How long will the insanity last ("The NFL machine," Cover Story, Jan. 27)? Unlike baseball, hockey, and basketball, football needs three teams: offense, defense, and special. Picture an offensive basketball team switching to a defensive team, then switching to a special team to make the one-pointers. And football championships are determined on the result of one game. Picture the World Series being a one-game affair.
In football, the means to an end is mayhem. Picture a base runner in baseball being required to knock out the first baseman, preferably for the rest of the season. In civil life, every football play would be considered assault and battery punishable by a prison term.
Baseball, hockey, and basketball fans sit in comfort. Football fans are expected to weather rain, snow, and zero-degree temperatures and say they had a great time at the game.
If the NFL is a "socialist" organization, as Baltimore Ravens' owner Art Modell so candidly explained, then Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown must be Fidel Castro. The petty dictator of the backwater franchise has the worst record over the past decade of any franchise in any professional sport. He negotiated a taxpayer-financed $400 million stadium deal from city and county leaders under the threat that he would move his franchise and whatever "economic benefit" it provided to Cleveland (a city that had booted Modell out to make way for an expansion franchise).
Less than a decade later, nearly a half-billion dollars have been sucked out of the local economy. The stadium is more empty than full on any given Sunday. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of the city has rotted as jobs and taxpayers left for outlying counties. If it weren't for the bridges, the peasants would have resorted to using rafts to escape across the Ohio River to the booming economy of Northern Kentucky. And the Bengals remain one of the most profitable sports franchises.
Charles M. Conliff
The public is not supposed to enhance the bottom line of any business: Customers do that. Here in Minnesota, the Vikings stadium debate continues despite referendums and legislative votes that reject public financing. Be the slick machine you claim you are, NFL, but keep your hands out of the public purse. And you, too, Major League Baseball.
The NFL and the billionaire owners continue to conspire to blackmail San Diego officials into robbing the taxpayers to pay for stadiums. The Chargers are asking taxpayers to cough up $200 million for yet another stadium. Only a few years ago, taxpayers paid $100 million-plus to upgrade the stadium--and then had to pay for tickets on empty seats the Chargers could not fill to the tune of an additional $30 million.
San Diego Being neither an enthusiast of globalization nor a fan of the U.S., I seldom have occasion to agree with the line taken by BusinessWeek. Exception must be made for your outspoken coverage of environmental banditry in Italy ("Italy and the eco-Mafia," European Business, Jan 27). Your report was to the point and, I fear, all too true. Authorities all over Europe tend not to take the dumping of waste as seriously as they should, and your account of the situation in Italy makes depressing but credible reading. In general, the penalties for this kind of crime should be much harsher, and examples should be made of those who are caught. In my opinion, in cases where the dumping of toxic waste is carried out on a large scale and can be proved to have resulted in the loss of human life, there is a good case for introducing the death penalty.
I hope all Italian businessmen and politicians felt as embarrassed, ashamed, and outraged as I did when they got their copies of BusinessWeek. It says a great deal about the problem if Italians like me must turn to foreign magazines for serious coverage of toxic waste dumping in our own country! The Italian people know about the problem, but there is not enough news coverage to generate the outrage necessary to push for changes in the system.
Even if the European Union or the Italian Parliament passes tougher laws, the media ought to make the scandals public and show the Italian population that those who dump toxic waste are being prosecuted quickly and, if guilty, are held responsible with huge punitive damages. Italy's media tend to focus more on the sinkings of oil tankers around the world or the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Kyoto Accord rather than denouncing the scandalous dumping of toxic wastes in our beautiful Italian countryside.
I spent much of 2001 working in the Caserta-Marcianise area north of Naples and can vouch for the deplorable mess that is the Italian countryside. It is sad that this part of the world, with such a long and glorious history, has allowed itself to be the subject of such wanton environmental abuse. Every day, our group would drive from our hotel at Castel Volturno on the Mediterranean to Marcianise over a four-lane highway through beautiful agricultural country. However, all along the roadsides were huge piles of garbage, obviously collected from somewhere else and unceremoniously dumped wherever convenient to the collector.
The beach at Castel Volturno was worse--walking the beach was a a one-time event. South from the mouth of the Volturno River, a quarter-mile to the Holiday Inn, the beach was covered with garbage, including medical waste. Over Easter weekend, I counted no less than eight animal carcasses in various stages of decomposition on the sand. At the mouth of the river, huge cardboard bales lay among the rocks. And on still mornings, the air was heavy with the smell of sewage. The sewage plant was miles inland and conveniently located on the Volturno.
Granted, the U.S. has its Superfund sites, but at least we have acted relatively swiftly to curb our abuses. What I witnessed in Italy was a society and country held hostage by an endemic criminal class that cares nothing about civilization. What a shame. And worse, very few people seemed to even notice or care.
St. Petersburg Your story completely mischaracterizes A.T. Kearney Inc.'s position in the management-consulting marketplace, as well as the firm's relationship to Electronic Data Systems Corp. ("Family feuds don't get nastier than this," Legal Affairs, Feb. 10). A.T. Kearney remains one of the most respected names in management consulting. It is the market-share leader for consulting in automotive, consumer products, retail, communications, and utilities. A.T. Kearney has one of the highest client-satisfaction ratings, with a 90% rate of repeat business, and has worked with a number of clients for 25 years or more.
A.T. Kearney and EDS have made substantial progress on successful collaboration--including securing $6.75 billion in joint pursuits in the past nine months alone. A.T. Kearney is the only high-value-added management consulting firm that can operate as a stand-alone entity with a distinct brand or as part of integrated solutions from EDS.
Electronic Data Systems Inc.
Marketing & Communications
A.T. Kearney Corp.