Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Impulses of Philly Sports Fans

Philadelphia fans are showing their impulsive nature again.  This time it is all centered on Eagles quarterback Mike Vick.  Well, some things just never change, I suppose.

For those that aren’t Philadelphia sports fans, here’s how it all went down.  The Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round in 2007.  He backed up Donovan McNabb and was named the “Quarterback of the Future”.  Upon his release from prison, the Eagles signed Michael Vick in 2009.  Vick was a back-up to McNabb as well, but got to play a little bit due to his speed and athleticism. 

In 2010 everything changed.  McNabb was traded to the Redskins and Kolb was named the starter.  Kolb suffered a concussion in week one against the Green Bay Packers, which paved the way for Vick to become the full-time starter (with all of Philadelphia wanted Vick over Kolb except myself and a select other few).  Vick’s play was strong the rest of the way, and he earned himself the right to start going into 2011.  The strong finish in 2010 earned Vick a 6 year $100 million contract with Philly.  For whatever reasons, the talented Eagles went 8-8 and fans began to get a glimpse at a glaring turnover epidemic in Philadelphia.  This season, the turnover issue has plagued the team and there’s no end in sight.  After three games the Eagles find themselves sitting at 2-1, though the two wins were 1-point victories with week one against the Browns coming in unconvincing style.

With the turnover problem having no end in sight, many Eagles fans are calling for rookie Nick Foles to take over the starting quarterback reigns and bench Mike Vick.  Foles had an effective preseason playing mostly with the second and third teams. 

Here is where I kindly ask Eagles fans to stop.  Please.  I am begging all of you. I know that you all know everything about the Eagles, but clearly you don’t know much about money.  Vick is in the midst of a $100 MILLION contract.  That’s $100,000,000.  Teams don’t make that kind of financial commitment to a player and then bench him.  In the business world, that doesn’t fly. There is an option at the end of the season where the Eagles can get out of Vick’s contract, and if his play continues down the path it’s on, then the team could very well use it.  Even then, $40 million of Vick’s contract is guaranteed which leaves the Eagles with a hefty price to pay to not have Vick on the team next season.

Also, you all want to bench Vick for a rookie in Foles.  A rookie that does not have one regular season snap under his belt.  I don’t want to hear about his preseason.  He played a majority of the preseason up against second and third string defenses.  Teams weren’t game-planning specifically to stop him.  It’s a lot different when the defensive plan is to get after the rookie quarterback. 

Which all brings me to the next point… have you seen all of the injuries to the Eagles’ offensive line!? Demetress Bell is starting.  Bell is worse than King Dunlap which says a lot.  Jason Kelce is out for a while.  Dallas Reynolds is starting in Kelce’s place.  I feel bad for the mobile Vick sitting back there let alone a rookie in Foles. 

Take this as my plea.  I beg you all to think for about 30 seconds.  It’s amazing the damage you can do.  When you finally put that old rusty dusty thinking cap on I’m positive that you’ll realize the nonsense you’ve been thinking.  The team is 2-1.  With the season not even at the one quarter point, it’s too soon to make a change.

Eagles fans, please think.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NFL Players and Coaches Misdirected Anger

I have made my view clear week after week on the replacement officials. They are terrible. No questions asked, they are not qualified to officiate in the NFL. It is a point of frustration for fans, players and coaches around the league. As dissatisfied as I am with the officials, it is time to direct anger in the appropriate places.

Coaches and players have shown with their actions on and off the field that they are frustrated with the officials. In week two of the season, Denver Broncos head coach and defensive coordinator were verbally abusive toward the officials. John Fox was fined $30,000 and Jack Del Rio was fined $25,000.  Recently, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick grabbed an official following the team's last second loss against the Raves.

Players have also shown displeasure through the best forum to share emotions..... twitter. Patriots linebacker, Brandon Spikes, said on twitter, "Can someone please tell these fucking zebras foot locker called and they're needed Back at work !!!! #BreakingPoint."

Announcers have also got involved. During the Sunday night game, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels referred to the officials control of the game as "ridiculous."

Final Thought
All the complaints are valid. The officials are terrible. The problem with all the complaining is that it is directed at the officials. It is not the officials fault that they are not qualified. They should not be allowed to officiate. The complains should be directed toward the NFL and the NFL Referees Association. It is not fair to blame the officials for poor officiating when they should not be there in the first place.

I agree it is necessary to preserve the integrity of the league with proper officiating. The replacement officials are not purposely trying to get calls wrong, they just are not qualified. Hopefully the anger seen by everyone who has an interest in NFL football can be properly directed. It is becoming unfair to continually blame officials for their lack of competence officiating games.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

NFL Reaches Deal with Time Warner

On the heels of Major League Baseball resigning a deal with Fox and Turner, the National Football League could not be outdone.  Late last week the NFL reached a deal with Time Warner that will allow Time Warner to broadcast NFL Network and NFL RedZone.

With NFL Network’s growing slate of Thursday night primetime games, many of the nation’s cable carriers brought on the Network.  Time Warner had a tough time reaching a deal with the NFL, which is why it took well over a season longer to get it done.

A big element that gave the NFL some added leverage, in my eyes, was NFL RedZone.  Of course the NFL Network has the games, but RedZone is changing the way people watch football on Sundays.  With its growing popularity and unique game-changing style, more and more people want to see what it’s all about.

Now the NFL will turn it’s time toward trying to sell a package of Thursday night games.  Estimates among industry experts peg a price tag that could push over the $1 billion per year mark.  One could only speculate on which channel would want to pick up an 8 game pack, but we all do know that it will cost a pretty penny. 

In my opinion, I think it was great that the NFL and Time Warner were about to get this deal done.  The more people that are able to see the Thursday night game, the better, and it can only help to add value.  Increasing the value of the Thursday night game will be very important in shopping around the package. 

The NFL continues to prove its dominance especially in the TV market.  MLB’s deal with Fox and Turner were some of the biggest national deal that the league has done, but still it is nowhere near size of the NFL.  The NFL dominates the airwaves each and every week, and it doesn’t seem like that is changing any time soon.  Stay tuned for news on the NFL Network Thursday night game packages.

One thing that I think would be interesting is if the MLB and MLB Network developed an NFL RedZone type channel.  It would run almost every night and show the scoring plays and crucial situations just like RedZone.  Many people complain about baseball games being slow, so this could be something that gets people watching more.  Also, it would be huge for fantasy baseball lovers.  I'm sure it would be a hit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Keith Hernandez to Shave the 'Stache

Mothers and grandmothers beware.  Keith Hernandez is shaving his iconic mustache. 

I know, it just doesn’t sound right.  I’m sure my grandma is tortured by the thought of her favorite baseball player of all time shaving his famous upper lip sweater.  Hernandez, who is now in the broadcast booth for the Mets, also played for the Met’s for 7 years in the 80’s. 

Who knew that a long-retired Major League Baseball player and broadcaster for bottom-of-the-barrel team could create such a buzz by buzzing his ‘stache?  Why would a fine sports business blog such as us be covering such a momentous occasion?  Because it has been spun into a sports business phenomenon, of course!

Most men can simply walk into the bathroom and up to the sink with simply a razor and some shaving cream.  Keith Hernandez is not most men.  Ever since Hernandez mentioned shaving the graying ‘stache, the buzz of the media and the razor has grown louder and louder.  Now on Thursday September 27 prior to the Mets-Pirates game at Citi Field, a local barber will do the honors. 

As the whisker clipping of the century rolled on and created more media buzz, Schick caught wind and wanted in.  Schick decided to provide a Schick Hydro razor to do the honors and they will also donate $5000 to a foundation that Hernandez started for Alzheimer’s. 

Of course such a big day in New York Mets history could not be missed (this has to be top 5 right?), so SNY decided that they will air the shaving of the mustache during their pregame show, during the game, and possibly online.

This opportunity is a unique one because it’s not every day that high profile guys are coming out and shaving their iconic facial hair.  The Mets, Schick, and SNY are milking this opportunity for all it’s worth and doing a great job with it.

All information was obtained from an article on The New York Times Baseball Blog:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eye Black and Blue Jays

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 know the basics about Yunel Escobar. He had a few good seasons with the Atlanta Braves and is currently an average shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was on my keeper league fantasy team for a while. He was featured in a Sports Illustrated article a few years ago that I never read. I know the basics about Escobar, but unfortunately he does not know the basics of how his actions affect others, and that there are consequences for everything he does as a professional athlete.

A picture take by a fan during a game last week shows an up-close view of the writing on Escobar's eye black strips with the words "TU ERE" under his right eye and "MARICON" below his left. As the amateur photographer explained, the phrase, written in Spanish, can be translated to English as "You are a faggot" or "You are a pussy."

The phrase written on the eye black caught on camera.

The picture and explanation was released late Sunday night and by Monday had come to the attention of many bloggers and online sources. Upon the picture spreading across the internet like jelly on toast, the Blue Jays ensured the general public that actions would surely be taken via this statement by the team. On Tuesday, the Blue Jays met with MLB commissioner Bud Selig and decided to suspend Escobar three games without pay, which will end up costing him around $81,000. The money will be donated to You Can Play, a charity in Toronto that combats homophobia in sports. In addition, Escobar will have to complete a sensitivity program and participate in public outreach initiatives to promote tolerance. The MLB then released this statement in response to the suspension handed down by the team.

At 3:30, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, manager John Farrell and bench coach Luis Rivera joined Escobar and his translator at a press conference. On a side note, I am not sure who the translator was, nor do I care to look it up, but he had to be the worst translator in the history of translators. Back to the focus... The main message that Escobar projected was that he did not mean to offend anyone and the writing was not meant to be directed at anyone in particular, and did not mean for it to be misinterpreted by the gay community. He claimed the phrase is said all the time and is not meant to be offensive, and it surprised him when people took offense to it on the internet because he did not think it would cause any problems.

Apologetic Escobar on the left and bumbling translator on the left.

Escobar sincerely apologized to anybody who was offended by the writing on his eye black, and I believed him. Farrell said that it seemed out of character for Escobar compared to the way he acts normally, and I believed him. Escobar said he has gay friends who were not offended it, and I believed him. A problem that I had with Escobar and his reasoning, was that he had no reasoning. A few reporters asked why he wrote the phrase on his eye black and he gave ambiguous answers. He did not expect it to be interpreted the way it did, but he never specified the way he intended for it to be interpreted. Escobar said the word can be interpreted in different ways depending on how it is said.

Escobar was aware of the possible connotations of this phrase, and the thought never crossed his mind that it could offend anybody. If anything, Escobar seemed perturbed that it was interpreted the way it was and it was causing him some kind of harm. Escobar has been a professional baseball player for eight years and has been in the MLB for six, he must realize by now that his actions reflect on the general public and fans through the organization, athletes, coaches and everybody else involved. When Escobar does something, good or bad, it not only represents himself, but also those around him. In this case, he was completely unaware of his responsibility as a professional athlete and human being in society, which is very disappointing. Everything he does on and off the field is magnified.

This lies not only on the shoulders of Escobar, but also on his teammates and coaches that day who allowed him to take the field with that phrase on his eye black. When asked about the day of the writing in question, Farrell claimed that it was written very small and no one could tell what it said unless you looked him in the eye. Later on in the press conference, Farrell referenced other times when Escobar had written something such as "Let's go today" on his eye black that was uplifting for the team. Therefore, there was no reason to suspect the player would write something hurtful this particular time. So let me get this straight, when Escobar wrote something inspirational on his eye black, he was aware of it. But when he wrote something homophobic, it went completely ignored by the clubhouse. That is simply hard to believe. Escobar was asked about the reason why he would put words on his eye black if no one saw them and he dodged the question by giving a regurgitated answer.

However, nothing encompassed the entire situation better than the final words of the press conference, filtered through the translator "It's just a word." As a heterosexual, it did not offend me personally, but there is nothing Escobar or anyone could say to explain why what he did was acceptable. I feel for homosexual athletes who are afraid to be themselves among teammates because of a general acceptance of homophobia in the sporting world.

 Openly gay former NBA player John Amaechi.

Anthopoulos made a good point that something good can come out of this situation, such as greater awareness of a the problem. But it is still sad that an action such as this was the cause of the exploration for a better environment. Should Escobar have been suspended for more than three games? Possibly, but that is not necessarily the issue. Farrell denied that homophobia is a problem in MLB clubhouses, but I cannot be so sure. I can imagine that since sports is a reflection of society, it is an issue it will continue to be one as long as it remains an issue within society.

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Time for the Replacements to Go

Not one, not two.... but three. This is the third time I am writing on the NFL referee situation. My first article written in late July questioned whether or not the normal referees would start the season. I warned that not paying the referees would compromise the integrity of the league and I believed from the known information it was time for the NFL to pay. My second article written about a month ago included analysis of the first games in the preseason officiated by the replacements. It was clear that the officials were not ready for the NFL and that the integrity of the league was being compromised. I thought after the preseason was over that the NFL would see that action was necessary immediately, I was wrong.

We have now completed week 2 of the NFL regular season and we have already seen much criticism of the replacements.

After losing to the Eagles, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said, "The NFL and everybody always talks about the integrity of the game. I think this is kind of along those lines."

Redskins linebacker, London Fletcher, said, "I just think that they're just so inconsistent that it definitely has an effect on the games."

Back in the preseason Packers safety, Charles Woodson, said, "They haven't been very good. That's the honest opinion. Before preseason started, I think you're optimistic. But it's almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes to fast for them."

Not to mention this guy who had to be removed from officiating the Saints game.... because he is a Saints fan. 

These are a select few comments made regarding the referees. Much more criticism has been let out throughout the league. The referees have played a significant role in the season thus far, but for the wrong reasons. Simply put the referees are not capable of handling the NFL right now. The cost for the league of paying the referees more money, or giving in to some of their demands may be very little compared to the issues that could be coming there way.

The lack of experience by the referees causes two main issues for the league. The first issue is player safety. Not fully understanding the rules of the game will become an issue for the current replacement referees. Many rules, especially recent ones, are designed to make sure players are safe as possible while playing the game. If these rules are being violated without penalty, players could get hurt more frequently and which will be bad news for the NFL. The second issue for the NFL is the integrity of the game. Constant questioning of officiating by players, coaches and fans is bad for the image of the league. The leagues credibility will be constantly questioned if change is not made soon.

Meeting of the minds right here...
Final Thought
It is difficult to come up with a final thought this week. The NFL needs to quiet the critics and give in to the demands of the NFL referees. Enough is enough.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Situational Ads

Yesterday I was in the car listening to the Eagles game on WIP when one of those situational advertisements came on.  To be completely honest I forget what the situation was (it may have just been a first down), but it was long and not very memorable.  After the play Merrill Reese went on for a good 30-40 seconds about “your local area Honda dealer” blah blah blah. 

The reason it was bad in my mind wasn’t that it was long, although I didn’t think it helped.  I thought it was bad because there was nothing catchy.  There was nothing to make me remember this Honda dealership.  There was nothing to make it all stick.

This all got me to wondering, what is a good example of a well-placed situational advertisement.  One that sticks out in my mind (sorry for all the Philadelphia examples) is the Phillies and New York Life.  Every time a Phillies player hits a double, Tom McCarthy says, “Safe and secure with New York Life.”  I know it’s nothing exciting, but it works. 

It works because of a few reasons.  First, it sticks.  It’s short enough to remember.  It’s kind of catchy.  Also something that I think is important is, well, it makes sense.  Even though the advertisement is short, it tells you what New York Life does or at least gives a general idea.  Finally, it fits the situation.  The Honda deal with WIP simply states a bunch of random facts that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reason other than being a cut and dry advertisement.  The New York Life advertisement fits the situation well.  The player slides in safe with a double and he’s safe and secure.  It flows and it makes sense.

In a time when we may be beginning to become immune to advertising, it is increasingly important to put something out there that people will remember.  Stickiness factor is obviously a huge part because you need something that sticks in the minds of the consumer.  New York Life kept it simple and came up with something borderline catchy and situational.  Honda either grossly under-thought their advertisement or grossly over-thought it.  Either way there was no creativity and it was very dry.  If a company’s advertisements are a reflection of their overall brand, lack of creativity and dry are two elements that should stay out of their advertisements.  Bad advertisements lead to bad brands.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Hits

SL Price looks at Serena Williams’ US Open championship and what it does for her legacy.

Charles Pierce breaks down Roger Goodell’s week one of the NFL season.

Paul Hagen offers great perspective of the link between baseball and 9-11.

Jeff MacGregor reflects on Art Modell and a team’s place in society.

Video of the Week:

Photo of the Week:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MLB Playoff Races and Teams Making Headlines

There are teams making headlines in the MLB playoff push, but they are teams that not many people would have expected about a month ago.  Teams like the Phillies and Brewers have suddenly become contenders.  Teams like the Orioles and the A’s have surprisingly stayed in the race. 

I wrote about the Phillies a few days ago on my personal site, and they have only continued winning since then.  As of yesterday before their series with the Astros began, the Phillies sat three games behind the Cardinals for the second wildcard spot and the day before that they had reached a record over .500 for the first time since June 3.  The Phillies are surprising their fans as much as the rest of the country with many having written off the team prior to the all-star break.

The Brewers were in a similar position as the Phillies.  Well below .500 and destined to be cellar-dwellers if it weren’t for the lowly Astros.  They got back to the .500 mark this week.  Ryan Braun is doing the best he can, perhaps having a better season than last year when he won National League MVP.

To the surprise of many, the Orioles have been able to not just keep their heads about the .500 mark, but they have played themselves in position for a possible American League East championship.  Prior to yesterday’s games the Orioles sat tied atop the AL East standings with the Yankees at 80-62.  Nobody really saw it coming at the start of the season even though everyone knew that Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn’t go down without a fight.  They’ve fought alright, all the way to a possible playoff berth.

The A’s, the true moneyball team as I have written about, are another big surprise in the American League.  Incredibly the A’s are 82-60, good for the fourth best record in Major League Baseball.  They are doing it on the second lowest opening day payroll and their highest paid player is only making about $6.5 million this season.  Although there is no movie in the works about the 2012 A’s, this team is truly built on the moneyball principles that the book and later the movie made famous. 

Even if these teams cannot find their way into the playoffs, the business impact of the playoff run is sure to stick.  The A’s are the exception because they have been having attendance problems for years no matter how good or bad their team happens to be.  Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia has hope restored and the crowds are coming out again.  This will help into next season as well because fans will reason on the side of the strong 2012 finish instead of the retooling process that Phillies may find themselves in next season.  Ryan Braun has further proven himself as the face of Milwaukee and another MVP caliber season will do wonders in quelling the steroid murmurs from last offseason.  Camden Yards is another stadium that is benefitting greatly from the playoff push.  Even if the Orioles lose their grip on their playoff spot, they will have hope going into next season.

That’s what playoff pushes bring.  They bring hope.  Hope brings fans to the ballpark.  Whether or not these four teams make it to the playoffs this season, they will all have hope going into 2013.  Sometimes hope is the best ingredient for a successful season of ticket sales.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, September 10, 2012

NFL Fans To Pay For Unruly Behavior

This time of year is always an extremely exciting time for NFL fans, the start of the regular season. Fans around the league have hope that this may be the year for their team to make a Super Bowl run. With all the excitement comes a competitive spirit. The competitive spirit can often be mishandled and turn into an issue at NFL stadiums across the country. Last season about 7,000 fans got ejected from stadiums.

The National Football League has taken action for this season to help further make NFL fans aware of the importance of safety in the stands. If a fan is ejected from a game this year, they will be required to take an online class which will take about four hours to complete. They will also be paying for the class which will cost around $75.

The class was designed by psychotherapist Ari Novick who will receive $55 for every person who takes the test. The rest of the money will go to charities that focus on the dangers of driving under the influence.

Fans who are ejected will get a letter stating that they will need to pay for and partake in the class in order to be welcomed back in the stadium. If fans fail to complete the class, they can be charged with trespassing if they try to go back to a game. It is estimated that about 25% of fans will not complete the test.

Final Thought
The policy of making fans complete a course is not completely new to the league. Some teams have had similar rules in effect for their fans for a few seasons. It is now becoming a league wide initiative to have all teams participate in the program. Unfortunately I do not think this program will have the desired effect. Fans are not going to stop being unruly because of some class that they probably don't know about being held over their heads. The only way to limit unruly fan behavior is to take away a large contributing factor to that behavior, alcohol. Teams will never stop selling alcohol at games because the revenue is far to great for them to see go away. I find this program to be a nice way for the league to show they "care" about fan safety and behavior, but this program will have no effect on the way fans act at games.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Forbes NFL Team Values

Last week, Forbes released their 2012 NFL team valuations.  America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, came in with the highest value at a huge $2.1 billion.  The Jacksonville Jaguars came in with the lowest value at $770 million.  Rounding out the top five were the New England Patriots at $1.635 billion, the Washington Redskins at $1.6 billion, the New York Giants at $1.468 billion, and the Houston Texans at $1.305 billion. 

This season saw a record 20 out of 32 teams being valued at $1 billion or more just further evidence of the NFL’s sheer dominance.  The other billion dollar teams included the Jets, Eagles, Bears, 49ers, Packers, Ravens, Colts, Broncos, Steelers, Dolphins, Panthers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Titans, and Chiefs. 

Clearly the NFL team values don’t discriminate in size of media market, team win-loss record, new or old stadium, or player star power.  One of the big reasons that NFL teams are valued so highly is the almost $10 billion of revenue that the league brings in each year.  A huge contribution to that are the oft talked about national television contracts. 

The Cowboys also blew away the competition in terms of revenue and profit with an astounding $500 million in revenue and over $225 million in profit.  You could see where a team like the Oakland Raiders (valued at $785 million) would have some trouble given revenue that is less than the Cowboys’ profit, while they also operate at a loss of a little more than $15 million.

Each year the Forbes NFL values truly show the strength of the brands in the league.  Even the bottom team, the Jaguars, is still valued at $770 million.  With an ambitious new owner in Shadid Khan, it would come as no surprise if the Jags were able to boost their value a bit over the next few seasons.

Brand strength is really what helps in determining the value.  That is the same reason why the New Orleans Saints are only at number 23 on the list.  Sure they’re really good and have been for a handful of years now, but they are still a relatively new brand.  The Cowboys have been a marquee brand for years now.  The strength of their brand may be what allows them to charge $75 for parking.

Team values are simply estimations because it is of course impossible to tell exactly.  Relative to other professional sports leagues, team values are less volatile in the NFL due to the centralized revenue stream.  But still there is room for improvement for many on this list.  Which team do you think has the best chance of overtaking the Cowboys for the top spot in the coming years?

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Quick Hits

Tiger Woods reaches $100 million in on-course earnings.

Chris Jones takes a look at Chipper Jones.

Jeff Passan says that Bobby Valentine was doomed from the beginning in Boston.

Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger talk about the Ryder Cup wildcard selections.

Tom Verducci weighs in on the Strasburg Shutdown.

Dave Zirin discusses the NFL season opening under the darkest shadows yet.

Hakeem Nicks has been pulled in all sorts of directions in life, but he stays focused says Rick Reilly.

Jeff MacGregor looks back at the Munich tragedy 40 years later.

Forbes announces their NFL team values for the 2012 season and the Cowboys are worth $2.1 BILLION.

Video of the Week:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Grantland Launches YouTube Channel

On Wednesday, Grantland launched their official YouTube channel.  The launch was highlighted by a feature short documentary that took a behind the scenes look at former Iowa State and current Houston Rockets forward Royce White.  White suffers from a severe anxiety disorder and the documentary takes an inside look at White’s emotional rollercoaster on draft day.

Grantland is the brainchild of ESPN writer Bill Simmons and the website launched a little over a year ago.  The success of Grantland is apparent when you look at the overall growth since the launch and also launches of similar websites like Sports on Earth started by Joe Posnanski in a joint venture between MLB Advanced Media and USA Today.

Personally, I think that Grantland has done some great things for sports journalism.  It showed that longer form writing is not dead and that there is an audience for it.  The conventional Internet wisdom says that people jump around from site to site, page to page and only read short, press release style pieces.  Grantland has proven otherwise, showing that there is a demand for quality stories with quality writing. 

The future potential of Grantland is also very interesting and could push sports journalism in new directions.  At Wimbledon this year, staff writer Brian Phillips wrote a series of pieces that really highlighted the Grantland mission of storytelling and a story focus as opposed to a cut and dry approach.  This series of pieces showed the potential for big event storytelling as opposed to reporting, which could broaden the digital landscape of sports journalism.

Although I don’t think that the YouTube channel was in response to the launch of Sports on Earth, I do think that it fueled the fire a bit.  The short documentaries have been in the making for a little while now after ESPN announced that the wildly successful 30 for 30 series would be extended.  This move leaves Grantland at the forefront of the storytelling side of sports journalism with any challengers left with a big mountain to climb. 

In the future, the Grantland Youtube channel will continue to feature short documentaries and also episodes of the BS Report with Bill Simmons.  It will also be interesting to keep an eye on the different types of content developed for the channel and also on the site in general.  With the development of this channel along with the groundbreaking design of Patrick Hruby’s Outside the Lines piece about Dock Ellis, innovation seems to be on the horizon for sports journalism.  It remains to be seen what innovation will stick, but Grantland is sure to be somewhere near the front of the pack.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

License-TWC, Run-DNC

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)...

Thus far, the most breathtaking part of the 2012 Democratic National Convention has actually not been Bill Clinton's speech. It is that fact that the Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Charlotte Bobcats, can be filled to more than 77.4% of its capacity.

But in all reality, TWC Arena has served as a great venue for the DNC and a great venue for the City of Charlotte, NC since 2005. You may be wondering, "How did a basketball arena transform into a political event hotbed in such a short amount of time?" However, the DNC has been over 19 months in the making.

By taking a look at the Arena License Agreement of the DNC that was signed on February 1, 2011, we can see how this event materialized and what actually goes into holding a non-traditional event at a traditional sports venue. Of course the Agreement is 36 pages long, so I will simply just go over a few things that stuck out to me...

1.1: The Arena Company grants the Host Committee limited license for use of any of the properties it owns within the area, including TWC Arena, surrounding buildings, parking lots, etc.

4.4: The Arena Company has all rights to sell concessions, but must keep them at prices no higher than they were at opening day of the 2011-12 sports season. The Host Committee may close any concession stands that interfere and may limit menu items.

4.7: The Host Committee can ask the Arena Company to cover any signage that does not include Time Warner Cable and may use the video scoreboard at their discretion. In addition, the Host Committee can place its own signage on the inside and outside of TWC Arena with the approval of The Arena Company.

4.9: The air conditioning in TWC Arena cannot be higher than 72 degrees Fahrenheit with indoor humidity not to exceed 50%. (SO WEIRD!)

5.1: The Host Committee pays the Arena Company a licensing fee of $5 million. 10% paid by June 30, 2011, 40% wired by July 13, 2012 and the remaining 50% by August 29, 2012. (The final fee had to be paid three days before the beginning of the DNC!)

5.2: Additional cost include: Arena Company Relocation Costs, Costs of Seating, Multimedia Facilities, Arena Company Signage and Electrical.

6.1: There are 8-9 pages of consisting of Facilities/Amenities to be Provided by the Host Committee, including: Directional Signage, Photocopy Room, Security Offices, Merchandising Space, etc. (Pages 11-19)

12.1: The Host Committee can terminate the Agreement if they report a material breach and the Arena Company does not remedy it within 30 days. If terminated, the two sides have the option of any remedy applicable by law, including injunctive relief and specific performance.

...Well, skimming through a 36-page document is not always interesting, but sports venue contracts occasionally tickle my interest. Do you notice anything in the Agreement that stands out? Let us know in the comments below, or take it up with your local Democratic representative!

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tiger Earns $100 Million

With Tiger Woods third place finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship he earned $544,000. This win pushed his career earnings on the PGA tour to over $100 million, $100,350,700 to be exact. Tiger has been the face of golf for many years, and it is not surprising that he is the first man to ever earn $100 million on the golf course.

The dominance of Tiger Woods against people playing in his era, can be viewed not only through wins, but through money earned. After Tiger, next on the list is Phil Mickelson who has earned nearly $67 million. Although a nice amount of money, Phil is nearly $30 million behind Tiger.

The era of golf in which Tiger has played has a lot to do with the enormous amount of career earnings. Sam Snead is the career leader in PGA Tour wins with 82. Snead's career earnings were $620,126. Sam Snead started his career in 1937 and money in golf was no where near the value of todays game. Snead's most earnings in an individual tournament was in 1968 when he came in second place in Milwaukee. He earned only $28,000 in that tournament. Tiger Woods has won $1 million dollars or more 38 different times.

The huge increase in dollars for the game of golf can be attributed to Tiger. When Tiger entered the sport as a professional, he brought with him huge crowds to the tournaments and big crowds watching on TV. Tiger spoke on the time of golf in which he played, "I won fewer tournaments than Sam Snead has, but obviously he was in a different era. It's just that we happened to time it up right and happened to play well when the purses really had a nice spike up."

Tiger is currently in contention of winning his third FedEx Cup. The FedEx Cup bonus pays $10 million. The two times that Tiger previously won the FedEx Cup, have not counted toward his career earnings.

Final Thought
It is no surprise to anyone that Tiger Woods has earned a lot of money playing golf. His dominance has been clearly witnessed by any golf fan. I think the $100 million dollar milestone is just another remarkable achievement by Tiger. His career earnings is only a fraction of the total amount he has earned because of golf. Endorsement money for Tiger Woods is in the hundreds of millions. Whether or not people like Tiger because of his off the course drama is up to them, yet there is no denying what he has accomplished on the golf course is truly amazing. As for the rest of Tigers career.... he might not be done just yet.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Andy Roddick and the State of American Tennis

Last week, Andy Roddick announced that this year’s US Open will be the final event of his professional tennis career.  The 30 year old American advanced to the fourth round of the US Open after a Sunday win against Fabio Fognini and he will face a tough test against Argentine Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday.

Roddick has been the marquee American player throughout most of his career.  Guys like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were nearing the end of their careers when Roddick was rising through the junior ranks and onto the professional scene.  Players like Mardy Fish and James Blake never seemed to want to take the reins and become the big American name.  Roddick jumped on the opportunity when he rose to number in the world rankings in 2003.
With a solid finish at the US Open, Roddick will most likely finish in the top ten in career prize money on the ATP tour.  High finishes at the Grand Slams are necessary for inflating on-court earnings, and Roddick has definitely had his success in those.  Roddick has three runner-up finishes at Wimbledon (2004, 2005, and 2009).  He also has his biggest career victory which was a 2003 US Open championship.  The 32 career victories on the tour also help a bit in the career earnings department. 

The pending retirement from Roddick comes at a time when American men’s tennis is far from its peak potential.  Currently the highest ranked American player is John Isner at number 10.  After Isner though, there is some drop off.  Roddick is ranked 22, but he’s obviously retiring.  Mardy Fish has had a career revival of sorts and is ranked 25, but he turns 31 in less than 10 days.  Sam Querrey is ranked 28.  The crop of American young guns looks to be a bit thin as well (ratings from

Without the super star American player, is it possible to grow the sport in America?  I think the answer would have to be no.  I always compare the ATP and the PGA tours because they have similar set up and are individual sports.  Look at the Tiger effect.  He is American and he grew the game to new heights.  He had his incident, and interest seemed to wane a bit.  Even now, you can see how much the Tiger effect plays in TV ratings each and every week.  It really is incredible.
American tennis had Agassi and Sampras, which kept all sports fans enthralled for Grand Slam after Grand Slam.  After their time had come and gone, the baton was passed off to Roddick.  Clearly the shoes that needed to be filled were quite large, but Roddick did his best.  He captivated the crowds with his record serves and vicious forehand.  He was America’s tennis player. 

Now his time is up and there doesn’t seem to be anybody to take the baton from Roddick.  The top four tennis players are well ahead of the competition and there are no Americans that even come close to competing at the level of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Murray.  Isner is the highest ranked American and his highest Grand Slam finish is a quarter finals appearance in last year’s US Open.  Interest in the sport worldwide may fluctuate up and down depending on how players are received in their respective countries.  Even though Roddick was not the highest ranked, he was the biggest American name and the most successful American on tour.  His retirement leaves the American men’s tennis field looking for someone to step up to be the next one.  The savior could not come soon enough.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

The Debate - NFL Concussion Lawsuit

Do the retired players in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL have a winning or losing case in court?

Kevin Rossi
As much as I want to say that the players will win this, I think that the NFL will win the case.  The players have all of the moral arguments in the world on their side, but unfortunately that isn’t all of it.  In my mind, the problem is the lack of knowledge.  I’m not talking about now; the research on concussions is growing every single day.  I’m talking about when the concussions were actually sustained by the players.  Back in the day when these retired players were playing, there was not all of this knowledge and research on the impacts of these concussions.  It may sound a bit grim, but you have to go by what they knew then.  However, the players may have a chance if they can prove that the NFL knew all of the ill effects.  The best comparison that I saw was to the tobacco industry.  When tobacco companies knew that there were many side effects to cigarettes, they still marketed cigarettes as cool.  Do I think that the NFL knew things and held the knowledge back?  Not really.  In all, I think that the NFL will win but not by any moral reasoning.  And I do suggest that every reads the Sports On Earth piece and Kevin Van Valkenburg’s piece on concussions from yesterday’s Quick Hits.

Seth Breeden
The retired players in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL have a losing case.

In one of my first pieces for I-95 SportsBiz (here), I discussed this very topic. The concussion lawsuit(s) should be a win for the NFL. Not a glorius win (because I certainly hate to see players suffer from injuries of their playing career...and I’m sure the league feels the same), but a win nonetheless. While the retired players may be correct in that the NFL may not have provided them the best information or medical treatment regarding concussions, the NFL did not do such intentionally. At the time, and presently, the NFL provides the best care for such injuries that they possibly can...but doing so is tricky. There are so many unknown factors in head injuries and the corresponding medical research that the best treatment today may not be the best treatment of tomorrow. To this day there is no sure fire, 100% correct method to handling such injuries. The research in ongoing and medical advances will decrease the unknowns of concussions in time. Furthermore, the league has a history of making rules changes and mandating players where certain equipment for the sake of improving player safety (and the players have a history of disliking and meeting such changes with disapproval). Combining the lack of knowledge regarding concussions at the time when said retired players where in the NFL, and the leagues continuing efforts to improve safety, I believe the NFL should be able to win any concussion related lawsuits.

Drew Rosen
Tough decision here. I think this is a true toss up. I tend to believe that retired players in the NFL do have a good case to make in court. My reasoning is simply based on timing. The NFL is just truly starting now to take care of players. New rules and a true understanding of the effects of injuries makes for a more aware NFL today. Players who are retired never had the opportunity to understand injuries like current players do. I believe retired NFL players have a case in court that they could win. Current NFL players would have a much harder time arguing that they were not aware of the risk that they are taking playing football. The NFL certainly has a good chance of winning their case, yet I believe retired players may have a better argument than most believe.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Quick Hits

The Atlantic studies whether baseball announcers and commentators hint at racial biases.

Besides the groundbreaking layout, this OTL piece on Dock Ellis is well worth your time.

Wright Thompson wonders if heads will be the new knees among current NFLers.

Pete Thamel’s final NY Times piece takes a look at PSU’s Bill O’Brien and the daily struggle that is bigger than any NCAA imposed sanctions.

Doug Glanville examines whether the Livestrong brand can live beyond Lance Armstrong.

Chris Jones looks at how far Armando Galarraga has come after the near perfect in 2010.

Fresh off of the release of Paterno, Joe Posnanski has some fun with WAR.

Rick Reilly says that you can take Lance Armstrong’s trophies away, but you can’t take away the lives he changed.

Steve Rushin looks at Neil Armstrong’s greatest quality; humility and how it relates to sports today.

Significant advances are being made in concussion research writes Kevin Van Valkenburg.

More concussion stories this one from Patrick Hruby and Sports On Earth.

BusinessWeek takes an extended look at ESPN and SportsCenter.

Stat of the Week:
The San Diego Padres officially sold to a group headed by Seidler and O’Malley for $800 million.