Column: Baseball's Economic System Favors The OwnersFebruary 8, 2018

If you think this winter has been a cold one, it’s been even colder for MLB free agents. With pitchers and catchers reporting next week, 110 players remain unsigned, wondering if they’ll have a job this season. A number of theories have been advanced to explain the stalemate - a less talented group of free agents, the reluctance to part with draft picks, teams saving their resources for a star-studded group of free agents next year, the financial benefits of staying under the luxury tax this year, and the “C” word - collusion.

Read more

Column: Clemens & Bonds Still Outside Looking InFebruary 1, 2018

Four players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year but in their sixth year of eligibility, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will not be among the inductees on July 29. Clemens is without doubt the greatest pitcher of his generation, perhaps of all time. Ditto for Bonds as a hitter. Yet neither player was able to garner 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America, the minimum required for election to the Hall. Their totals this year – 57.3 percent for Clemens, 56.4 for Bonds – represent only a slight increase from last year’s numbers. With only four years of eligibility remaining, they are still a long way from enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Read more

Column: Super Bowl Ads and WomenJanuary 25, 2018

While the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles and their fans are preparing for the Super Bowl on February 4, not everyone will be focused on the game. Viewing, analyzing and comparing the Super Bowl ads – dubbed the “Ad Bowl” – is a ritual almost as old as the game itself. One of the themes marketers have historically used is the depiction of women as sex objects in an effort to peddle products, particularly cars, beer and food. Two of the worst offenders have been Carl’s Jr. and GoDaddy. When I ask students in my Sport Marketing course to find the least effective ad one of the most frequent candidates is Carl’s Jr.’s 2015 Super Bowl spot featuring model Charlotte McKinney. The model, attired in a bikini, is seductively looking into the camera while preparing to chomp down on an enormous cheeseburger. Students uniformly discredit the ad, claiming no one who regularly eats oversized cheeseburgers could look like McKinney.

Read more

Column: The Escalation of College Football Coaches SalariesJanuary 18, 2018

College football is a revenue machine on par with most professional sports leagues in the country. And football coaches have the salaries to prove it. Division I football programs generate an estimated $8 billion per year, more than the NBA and the NHL. Most football programs also spend that revenue, in part by lavishing mega-contracts on their head coaches. The highest paid coaches are Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh at $11 million per year. Saban and Harbaugh aren’t the only coaches making a fortune coaching “amateurs.” Texas A&M recently gave former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract, which temporarily qualifies as the richest deal in college football history in terms of total value. It’s also double the amount paid to Fisher’s predecessor, Kevin Sumlin, who “only” went 51-26 during six seasons in College Station.

Read more

Column: How College Sports Dodge TaxesJanuary 11, 2018

When Alabama beat Georgia for the National Championship it put an end to the 2017 college football season. What will continue is the tax dodge engaged in by college sports programs around the country. Historically, college sports were viewed as merely ancillary to the educational purpose of universities. The concept was akin to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 1922 that granted MLB an antitrust exemption because, according to the Justices, baseball wasn’t “a business.” Both decisions may have made sense decades ago when revenues were generated primarily from ticket sales, but they seem absurd today. NCAA Division I sports programs generate an estimated $8 billion a year and tickets represent only a fraction of that total. That’s more income than the NHL and the NBA – approximately $4.5 billion and $6 billion, respectively - generate.

Read more

Column: Is It Time To Get Rid Of Replay?January 4, 2018

If the names Don Denkinger and Jim Joyce ring a bell, you know why we have instant replay in sports. The two former MLB umps are part of MLB history – for the wrong reason. Denkinger famously blew a call at first base in game six of the 1985 World Series when he called Kansas City Royals pinch-hitter Jorge Orta safe on an infield squibbler. Orta, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with the St. Louis Cardinals up 3-2 and on the verge of closing out the Series, was clearly out. With two outs in the inning, the Royals scored two runs, won the game 4-3 and won game seven the next night. As any Cardinals fan will tell you, Denkinger’s gaff cost St. Louis the World Series.

Read more

Column: Looking Ahead To 2018December 28, 2017

The age-old question – Where does the time go? – can never be adequately answered. But if you’re reading this, you made it through 2017 and hopefully you’re looking forward to 2018. So let’s dust off the crystal ball and see what’s ahead in the world of sports business. NFL ratings continued to plummet in 2017 – by last count down by 8.4 percent over 2016, which declined from the previous season. While those numbers would give most leagues apoplexy, NFL programming is still the number one watched show on every network. In a world with more TV choices than ever, lower ratings aren’t taken as seriously as they might have been a decade ago. Don’t be surprised if NFL ratings continue to decline in 2018.

Read more

Column: Tennessee Will Pay Greg Schiano For Not CoachingDecember 21, 2017

On November 26, the University of Tennessee hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to be its next football coach. Within a matter of hours UT experienced a case of buyer’s remorse, a decision that will cost the University millions of dollars. Tennessee director of athletics John Currie and Schiano signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting forth the basic terms of their agreement. Schiano would have been paid $27.7 million over six years. The Memorandum further stated that it "constitutes a binding agreement between Coach and the University..."

Read more

Column: Justice Served In Nassar CaseDecember 14, 2017

“Today, the justice feels very incomplete.” Those words were uttered by Rachael Denhollander after Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison. Denhollander was the first person to publicly accuse Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and the Michigan State University gymnastics team, of sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts – one of whom was only 9 years old - under the guise of medical treatment. What would constitute justice for a monster who sexually abused hundreds of girls and women? More importantly, what should justice look like to Nassar’s victims? The sentence virtually guarantees that Nassar will spend his remaining life behind bars. Is that sufficient punishment when it will take his victims years, if not a lifetime, to heal from the wounds he inflicted upon them?

Read more

Column: NCAA Continues To Embarrass ItselfDecember 7, 2017

Perhaps the only certainty in college sports is that the NCAA, the governing body for Division I, II and III sports, has made a cottage industry out of denying basic human rights while simultaneously embarrassing itself. The latest, and certainly not the last, ridiculous ruling was the one-game suspension of University of Houston basketball guard Rob Gray prior to the season opener against McNeese State. Gray’s crime was playing in a church recreation league game over the summer. Apparently, the NCAA justified the suspension because a friend of Gray’s paid the $5 fee which allowed him to suit up for the Second Baptist Church. You may recall this is the same organization that once ruled a bagel did not constitute an extra benefit, but adding cream cheese – who eats bagels without cream cheese? – was a Bylaw violation warranting a suspension.

Read more
Next Page