The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 27, 1996 · Page 53
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 53

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, October 27, 1996
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Page 53
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What do you think is the single 1-8OO-643-5277 Call now and press the'number for ONE of the following options. You can vote for only one. < 'j^. *l~ f ,\ l-TCl. kj ja'» ' Vr* 4 -'"'*, '. '"' J , i Shy-M^i ticket prices Highly paid players who behave badly on the field and off -Y *'.'-,' [ Owners who move their teams from one city to another. One cafljwtwusehoUv^beaccept«J;toui*-toiie phones only. Une opens at 6a.m. El Friday, Oct 25,ai^ stays open till mOQOcaUs are recorded. Callers' names will not be used for malling-Jbtpuiposes-tf you can't call, write yourvote, vvitticonBspondingrSntomSl^tk^pricesl.cinapostcartortte < erf an en^ and maa by Monday, ft^28,to;'Sports Call-K'USA WEEKEND, •WiUNfcVOTEin this survey at America Online Keyword USAWEEHBJD. CHAT llve.with Mite Uipica, 9 p.m,ET Wednesday. Fans should have some rights when ballplayers step out of line. The Lakers' Nick Van Exel got suspended last season for bumping a referee. So did Magic Johnson. Dennis Rodman got suspended for head-butting a referee. I believe if you show up to watch the Bulls play and Rodman is gone because he acted like a jerk, you absolutely should get your money back. Ballclubs say you violate your contract with them when you engage in loutish behavior? I say the ballclub has violated its contract with us when its players do the same thing. I have no problem with a team pulling your ticket. But when the situation is reversed, you get the same rights. Pushing a ref is the same as pushing around the fans. It's time for us to start pushing back. Even if it is just one lousy ticket stub at a time. Speaking of bad behavior, let's put some clauses in players' zillion- dollar contracts about law-abiding behavior. More and more, it seems too many of the sports stars caught breaking the law get off easy. So let's hit 'em where it hurts. The bigger the crime, the bigger the penalty. The more you make, the more you pay. There should be sports laws for people who break real laws. So we all stop getting the idea that sports stars are above the law. From now on, all sports leagues should enforce more rigorous versions of their own constitutions. I'm talking about a clear-cut, no-ambiguous-language prenuptial agreement to be signed by an owner, a league and the city in which the team operates. And the language should be simple enough even for Art Modell to understand: If I make a mess of this team, I will sell it, not move it. Period. Sign it, date it, have the notary put a stamp on it. Try to move it, you lose it. KEEP YOUNG ATHLETES IN SCHOOL You can't force star basketball players to go to | college if they don't want to. You can't keep talented kids from turning pro in basketball any more than you can keep them from turning pro in tennis at age 14 or 15 or 16. But I believe you at least have to try. This isn't about making the colleges richer, making sure cash keeps pouring into college basketball, making sure coaches and commentators stay on the gravy train. Hockey players go straight to the pros from high school; so do some baseball players. It doesn't make the system in those sports the right one. I believe even a couple of years of college is better for everybody than no college at all. Tiger Woods will be better off in the long run for the time he spent at Stanford. Grant Hill is way ahead of the game for staying all four years at Duke. And if it means paying some college stars, then pay them. Sneaker companies are now in the business of funding football and basketball programs all over the country. The NCAA should pass a rule that says that whatever Nike pays to a school like UConn or Michigan, there have to be matching funds used to pay players. I'm not talking meal money here, but real money. It's ridiculous that college stars aren't paid, and it's ridiculous not to try to encourage them to go to college. Maybe if the money's good enough, a couple of years in school won't seem like such a bad deal. So let's start making that deal. 4 Baltimore's Roberto Alomar, center, caused an umpire revolt by spitting on and Insulting umpire John Hfrachbeck, left. Manager Davey Johnson stepped In. 2 MOVE YOUR TEAM, YOU LOSE IT There is no way to stop another rich guy from buying a team any more than the leagues can stop the rich guys from moving the teams. If the NFL had any real backup from the courts, the Raiders never would have left Oakland, the Browns would still be in Cleveland, and the Rams wouldn't have been able to move to St. Louis (because the Cardinals would still be there). And the NFL would not be going through its second season without a team in Los Angeles. OFFER CHEAP SEATS FOR EVERY GAME It has gotten too expensive for the average fan to go to sports events. Not just too expensive to have a luxury box. Just too expensive, period. There should be a cheap-seat section of every major arena, for every sport. Not bad seats. Not nosebleed seats. Reasonably priced seats, geared to kids, working-class people — all the ones who have been frozen out as ticket prices have gone up and up. Pie in the sky? Maybe. But worth a try, before we grow a whole generation of kids who will never see Michael Jordan play in person. Whose total rela- TICKET INFLATION: How average ticket prices have risen in the past five years. Over the same period, the overall U.S. inflation rate was about 15 percent. T Dew* Rodman of the Chicago Built has been ejected from several games for confronting ref ereei Up 41.8% Up 36.8% SOURCES: TEAM MARKETING REPORT: U.8 BUREAU OF LAflOT STATISTICS tionship with Jordan will be from television. Or from buying his stuff. Sports should follow the lead of the Broadway hit Rent. Producers wanted to attract a young crowd for a show about young bohemians and held back two rows of choice seats, front row seats, for every performance. They sold the seats the day of the performance. And kids waited in line and bought them, for 20 bucks, at a time when you could pay five times that much for a hit show on Broadway. I want to see major sports arenas do the same thing. Sell tickets for $10. Sell them at schools. But put them in the hands of kids. Once a year, anyway, let them see their team in person. HIRE A COMMISSIONER OF US Everybody has a commissioner except fans. It is time for us to have one, to form an effective lobby so our voices can be heard when some city tries to steal our team. I even have the man to run it: ex-New York governor Mario Cuomo, an old minor-league ballplayer out of St. John's. "I'd be proud to serve," Cuomo told me. Twenty years ago, Ralph Nader tried to organize sports fans with a group called FANS: Fight to Advance the Nation's Sports. It didn't last long. FANS' stated plan was to represent the interests of sports fans before owners, or city governments, or state governments, or Congress. They wanted us to pay minimal dues, organize ourselves and start fighting back. It was a splendid idea, just ahead of its time. Now is the time. Nader told me he's willing to try to revive FANS. "You need at least 10,000 fans." If you're interested, write to him at this address: FANS, c/o Center for the Study of Responsive j Law, P.O. Box 19637, Washington, D.C. 20036. We—sports fans, all of us—are tired of being II treated as if we didn't matter. Because we do. And, sports fans, remember one thing always: We've got them outnumbered, ca Ralph Nader Idea: Organize USA WEEKEND • Oct. 25-27, 1996 9

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