How Much Do Professional Sports Commissioners Make?

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During tonight’s NBA draft, commissioner David Stern has been shaking hands with the league’s newest crop of rookies, welcoming them into a life of luxury and a potential lockout. If there is a work stoppage, Stern will manage just fine financially. Here’s the scoop on what he and the other major pro sports commissioners earn annually.

David Stern (NBA)

The NBA doesn’t claim tax-exempt status, so Stern’s salary, which is paid collectively by the league’s owners, isn’t public information. Most reports speculate that he makes around $10 million a year, though the New York Daily News cited anonymous “league spies” who revealed that Stern made a whopping $23 million in 2010. In 1990, Stern’s reported salary of $3.5 million was more than the salaries of the commissioners in the other three major professional sports combined. Stern didn’t take a salary during the NBA’s 1999 lockout and he has said he will do the same if the players are locked out when the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30.

Bud Selig (MLB)

In 2009, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said he choked on his vomit when he heard how much the MLB commissioner made.

Van Pelt would later apologize, though Selig had a few million reasons not to be offended. The Sports Business Daily reported that Selig made $18.35 million in 2007, including a $17.5 million base salary, which is the highest salary among the major pro sports commissioners (assuming Stern makes closer to $10 million than $23 million). Selig’s current salary is reportedly just shy of $19 million. In fairness, that’s about the same amount that Giants pitcher Barry Zito will make this year.

Roger Goodell (NFL)

The NFL commissioner cut his salary to $1 at the start of the league’s work stoppage, but you shouldn’t feel too badly for him. Citing the NFL’s tax return, the Sports Business Journal reported in January that Goodell earned $9.89 million in 2010. Interestingly, that made him only the third-highest paid NFL executive. NFL Network head Steve Bornstein and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue earned $12.65 million and $12.51 million, respectively. The majority of Tagliabue’s income was from retirement and deferred pay.

Gary Bettman (NHL)

According to the Sports Business Journal, the NHL commissioner made $7.2 million during the 2008-09 season, which was an increase of 1.7% from the previous year and up from the $5.9 million he earned in 2005-06. Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, who both earned roughly $9 million last season, are among the 20 or so players who earn at least as much as Bettman.

A Couple of Other Commissioners

• MLS Commissioner Don Garber agreed to a contract extension through 2014 that is believed to pay him about $3 million per year.

• PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem earns roughly $5 million annually with the majority of that total coming in the form of performance bonuses.

6 Times the Olympics Have Been Postponed or Canceled

Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed to push the start date back to 2021 after Canada, Australia, and other countries announced they would not send athletes to the Summer Games this July.

The Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, typically bringing more than 10,000 athletes from dozens of countries together every four years, The New York Times reports.

It's extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Since 1896, when the modern Olympic Games began, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war.

The Olympic Games were canceled during World War I and World War II. The 1940 Summer Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, were postponed due to war and moved to Helsinki, Finland, where they were later canceled altogether. The current coronavirus pandemic marks the first time the competition has ever been temporarily postponed for a reason other than war. Here's the full list.

  1. 1916 Summer Olympics // Berlin, Germany
  1. 1940 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland
  1. 1940 Winter Olympics // Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  1. 1944 Summer Olympics // London, United Kingdom
  1. 1944 Winter Olympics // Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
  1. 2020 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan

6 Surprising Ways Baseball Actually Favors Lefties

Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

If you grew up playing baseball, tee-ball, softball, or any other derivative of America’s favorite pastime, you might be familiar with certain positions left-handed people are unofficially prohibited from playing—you’ll hardly ever see a left-handed shortstop or third baseman, for example, because they’d be facing the wrong direction for any throws to the right side of the field. However, there are plenty of other parts of the game that are equally important as efficiently making outs at first or second base, and some of them can even favor lefties. Read on to find out how left-handed batters, pitchers, and more have an edge against their right-handed competitors below.

1. Left-handed pitchers have a better view of first base.

Since a left-handed pitcher faces first base when he’s gearing up to pitch, he can easily see if a first base runner is leading off (i.e. taking a few steps off the bag, with the intention to steal second base). This makes for some pretty spectacular fake-outs where a pitcher will feign throwing a pitch and instead flip it to the first baseman, who can tag the runner out before he can get a foot (or finger) back on the bag.

2. Left-handed batters are closer to first base.

Left-handed batters are simply standing a little closer to first base than right-handed batters. As former MLB player Doug Bernier explained for Pro Baseball Insider, an extra step or so can be the difference between getting thrown out at first base or making it safely there, especially if it’s an infield hit. That said, not everyone agrees the slightly shorter distance to first base is enough to give left-handed batters an advantage on infield hits in general. In a 2007 article for The Hardball Times, John Walsh argued that since lefties hit more ground balls into the right half of the infield—giving first and second basemen a shorter distance to cover to make the out at first—their one-step head start isn’t statistically significant overall.

3. Left-handed batters’ momentum is already carrying them in the direction of first base.

Even if a shorter distance to first base isn’t enough to give a left-handed batter the edge on every occasion, he also has the laws of physics on his side. When a lefty swings, the momentum of the bat is moving to the right—i.e. toward first base—so he gets to run in the same direction he’s already moving. Righties, on the other hand, swing toward third base and have to break the momentum to sprint in the opposite direction. Dr. David A. Peters, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (and baseball aficionado), calculated that lefties’ momentum means they’re able to travel to first base about one-sixth of a second faster than righties.

4. Left-handed first basemen are facing the right direction to throw the ball to another infielder.

If the ball is hit to a left-handed first baseman, he’s already in the ideal position—with his right foot closest to his target—to throw it just about anywhere else in the infield. This is especially helpful when there’s an opportunity to make an out at second or third base, which he’d usually prioritize over the first base out. A right-handed first baseman, on the other hand, might have to pivot as much as 180 degrees to get his left foot where it needs to be to throw it to another infielder.

5. Left-handed batters perform better against right-handed pitchers, which are more abundant.

In baseball, it’s generally agreed that batters fare better when hitting against opposite-handed (OH) pitchers, so much so that coaches sometimes stack their batting lineups with lefties when they know a righty will be pitching, and vice versa. “With the dominance of right-handed pitchers in the game,” Dan Peterson writes for gameSense Sports, “the left-handed hitter comes to the plate with a built-in advantage.” The advantage itself has to do with the direction of the pitches.

“With a right-handed release to a right-handed batter, the ball seems to be coming right at him,” Peterson explains. “The same pitch coming from the opposite side provides a better view across the body.”

6. Right field is shorter than left field in some parks.

detroit tigers comerica park aerial view
An aerial view of the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park.
NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When professional baseball stadiums first started cropping up in the late 19th century, there wasn’t a league-wide set of dimensions to standardize their size and shape (in fact, for the most part, there still isn’t). Since the majority of batters were right-handed—and, as such, more likely to hit the ball into left field—some stadiums featured left fields that were significantly deeper than their right fields. Take Philadelphia’s Columbia Park II, which opened in 1901 with a 340-foot left field and a 280-foot right field. Those short right fields meant left-handed batters would have an easier time hitting home runs. While most modern stadiums have quite literally evened the playing field with more symmetrical dimensions, some of them still have discrepancies; the right field foul pole at the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park, for example, is a whole 15 feet closer to home plate than its left field foul pole.

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