The χ Factor
A look at what's grabbing our attention.
Drawing Comparisons Between Two All-World Athletes and Their Controversial Departures
Garden City, NY, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 ... Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots stirs up memories and comparisons to July 3, 1990, when the NY Islanders parted ways with 15-year veteran and the team’s (still) all-time leading scorer, Bryan Trottier, a key member of the Islanders’ dynasty team. It’s at times like these that the underlying business aspects of sport collide with its emotional side.
Trottier, like Brady, was a champion and a warrior, with a career marked by awards and accolades. In addition to his Stanley Cups, Trottier is the only NHL player in history to have captured the Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
The Islanders, perhaps the last true dynasty in North American sports, won 19 consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series during their run; but now, in the summer of 1990, and six years removed from its last Cup appearance, the team was in the midst of a period of austerity in preparation for an eventual sale.
So, with Trottier nearing 34 and two years left on a 10-year contract ($900,000 and $1 million) that was among the highest in the game at the time it was signed, team President and GM Bill Torrey asked Trottier to consider retiring to take a “front office” job with the team. But Trottier, like Brady, still had the fire to compete and turned down the offer. A few days later he was released. At the time, Torrey claimed it was the toughest decision he ever had to make in his nearly 20 years running the Islanders.
As the team’s head of public relations, it was my job to issue the announcement on the eve of our nation’s birthday. PR pros know the timing of this announcement is known as “burying” the news. Most people had already checked out for the Fourth of July holiday, guaranteeing that this news would hit with a ripple instead of a thud.
Before releasing the news to the media, I had to call Trottier to give him the heads up. During our call he was pleasant and respectful, as always, and he appreciated the call. He was a bit surprised that the announcement would come on the third of July, and in this fashion, but he understood it was the team’s way of trying to avoid a public spat with one of Long Island’s favorite adopted sons. His underlying tone told me that, although he wasn’t happy with the release, he knew it was the cold-hearted part of the business.
With the business side taking over, Trottier, president of the NHL Players Association at the time, was entitled to two-thirds of the remainder of his contract, per the terms of the standard players’ contract. Once he cleared waivers, a result that was a certainty given the $1.9 million remaining on his contract, he became an unrestricted free agent.
Within a few weeks, the Hall of Famer was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, providing the team and its star, Mario Lemieux, with the leadership and experience they needed to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup title, which they repeated the following season. For Trottier the story couldn’t have had a happier ending and he retired after the Pens’ second Cup, having won six Stanley Cups in a 12-season span!
So, as we patiently await Brady’s next move, we wonder if TB12’s second act will equal that of Bryan Trottier? Here’s hoping that Brady, one of the greatest competitors of our generation, gets another shot or two at the brass ring.
Righting a Wrong
Garden City, NY, Monday, December 09, 2019 … Well, Marvin Miller was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, December 8. As I see it, this is no cause for celebration. After all, it was inevitable, although I sometimes had my doubts.
During several previous attempts, Marvin was turned away. In some of those efforts, he was even ignored by the men he fought so hard for…needless to say, it was very disappointing. But Marvin didn’t see it that way. Marvin was a realist. He knew better than anyone that others would hold grudges and allow personal sentiment to interfere with professionalism and respect for the process. In Marvin’s eyes, nothing changed since the days he won labor battle after labor battle against Major League Baseball and its owners.
In my role at the MLBPA, it was my responsibility to travel down this path with Marvin every time he was up for another committee vote. At first, there was true hope with a mix of doubt; but after missing out the first time, Marvin’s hope turned to pure doubt. He wasn't resentful, he was just being pragmatic. From that point on, whenever he was eligible, he would look at the committee make-up and do the math. In the views of many, not just Marvin’s, each time a new committee was formed, a quick scan of its make-up led to the same conclusion: the fix was in. Most of the time he never stood a chance. He would come close, but it didn't matter. It was truly heartbreaking to witness, but not for Marvin. For Marvin, it was par for the course…more of the same.
Despite the spoils Marvin helped create for all involved in the sport, not to mention the historical impact he had on the game, his adversaries would do their best to deny him a place in the Hall – at least not while he was alive.
In electing Marvin during the latest incarnation of a committee charged with voting on players and executives from past eras, all the Hall of Fame did was right a wrong. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Over the years, I came to view it this way: There was no room in Cooperstown for Marvin, because he was bigger than the Hall of Fame. Now that the Hall has righted its wrong, I look at it this way: The Hall just doubled in size.
Sign Stealing...Is it cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship?
Garden City, NY, Thursday, November 14, 2019 … Major League Baseball’s latest conundrum involves sign stealing and the Houston Astros. The accusations made earlier this week date back to 2017 during the Astros run to their first-ever World Series title. In all likelihood, you’ve read about it in The Athletic or in any one of the hundreds of follow-up articles and social media posts.
The Astros are getting raked over the coals, and calls inside and outside Major League Baseball are demanding an investigation and severe punishment if the Astros’ current/former personnel can be identified.
But wait a minute, isn’t sign stealing as old as the game itself? If so, why the uproar? Is it not cheating to have a player on second base steal the signs? What about a staffer in center field using binoculars? Is it okay to steal signs as long as you don’t use available technology? It seems a bit hypocritical, no?
We’re being naïve if we think that the Astros are the only baseball team trying to steal signs. Given that fact, then perhaps the punishment (if any) should fit the crime.
Trying to gain an advantage over the opposition is as old as organized sport. Today, it only makes sense that the methods have become a bit more sophisticated given the unlimited potential of advancing technology.
Do you watch NFL games? When coaches talk to one another or their players, they always cover their mouths with the clipboard. Why? Do they have coffee breath? More likely, somewhere along the line, a team must have employed a lip reader to decipher these sideline conversations. If not, there’s enough paranoia that someone might. If so, would that be cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship?
Consider this bit of personal history. While I was with the Florida Panthers during their trip to the 1996 Stanley Cup final, the team encountered some very fishy “coincidences” even before the first championship puck would be dropped.
First, after defeating the Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr-led Penguins in Pittsburgh during a Saturday night seventh game, the Panthers arrived to Denver in the wee hours on Sunday. The home Colorado Avalanche failed to send its equipment vans to meet our late arriving plane in a timely fashion, and the Panthers players had to practice in wet or damp equipment on Sunday. Game one of the series, at altitude, would be Monday.
It became clear that there seemed to be some “monkey business” going on. Was it cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship?
To make a long story short, the rest of the Panthers’ story falls into the category of “You Can’t Make This #%*& Up!”
After checking into an airport area hotel, because, for some reason, the team was not booked in the main hotel until Sunday, the fire alarm went off just as the team and staff were getting some much-needed rest.
On Monday, just an hour or so before Game One, the players’ wives and families, making the trip from South Florida to Denver, were given tickets in the upper reaches of the arena. It’s customary that the family members receive better seat locations, and the wives of the players were understandably upset. Cell phone calls were made to their spouses and team officials, serving as just one more distraction before the players were to take the ice for the biggest series of their lives.
Finally, the icing on the cake (no pun intended) took place just prior to the opening face-off. John Vanbiesbrouck, the Panthers goaltender and one of the main reasons for the team’s surprising run to the final, was approached by the referee. The “Beezer” was in his pre-game zone and was visibly shaken during the brief conversation. It seems that the end of his goalie stick, wrapped in its customary red hockey tape, was in violation of an NHL rule requiring the knob of the stick to be taped in white.
Clearly, someone on the Avalanche knew the rule book very well and waited for just the right moment to spring a little pre-game surprise on the Panthers’ most valuable player – if not the NHL’s most valuable to his team. The equipment manager had to quickly replace the tape before the game could begin.
Was it cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship?
In the end, it didn’t matter. The powerful and talent-heavy Avalanche would go on to sweep the series to win their first Stanley Cup.
Throughout these coincidences, the Panthers’ players, coaches and management team vowed to plow ahead. Did they think it was cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship?
To a man, they thought it was unfortunate, but also something that comes with the territory when you’re the best in the world at what you do and you're competing with others for the right to be crowned champion.
For some in the industry it’s a win at all cost mentality, while for others it’s cheating, gamesmanship or poor sportsmanship. In the end, that decision rests in the minds of the beholder.
The χ Factor Wednesday, September 26, 2018...In the battle for worldwide sports popularity, consumption and revenue, can any sport catch soccer?...Given the emergence and improvements in live-streaming and digital media distribution, coupled with the growing globalization of consumer brands, the battle for worldwide sports popularity, consumption and revenue is on. Can any sport catch or even keep pace with soccer?
It will come as no surprise that in an annual survey of 18,000 sports fans from 18 countries, soccer dominates in global popularity. It was named the number one sport in 12 of the countries surveyed, and overall nearly 60 percent of the adult population claimed they are interested in the game.
The survey results showed that in the US, soccer ranks ninth in popularity, far behind football, baseball and basketball. Combine the continued growth of MLS with the US co-hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026, and it’s possible, if not probable, that we’ll witness a major spike in soccer’s popularity in America. A lift that could place the sport fourth on the list.
The survey also points out, indirectly, that US sports are lacking in terms of popularity among the world’s sports fans.
Why is that important?
Given the continuing trend of globalizing brands and services [e.g., InBev/Ann-Heuser Busch; Comcast/SKY; Unilever/Ben & Jerry’s, etc.], US professional sports leagues are facing an uphill battle if they have their sites set on growing revenue through their international footprint and popularity.
The sports marketing and advertising budgets of major consumer brands seeking to grow international sales and/or awareness will likely continue to increase their investments in soccer’s major professional leagues; possibly leaving less in their budgets for US pro leagues.
Looking (not too) far into the future, it’s possible that the US pro leagues will have to survive on parochial support, if they don’t begin to penetrate the consciousness of a growing number of the world’s sports fans.
The battle is on, and for US pro leagues it’s a fight worth its weight in gold.
AP Photo/Wayne Parry
The χ Factor Thursday, September 13, 2018...New Jersey Sports Betting Numbers Offer a Sneak Peek at What’s to Come...The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement recently released its gaming report for the month of August, which includes numbers generated by newly-legalized sports betting. Overall, NJ reported that in August sports fans flocked to the casinos and race tracks and logged on to mobile wagering apps to plunk down $95.6 million in bets, generating $9.2 million in revenue. $74 million was wagered on site, while another $21.6 million was wagered on-line during the month. In all, sports betting helped the state generate a 24.1% increase in total gaming revenue for the month, bringing the total to almost $304 million.
Since its launch in mid-June, New Jersey’s sports betting operations have generated revenue of $16.5 million on a total handle of $152.7 million. Year-to-date wagering statistics show that through August $84 million has been wagered on baseball, $5.8 million on football, $4.3 million on basketball and $51.9 million on other sports. [See chart below.]
Now that the NFL season is upon us, it’s safe to assume that the numbers listed above only serve as a warm-up for what’s to come in September. $tay tuned.
For additional information: DGE Announces August 2018 Total Gaming Revenue Results
[The below chart courtesy New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.]
The χ Factor Saturday, July 7, 2018...How many pedal strokes does it take to complete the Tour de France?...Beginning today (Saturday, July 7) and continuing through Sunday, July 29, an estimated 10-12 million passionate sports fans will line 2,082 miles of roadway, cobblestones and alpine crossings that make up the route of the 105th Tour de France professional cycling race. With 21 stages (or race days) and only two days off between today and the 29th of July, the 176 professional cyclists (eight from each of the 22 competing teams) will be participating in one of the sports world’s most physically challenging and rigorous sporting events on the calendar.
For those who don’t know, the rider with the lowest cumulative finishing time is the leader of the race, and he dons the famed “yellow jersey” for as long as he maintains his overall lead. There are also races within the race, as some riders will battle for the “green jersey” worn by the top sprinter, the “polka-dot” jersey worn by the top climber and the “white jersey” worn by the Tour’s top young rider under the age of 26.
As we have now come to expect, digital technology will also be on center stage throughout the Tour.
Each of the 176 riders in this year’s race will have a sensor attached to the underside of his saddle, allowing for real-time data on speed and location. This feature will enhance broadcast coverage of the race, allowing fans around the world a greater understanding and appreciation for the feats of some of the most conditioned athletes on the planet.
And speaking of the broadcast, the Tour will provide its rights-holders from 190 countries with around 7,000 hours of coverage, including 105 hours live.
For those of you who like numbers, facts and figures, consider the below compiled by Agence France-Presse.
By the numbers…
1: Instance where the race leaves France (to Spain on stage 16)
5: French teams in the race
7: Ambulances on course
8: Cameras on bikes in the peloton, each stage
10: Doctors at the race throughout the Tour
11: Estimated spectators — in millions — alongside the route (average, between 10-12 million)
11: Kilometers, in length, of the publicity caravan
16: Race commissaires
16: Number of items — in millions — distributed by the publicity caravan
20: Percentage of roadside spectators from outside of France
39: Villages, towns, or cities hosting stages
60: Kilometers of AV cables for media coverage at the finish of each stage
60: TV channels that carry the race live
90: TV and radio commentators
100: Amaury Sport Organisation employees
126: Pageviews — in millions — on the official Tour de France website
160: Vehicles in the publicity caravan
450: Number of team staff at the Tour
579: Towns the Tour will pass through
600: Staff in the publicity caravan
2,000: Journalists, consultants, and photographers (at the 2017 edition)
4,500: People working on the Tour each day
29,000: Gendarmes, police, and firefighters on the Tour
100,000: Recyclable trash bags distributed along the route
403,200: Number of pedal strokes by a rider to complete the Tour de France (estimated by Sportlab 2017)
500,000: Prize for the overall win, in euros
2,287,750: Total amount of prizes and primes, in euro
For more information regarding the race, visit the official website here.
NBC is the U.S. rights-holder, and you can follow the race by clicking here.
For those of you who like data and analytics, follow @letourdata on Twitter.
Enjoy Le Tour!
The χ Factor Tuesday, June 12, 2018...From embedded reporters to Video Assistance Referees, #FIFA leaning on #sportstech during #WorldCup ... Although the U.S. failed to qualify this time around, the upcoming World Cup in Russia will still generate enough compelling drama to grab the attention of millions of American sports fans – at least in this writer’s opinion. And advances in technology will play a tremendous role in making that happen, as some of the world’s greatest athletes will soon begin competing for one of the most coveted championships in sports.
In this age of rapidly advancing digital technology, quadrennial events, such as the upcoming FIFA World Cup, barely resemble previous iterations, especially in the areas of live broadcast coverage and traditional and social media coverage.
As it relates to social media coverage, this World Cup will likely shatter records for fan engagement, as FIFA Digital has embedded a FIFA Team Reporter with each of the competing 32 teams. These embedded reporters plan to deliver exclusive content in a number of languages as well as the team’s native language, across FIFA.com and all of its social media channels. On game days, FIFA plans to add emphasis to its coverage via Twitter. [A list of the Twitter reporters can be found here.]
On Monday, June 11, in Moscow, FIFA displayed some of the technology that will be in play during the World Cup, when it opened the doors to its International Broadcast Center (IBC). This is where the host-broadcast feed for all 64 matches will be processed, monitored, and delivered via TV, radio, and digital devices to a global audience in 219 territories around the world by 78 media rights licensees. The IBC will also be used to create additional, supporting World Cup related content, including highlights, features and promotional videos.
FIFA also announced that it is using the IBC to house its first-ever Video Assistant Refereeing room. In American sports vernacular, we call this the instant replay official’s "war room." From this VAR room, FIFA’s 13 Video Assistant Referees (each VAR will also have three assistants) will provide back-up to those officiating from the pitch. Despite advances in this technology, some in futbol circles claim that FIFA is rushing to use VARs and that the World Cup is not the time to roll out the use of video review. With world-wide bragging rights at stake, we imagine moments might get a little tense for those assigned to the VAR room.
Below are links to some related items of interest:
For those of you keen on sports technology, you might want to bookmark the Sports Video Group’s live World Cup blog.
To read one official’s take on using VARs in the World Cup, check out this BBC story.
To read more from FIFA click here.
To learn what a VAR does, watch this video.
The World Cup happens once every four years and there's no telling what the event will look like from a technological standpoint next time around. At least in 2018, FIFA is pulling out all available stops to ensure that the largest audience possible can follow the drama of what is sure to be another thrilling World Cup.
Here's hoping the #USMNT makes it to Qatar in 2022 - when #sportsbetting could play a huge role in American fan engagement and revenue generation!
Enjoy the games!!
The χ Factor Thursday, May 3, 2018 ...God bless you, Bill Torrey...So terribly saddened to learn of the passing of my mentor in the sports industry, William A. Torrey - AKA "GM." He had a tremendous impact on my life and I will forever owe him a debt of gratitude for sharing his knowledge and for being there for me throughout my career - in and out of the game of hockey.
I had the honor to work with the "GM" for nearly 14 years, on Long Island and in Florida, when he took me south to help him build the expansion Florida Panthers.
He was a leader among leaders, and his ability to remain calm and in control at all times was a trait I tried to emulate throughout my career. When we last spoke a few weeks ago, his focus was 100% on providing support to the Panthers in their push for a playoff spot. That was classic Bill...always a team guy. He would never utter the words "I" or "me," as it was always "we" or "us."
I could go on, but Bill's lasting professional legacy can be found in the front offices, behind the benches and behind the microphones in virtually every NHL market, as his impact on his players was profound.
From his classic bow ties to his laugh and engaging "How ya doing kiddo?" greeting, Bill was one of a kind. I can honestly say that I have never encountered an individual as classy, witty and honest as William A. Torrey. I'm sure he had his bad days, but I never once encountered him having a "bad day."
My thoughts and prayers go out to his sons, Will, Rich, Peter and Artie, their families and Bill's grandchildren.
Today the entire sports world is playing shorthanded. But Bill is looking down upon us all with confidence and faith in our abilities to get the job done - because that was Bill's way.
There are just way too many stories and fond memories to share and I wouldn't know where to start. But I will say the most important one to me was the day he decided to take a chance and appointed a 26-year old Rhode Island transplant to head up the Islanders' publicity department. That day changed my life forever.
God bless you Bill and thank you for everything...you will forever remain alive in the hearts and minds of all who had the honor of knowing you!
The χ Factor Monday, April 30, 2018 ... Questions abound with legalized sports betting (possibly) on the horizon ... Between now and the end of June the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision that could expand the reach of legalized sports betting beyond Nevada.
I’m going to leave the legal implications to the lawyers and pundits following this issue on a regular basis, but what I want to do is look at some of the ways a ruling that opens the legalized sports betting floodgates might change the way we manage the industry as well as the way fans watch and cheer for their favorite teams and athletes.
First, you don’t have to wait for the Supreme Court ruling to get a sense of the impact legalized sports betting will have on sports reporting as well as the way fans are likely to respond.
You can see a recent example of that right here, via USA Today's FOR THE WIN and Tweets posted following the Cavs’ game-seven victory over the Pacers.
In that game, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo hit a meaningless three-point shot at the end of Cleveland’s 105-101 victory. However, the basket was anything but meaningless to those who had money riding on the game. The buzzer-beating points allowed the Pacers to cover with the 5.5 points they were getting from the betting line, providing Pacers’ fans with a profitable consolation prize, while dampening the winning spirits of wagering Cavs’ fans. If Oladipo misses the shot, a final score of 105-98 would have made two-time losers out of those wagering Pacers’ fans.
As a Genesis song lyric goes, ‘Gambling only pays when you’re winning…” And, as we know, in games there are winners AND losers.
But who stands to gain the most and lose the most should a Supreme Court ruling result in legalized sports gambling?
That’s just one question that remains to be answered, and I’m willing to bet (pun intended) that the losers and winners won’t be as obvious as we think.
As you know, changes this drastic usually bring along some unintended consequences.
Illegal sports wagering is a thriving underground (and un-reported to the IRS) industry. So, we know it exists. But, once it’s legalized across the board, I’m a firm believer that – for better or worse – we 'ain’t' seen nothing yet.
Left unanswered for now, and offered here as food for thought, consider these questions:
- Will leagues have to provide extra security personnel (24/7?) for their officials and umpires?
- Will players be able to safely venture out in public after making a play that determines the betting outcome of a game? What about their family members?
- Does “instant replay” and its use to determine on-field calls take on a more important role?
- Will the “instant replay” officials be pressured in some fashion to take point spreads into account when making decisions?
- Can players, team and league officials really be prevented from wagering? Their family members? Friends? Agents?
- What safeguards will be used to prevent people from going broke as they become increasingly desperate to “hit the big one?”
Those are just a few of the questions legalized gambling will present to the sports industry - and to those politicians eager to cash in on what they THINK might be a windfall.
Here’s hoping that all involved parties crawl before they run to embrace legalized sports betting.
by Greg Bouris
[Read this by Jennifer Roberts, adjunct professor of law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas: With the Supreme Court’s pending sports gambling decision, states are already prepping for legalization]
The χ Factor Friday, April 6, 2018 ... NBA launches eSports League ...Talk about a basketball crossover, this week the NBA crashed the boards hard with a major play in brand exposure and extension, when it held the inaugural player draft of its fledgling NBA2K League – a joint venture between the NBA and Take Two Interactive, publishers of the NBA2K video game.
Kudos to the NBA for hosting the draft at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, and for pulling out most of the same bells and whistles you’ll see during professional league drafts.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on hand to announce and welcome the first crop of NBA2K League players, beginning with Dimez (Artreyo Boyd), selected first overall by Mavs Gaming. In all, 102 e-players were drafted during the six-round, snake-format draft.
Based on preliminary requirements, 720,000 eligible players participated in a “combine” that helped whittle the list of top players to 250. Those top 250 were then subjected to more game-play scrutiny, which helped determine the final list of 102 players eligible for the draft.
There will be 17 NBA franchises competing in the inaugural season, which begins this May and runs through August: Boston Celtics Crossover Gaming, Cleveland Cavs Legion GC, Dallas Mavs Gaming, Detroit Pistons GT, Golden State Warriors Gaming Squad, Indiana Pacers Gaming, Memphis Grizz Gaming, Miami Heat Check Gaming, Milwaukee Bucks Gaming, New York Knicks Gaming, Orlando Magic Gaming, Philadelphia 76ers GC, Portland Blazer5 Gaming, Sacramento Kings Guard Gaming, Toronto Raptors Uprising GC, Utah Jazz Gaming, and Washington Wizards District Gaming.
So what’s in it for the participants?
“The NBA 2K League provides a great opportunity for the Bucks to further engage the global basketball and gaming audience,” Wes Edens, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner and chairman of the NBA’s eSports committee told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last December.
“The way fans experience and interact with sports is rapidly evolving and eSports are at the forefront of innovation," Edens said. "We are excited to be one of the founding teams of the 2K League as we enhance our organization by adding another team.”
We can see the marketing potential for the NBA and its member teams, with the launch of the NBA’s fourth league, while the e-players will earn salaries, including $35,000 for first round draft picks and $32,000 for the others. Players will compete in tournaments during the season, with a combined $1 million prize pool at stake, and the players will also be eligible to earn money through endorsements and sponsorships.
We expect all eyes to be on the NBA2K League while its first season unfolds, as we expect other leagues to quickly follow with their own iterations of the eSports concept.
To learn more about NBA2K League, check out this HOOPSHYPE article:FAQ: Everything you need to know about the new NBA 2K League.
To get a greater sense of why professional sports leagues and teams are eager to venture into the world of eSports, check out Twitch.
The χ Factor Monday, April 2, 2018 ... What's in store for the Final Four?? ... As the sports world shifts its attention to San Antonio, Texas for tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game between Villanova and Michigan, we wonder what the future holds for "elite" collegiate men’s basketball and football programs.
Late last week, NCAA President Mark Emmert gave his annual state of the Association address during a news conference prior to the start of the Final Four, a day following a ruling by a federal judge in California that set a Dec. 3 trial date for two lawsuits that claim the NCAA and a number of its conferences have unfairly capped player compensation at the amount of a scholarship.
As one would expect, during his talk, Emmert was faced with questions about amateurism and player compensation.
“The most fundamental principle here...is whether or not we want to have college sports as it exists today,” Emmert was reported to have said according to the AP’s report. “That is student-athletes playing student-athletes. Or whether we want to move toward a model where these are employees that are compensated whether directly or indirectly for their performances. And universities and colleges have very consistently said they don’t want to have student-athletes become employees of a university.”
Although this is an obvious over simplification of a very complex issue, and an issue that has been debated for decades, we wonder if the answer to the future of elite college basketball and football is to be found in Emmert’s question above. Maybe it’s just no longer possible to maintain the status quo or make minor "adjustments," given the revenue that flows into those sports because of the talented and dedicated young men of the hardwood and gridiron.
If it's no longer possible, then what could the future look like?
Will select institutions break away from the NCAA, and incorporate their men’s football and basketball programs – severing the link between academics and athletics once and for all? Or will the NBA and the NFL be forced to improve and enhance their efforts to back their own feeder systems, as opposed to relying on the NCAA to serve as de facto minor leagues?
It’s still very unclear what the future holds, but one thing does appear certain – change is coming. It has to…there’s too much at stake for all involved.
Now, back to this evening's championship game...good luck to the Wildcats and Wolverines. You're the last two dancing! Enjoy the moment...a moment when legends are born.
The χ Factor Wednesday, March 28, 2018 ... On Tuesday, March 27, Turner, the global media company, announced the April launch of “Bleacher Report Live,” a new premium live sports streaming service. The goal is to provide fans with a service that allows them to find and watch live sports “beyond the traditional television ecosystem.” In other words, technology allows for, and consumers have a growing demand for, the opportunity to watch what they want, when they want, on the platform and device they want. And Turner and its Bleacher Report subsidiary have the combined resources to give fans what they want – live sports programming direct to consumer. Turner can provide the technological backbone, live sports content and direct access to a growing audience of avid sports fans that will allow it to hit the ground running when it launches B/R Live next month. Turner’s stable of rights includes the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, NBA League Pass games, 65 NCAA Championships, PGA Championship, National Lacrosse League, The Spring League, Red Bull Global Rallycross and the World Armwrestling League.
Hopefully, Turner’s effort will spur additional innovation in this space, which ultimately results in the ability for anyone with access to the internet and a streaming-worthy device the chance to watch virtually every major sporting event (and concert?) live in real-time. To read Turner’s press release, click here.
The χ Factor Friday, March 23, 2018 ... With the passing of H. Wayne Huizenga, we thought we'd turn back the time machine. From the front page of the April 4, 1994 edition of the New York Times: H. Wayne Huizenga has a vision. Where others see merely 2,500 acres of wetlands, quarries and canals here on the eastern fringe of the Everglades midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, he imagines the biggest new tourist attraction to arise in Florida since Disney World, a gleaming $1 billion sports and entertainment complex he calls Blockbuster Park.
[Spoiler alert: Blockbuster was sold to Viacom before Blockbuster Park progressed beyond the planning phase, thus bringing an end to Wayne's one-of-a-kind sports and entertainment complex. Also, note the article's reference to virtual reality!!]
The χ Factor March 22, 2018 ... (Reuters) - Players’ Tribune, the three-year-old digital media company owned by former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, is expanding into Europe and looking to sign deals with networks, online streaming services and other content distributors, executives told Reuters.