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With the Presidential Election less than a week away, it’s evident that this country will undergo changes with the direction of a new leader. In three of our nations 4 major sporting leagues, we’ve seen commissioners with longer tenures than any American President can hold. So the answer: Let’s hold elections every 4 years for Commissioners of the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB.

       NHL – Gary Bettman: Commissioner since February of ’93

It’s no surprise that the NHL has seen its better days. Bettman has been at the helm to oversee not one, but two lockouts. In both instances, the Owners and Players Union struggled to find a common ground between escalating salaries and declining revenue. While it’s certainly not an easy issue to solve, Bettman found time to stoke the fire and add teams in markets like Carolina, Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix and Columbus; go figure. A 30 team league with professional talent fit for 20 teams probably wouldn’t cut it anywhere and it didn’t.
That being said, he’s actually on the right track. The bargaining agreement has actually created some parody within the league, and while players are changing teams more often, it’s getting fun to watch. That actually draws on my last and final problem with the way the league has been run, where do you go to watch it?
Quick, what channel is the Versus Network on your cable provider? No clue? Me Either. Mr. Bettman, while I’m sure the contract with Versus draws some sort of revenue, but no one knows its on. If you want mass appeal, make it available to the masses. What channel is ESPN on your provider? Have I made my point?

Candidate(s) for 2009:
A hybrid system should suit the NHL just fine; Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, and Steve Yzerman. Lemieux has resurrected the Pittsburgh franchise, Yzerman is transitioning well from player to the front office, and Gretzky, well frankly, just isn’t cutting it as a head coach and he should find a new job.

NFL – Roger Goodell: Commissioner since September ‘06
First off, the obvious, he’s only been in office for a little over two years. His policy changes have not come to the forefront thus far, but his doctrine has. For that I applaud him, but with a grain of salt. Mr. Goodell has made it abundantly clear, that players will be held accountable for their actions, on and especially off the field. Players like Adam Jones, Tank , and a number of others have all been disciplined for less than stellar behavior. I would like to warn Goodell of a line I see beginning to blur; it’s the one between being accused of a pending infraction and actually being found in violation of said incident. While he’s not required to hold these players and his league to these standards, I would like to see him show a little more due diligence before a penalty is handed down. If a player is found and proven to be in violation, by all means keep your enforcement in place and hold players accountable.

Candidate(s) for 2009:
At this time, Goodell hasn’t worn out his welcome. We’ll at least let him run out a four year term before jumping to any conclusions.

NBA – David Stern: Commissioner Since 1984
Stern has probably had the easiest job of any of the major league heads. The league has thrived during his tenure but not because of any significant changes he made but because of the athletes. Names like Jordan, Bryant, James, Shaq, and many other superstars have thrilled fans with their power, finesse, and jaw-dropping displays of athletic performance.
As the NBA looks towards the future, it probably has the best chance for global expansion. While the other leagues have held games in other countries and tried to capitalize on the foreign markets, basketball’s popularity has the most steam power. Again, not really for anything Stern has done, he’s just riding the wave Jordan created.

Candidate for 2009:
Current Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Hear me out. With the implementation of requiring players to reach the age of 19 before being eligible for the NBA draft, the colleges will continue to struggle with trying to keep players for more than one year. With his vast college experience and recent proven ability to coach superstar athletes (Olympic Gold), I think he can help bridge this talent level gap. His influence is in the game and the way it’s played could teach players to develop their talent in college and become a force in the NBA when they’re ready; instead of just sitting on the bench or playing in the D league for a few years.

MLB – Bud Selig: Acting Commissioner since 1992, officially 1998

 Where to I begin? Like Bettman, Selig was at the helm during the 1994 strike that seriously damaged baseball in America. Attendances dropped and overall interest was lower than his approval rating. Fortunately, Selig was saved by the 900 pound elephant in the room, known as “the steroid era.” Captivating fans, we watched the big boppers crush home runs and shatter records across the board. This injection of enthusiasm (pun intended) propelled the sport to prominence once again.
Since then, it has caught up to him. Congressional hearings and public opinion have turned once praised athletes into punch lines of jokes. As to the true extent, these drugs had during his time as commissioner, we’ll probably never know. While Selig is not responsible for the implementation of these illegal drugs into the sport, it doesn’t seem likely that he did anything to stop their usage.
We can thank Bud for changes that have helped expand baseball’s appeal. Things like the wild card and interleague play have helped make the sport more appealing.

Candidate for 2009:
       Current President of the United States George Bush. Hate him or love him, you can’t help but think he’d do a great job as Commissioner. As a former owner of the Texas Rangers, President Bush has interest from the sides of an owner and casual fan. I think his ability to relate the game and what it means to the average “Joe Plumber” can really help the game. Besides, have you ever seen him throw out the first pitch? He’s got a ridiculous curve ball with incredible action on it.

Who else in sports do you think we should elect out? Click here to meet me in on Message Board.

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