Monday, March 4, 2013

Sports and Entertainment: Same Old Goal, Brand New Format

This past week my co-workers and I were watching these viral Harlem Shake videos that are on the internet.  Most of them are horrible and just look like goofy people dancing around in costumes.  Then on Friday the best Harlem Shake video to date arrived on the Social Networks.  The defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, decided to make a video.  By far the best Harlem Shake video to date.  It had Lebron James dressed like a king, Dwayne Wade as a teddy bear and Ray Allen as the Phantom of the Opera just to name a few.  When I showed my parents they laughed but were saying that "players in their day never did anything like this."  I beg to differ.


Sports and entertainment have always crossed path.  Sports is entertainment.  As my director at Fox Sports used to say when I was interning, "Athletes want to be entertainers, and entertainers want to be athletes."  Looking back at sports icons through the decades one thing stands out:  they all wanted to be in the spotlight.  Take for instance Joe Dimaggio.  There was no Twitter or Facebook or YouTube so he couldn't be on those, but he did marry Marilyn Monroe, the biggest bombshell of the day.  He hung out with the likes of Sinatra and Martin.  The athletes were in the media spotlight, its just now the platform is in transition.  A few decades Michael Jordan busted on to the sports scene.  This time broadcast media and film were the main platforms.  So where is Michael Jordan?  He's doing commercials with Spike Lee and is in the feature film Space Jam.

Now it is 2013 and athletes still have the same desire to be in the spotlight.  This time the new platform is Social Media.  From YouTube virals, to tweets that are meant to stir up controversy, athletes want to be in the spotlight.

Athletes are athletes; now they are just transitioning onto a new platform.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Effectiveness of Super Bowl Commercials: The Next Big Thing


With the current economic downtime and the current globalization occurring, work hours in America have drastically changed.  Gone are the days of Monday through Friday work for most people that are engaged in watching sports.  Now Americans are working on the weekdays, working after 5 PM and may even have two or more jobs to support their families until this economy gets roaring again.  Many traditional companies need to realize this trend when planning for the Super Bowl.  Every Monday morning I hear radio and television personalities talk about the commercials of the Super Bowl: from the Budweiser Clydesdale's to the always provocative GoDaddy.Com spots.  Unfortunately I never hear any of my co-workers, family or friends talk about them.  All I hear is how long the game is due to those commercials or I hear people say I didn't get to watch the game.  In fact I watched the game with about 10 guys in the break room of a Costco after we clocked out at 7:30 PM.  We caught the last 5 minutes of the game and I couldn't mention to you one commercial.  It is time that companies start to spend their money on a new wave of marketing, Digital Media.

Consumers are now more likely to get digital media content from their phone rather than from their desktop.  A firm called "The Marketing Arm, creators of a season long college football campaign…has tracked usage and found mobile traffic surging ahead of desktop traffic by a 4-to-1 ration.”  The new form of marketing in which consumers are in control don’t get information from their televisions anymore.  Sure it may incite someone to look up a product or generate some “likes” on Facebook, but how many of those advertisements shown during the Super Bowl that cost a company millions of dollars actually generate revenue?  I am no marketing expert, but I have a solution for those companies looking to advertise during the Super Bowl.

My solution is to have the majority of the big money ads split during the NFL Playoffs.  The Super Bowl generates millions of viewers but if you add up the viewers from all the games throughout the playoffs I guarantee you that number is larger than the viewers of the Super Bowl.  For example, guys who work jobs on the weekend may HAVE to work on Super Bowl Sunday, but it may be easier for them to take the Championship Weekend off.  Then during the Super Bowl set up a social media campaign specifically addressed to those people who aren't watching the game.  After all more people are not watching the game than those that are watching the game.

It’s not going to be easy but there have been some good starts to using social media.  Coke Zero had a mobile concierge for the NCAA Final Four, Bud Light Lime staged a 10-city tour of happy hour events that used social media to hand out invitations, and ESPN uses the NBA themed RV tour to generate buzz online.  The NFL and the Super Bowl need to do the same if they want companies to keep investing in Super Bowl ads.  Those ads cannot be the only advertisement.  A highly integrated social media campaign can save companies money and generate more interest than television spots during the Super Bowl.  Gone are the days of Mean Joe Green drinking a Coke and generating beverage revenue for Coke.  Companies need to go mobile soon or they may end up going offline. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Prestige of Kobe Bryant

Last week I was sitting in front of my television with all my DVR shows watched and was extremely bored.  I was thinking about renting The Dark Knight Rises but didn't feel like watching a 2 hour and 40 minute movie.  I decided to watch a classic Christopher Nolan film starring Christian Bale called The Prestige.  During the movie I realized that any movie theme can be related to a sports team and/or player.  It occurred to me that Kobe Bryant is one big enigma and that he will be more valued once he leaves the stage of the basketball court than he does right now.  The Prestige has one of my favorite movie quotes.  Michael Cain's character, Cutter, discusses the three steps that make a good magic trick.  The three steps, the pledge, the turn and the prestige, can sum up Kobe Bryant's career and once the trick is over people will finally see him as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

Below are the three steps along with the quote broken down to correspond with the step.  Underneath the quote is the corresponding year in which Kobe demonstrated that part of the trick.

The Pledge- "The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards a bird or a man.  He shows you this object.  Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal.  But of course...it probably isn't."

1997-2004- Kobe comes into the league, air balls a few important shots, defers to and fights with Shaq, gets accused of rape, and acts like a pompous, loner young adult.  Everything about him screams normal, cocky athlete with a few good games under his belt.  He let's the whole world inspect and judge him only to set them up to pull off the next stage of the trick, The Turn.

The Turn- "The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary.  Now you're looking for the secret...but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking.  You don't want to know.  You want to be fooled."

2004-2012- With the departure of Shaq and the other 3 Lakers starters, Kobe was left all alone to guide is team back to glory.  Just when he seemed normal he started showing something amazing:  Scoring 81 points in a game against the Dallas Mavericks (55 by half time), 50+ points in 4 consecutive games, outscoring the Dallas Mavericks 62-61 through 3 quarters, averaged 35.4 points per game, becoming the Lakers all-time scoring leader and finally winning 2 more championships without Shaq.  Kobe took something ordinary, skills that other players have, and turned it into something extraordinary.  People started asking themselves "How could a person score 81 points in a game?" Kobe then decided to do something shocking through the final stage called The Prestige.

The Prestige- The Hardest Part

Present Day- Now that Kobe is in the twilight of his career (by his own words, not mine) he is setting everybody up for The Prestige.  He decides to do something not typical of Kobe and accept Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on the team knowing that people have criticized him for no being a team player.  Trying to find their identity while being belittled with injuries, the Lakers have not had a great season so far.  Just when everybody thought that Kobe was going to put it in scoring overdrive, he decided to something else.  He became the team's point guard.  He is setting everybody up for The Prestige by leading the league in scoring for the first half of the season while trying to lead the league in assists the second half of the season.  With his newly formed identity on the team the Lakers have won their last 5 out of 6 games after previously losing 10 out of 12 games while he led the team in scoring.

Will Kobe pull off the greatest trick by sending a team that has had 3 coaches, a sub .500 record, a barrage of injuries and have been written off by many fans to even make a dent in the playoffs win a championship?  We will all find out this spring!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm Back!!!!

I have started up my blog regarding all things sports business related.  Topics may be posted multiple times a week or maybe only once a week depending on the flow of the sports coverage out there.  I will try to be short and sweet and will also try to pick up on the business behind the current events.

Monday, April 9, 2007

USC Marshall School of Business: Sports Business Major

The University of Southern California is known for its networking. That is one of the main reasons why students come to USC. Going to USC is about gaining alumni connections along with a reputable degree from one of the major universities in the world. As a business major, I really do not know what it is to be a business major. It is such a broad major that even though I am in the Marshall School of Business I do not know what to concentrate on. Every concentration geared towards seniors seems so generic. While there are few concentrations to actually choose I have decided to become a finance major even though my main passion is Sports Business. Sports Business is a growing major that many major universities are not only adding into their MBA programs but are also adding into their undergraduate programs. Each year the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences asks students to submit proposals of new curriculum that the dean may take into consideration to become a class. My proposal to the USC Marshall School of Business would be to add a concentration of Sports Business to all undergraduates. The Sports Business concentration would be another program in Marshall just like the programs for Real Estate and Entrepreneurship are.

According to Article II, introduction part c of the USC 2004 Strategic plan, USC, “will focus our educational programs on meeting the needs of qualified students worldwide, from undergraduates through continuing professional development.” The undergraduate program of Sports Business will help meet the needs of qualified students and help undergraduates through his or her professional development. There are many qualified schools that USC Marshall School of Business can derive the curriculum for the program from. The University of Oregon, a member of the Association of American Universities, is one of the leaders of this program. With their close connections with Nike and other corporations in Oregon, the University of Oregon has captured the wants and needs of its business students. The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, a subdivision of the Lundquist College of Business, explains to potential students what a Sports Business degree consists of. An example of what the Warsaw Center produces is featured left. The school produces a sports journal review that students and faculty are actively involved with. Students will have the opportunity to concentrate on subgroups of sports business such as sports licensing, sponsorships, sports marketing, and sports law. An example of one such Sports Business class offered to students is SBUS 455, Financing Sports Business. This class will give students a “comprehensive examination of traditional and innovative revenue acquisition methods available to sports organizations. Topics include capital financing, joint ventures, ticket sales, concession operations and fund raising.” There are many reasons why a curriculum such as this can be offered at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. Even though much emphasis is placed on the east coast and much of it being New York, Los Angeles is unique because it is the only place that can house entertainers and athletes equally. New York does not have the “artsy” side that Los Angeles has with Hollywood. USC, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, would be a perfect school to incorporate a Sports Business Major. Home of the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Ducks and USC Football, Los Angeles is one of the major entertainment markets in the world. A degree in Sports Business would help any graduating student find a job in the Sports Business field. I just received an internship from Fox Sports Net (pictured right) in the music department. The music director, Jerry Davis, and I have taken on a “master and apprentice” relationship. He was telling me that it would greatly help anybody that is interested in the music side of sports to have a degree in Sports Business. He has told me that in industries such as music and sports, athletes want to become actors/singers and actors/singers want to become athletes. A degree in Sports Business would help USC students interact with athletes which in turn would help then interact with actors and singers ultimately networking them with people in those industries. After all, sports is entertainment.
Not only is the University of Oregon a strong figurehead in the advocate of Sports Business, but Arizona State University is the strongest. According to W.P Carey MBA program, Sports Business Program website, ASU’s graduate school is the nation’s top ranked business school offering an MBA degree. The school has tightly knit connections with sports teams such as the Phoenix Suns (pictured left) and Coyotes which allows their students to dive into real life job scenarios.The school states that it “offers students a market advantage by delivering sophisticated business skills with practical industry knowledge and experience.” It also says that the sports business is not an “ex-athlete” job anymore; instead, it is a comprehensive, high octane profession that requires much skill and knowledge. While only accepting 12 students a year, the MBA program is one of the most rigorous programs in the nation. USC can capitalize on all the great students that ASU rejected and nurture and train them to become part of the Trojan Family. USC would definitely have students begging to get into its Sports Business program.

Not only would the curriculum be helpful to students with an interest in sports business but the internships and job opportunities would be limitless. Like stated previously, with so many sports franchises, USC would be able to set up internship opportunities, job opportunities, guest lecturers and many more opportunities for students to take advantage of. As a member of the Sports Business Association here at USC, I have already been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that were presented.

According to the Mission Statement of USC, “The principal means by which our mission is accomplished are teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice and selected forms of public service.” I believe that if USC offers a business major of Sports Business it can help accomplish all of these values. Being an athletically focused school and having many alumni become major figures in sports, USC would be the perfect university for a Sports Business Major. USC could become a figure just like ASU, Oregon, and San Diego State are major players in the Sports Business program. The USC Marshall School of Business should take in to consideration offering a degree in Sports Business.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Earvin Johnson: Magical On and Off the Court

With commencement approaching at universities across the nation, this week’s post proposes a nominee for an honorary degree at my home institution, the University of Southern California. In the sports business field there are very few athletes who go on to have a better career after retirement than during their playing days. According to the criteria presented by USC, the individual presented with this great distinction should be one “who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in scholarship… but who may not be widely known by the general public.” The basketball legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson (pictured left) is one of the few athletes who was able to be more successful off the court then on it. Magic Johnson, thorough his business ventures, charity foundations and promotion of AIDS awareness, has made himself a worthy candidate of an honorary doctorate in the category of humane letters at USC.

Johnson is the perfect example of somebody in my field to receive an honorary doctorate the category of humane letters for his role in the Sports Business community. Magic’s Johnson Development provides services, entertainment and jobs to underserved communities. It has partnerships with companies such as Starbucks Coffee, T.G.I. Friday's and 24 Hour Fitness Centers of which he owns more than 30 Burger Kings, nearly 100 Starbucks, a T.G.I Fridays, eight 24 Hour Fitness’ and nine residential and commercial real estate ventures all of them mainly in the inner city helping minorities. In a 2004 USA Today article, we read that Johnson’s enterprise has “spread across the country, including in New York, Chicago, Miami, San Diego, Milwaukee, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and suburban Washington. They have created more than 10,000 jobs, mostly for minorities, since the first was launched in 1993.” When Johnson opened the Magic Johnson’s Theatre (pictured below) with Loews as a partner in the Baldwin Hills area, which is distinctly noted for having a high rate of Bloods and Crips gang members in it, he ‘“brought leaders of both gangs together for a meeting and told them, ‘that this is going to be your theater, and your mother, your sister and your daughter will come here. This has to be a neutral zone. No gang colors, no hats, no graffiti.’” Out of the theatres Johnson owns, that is one of the highest grossing of them all. Johnson’s achievements off the court parallel the idea that James Freedman, author and former president of DartmouthUniversity of Iowa believed when he said that, “a university makes an explicit statement to its students and the world about the qualities of character and attainment it admires most.” The character shown by Johnson to improve the inner city, the gang tensions and other aspects of the community relate to the Universities qualities for an honorary doctorate as well as Freedman’s idea of the honorary doctorate. and the

Another venture that Magic Johnson does is realty. He has helped many minority families across the United States and especially in the Los Angeles area get on their feet and start to live a decent life. Johnson’s Canyon-Johnson Realty Advisors manages the $300 million Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund. The fund uses investment capital from pension funds to develop office, residential and commercial real estate ventures in urban communities. According to a biographical summary of Magic Johnson on NBA.com, “the fund has invested $320 million in 15 projects, facilitating more than $1.5 billion of urban revitalization in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Chicago, Milwaukee and Miami.” Magic Johnson has helped people around the community of USC by revitalizing their neighborhoods and giving them place to live. USC can honor Johnson not only for his work in the community but for his work around the nation as well.

Lastly, Magic Johnson has founded charities to see the decrease of drug abuse and disease in consistent to programs focusing on encouraging higher education. The Magic Johnson Foundation promotes health, education and social needs for inner-city youth. It has set up college scholarships, AIDS/HIV clinics and computer centers. Since the inception of the foundation, Johnson has opened up four HIV/AIDS clinics across the United States as well as creating 22 Magic Johnson Empowerment Centers across the country to help bridge the digital divide in low-income communities. When Johnson retired from the game the majority of fans believed it was only a short time until he would die. He has overcome the odds and inspired millions of HIV/AIDS victims to have a positive view of their situation. His courage and fight has warranted himself the honorary degree. The symbol of the USC Trojan is one that is courageous, and Magic Johnson shows that character.

If anybody in my field of sport business deserves to receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters it is Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He has provided over 15,000 people with jobs, has lessened gang violence in areas where gang violence exists, and has created the community around USC a better place. He generates revenue for the City of Los Angeles by being part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and has even contributed to USC by owning the Starbucks in the University Village that students frequent many times during the week. Magic Johnson not only made basketball what it is today with the “Showtime” Lakers but has once again rejuvenated Los Angeles by investing so much into the city he loves. If Magic was to speak to the students of USC he would encourage them to never give up, lend a helping hand in the community and to always do the best that one can. One of the criteria that distinguish one as an honorary doctorate is, “to recognize exceptional acts of philanthropy to the university and/or on the national or world scene.” Johnson has done such so by the many examples provided throughout this paper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This I Believe: Coach John Wooden's Influence on Me

One of the most influential people in my life I haven’t even met. Even though I have grown up in a Christian household and Jesus is my ultimate hero and role model this man is my second most influential person in my life. He is not related to me and he does not even know who I am, but I know him. He has not only influenced my character but he is the reason for my love for sports. Although he used to work for the “other” school in Los Angeles, Coach John Wooden (pictured left) is one of the most influential people in my life. His philosophy on life, his coaching methods and the quotes that he has produced to inspire people all fit in with what I believe.

Coach John Wooden was the greatest coach to ever coach college basketball. He won ten national championships, won seven of them in a row and at one point won 88 consecutive games. When I first heard about John Wooden’s success as a coach, I quickly wanted to become a coach. His coaching style is one in which he respects his players and treats them like grown men while also making them disciplined and also demanding respect from them. He teaches his players life lessons as well as teaching them lessons on the basketball court. Once I read the Coach’s books I decided to coach my brothers basketball team with my father and best friend. We have been very successful and we credit ourselves with trying to mimic John Wooden’s coaching style. Once I realized my success in teaching players the game of basketball I then decided I wanted to be involved in sports as a profession. I knew then that becoming a sports agent would be ideal because I would treat my clients in the manner that Mr. Wooden would treat his players. Not only has Coach Wooden’s coaching style inspired me, but his philosophy on life has definitely convinced me to live the type of life he has taught to so many individuals.

Coach John Wooden has stated that the way he lives his life is a much greater success than any accomplishment on the basketball court. His philosophy starts by stating that a belief in God is a key to a happy life, and if you do not believe in God believe in something. My family has enriched me in a God loving environment which I am very thankful for. Coach John Wooden created the now infamous Pyramid of Success (pictured below). The Pyramid of Success consists of many different elements which serve as building blocks for success. Wooden gives the definition of success as: a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. Coach Wooden has inspired me to become successful. By following his pyramid, I believe that I can achieve the success that coach Wooden has inspired me with.

John Wooden has created some of the best inspirational quotes that has helped me pursue my goals. Each quote he develops has a different perspective on life that a person should focus on. For example one of my favorite quotes from Coach Wooden is, “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” This quote for example has helped me work within a team and realize that the ultimate goal is getting the work done rather than getting personal credit for the work done. Many other quotes by the coach has helped me get through tough times and uncertain situations.

Coach John Wooden has inspired me to become a sports agent and work within the sport business industry because of his philosophies and coaching style. The way in which Coach Wooden has treated his players has influenced me to not only treat my players that I coach and represent but has influenced the way I treat other people. I can use Wooden’s model for success and life and hopefully clean up the sports agency business. The business is frowned upon in recent years due to the scandals, the money hungry players and the illegal college recruiting that has happened. The values that I have in place that I have learned from Coach Wooden can help me be the best and moral sports agent. Coach Wooden’s philosophies have instilled a belief system in which I fully believe in.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Great Disproportions: Lack of African-American Coaches in Sports

This past week, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, NCAA President Myles Brand and Congressmen from both parties lamented the lack of African-American coaches in college football. Weeks after the NFL made history by having two African-American coaches go to the Superbowl, Jackson and his colleagues tried to point out the discrepancy of minority coaches in NCAA football. All ten coaches in the five BCS bowl games were white and only six out of 119 Division 1-A college football schools had African-American coaches. With the majority of college football players being minorities and the under representation of African-American coaches, a real problem has occurred: minority coaches are not represented as much as white coaches in the ranks of NCAA football and other college and professional sports programs.

According to CSTV, a CBS owned college sports television station, roughly 5% of Division 1-A coaches are African-American. The numbers are even lower when compared to other divisions of college football. In Division 1-AA, five coaches are African-American, two in Division II and one in Division III. In many of the major sports leagues, it has been a consistent pattern that minority coaches are even further misrepresented. Pat Forde, a columnist for ESPN.com, states that 21.9% of the coaches in the NFL are African-American and the DeVos Sport Business Management, a research institute at the University of Central Florida says that, “nearly 22% of NCAA Division 1-A college basketball coaches were African-American.” Even though the numbers are greater in basketball and in the NFL, it is still unfortunate that these coaches are not equal in number to those of Caucasian coaches. These are valid points and should be taken into consideration, but if we examine the proportion of coaches in those sports compared to the population of the United States, we can see why minority coaches may not be represented completely.

If one looks at the United States Census, they would understand why there are very few minority coaches. Of only men in the United States, the Census predicted that in 2005, black men made up only 12.5% of the sample. Now when compared to the proportionality of African-American coaches in the NFL and in college basketball, it has shown that the coaches have made great strides; they almost double their representation in the two leagues than they do in the United States. Unfortunately the group with the majority of people will tend to be the group with the most representation.

A different set of numbers that should be looked at is the demographics of NCAA football athletes. The majority of the players are African-American. If more athletes that are coming in are African-American, should not their coaches be? Unfortunately I do not believe that the two should be mentioned in the same sentence. The two phenomena, minority coaches being hired and minority athletes playing are separate. This is a clear example of the logical fallacy of non sequitor, which tries to tie together logical ideas that cannot be compared to one another. People should be hired on the basis of their skill rather than by the color of the skin. Unfortunately in our society, African-American coaches have to beat out the 87.5% of the Caucasians that are applying while the Caucasian athletes have to beat out the majority of the minority athletes trying out for the team. Even though everybody is created equally, which is the right given to us by the Constitution of the United States, not everybody has an equal chance to succeed due to the population factors shown in the United States.

Minority coaches will almost always be misrepresented due to their lack of numbers in the larger society. The athletic directors of each school should never hire a coach based upon his skin color; rather, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, by the content of their character. Hire the most qualified person and the most of the time the best results will occur.

Monday, February 26, 2007

NASCAR: The Next Big Thing

Sports bloggers like to refer to the three major sports that are found in the United States: football, baseball and basketball. I decided this week to comment on the “supposedly” up and coming sport of the United States, NASCAR. The NASCAR season opened last week with the historic Daytona 500. As you can see from the caption to the left, the race was a close one. It came down to the wire and was the closest margin of victory recorded for that race. The race sparked its endorser, ESPN, to show non-stop coverage of NASCAR on television. The two blogs that I decided to write on, one being on an Anti-NASCAR enthusiast and the other being on a NASCAR writer for the Potomac News, showed two very different sides to NASCAR. Mr. Sikes from Getting Paid To Watch says that NASCAR is not what is shown to be and that the recent television ratings for the Daytona 500 are misleading. Mr. Hunsiker from the Potomac News represents a view that NASCAR can only be a contender to the other major sports if it changes and clarifies its rules.

Mr. Sikes, although I do agree with your opinion that NASCAR is not ALL what it is hyped up to be, I would have to state the opinion that NASCAR is becoming the next big sports phenomenon, not only in the Southeastern region of the United States, but nationally as well. Although the ratings for the Daytona 500 may not have been as high as the race in 2003, it did rake in the largest television rating for that week and for its timeslot that day. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writer Rodney Ho did say that even though the television rating did dip 10% from last year (which was mainly due to it being shown in between the Winter Olympics daytime and prime time coverage on NBC), it did bring in an average of 17.5 million viewers. On a recent episode of Pardon The Interruption on ESPN, the two hosts did comment that the race was the third most watched sporting event within the past year, only trailing behind the World Cup and the Superbowl. I believe that with the intense marketing campaign by ESPN and the widespread word of mouth marketing, NASCAR in the next few years will be rivaling football as the premier American sport.

Mr. Hunsicker, as a fellow sports fan I do not agree that in order for NASCAR to become a contender with the other major sports, it will need to clarify the rules. The reason why it is not a major contender of the other sports is because it is boring to the children. The youth of America is into a fast paced society. Take for instance some random teens’ Myspace and you will see that their background pictures are of Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds or Peyton Manning. No teenager wants to sit in front of the television and see cars race around a track for 200 laps; if anything, they will tune in to the last three laps to see which car won. Another reason why is because most of the drivers are from one distinct area of the country, the south. Children that live on the coasts and mountains do not relate to race car drivers. This is the reason why the NHL has fizzled out in America. Nobody can relate to it. The only way NASCAR will become a serious contender as a major sport, despite having such a huge fan base, is if they get the youth involved. Kids can pick up a football, baseball or basketball but they can not decide to go and race their parents’ car around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Las Vegas 2007: The Reinvention of Kobe Bryant

As the All-Star weekend came and left, the NBA shared some great memories; from the festivities of All-Star Saturday Night where Charles Barkley raced a 67 year-old referee, to the West dominating the East in the actual All-Star Game. In the midst of the game, the parties in Sin City and the host of celebrities, one star shined the brightest out of them all, Kobe Bryant (pictured left). Number 24 was on fire that night shooting a blistering 54% which resulted in 31 points, five rebounds, six assists, six steals, and was crowned the game’s MVP. Kobe is back. The trials and tribulations he has gone through have definitely come full circle and he is once again in the limelight he had before the summer of 2003. Kobe Bryant has finally reinvented himself by winning the MVP at this year NBA All-Star game.

As most people know, Kobe Bryant has been regarded by many as a phony. Always putting on the smile while secretly, behind closed doors, he was a player that nobody actually understood or even had the opportunity to know. Accused of raping a woman in Eagle County, Colorado, Kobe had to constantly endure criticism. From Shaquille O’Neal calling him a “snitch” for giving locker room talk information to Colorado police officials to the fans in practically every arena booing him, Kobe was in the worst state any athlete could be in. Teammates did not like him, fans did not trust him anymore and sponsorships dropped him like a bad habit. It was time for Kobe to be reinvent himself and this season he did; he started new. The first act of reinvention came when he changed his jersey number from 8 to 24. Some critics say that he changed his number so he could sell the most jerseys and earn more money, but I believe it was to present himself in a new image. According to Kobe Bryant himself in a recent article by Jackie MacMullan from ESPN.com, “Everyone says I changed my number to make more money,” he said. “Those people are forgetting I'm a Nike athlete. Adidas owns the NBA jerseys. That doesn't help me any.” The second act of Kobe’s transformation came by the way he changed his playing style on the court. He has finally decided to become a leader, to pass the ball more often and trust in his teammates more than years past. Although the Lakers have lost the last 11 out of 15 games, it was mainly due to injuries to key players such as Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and Luke Walton. Kobe has finally turned his skills around for the betterment of the team.

This past weekend in Las Vegas showed Kobe Bryant’s complete game that many people have never seen before. Hustling for loose balls, throwing alley-oops and getting along with players is a complete 180 degree turn of the Kobe we have come to see in the past. When asked by players this weekend, many of their opinions of Kobe had changed. Allen Iverson, once a player who said that Kobe had no “street-cred” and was selfish, was quoted by sports writer J.A. Adande of the Los Angeles Times as saying, “Kobe's a good dude. I think, sometimes, people are unfair to him. But people are unfair to everybody.”

The ultimate reinvention of Kobe would not have happened without the help of the fans of the NBA because they are showing their support for Kobe like never seen before. Heading into the All-Star break according to NBA polls he was predicted to win the MVP and the most telling story of all is his appearances in visiting teams’ arenas. He is the only player, and this includes Michael Jordan, who has ever been chanted M-V-P and Ko-Be in the opponents arena. In the blog, The Sports-Bizphere, author SPD shows the love for Kobe Bryant by referring to the anger of the New York Knick fans when Kobe Bryant was not allowed to play. In Boston and Atlanta the fans cheered so much for him that it looked like a home game for the visiting Lakers. This weekend at the All-Star Game fans chanted the same things en route to Kobe’s MVP award unlike when he won the award in 2002 in which the fans booed him in his hometown of Philadelphia.

The Kobe Haters, as the sports talk radios call them, need to stop. His court case was dismissed almost 3 years ago; he has transformed from an arrogant, selfish player to a more mature veteran and has changed his image for the good. Kobe Bryant is the best player in basketball not only for his game on the court but the things he does off the court. He made a promotional appearance at the Las Vegas Boys & Girls Club, where he posed for pictures and took questions from 75 kids, he opened the All-Star Saturday festivities by introducing the Rat Pack impersonators, then participated in the skills competition and judged the dunk contest and later that night, he received an award at the Players Association party.”

Finally after three years of turmoil, Kobe Bryant is once again sitting on top of the basketball world trying to handle the torch that Michael Jordan passed to him when Jordan retired.

Monday, February 12, 2007

NBA All-Star Weekend and Dodgers: Critique of Marketing Techniques

This past week I decided to look at the marketing techniques of different sports franchises. The NBA All-Star weekend is coming up so I decided to comment on the blog, hoopsaddict.com, about a post about the NBA All-Star Weekend. The blogger commented about how the dunk competition has lost its importance and how this year’s competition will never match that of the competition from 2000. I commented that for the NBA to “get back” the fans, they should put the dunk competition on hiatus and revive it in a couple of years. The next post I commented on was on a blog called The Sports Economist. The blogger posted about the Dodgers new marketing technique of giving unlimited hot dogs to fans that pay for a ticket in the bleacher section. I commented that I do not believe the Dodgers can get an extra 10,000 people into Dodger Stadium by offering an unlimited hot dogs promotion. This blog was important to me because David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, was used as a source.

HoopsAddict.com
The Sports Economist

Slam Dunk: Take a Break!

With all the hype of the NBA All-Star weekend, I believe the NBA needs to take a break from the Slam Dunk competition. The Rookie-Sophomore game is still fun because of the young talent and the Three-Point Shooting contest is always fun to watch for about a round and a half, but the NBA Dunk Competition needs to go on hiatus for a while. Like already posted, the dunk competition reached its peak in the year 2000. Even last years competition, which did bring excitement, was good…it was not great. The incredible talent of the players today makes it very hard for new dunks to be created. I believe that the NBA needs to take a break from the dunk competition so that in a couple of years from now the hype is back. Fans will be anxiously waiting for the dunk competition to come back and the players that would enter it today would be then superstars and the fans would enjoy it much more. Besides, who wants to see a seven footer, and three no names win a dunk competition?

Dodger Dogs: Will It Really Bring More Attendance?

The Dodgers' attempt to draw more fans may not be as easy as they believe it will. According to ESPN.com, the Dodgers' average attendance this past season was around 46,000 people, second only to the Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees. Even though the Dodgers' are in second place in terms of attendance they are trying to put more fans in the seats by selling unlimited amount of Dodger Dogs. I do not believe this attempt will work. Dodger Stadium can seat a maximum of 56,000 people but will offering unlimited Dodger Dogs put 10,000 more people in the stadium? I do not think so. Even one of my fellow Trojans, Mr. David Carter believes so, but as a business major at USC I do not. With the rise of ticket prices for that seating area, and the already unruly crowd found at Chavez Ravine, will more people come out to see a mediocre Dodger team? If they do, those fans have really fallen into the marketing strategy that the Dodgers' believe they possess.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Concussions: Play or Go Home?

Now that the excitement of the Superbowl has come and gone, we need to all get back to the serious side of sports. Looking past the heroics of the players on the field is a part of the game that no player enjoys and even deeply hurts a player emotionally as well as physically. The event is the dreaded sports concussion. Even though it seems so familiar in our every day lives, concussions are one of the most severe injuries a player can get. Unlike a broken leg or torn tendon, a concussion can severely hurt a person’s motor skills as well as memory loss. Ted Johnson, former linebacker for the New England Patriots and pictured below, is one of these players. After he helped the New England Patriots win three Superbowls in five years he retired and is now suffering after his playing days. Johnson, who is now 34, says, “There's something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started.” The fact that coaches, and sometimes even players themselves, believe that as athletes they are unbreakable. The NFL and all the major sports should not allow players to enter the playing field until cleared so by a physician. Too many people are getting hurt and it is time somebody does something about it.

According to Johnson, he knew exactly when he started his mental decline. After suffering a concussion in August 2002, he received another concussion four days later after his coach, Bill Belicheck, went against the trainer’s recommendation and submitted him to on-field contact. Johnson’s neurologist, Dr. Robert Cantu, chief of neurosurgery and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital believes that Johnson’s concussions “are related to his previous head injuries, as they are all rather classic post-concussion symptoms.” The doctor, the trainer and the player all agreed that he was not ready to go on the field and yet the coach had the ultimate authority and allowed the player to play. When will the NFL stop allowing the coaches and coaching staff to decide when players are healthy enough to come back and play? The NFL should allow the player to play only when trained doctors give the recommendation that the player can go back on the field.

According to the Journal of American Medical Association,” college football players who sustain multiple concussions are at risk for a decline in long-term neuropsychological function.” Now if college football players are at such a risk, what makes the NFL believe that its players aren’t at that risk? Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Union, says that even if a coach says it is alright to play, the player does not have to play if he does not want to. What Mr. Upshaw is cleverly doing is directing the attention away from the NFL and coaches and more to the player. He is not showing any reprimand towards coaches who try to make their players play when they are not able to. He is simply trying to make the players decide for themselves, which is a bad idea because players want to play even if they are unhealthy.

Concussions should be dealt with very seriously and should be treated with respect. The graph to the right clearly shows the cascade of a persons health relative to the time after a concussion occurs. Announcers will constantly say that a player got his “bell rung” when in actuality that player may have received a very serious brain injury. With the tough-it-out mentality of the NFL many youth athletes are suffering concussions. According to the Medical College of Wisconsin, which received a $20,000 grant from NFL Charities to study concussions in high school athletes, 40,000 high school football players suffer concussions every year. Even with the grant that the NFL gave and the information they have received, the NFL still has not reprimanded one coach for allowing a player to play that has not been cleared by a doctor.

If the NFL wants to set an example for the youth, the league and the other major sporting leagues, it will adopt a plan that is similar to the Rugby Union's plan. According to the Rugby Union’s rule book, it states that, “A Player who has suffered concussion shall not participate in any Match or training session for a minimum period of three weeks from the time of injury, and may then only do so when symptom free and declared fit after proper medical examination. Such declaration must be recorded in a written report prepared by the person who carried out the medical examination of the player.” Even though this may seem a little serious, the life of a football player is much more important than the game itself.

The NFL should enable rules that govern head injuries. Cognitive functions, memory, motor skills and lives may be lost if not dealt seriously by the NFL. If the player is healthy let him play, if not let him go home.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Beckham Coming to America: Hard to Attract Target Audience

During this time of month many Americans are focused on football, two teams, facing off in the gridiron in what is now called the Superbowl. Unlike Superbowls in the past, the coaches are getting more attention than the two teams that are going to battle on the fields. But let us turn our attention away from American football and focus on European football, or soccer as it is known to many Americans. Earlier this month a deal was made between the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer and David Beckham (pictured left), midfielder for the Spanish soccer team Real Madrid. According to the contract, the Galaxy offered Beckham $250 million to play for the team for five years. This amount of money and the current status of the MLS make this deal absurd to the avid American sports fan. The confusing part of the contract is how a player that plays in a league that the majority of Americans do not watch will get paid double the amount of the average American athlete. Why would the Galaxy make this deal?

According to BBC Sport, “the contract is a comprised total of his salary, sponsorship contracts, merchandising shirt sales and a share of the Galaxy’s profits.” The reason why this deal is so lucrative is because he is getting paid nearly double the salary of any existing sports contract. The average athlete that played in the MLS last season received a salary of $100,000 and the D.C. United, a team within the league, sold its entire club for $33 million. One of the reasons why is because the Galaxy, which is owned by AEG (logo featured below) which owns several other MLS teams, wants to hopefully draw fans into a sport that few actually care for in America. The problem that the Galaxy failed to realize is that they got the wrong player for the wrong price. Even though David Beckham is internationally recognized as a premier soccer player he may not be received by the majority of the fans of MLS.

The Galaxy should have done its research before signing the English midfielder to the largest sports contract ever. According to Peter Prengaman of the Boston Globe, “the average attendance for MLS soccer games this past season was 15,504 fans and was slightly higher in cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles which have a high percentage of Hispanics living in them.” The MLS needs to realize that its target market is the Hispanic base. For this reason the Galaxy should have tried to sign a well-known Hispanic soccer player to play for them. Hispanic teams come and play at the Los Angeles Coliseum all the time and consistently draw over 60,000 fans per game. If the Galaxy would have invested there time in finding a Hispanic player to sign, they may have appealed to their target audience more.

But the question still remains, with all the evidence that soccer is a game that many Hispanics in America watch, why sign Beckham? The answer is politics and money. David Beckham is holding a soccer academy at the Home Depot Center, home of the Galaxy and is a person that could be marketed very well because he is good looking and friends with Tom Cruise. He is made for Hollywood. The Galaxy are trying to put themselves on the map as a premier sports club in America by selling itself to Hollywood, hoping that many new fans will embrace the sport of soccer.

Unfortunately, even announcing that Beckham would be joining the Galaxy, the talk on every sports station was not questioning the impact David Beckham will create, but how much money he was signed for. After a few days of discussing the Beckham agreement, the sports nation forgot about the deal and went on discussing the NFL playoffs. Even the largest sports contract in the world can not keep Americans focused on soccer, so why does the Galaxy believe that Beckham will?