King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Tax breaks for millionaires? Certainly not! Plus: Death to the sideline interview! And: A moving tribute to Roy Campanella's widow.

By Salon Staff
Published March 24, 2004 8:00PM (EST)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he wants to help that country's financially failing soccer clubs by giving them a break on back taxes, but before the government steps in, his political allies want those teams to curb their spending by imposing salary caps. Reuters reports that the 18 teams in the Serie A division spent 85 percent of their revenue on wages last season on their way to a combined operating loss of about $1.1 billion.

What I don't know about Italian soccer towers over almost everything else in my life except how much I don't care about it, so I might be missing a nuance or three here, but talk of teams mismanaging their revenue by overpaying the athletes sure sounds familiar to me, as does talk of tax breaks to help those teams out.

The Northern League, a political party in Berlusconi's coalition, says teams have to commit to cutting payroll before they can expect help from the government, and European Affairs Minister Rocco Buttiglione, a Christian Democrat, agrees.

"Companies should make a commitment to not pay salaries above 60 percent of their revenues," he said Tuesday. "First an effort, then the decree. We can't commit taxpayers' money to millionaire salaries," he said.

Can't commit taxpayers' money to millionaire salaries? There's a guy who couldn't have made it in American politics.

Oh, and Berlusconi, the prime minister who wants to give the soccer teams tax breaks? He owns AC Milan. When his political career sours, there's a job waiting for him over here: commissioner of baseball.

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30 seconds you'll never get back [PERMALINK]

Dick Enberg, who I think has done fine work at Tournament time the last few years, long after I'd given him up for over the hill because of his sloppy and sentimental Wimbledon announcing, earned some more points on my score card this week when he gently poked fun at a halftime interview by his sideline reporter.

The quick-hitting halftime interview with the coach is usually among the more tedious and pointless exercises in a sports broadcast. You're just never going to get those 30 seconds back. The coach's mind is usually on his business, and even if he has something interesting to say he's unlikely to say it in response to the vapid question or two emanating from the sideline reporter.

Leslie Visser chatted with adenoidal Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins as he came back onto the floor for the second half Sunday with his team trailing Illinois 49-33 on the way to a 92-68 drubbing. She asked the coach, "What did you tell your team, and what is most significant for you in the second half?" -- whatever that means. Huggins was polite but he looked impatient and annoyed, though it's possible he was more annoyed with the score than with Visser. He said Illinois "played great, and we've gotta go play great in the second half."

Visser asked what specifically the Bearcats had to do. "Well, we gotta guard them a little better and then we gotta make some shots," Huggins said.

Enberg laughed as he came back on the mike. "Oh boy, the old coach-speak," he said. "'Guard 'em better and make some shots.' All right. Now you know what they're going to do."

Dick Enberg is about as uncynical as they come. When even he's giving the needle to the quickie coach interview, it might be time to rethink the concept.

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A good read: Roxie Campanella [PERMALINK]

If you're like me you're always looking for a good obituary to read, and if so you'll want to have a look at Bill Plaschke's column in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times about the late Roxie Campanella, the widow of Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella, whom she met after his paralyzing car crash, and a beloved figure around the Dodgers organization.

It's actually an appreciation, not strictly an obit. Campanella died last week and her funeral was Monday. But that counts for us obit lovers. Non-maudlin but still moving, that's what we're after.

"He was the famous one who posed. She was the unknown one who pushed," Plaschke writes. "He was the one everyone sought for autographs. She was the one who helped put his quivering hand to the paper. For the duration of their marriage, he sat front and center while she labored behind him. Yet she never missed bringing him to games, showed up at Dodger Stadium so much that she became part of it, like the hills beyond center field, only sturdier."

Plaschke can write my obit any day.

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