Monday, July 30, 2012

Pay the Refs!

Every Sunday in football season whether fans are watching their TV's or are at the game live, they love to yell. Most of the yelling is geared toward...... the referees. I am not exempt from this large group of people, when I see what I think is a bad call against my team I get furious. Referees endure much scrutiny from fans when they perform poorly, yet are never recognized for the good work they do. The pressures of being an NFL referee is intense.

Since June 3rd the NFL referees have been locked out. There has been much speculation on whether or not they will negotiate a contract in time for the season. Many have said that it is likely that NFL refs are going to miss some preseason games at a minimum. This will mean replacement refs. If this scenario plays out, it will not take long for fans to become outraged. The skill level of the current refs is often overlooked because of a few bad calls. Replacement refs will be nowhere near the quality as current referees. One potential positive that can come from the replacement referee situation in the NFL is a new presence on the field that has not been seen, a woman. According to an ESPN article, the NFL has confirmed that a woman referee will be apart of the replacement referees used.

The NFL referees have not received a pay increase since 2006. Yes 2006. This is outrageous when thinking about the pay increases that players have received every single year. It is understandable that players make the sport money, not the referees. The referees do provide a service to the league that I am afraid is being overlooked, integrity. When fans tune in on Sundays it is imperative for them to have faith in whats taking place on the field. If fans do not trust the game, they will not devote as much time and energy as they currently do. A season filled with replacement referees will be bad news for the NFL.

For the National Football League to put its league integrity on the line, the referees must be asking for a big pay raise. Right? WRONG.

Depending upon experience and other factors, current referees in the NFL make only between $25,000 and $90,000 per season. They are currently asking for an 8% increase in pay. To be put in perspective, an 8% increase in pay would cost each team about $100,000. That type of money means nothing to NFL franchises. Currently the NFL is offering about a 2.5% increase, that is just degrading.

The former Vice President of NFL officiating, Mike Pereira, said about the replacement referees, "There are officials with high school experience only. There are officials who were dropped from their college conference. Three officials from the Pac-12 Conference that were not rehired this season for performance reasons are now going to work NFL games."

Final Thought
Stop risking the integrity of the NFL and pay the referees.


Dollars & Sense - Steven Jackson


That’s the word that comes to mind what I think of St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson.  On Tuesday, Jackson told Pro Football Talk Live that he wanted to retire as a member of the St. Louis Rams and was working on a contract to fulfill his desires. 

Throughout the 8 year career of the now 29 year old, Jackson has been nothing short of a workhorse running back in every sense of the word.  The 6’2” 241 lb. Jackson has averaged over 265 carries per year with 7 straight 1000 yard seasons (only season he did not reach 1000 yards was his 2004 rookie campaign).  The big bodied Jackson has also been a viable threat in the passing game averaging over 45 catches throughout his career.  Currently the active leader in career rushing yards with almost 9100 yards, Jackson is a physical specimen to be reckoned with.  At the 2004 NFL Draft Combine, he ran consistently in the 4.5s in the 40 yard dash not to mention scoring a respectable 28 on the Wonderlic test. 

When Steven Jackson was drafted by the Rams with the 24th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, the team was on the backend of their days as the “Greatest Show on Turf”.  Since then, the team has languished.  Jackson has been the piece holding the team together throughout.  Constantly playing hurt for the good of the team, Jackson couldn’t care less if the team was 3-13 or 8-8; he was playing football.  Playing through injury has been a consistent piece of Jackson’s career, showing the colors for a true team player each and every year. 

Since baseball guys like Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith, and Dave McNally made free agency the cool thing to do since the 1970s, athletes in all leagues have not been shy to use their power to move anywhere and everywhere.  Free agency does not discriminate against league either.  Recently the NBA has been seen as giving free agency a bad name with guys like LeBron James making their decisions into a public spectacle all while attempting to align the star power among a handful of teams.  Some people see it as selling out.  Some people see it as athletes just trying to better their career and chances of winning.  Free agency is one of the reasons that the NFL has been dubbed “Not For Long”. 

With the vast majority of professional athletes making a uniform change at one point or another during their career, there is something to be said about guys that decide to stick out their careers with the organization it all began with.  It seems to be almost admirable.  Current athletes like Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant (I know he was a draft day trade from the Hornets), and Mariano Rivera come to mind as guys that have stuck it out with their original teams.  Those guys are all-time greats in their respective sports.  Steven Jackson is a guy that has a chance to be among them.

It would have been easy for Steven Jackson to demand a trade or hold out or simply not sign an extension.  Instead, he saw his work through and now he wants to continue seeing it through until the end.  Coming up on the dreaded running back age of 30 years old, Jackson already has the mileage on him of a 1967 Chevy pickup truck.  There is something truly admirable about what Jackson has done.  Throughout his career he has laid it on the line every season, every game, every down through injury and atrocious Rams teams of the late 2000s.  He has done it all without ever needing to be the highest paid running back in the NFL.  He has done it all with minimum complaint, no hold outs, and no arrests (In 2010 he was accused of domestic assault however the accusations came 10 months after the fact, Jackson was never charged, and he issued his own personal statement to meet the allegations head on).  Most of all he has done it all with the respect, integrity, and character that our ideal view of athletes outlines. 
Let Steven Jackson serve as an example to all aspiring professional athletes.  When faced with a losing team or a contract dispute, don’t make a public spectacle of the situation (and for the love of God do not pull a Dwight Howard).  When Coach continues to call halfback dives straight into the A gap on the goal line, continue to put your head down and do the job that lies ahead.  When faced with adversity, meet it head on.  Own up to mistakes and admit guilt.  If faced with a rocky stretch either on or off the field, use Steven Jackson’s actions as guidance.  Steven Jackson is a true professional and that is something to respect.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Once Upon a Box Score

Welcome to the Route 30 Detour! US Route 30 intersects at I-95 in Philadelphia and goes from coast to coast, including passing through Pittsburgh and the home of Drexel University SMT student and blog contributor, Bryan Fyalkowski (@fyalkowski)...

Sometimes I miss the simplicity of sports before the emergence of the internet, most notably the newspaper. There are many reasons why newspapers are dying, and the traditional box score is dying with them.

Do not get me wrong, watching an in-depth online box score update every thirty seconds has its benefits, but the classic look of a newspaper box score has always been very appealing to me. In fact, I learned how to do basic math by adding up the stats in the MLB box scores.

There is something so innocent about knowing only the basics of a box score, while being able to piece the stats together to use your imagination to create your own specifics of the game. There is no play-by-play, just a grid of stats and list of happenings.

AB, R, H, RBI, BB, K and AVG for hitters. IP, H, R, ER, BB, K, NP and ERA for pitchers. The stats our forefathers created and nothing more. A list of the extra-base hits, not separated by team. Letters next to players in association with notes at the bottom to signify when they pinch-hit and who they pinch-hit for. It is utter brilliance in simplicity.

The Philadelphia Inquirer sports section from July 8, 2012.

On the other hand, a typical ESPN box score is a perfect example of getting all the information you could possibly want out of a two-dimensional game story. In addition to the stats in the newspaper box score, this has added intricate numbers such as OBP, SLG, NP (for hitters), GB/FB (for pitchers) and a play-by-play of the scoring.

It really is the age of basics vs. the age of the all-knowing. To be honest I have not been reading newspapers at all since I came to college because of some of the reasons expressed in the first link of this post. Newspapers cost money, the internet is on my computer and iPhone and I want the immediacy of information.

But from time to time, I think back to the time when I walked down my front steps every morning to grab the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and peel it open to the sports section. It was a simpler time but a restricting time, which has since evolved. Sadly, because it had no other choice.

Enjoy your trip back to I-95 and I'll see you next week!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quick Hits

Here are some amazing photos from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony via Huffington Post.

Here’s a BBC video on the transporting of Olympic luggage...sounds boring, but you’ll be surprised by the staggering numbers of equipment.

Amy K. Nelson of SBNation captured the true feeling of fans in this video on the Ichiro trade.

Jeff Darlington of discusses how the iPad is revolutionizing playbooks.

It’s Fifty! Rapper 50 cent has founded TMT Promotions (The Money Team), a business to promote professional boxers.

In the wake of reports on the NCAA sanctions on Penn St., the Associated Press published an article discussing the impacts on the “Happy Valley” community.

Dan Wetzel says that London made a bad decision in not acknowledging the 1972 Munich massacre.  

Adam Scott chokes and the Big Easy prevails at The Open Championship.

Cal Ripken Jr’s mom was abducted at gunpoint and then found unhurt.

Cole Hamels gets his deal with the Phillies.

The new Sports on Earth website had its soft launch on Friday. Check out some of their opening pieces.

Bill Simmons finally makes it to his first Olympic Games.

Teams Getting Innovative

Previously I wrote an article on the Minnesota Timberwolves and their new social media website. After writing that piece, I was thinking about how important it is for professional franchises to be innovative. Franchises that are innovative set the standard for their leagues and provide a path for others to follow. I found some teams utilizing interesting ideas to help excite the fan base.

Detroit Pistons
It is no secret that the Pistons have struggled in recent years on the court. For the 2012-2013 the Pistons have found a way to make current fans happy and potentially attract new fans to come to games. The Pistons have decided to give season ticket holders a jacket with a radio frequency chip embedded in the jacket. The embedded chip can be used for discounts that include 20% off food and 30% off merchandise. The Pistons may not be considered true innovators of the idea, but they are trying to mimic success. The first teams to use the RFID (radio frequency identification) technology come from the Tampa Bay area. The Rays and the Lightning use similar technology. The purpose of this technology can be overlooked. Not only does the technology provide fans with a unique experience that can get fans of all ages excited to go to games, the technology can help teams learn about their fans. The technology can track what food and merchandise certain fans like to purchase. This information can help teams when it comes to providing items that they believe fans will purchase.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles have partnered with Aurasma to enhance the ticket experience for fans. For the upcoming season the Eagles will be the first NFL team to have the new technology on the front of their tickets. Fans will be able to use the official Eagles Mobile App to get highlights, game previews, and messages to fans from Eagles players. Fans will use the camera like technology to scan the ticket which will trigger all the available content. Each game will have a different player printed on the tickets, and each game will offer different content. The Eagles are not in a position where they need to sell tickets, but staying ahead in technology will benefit the Eagles.

Final Thought
Innovation is imperative in all industries, sport included. There are always new ideas that teams and leagues are creating to make games more interactive and fun. As technologies get more advanced, the comfort of watching a game in HD or even 3D from a family room is enticing. Fans do not need to worry about traffic, high parking cost, weather, and high food cost. Teams and leagues need to feel the constant pressure to improve or risk losing fans to technology. I would like to see and expect further innovations in the future. For the NFL, a major problem for fans is fantasy football. Fantasy football has become widely played and fans are constantly needing to see statistics on games. On an application like the Eagles Mobile App, I fully expect a place where you can list your fantasy players and statistics will be given throughout the game. For Major League Baseball, they face a different challange. The game is often considered too slow for the average fan. I think applications that allow fans to stay involved in the game are necessary for success. When it comes to technology... the options are endless. I look forward to see what future innovations teams and leagues have in store.


Miami Marlins - A Continued Disgrace

Last year, the Florida Marlins languished into one of the forgotten clubs of Major League Baseball.  They finished with a 72-90 record; a mere 30 games behind the NL East winning Philadelphia Phillies.  The fans weren’t necessarily behind their team either as seen by the average attendance that was barely an arm and a leg above 19,000 (19,007 to be exact).  Barely reaching 19,000 fans per game put the Marlins in the solid position of 29th out of 30 major league ball clubs.  Something had to be done.

The Marlins brass had a plan.  Getting out of the dump that was Sun Life Stadium was step number one for the organization.  That was covered with the new $500 million+ Marlins Park that was opened on opening day of the 2012 season.  It was new. It was bold.  It was located in Little Havana, the perfect location to reach that strong Latino following.  They changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. 
To go along with the change of name, the team needed a change of color.  The team decided on a bold new color scheme of red-orange, yellow, blue, black, and white.  It was new.  It was hip.  It was the new thing to wear.  Merchandise sales rose.
Of course, the team needed a fiery new manager that would burn just as hot as that red-orange highlighted “M” on the Marlins’ cap.  Ozzie Guillen was the logical choice after burning a rift so deep that the White Sox could not wait to move him along.  To make the choice in manager even better, Guillen relates well with the Latino community due to his Venezuelan heritage (let us ignore Ozzie’s Fidel Castro gaffe.  We can chalk that up to “Ozzie being Ozzie”.).
Last but certainly not least, the bold new Marlins made the bold offseason moves that were seemingly needed to make the team a contender.  They went down to the wire in talks with free agent superstars Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.  The Marlins went bigger than ever before in the franchise’s history by signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell.  The team jumped its payroll from just above $57 million in 2011 to a club record $118 million in 2012. 
The Miami Marlins seemed to have rebranded themselves as a winner in a state of the art ballpark.  The hype machine was certainly churning as the 2012 season approached.  This team was bold and brash and brazen just as the planned wanted them to be.  Things were finally looking up.  Well, things were looking up on paper at least. 

As the trade deadline looms, a mere four days away, the Marlins seem to be in the midst of another of their infamous fire-sales due to being 13.5 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals (as of Wednesday 7/25).  In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, the Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez, the face of their franchise (or at least he was supposed to be), to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a very underwhelming package of minor leaguers.  The key point of the deal, you may ask?  The Dodgers agreed to pick up all of the rest of Ramirez’s contract (in typical Marlins fashion). 

The worst part is that Hanley Ramirez may not be the only player traded.  Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were traded to the Detroit Tigers earlier in the week.  Right handed power pitcher Josh Johnson is rumored to be getting shopped around by the team.  It is most likely safe to assume that a contract like Jose Reyes’s isn’t safe come 4pm July 31st either. 
So what is actually wrong with the Marlins being sellers at the deadline?  Major league teams do it each and every year, so what really is different?  The Marlins organization tried to build a brand; a brand of a winning ball club.  However, the Marlins’ suits seem to have forgotten that plans for rebranding a professional baseball team and building a championship team don’t happen overnight.  They certainly do not happen in the course of one season either.  These things take time.  Half of one Major League Baseball season isn’t exactly enough time. 

It seems that the Marlins are panicking.  Attendance at the new Marlins Park is the lowest among first year stadiums in the past three decades.  The team is selling off franchise caliber players.  In the process of their deadline dealings, the Marlins are alienating their fan base.  By the way, this is a fan base that has cost the team well over a billion dollars when stadium, merchandise design, and player contracts are considered.  Then to go sell out on those fans that the team worked so hard to earn just because the team isn’t in the playoff hunt?  Have some patience!  This is the reason that players are signed to long term contracts anyway.  Instead of creating more holes by trading away able-bodied and able-minded major league players for prospects, shouldn’t the current holes on the team be filled?  The first year of not only a new stadium but an entire organization wide rebranding effort as well is paramount to sustained success.  The organization must commit to the plan, not give up on it half way through year one. 

People will argue and point to the team’s World Series championships in 1997 and 2003.  Yea, those are great, but we are about 10 years past that.  Frankly, this team is poorly run and it comes from team owner Jeffrey Loria at the top.  His typical style has been to be bold for a little while and then to fizzle out for a longer while.  This time, the Marlins gave up too quickly.  The team will be lucky to retain any significant amount of fans after this season.  The Marlins may have a different home, a different look, and different players on the field, but this team is just what they have always been: a disgrace to Major League Baseball.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BREAKING: Twitter Sucks Sometimes

Welcome to the Route 30 Detour! US Route 30 intersects at I-95 in Philadelphia and goes from coast to coast, including passing through Pittsburgh and the home of Drexel University SMT student and blog contributor, Bryan Fyalkowski (@fyalkowski)...

I have very particular expectations of the sports accounts I follow on Twitter; accurate and quick information. Above other sports, I want to know about everything that is happening in the MLB. I also follow handful of other accounts to cover the basics of the other sports, but since it is offseason for all the other major sports, MLB is the most prudent information for me at this time. I only follow approximately 120 accounts in total and they usually get me the information I want.

In the past two days, there have been occurrences of false breaking news on my Twitter feed, which is very upsetting. It is not only upsetting that I got the wrong information at the time, because I obviously was able to find the correct story later on. What is most upsetting is in the hunt for being the first to report a story, these reporters had no regard for the ethics of Twitter journalism.

In the afternoon of July 23, Mark Bowman, beat writer for the Atlanta Braves, announced Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was headed to Atlanta for pitcher Randall Delgado. This was not some kind of misunderstanding. In the tweet, Bowman "Confirmed Ryan Dempster is coming to the Braves..."

Apparently "confirmed" is an awfully loose word. Less than 100 minutes later, Dempster tweeted from his foundation's official account that "THERE IS NO TRADE..." Well, it seems like something was lost in translation.

The issue with the potential deal was that Dempster is a 10/5 player. For non-MLB bylaw know-it-alls out there, it means Dempster has been in the MLB for at least ten years and with the same team for at least the last five years. Therefore, he has the right to veto any trade. Since, Dempster has exercised his right to veto and the trade to the Braves is no more.

For Bowman, his tweet was RT over 700 times, although some of those could have been due to it being a laughable report. In addition, the MLB's official account tweeted the news with Bowman as the original source. @MLB has over 2.3 million followers and this specific tweet was RT over 1,200 times. It is astonishing how many people got the wrong information with just one tweet, but that is the way breaking news works nowadays.

In an article titled "Braves reach agreement to acquire Dempster," which was posted 40 minutes after his original tweet, Bowman mentions the 10/5 rule and Dempster having the option to veto the deal. That is all Bowman needed to say in his original tweet. If he just posted "Deal in place for Braves to acquire Dempster..." or something along those lines, he would have been able to confirm later while still getting credit for being the first to report the trade.

In this instance, Bowman did not think clearly before he tweeted and made a huge mistake to MLB fans in general, more specifically Braves and Cubs fan bases, while offending Dempster in the process. Meanwhile, Bowman has not apologized about this on Twitter, just updated a post, saying "Braves close to deal for Cubs' Dempster..." Please.

The second instance involved Jon Morosi, a second-tier baseball reporter (behind Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, etc.) for and the Pittsburgh Pirates on the evening of July 24. A trade for Houston Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, was first reported by Tom Singer, beat writer for Pittsburgh, and later confirmed by Heyman, with initial credit given to Singer.

However, Heyman did not name any players going from the Pirates to the Astros, which frustrated me at the time while I was updating my Twitter feed every 30 seconds trying to evaluate the trade. The first reporter to name names was Morosi, who said that AA-level outfielder Robbie Grossman was headed to Houston, about 25 minutes after Heyman originally confirmed the deal.

Pirates fans rejoiced on my feed because they thought he was the only one involved. Grossman is a solid prospect, but a 22-year old with a sub-.800 OPS at the AA-level does not necessarily translate to a great Major League player. Five minutes later, Morosi tweeted that 19-year old A-level shortstop Alen Hanson, one of the Pirates prospects with major upside, was also included.

Morosi then got his story mixed up by claiming there was "contradicting information on Hanson's inclusion." Wow, would you not want to sort out this "contradicting information" before you sent breaking news out to 53,500 of your trusting followers? A few minutes later, the Pirates official account trounced all rumors by tweeting the actual players involved in the deal: Robbie Grossman, AAA-level pitcher Rudy Owens and A-level pitcher Colton Cain.

In the end, even though Heyman frustrated me by not initially reporting who the Pirates included in the deal, it was the right thing to do because not all the information was 100% trustworthy. Morosi fell into the first to report trap and looked like a moron because of it. Since then, there have been no apologies on his feed and he faces no public repercussions other than the disappointment of the people who trusted him for solid information, myself included.

One thing I can say about Morosi and Bowman in these instances is that they did not go back and delete the incorrect tweets. Even though neither has come forward and apologized to this point, it says something that they will face the music and take some kind of public backlash for their mistakes. However, these situations go to show that journalism is first and foremost about accurate information, which is clearly much more important than having it be quick and false.

Enjoy your trip back to I-95 and I'll see you next week!

GUEST POST: Reaction to The NCAA Sanctions on Penn State

This piece was written by Dan Ryan. Dan is a graduate of Quinnipiac University, where he majored in marketing and minored in public relations. Currently, Dan is a sport industry professional and is earning his Masters in Sport Management from Drexel University. From the I-95 crew, thanks for writing Dan!

into storage it goes...
The Penn State scandal has taken a mind of its own. As many sports related scandals go, similar to shark infested waters, once there is one drop of blood the feeding frenzy begins. Cue the media, the public, all lining up to take their own personal shot at the crucified remains of the Penn State Football program. At what point is enough enough When does the persecution stop and the healing begin?

Without doubt, some of the penalties handed down to Penn State make sense in my opinion. The $60 million fine going to programs designed to deal with victims of child sexual abuse (and the same with the Big Ten's decision to deny Penn State its share). The five year probationary period. All are just in my eyes.

However, the remaining sanctions seem to be as accurate as buck shot. Why penalize people who are guilty of nothing, the coaches attempting to rebuild today and most of all the student-athletes, who are supposed to come first in all NCAA-related deliberations? Reducing the scholarships to a near crippling point, removing all postseason play, all actions directly penalizing the people in place today that will be responsible for picking up the carnage left by one individual's actions and several others poor judgement.

As for erasing 111 of Joe Paterno's wins from the Penn State and NCAA record books, in what way does that bring justice to the young men whose lives will never be the same because of the horrible acts committed by Sandusky? What competitive advantage did Penn State gain from failing to act on an assistant coach who was suspected of child
abuse? The NCAA has decided not only to join the witch hunt, but lead it by tearing down the legacy of a now defenseless man who single handedly made Happy Valley what it is today.

Penn State's decision to tear down the Paterno statue is just another example of "a panicked response to the public's understandable revulsion." I understand and believe what Joe did and what he failed to do is unforgivable, but he also did so much good for the university as a whole, not just their athletics. No matter how deep the new, frightened leaders of PSU try to bury Joe Pa's legacy, the good and the bad, he will always be first in everyone's mind when you step foot in Happy Valley. Why not embrace that and let the statue serve as a reminder. By tearing it down it makes everyone forget the past. What we need to do is remember the past, no matter how painful the memory is.

As for the current and future players, the question is asked, Would you stay? The way I see it is this entire scandal, all the public opinion placed on this school, comes down to the question "if it was me, what would I do?" Well the public came out in crowds proclaiming had it been them they would have stepped forward immediately, they would've stopped Sandusky if they were Mike Mcquery, if they were Joe Paterno, they would've always made the right decision and never made a mistake. The only problem is we are all human, and none of us are perfect. Many of these same people are now saying leave PSU and try to avoid the darkest period in college football history, you shouldn't suffer because of the actions committed by someone else.

If we have learned anything from this tragedy it should be not to run from the problems that stand in our path, but confront them and move past them right now. To the players who have a decision to make, I hope they see the mistake Joe made in attempting to tip toe around the allegations rather than face them head on. PSU Football was built on pride. The players who take the field at Beaver Stadium over the next four years are not playing for bowls or championships, nor are they playing for themselves. They are playing to restore a legacy that took 54 years to build and just 9 months reduce to rubble. These men are playing for the healing and forgiveness of others.

Monday, July 23, 2012

TV's Tuned in for the Open Championship

Before the start of the Open Championship (British Open), Kevin Rossi wrote a preview post. Although he missed on the winner, he was correct in saying that Tiger would be in contention. Tiger Woods being in contention at a major championship is one of many factors that plays into TV ratings for the sport of golf. Other factors include the time of the tournament and the competitiveness of the tournament.

Tiger Effect
No matter what the public perception is of Tiger Woods, there is no denying that he is critical to the game of golf and critical to TV ratings. Tiger Woods missed half of the 2008 season due to a knee injury. In the tournaments that he missed while hurt, TV ratings feel 47% compared to 2007 when he played in those tournaments.

For the 2012 Open Championship, Tiger was a contender throughout. In 2011, Tiger announced that he would miss the Open Championship because of injuries. The TV ratings show the "Tiger Effect." The 2012 Open Championship saw TV ratings on Friday that were up 50% from 2011, ratings were up 67% on Saturday from 2011 and ratings were up 50% for Sunday's final round compared to 2011. There is no hiding what Tiger means to the game of golf.

Fans love the fist pump

Tournament Time of Day
Time of day is a considerable factor in the ratings of golf. The Open Championship is on very early in the morning (for I-95ers) with coverage beginning as early as 4:30AM. The West Coast is better off staying up all night if they want to watch coverage of the tournament. Then there are tournaments like the US Open, where location varies. When the tournament is held on the East Coast, we can expect the final round to end around 7pm eastern. When the tournament is held on the West Coast, we can expect a prime time finish for the east coast at around 10pm. The 2012 US Open took place on the West Coast and finished in prime time, the 2011 US Open took place on the East Coast and finished considerably earlier. The results of the time difference were clear. Ratings were up 29% this year from last year. 

Competitiveness of the Tournament
Competition in a tournament is a result of the players who are playing, the importance of the tournament and how close the top players on the leader board are to each other. The players who are in a tournament is an important factor. We saw earlier the effect of Tiger Woods on the game, in tournaments without key players ratings are naturally down. When it comes to the importance of a tournament it is obvious that viewers rather watch majors over any other tournament. Unless a record is on the line, people want to see a close tournament. When a leader takes over a tournament, people tend to tune out. In 2011, Rory McIlroy won the US Open. Rory blew away the field, but ratings were down 26% compared to the  2010 Open.

Final Thought
I consider myself a big golf fan, but a bigger Tiger fan. I was glued to the TV as Tiger had a shot at winning another major. Once Tiger was out of the tournament, I lost most of my interest. In fact, at that point I went and hit the links myself. Fortunately for the viewers still watching, the tournament had an exciting ending. Ernie Els played solid golf and made a clutch (ended up being REAL clutch) putt on the 18th green to post a score of 7 under. Els post of 7 under plus an Adam Scott collapse gave Ernie his fourth career major championship. Quite an accomplishment.

Ernie Els takes home the hardware for the 2012 Open Championship


Statistics from,,,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dollars & Sense - London 2012 Olympics

The time has finally come. 

It is the week of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.  This week we set aside the 8 years of politics that it took to not only secure the Games but to make it all happen.  This week we set aside the controversy and bad blood that we saw with Saudi Arabia contemplating banning their women from the Games (they ultimately decided to allow women to participate).   Finally, it is time for the glory of athletics in its finest and most prideful form. 

London 2012 By the Numbers
$15,000,000,000 is the estimated cost of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
$2,500,000,000 was the first proposed cost of the London 2012 Olympic bid.
Hundreds of millions of people will watch from their home countries.
8,800,000 tickets were to be sold for the Games.
700,000 (up to) volunteers (Game-Makers) will be needed to put on the Games.
10,000 (over) athletes to compete for the gold.
995 euros was the starting price for tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies which is equivalent to a little over $1200. 
302 events to medal in.
269 female athletes will compete for the United States.
261 male athletes will compete for the United States.
205 countries will compete for gold.
110 medals is the number of total medals the United States won in Beijing in 2008.
38 different venues will be used for Olympic competition.
36 of those 2008 US medals were gold.
17 days of competition.
11 official sponsors of the Olympic Games.
2 is the place that the United States finished in Beijing in 2008.
1 is what the United States Olympic team will strive for in London 2012.
Olympic Sponsors By the Numbers (via The Guardian)

Company            Type      Value, $m, total known deal       £m         
Coca Cola             Worldwide          100         64           1
Acer                       Worldwide          100         64           2
Atos                       Worldwide          100         64           3
GE                          Worldwide          100         64           4
Dow                       Worldwide          100         64           5
McDonald's        Worldwide          100         64           6
Omega                 Worldwide          100         64           7
Panasonic            Worldwide          100         64           8
P&G                       Worldwide          100         64           9
Samsung              Worldwide          100         64           10
Visa                        Worldwide          100         64           11
Adidas                  London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           1
BMW                     London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           2
BP                           London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           3
British Airways  London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           4
BT                           London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           5
EDF                        London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           6
Lloyds TSB           London 2012 Olympic Partners   63           40           7
Adecco                 London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           1
ArcelorMittal     London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           2
Cadbury               London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           3
Cisco                      London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           4
Deloitte                  London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           5
Thomas Cook     London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           6
UPS                        London 2012 Olympic Supporters             31           20           7
Aggreko               London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           1
Airwave               London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           2
Atkins                   London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           3
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CBS Outdoor      London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           5
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Eurostar               London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           7
Freshfields BD   London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers   15           10           8
G4S                        London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           9
GSK                        London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           10
Gymnova            London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           11
Heathrow Air.    London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           12
Heineken UK     London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           13
Holiday Inn         London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           14
John Lewis          London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           15
McCann World  London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           16
Mondo                 London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           17
Nature Valley    London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           18
Next                      London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           19
Nielsen                 London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           20
Populous             London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           21
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Thames Water  London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           25
Ticketmaster      London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           26
Trebor                  London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           27
Westfield            London 2012 Olympic Providers and Suppliers    15           10           28

What does is all mean?
The Olympic Games are truly a mega event in every sense of the phrase.  No other event in the world brings countries together in the way that the Olympics do, not even the World Cup.  The Olympics are huge on every single level; the pinnacle of athletic competition and certainly the pinnacle of sports business dollars.  However, as Biggie Smalls said so eloquently, “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”.  There is a great deal of controversy that comes with the Games.  Terrorist threats, country-wide debt, frivolous government spending, countries making political statements, boycotts, athletes changing countries, athletes doping, spectator safety and security, transportation, lodging, venue construction, ambush marketing, the list goes on and on almost endlessly.  Yet in spite of it all, there is something perceived to be so graceful and so pure.  The Olympic Games are a grand spectacle and marathon event that the entire world will tune in to see.  London 2012 Summer Olympic Games will begin this Thursday July 27 with the Opening Ceremony.  Enjoy, World.

Click here for a link to the full London 2012 schedule (day by day).

The Debate - Rising Player Arrests

Given the frequent arrests of high profile professional athletes, what rules/regulations would you put in place to slow the growing epidemic?

Kevin Rossi
Whenever I think about the answer to this question, I wonder if there really is any reasonable means to lower the frequency of athlete arrests.  This may sound odd, but when I think of this issue, I immediately think of Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 novel Blink (sorry this may sound crazy).  In Blink, Gladwell talks about decisions that we make in the blink of an eye.  Basically it is about the things that we can do with our subconscious.  In the chapter titled The Locked Door, Gladwell discusses the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.  In this area, to sum it up for my point, we make quick decisions and process fear and consequences.  People that are lacking in terms of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex can have trouble linking their actions to the consequences.  They know that it’s wrong and they know the consequences, but their actions/words don’t match their conscious knowledge.  My point is, I wonder if there is any link between arrests and the sports that people play.  It seems that a lot of the arrested athletes are NFL players.  We know there are dangers to playing football but players ignore them anyway.  Could that be the same with their decision to get behind the wheel?  It would take a lot of further research but I think that would be an extremely interesting research study.  You’re welcome to whoever I just gave a thesis topic.  Anyhow, back to answering the question.  I’m really not sure about the reasonable needs to accomplish lowering arrest rates.  Anybody could go and say to make a one year ban for a guy that is arrested for DUI, but that isn’t reasonable.  Could there be suspensions on an ascending scale; each time a player is arrested the more games suspended?  I think that’s a bit more plausible.  Regardless, it is past the point of team executives sitting back and holding their breath over the offseason.  Teams must keep tabs on their players year round.  It could be expensive, but so could the team’s PR hit.  Clearly players do not respond to the fact that they are role models to kids.  The media tries to pull that one every single time a player is arrested, and players obviously do not take the hint.  It may really come down to how much teams are willing to spend to keep track of their players.  It also may come down to continuing to collectively hold our breath and pray for the best.  I know this would never happen, but wouldn’t it be awesome if team publicists made the arrested player speak for himself?  Nothing prepared, no team statement, no nothing.  Make every player go all Josh Hamilton on us but fail miserably.  Maybe public embarrassment can teach the lesson?  

Seth Breeden
Reading through the debate question this week, the first thought that comes to my mind isn’t about what rules or new policies that leagues should institute. Instead, my initial thought is befuddlement. I just can’t understand why so many athletes seem to have such a difficult time making the right decision (I addressed my thoughts on athletes drinking and driving in Real Talk a week or two ago).

Like my colleague Kevin (him, up there, in the paragraph before me), I too wonder if there is any reasonable means to lower the frequency of athlete arrests. In my opinion, I don’t believe that any rule, policy, or consequence from the given players league is going to make much of a difference. People will do as they please; and if they wish to drink and drive or get into a bar fight, or go all Dez Bryant and allegedly hit their mother in the face...well, unfortunately, I don’t think there is anything that a sports franchise or league could do that would infiltrate that given athlete's decision-making process in the heat of the moment and prevent him or her from committing that inappropriate action. It really all comes down to an individual holding themselves responsible for their own actions (riveting, I know...groundbreaking concept). However, with that being said, leagues still shouldn’t just sit back and wait for the arrests to slow down. Leagues should institute stiff penalties for such infractions, fines, and suspensions. And frankly, I don’t care much for the first-time-offender-doesn’t-get-punished business...first time or not, it sheds a terrible light on sports and damages the reputation of sports as a whole.

Drew Rosen
The frequent arrest of professional athletes is very disturbing. I am not someone who expects athletes to act differently than the rest of us, but I think it is reasonable to hold them to a higher standard. Whether they like it or not, they are role models to young kids. If they don’t want to be role models then they should look for a job out of the public spotlight. All that being said, I do not think any rules or regulations need to be put on the athletes. I would like to see athletes arrest go down but I do not think it will come from different rules. Players are humans and they understand the decisions they make. The recent Jason Kidd story just baffles me. This grown man has a wife and kid and all the money he needs. I do not understand how you get drunk and get behind the wheel to drive home. There is no rule or regulation that would deter this behavior by Kidd. The fact that he made a horrible decision is bothersome but unfortunately it is human nature and he was going to do it anyway. The leagues have done a great job offering resources for the players if they need help. I wish I could say imposing rules would help at all, but I just don’t see it. It is up to every individual athlete to make decisions that will reflect who they are.

Bryan Fyalkowski

Honestly, I do not see much else the commissioners of the various sports leagues could do to prevent things like this from happening. For the majority of professional teams, there are rookie seminars, late-night ride services that players can take to prevent DUIs, mentor programs and other things already in place. The main problem is that the players see themselves as above the rest of society and above the law; but can you blame them? The fans looks up to them like they are Gods, the franchises that they play for treat them like kings and the media are up in their grills 24/7 wondering what they will do next. It seems like professional athletes who get arrested just want the publicity and want to be news, good or bad. One solution that might work is to amend the repercussions already in place for players who are arrested for various reasons. As it stands now, teams and leagues do not come down harshly enough on players who are arrested. An arrest should equal immediate suspension AND a fine, hands down. After that, it is up to the judicial system to determine jail time, community service, additional fines, etc. Right now, players are not thinking in the moment because they are not afraid of the punishment, and that is a HUGE problem. These athletes will continue to feel “untouchable” and “invincible” until they get a reality check that they rightfully deserve. DUI is the worst. Not only are you putting your own life in danger, but also those around you on the road. Not that DUI is an acceptable thing to do for anybody to do, but for millionaire athletes to not shell out the money for a cab or limousine is mind-boggling. It is not embarrassing to get a ride home, although they think it is. The issue is that getting caught DUI as an athlete is not as embarrassing as it SHOULD be. These people are held to the highest standards on the field and it is just about time for them to be held to equitable standards as the rest of society while off of it.