Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Game Time!

What's going on? How come this thing isn't being blown out? Here we are strongly entrenched in the game, but the ROI is depreciating returns. What am I talking about you ask?

The WNBA Finals-that's right. The "we got game" crew, who is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. Tomorrow at 7 p.m. the first game tips off with the Detroit Shock taking on the Sacramento Monarchs in Aurburn Hills, MI.

I want us to flash back to 1996, if you were anywhere in the U.S. and paying some kind of attention to the Olympic games being played that year down in Atlanta, GA you might be able to follow me: Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Dawn Staley, Ruthie Bolton, Rebecca Lobo, Nikki McCray, Catrina McClain, Katy Steading, Teresa Edwards, Jennifer Azzi, Venus Lacy and Carla McGhee. They had a SQUAD! Do you hear me!? If you are a true hoops fan, then you will never be deterred by league or sex, you'd never allow yourself to be pigeon holed into some small frame work for fulfilling your craving for true athletes playing the game.

Since then, not much has changed, there has been expansion and some re-shuffling, but for the most part attention has waned. Marketing efforts have allowed the game to expand from LifeTime network to ESPN and local cable programming. The proliferation of European athletes is one similarity which the WNBA takes from the big brother, but translating this into an appealing opportunity to gain access into primetime broadcasting spots has proved difficult.

The 5 game series is unfortunately sandwiched between Tiger Woods recently capturing his 12th career major, college football and NFL fantasy drafts. Hopefully, the eventual Champion will get the recognition they deserve, grace that Wheaties box and maybe even one day everyone else will hear them when they say, "we got game".

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Business as Usual-

Where ya’ at Nelly!? I think if Bryant Gumbel is anywhere near you, he’s probably saying it’s “Gettin’ Hot In Herre!” After some major controversial statements about NFLPA head Gene Upshaw being the “personal pet” of outgoing Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Gumbel will need to wait for word on his future as the new play-by-play man for the NFL network. If anything, Gumbel must be looking for some sort of change to occur in what is by far America’s number one sport-whether it’s a change in the front office or a change in his job is the question.

Gumble who has over the years become a very respected journalist by some and the host of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel where he dropped his thoughts during his August 15 show. I’m constantly amazed how journalists though surrounded by athletes, owners and teams day in and day out, seem to sometimes feel like they too are athletes or really understand the situation. Covering the life is one thing, living it is another and for any human being to make that stretch is totally unfair, yet we do it with sports each and everyday.

The sad thing is the NFL just received accolades on it’s diversity issues and here are two African-Americans unfortunately re-affirming the crabs in a bucket mentality. Everyone is in a position for professional and personal gain, but the lure of a billion dollar sport has squeezed out a bit of controversy and the season hasn’t even officially begun. Upshaw has been unable to be reached for comment since he’s on vacation and will soon have to deal with essentially a non-football issue upon his return.

Also interesting to note is what will be the affect of the NFL broadcasting eight games on the NFL network this season. Will the translation equate bigger bucks from advertisers and subscribers? Depends if the taste most fans get at sports bars leaves them hungry for more , but if successful look for more games to be added with at least one high profile match up being moved there. This type of branding allows the League more control of content and distribution, similar to the NBA TV set up by the NBA.

This weekend Idlewild opens in theatres starring the duo of OutKast; set against a 1930’s backdrop, this musical has received mixed reviews from media outlets such as vibe.com and The New York Times. On Monday the box office will offer it’s opinion, though I do know that over the years OutKast has been able to mix both hip-hop and rap to blend a perfect concoction of hits, money making and uniquely infused sounds that appeal internationally. We’ll see what happens since this project has been highly anticipated by fans and they’ve seen the timeline continually pushed back by the director/writer, Bryan Barber and the stars, Andre’ 3000 and Big Boi.

I’m out, but shouts out to J Dilla-R.I.P.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cross Training

Looking to score more points with fans, and by creating fewer turnovers Stephon Marbury is sure to be an All-Start this season. However, those improvements will be seen mainly off the court and at your local spot for kicks. Steph has signed on with privately held Steve & Barry’s to push his own pair of kicks retailing at $15. This concept while admirable has been executed in the past without sustainable successful returns. If it resonates with shorties doing that all too critical and important school shopping will be closely monitored.

We’re in a day and age where BAPES for three hundred and jeans for five-hun are nothing to bat an eye at in high school or college, so why go for the cheap kicks? Shaq currently has had a shoe for the last few years and back in the 90’s C. Webb left Nike to do the same thing. While it gives parents something to cheer about, it hasn’t blown up as much as many would have thought or hoped.

Why? Possibly we need more athletes doing the same. If Kobe, LeBron and Melo all joined in, we might see a dent in market share of the major athletic lines. It’s in the marketing, but also who’s doing the marketing and the perception that’s going to decide how well it works. If that happened, the major Leagues might take offense since these same companies shell out millions of dollars to be the “Official” sponsors or Licensed Athletic apparel supplier. For now the act is admirable and the results have yet to be seen.

Round of applause for the NFL, the “Rooney Rule” which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate when there is a head coaching vacancy has produced an opening season with seven black head coaches-a new record. Richard Lapchick, author of numerous diversity studies and Director of the Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central reported that though the NFL has improved it’s efforts to recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds, the NFL and other pro sports with the exception of basketball continue to lag in hiring women. Wonder what Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder would have to say on this.

I have a feeling that as the demographics of fans continue evolve we will see the front offices change with them, which in the long run will serve both leagues and fans. I find it odd however that major sporting organizations have been so late to the game, when many Fortune 500 companies such as American Express, Chemtura, and McDonald’s, among others have had phenomenal success within their respective leadership positions. The lessons though late and millions of dollars later have begun to seep into the reasoning of owners and their constituents. Being a professor of a Division I institution, I’m sure Lapchick would agree that the NCAA would be well served to also learn from this.

Coming up on the one year mark of the devestation of Hurrican Katrina, actor, director and philanthropists Spike Lee has a documentary airing on HBO beginning this month. "When the Levees Broke" will serve as a living testament for the things that media and journalists were not able to report on, but will focus on those affected being our guide and exclusive reporter. Lee, known for such films as
Malcolm X, She Hate Me & Inside Man will undoubtedly never be paralleled for the historic films he's been involved in.

We'll continue with the lessons later-


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Heat Wave

Let's get right into since I've been moving and taking care of biz the last couple of weeks. The heat's been left on...

We come out the blocks focused squarely on Justin Gatlin. The man we've been waiting to join hands with Asafa Powell and run into a new 100m record last month instead found himself running into questions. Questions about a positive test for testosterone or "related" substances has Gatlin running faster than ever-for cover and answers. As of now he's implicating a massage therapist he's worked before, this is not Gatlin's first failed test, which makes it possible he could be banned from the Track & Field for life.

Should that happen, Gatlin would lose his true source of income to support himself. He already was having a phenomenal year, tying the previous 100m World Record, which translated into new endorsements, higher appearance fees and more face time and coverage of his every step. How this unfortunate turn of events plays out will have huge financial implications for him. With the Olympics just two years away Justin Gatlin's name was already beginning to work it's way into the hearts and minds of the American public; now it's there where it will cost him much more than he could have gained.

The sport of Track & Field in America was building itself back up as a clean and successful program, and no matter what the cause of this year's scandal, it hurts everyone, the coaches, officials, governing body, athletes, but most importantly, the fans. With only baseball and golf keeping many excited right now, this hurts us all.

Floyd Landis, do I even need to go into the scenario? Read the above two paragraphs, substitute the Tour de France in Cycling and we're done.


A party hosted by businessman and entertainer Jermaine Dupri ended with three guests being shot and hospitalized this past Sunday. After party at the Emergency Room, nope not cool. Thankfully the person having the event is not being singled out as in the past the media would have done, instead let's focus on the victims and getting the shooter taken care of. Apparently the violence began after an attempted robber tried to snatch another man's chain. What's that song? Welcome to Atlanta

Either way JD has been bangin' hits since the first time we heard from him and he's still doing it, as of late with his wifey Janet, Mariah, and I hear he's also recently met with D'Angelo. Please make that one happen and continue to show everyone, Money Ain't A Thang.

I'll be back-