Archive - April 2013

  1. Column: Black Players in MLBApril 29, 2013

    On the eve of the release of the movie “42,” the historical recounting of Jackie Robinson’s 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig formed a committee to determine why the percentage of American-born black players in the Major Leagues has fallen by more than half, from 19 percent to 8.5 percent, since 1986. There is an element of irony in the timing of the release of the movie and the formation of the committee, both coming mere days before the NFL draft. The NFL and the NBA have long been accused of drawing talented black athletes away from the diamond. According to some experts, the instant recognition and riches of football and basketball, as exemplified by the glitz and glamour of the NFL draft, are reasons why black athletes are attracted to those sports over baseball. They may be right. After all, we live in an instant gratification world, one where riding buses for up to 14 hours at a time, playing before family and friends in small towns and eating three meals per day on $22 for 4-5 years – the norm for Minor League Baseball players before they reach the Major Leagues - is a hard sell.

  2. Column: Boston Marathon BombingsApril 21, 2013

    Today, we gather as one. And we affirm to ourselves and to each other that we are one -- one community, one nation, one world, full of love, full of compassion and full of generosity. Those feelings, powerful all of them, fuel us with passion. To never quit. To persevere. To prevail. We will run another marathon -- one bigger and better than ever. We are one. We are Boston. We are strong. We are Boston Strong. The words were spoken by Henry Mahegan, a Charlestown High (Mass.) history teacher who moonlights as the public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox, prior to the Red Sox’ first game in Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings. A game can never atone for the physical and emotional pain suffered by the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Sporting events aren’t an elixir that will allow the rest of us to forget the horror we witnessed on that fateful day. A game is nothing more than entertainment, a mere diversion from the realities of life. And yet, sports are so much more than that. Although our loyalties are divided when we support opposing teams on the field of play, sports unite us in ways that nothing else can.

  3. Blog: Jay - Z Becomes a Sports AgentApril 21, 2013

    The announcement that Jay-Z was moving from entertainer to sports agent seemed to take most people by surprise. But wait a minute, what’s the “E” in ESPN stand for? That’s right, “Entertainment.” The fledgling “World Wide Leader” knew at inception that sports was entertainment and vice versa. So much for surprise.

    But don’t expect Jay-Z to be negotiating directly with the Yankees on behalf of Robinson Cano, the rapper’s first client. Those duties will be the responsibility of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the well-known sports agency that has teamed up with Jay-Z. Nonetheless, Beyonce’s lesser half says he’s serious about becoming more than just a recruiter for another agent. He intends to become licensed by the NFL, NBA and MLB as soon as possible. But Jay-Z has some hoops to jump through first, especially with the NFLPA.

  4. Column: Reasons Behind College Sports ScandalsApril 15, 2013

    The complete bumbling of the Mike Rice scandal by Rutgers University officials is being compared with the Penn State fiasco - not the severity of the incidents or injuries certainly, but rather the reaction to them – leaving some observers to wonder how this could happen, again and again, at our colleges and universities. The answer shouldn’t come as a surprise. The institution of higher education is poorly equipped to monitor and manage what is in fact a professional sports enterprise, artificially wrapped in the veil of education and amateurism. A college president, frequently a Ph.D. trained as a scientist or researcher in English, history, or philosophy, is tasked with overseeing an operation, i.e., an athletic department, that bears little resemblance to any other activity on campus. In what other organization is someone who is so unprepared and ill-equipped for the role forced to oversee an operation that in some cases generates in excess of $100 million in annual revenue, has employees who earn multiples of their own salary, fills 100,000-seat stadiums, and is the public face of the entity, albeit far removed from the main purpose of its existence?

  5. Column: Rutgers' FiascoApril 8, 2013

    Thoughts and suggestions on the travesty at Rutgers University... By now, most Americans have viewed the tape of Rutgers’ former basketball coach, Mike Rice, kicking his players, hurling basketballs at them from point-blank range and bombarding them with homophobic slurs during a team practice. Rice, who has apologized publicly for his actions, claims he was merely trying to “motivate” his players. A number of coaches and commentators have said there’s a fine line between motivation and Rice’s outrageous conduct. They either haven’t watched the video originally aired on ESPN or they’re myopic. The gulf between motivation and the conduct engaged in by Rice is a chasm as wide as the Atlantic Ocean and as deep as the Grand Canyon.

  6. April 1, 2013

  7. Column: Ranking Selig's PerformanceApril 1, 2013

    MLB commissioner Bud Selig is the Rodney Dangerfield of sports commissioners: He never seems to get the respect he deserves. Selig has been in office for 20 years and has presided over financial and popularity gains by the league that are unmatched in any other era. Yet in a recent poll of senior-level sports executives conducted by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment and published in the SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal, Selig received an A grade from only 15% of the respondents. In Turnkey’s monthly survey, respondents are asked 10-15 questions about the hottest issues inside sports. Given the results of last month’s poll, one wonders where the executives polled have been hiding for the past 20 years. During Selig’s reign, MLB as an industry has seen annual revenues rise from $1.4 billion to a projected $8.5 billion by next year. National television contracts signed last year will more than double the amount currently paid to each MLB team, from $25 million to more than $50 million beginning with the 2014 season. In fact, Central Fund revenues overall will soon double, with each team receiving approximately $100 million annually.