Column: Tanking in Sports - Is It Ethical?January 21, 2016

The “T” word is reviled in sports. But although its existence is universally denied, “tanking” is an ugly reality in professional sports. In baseball, the Astros and the Cubs spent several years tanking, or “rebuilding” as teams prefer to call it. They stripped their major league roster by trading for future “assets,” younger, controllable players. Neither team was competitive for a number of years, which lead to last place finishes, which begot high draft picks. That allowed each team to acquire the best amateur players in the country. The results of those efforts could be seen on the field last year. Both teams made the playoffs for the first time in years and with all their young talent, are poised to have a sustained run of success. That model has not gone unnoticed in the sport. Other teams, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cincinnati and the Brewers, have adopted a similar strategy. While none of those teams will admit to tanking, by any definition the bottom line is the same: They aren’t trying to win in the short run.

Read more

Column: Salary Cap For College AthletesJanuary 14, 2016

In a recent piece in The New York Times, Joe Nocera proposed a salary cap for college teams along with individual player salaries, specifically for those that play Division I football and men’s basketball. It’s not the first time Nocera has advanced the concept. Four years ago he recommended paying college athletes and then, as if his idea was a fait accompli, went on to suggest a salary cap. In his latest column, Nocera elaborates on his salary proposal and ends with the statement, “That’s my idea for paying college athletes. If you’ve got a better one, I’d love to hear it. We can argue about it on Twitter.” Unlike Joe, I’m not a tweeter so here’s my response: I don’t believe we should pay college athletes so there’s no need to debate the specifics of a salary cap.

Read more

Column: Should You Believe Peyton Manning?January 7, 2016

The end of 2015 brought another doping scandal in sports. Raise your hand if you were surprised. The bigger question should be, do you care, or is this just another ho-hum moment in the ever-evolving intersection of PEDs and sports? On Christmas weekend Al Jazeera America aired a documentary ominously titled “The Dark Side.” The report claimed that a number of professional athletes in the NFL and MLB purchased human-growth-hormone (HGH) from the Guyer Institute, an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic. The information was based in part on the word of the apply-named Charlie Sly, a former intern at the clinic.

Read more

Column: Biggest Sports Stories in 2016December 31, 2015

While we savor the waning days of 2015, it’s not too early to look ahead to the most notable sports business stories to follow in 2016. For the second year in a row I hit mostly winners last year, with one notable, embarrassing exception. The winners included high expectations for Rob Manfred in his role as the new baseball commissioner; the evolving ways we consume sports, in-venue and outside the facility; the expanding use of analytics which has revolutionized how we watch and analyze sports; the pursuit by states, notably New Jersey, to adopt sports gambling; how social media expands the opportunities for fans to engage with teams, players and sponsors; and the economic impact of NCAA rule changes on intercollegiate athletics.

Read more

Column: Pete Rose's Fantasies Are OverDecember 24, 2015

Pete Rose’s quest for reinstatement by Major League Baseball is finally, mercifully, over. On December 14, in a decision as clear and emphatic as it was transparent, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred denied Rose’s application for removal from baseball’s permanently ineligible list. While not everyone agreed with Manfred’s decision, even Rose admitted that he couldn’t disagree with the Commissioner’s reasoning. Rose has been lying about his gambling habits throughout his 26-year exile from baseball after being banished from the game by then Commissioner Bart Giamatti. And true to form, he lied on his application for reinstatement and again during his face-to-face meeting with Manfred in September. Old habits die hard.

Read more

Column: Should Students Be Funding the College Arms Race?December 17, 2015

It takes lots of money to field college athletic teams. But few college athletic programs are generating their own funding. To support their programs, college athletic departments have received $10.3 billion in student fees and other subsidies in the past five years, with student fees accounting for nearly half that total. Those numbers come from a joint study conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Huffington Post. The study reviewed financial data submitted to the NCAA by 201 public schools in Division I (most private schools are exempt from filing such information). The authors of the study found that students at some schools pay as much as $1,500 annually to help finance athletic programs.

Read more

Column: Arizona Diamondbacks Surprise Baseball WorldDecember 10, 2015

With one swipe of a pen, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a franchise altering move, one that also sent reverberations throughout the baseball industry. One day after unveiling a new line of uniforms, Arizona shocked the baseball world by signing pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $207 million contract. Greinke, this year’s runner up for the Cy Young award in the National League, spent the last three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, amassing a 51-15 record. Greinke and teammate Clayton Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner, led the Dodgers to the playoffs in all three seasons. At the end of this season, Greinke exercised an opt-out clause in the six-year, $147 million contract he signed with the Dodgers in 2012.

Read more

Column: Should High School Football Be Eliminated?December 4, 2015

With the traditional Thanksgiving Day games behind us and only a handful of teams remaining in the playoffs, now may be an opportune time to ask: Is it time to eliminate high school football? Two University of Minnesota doctors have answered that question in the affirmative. Doctors Steven Miles and Shailendra Prasad have come out in favor of eliminating football in the nation’s schools in an effort to reduce the pressure on students to play a sport fraught with danger. They made their recommendation after examining studies of football-related concussions on adolescent brains.

Read more

Column: Jeff Gordon RetiresNovember 26, 2015

If there was any justice in sports, Jeff Gordon would have been hoisting the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship trophy at the end of the Homestead race on Sunday. Instead, Gordon settled for a sixth place finish which left him third overall in this year’s series. Gordon announced in January that 2015 would be his last season of racing. And despite the lack of a Hollywood ending, he had a career for the ages. He won four overall championships - fourth most in Cup history - in his 23 years of racing in NASCAR’s top series. Gordon finished third on the sport’s all-time wins list – behind only Richard Petty and David Pearson – with 93 victories. He won more than a third of the scheduled Cup races in the 1996-98 seasons, an impressive record of dominance that is unmatched in the modern era of racing.

Read more

Column: Missouri - Sports Overthrows Its CreatorNovember 18, 2015

Most of us are familiar with the economic impact of collegiate athletics. After the recent incidents at the University of Missouri, we also know the political ramifications athletic teams can have. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe along with R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor of the flagship campus at Columbia, resigned last week after a series of protests over racial events on campus that were not addressed to the satisfaction of a number of students. The issues at Missouri began on September 12 when the president of the Missouri Students Association claimed he was called a racial slur. Five weeks later, after several more racially related incidents and demonstrations, a group of black students calling themselves “Concerned Student 1950,” demanded Wolfe’s resignation.

Read more
Next Page