It’s Over! NHL/NHLPA Reach Tentative Agreement

January 6, 2013

The NHL and the Players Association reached a tentative agreement.  While there are still details to hammer out, it looks like hockey fans will get a 48-50 game season starting in mid January.  The deal comes after a 16 hour mediation session where the two sides finally came to terms on the core items.  It is a ten year deal with a opt out option after eight.

Scott Burnside from ESPN has a great article on the damage done by the lockout.  I am not sure the “Bad News Bears Breaking Training” philosophy of “Let them play” is the best course of action, but that does seem to be the logical marketing strategy for a league that cannot seem to get out of its own way. Fans are very upset, I am not sure you can just drop the puck and let it be. Will the hardcore fans flock back to the game? Of course. The NHL has a lot of work to do in the coming months and years.


NHL Brand Suffering?

December 18, 2012

An interesting article in today’s The Globe and Mail concerning research done on the NHL at its brand.  According to the study done by Level5 Strategy Group, based out of Toronto, shows a very high number of NHL fans who have become disinterested in the sport.  Level5’s program creates “emotional maps called the emotisphere” to show favorable feelings, or dislike, toward a particular product.

There are some interesting findings in the survey.  First, Canadian passion toward hockey is diminishing.  Only one-third of Canadians would classify themselves as passionate hockey fans.  Second, researchers found those in the other two-thirds to be apathetic or angry towards their feeling toward the NHL.  The last bit of noteworthy information in the study is the emotional map created by the NHL brand was as bad or worse than BP after the oil spill in 2010.

It does seem like this lockout is completely different in the eyes of the fans.  I hold onto the notion that fans will come back to the game no matter how long this work stoppage endures. However, it may take a McGwire/Sosa type of race to get a lot of fans back.

There were a lot of rule changes last time to make the game more exciting i.e. shootouts, crackdown on obstruction.  What can the league offer this time?  One thing we do know, it will not be cheap tickets!

The greatest infographic ever?

December 5, 2012

Courtesy of Deadspin, this infographic shows the growth of tax subsidies for stadiums over time.


9-3 Louisiana Tech not going to a bowl game

December 4, 2012

A quick repost of a blog post I wrote up for my students today on the blog project they are working on.

Yesterday was bowl selection day for the NCAA College Football teams across the United States.  Teams who won half their games (or others who receive special exemptions despite losing records) are all eligible to play in bowl games.  While much of America was screaming at the Orange Bowl for having Northern Illinois University (NIU) playing in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, a few individuals were very unhappy that Louisiana Tech was not going to a bowl game.  It was not a matter of record (the team went 9-3) or that they didn’t get an invite to a game (the Independence Bowl offered), but that the athletic department was indecisive when trying to figure out whether to accept the invite.

The bowl business is tricky stuff, and La Tech was thinking they were going to some specific bowl games coming into the weekend.  Then Northern Illinois finished 16th in the BCS rankings and won an automatic bid to the Rose Bowl, kicking Oklahoma out of the BCS.  This shift cause other bowls to shift who they were inviting, and soon La Tech found themselves with only an invite from the Independence Bowl.  It is not that the Independence Bowl is a bad game to play in, but that the payout the athletic department would receive would be around $1,100,000.  While that seems to be a good chunk of change, the bowls that La Tech thought they were in the running for had payouts around $100,000 to $200,000 higher.  While this seems like a small amount in the age of athletic departments spending tens of millions of dollars on football, I think La Tech had good reason to hesitate.

The bowl game system is one which invites teams from across the country to travel long distances and stay many days (teams travel, practice, have some fun events, play the game, then go home).  Most schools also bring donors, alumni, students, the marching band, athletic department staff, and university staff and administrators to the game.  Think about the bill for hundreds of people having to travel, stay in hotels, food, drinks, banquets, tailgates, events, and all of the sudden you are running a pretty high bill.  Couple this with the fact that some bowl games require schools to make a revenue guarantee in regards to the amount of revenue generated by fans purchasing tickets, and bowl games can quickly become a losing situation for many athletic departments.  In other words, bowl games are a “winners curse” for some.

So did La Tech do the right thing?  I think so.  It is better, in my opinion, for an athletic department to take their time and make the right decision, than make a poor one which would put them in the red.  La Tech’s most famous alumni Karl Malone, a former NBA superstar, was not happy.  Mr. Malone took to twitter and lambasted the school and its athletic department for not landing in a bowl game.  I can understand Malone’s anger as those who are punished by this are the student-athletes who earned the chance to a bowl game, but are now not going anywhere.  Malone suggested that not going to a bowl game is “exactly what is wrong with our university”.

I disagree Mr. Malone.  The athletic department was weighing their options carefully.  Is it a disappointment? Yes it is, but it does not hint at a bigger systematic issue with the university and the athletic department.

Marvin Miller passes

November 28, 2012

I bring unfortunate news of the passing of Marvin Miller at the age of 95 from cancer.  Marvin was the first director MLB Players Association, and effectively helped usher in the free agency era.  Under Mr. Miller MLB players saw their salaries jump from a paltry $6,000 a year (about $38,ooo in current dollars) to $10,000 a year.  Some would say that this was the beginning of the boom in salaries, but Marvin played a big role in shaping the professional sport landscape that exists today.

Dr. Phil Miller posted his thoughts as the Sports Economist blog, and Yajur Parikh shared his thoughts and sentiments over at the Sport Analyst blog.

I began class today with a discussion of Marvin Miller and his importance to sport as we know it today.  It was unfortunate that his passing was the first that many had heard of Mr. Miller, but they quick appreciated the importance he had for baseball and all professional sports.

NHL Update

November 21, 2012

The NHLPA has submitted a new proposal in hopes of ending the current lockout.  The NHL is set to respond later today to the union’s newest offer.  Details of the deal include a 50/50 split of hockey related revenue beginning in year one and asking for an additional $180 million towards the league’s “Make Whole” provision ($211 million) to cover existing contracts.  The union’s proposal has been reported as a five year deal.

New York Marathon Update

November 4, 2012

The New York Marathon has been cancelled.  The mayor’s office said that it was because of the media saying too many negative things about the race.  I’d like to think that the previous blog posting played a role in the backlash against hosting the event, but reality says that probably isn’t true.

Brooklyn is playing their first regular season NBA game in the Barclay’s Center tonight, so there are signs that New York is recovering.  Best wishes to those on the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy.