April 11, 2011   |No Comments NFL

QUICK KICK: Cam Newton, Mark Ingram To Attend NFLPA Draft Event

by Jonathan Maldonado

The NFLPA is moving forward with its plans to host draft events the same three days the NFL plans to hold its draft events. From April 28-30, the NFLPA expects 20 college football players to be among its guests, including two of the draft’s most prized prospects, Cam Newton and Mark Ingram. Over 20 current and former NFL players are also expected to be in attendance for the events.  

Read the full story here.

April 11, 2011   |No Comments Blog

Morning Medley: April 11th, 2011

by John Morse

South African Schwartzel Wins Masters

NBA Players Anxiously Await NFL Lockout Ruling

NFL players and NFL fans have a lot at stake while awaiting the decision that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richards will make in the coming weeks, but joining them will be NBA players and NBA fans.

The Heat’s Dwyane Wade echoed this sentiment by saying, “It’s unfortunate the two biggest sports leagues are going through this at the same time. Hopefully we can learn something from the way both sides have approached it.”

A ruling in favor of the NFL players would not only allow all parties to avoid a lockout, but it would work as a structured model for NBA Union Chief Billy Hunter to go down the same path. Of course if a lockout sticks in the NFL, the NBA owners would gain a dominant advantage heading into their negotiations this summer due to the well-known financial struggles of the league and the past disputes between players and owners. The NBA owners will obviously be watching closely as the NFL situation unfolds. The owners and players have not engaged in labor negotiations since the All-star weekend in February.

The NBA players remain supportive of the NFL players, but the NBA players recognize what it would mean if the NFL lockout was repealed.

Read more on how the two leagues affect each other here.

A Break Down of the Industries Effected by NFL Lockout

While a lockout in the NFL will undoubtedly have detrimental results for various markets, let’s look at just how much the following industries would be affected. Beginning with television, DirecTV would lose out on as much revenue as anyone else. The sole provider that offers every NFL game to its subscribers, DirecTV reeled in between $600 and $700 million last season, a mark that would be completely wiped out in the event of a lockout.

Others that will suffer losses are video games, specifically EA sports and the Madden series. EA sports is projected to lose $165 million in case of a lockout, 50% of their sales, despite EA sports still planning to release Madden 2012 in August of this year.

The most widespread effects will come at the expense of the NFL economy as a whole. Losses would include ticket sales, concessions, sporting goods, and the tourism associated by the games.

According to the national chicken council, on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays during the 17-week regular season, 5-10 million pounds of chicken were consumed. On Super Bowl Sunday of this year, there were 450 million wings consumed.

Read more on the industries that will be affected if the lockout continues into fall here.

Social Media Bringing Fans Together

It’s obvious why social media has been so successful in connecting people to common interests; it bridges distances and allows everyone to feel as if they are in synch with what’s going on. For San Francisco Giants fan Becky Dab, it‘s no different. Living 2,500 miles away, Becky always considered herself a Giants fan, but it wasn’t until she followed the team on twitter, that her passion for the team heightened. Becky indicated that twitter was successful in connecting her to the team, more than watching the game online or even on television.

The following article discusses the enhanced camaraderie through social media outlets such as facebook and twitter, allowing for unconnected fans to link up through their love for their teams. Furthermore, it examines the exposure that teams receive through wall posts and tweets involving specific teams, even for the non-sports fan.

Like us on facebook here.

Follow us on twitter here.

Read the article in full here.

Sports Fan Pic of the Day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports Blog of the Day: Kuklas Korner

In light of the NHL regular-season coming to a close, get the latest news and analysis on the first round matchups. 

This Day in Sports History: On April 11th, 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in baseball, playing in an exhibition game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

John Morse is serving as an SFC Sportswriter Fellow based in New Hampshire. He is finshing up a degree in Print Journalism at Hofstra University. John is a very passionate sports fan and the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins are his favorite teams.

April 11, 2011   |1 Comment Blog, Issues, NFL, Stadiums

Solving the Minnesota Vikings’ Stadium Mess

If Cowboys Stadium is the Rolls Royce of football stadiums, the Metrodome is a 1982 Pontiac Sunbird convertible with a canvas top held together by duct tape. Both will get you where you need to go, but obviously, you’d rather drive in luxury.

Problem is, folks in Minnesota can’t afford a fancy new stadium right now because they’re broke. (Not that the people of Arlington County, Texas, could either.) Minnesota is working to close a $5 billion budget deficit. Justifiably, Minnesota legislators on both sides of the aisle have insisted that any stadium funding should come after they figure out how to fix the mess they’re in. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, that may be too late.

If Minnesota doesn’t cater to the demands of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, it’s widely expected that Wilf will pack them up and move them to Los Angeles, where some LA investors are willing to put up most of the cash for a new stadium in the hopes of attracting a team, either by relocation or expansion. (And keep in mind, the Vikings are asking for a new stadium in the middle of a lockout, which could lead to missed games this fall.)

So on Friday, a new stadium bill was proposed and was immediately endorsed by Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and some legislators from both parties. The bill is far from perfect. The least among the flaws is that it doesn’t even name a specific site for the stadium. Taxpayers are going to take a bath in whatever local government agrees to go along with the plan, which would include food, beverage, lodging and entertainment tax increases. The plan calls for the Vikings to spend $1 for every $2 the public puts up. (Shouldn’t that – at the very least – be the other way around?)

But the stadium bill does include some things that Wilf is sure to balk at. In return for the public’s generous investment, the Vikings are going to have to open up their financial books to the new stadium authority. Sports owners are notoriously loathe to do that, since they like to portray themselves as absolutely needing every last dollar from the public. Also, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the plan would tax stadium suites (Wilf is really not going to like that) and “should the team leave after a stadium deal is signed, the plan would require the NFL to transfer the team’s name, logo, colors, history, playing records and trophies to the state.”

And that last caveat is the most important. The Vikings are Minnesota’s team and should continue to be. One only has to look to Oklahoma City, where not only did Clay Bennett steal the Sonics from the people of Seattle just a few years ago, he took their history and NBA championship trophy, as well.

But there is an even simpler solution to the Vikings’ stadium mess – public ownership.

Let Minnesota fans buy shares in the Vikings in return for their investment in a new stadium. Rather than forcing taxpayers to fork over money they don’t have for a new stadium, let the fans show whether they truly care about a) playing in a new stadium and b) keeping the Vikings in Minnesota.

(For the record, the latter shouldn’t be dependent on the former, as team owners like to portray it. Nobody in Denver wanted a new Mile High Stadium – they still don’t – but had to cave to Broncos owner Pat Bowlen to save the team from moving.)

Right now, under NFL rules, only the Green Bay Packers are allowed to have public ownership. (NFL rules were rewritten in 1960 to prevent future situations like the one in Green Bay.) The NFL refuses to reconsider this rule when it could clearly help out teams in need, like Minnesota. So NFL owners want the public to help them be successful, but they don’t want to offer them an actual stake in that success.  That’s pretty fucked up.

(The NFL also refuses to consider ownership stakes for its players in exchange for the players giving up a greater share of revenues – a practical solution that would immediately end the lockout.)

Since the NFL and its owners clearly insist on forcing the public to pay for their new stadiums by threatening relocation and since they refuse to consider public ownership, it’s time for us to reconsider our relationship with the NFL. Why do we grant them an antitrust exemption for negotiating broadcast revenues? This clearly allows them to make billions of dollars. How exactly does the public benefit?

These questions need to be asked by someone who can actually put some pressure on the NFL and the Vikings. Someone who can save Minnesota from the predicament of having to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars it doesn’t have for a stadium just to keep its team in town. Someone who is practical and respected. Someone who can make sure that when the people of Minnesota pay for the Vikings, they’re actually paying for the Vikings. Someone who is a Vikings fan.

Sen. Al Franken, your fellow Vikings fans (and NFL fans everywhere) need you.

Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of SportsFans.org. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. Email him at brian@sportsfans.org and follow him on Twitter here.

April 11, 2011   |No Comments NFL

QUICK KICK: Judge To Force Mediation Between NFL and NFLPA

by Jonathan Maldonado
 
Judge Susan Richard Nelson has ruled that she will set mediation between the players and owners this week. Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan has been chosen by Judge Nelson to be the mediator during new meetings in Minneapolis. The ruling favors the players in both the location and the mediator, as the NFL preferred meetings to be held in Washington with George Cohen returning as the mediator. While the ruling forces talks to resume, there is no ruling that an agreement must be reached. 
 
Read the story here.

April 10, 2011   |No Comments NFL

Judge Nelson to Force Owners and Players Back into Mediation

by Scott Weiss 

It looks like federal Judge Susan Nelson will order our least favorite preschool kids (the NFL and NFLPA) back into mediation this week. “On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Judge Nelson told the two sides that she will impose mediation on them early this week.”  Just more drama in the most ridiculous, outrageous and misguided sports work stoppage of all time. 

Hey NFL owners and players, you are about to kill the $9 billion golden goose that you have never deserved to have in the first place.

Read the complete story here.

April 10, 2011   |No Comments Blackouts

QUICK KICK: St. Louis Cable One Subscriber​s to Miss 20 Cardinals Games

by John Morse

The Cardinals played the Giants on Sunday afternoon, but if you are among those in the St. Louis area subscribing to Cable One, you would have missed the game. This was the first of what is expected to be 20 games that will go unnoticed on television. 

Fox Sports Midwest upped the offering of Cardinals games from 132 to 152 this season to its providers. Cable One was one of the networks that declined the increased coverage because it would have come at a increased fee to its viewers.

The director of public relations for Cable One, Melany Stroupe, said this is in an email, “Our goal is to satisfy sports fan while also keeping prices reasonable for all customers.”

It’s unfortunate that those in St. Louis who subscribe to Cable One will be missing out on 20 Cardinals games. However, it’s also ridiculous to ask for subscribers to pay more in order to view their team.

Read the full article here.

April 09, 2011   |No Comments Blog, NFL

Fans Role in Sports Today As Seen by Owners

by Jonathan Maldonado

In our earliest years in sports, whether it be “pee wee” football or little league, we are taught that playing to the best of our ability is the most important part of the game. From there we move on to high school sports where the same principal is applied, but winning truly starts to take its place at the top of our sports priorities with hopes of winning the state championship.

Then comes college, and while not every college is a D-1 competitor, winning not only fulfills our sporting lives, but it is our passion off the field as well.  Advertising and sponsorships start to play a factor, and in some cases become as important as the players, coaches and fans.

Finally, if you are good and lucky enough, you make it to the big time professional leagues and the gloves are off. Endorsements, advertisements, sponsorships, companies, corporations, and taxpayers are all now apart of the spectacle of sports. They have become the most important factors in sports today, not the players, coaches or the fans.
 
To cut straight to the chase, lets look at fan contribution versus advertising in regards to revenue. The average ticket price for the 2010 NFL season was $76, with 17 million fans attending that season. That alone amounts to $1.2 billion. Advertising revenue for just the Super Bowl amounted to $793 million. In one night the NFL made 62% of what it makes all season from the fans buying tickets.

Those two figures account for only about $2 billion of the $9 billion in revenue the NFL brings in each year. Throw in sponsorships, concessions, corporate involvement, etc., and the percentage of what the fan contributes shrinks compared to everywhere else the NFL is making money.
 
What does this mean for the fan? 

Well, the NFL is more worried about big name advertising, sponsors, corporate and concession partners than it is worried about fans. Owners across all sports leagues do not stop to think that attendance will drop significantly because although attendance does fluctuate, it is assumed fans will continue to come en masse to each and every game.
 
The puppet game does not end there if you delve deep into the world of sports and advertising, sponsoring, etc. It is common sense that these advertisers and sponsors would not be able to function without fans to sell to. What fans don’t realize is that they are assumed to be consumers and consumers who will return each and every week, whether it be to the stadiums or the television screen. They study our demographic and play to what they feel is most attractive to our tastes. Good old fashion advertising and PR.

From there, the sport turns into more of a marketplace to attract consumers and profit rather than a place for, well, sports. Team owners and their advertising and sponsoring clients will continue to follow this model so long as fans keep showing up, spending money and saying nothing about it. Remember, the team owners aren’t worried about ticket sales, they assume fans will come. It is more important to them for fans to be there as consumers for their clients, not spectators of the sport.

Winning championships is of course a goal on every owner’s list, but keeping the team alive in terms of finances is much more important. This is especially true in MLB where big market teams are constantly in contention for the World Series, while smaller market teams are a rarity in the big series. Teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals want to win, but for them it is much more important for their fans to engage in consumerism with their clients in order to keep those clients coming back. The benefit to such a model is the more money teams have, the better chance they have at landing the best free agents, as the Yankees do every year. However, this takes away from team building and introduces team piecing,  simply just putting players in a system and hoping they work out, and if not, on to the next big name.
 
The bottom line is sports have become a business more than anything else and as advertising and consumerism becomes much more ubiquitous throughout our lives, it is easier to see how it is affecting our teams. Fans have become in the eyes of the owner’s pieces to a financial puzzle rather than guests to their teams. It is a shame we can not enjoy our games as we used to when we were young, and when the most important principal was playing and playing the best you could.

Jonathan Maldonado is serving as a, SFC Sportswriter Fellow based in New York City. He is a Broadcast Journalism major at Hofstra University. Jonathan comes from the Bronx and is an avid sports fan. The Yankees, Jets and Knicks are his favorite sports teams.

April 09, 2011   |1 Comment NFL

NFL Lockout: No End in Sight

by Scott Weiss

Yesterday marked four weeks since the billionaire NFL owners locked out the millionaire NFL players. Meanwhile, hardworking and loyal football fans are forced to sit, wait, and pay their season ticket fees. Lest anyone forget that the NFL is the league that generates over $9 billion a year in revenues on the backs of those same loyal fans.

There was some reason for optimism this week when Judge Susan Nelson heard the players’ case to end the lockout. What it resulted in was more waiting as Nelson said she would need two weeks to rule on the players’ request. Nelson did encourage the two sides to re-enter mediation in the meantime, but the NFL and NFLPA cannot even agree on that. The players want to enter mediation in federal court as suggested by Nelson while the owners want to return to mediation with George Cohen.

As the days, weeks, and now first month passes by, it appears more and more likely that actual games will be impacted by this ill-advised lockout. It is hard to believe that the two sides are so shortsighted as to jeopardize the money machine that they have created.

Maybe this is the wakeup call that fans need to change the one sided relationship that they presently have with the owners and players. A relationship that has been all about giving and not about receiving. A relationship that in return for billions of dollars out of fans’ pockets, they get in return higher ticket prices, $10 beers, seat license fees, and blackouts of home games.

Scott Weiss is the Local Chapter Chair for SFC-New York/New Jersey and an SFC Sportwriter Fellow. He has been involved in the sports fans advocacy movement since 2000. He is a life long fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers.

April 08, 2011   |No Comments Stadiums

Despite Relative Affordability League-wide, Yankees Fans Get Bilked

by Brad Duff

What a difference two years makes.

Around this time two years ago the New York Yankees were 3-2 and were the new home for free agents CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira, players who would ultimately help the Yanks return the Commissioner’s Trophy to the Bronx for the first time in nearly a decade. It would also be the opening year for the new Yankee Stadium; a newer, shinier venue built right across the parking lot, one that promised to surround the fans with the same mystique and aura the old Yankee Stadium did for so many years.

However, during the last four games, the Yankees have set new record lows for attendance in their new stadium, and it’s not because of bad team play; Yankees are 4-2. No, it’s because the honeymoon for the new stadium is starting to wind down. The fans are starting to acknowledge the ridiculous ticket prices (around $300 for a decent ticket but as low as $1.50 for a “possible obstructed view”) coupled with parking ($23 – $35 per car) and aren’t taking it anymore.

A former season ticket holder by the name of “Ross” says he cancelled his season tickets because the stadium was constantly moving his tickets around and ultimately put him in a seat that had bad enough blind spots that he couldn’t see memorable moments like Joe Mauer’s controversial ground rule double in the 2009 ALDS, or Mark Teixeira’s game-winning home run to left field.

Fans lay down their hard-earned money for moments such as these and Ross was cheated out of a couple, in a championship-winning year no less, because the higher-ups in New York thought they could convince the average fan that they didn’t necessarily need to see the game, but that being there was enough. I don’t know that these are the kind of memories the Yankees want their fans to remember, so they better start getting it right.

Brad Duff is an SFC Sportswriter Fellow out of Houston, Texas. He holds an English degree from Texas Tech University and is a life-long fan of all Texas Tech and Houston sports. Email him at jbduff00@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter here.

April 07, 2011   |No Comments Blackouts, Stadiums

QUICK KICK: Fans Find the Cheapest Entertainment at Ballpark

by Brad Sullivan

Going to professional sporting events can break a fan’s bank in the blink of an eye.

Besides paying for tickets, fans usually have to pay for parking along with overpriced concessions and game programs.

Major League Baseball has been able to let fans actually enjoy themselves at the ole ball game.

Darren Rovell of CNBC writes: “The average ticket price across all 30 teams is $26.91, which is only a 1.2 percent increase from last season.”

The fact that MLB is allowing their fans to come to games without breaking their budgets, is something other sports leagues should look into.

Read more of Rovell’s article here.

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