The three commissioners of the three biggest American sports, plus Gary Bettman, met today in New York City to discuss such topics as sharing best practices, maximizing fan value in a recession, and the best way to ingest human babies blood without making a mess.
On Wednesday morning, the four commissioners of the major North American professional sports leagues assembled atop the Mandarin Oriental hotel next to Central Park: Bud Selig of Major League Baseball, David Stern of the National Basketball Association, Roger Goodell of the National Football League and Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League. The Wall Street Journal conducted the gathering, and distributed programs that read on the cover for business leaders in the crowd: "A discussion on The Future of Sports with The Comissioners." (sic)
"Comissioners"? Hey, I thought the Wall Street Journal was one of the only newspapers surviving in the Xtreme Depression. It must be because they saved a few sheckels by firing every single copy editor on the staff.
Of course, one of the biggest topics on the day was the future of newspapers in sports. Put a bunch of frightened media types in a room with the three most powerful men in sports (plus Gary Bettman!) and you've got yourself a one-note song:
Stern, dean of the four commissioners after a quarter-century at the NBA's helm, said: "The handwriting is not on the wall, it's set in mud. Nevertheless, you can see by age and demographic, whether cable or Internet, the news is being consumed by consumers and we just have to adapt to that. Newspapers have to adapt or they won't survive."
The moderator (Sam Walker, sports editor of the Journal) asked if fans can get "credible coverage" going forward. Goodell noted that his management team had just met with Associated Press Sports Editors before the recent NFL Draft and discussed this same issue.
"There's a lot to be said for independence of sports journalism," Goodell said. "That doesn't mean we couldn't distribute content they create on boston.com, for example. It isn't any way filtered by the NFL; it goes directly on the site. Our industries have been good for each other. We've helped the paper business but certainly the paper business has helped us. I think of (late Boston sports columnist and TV analyst) Will McDonough and what he did to help the NFL. That would be greatly missed."
Translation: adapt to the digital age and fold your talents into MLB.com, NBA.com and NFL.com (and NHL.com!) or hit the bricks, newspaper dudes.
Fifth member of the pentavirate Colonel Sanders was notably missing from the group, probably to put the secret chemical in his new Kentucky Grilled Chicken to make you crave it fortnightly.