took part in the charity flag football game between Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.



COLUMN: Amico Report: Baking up something good
By Sam Amico

The trade that sent Vin Baker and Shammond Williams from Seattle to Boston for Kenny Anderson, Vitaly Potapenko, and Joseph Forte has Sam Amico's approval. Can you imagine what happens if Baker becomes the motivated player he was in Milwaukee? Can you imagine an inspired Baker playing alongside Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce? That's food for thought in the Amico Report.



MLB: Baseball's impact rookies
By Andrew Regola

At one point in time, many of the great players of this era such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, and Randy Johnson were all unknown rookies. SC's Andrew Regola takes a look this year's impact rookies and provides some Rookie of the Year predictions.



MLB: Great pastime is alive and kicking
By Ryan Noonan

Rarely does a day go by without someone commenting on the downfall of baseball. But at some point, every baseball fan has experienced a moment in time when they loved the game. SC's Ryan Noonan goes over a few of his favorite baseball moments and asks the readers to share theirs.



NHL: Hockey: The best value
By Lee Manchur

Player salaries are rising in the NHL, but unlike Major League Baseball, the NHL at least has the right on-field product to hide it. Whether you want to admit it or not, the NHL is the best and most competitive league of the four major professional team sports in North America, argues SC's Lee Manchur.



MLB: The All-Marred Game
By Gary Cozine

The MLB All-Star Game is over. Done. Analyzed to death. But SC's Gary Cozine can't let go quite yet. A few things are still keeping him up nights and several important questions need to be asked.



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"Today's NFL -- Robbing From the Poor to Give to the Rich"

It's long been a contention of mine that the NFL, in terms of quality, is overrated. So far, I've managed to convince my daughter, who's yet to reach the grand age of 3, and the cat, who'll agree with anything I say as long as I have the can opener and she sees tuna in the cupboard. Now I have a new gripe about the NFL. The league is getting a free pass from the sports media on every issue going, not least the fact that it is ripping off both fans and the American taxpayer at an unprecedented level.


By Mike Round

I love football. It's intense. Every fall Sunday, all over the country, events are unfolding that keep the game in a state of constant flux -- an interception in Seattle and a touchdown in New York can affect the playoffs almost simultaneously. It grips you in a way no other sport can match. The crowds, the noise, the high stakes, the phenomenal stadiums, the violence, the show boating, and even the uniforms -- all combine to keep you riveted to your couch, munching on pork rinds. Actually, Supermarket Sweep has the same effect on me in terms of the pork products, but that's not the point. Football is way ahead of competing sports on the nation's radar screen.

Not only does the NFL fill stadiums and keep fans glued to their TV screens, it also makes money. Bucket loads of it. Salary cap is tied to league revenue and since 1995, the maximum any team can spend on salary has almost doubled, to $71.1 million*. Any baseball or basketball franchise owner, with the exception of George Steinbrenner, would trade their franchise for a NFL equivalent. Owning a NFL team is almost as good as printing your own money. No talk of contraction in football. No talk of labor unrest, either.

The NFL has the same relationship with its labor union as Don Corleone had with Luca Brasi. Paul Tagliabue has more chance of being bitten by a rattler, whilst buying a new suit on Madison Avenue, than he has of being bitten by the NFLPA. I've seen tortoises with more teeth than Gene Upshaw and his men. Business owners like gummy unions, and there's more gums on show in the NFLPA than in a Panama Beach retirement home. The last time the union won a labor dispute without the help of a judge was during the Franklin Administration.

The NFL's TV deal is likely to be the only one in sport that holds up to close inspection by the networks at the next renewal talks, as Sunday football continues to keep its Neilson rating, unlike baseball and basketball. There's more bread in football than prison meatloaf, and if anything, revenue is going up rather than down.

The latest revenue stream, to use in-vogue jargon, is the stadium itself, and, in particular, the building of an all-singing, all-dancing new stadium, normally at a cost of nil dollars to the owner. That's right, in today's NFL you can get a new, purpose-built stadium, at upwards of $400 million, for diddlysquat. Nada, zip, zero.

Take, for example, the renovation of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. The total cost of the project is stated at $632 million, of which $432 million** is public money, courtesy of the taxpayer. Why would the hard-pressed Illinois resident be prepared to commit to over 30 years of debt? Simple. They weren't given a choice in the matter. Under threat of moving the team away from Chicago, a familiar tactic of billionaire franchise owners, the Illinois legislature approved the money in as much time as it takes to defrost the Thanksgiving turkey.

Yet, following the signing of the hastily concluded deal, it was the Chicago Bears that received the plaudits of Chicago mayor Richard Daley, who heralded the Bears' generosity. "Really remarkable. Unheard of," he gushed. The Illinois taxpayer must have been impressed by his gratitude. I only hope they remember his praise at the next election.

Daley was gushing because the Bears had committed $200 million in order to seal the Soldier Field deal. Yet, as Josh Peter of the Times Picayune details in a remarkable exposť of NFL stadium finances, the Chicago Bears ownership will actually only contribute $30 million, all of which will be recouped in the first year of the new stadium being operational.

The outstanding $170 million is raised in the form of a $100 million loan from the NFL and $70 million from the sale of PSL's, a fee charged to fans for the right to buy a season ticket. The loan is repaid via the visiting team's share of club seat money, revenue that significantly increases for both parties involved in a game once the stadium is built and prices are jacked sky-high.

The outstanding $30 million is easy to recoup via ticket sales. The Bears, despite a series of dismal seasons, have sold out every game since before the days of The Fridge. They can jack up ticket prices, in line with other teams who have trodden the new or renovated stadium path (21 since 1995), by as much as 80%. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened Raymond James Stadium in 1998 and increased prices by over 82%. The Redskins opened Fed Ex Field in 1997 with a 48% ticket price raise; following it with a 17% rise in 1998 and a 32% increase in 2000, bringing the average price of a ticket to almost $82***. At those prices, it doesn't take long to recoup $30 million.

If the New York Yankees had the nerve to charge $82 for an average ticket, there would be a national outcry. Yet the silence is deafening from the luminaries inside the football press boxes. Football basically receives a free pass from its own supine media on all issues that affect fans and local taxpayers. Football writers are tightly controlled in terms of access to players, practice, press conferences, and stadiums, and the last thing they want to do is offend the suits of the NFL. Apart from Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, no writer wants to get labeled a "troublemaker" by Greg Aiello and his enforcers. Much easier to take the Chris Berman wide-eyed and grateful route.

Almost as remarkable as this mass fleecing of the nation's taxpayers is the fact that the IRS is a "victim" of football, too. The teams pay no taxes on PSL license revenue, as the teams construct the deals through government agencies, which are tax exempt.

The money raised through PSL sales contributes towards the team's share of stadium costs, for accounting purposes. Also, 90% of stadium revenue goes to the team, despite their minuscule contribution towards its construction. A win-win situation for the team and a kick in the teeth for local residents, forced to accept economic downturns, layoffs, corporate fraud, a stock market collapse, and now the NFL holding the loaded gun of relocation to its head.

Yet more financial chicanery comes in terms of the NFL loaning franchises the money in the first place, loans that are backed by NFL-issue bonds. The NFL is essentially acting as a bank, taking away potential custom for regular banking enterprises that are subject to taxation and are forced, through the need to make a profit and pay a dividend, to charge more than the nominal 3.5% interest rate the NFL levies on teams.

The NFL pays no federal taxes, claiming its loans to teams "enhance stability of the franchises, protect future broadcasting revenue streams, enhance the overall financial strength of the NFL clubs, and allow access to more cost-effective and flexible financing sources." The IRS agrees, or at least they did in 1942, when the NFL applied for no-profit making status.

The NFL, its billionaire owners and millionaire players, will get away with this scam as long as greedy cities line up to get their snouts in the football trough. New Orleans, under pressure to replace the "ancient" Superdome (so outdated that it's still a fixture on the Super Bowl list of venues) recently gave the owner Tom Benson a $186 million gift to agree to stay put for 10 years until a new stadium could be financed and built.

The thought of potentially losing a team that aspires to the giddy heights of average was too much for the elders of New Orleans, a city riddled with poverty, crime, poorly-paid cops, under pressure, low-salaried teachers, and sub-standard housing. So they pressed the panic button and gave the best part of $200 million to a billionaire ex-car dealer and a bunch of under achieving players led by that bastion of the community, Kyle Turley.

In San Diego, the Spanos family is already making noises about relocating, unless politicians and the community agree upon a new stadium. Incredibly, the Chargers' Qualcomm Stadium was renovated at a cost of $78 million as recently as 1997. Not one dime of that money came from the ownership. Want to keep your local team buddy? You got it, but here's the check. Pass it on to your grandchildren.

The only way to end this Grand Theft Football is for local communities to stare down the owners and their own panicky elected representatives. Tell them, via protest meetings and the ballot box, that they won't accept this extortion any longer. But, as long as there remains a city or cities out there prepared to snatch an NFL team with the lure of easy money, free state-of-the-art stadiums and a ready made audience prepared to pay top dollar for a seat to watch a mediocre product, the cycle of threats and legalized extortion is certain to repeat itself ad infinitum.

* Times Picayune
** Chicago Bears, Chicago city officials, Chicago Tribune, and Times Picayune
*** Team Marketing Report of Chicago and Times Picayune



--> Major League Baseball

By Ross Lancaster

Boston (Martinez; 13-2) at Anaheim (Ortiz; 9-7)

Tuesday, July 30; Edison International Field, Ahahem, CA; 10:15 PM ET; No national TV

As was stated earlier in TLR, Anaheim is in first place and is doing great as a team in stunning both Seattle and Oakland in the AL West.

Meanwhile, Boston is going in the wrong direction having split a four gamer with Tampa Bay and losing to Baltimore on Friday. However, in this game, Pedro Martinez will be starting with a great 13-2 record and having come off of a great outing against Tampa Bay. Even if Boston does rebound before this game, Pedro should still win. But if Boston continues their slump, you can still count on Pedro locking down the Angels.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Hitting - Red Sox
Pitching - Red Sox
Infield - Angels
Outfield - Red Sox
Overall - Red Sox

Prediction: Red Sox 6, Angels 1


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 08/11/02.)


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