Alert the Nobel Committee!
In another instance of dedicated scientists working hard for the expansion of knowledge and the betterment of society, UCLA marketing professor Don Morrison and a team of statisticians have uncovered an astounding fact. According to a university news release, Morrison and his team "crunched the numbers" from 59 Stanley Cup finals and determined that "hot goalies may be a key factor in determining which team will win the Stanley Cup."
Women's Pro Draft
WNBA Wins Star Wars
The American Basketball League—outdrawn, outmarketed and outtelevised by the rival Women's National Basketball Association—has held one advantage over its rival league: better players. Last week's WNBA draft, however, revealed changes in the landscape of women's pro basketball that put the ABL in a defensive, even precarious, position.
Seven of the eight senior Kodak All-Americas have signed with the WNBA—among them, Connecticut's Nykesha Sales and Stanford's Kristen Folkl (both of whom will sit out this year because of injury), Harvard's Allison Feaster and Old Dominion's Ticha Penicheiro. The league also signed Maine's Cindy Blodgett, the NCAA's second-leading scorer, and Malgorzata Dydek, a 7'2" center from Poland. "When we went after college seniors last year, they couldn't have comprehended how successful our league was going to be, what kind of crowds we were going to draw," says Val Ackerman, the WNBA commissioner. "When we went out there this year, the players were tuned in."
Tuned in, apparently, to attendance that averaged an impressive 9,669 per game and league-generated endorsement opportunities not available to ABL players, who last season made about $35,000 more than WNBA players (albeit for 16 more games). Six days after the WNBA gobbled up the goodies, the ABL draft was left with one '98 All-America (North Carolina State's Chasity Melvin), a handful of lesser stars (Illinois's Ashley Berggren and Louisiana Tech's Alisa Burras) and a bunch of names unknown to the average women's hoops fan.
Tracey Williams, the ABL's vice president for player personnel, says her league is more interested in talent than drawing power. "The players we signed are going to have an immediate impact" she says. "They'll make names for themselves."
Maybe. But for a league burdened with a flimsy TV deal, low attendance (4,333 per game last season) and the uphill battle of competing against the NBA's publicity machine, the inability to land a Folkl or a Sales may well prove to be a crushing blow.
College Ump Has Had Enough
Too Much Noise, Too Much Funk
Gary Mitchell has been umpiring college baseball games for 15 seasons, the last eight in the Missouri Valley Conference, and in recent years the abuse he has taken from coaches, players and fans has increased in frequency and intensity. So have the profanity-laced insults those groups have tossed at one another. "This season has been the worst," says Mitchell, "and unless someone does something, next season will be worse again."