Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Athletes and Epidemics

In America people tend to hold athletes up as role models. Somebody to look up to.  Somebody that’s a larger-than-life superhuman.  We have seen how this can be detrimental and create much more bad than good.  We have also seen how this can be used for good, but not really on a widespread level.  Is there a way that this power over society can be harnessed to reverse an epidemic?  If athletes fully bought into the cause, could we turn the tables on obesity?

Last week Adam Schefter tweeted that Peyton Manning signed on with Papa Johns to own 21 stores in the Denver area.  A profitable business venture I’m sure and a trend that is quite common among professional athletes. 

Of course we all know the lack of positive nutritional benefit from a Papa Johns pizza.  Although America is not obese solely because of the mass produced excuse of pizza that Papa Johns produces, it is simply a cog in the entire problem.  It is companies like Papa Johns that value the dollar over the customers that are the problem. 

We generally feel like the situation is out of our control.  The people that think that way are dead wrong.  The customer is in complete control.  If people take a stand and refuse to buy a product, then that company won’t last very long selling an unsellable product.  It’s supply and demand.  If the customer doesn't demand a product, then why would a company supply it?

For some reason, people don’t feel this way.  Either they don’t have the discipline to follow through with their beliefs or they are simply uneducated about the other options out there.  This is exactly where an athlete endorser comes in.

Say Peyton Manning invested in 21 natural food stores or 21 vegan restaurants.  Is it fair to say that the same people who would be inclined to try Papa Johns because of Manning’s influence would also be inclined to try any healthy option that were endorsed and owned by Manning?  I think to some extent it would be although it’s tough to say how much.

Maybe my view is a little too idealistic.  I think that a widespread change in mentality and thinking is possible with the proper public relations.  It would take dedication and a complete buy-in from the opinion leaders (in this case the athletes).  If enough of the right people preach it, then anything is possible.  As a society we need to be more disciplined and not let the dollar dictate our every move.  You have to be blind to not see what kind of corruption the dollar has created.

Basically we have seen athletes fuel the corporate culture of greed for too long.  We need big time influential names to pass along the new messages and reroute the nation’s thinking. Their messages put us here in the first place, now it’s time to turn it around.  It's time for athletes to see more than the dollar figure in their endorsement contracts; they need to look at the values and beliefs of the companies as well.  We need our game-changers on the field to be game-changers off the field too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hochuli-90X Workout Program

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)...

Ed Hochuli's biceps and interesting background have made him into a vertically-striped icon on and off the field in recent years. But with the recent replacement referee fiasco, he has undoubtedly become the face of NFL referees everywhere.

For Hochuli, his popularity in the eye of the public is at an all-time high and this is the time for him to capitalize. Per the inspiration for this post by my good pal JT, I am going to help out the NFL's most famous referee with the business idea of the century: Hochuli-90X**

Pump it big dog.

Of course you can read Hochuli's ACTUAL workout routine right here, but that is boring and (considering it is from 2006) outdated. From my experience with Insanity and the basic knowledge of NFL referee hand signals, I have created the following exercises for Hochuli-90X:

The move: Arm flexibility and stretching
What it means on the field: Completion

What you think is a "completion" signal is actually a key warmup in the Hochuli-90X workout. We want to gain muscle and girth on the arms, but not sacrifice flexibility. It is extremely important that all athletes adequately stretch their arms and obliques before any Hochuli-90X activity.

The move: Self arm wrestling
What it means on the field: Holding

We all know that any Hochuli-90X athlete does not lose to anyone in a feat of strength, except to himself. This arm wrestling exercise allows you to put your muscle mass up against the only other person as strong as you are. This way, the muscle is constantly being tested by someone in the Hochuli-90X program and not other weaklings with inadequate biceps.

The move: Lat size check and evaluation
What it means on the field: Timeout

This is a daily self-esteem builder and progress check. Every day after doing Hochuli-90X, your lats grow approximately 1" in size. You are able to track your progress and make sure you are headed in the right direction by checking the size of your lats every day and make sure you are up to Hochuli-90X standards.

The move: Wingspan lengthening
What it means on the field: Unsportsmanlike conduct

A little known fact about extreme bodybuilding, is once muscles get big enough, you can actually stretch them out to other parts of your body. In this instance, the biceps got so huge from Hochuli-90X, by doing this move, the muscle stretched out to the forearms and allowed the wingspan to increase to approximately 10' by the end of the program.

The move: The "TD"
 What it means on the field: Touchdown

The final Hochuli-90X move is The "TD," which is a mentally stimulating exercise. After completing all other parts of the daily workout, you must go out to your front lawn and hold this pose for three hours (preferably in the pouring rain) to build character and mental strength.

That wraps up the five basic moves of Hochuli-90X, so take on the program if you dare!

**Ed Hochuli is the only known graduate of the Hochuli-90X workout, and for good reason. This workout program is not for mere mortals, so you must consult Hochuli himself before beginning. There is no set timetable for this program, Hochuli will tell you when you have completed the workout. While the "90X" in "P90X" means 90 days of extreme exercise, the "90X" in "Hochuli-90X" just reminds you that Hochuli is 90 times better than you will ever be.

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

Relationship of Payrolls and Success in MLB

With the 2012 MLB season over, the San Francisco Giants for the second time in three years have finished on top. The success of the Giants has been a surprise to some because of the lack of big names on their roster compared to other big market teams. Major League Baseball has often been criticized for the disparities of payrolls which allows bigger markets to acquire the big name players.

Looking at the playoff teams this season, not all of them ranked high in team payroll.

American League

New York Yankees rank 1st in payroll at $197,962,289.
Oakland Athletics rank 29th in payroll at $55,372,500.
Detroit Tigers rank 5th at $132,300,000.
Baltimore Orioles rank 19th at $81,428,999.
Texas Rangers rank 6th at $120,510,974.

National League

Washington Nationals rank 20th in payroll at $81,336,143.
Cincinnati Reds rank 17th in payroll at $83,309,942.
San Francisco Giants rank 8th in payroll at $117,620,683.
Atlanta Braves rank 16th in payroll at $83,309,942.
St. Louis Cardinals rank 9th in payroll at $110,300,862.

The payroll disparity in Major League baseball is obvious. The number one payroll is nearly $200 million dollars which is nearly four times the amount of the team that spends the least. Looking at the payrolls in baseball it is obvious that money is not the only factor involved in winning. Teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox who rank 2nd and 3rd respectively in team payroll failed to make the playoffs.

Final Thought
It is impossible to say that having the ability to spend more money is not a clear advantage in any sport. The better players demand a higher salary and only a hand few of teams are able to take on their cost. It is important to realize that being able to spend money does not ensure that you will have success. It is critical to understand that how teams spend their money is the true determinant of whether or not they will have a winning team. If rules were made that forced teams to spend similar amounts of money, the talent of a teams front office would become more critical in a teams success.


Statistics from

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dollars & Sense - The UFL Folds, What's Next?

Last week, the United Football League announced that the rest of the 2012 season will be cancelled.  Players and agents had been vocal in their displeasure with the league’s timeliness in paying weekly salaries, so the decision comes as no surprise.  The league announced that all players will be paid in full for their services, but agent David Canter says that he won’t be holding his breath. 

The UFL was in the middle of its fourth season and had just signed a television deal with CBS Sports Network for the 2012 season.  Former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel was perhaps the biggest name still associated with the league as the head coach of the Las Vegas Locomotives.  The UFL had big aspirations making some noise when the league was formed in 2009, but ultimately it never had a chance to compete with the NFL.  In fact, it never even had a chance to put the smallest of dents in the NFL. 

The fold of the UFL raises the question, what’s next for player development in the NFL?  The UFL was never truly embraced as a feeder system for the NFL as the NFL never took any interest in it.  With NFL profits seemingly maxed out for the next couple of years, could an NFL-subsidized minor leagues of sorts be a new source of league revenue?

Under the current system, college football essentially serves as the primary feeder into the NFL.  The big conferences have huge television rights deals and college football is a lucrative business.  There is also an NFL rule stating that all players must be three years removed from high school before playing in the league.  If the rule was changed to handle a minor league, would it be profitable?

It’s tough to say.  Major League Baseball has the most successful league subsidized minor league system, but there are no lucrative television deals.  The National Basketball Association is in a similar situation with the NBA Development League.  But the NFL has popularity that both the MLB and NBA do not.  If there’s a league that could do it though, it is the NFL. 

I think it’s too easy to say that the NFL would have a dominant minor league system with a big television deal.  With the model of the two previously mentioned minor leagues, it’s pretty clear that they aren’t at the top of the fans viewing priority.  I wonder if the NFL could wrap in hypothetical minor league games with their television contracts given the leverage that they have over networks.  At the same time I also wonder how issues like player safety and the short term nature of careers would affect a minor league.

Another development to watch will be the revival of the United States Football League (USFL).  There are reports of plans in place to bring back to once successful USFL as a true minor league to the NFL.  Of course the league will not be subsidized by the NFL, but if there is no plan of competing with the NFL directly, NFL subsidies cannot be ruled out in the future.

The final answer on an NFL minor league system is a confusing one.  I’m not too sure that the NFL would take on such a risky investment given their sustained profitability.  Also, the league, as far as I’ve read, seems to have little interest in development.  The success of the college game has been proven and is currently working for the NFL (even if the college game itself is broken).  The topic of development leagues will be an interesting one to keep track of into the future for the NFL, but not one to hold your breath over.  For now, keep an eye out for leagues popping up here and there and keep track of the possible USFL return.  The only thing that seems definite is if you’re an investor, stay away.  

How (NOT) to Build an NBA Keeper League Juggernaut

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)...

The following is based on a true story...

Phase 1: Gee, an NBA Keeper league sure sounds swell.

Step 1.1: Join an NBA Keeper league in 2007 with 11 strangers you met on the internet at age 16.

Step 1.2: Create a team and call it "El Supersonics" because it is a hysterically funny Spanish add-on to the nickname of your favorite NBA team.

Step 1.3: Receive 12th overall pick in a snaking draft and watch NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki get swept off the board before you can itch your ass.

Step 1.4: Decide to go with value youth picks and embrace the "keeper" mindset.

Step 1.5: Pick year-before-his-breakout-season Chris Paul in the first round and Josh Smith right after. Round out your roster with rookie Kevin Durant, Emeka Okafor, Danny Granger, Monta Ellis, Al Harrington, Jameer Nelson, Rudy Gay, Devin Harris and others.

Phase 2: Trash the "keeper" mindset and make as many trades as possible, while thinking as little about the future as possible.

Step 2.1: Inexplicably drop Devin Harris (24), just because he missed three of the first six games, for Chris Duhon.

Step 2.2: Trade Josh Smith (22) and Emeka Okafor (25) for Marcus Camby (33).

Step 2.3: Trade Chris Paul (22) and Monta Ellis (22) for Allen Iverson (32) and Lamar Odom (28).

Step 2.4: Trade Kevin Durant (19) and Al Harrington (27) for Mo Williams (25) and Marvin Williams (21).

Step 2.5: Trade [the artist formerly known as] Ron Artest (28) for Andris Biedrins (21)

Step 2.6: Rudy Gay (21) for Richard Hamilton (29) and Andre Miller (31)

Step 2.7: Thaddeus Young (19) and Richard Hamilton (29) for Vince Carter (30)

Step 2.8: Jameer Nelson (25) for Monta Ellis (22)

Step 2.9: Finish in 4th place. Name Granger, Iverson, Carter, Camby, Ellis, Williams, Odom and Biedrins as keepers. Could have been Paul, Smith, Durant, Granger, Ellis, Nelson, Gay and Harris without any moves whatsoever.

Phase 3: Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and Marcus Camby are three of your keepers in 2008, but do not worry about it.

Step 3.1: Rename your team "Oakland Zoo" because Pitt basketball is the shit.

Step 3.2: Draft Kevin Love and Jameer Nelson in the first two rounds of the 2008 waiver draft.

Step 3.3: Trade Kevin Love (20) and Allen Iverson (33) for Ray Allen (33).

Step 3.4: Trade Lamar Odom (29) and Mo Williams (25) for Zydrunas Ilgauskas (33) and Ramon Sessions (22).

Step 3.5: Finish in 7th place. Name Granger, Carter, Ellis, Camby, Allen, Biedrins, Nelson and Nate Robinson as keepers. Could have had Kevin Love in the mix.

Phase 4: Make more boneheaded trades to make up for the lack of player movement from last season.

Step 4.1: Choose Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Curry in the first two rounds of the 2009 waiver draft.

Step 4.2: Trade Nate Robinson (25) and Courtney Lee (24) for Russell Westbrook (21).

Step 4.3: Trade Jameer Nelson (27) and Vince Carter (32) for Tony Parker (27) and Wilson Chandler (22).

Step 4.4: Trade Stephen Curry (21) and Ray Allen (34) for OJ Mayo (22).

Step 4.5: Trade Tony Parker (27) for Brandon Jennings (20).

Step 4.6: Trade Brandon Jennings (20) for Manu Ginobili (32).

Step 4.7: Trade Monta Ellis (24), Marcus Camby (35) and Manu Ginobili (32) for Rudy Gay (23), Roy Hibbert (23) and Steve Nash (35).

Step 4.8: Finish in 7th place. Name Granger, Nash, Gay, Westbrook and Mayo as keepers.

Phase 5: What you have been doing has been horrible, try building an actual damn team.

Step 5.1: Have a nearly perfect 2010 waiver draft, including drafting Roy Hibbert, Eric Gordon, Luol Deng, Lamar Odom, Beno Udrih, Spencer Hawes, Mike Dunleavy and Marvin Williams in the first eight rounds.

Step 5.2: Trade Luol Deng (25) for Tyrus Thomas (24).

Step 5.3: Trade Danny Granger (27) and Marvin Williams (24) for Monta Ellis (25).

Step 5.4: Trade Roy Hibbert (24) for Marcus Camby (36) and Nicolas Batum (22).

Step 5.5: Finish in 6th place. Name Ellis, Westbrook, Gay, Gordon and Nash as keepers.

Phase 6: Systematically build a team that can compete, like you should have done five years ago, you freaking idiot.

Step 6.1: Choose Marc Gasol in the first round of the 2011 waiver draft. Also pick good value guys like Tony Allen, Emeka Okafor, Thaddeus Young, Trevor Ariza and Jarret Jack in later rounds.

Step 6.2: Trade Russell Westbrook (23) for Spencer Hawes (23), DJ Augustin (24) and Danny Granger (28).

Step 6.3: Trade DJ Augustin (24), Eric Gordon (23) and Monta Ellis (26) for Paul Pierce (34), Gerald Wallace (29) and Jeff Teague (23).

Step 6.4: Finish in 2nd place. Name Granger, Gasol, Gay, Pierce, Nash, Wallace, Teague and Young as keepers.

Phase 7: Win (maybe).

Step 7.1: Draft Lou Williams, DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Pekovic, Rodney Stuckey and Ed Davis in the first five rounds of the 2012 waiver draft.

Step 7.2: Line up a well-rounded roster.

Phase 8: Profit...

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Pay Day Coming for Rory

At the end of 2012, Rory McIlroy will end his endorsement deal with Titleist/FootJoy. At the age of 23, Rory has shown great promise in the sport of golf. He has won two major tournaments and is near the top of the list of most marketable athletes. Working to Rory's advantage is the fact that he is a global athlete. The sport of golf allows athletes to be viewed in a wider spectrum than in most sports.

Speculation over who Rory will endorse in 2013 and going forward is heating up. Rumors have surfaced saying Rory may join Nike in an unprecedented deal. Some rumors say Rory may receive a 10 year contract with a value of $250 million. In comparison, the deal that Tiger Woods signed with Nike in 2001 was a 5 year deal worth a reported $100 million.

If these rumors end up being true, the deal would be huge for both Rory and Nike. Rory is at a time in his career when he is still very young. A decision to sign a long term contract could help to shape Rory's career. Rory McIlroy's prime in the sport of golf is likely to come within the next 10 years, Rory's endorser could benefit greatly from having him a part of their brand during this time. This also comes at an interesting time for Nike. For years, Tiger Woods has been the face of Nike golf. Turning 37 years old soon, Tiger Woods is most likely past his prime in the sport of golf. It is time for Nike to get on board with the next big thing in golf, and as of now that looks like Rory McIlroy.

There is a significant risk for Nike in signing a long term contract with so much money committed to one player. Rory seems to be the best young golfer with a very promising career ahead of him yet there is no guarantee on his success. If Nike agrees to a long term deal with Rory and his play doesn't meet expectations, Nike may be caught having to deal with a lackluster face of Nike golf for many years.

Final Thought
Although there is some risk, I think a potential long term lucrative deal would be beneficial for Rory McIlroy and Nike. Rory is most likely going to be the face of golf for a long time. It is a worthwhile risk for Nike to sign Rory. Nike has proven that they are interested in having the best player in golf as the face of the Nike brand. This is a good decision. Who would not want to have the best player in a given sport as the face of their brand? Rory is about to get PAID.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dollars & Sense - MLB Playoff TV Ratings

No sweeps.  Only a few blow outs.  A few ninth inning comebacks.  Besides a couple of smaller market teams playing, the 2012 playoffs have been a great scenario for Major League Baseball.  Even if you take it back to the end of the regular season you will see division races that went down to the final day.  The drama has stayed the same just this time in the high stakes of the playoffs.

Although many people constantly compare the MLB’s television ratings to those of the National Football League, it is all about comparing apples to apples.  The NFL and MLB are two completely different entities.  We know that the NFL dominates the airwaves each on every week.  Let’s take a look at what baseball has been doing against, well, baseball.

The four league division series were broadcasted mainly on TBS with two games airing on MLB Network.  The games on TBS drew an average 2.4 rating.  In comparison, the same games last season drew an average 2.7 rating.  Last year three of the four series’ went the distance to a game five; this year all four series’ went to game five.  It is also worth noting that this was the first year of the wildcard play-in games in each league.  Some may have assumed that the addition of the play-in games may have raised interest of the playoffs as a whole, but it seemed to have more of an effect leading into the playoffs by putting greater emphasis on winning the division.

MLB Network’s two afternoon games were both successful and unsuccessful at the same time, depending on which perspective you look at the numbers from.  The two games saw an average 1.2 rating.  The rating was good in that the games were the highest viewed programs in network history, but they were bad in that they were only about half that of the TBS games.

Although the 2012 playoffs were ripe with storylines, those storylines did not show through in the collective ratings.  Oakland made the playoffs and finally sold out the Coliseum, but with San Francisco also in the playoffs, the Bay Area televisions may have been forced to choose sides.  According to USA Today, Cincinnati is ranked 35 in terms of media market size in the US.  It is also tough to ignore the ongoing feud between Washington and Baltimore about the splitting of the media market.  Could these have been reasons that dipped the ratings 0.3 points below last year’s mark?

It’s possible. We saw with game one of the American League Championship that there are indeed still baseball watchers out there.  The first game of the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees series saw a 6.8 rating.  The game was the highest rated of the day although there was no competition from the NFL.  We have also seen some huge local market numbers from the Detroit and St. Louis markets, which is a good sign.    

As the case typically goes, the true test for the MLB will come in the World Series.  World Series have been declining over the years, and the MLB needs to turn it around.  Last year the Cardinals and the Rangers went the distance with the Cardinals winning in game seven, but the game only received a 14.7 rating.  In the Mets-Red Sox World Series of 1986, their game seven saw a 38.9 rating.  Of course they are two different media markets, but the differences are still apparent. 

What can Major League Baseball do to increase their playoff ratings?  Well if I had the answer, then I would be employed in the Office of the Commissioner now wouldn’t I.  Do they run through the natural progression of sports and hope that the NFL popularity comes back down to earth sooner rather than later to even the television playing field?  Maybe.  Do they make a drastic change to their championship structure to make the stakes higher in each game?  No.  Even though the question is not answered, Major League Baseball does not seem concerned.  Their sponsors are still spending.  Most markets are still filling stadiums.  Television money is flowing.  Major League Baseball’s place in society is set, but can it translate into higher television ratings?  We will have to watch and see.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

--Rating information from USA Today, TV By The Numbers, and ESPN

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pittsburgh's Bloke and Gold

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)...

Next season will mark the first time since the NFL International Series debuted in 2005 that two regular season games will be played in the UK. On a more interesting note, it will be the first time Big Ben will be playing a football game in the shadow of Big Ben.


The Jacksonville Jaguars will "host" the San Francisco 49ers Oct. 29 as the Minnesota Vikings "host" the Pittsburgh Steelers Sept. 29. Both games will be at Wembley Stadium, the most prominent American football-capable venue in London.

The St. Louis Rams, who were supposed to play one home game per year in the UK from 2012-14, opted out of their plans to play there the next two years after they make an appearance in London this season Oct. 28 against the New England Patriots.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan has been shoving his team into the face of the English blokes like George Washington shoved his rifle into the butt of his English overlords**. Just recently, the NFL granted the Jaguars permission to market in the UK. Per this SBJ article, the Jaguars want the opportunity the expand their brand within a country they will be visiting at least once per year through 2016.

You better not move our precious Jaguars... YOU PROMISED!

As a Steelers' fan, I cannot say this means anything to me because it is just another game that I will be watching on television. But the atmosphere for the Vikings' "home" game could be tilted in the other direction. One of the calling cards to the Steelers' fan base is the team "travels well," meaning they fill up opposing teams' stadium on away games.

Whether it is a Terrible Towel or a Heath Miller jersey, Steeler fans know how to make themselves visible even when they are away from Heinz Field. However, I attribute this less to "traveling well" and more to the wide spread of black and gold history.


The Steelers won four Super Bowls during the 1970's, right when the NFL was beginning to see a rise in fan population. Of course Pittsburghers supported the team, but in a more industrious (literally) time in American society, people scattered all over the country would adopt the team as their own because of the physical nature of the team and the blue-collar attitude.

From what I have heard, there is nothing like Steeler Nation compared to the rest of the NFL. There are Steeler bars in every city in the US, such as Fox & Hound on the corner of 15th and Spruce in Philadelphia (YOU'RE WELCOME), and even some around the world.

Some say that the Steelers are going to London next year because Dan Rooney is the US Ambassador to Ireland, which may have had a little influence. But I think the Steeler organization agreed because they want to treat their own fans to a game they would not have had the opportunity to see otherwise, as Art Rooney II says in this article.

Boss. The end.

So regardless of the Steelers' old defense and Mike Wallace's questionable future with the team, it will be a unique experience for international fans to see their team play in person. Who knows how many will show up, but if I had to guess, the crowd will be more gold than purple at Wembley Stadium that day.

**Historical facts not supported by evidence of any kind.

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

Fox Locks Up NASCAR

Although NASCAR has battled major attendance problems in recent years, TV broadcast rights are at an all time high. NASCAR is currently in an eight-year, $1.76 billion dollar agreement with Fox. The new deal will see those dollars increase by 36%. The new eight-year deal running through 2022 with Fox is worth $2.4 billion.

The broadcast rights agreement will include the entire Camping World Truck Series as well as thirteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. One new aspect of this deal takes place starting in 2013. In 2013, Fox Sports Media Group will gain increased rights to "TV Everywhere." In "TV Everywhere," viewers will be able to live stream all Fox Sports Media Group races. Included in this will be access to pre and post race coverage and highlights. In the Internet age that we live in, live streaming is critical to sports success. It is often easier for viewers to have access to the Internet then it is for them to sit in front of a TV.

It seems that both sides are very happy to have reached a new deal. NASCAR Chairman and CEO, Brian France, said, "We are thrilled to be able to extend our relationship in such a significant way for our track partners, race teams, and most importantly our millions of loyal and passionate fans. This extension with FOX Sports Media Group helps position the sport for future growth as NASCAR continues to be an anchor with one of the world's largest and most influential media companies." Fox Sports Media Group's Co-Presidents and CEOs, Eric Shanks and Randy Freer, said, "With our commitment renewed, we look forward to presenting NASCAR thoroughly, professionally and creatively for many years to come."

Final Thought
Personally I do not care to watch NASCAR. I have heard through friends that it is quite the experience to attend a race. For NASCAR fans this new deal should be great news. In a time where attendance is lacking, NASCAR was able to reach out and renew an impressive deal with Fox. NASCAR fans will also now be able to watch races live streamed starting in 2013.

The deal between Fox and NASCAR was done quickly after Fox reassured that the World Series in baseball would stay on Fox. Fox and Major League Baseball agreed to an eight-year contract that will run through 2021. These deals are speculated to have been made in preparation for a big move from Fox. Fox has been rumored to be interested in rebranding its Speed Network into an all-sports network similar to ESPN. I know that I would not mind seeing some competition for ESPN.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dollars & Sense - ESPN Says Never Enough Tebow

Late last week, word was circulating around the Twitter universe about ESPN’s internal stance on Tim Tebow.  According to multiple tweets, Doug Gottlieb (formerly with ESPN, now with CBS Sports) was told by ESPN upper management basically that you can never talk enough Tebow.  Am I surprised about this?  Not necessarily.  But am I happy about it… now that’s a different story.
After the story came out, @awfulannouncing posed an interesting question:

Giving it further thought, I completely agree.  Talking Tebow is essentially SEO for television ratings.  Every network needs to drive their ratings, and it seems to be a proven fact that Tebow will do that.  However, the thing is when I think SEO headlines, I think begging for views or ratings or whatever the measure of success is on a given platform.  I associate SEO headlines with Bleacher Report, who in my opinion has no use in the world of sports besides pretty slideshows about the most irrelevant speculation the human mind can think up.  The only time I ever go on it is to prove to somebody how utterly useless it really is.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one that thinks it, so why do they do it? 
  Wouldn’t you think that ESPN is so far ahead of the game that they really don’t need to stoop to this kind of level, especially on television?

It really comes down to what your business values are.  Do you want to skate by?  ESPN has shows that they are willing to innovate, so clearly skating by isn’t for them.  Do you want to leverage your resources, reputation and business for the greatest ROI possible?  If you don’t say yes to that, then you probably don’t have much of a business sense.  Do you want to do the job ethically, naturally, and without bias?  That’s something that I can’t decide with ESPN.  They claim that they want to do business this way, but their actions never really back it up 100%.  I completely understand giving people what they want, but is more Tebow what the people want?

For the casual sports fan that flips to some ESPN medium for 10 minutes a day, maybe they want to hear about Tebow.  He is a fascinating player, a conundrum of sorts.  But what about the avid sports fan?  ESPN was built on the sports craze of the avid sports fan, so you would think that they would continue to cater to them.  It has gone the opposite way though.  Sure, ESPN gives countless options for fans to watch their teams with all their various options.  ESPN’s “news” shows don’t really give the news.  In fact, they may be more biased than Fox News, CBS, and NBC combined.  It’s theatrical, and it’s biased.  You never get the full story with ESPN.

Is this wrong?  Technically, I suppose it isn’t.  But does ESPN have a further duty to supply sports fans with the unbiased coverage that they deserve?  In an ideal view the answer is obviously yes.  Then again, nothing in the world is truly ideal.  ESPN has just been corrupted by corporate greed.  They’re the next example in a long line of businesses prior to them. 

I wonder if ESPN can or will ever change.  I don’t think they will because they continue to make more and more money.  I wonder what will happen when the money flow peaks.  That may be an answer that we won’t know for years.  Who knows when the sport-crazy consumers will finally say enough is enough.  For now ESPN can keep holding the Tebow pedal to the floor, but remember as the consumer you have the choice.  You can play into ESPN’s trap or you can change the channel.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Advertising on NBA Jerseys?

The NBA Board of Governors are currently talking about the possibility of have advertisements on NBA jerseys. Commissioner Stern recently commented on the possibility by saying, "There's a pretty big division of opinion right now as to whether we should take that step. As a personal matter, I am not in favor of it, but I'm not standing in the way of it. If my board wants to do it, we'll do it."

The advertisement that is in question is a 2-inch-by-2-inch patch that would start in the 2013-2014 NBA season. The patch on all team's jerseys could bring an estimated $100 million dollars of shared combined revenue for the teams in the league.

Most other leagues have advertisements on jerseys as a form of revenue. Stern said, "of all the leagues in the world, the NBA is the only one that has its own logo on it." The strength of a logo is important for all businesses. The question for the NBA is whether or not adding advertisements to jerseys diminishes the NBA logo. It is quite an accomplishment that the NBA is the only league with their own logo presented on their jerseys. It will be interesting to see how important that distinction is to the NBA Board of Governors.

Maybe exaggerated a bit... hopefully....

Final Thought
As much as I would like to see the NBA jerseys stay free of advertisements, I feel it may be good for the NBA. The revenue that would be generated by jersey advertising would be quite significant, especially for the small market teams. Jersey advertising for the NBA should reinforce the idea to the common fan that at the end of the day, the NBA is a business. They are a business that strives to makes as much money as possible just like any other business. If the revenue for jersey advertising is enough of a benefit that it outweighs the negatives of having the advertisement, then the NBA needs to allow the advertisements.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Thank You, Replacement Referees

We all thought that being an NFL referee was the most thankless job on the face of the earth.  Think again my friends.  The most thankless job in the world is being a replacement NFL referee.  No matter how bad they did their job, I think that we all owe them one.  Let’s all raise a glass to the replacement referees, and if you’re at a bar with a replacement referee as you read this, then buy him (or her) a cold one.

Thank you, replacements referees, for all of the botched calls.  There were too many to begin naming.  You called penalties that never occurred.  You didn’t call penalties that did occur.  You called offensive pass interference on the defense.  You spotted balls on the opposite teams’ yard lines.
Thank you, replacement referees, for wasting our time.  You convened on calls longer than the real referees and Roger Goodell negotiated their new contract.  You reviewed plays that should have been routine calls.
Thank you, replacement referees, for making us all forget about the most pertinent issues in the NFL.  You made us all forget that the NFL says they want a safer league.  You made us forget about bounty gate purposely injuring people.  You made us all forget about retired players suing the league because they blatantly ignored safety issues.

Thank you, replacement referees, for blatantly changing the outcomes of games.  You didn’t just choose the obscure 4:15 west coast game though.  You changed the outcomes of the most watched games of each week!  Your affect on the games was so prevalent that experts couldn’t even pin your follies down to one specific play.

More importantly thank you, replacement referees for all of the laughs on Sundays.  We laughed at you not knowing which way the television camera was pointing when you called a penalty.  We laughed at you stealing the headlines of a $10 billion business.  We laughed at your public displays of fanhood, consequently making your Facebook page the most famous Facebook page in the United States for one whole weekend. 

All of this added together leads to the biggest thank yous of all.  Thank you for stepping on NFL fields across the country on three weeks of Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays and simultaneously giving the real referees more leverage against Roger and the NFL. 

I don’t know any real referees, but I’m sure they thank you as well.  They definitely thank you for giving them their jobs back.  Most importantly the real NFL referees thank you for stealing the title of most thankless job in the world.

My First Monster Mile

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 attended my first NASCAR race this past Sunday (Sept. 30, 2012); the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Since I began to "follow" the sport a few years ago, my interest, knowledge and curiosity in it has grown tremendously. When my roommate, a rare (or so I thought) northern NASCAR fan, had an extra ticket for me, I jumped at the opportunity to join him.

When he told me he wanted to get to the track around 10am for the 2:15pm race, I was not necessarily in favor because it meant we would have to leave Philadelphia at 8am on a Sunday morning. When we arrived, however, I realized I was in for a very unique and fun experience.

Outside of DIS, which was probably the most gargantuan sporting venue I have ever seen, there was a carnival-esque setup that stretched for about a mile. If you want to see a clinic on sponsorship activation, I suggest you attend the next available NASCAR race.

First of all, DIS has a huge structure of the Monster Mile mascot outside of the entrance with past winners' names etched into plaques that are placed around the bottom. A few hours before the race, Brian Dawkins, who was serving as the grand marshal (guy who says: "Gentlemen, start your engines!"), did an interview right below the statue.

The SPEED channel set up a stage with the four analysts around a desk with the crazed fans in the background waving their arms and their own signs. The signs had big Sunoco (the Official Fuel of NASCAR) logos on them and could be created at a booth just across the way.

Chevrolet had a big area with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s #88 National Guard car and Kevin Harvick's #29 Budweiser car. They had a new Challenger and a square table with computers set up to input your name and contact information to receive a free t-shirt.

Sprint set up an area where you could take a picture with the Sprint Cup and have it sent to your email. Meanwhile, there was an emcee on stage with the Miss Sprint Cup girls, throwing free caps to the fans who screamed the loudest.

AAA has to overcome people referring to the race just as the "Sprint Cup Series at Dover" and attempt to leave their footprint on an event for which they actually have the naming rights. AAA had a setup with the winner's trophy of the Monster Mile guy holding a Sprint Cup car in his hand. At one point, the people at the boot held a water balloon toss, where the winning pair received a hat and the losing participants got earplugs (which were absolutely necessary, by the way).

3M, sponsor of Greg Biffle's #16 Ford Fusion, set up an area and fans were lining up to receive free home supplies such as sponges, tape and post-it notes. 5-hour Energy, sponsor of Clint Bowyer's #15 Toyota Camry, was giving out free samples of their product and throwing them into a large crowd in front of their setup.

US Army, sponsor of Ryan Newman's #39 Chevrolet Impala, posted up with a hummer, a table with unloaded firearms and a man dressed up in mossy camouflage. Then, one of the soldiers began pumping up the crowd and asking his bud to shoot t-shirts out of his launcher at the loudest section of fans.

National Guard had an area where fans could see who could do the most push-ups as service men and women cheered them on. Anyone who did at least 20 got their choice of a water bottle or t-shirt, while other service men and women gave out #88 stickers, magnets and lanyards. My roommate did the push-ups while my fat ass got in line for the free stuff.

Drive to End Hunger, sponsor of Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolet Impala, set up a spot where they held a hourly trivia contest where five fans would answer questions about Gordon and senior hunger in the United States. The winner of the trivia would receive an autographed Gordon item while the losers would received Drive to End Hunger wristbands and drink koozies.

Not to mention, each driver worth rooting for (excluding guys like Dave Blaney, JJ Yeley, etc.) have their own truck in which their employees sell merchandise with their name and sponsor on them. Although drivers like Earnhardt, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have the most crowds around their trucks, I found the most interesting tidbit from my visit to Brad Keselowski mobile headquarters.

Keselowski drives the (Blue Two) #2 Dodge Charger, sponsored by Miller Lite. While purchasing a t-shirt from his team's truck before the race (which Keselowski would ultimately win and jump to the front of the Sprint Cup standings in the process) I was asked to show my ID to the worker in the truck so I could buy a shirt with a Miller Lite logo.

NASCAR is a unique sport because a fan does not actually see his or her favorite driver during a race. The only thing a fan has to associate with a driver is the number of the car and its sponsor. Even with this huge obstacle, NASCAR drivers connect with their fans as well as any other sport, probably even better.

I witnessed this firsthand at Dover, where some drivers would actually come out to their sponsor's tents and have interviews just a few hours before the green flag. Juan Pablo Montoya came out to the Chevrolet area, Denny Hamlin had a brief interview in the FedEx tent, Mark Martin answered questions near the AAA setup and many more.

Since there are no timeouts, halftimes or breaks in the action during NASCAR races, sponsors have to be more creative with their activation during pre-race and post-race events. It is a highly sponsor-driven (no pun intended) business, but unlike any other sport.

As I said before, if you intend to be a sport professional and have never been to a NASCAR race, I highly suggest going at some point. You will get a one-of-a-kind experience you cannot get anywhere else.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ryder Cup Recap

When the leaderboard is tight on a Sunday afternoon at the Masters, there isn't anything more exciting in golf. Or so I thought. While watching the Ryder Cup on Sunday those same emotions felt during the last day of a major tournament were present. I was excited and nervous as the Europeans closed the gap.

The result of the tournament was unfortunate as a fan of the American squad, yet the overall tournament excitement made the result bearable. I was hoping to see, like many other fans, Tiger Woods' 18th hole to have meaning. Unfortunately, Martin Kaymer made a clutch putt on the 18th versus Steve Stricker to seal the deal for the Europeans.

Many people will question some of the decisions made by the captain of the U.S. team, David Love III. Many will say that Love's captains picks were questionable, a group that included Stricker and Furyk. Some will say that Love messed up the Saturday afternoon session when he sat a hot Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson duo in favor of a struggling Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker. All of these arguments can be made, but at the end of the day the U.S. blew a significant lead and the true fault for the loss lies on the players.

The Ryder Cup has a much different feel than any other tournament. In most golf tournaments, personal pride is on the line and a nice sum of money. The Ryder Cup is played for national pride. The best golfers in the United States represent our country in hopes of bringing the Cup to the U.S. When it comes to big money prizes for the players, you won't find it at the Ryder Cup. There is no money to be won in the tournament.

Final Thought
Although I was upset that the U.S. didn't win the Ryder Cup, the story on the European side was quite remarkable. After being down 10 to 6 going into the Sunday singles matches, the European's needed a huge Sunday to retain the cup. It took a full effort from everyone on the European side to pull off the remarkable upset. In the back of all the European's minds while playing had to be the Steve Ballesteros story. Ballesteros tragically died in May of 2011 from a brain tumor, and the Europeans were playing in his honor. With Steve Ballesteros on the Europeans sleeves, they pulled off the unthinkable. Truly a good story.