Thursday, January 31, 2013

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVII – the economic misnomer

The Big Easy’s hotel rooms are filled this weekend, Super Bowl XLVII is set for Sunday. Super Bowl XLVII managed to extend Mardi Gras, or least put that party aside for a few days. Because of the Super Bowl festivities the New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes (parades) are taking the weekend off. If Super Bowl XLVII wasn’t being played at the Superdome Sunday, Mardi Gras celebrations would continue, hotel rooms throughout the Louisiana city would be filled to capacity with Mardi Gras celebrants.

According to a New Orleans Times Picayune report a sampling of Super Bowl economic impact studies shows a reported $292 million spending boost in Atlanta for 2000, a $367 million benefit in San Diego in 2003, a $261 million spike in Detroit in 2006, a $463 million wave in Miami in 2007, a $500 million gain in Arizona in 2008 and a $384 million bump in Indianapolis last year. New Orleans saw $249 million in 1997 and $299 million in 2002.

"We're all fond of saying, 'Move the decimal point one place to the left and you're more accurately predicting what the impact will be,'" economist Rob Baade of Lake Forest College in Illinois said about Super Bowl economic impact studies in a New Orleans Times Picayune report. "You really need a kind of dispassionate, objective appraisal."

Hosting the Super Bowl makes sense in helping to promote tourism in the city hosting the game – regardless of whether or not New Orleans hosted Super Bowl XLVII the city remains a tourism destination.

Most Super Bowls are held in warm weather cites. Miami has hosted ten Super Bowls. New Orleans, home to Mardi Gras every February, hosts their tenth Super Bowl this weekend. Tampa, San Diego and Phoenix have each hosted multiple Super Bowls in late January or early February. Those five cities are tourist destination points. If those cities weren’t hosting Super Bowls in late January or early February, most of their hotels would still be filled with tourists. Those five cities host conventions during the winter months. In simpler terms, four of those five cities are each busy this weekend and they’re not hosting the Super Bowl. The lone exception, New Orleans the games host this year.

Detroit has hosted two Super Bowls and last year Indianapolis hosted Super Bowl XLVI. In the cases of these three Super Bowls, it is a safe assumption hotel rooms in Detroit or Indianapolis wouldn’t be filled unless the Super Bowl was there.

Patrick Rishe offered a number of interesting points regarding the “economic impact of a Super Bowl” in a Forbes Magazine report:

• Super Bowls do confer net economic benefits in terms of new visitor spending from fans, corporations, and the media…and that there can be lagged non-local spending benefits as well as real-time cost savings associated with the media value that hosting the Super Bowl can confer upon one’s city;

• Most Super Bowl impact estimates tend to be inflated (some widely so) because they don’t properly account for all the factors which ultimately pull net impact estimates well below gross impact estimates.

Dr. Rishe, Director of SportsImpacts, a national sports consulting firm that has conducted economic impact studies for two Super Bowls, three Final Fours, and more than 70 projects all together since 2000, believes that many Super Bowl economic studies fail in what they’re supposed to do by:

• Not properly sorting “locals” from “non-locals”…and though the “vacationing at home” argument has validity, some over-estimate the degree to which this effect is applicable;

• Not accounting for the fact that ticket revenue, NFL merchandise, and similar itemized expenditures don’t stay within the host city because that revenue is ultimately slated for the NFL’s pockets or that of some non-local supplier;

• Not accounting for monetary leakages of various types…non-local suppliers taking money out is one example, and any restaurant or hotel with a national headquarters based outside of the host city yields some additional leakage which reduces the impact of the Super Bowl;

• Not accounting for displacement or crowding out effects.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Planalytics, a business weather intelligence firm in Pennsylvania, suggested the economic impact for Super Bowl XLV (held in Dallas in February 2011) had an economic impact of between $200 million and $250 million. Spending at last year’s Super Bowl was impacted by terrible weather in Dallas. Hotel rooms were filled, but tens of thousands of Super Bowl visitors stayed in those hotel rooms when ice storms plagued Dallas in the days before Super Bowl XLV. The ice storms cost Dallas retailers at least $25 million.

"I was surprised. I thought the impact from the weather would have been much greater," Scott A. Bernhardt, chief operating officer at Planalytics, told The Dallas Morning News. "After Tuesday, everything just stopped, but the floodgates opened on Thursday."
Per person spending between Thursday and Sunday at Super Bowl XLV averaged $1,200, Bernhardt said. At recent Super Bowls, spending usually worked out to about $1,000 per person.

"The debate over economic impact has been going on in the academic literature for about twenty years," Craig Depken, an associate professor of economics in the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte, told The Daily Finance.com. "Generally speaking the economics literature has found little evidence to support the idea that mega-events such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics generate the net economic impacts predicted by event promoters/advocates."

"The studies [saying there are big benefits from the Super Bowl] are just guesses, not studies," says Philip Porter, a professor of economics at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "While there is a lot of money being spent there is no opportunity for the city to grab it."

"We think the NFL has an impact far beyond the game itself and people who come to the game," University of New Orleans economist Janet Speyrer told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "My sense is it will have a positive and lasting effect for some time.

"Usually the comparison still leaves a positive number when it's the Super Bowl," Speyrer said.
It’s expensive to host a Super Bowl week. Infrastructure costs can cost close to $100 million, with security the most expensive taxpayer paid component of hosting a Super Bowl.

"Everyone is coming up with the answer that the Super Bowl is good thing, but it turns out to be a good thing that's less than half, and sometimes as much as a tenth," of common estimates, economist Victor Matheson at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts said in the New Orleans Times
Picayune report.

"There's no doubt that the Super Bowl is a big event," he said. But, "they do a really good job adding and multiplying. The problem is they don't do a good job subtracting."

Following Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, the local organizing committee offered an economic study and impact report following the February 2012 event.

"Super Bowl spending by residents was eliminated wherever possible; arguably those expenditures would have taken place without Super Bowl XLVI," the report said. "Spending streams that immediately left Indianapolis were also subtracted. Examples include game ticket purchases or operational expenditures that went to businesses outside the area. Where identified spending streams lacked sufficient data, they were not included."

That study believed the Super Bowl created a gross contribution to the Indianapolis economy of $384 million. It narrowed total spending from sources outside the region to $342 million the study eliminated $46.9 million in displaced tourism business, believing Super Bowl XLVI had an a $295 million net contribution to the Indianapolis economy. The study again offered by the Indianapolis Super Bowl host committee said businesses that worked directly with Super Bowl events and customers took in $176 million. The Indianapolis study concluded that the event amounted to "a huge economic and fiscal windfall for the region."

New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee President Jay Cicero spoke with the New Orleans Times Picayune offering his own spin on the benefits of hosting Super Bowl XLVII.

"You mean to tell me they would've had that amount of business, paying that amount of money, without the Super Bowl being here," Cicero said about local companies. "Would they be doing the same amount of business on the first weekend of Mardi Gras? The answer is no."

"It just dwarfs everything out there," Cicero said. "You can see with your own eyes. This isn't a small event.

The National Football League wanted New Orleans to host a Super Bowl as part of the league`s belief in the city and the cities recovery from Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans hosts a party like few cities in the world can. That said, the economic benefits might not be as great as organizers would like to believe, but it is an event that for the most part offers tremendous benefits to a host city.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVII – Ray Lewis a not so great media day

Ray Lewis has become the player to watch heading into the last days before Super Bowl XLVII. Sunday evening when Lewis’ Baltimore Ravens meet the San Francisco 49’ers, more than 100 million will focus much of their attention on the Ravens middle line-backer playing the last game of his Hall of Fame career. Tuesday at Super Bowl media day, Lewis who craves attention on and off a football field, did the best he could to avoid the thousands of media who wanted to ask Lewis about some of the “unfortunate” events in his life.

“Nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions,” Lewis said. “I just truly feel that this is God’s time, and whatever his time is, you know, let it be his will. Don’t try to please everybody with your words, try to make everybody’s story sound right. At this time, I would rather direct my questions in other places. Because I live with that every day. You maybe can take a break from it. I don’t. I live with it every day of my life and I would rather not talk about it today.”

Cowboys VP/PR & Communications Rich Dalrymple working with the NFL Network during media was ‘impressed’ by Lewis’ refusal to answer certain questions: “It is called Media Day and you better be prepared for that question as you’ve been for X-number of years since the incident took place. … I do think he handled it in a pretty effective way.”

The questions that Lewis referred too, a series of tragic events that took place following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000. Lewis attended the game with ‘friends’ before staring in Super Bowl XXXV a year later. But for the grace of God, the events that unfolded at Super Bowl XXXIV nearly ended Lewis’ career before it began.

A fight broke out between Lewis and his companions and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were questioned by Atlanta police, and eleven days later the three men were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings has never been found. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged that the bloodstained suit was dumped in a garbage bin outside a fast food restaurant.

Lewis' attorneys, Don Samuel and Ed Garland, of the Atlanta law firm Garland, Samuel & Loeb, negotiated a plea agreement with Howard, the Fulton County District Attorney, where the murder charges against Lewis were dismissed in exchange for his testimony against Oakley and Sweeting, and his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.

Lewis admitted that he gave a misleading statement to police on the morning after the killings. Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner sentenced Lewis to 12 months' probation, the maximum sentence for a first-time offender; and he was fined $250,000 by the NFL, which was believed to be the highest fine levied against an NFL player for an infraction not involving substance abuse.

Ray Lewis knew he would be the focus of attention at media day and knew he would be asked to reflect upon what took place 13 years ago. As a professional, as the de facto Ravens leader, Lewis refusing to deal with an uncomfortable issue on the biggest stage afforded an NFL player was an embarrassment.

Lewis’ behavior at media day was ‘highlighted’ when Lewis was asked about a Sports Illustrated report linking Lewis to the use of a banned substance (deer antler extract) during his recovery after he tore his triceps. Lewis and the Ravens learned of the Sports Illustrated report on their way to the Superdome for their media day appearance.

“Why would I give that any press?

"Two years ago, it was the same report. I wouldn't give that report or him any of my press. He's not worthy of that. Next question," Lewis said.

Lewis has been tested for banned substances, as are all NFL players throughout their NFL careers.

"Ray has been randomly tested for banned substances and has never failed a test. We have never been notified of a failed test. He has never been notified of a failed test," Kevin Byrne, vice president of communications for the Ravens, told ESPN.

"He denied using the substance discussed in the article, and we believe him," Byrne told ESPN.
Bryne raised the best point – Ray Lewis has never once tested positive for anything. While that sounds familiar to statements made time and time again by Lance Armstrong, Ray Lewis’ behavior is an issue. Lewis has worked hard to craft his image off a football field.

If he wasn’t playing in Super Bowl XLVII his post football career working with ESPN would have begun, Ray Lewis would have been one of the 4,000 media people covering Super Bowl XLVII.

"Last month, I did a piece for Sports Illustrated on what current NFL players and coaches are in the eyes of network executives," said Richard Deitsch, media writer for Sports Illustrated in a Baltimore Sun report. "These guys all keep a list of those people they interact with on a weekly basis as to who has really good potential for television, should they decide to go into it and work at it. And every executive I talked to mentioned Ray Lewis ... and had Ray Lewis probably in their top three.

"He's considered to be incredibly charismatic, a great speaker, great communicator and on top of that has incredible name recognition, because he's a first ballot Hall of Famer," Deitsch said. "What I got from everybody was if Ray decided to do this, if Ray was serious about being good at it, the sky's the limit for this guy."

"Ray Lewis has an intensity about him and a way of communicating that is very infectious," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told SI. "He is a bigger-than-life personality, very articulate and [has] an incredible passion for the game. If Ray Lewis decided to take that same passion and put it into a broadcasting career, I think he would be a terrific studio analyst or I imagine game analyst, too.

Fox Sports Media group executive producer John Entz echoed McManus. "I see Ray as a guy who would be great in the studio because he is so animated and emotive," Entz said in the Sports Illustrated report. "I think he could fire people up there."

Lewis’ reaction to controversial issues on the biggest stage at Super Bowl XLVII leaves one to question how Lewis is going to feel when as a retired NFL player he’ll be forced to ask some of the tough questions he was ask and refused to answer on media day.

Will Ray Lewis be able to extend his ESPN career to endorsement opportunities?

"He's got to come out from under the helmet and sort of establish his personality away from the field," said Dr. Stephen McDaniel, who studies sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland in a Baltimore Sun report. "I think he really has what it takes to continue to grow."

David Carter, principal of the Sports Business Group and executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, told the Baltimore Sun now that Lewis playing career is coming to an end, he’ll have to focus on broadening his appeal if he wants to continue to endorse products after his retirement.

"Despite being one of the NFL's greatest players, he hasn't established himself as a national figure beyond hardcore football fans," Carter said. "Being a defensive player and, to a lesser extent, one from a small market, has made it tougher for him to compete with the likes of other NFL superstars in terms of endorsements.

"Of course, he will need to stay out of trouble because, while his alleged involvement in a double murder was a long time ago, that baggage still exists in terms of his marketability," Carter said.

The great saying “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” embarrassingly applied to Ray Lewis on media day. An image Ray Lewis worked to create in the last ten years likely wasn’t touched by his actions on Super Bowl media day, but an important lesson was learned. Lewis is a media savvy 17-year NFL veteran. Ray Lewis is far too polished to have tried to ignore key issues in his life, the lesson that needs to be remembered, be ready, be prepared, be honest and do your best to deal with every and any questions you are asked on Super Bowl media day.

And Lewis’s suggestion that “Nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions,” is ignorant at best, insulting at the least – the 4,000 media onslaught covering Super Bowl XLVII have an obligation to ask questions reporters want to ask, and they are qualified to ask questions at Super Bowl media day.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVII – the future of professional football

One of the biggest stories throughout Super Bowl week has nothing to do with the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49’ers, but everything to do with the future of the National Football League. More than 3,800 retired NFL players and their families are suing the National Football League, believing the Lords of the Pigskin willfully withheld information relating to the impact concussions had on football players and related safety issues. The issue – the future of the National Football League, the safety of the game and how football is played “colliding together” with the future of the NFL at stake.

“I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.” President Barack Obama told NPR in regard to concussions and player safety in football.

“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.”

When the most powerful person in the world steps into the football safety debate – player safety will be front and center throughout Super Bowl week.

There is an inherent danger in playing football, football is controlled warfare. Those who play football are well aware what can happen during a football game. There are close to 4,000 retired NFL players and their families, while aware of safety issues want to be heard. There are those who currently play on Any Given Sunday who seemingly could care less about player safety. Ravens safety Bernard Pollard believes the NFL faces a very uncertain future.

"Thirty years from now," Pollard told CBS Sports. "I don't think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It's just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going -- where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they're throwing flags and everything else -- there's going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.

"Guys are getting fined, and they're talking about, 'Let's take away the strike zone' and 'Take the pads off' or 'Take the helmets off.' It's going to be a thing where fans aren't going to want to watch it anymore."

"The league is trying to move in the right direction [with player safety]," Pollard offered CBS Sports, "but, at the same time, [coaches] want bigger, stronger and faster year in and year out. And that means you're going to keep getting big hits and concussions and blown-out knees. The only thing I'm waiting for ... and, Lord, I hope it doesn't happen ... is a guy dying on the field. We've had everything else happen there except for a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks.

"Like I said, I pray it never happens, but you've got guys who are 350 pounds running 4.5 and 4.4s, and these owners and coaches want scout-run blockers and linemen to move walls. At the same time, they tell you, 'Don't hit here, and don't hit there, or we'll take your money.' Like I said, I hope I'm wrong, but I just believe one day there's going to be a death that takes place on the field because of the direction we're going."

The genesis of the current lawsuits the NFL is facing date back to July 2011 when 75 retired players filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming the NFL were aware as early as the 1920’s (the NFL began in 1920) of the inherent risks of concussions on players' brains, but concealed the information from players, coaches, trainers and others until June 2010.

The 3,800 suing the National Football League include members of the Football Hall of Fame, including Tony Dorsett. In the second quarter of a 1984 Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles game (Dorsett was playing for the Cowboys) Dorsett suffered a helmet to helmet hit, the hardest hit of his Hall of Fame career.

"It was like a freight train hitting a Volkswagen," Dorsett says now. "Did they know it was a concussion?" he asks rhetorically during an interview with The Associated Press. "They thought I was half-dead."

And what did the Dallas Cowboys do? They shined a light in his eyes, asked him who sat next to him on the Cowboys team bus and put him back in the game in the second half. Dorsett remembers running plays the wrong way in that second half – yet he still managed to run for 99 more yards.

"That ain't the first time I was knocked out or been dazed over the course of my career, and now I'm suffering for it," the 58-year-old former tailback says. "And the NFL is trying to deny it."

What about the risk vs. reward – that playing football is dangerous – and Tony Dorsett was paid to play in the NFL. Much of the money he made while playing football was lost through a series of bad investments.

"Yeah, I understand you paid me to do this, but still yet, I put my life on the line for you, I put my health on the line," Dorsett says. "And yet when the time comes, you turn your back on me? That's not right. That's not the American way."

That, in many ways, is the heart of the matter – how the NFL is treating its former players, the athletes who built the NFL into one of the most successful businesses in the world today. Out of the four major North American sports: the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, NFL player contacts are the only ones that are not guaranteed. Only the bonuses players receive when they sign their contracts are guaranteed. The NFL generates in excess of $9 billion annually. In what is arguably the most dangerous professional team sport, the NFL does not offer its players lifetime medical insurance.

There is risk vs. reward in any profession and NFL players are well paid and are aware of the risks playing football presents. The real question that needs to be asked: Is the NFL responsible for the quality of life their former players are being forced to lead –and are later-in-life health issues, a direct result of having played in the NFL?

More than 100 million Americans will watch Super Bowl XLVII on CBS. Families across America will gather together to watch the $4 million commercials, Beyoncé's half time adventure, the last game of Ray Lewis’ Hall of Fame career and the Baltimore Ravens meeting the San Francisco 49’ers in the biggest “event” of the year. More than 100 million Americans have little if any understanding as to what’s happening to the gridiron greats, the close to 4,000 former players desperately looking for answers.

Where is the moral outrage from the tens of millions of Americans who NFL football Sundays from early September through Super Bowl Sunday?

"What's a crisis for the league is just the perception of football and its safety and the sustainability of the game,” Robert Boland, a sports law professor at New York University told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It is the single biggest sustainability concern for the league."

There is a day of reckoning coming for the National Football League. The NFL will be forced to deal with their alleged inaction in Federal Court. A business that generates more than $9 billion annually in revenues needs to be “taking care of their own” and needs to be held accountable.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVII – Roger Goodell and the Big Uneasy

The highlight of Roger Goodell’s year is set for Sunday afternoon at New Orleans Superdome, Sunday February 3. If not for Roger Goodell, Super Bowl XLVII likely would have been played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale (a Phoenix suburb), or Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. New Orleans was awarded the game during the NFL's Spring Ownership Meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 19, 2009. Goodell and Goodell alone is why Super Bowl XLVII is heading to the Big Easy!

This will be the tenth time that the city has hosted the Super Bowl, by far the most by an individual city and once again tying with the Miami area for the most Super Bowls hosted by a metropolitan area. It will be the first Super Bowl to be held in New Orleans since the Superdome sustained damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Roger Goodell worked to save the Hornets following Hurricane Katrina, as former commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s deputy. Goodell was very proactive in New Orleans being awarded Super Bowl XLVII, believing the Super Bowl would deliver a resounding post Katrina message to the world about New Orleans recovery.

"I know everybody in the city is belly aching about the last year, but here's the thing: Roger Goodell has always been a friend to the City of New Orleans," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said last week.

Once a hero to the city of New Orleans, Goodell is now a villain, one of the most despised people who will be in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Worshipped one day, hated the next, Roger Goodell sadly has become a storyline at Super Bowl XLVII, for all the wrong reasons. The New Orleans Saints hoped to become the first host team to play in a Super Bowl. The Saints 2012 record, 7-9, out of the playoffs, the blame placed on Goodell, largely because of the fallout from bountygate, which included Saints coach Sean Peyton yearlong suspension, believed to be a key in the disappointing Saints 2012 season. Goodell reinstated Peyton last Monday.

“They believe he completely used the Saints as an example of something that was going on league-wide,” said Pauline Patterson, co-owner of Finn McCool’s, an Irish Bar in the Mid-City neighborhood where the words “Go To Hell Goodell” are visible over the fireplace in a Washington Post report.

Goodell has been hung in effigy, bars and restaurants throughout the city and the French Quarter are displaying signs “Refuse to Serve Roger Goodell”, none of this is good for the image New Orleans wants to project throughout Super Bowl week.

“We had a real shot of being the first team in history to host the Super Bowl in our own stadium,” Parkview Tavern owner Kathy Anderson said. “He can’t give that back to us.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu hopes that people in this city, known for its hospitality and history, will mind their manners and remember the not-too-distant past.

“Roger Goodell has been a great friend to New Orleans, and it’s a fact that he’s one of the people instrumental to making sure that the Saints stayed here after Hurricane Katrina,” Landrieu said in a statement. It was a reference to the days after the storm, when 80 percent of the city was underwater and the damaged Superdome became a shelter for thousands of the displaced. Saints owner Tom Benson a San Antonio native was packing his team ready to move the Saints to San Antonio.

“If not for Roger Goodell, we would not have this Super Bowl,” Landrieu added. “And we will need him since we want to host another one.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees critical of Goodell throughout bountygate offered this from the Pro Bowl Friday.

“There’s no question, yeah. And I think people will see that when they come down, as soon as people come down that haven’t been there in a while,” Brees said while in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. “The city knows how to entertain, knows how to treat people right. The tourism industry’s huge, so we’re excited to host this big game. Obviously it’s the biggest sporting event in the world, and the city will be ready for it.”

No Roger Goodell, New Orleans would have likely lost its NFL team and certainly wouldn’t be hosting Super Bowl XLVII.

“Whether I have Roger Goodell’s face on my dart board is not going to change anybody’s mind about the Super Bowl,” Anderson said.

"Roger was with us when it counted," said Doug Thornton, vice president of stadiums for SMG, the company that manages the Superdome for the state in a NOLA.com report. "He worked and sweated here. People don't realize how granular he was down here. He was in the weeds with us."

There are been more than a few suggestions Roger Goodell should bring a food taster with him wherever he goes in New Orleans during Super Bowl week. Roger Goodell had issues with the New Orleans Saints football team, those issues as Goodell has shown time and time again have nothing whatsoever to do with how Roger Goodell feels about how important the New Orleans market is to the National Football League.

"Roger was very supportive and played a critical role in so many different ways," former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue told the New Orleans Times Picyaune in a phone interview last week.
"He was a major player in executing what we had decided was going to be the policy to keep the Saints in New Orleans, in Louisiana and in the Gulf Coast region. He was the guy who managed the process."

Tom Benson and the Saints management team worked at breaking their Superdome lease with the state of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, tried to sue FEMA for supposedly destroying their training facility, collected negative information about New Orleans and distributed it to the other 31 NFL owners and advised members of the Saints to buy homes in the San Antonio area in anticipation of the team’s planned move.

"It was clear there were things being done by San Antonio and things being considered by the Saints which were clearly focused on San Antonio," Tagliabue told the New Orleans Times Picayune.

"When I told the team that they were moving back to New Orleans, some players stood up and asked me, 'Who the hell are you? We're the ones who have to get our kids in school and find doctors for our families.' The assumption of a lot of the players was they were going to buy homes in San Antonio. I told them the team is going to be back in New Orleans. That is the decision of the league. A team can only relocate if three-fourths of the membership approves the move and there is no such support. I told them they better stop negotiating (real estate) because you're expected back in Metairie by mid-February.

"We made it very clear from the start that we were not going to leave an NFL city in the wake of a national disaster and tragedy," Tagliabue said. "It was like throwing a Hail Mary pass and somebody had to catch the pass."

Roger Goodell should be hailed as the hero; Roger Goodell should be regarded as the biggest and most important reason why the City of New Orleans will be the center of the universe this week. How easily those who support the Saints, are ready to vilify the man who saved their Saints.

"It hurts," Thornton said. "It saddens me to see that Roger would be thought of in that regard after all that he and the league has done to help us.

"If it weren't for the inspiration, motivation and vision of Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue to push us, this project drags beyond 2006 and then who knows what happens," Thornton said. "I don't want to overstate it, but it could have literally altered the course of history here."

With more than 3,000 media people in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, if anything happens that paints New Orleans negatively because of the short-sighted view of Roger Goodell, the tremendous steps New Orleans has made in the years since Hurricane Katrina will be lost. The good citizens of New Orleans would do well to remember how Roger Goodell has respected and treated their community.

"I love the city," Goodell said. "Being a part of that work (post-Katrina) was real important. ...To see the way that community (in New Orleans) rallied around their team and rallied around the disaster, you can't have anything but the highest respect for the people and the people we work with down there. We're seeing the same thing in our community with (Superstorm) Sandy. People pull together. People move forward"

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Baseball Hall of Fame debacle

Wednesday for only the second time in 42 years the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to elect anyone to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot included the game’s greatest hitter Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens the premier pitcher in baseball history. Statistically Bonds and Clemens should have been elected to the Hall of Fame; both have been closely linked to the use of performance enhancement drugs (PED’s) during their careers, ending in the doors to Cooperstown being slammed in their faces.

The New York Times made one of the strongest statements relating to the Baseball Hall of Fame debate Thursday leaving the front page of their sports section blank with the exception of a
“Welcome to Cooperstown” banner adorning the top of the page.

"Wayne Kamidoi, our boundary-pushing art designer, came up with the idea," Joe Sexton the well-respected New York Times sports editor told ESPN’s Darren Rovell. "And Jay Schreiber, our baseball editor, saw the chance to capture the very old, very dispiriting story of steroids in baseball in a freshly powerful way. Yes, it was not a surprise that Bonds and Clemens didn't make it. But felt like history had spoken. How to convey that to our readers? I think we did it -- a striking, profound emptiness.”

Kamidoi offered this to Rovell:

“In what should have been a historic day for Cooperstown, it proved to be an incredibly empty day for baseball," he wrote. "That's why 11.5" by 13" of white space seemed appropriate. What a group the Class of 2013 SHOULD have been -- Clemens, Bonds, Piazza, Sosa. Their numbers and accomplishments say: One of the best classes ever. However, all that has transpired since 2007 when they all decided to retire certainly has tarnished their images and the Hall of Fame as a whole. The big names of the game were appropriately published in very small type -- a mere footnote to baseball history."

Robert W. Cohen, who wrote the 2009 book “Baseball Hall of Fame — or Hall of Shame?” spoke to the New York Times Wednesday offering an interesting perspective on the Hall of Fame.

“Baseball has always had some form of hypocrisy when it comes to its exalted heroes,” he said. “In theory, when it comes to these kinds of votes, it’s true that character should matter, but once you’ve already let in Ty Cobb, how can you exclude anyone else?”

Ty Cobb a member of the first Hall of Fame first Hall of Fame class in 1936 may have never used PED’s but as has been well documented was anything but an honorable person. Cobb according to the Times report “is portrayed as a sociopath in biographies and a Hollywood film starring Tommy Lee Jones, is without question the Hall of Famer mentioned most often whenever the integrity of the game’s top players is questioned. Known as the Georgia Peach, he was often painted a racist and had numerous documented altercations with African-Americans off the field, including one that led to a charge of attempted murder.”

In a world where athletes are held to a higher standard, Cobb’s behavior borders on being offensive and repulsive; he was a terrible human being. If the Hall of Fame had a morality’s clause, Cobb who during a major league baseball game once jumped into the stands and attacked a one legged fan who had been bothering him, would be ejected from the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Two years ago Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson clarified the integrity clause of the guidelines for
voting for Hall of Fame membership:

“Baseball has historically been held to a very high standard, right or wrong. There’s a certain integrity required when it comes to baseball’s highest honor, which is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The character clause exists as it relates to the game on the field. The character clause isn’t there to evaluate and judge players socially. It’s there to relate to the game on the field. … The voters should have the freedom to measure that however they see fit.”

Idelson suggests baseball holds itself to a higher standard; Cobb isn’t the only immoral member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Plaster saints is not what we have in the Hall of Fame,” said John Thorn, perhaps the nation’s most widely known baseball historian and the author of more than a dozen baseball books in the New York Times report “Many were far from moral exemplars.

“Cap Anson helped make sure baseball’s color line was established in the 1880s,” Thorn said of the Chicago Cubs first baseman and manager who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame the year it opened in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1939. “He was relentless in that cause.”

Cobb a man who beat up cripples, Anson who like Cobb and fellow Hall of Famer Tris Speaker were alleged racists (Cobb and Speaker reportedly were members of the Ku Klux Klan), although that has never been proven.

When it comes to a sense of right or wrong away from a baseball diamond the Baseball Hall of Fame has its own rogue gallery as the New York Times pointed out: “illicit recreational drugs (Paul Molitor, class of 2004) or had racetrack gambling issues (Rogers Hornsby, class of 1942). And Wade Boggs (class of 2005), after an extramarital affair was exposed during his playing days, announced to Barbara Walters on national television that he was a sex addict.

“But there’s a real distinction between a player who does inappropriate things not related to his job and a player who does inappropriate things that affect his job,” said Bill James, an influential and pioneering baseball author and statistician who wrote the book “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?

“Being inducted is an honor, not a paycheck you are entitled to,” James said, defending the character clause written into the criteria on the Hall of Fame ballot. “No one is entitled to be elected. The voters choose who to honor.”

Bonds and Clemens have attracted a great deal of attention for all the wrong reasons. Baseball documentarian Ken Burns who produced and directed the Emmy award winning 1994 series “Baseball” that chronologies baseball history (ironically ending in 1990 at the dawn of baseball’s steroid era) made it clear to The Hollywood Reporter he was thrilled Bonds and Clemens will be nowhere near the Baseball Hall of Fame unless they buy an admission ticket for the foreseeable future.

“I want them to suffer for a while. Barry Bonds may be the greatest baseball player of all time, and Roger Clemens -- maybe you’d get some arguments from the [Sandy] Koufax/[Pedro] Martinez sector and the Walter Johnson segment and the Nolan Ryan crowd -- but they are two of the very, very best. And before when we think they began taking, they’re Hall of Fame caliber. But at the same time, the problem is we don’t know who didn’t at all. I mean, I know one person in all of the Major Leagues I’m absolutely certain didn’t, and that’s Ichiro Suzuki. But other than that, I have no guarantee that anyone you loved and think is way above that didn’t do it. And that is why they need to wait and wait and wait. Because it makes it impossible for us to judge excellence in this era.”

Ironically Burns makes the strongest argument why Bonds, Clemens – the entire steroid generation must be recognized and enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, unless and until baseball can definitively prove every player who played Major League Baseball during the steroid era never use PED’s, it’s wrong to exclude some players, while allowing others membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“The Hall of Fame is a special, sacred establishment,” Joe Torre, the former nine-time All-Star, manager, and now, MLB’s vice president of baseball operations, told azcentral sports Wednesday.

“The sad part for me is obviously the things we’re going to have to live with at this point in time with the questioning of Roger and Barry Bonds and that stuff.

“That’s unfortunate but understandable with the sort of cloud hanging over their heads. It’s really on the conscience of the voters on where that goes. … You can’t change things that have happened. But baseball, with the whole performance-enhancing drug question, it’s clear we have to get the fans’ trust back. It’s something we’re going to have to deal with and continue to move on and basically prove ourselves.”

The Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens steroid era players Baseball Hall of Fame debate isn’t going to go away. Baseball as a business cannot ignore a significant historical period. Baseball as a business doesn’t have to embrace the steroid era, but it needs to accept the period and open the doors to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Baseball Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens isn’t the Baseball Hall of Fame.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

NHL’s Return: Will the NHL get it right

Wednesday afternoon the National Hockey League Board of Governors is expected to ratify the 10 year collective bargaining agreement the league reached with the NHL Players Association early Sunday morning. The NHL continues to operate in lockout mode, until the agreement is finalized (both sides voting to accept the agreement) the league continues to be on hold, yet to announce any measures to help “welcome back” NHL fans after the league’s third protracted lockout in 19 years.

"It became a comedy," Ken Wong a marketing professor at Queen’s University told The Vancouver Province. "It seemed like they were trying to make it as hostile as possible.

"I guess what strikes me, is what a perfect lesson this has been in how to destroy an untouchable brand," said Wong. "They've got a big job ahead of them. Their No. 1 priority is to recognize what the reality is. Don't think it's going to be business as usual. You owe the fans a statement of apology or regret. They've been done a great disservice. They have to know you're doing everything you can to make this up."

NHL teams have been rehiring and hiring sales personal in hopes the season will start on Saturday January 19. The NHL plans on playing a truncated 48 game schedule that is expected to end on or before April 30. The Stanley Cup playoffs are expected to begin in early May, with game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs being played no later than June 28.

Pittsburgh Penguins majority co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, and CEO David Morehouse issued the following statement Monday: “We offer our apology. There is nothing we can say to explain or excuse what has happened over the past four months.

“However, now that the NHL is back, we want to assure you that the Pittsburgh Penguins will do everything we can to regain your trust and show how much we value your amazing support.

“We want to thank you for your patience and your loyalty to the Penguins. We hope to repay it many times over. Our commitment to winning the Stanley Cup and our commitment to you has not changed.”

Words yes, an apology yes, but nothing more than words. Empty words at best. Any suggestion the Penguins intend to do anything for their fans other than say they are sorry – at this point no. The Penguins have a season ticket base in excess of 14,000; the team sells the remaining tickets as part of their game day sales. The Penguins have a waiting list of more than 7,000 people hoping to buy season tickets. Regardless of when the NHL returned the Penguins were not going to be hurt by the lockout.

The Ottawa Sun reported Tuesday reported the Ottawa Senators season ticket base dropped from 11,300 to 10,500. The organization hoped to have 13,000 season tickets sold at the start of the 2012-13 NHL season (if the season had begun in October). According to Senators president Cyril Leeder the organization hoped to sell 800 more season tickets in the next few weeks and hit the 13,000 figure at the start of the 2013-14 NHL season, putting the franchise a full year behind their stated goals.

"Will the Canadian fans come back?," Wong told The Vancouver Province. "I think they will but it will be with a chip on their shoulder and that's a bad thing. When people have a chip on their shoulder, they can't wait to get even. When they get a chance to take their business elsewhere, they will.

"People were talking about the NHL in really visceral terms," Wong said. "'I'm disgusted. I want to puke.' You heard that before but not to that extent."

Players continue to apologize, however it’s clear and one doesn’t have to read too closely between the lines, NHL players continue to point fingers.

"I would like to believe that if larger groups of players, owners and executives were able to interact more often and contribute ideas to the game and the business, then there would be at least a little bit of trust built over time," star Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller told ESPN.com via email Monday.

"We could invite a few journalists in there once in a while! Important interaction between players and the league shouldn't happen only on the occasion of important league business, like a collective bargaining agreement.

"The problem now is that I am not sure any player will ever forgive the league executives, let alone start to trust them. The league needs to reach out to the players after they take care of the fans and start to build some trust again. I think the way fans are treated entering this season will be a telling sign of how things can move forward. If the league acts appropriately, it will show at least an understanding that things are not OK and things have to get better in the NHL. Fans are pissed and a big part of me is happy to see that because these work stoppages can't go on anymore, or hockey suffers. That has been my biggest concern in all of this, despite what people may think about me or how they interpret what I have said about this lockout."

Miller suggesting “problem now is that I am not sure any player will ever forgive the league executives” is the last thing hockey fans wanted to hear, another player suggesting bridges cannot be rebuilt, fences will not be mended.

"I think that the length of the agreement solidifies the stability of the relationship with everyone," veteran Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, who last month raised eyebrows when he was quoted saying he was embarrassed for the game, told ESPN.com Monday. "Right now what we have to do, and unfortunately there is a business part of sport, but the most important part is right in front of us, and that’s the game itself. That’s what we all have to focus in on. We all learn from every experience we’re in. But the most important thing is the game itself. At times feelings got high during this, feelings got low, but right now it’s just all about the game."

Lamoriello remains today what he has always represented to the National Hockey League – a voice of reason. The New Jersey Devils general manager led the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships, unlike the finger pointing Miller a goaltender with the Buffalo Sabres, Lamoriello hopes for better days ahead for the NHL.

The NHL is not going to repair its brand overnight; it will take time for the NHL to re-establish itself as a reliable brand. The important steps in the days that follow ratification of the CBA include tangible actions directed towards the league’s fan base, actions speak louder than words.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Time to drop the puck: what the NHL needs to do

The National Hockey League lockout, the NHL’s third lockout in 19 years ended after 113 days early Sunday morning when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr announced the two sides have reached an agreement on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The good news for hockey fans the NHL will return next week, the bad news there has been irreparable damage done to the NHL’s brand, whether the business returns to levels the league enjoyed before the lockout remains to be seen.

In the coming days the NHL and its member teams will announce a series of ideas to help entice fans back. The NHL has be very proactive in reaching out to fans along with their corporate and broadcast partners – simply saying sorry and expecting hockey fans to forgive and forget won’t work. Three protracted lockouts in 19 years, there are few reasons other than a love of the sport as to why NHL fans should embrace the league when it returns.

Among the decisions the NHL should make:

Training camps will begin in the next few days. Logic suggests each NHL team will play at least two exhibition games, one home and one away. Make these games free, giveaway the tickets. Encourage fans attending these games to bring a non-perishable food item for the local food bank, allowing teams to begin to reconnect with both their local fan base and local communities.

Tickets for all home games played in January should be priced at 50% of face value. While the final details as to when the schedule starts hasn’t been settled, the league wants a 48 or 50 game schedule to start on either Thursday, January 17 or Saturday, January 19. The league should treat the January games as a gift to fans. Half price tickets with people still paying holiday bills will help send both that message and sell tickets.

Season ticket holders get a free ticket for every ticket they have purchased for January games or a credit towards tickets for the 2013-14 NHL season (the 50% ticket discount doesn’t apply to season ticket holders who have already purchased tickets). Season ticket holders are the lifeline of every NHL franchise, they will be forced to support the NHL regardless of how they feel for the reminder of the 2012-13 season. NHL teams will be contacting their current season ticket holders regarding tickets for the 2013-14 NHL season in the next few weeks. These “shareholders” are upset and they have no choice but to attend scheduled games for the current season, regardless of the date. The NHL needs to focus on those they want to get into arenas (the 50% off group) and those that are being forced to attend games (season ticket holders).

Each NHL team must price between 500 and 1,500 tickets at $10 each for the remainder of the 2012-13 NHL regular season. The NBA used this tactic when their 1998-99 lockout ended on January 20, 1999 and the NBA played a 50 game schedule. Many NBA teams still have tickets priced at $10 even though the initial concept was to offer the $10 tickets for the lockout shortened season. The $10 includes all taxes and any service charges. Sports teams love using family packages to bring people to games. Those packages include tickets, soft drinks and a hot dog. Teams can offer that if they wish but the packages generally don’t interest most families.

Wave ticket surcharges for the lockout shortened regular season games. Many NHL teams have their own in-house ticketing companies that collect surcharges that are nothing more than an added cost to buying tickets and an added revenue source for teams fans are forced to pay. For the remainder of the 2012-13 NHL regular season the price that is on the ticket is what the consumer will pay for the ticket.

This suggestion was first made by ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun. Make the NHL Center Ice package free for the remainder of the 2012-13 NHL regular season and playoff schedule. The Center Ice package offers hockey fans a chance to watch all games broadcast outside of their market. This generates some revenue for the NHL; however the gesture will not be forgotten by NHL fans if the package is free for the remainder of the shortened season. It also helps to better showcase the sport.

The NHL Center Ice package should also be free online for the remainder of the 2012-13 regular season and playoff schedule. The NHL’s cable partner the NBC Sports Network is in 80% of American homes, good but not great. The NHL is always talking about how tech savvy NHL fans are, offering the NHL Center Ice package online embraces that thought and allows disenfranchised NHL fans to follow the sport.

“Now that we have games on the schedule we just need some fans,” Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said in email on Sunday, hours after a tentative agreement was reached between the two sides.
“I know an apology doesn’t make it all better, but it’s a place to start.

“I’m sorry and I hope that fans will forgive us for the role we played in this lockout. We will show up ready to play if they want to come to the rink and watch.”

Miller was one of the more outspoken NHL players during the lockout often being very critical of the NHL and in particular Gary Bettman.

In the coming days NHL owners and team captains in each respective market need to make a series of joint media appearances were they not only apologize for the lockout but jointly and together take responsibility for the lockout. The finger pointing has ended, the daggers being tossed at both Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr will end, it’s time to make it clear to hockey fans both the management and the personal side in this labor battle were wrong to have not settled their issues months ago. Both sides must share the blame and move forward collectively together in the coming weeks for the good of the game.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Ray Lewis – one of the greatest and more intriguing NFL players (EVER)

The 2017 National Football League Hall of Fame class is certain to include Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis. Earlier this week, Lewis announced he would retire after the Ravens 2012 season ends. The Ravens meet Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon at Baltimore’s M&T Stadium as part of the NFL’s wild-card playoff weekend.

Drafted by the Ravens in 1996, he has played his entire career for the team, and is the last player remaining from the Ravens' inaugural season. He has been selected to thirteen Pro Bowls and been named an Associated Press All-Pro ten times. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003; he was the sixth player to win the award multiple times. He was also the second linebacker to win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award and the first linebacker to win the award on the winning Super Bowl team.

Off the field an incident that took place following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000 brings into question Lewis’ on-field Hall of Fame career. A fight broke out between Lewis and his companions and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were questioned by Atlanta police, and eleven days later the three men were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings has never been found. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged that the bloodstained suit was dumped in a garbage bin outside a fast food restaurant.

Lewis' attorneys, Don Samuel and Ed Garland, of the Atlanta law firm Garland, Samuel & Loeb, negotiated a plea agreement with Howard, the Fulton County District Attorney, where the murder charges against Lewis were dismissed in exchange for his testimony against Oakley and Sweeting, and his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.

Lewis admitted that he gave a misleading statement to police on the morning after the killings. Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner sentenced Lewis to 12 months' probation, the maximum sentence for a first-time offender; and he was fined $250,000 by the NFL, which was believed to be the highest fine levied against an NFL player for an infraction not involving substance abuse.

Lewis has lived a remarkable life during the 12 years that followed the Atlanta Super Bowl incident.
An on field warrior in the truest sense, can what took place a dozen years ago be forgiven?

"If you remember, that was quite a hit (speaking of the fine)," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello in an ESPN report. "To see where he is today is remarkable. I would say it's a rather amazing comeback and rehabilitation of an image."

Kevin Byrne, the Ravens vice president of public and community relations and has been with the franchise since 1981, when it was still in Cleveland, has been with Lewis through every step of his Ravens career.

"When we talked immediately afterward, he was bitter and angry the way it had been covered," Byrne told ESPN. "We said, 'Ray, the reason we supported you from Day One and believed in you is because we know you. You need to show the world who you are, rise above it, so to speak, and that's exactly what he did.'"

Lewis off-field incident took place two and a half months after former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth was charged with the murder of Cherica Adams, who at the time of her death was eight months pregnant with Carruth's child. In 2001, he was found guilty of conspiring to murder.

While Lewis was never convicted of murder, it became easy for the media to connect Lewis and Carruth given the two murders took place at the same time and they both involved active NFL players.

"He's so deeply religious I think it matters to him less than people might think," Byrne said of Lewis.

"He's a big believer in God's will. He says, 'God put me in that prison for 10 days for a reason.
There's a reason my kids saw me in an orange jump suit with my hands cuffed. There's a reason I tore my hamstring in 2005. There's a reason I tore my triceps.' His legacy, I don't think it consumes him. He is one who says, 'The best you can do is the best you can do.'"

Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported ESPN is set to hire Ray Lewis as an NFL analyst as soon as his playing career ends.

"Last month, I did a piece for Sports Illustrated on what current NFL players and coaches are in the eyes of network executives," said Richard Deitsch, media writer for Sports Illustrated in a Baltimore Sun report. "These guys all keep a list of those people they interact with on a weekly basis as to who has really good potential for television, should they decide to go into it and work at it. And every executive I talked to mentioned Ray Lewis ... and had Ray Lewis probably in their top three.

"He's considered to be incredibly charismatic, a great speaker, great communicator and on top of that has incredible name recognition, because he's a first ballot Hall of Famer," Deitsch said. "What I got from everybody was if Ray decided to do this, if Ray was serious about being good at it, the sky's the limit for this guy."

"Ray Lewis has an intensity about him and a way of communicating that is very infectious," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told SI. "He is a bigger-than-life personality, very articulate and [has] an incredible passion for the game. If Ray Lewis decided to take that same passion and put it into a broadcasting career, I think he would be a terrific studio analyst or I imagine game analyst, too.
Fox Sports Media group executive producer John Entz echoed McManus. "I see Ray as a guy who would be great in the studio because he is so animated and emotive," Entz said in the Sports Illustrated report. "I think he could fire people up there."

Will Ray Lewis be able to extend his ESPN career to endorsement opportunities?

"He's got to come out from under the helmet and sort of establish his personality away from the field," said Dr. Stephen McDaniel, who studies sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland in a Baltimore Sun report. "I think he really has what it takes to continue to grow."

Ray Lewis embodies what an NFL player is, the “ultimate warrior” a competitor who is relentless in succeeding, an example to his teammates. Several of Lewis’ legendary speeches were showcased in The NFL Network’s profile of Lewis in their award winning series “A Football Life”. A pregame speech Lewis gave to the Stanford men's basketball team prior to an NIT game in March has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube; Stanford won the tournament. His eulogy for former Ravens owner Art Modell convinced ESPN to dedicate a segment to his speeches, which showed him giving a talk to members of the Elon football team while a vicious thunderstorm raged outside the locker room.

"When you see his intensity, his focus, his ability to build team spirit, I don't think there are five motivational speakers I'd put in front of Ray Lewis," said Matt Mirchin, Under Armour's senior vice president of sports marketing in a Baltimore Sun report (Lewis has worked with Under Armour since 2005).

David Carter, principal of the Sports Business Group and executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, told the Baltimore Sun now that Lewis playing career is coming to an end, he’ll have to focus on broadening his appeal if he wants to continue to endorse products after his retirement.

"Despite being one of the NFL's greatest players, he hasn't established himself as a national figure beyond hardcore football fans," Carter said. "Being a defensive player and, to a lesser extent, one from a small market, has made it tougher for him to compete with the likes of other NFL superstars in terms of endorsements.

"Of course, he will need to stay out of trouble because, while his alleged involvement in a double murder was a long time ago, that baggage still exists in terms of his marketability," Carter said.

Carter raises important issues, nevertheless everyone in life deserves a second chance, and it’s what you make of that second chance life offers you that often define you as a person. The white suit Lewis allegedly wore that fateful night in January 2000 will forever remain a mystery. What is certain in Ray Lewis life, since that terrible evening Ray Lewis has lived a life well worth respecting both on and off the football field.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Penn State never-ending scandal

The biggest sports industry story of the last two years the Penn State child sex abuse scandal is alive and well in 2013, after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced he was suing the NCAA on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alleging the sanctions the governing body for college athletics slapped on Penn State relating to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal were excessive.
 
Soon after Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison on child sex abuse charges, the NCAA announced a series of sanctions against the school and the football program. Sandusky began hurting children while he was a full time assistant football coach at Penn State University under the late Joe Paterno.
The sanctions that Penn State agreed to in August included:

• $60 million fine
• Vacating of wins from 1998-2011 (112 wins)*
• Four-year postseason ban
• Four-year scholarship reduction (10 initial; 20 total)
• Players may transfer and play immediately at other schools
• Athletic department on probation for five years

"I have heard from many across Pennsylvania about sanctions and people are upset," Corbett said to about 50 news media representatives. "People around the commonwealth have been harmed. Why punish citizens of Pennsylvania who had nothing to do with this?

“This university is an economic engine, creating jobs not only for the university but for jobs in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry. Jobs that generate hundreds of millions of jobs for businesses of all sizes.”

The university released a statement affirming it was not party to the lawsuit, adding:

"The University is committed to full compliance with the Consent Decree, the Athletics Integrity Agreement and, as appropriate, the implementation of the Freeh report recommendations. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. George Mitchell as the athletic integrity monitor for complete fulfillment of the Athletics Integrity Agreement."

The Harrisburg Patriot News reported Corbett believes the NCAA will negotiate a settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, reducing the penalties levied against Penn State. The News who won a Pulitzer Prize for their outstanding coverage of the Sandusky scandal are reporting “the goal is to reduce the postseason ban from the remaining three years down to one and to eliminate or greatly reduce all scholarship limitations. The $60 million payout would remain but an effort would be made to keep the money in-state to benefit child-abuse victims in Pennsylvania. And the NCAA's expunging of PSU football wins back through 1998 would remain and not be a bargaining point at all.”

Penn State acted immediately after Sandusky was indicted on November 4, 2011, firing Paterno and Graham Spanier Penn State’s President on November 9.

Paterno will never again be recognized as college football’s winningest coach, after the NCAA
stripped Paterno and Penn State of 112 wins. The opportunity for players to transfer has come and gone, the bowl ban and the number of scholarships are the two issues Corbett is challenging the NCAA.

On its website Wednesday, the NCAA released a statement criticizing the suit, attributed to Donald M. Remy, NCAA Executive Vice President and General Counsel:

"We are disappointed by the Governor's action today. Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy -- lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky. While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward. Today's announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University's efforts."

The Penn State/Sandusky sex scandal will forever taint the sports industry. It’s easy to suggest whatever the sanctions NCAA leveled against Penn State weren’t enough, that might be right, but it is also very wrong. Penn State cleaned house, firing Paterno, Spanier and everyone and anyone linked to the Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The 2012 Penn State football program went 8-4 in the Big Ten, won enough bowl games but wasn’t eligible to participate in a bowl game. Is it right to punish Coach O’Brien and the members of the football team for the shame Joe Paterno brought too Penn State? Paterno has been punished, knowing that when his leadership was most needed failed both the school and his football players. He lost his job and his coaching record as a direct result – Paterno has been punished.

On Wednesday morning after the suit was announced, the Paterno family released a statement:

"As we have not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit filed by Governor Corbett today, we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation. What we do know, however, is that this matter is far from closed. The fact that Governor Corbett now realizes, as do many others, that there was an inexcusable rush to judgment is encouraging.

"Joe Paterno's only guidance to us was to seek the truth. Consequently, last July when the Freeh report was released and the subsequent unprecedented and unjustified actions were taken by the Penn State University Board and the NCAA, we stated that we would engage a team of experts to conduct a careful and thoughtful review of the Freeh inquiry and the actions of the Board and the Administration. That process is nearing completion. We expect to release the analysis of the experts in the near future. At that time we will address all of the issues of the past year in a comprehensive manner."

The Paterno family can believe whatever they would like to, if media reports are to be believed Joe Paterno isn’t going to get back the 112 wins the NCAA took away from Penn State.

Does the lawsuit make sense, or is Governor Corbett wasting taxpayer money?

“The state will allege that that the university was coerced into this draconian punishment that affects Penn State’s ability to compete in football as well as for students and research grants,” Matthew Mitten, Director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University told Forbes. While the courts have historically given the NCAA nearly carte blanche in doling out disciplinary penalties, “the question here will be whether it was really necessary to impose these harsh penalties in order to preserve the NCAA’s ability to carry out its mission of preserving competitive balance and the amateur nature of college sports.”

There are more than a few legal pundits who have suggested the NCAA didn’t offer Penn State due process in determining Penn State’s fate, and that a dangerous precedent has been established.
“The NCAA would have to provide clear notice going forward as to what specific rules were violated.” Mitten offered.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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