Friday, June 29, 2012

SMTSU Announcement!

We hope that everybody's summer is off to a great start whether you are at home (lucky), on co-op, or in class.  Here at the Sport Management Student Union we have some big plans coming up for next year and WE WANT YOU to get involved.  If you are interested in being on a planning committee to map out next year or just helping out with anything general, then please contact the SMTSU directly at or email Kevin Rossi at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

3 NBA Draft Stories to Watch

Tonight is the night where 60 dreams are made and most are put on hold.  Tonight is the night of the NBA Draft.  The draft will be held at the Prudential Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey starting at 7pm.  The one night event will air on ESPN and NBA TV while also streaming on  If you cannot get to a TV or a computer, then you can follow along on Twitter by following the NBA (@NBA) or under the hashtag #NBADraft.  I’m sure that the NBA will have very solid social media coverage given their vast social media presence and innovative approaches. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Copa Libertadores da América

In football every continent has its confederation: Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF), Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL), Oceania Football Confederations (OFC), and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Every confederation has its own continental tournament, equivalent to the UEFA Champions League, where the champion of all six competitions will qualify to the FIFA Club World Cup and play each other to decide which team is the best in the world. As of today there are three teams already booked to Japan in December 2012 for the FIFA Club World Cup; Chelsea FC (England), Monterrey (Mexico), and Auckland City FC (New Zealand). 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All Hail the King

Everything about LeBron James is larger than life. The hype around him when he came to the NBA out of high school. The scrutiny he faced when he couldn’t win it all in Cleveland. This. The public backlash and hatred by fans after “The Decision.” His statistics. His arguably undeserving nickname (until now), King James. The welcome party. His shortcomings in pressure filled moments and late game situations. His immense, once-in-a-generation talent.
The problem with LeBron is that he’s too good. In this day and age, with advances in modern technology and social media, the amount of people that watch the NBA has never been higher. LeBron has more eyes on what he says and does than superstars of the past had to deal with. We all see LeBron and the gifts he possesses on the basketball court. He should succeed. He has to succeed. It’s unfathomable to think that a player of his magnitude can't be successful. But until he won a championship, he was a massive disappointment to everyone around him. That sort of public pressure must be unbearable. But through all of it, LeBron persevered and found a way to win.

Now that LeBron has finally achieved his ultimate goal, maybe he’ll be free of some of the public hate and persecution. Maybe not. Unlike some of his indiscretions, "The Decision" may be the hardest for fans to get past. He went on national television to tell the world he wanted to leave his hometown team and go to South Beach. That sort of betrayel will never go away for Cleveland fans. But now that he has a ring, some of the performance-related criticism should start to go away. All we really know is that LeBron has climbed to the top of the mountain, and gotten over the hump. The hardest part is over. Now, we can only wait and see what he does next.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pratt Rumblings: Not Another Insightless 2012 NHL Mock Draft! Seriously!

Ryan Murray, courtesy of Wikipedia
To start off, I want to offer you a quick look into my mind (I promise you won't get hurt.) When writing for TSC, usually I look around a bit and pick whatever sounds interesting in #sportsbiz land to talk about for a few paragraphs (CAA Basketball and the NBA Finals come to mind lately--congrats Lebron!). But not this week—oh no, there’s a little thing called the NHL Draft starting tonight in Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center (many of my Drexel peers might remember my early co-op search revolved around trying to work that event). Well… that didn’t happen, but as the resident “NHL guy,” it’s my duty to give y’all some draft talk. 

When I say draft, most people immediately think they’re going to get a mock draft from me. Well, I’m here to disappoint you—usually I’m decent at predicting these things, but this year seems so up in the air, I don’t dare to try to project even the top five picks. In my time as a hockey fan, there hasn’t been a draft with so many questions going into the first round. Here are some things to watch Friday (and Saturday):

Nail Yakupov, courtesy of
Who goes #1? — The Edmonton Oilers (infuriatingly) have the first overall draft pick… again... third straight year. They’ve tried to play it cute in the media thus far, saying they really like defenseman Ryan Murray over the (mostly) consensus top prospect, Sarnia Sting winger Nail Yakupov, because they already have a huge collection of skilled forwards (see Hall, Taylor, Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan, and Eberle, Jordan). I don’t entirely buy it, but their decision between the smooth skating Murray and superstar Yakupov will shape the rest of the top of the draft board.

Rick Nash, courtesy of CBS New York
The Worst Joke in the NHL Gets Worse — If you’ve seen me on campus the last year, you may have wondered about the lack of Union Blue in my day-to-day attire. It’s all packed away likely to never be seen again. The Columbus Blue Jackets want you to “Join The Battle,” but after six and a half years of passionately “Carrying The Flag” I am done. If you saw the team who skated in before the fans in Nationwide Arena this season (and the teams from the decade preceding that), you know my plight. This franchise is inexplicably terrible. As a fan, I’ve called for countless heads over the years (Sergei Fedorov, Doug MacLean, Ken Hitchcock, Rick Nash, Steve Mason, Nikolai Zherdev, the Kershaws, Claude Noel, J.P. McConnell, Mike Priest, Scott Howson, ad nauseum). The fans deserve better than what they’ve gotten—in any other city, the GM,  over-matched coaching staff, scouting staff (the same from the AWFUL MacLean years, mind you), and President (who knows nothing about hockey. At all.) would have gotten sacked. Or at least had their job security questioned for a moment; not in Columbus! Almost all of the above still have jobs somehow. When things hit rock bottom, MOST people decide they need to change something… but not this poor franchise.

You also may have heard about that Rick Nash guy who requested a trade before the trade deadline. When that didn't happen, it set the NHL up for a fun offseason--"where will Nash go?!" GM Scott Howson is still holding out for the right offer, and there seems to be many interested franchises. Where (and if) Nash gets traded is one of the biggest stories of this draft, if not the entire off-season. Columbus’ asking price seems to be high, and even then, it might be the final “Nail” in the coffin. As Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch discussed on Tuesday, few franchises do well when trading away their franchise players (Kovalchuk in Atlanta, Luongo with Florida, etc)… in a market like Columbus, it’s a dangerous proposition unless you can find another marketable face. Steve Mason, John Moore, Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, and R.J. Umberger aren't selling tickets or filling seats. Heck, even Jack Johnson, one of my personal favorite players even before the midseason trade to Columbus is questionable.

This brings me to the next issue—let’s say Ryan Murray goes #1 to Edmonton—who does Columbus pick? Do they go with the best player in the draft, arguably, Yakupov? All rumors point to no, thanks to some past struggles with Russian players (Nikolai  Zherdev, Maxim Mayorov, Nikita Filatov, Alexandre Svitov, etc). Nevertheless, Yakupov has played two years of North American hockey and every report shows him as charismatic, polished, and driven to succeed in the NHL. His family lives in North America as well. If I’m Scott Howson, I pick Nail Yakupov. He’s too marketable and brings too much potential (another Pavel Bure sort of player?) as a scorer to pass up. If the pick isn’t Yakupov or Murray, CBJ scouts have been high on Swedish winger Filip Forsberg, who draws comparisons to Chicago’s Marian Hossa. He is at least a year or two away from serious contention for an NHL roster, and I (as many other hockey fans) are leery of Columbus’ track record developing players (there are too many names to list). The other name being tossed around is one of the top upside players in the top end of this year's draft, Belarus' own Alex Galchenyuk, who is coming off a major knee injury that limited him to two games this past season. Does Columbus take a chance on potentially damaged goods? This is the biggest weekend in Blue Jackets history—the decisions made today will shape what the “Post-Nash” era will amount to in the Buckeye State. Howson, Tyler Wright, and the Blue Jackets brass have no room to make mistakes.

And in other news... – Sorry about that rant--there’s a lot of frustration built up. Anyway, some other players to keep an eye on this weekend include Jordan Staal (Pittsburgh), Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim), Roberto Luongo (Vancouver). All have been rumored to be on the trade block in recent weeks. It should be interesting to see which marquee players (other than Nash) see themselves in a new jersey by the start of the 2012-13 season. Yesterday, Staal refused a long-term contract extension from the Penguins, setting him up to be traded soon in all likelihood. Don't rule out top free agents like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise getting moved at the draft--it's become a trend to see top free agents' rights acquired before July 1st to give teams a foot up in negotiations.

The Elephant in the Room – Oh yeah, remember that one time there was minimal progress toward a new collective-bargaining agreement between the NHLPA and owners in June, with the existing CBA (which cost fans and players the entire 04-05 season) expiring September 15th? Remember the last time that happened? Yeah, so do I. I might be alone in worrying, but until I hear some progress (other than the NHL cancelling Europe games, training camps, etc to ready for a lockout) I’m going to keep worrying. The NHL product cannot survive another drawn out labor battle—everyone connected to hockey should pray that both sides are sensible and come to an intelligent new agreement soon. This silent pall will be the biggest topic no one discusses this weekend, but expect the murmurs to grow come free agency on July 1st.

If you want more Pratt-insight, follow me at @LXAPratt--I'm likely going to be live tweeting the draft.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Corporate Branding Through Sports

According to, branding is “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”  Sports offer a platform for many major corporations and businesses to attempt to brand themselves.  Every year corporations and businesses big and small spend totals of billions dollars on advertising and marketing in sports.  Aligning the brands of corporations with the brands of different sports properties is a science in its own right.  Why do businesses spend millions of dollars on sports marketing?  When brands are well known, why do they have to spend any marketing dollars at all?  The reason is branding because a strategic branding campaign can make or break a business in this ultra-competitive world.  To me, the success of a branding campaign relies heavily on three things: know the customer, find the niche, and find the platform.

To have a successful brand, companies need customers to buy their products or services.  One of the biggest aspects of building a successful brand is to figure out who the customer is.  Different demographic and psychological data like gender, age, race/ethnicity, disposable income, beliefs, and hobbies will lead a company to the market that they should be in.  It seems like common sense, yet many companies still cannot grasp the concept.  One industry as a whole that paved its own path and saw meteoric rise was the energy drink business.  Companies like Red Bull, Monster, and Amp rose faster than their sugary drinks make your heart beat.  Given the nature of their product they immediately went out and targeted teenagers, thrill-seekers, and the more extreme side in all of us.  Boy did they get that one right!  Although relatively young in the drink business, energy drinks are running strong despite the constant attacks on the side effects to one’s health.  However, their target market is one that generally neglects health risks in the first place again reiterating that finding out who the customers are is an important part to a successful branding campaign.

The next aspect to branding, and especially a successful branding campaign, is figuring out where the product or service fits into the landscape.  I think this is a little bit different than figuring out who the customer is.  Finding a niche market, in my opinion, pertains more to developing a mission and a business plan that focuses your company within a market and the execution of that plan. To find out where a product or service fits into the business landscape is essentially to figure out where the product or service’s niche in the market is.  There are very few products or services in this world that appeal to everybody everywhere.  That is just natural with the basic wants and needs of consumers being different.  Yet all too often we see brands trying to be everything to everybody.  Take the fundamental difference between Microsoft and Apple.  Microsoft has more versatile products and just more products in general.  Apple has fewer products that are known for ultimate functionality though being a bit more complex.  Between Microsoft and Apple, who has the stronger brand?  Even though I am personally a Microsoft guy, I would that Apple has the better brand.  Why?  Because they found their niche in the technology market which is more or less the more tech savvy, and they mastered their niche.  Their customers and even customers with brand loyalties other than Apple hang on every announcement the company makes because they are innovators.  Apple is different.  The rest of the industry follows along on new Apple products to just remotely compete.    

Assuming that companies have the first two aspects to a successful branding campaign down, the third is to find a platform to begin activating upon.  A popular platform for brand activation and marketing is sports.  Sports make the most sense for a lot of companies because there is a sport for just about every demographic segment and sports fans are passionate by nature.  NASCAR is widely regarded as having the most brand loyal fans in all of sports.  I find it much more than mere consequence that the title of most brand loyal fans goes to a sport that has perhaps one of the most niche followings of all the major sports in the United States.  NASCAR is not a sports entity that tries to be everything to everybody like some other sports.  NASCAR fans are passionate about sport and passionate about their brands.  Auto racing does not have the kind of casual following compared to other major sports.  Other major sports also have very avid fans that show brand loyalty to team brands; NASCAR is just the extreme example to prove the point.  It works like this: Fans are passionate about their sport teams… Marketers market their products through sport teams… Fans are passionate about the marketers’ products and buy them.  It really is simple math.  Sports just offer an unparalleled platform of tried and true passion and loyalty, so marketers know what they are getting for their money.  Sports are the closest thing to a sure thing when it comes to marketing platforms. 

McDonalds, in my opinion, is a very interesting brand that activates at a sports level.  McDonalds, ironically enough, is a major sponsor of the Olympic Games.  Yes, a fast food restaurant sponsors the games of the greatest athletes on the planet.  Putting the jokes about athletes never even touching a McDonald’s burger, their place as an Olympic sponsor is a testament to how strong their brand is globally.  As knowledge about food and nutrition grew, the fast food industry came under fire for the negative dietary impacts of their product.  While many took it in stride and continued to target children and people who couldn’t care less what they eat, McDonalds changed.  They didn’t change the product that made the golden arches an iconic symbol, only added options around it.  Given the strength of the McDonalds brand, they saw great success and now boast a restaurant ambiance that closer resembles Starbucks than your typical burger joint.  The strength of a brand relies heavily on how they are able to roll with the punches and play the cards they are dealt.  In the case of McDonalds, their brand’s strength is seen in how they were able to take a negative mark against their entire industry and adapt their business to stay successful.

Some brands may be so strong that they seem like they don’t even need to advertise anymore.  When I think of brands like this, I think of Coca Cola.  Think about it for a second.  If Coke stopped all of their advertising, wouldn’t you still buy their product?  They are so well known and their red can with white writing is so engrained in the minds of people all over the globe that they would probably still see great success.  This is all with a relatively static product.  Coke rarely deviates from the products that they sell.  Sure they have different brands under the Coca Cola company umbrella that need advertising, but the iconic Coke itself does not.  Coke has used sports heavily in their marketing arsenal; in fact, Coke spent $86.55 million on advertising in sports in 2011 according to Sports Business Journal.  That is over 36% of their total advertising budget (Broughton, “Verizon tops”)!  It is to the point that many fans know whether the venue that their favorite team plays at is a Coke venue or a Pepsi venue.  Given the lasting success of the Coca Cola company and how engrained they are in our society today, I think that Coke could potentially have such brand strength that they barely have to market their main product.

Remember how I said that a brand can’t be everything to everyone.  Well even though it may seem crazy, sports are not a platform for every brand.  Take General Motors for example.  GM is typically in the top five in Super Bowl advertisement spending when it comes to the world famous commercials during the game.  Nearly a month ago, GM announced that they will be pulling of their ads from the Super Bowl because they felt that they were not working and the dollars for air time were becoming too high (Friedman, “GM Pulls Out”).  During last season’s Super Bowl, General Motors spent an estimated $21 million on commercials.  Although the Super Bowl brings brands almost unparalleled exposure, sometimes the dollars may not make sense. 

My thought on branding is that way too many companies and businesses leave it up to their customer to decide what their brand will be.  Not enough companies make conscious brand decisions.  There needs to be well-developed plans in place every step of the way.  That makes things more predictable and foreseeable than leaving the branding to the thoughts of the customer.   Plans keep things easy to control and easy to figure out what went wrong and where.  Naturally, not all products or services appeal to everyone.  In my opinion, way too many companies think that their product or service is for everyone and then go about marketing it that way.  In many cases, those companies are setting themselves up for failure and in most cases disappointment.  Businesses neglect the part about finding their niche in the market, and go for the whole market.  Well how are you going to be different from what’s in the market now?  A consumer of Pepsi isn’t just going to drop their Pepsi and try your cola for no reason.  There needs to be a reason why the consumer should try your cola.  Companies forget this, and for most it is their tragic flaw and ultimate downfall. 

Why might something that seems so simple just slip the minds of marketers all over?  Part of may be ego.  Everyone thinks that they have the best idea.  Everyone thinks that their product is the best in the market.  But nobody is above branding.  If a branding campaign comes off as phony, consumers see that and stay away from the product.  If a branding campaign constantly attacks another product within the market, consumers don’t like it (see: Presidential Campaigns).  You may have the best product on the market, but you have to give people a reason to use it.  There is much more to the statement “give the people what they want” than just the product.  Maybe human nature blocks these thoughts for a lot of people.  Maybe it is simple psychology.  Regardless, there usually seems to be a disconnect between the stakeholders’ view of their product and the consumer view of the product.

As I mentioned earlier, I think that sport is the best platform to build a brand.  As a marketer, you know what you are getting with sports fans.  Passionate.  Intense.  Proud.  Yes, more fans than just 76ers fans are all three of those.  When trying to build a brand, those are exactly the people that you want to reach because they will be passionate, intense, and proud about your product too.  However, the relationship between branding and sport is not such a simple love affair.  There are sports that boast more brand loyal fans than others.  There are teams within individual sports that boast more brand loyalty than others.  Companies must have a good gauge on this concept and pick their spots wisely. 

One thing that I strongly believe in when it comes to branding is that companies must brand their product as different to get it recognized.  In most cases, I believe that going above and beyond to create added media attention is great for branding.  Given my personal belief, jersey sponsorships are perfect ways to bring your brand that added attention especially among North American team sports.  Typically the major leagues in the United States do not have jersey sponsorships.  The NBA has talked about it.  Hypothetically, if the NBA decided to turn to jersey sponsors for added revenue and I owned a corporation with a deep pocket, I would throw millions of dollars at the opportunity.  Why?  It would be the first jersey sponsorship ever for one of the top three leagues in America, so the investment would virtually pay for itself before the season even started given the media attention that it is sure to reel in.  It’s about finding the customer, which the team provides with plenty of passionate fans.  It’s about finding the niche, as long as NBA fans are within the niche market the company is trying to reach.  It’s about the platform, and the NBA offers one of the best marketing platforms in North American sports with its almost global reach.  It’s about being different.  Well, there is nothing more different than being the first company ever to have their logo on the front of an NBA jersey. 

The art of branding begins with three basic principles, those being finding the customers, finding the niche, and finding the platform.  Performing those three branding elements to near perfection puts a brand on a path to success right off the bat, and nobody wants to be playing from behind.  It is a strong belief of mine that brands need to do something different to be recognized, and sometimes that means doing something wild and overly out of the ordinary.  Go big or go home.  Sports offer a platform of passion and the ability to be creative and different beyond the imagination of many.  NBA jersey sponsorship would offer an immediate way to brand a company in a way that has never been done before.  Brands need to be bold to survive.  There is nothing bolder than pioneering the age of jersey sponsorship.

Heat Are Running Hot

Last night the Miami Heat took a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Oklahoma City Thunder have been showing their inexperience thus far in the series with the play of James Harden and Russell Westbrook under intense scrutiny.  LeBron James has been playing fantastic basketball and looks to be headed to finally filling that empty ring finger.  Honestly, the biggest question that I have about the series is what's up with the glasses?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Tomlinson to Retire

At the age of 32, LaDainian Tomlinson announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. Perhaps one of the most versatile running backs in the last decade, LT is widely considered a first-ballot hall-of-famer. Tomlinson had his most success with the San Diego Chargers, winning the MVP award in 2006. LT joined the New York Jets during the 2010 offseason and has primarily been used as a change of pace in the team's running game.

On Monday, Tomlinson signed a contract so he could retire as a San Diego Charger. However, do not let the dark visor on his helmet fool you, LT has always been personal and is expected to make his retirement press conference nothing short of memorable.

While it's been some time since he's work Charger colors, LT is back, but this time to hang up his cleats. Expect him to transition smoothly into some sort of analyst role in the near future.

US Open - Biggest Winners

The US Open at the Olympic Club definitely proved to be golf's toughest test this past weekend.  Maybe the PGA Tour was angered by Rory McIlroy tearing up the tournament last year, who knows.  This year Webb Simpson out lasted the field by winning the US Open at a score of +1 and taking home his first PGA Tour major victory in the process.  Interesting note, I have been reading that Simpson is unlikely to participate in the Open Championship in July because his wife is expecting their child.  So going into the British Open, I'm doing my research and picking a golfer whose wife just recently gave birth within the month or is expecting within the month (Masters champion Bubba Watson had adopted a baby boy, Caleb, within the month when he won his first major).  As with any visible sporting event, there are winners and there are losers.  When it comes to branding, here is my brand winner and loser from the US Open.

Big Winner - Beau Hossler and University of Texas

Hossler is the 17 year old amateur who made a remarkable run at the Olympic Club and at one point, many thought could possibly be the champion.  After a Sunday mini implosion, Hossler didn't even end up as the low amateur of the tournament. However, he had already made a name for himself and the college that he will playing golf at after he graduates high school.  Donning the University of Texas visor all week and the Longhorns burnt orange shirt on Sunday, Hossler and his college were given plenty of air time by the NBC crew.

Honorable Mention
Jim Furyk - 5 Hour Energy
Webb Simpson - Wake Forest Arnold Palmer Scholarship
Collegiate Golf in general.

Big Loser - Bubba Watson

Watson simply had a rough start to his first Father's Day weekend as a father when he missed the US Open cut.  Shooting a rough 78 on Thursday, Watson was snippy with reporters and some may say even a bit childish. Everybody loves Bubba because he's laid back, but when the tides turn and he isn't winning, that laid back attitude turns into a perceived lazy demeanor.  His performance this past weekend may have some even saying that his Masters win was a bit of a fluke.  I wouldn't go that far, but his performance and antics definitely didn't sit well with many.

Honorable Mention
Luke Donald - Missing cuts in majors for the world's #1 player should not be the norm.
Rory McIlroy - US Open winner to US Open missed cut in one year, oy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make Your Mark: Cover Letters

The dreaded cover letter.  Nobody likes writing them, but they are a necessary evil.  Most job applications require them and even if they don’t require them, you should include one anyway.  So what’s the deal with the cover letter?  It is your introduction to the reader to your resume among other things.  But more than that, it is your chance to give an extended version of your 30 second commercial or elevator speech. 

Here are my do’s:
-Tell the reader who you are and why you are writing.  Where you went/are going to school, where you are currently working, etc.
-If there is a specific position or department that you are interested in, say it. 
-If you are the perfect fit for what they are looking for, let them know.  If you did Facility Operations for a college athletics’ department and are applying for a Facility Operations role at a professional stadium or arena, explain the similarities and the transferable skills you have.
-Name drop.  This is more important in the sports industry than any other industry.
-Thank them for their time; offer to follow-up (and then actually follow-up).
-Keep it to 2/3 of a page at most.  HR and Recruiters in sports get thousands of applications each week, keep it short, simple, and to the point.
-Customize it to each situation.
-Find an actual person to address it to.  Use Google, the company’s website, or LinkedIn.

Here are my don’ts:
-Don’t regurgitate your resume.
-Don’t say that you are interested in sales, marketing, operations, finance, and accounting.  “I’ll do anything” is not a good strategy here.
-Don’t send a stock cover letter template.
-Don’t address it to “To whom it may concern”.
-Don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors.  This is essentially a writing sample!
-Don’t offer to follow-up (with a call or email) and then not do it.

Lastly, read it over a few times and then ask others to read it over.  Like a resume, cover letters need to be tweaked, edited, and fine-tuned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

US Open Preview

Today the US Open tees it up at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.  Here are some notable groups, tee times (Eastern Time), and stories that go along with them:

10:33am – Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods
Story: Need I say more

10:59am – Jonathan Byrd, Patrick Cantlay (A), Kyle Stanley
Story: Last year, UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay was the low amateur on the US Open leader board.  This year he looks to continue his success a little bit closer to home.  Cantlay will also be playing with two stronger young players in Byrd and Stanley.

11:10am – Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh
Story: All three have won majors on the PGA Tour with Retief Goosen leading the way with two US Open victories.  Although the three are aging and may not have the best shot to top the leader board on Sunday, they are still big names in the field that people will be watching.

11:32am – Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson
Story: Here is a good group of players.  Don’t be surprised if one of these guys can crack the top five at the end of the weekend.  These three guys are not strangers to winning on the Tour.

4:29pm – Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood
Story: Three of the top players in the World Golf Rankings and all from Europe.  The American media will be following this group closely, but the European media will be hounding this group on Thursday and Friday.

4:47pm – Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose
Story: Kaymer is always a candidate to either play spectacular or terrible so we will see which Martin Kaymer we get at the US Open.  Hunter Mahan has been playing some strong golf this year so we will see if he can translate it into a major victory.

4:58pm – Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson
Story: Hold back the 14 year old girls!  Fowler has been having a fantastic year and Dustin Johnson looks to capitalize on last week’s victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Other Notable Groups:
10:55am – Padraig Harrington, Davis Love III, David Toms
11:17am – Charles Howell III, Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel
11:28am – KJ Choi, KT Kim, YE Yang
11:54am – Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari, Bo Van Pelt
4:14pm – Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney
4:36pm – Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker
4:40pm – Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell
4:47pm – Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Louis Oosthuizen
4:51pm – Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Trevor Immelman
5:02pm – Angel Cabrera, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy
5:13pm – Ben Crane, Anders Hansen, Martin Laird
5:24pm – Aaron Baddeley, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Matteo Manassero

The US Open is perhaps the toughest tournament on the PGA Tour schedule year in and year out.  This year looks to be no different.  Usually the weather plays a big factor, especially when the tournament is held on the east coast.  Being that the US Open is in San Francisco this year, the weather looks great so scores should be good compared to past US Opens.  McIlroy looks to repeat this year, but another score of 16-under is highly unlikely.  Look for the winner to be somewhere around 8-under with the wide open field this year.

Here is the million dollar question… Who ya got?

The More the Merrier?

In today's NBA, the value and success of a team seems to rely on the number of "star" players a respective team has. In the past five years, teams have picked up the trendy strategy to accumulate as much talent on one team, often by committing large amounts of salary to do so. This has lead to success, with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers using this method to win championships. The stigma around this strategy is not an appealing one. Many fans see this as a way of cheating the system, and using leverage (often from big market cities) to lure multiple star players to join their teams. Teams that win with multiple star players is nothing new.  Jordan had Pippen. Shaq had Kobe (or vice versa, depending on who you talk to). Bird had McHale and Parish. Magic had Kareem and Worthy. It's the way teams are acquiring these players that has garnered negative public opinion. The Miami Heat are the most glaring offenders of this new NBA paradigm. LeBron James and Chris Bosh left their respective teams to join Dwayne Wade in Miami, spurning their former fan bases in the process. The Heat also didn't help themselves by the way the acted following the arrival of the new "Big 3." Micheal Jordan even spoke out against the way the Heat were assembled, saying "I was trying to beat [my top competitors]." The Lakers and Bulls of old counted on smart decision making and proper development/leadership to build contenders and eventual dynasties. 

The Dallas Mavericks ended up beating the Heat in the Finals this past season, not by the accumulation of stars, but by attempting to build cohesive team chemistry. They used an older model of success (see: San Antonio Spurs) where teams grew from within, and counted on drafting and developing their own players. The team the Heat are playing in the Finals this year, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were put together the same way. The Heat's pedigree, however, is nothing to scoff at. They've now made it to two Finals in a row, clearly showing how their strategy can effect a team. Before they joined together, none of the big three players had played with each other for significant amounts of time. In just their first season together, they came within two games of winning it all. They will try again starting on Tuesday night. Whether a team can truly win consistently with this model of team development has yet to be seen.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Dream Team

2012 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Dream Team. The Dream Team of course is the 1992 USA men's Olympic basketball team that went on to win a gold medal. The team including basketball legends such as Magic, Jordan, Bird, Barkley, and many others. Take a look at this ESPN video commemorating one of the greatest basketball teams in the history of the sport.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reading is Cool!

I recently finished up reading two different books about sports marketing genius and pioneer Bill Veeck, Veeck as in Wreck and The Hustler’s Handbook both written in autobiography form by sportswriter Ed Linn.  If you are looking to break in to sports marketing and you haven’t heard of Bill Veeck (let alone you haven’t read these book), then it would be safe to assume that you are behind in the game. 
Veeck as in Wreck has Veeck pretty much breakdown his promotions, what failed and what succeeded, which is inherently interesting given the man’s personality.  Aside from sports marketing and promotions, you get a good look into his life, on and off the field, along with what it is like to be a team president/owner.  The Hustler’s Handbook is written more in a short story form with each chapter being its own.  This gives valuable insight into what it takes to purchase a team, the financial breakdowns of everything that goes into a purchase, and the trials and tribulations of being a man in power in Major League Baseball. 

The lessons that I picked up by reading these books probably do exist in sport management textbooks somewhere, but why wait until class to learn them?  One thing that gets to me about sport management students is that when asked why they picked sport management, they almost always answer, “Because I’m passionate about sports.”  It becomes clear pretty quickly whether or not that person is simply a passionate fan or that person is passionate about the business of sport.  Most of the time, I would venture to say that they are just a sports fan. 

The difference between a sport fan’s passion and a passion for the business of sport is something that I learned very quickly upon coming to Drexel.  Many people drop quickly because they realize that there is more to sport management than meeting their favorite player.  Some hang around for a little while but then decide that they don’t care about loving their job and they only care about making money.  The people who stick around for the duration and realize that the sports industry really is their calling are the ones who get it.  Naturally they may complain about the low entry wages and salaries, but they love getting up in the morning to do what they do.  That is a quality that is not found in a lot of jobs. 

Maybe that was a roundabout way to get to what I’m trying to get at, but here is the point.  If you really love what you do, then you cannot get enough of it.  I know for myself personally, my lines between what are sports industry education and what is hobby are pretty close to each other.  There is a lot of crossover.  I love reading about sports; it’s something that I would do even if I wasn’t a sport management major.  But now I’ve realized that I do have a passion for sports business.  I’ve realized because I read about it all the time. 

Reading, for some reason, gets a bad reputation.  Only the nerds read.  If you follow me on Twitter, you know I read all of the time (yes, I do read every article that I tweet).  I’ll admit it, I may be a nerd, but that’s fine.  I don’t like reading the textbooks for class, I’ll admit.  They just aren’t interesting and sport is not an industry that you can learn everything through textbooks.  Sports are always changing and it takes a dedication, a passion if you will, to stay on top of that. 

I’m not saying that you have to read to be passionate about sport business.  That just happens to be my way of learning about it.  There are plenty of things that you can do to be passionate about the industry, any industry for that matter.  However, simply saying that you are passionate about sports doesn’t cut it.  Simply saying you are passionate about sport business doesn’t even cut it either.  You have to live it.  Nothing is going to just come to you. 

I will take reading recommendations from almost anybody in the industry, but I love to get them from my peers.  If you are interested in a book exchange-type system to share sports business/general sports business books (or even articles), please contact me.  I would love to share what I recommend and I would love to get some recommendations myself.  Reading is not the end-all-be-all, but if you don’t like to read, then you don’t like to learn, plain and simple.

My Recommendations From This Spring/Summer:
Veeck as in Wreck by Ed Linn
The Hustler’s Handbook by Ed Linn
How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney
Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan
Next Up On My Reading List:
May the Best Team Win by Andrew Zimbalist
In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig by Andrew Zimbalist
The Big Miss by Hank Haney
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


They may be successful, but if you met these professional athletes on the street, you may be surprised to hear what their career explorations are. Not every player fits the “mold” of their sport, but most of them still find a way to win, or at least achieve their dreams. In no particular order, here are some of the athletes I thought of:

Pau Gasol:
It’s difficult for any 7-footer to be coordinated enough to come off as an athletic specimen, but the Lakers big man epitomizes that issue. His full beard and often shaggy mop of hair present him as more of an animal you’d be likely to find in South America than a Spanish professional basketball player. Nonetheless, the sometimes awkward jump shot he takes every night seemed to earn him 2 NBA rings.

Clay Matthews:
The highly talented linebacker of the Green Bay Packers is a sight to see with his long flowing blonde locks. The undersized former USC Trojan makes up for his size with extreme intensity and hard-work, but many could confuse that emotion with one of a professional wrestler (and his cold stars and bursts of passion don’t help his cause).

C.C. Sabathia:
The New York Yankees ace has been nothing short of stellar throughout his 12 years in the big leagues, but it’s hard to question whether his body type fits the job. As a 6’7”, 290 pound left-hander, he intimidates the opposition by his presence alone. It’s clear the University of Hawaii wasn’t far off by offering him a chance to strut his stuff as a tight end on their squad because Sabathia certainly looks like he plays the wrong sport.

Chris Andersen:
The Denver Nuggets power forward (also known as Birdman) looks entirely out of place when he steps onto the basketball court, unless he is walking on stage to perform in a band. The colorfully tatted-up NBA player had an atypical journey to the league after playing one year of college basketball at Blinn College, and then being selected first overall in the D-League in 2001. He ran into some trouble with the law in 2006 after violating the NBA anti-drug policy, and solidifying my thoughts that he belongs in Rock music.

Brian Wilson:
The San Fran closer (currently out for the season with Tommy John surgery) is quite the character both on and off the mound. His sarcastic, often captivating sense of humor draws consistent attention from media personnel. Recently, he is known for his thick, dyed-black beard that reminds me of a Chasidic rabbi more than a professional baseball player.

Zdeno Chara:
The captain of the Boston Bruins and an extremely talented defenseman from Slovakia is far from the typical build of an NHL player. He 6’9” frame makes him the tallest man to ever step into skates in the National Hockey League. His gigantic size gives him the opportunity to present opposing players with punishing blows with regularity. Luckily for Bruins fans he didn’t take advice as a kid from coaches telling him to stick with basketball. 

There are plenty more professional athletes with the similar dilemmas, and may not seem like the "type" to play their sport. Who comes to mind that I may have missed? Share your thought below. 

Breaking into the Asian market

The Asian market is one that every sports league throughout the world is hoping to get into. With China being the most populous nation in the world, with over a billion people, there is a lot of money to be made over there. Recently a popular Brazilian soccer team, Corinthians FC, signed a young Chinese player to their roster. It was strictly a move to help expand the team's brand overseas to Asia, and China more specifically. According to Corinthians FC's president "European teams are ahead of the curve in breaking into the Asian market, but we are not gonna be left behind."

Spanish soccer has been aggresively pursuing the Asian market, and a few days ago they made the biggest move yet. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the company United Vansen International Sport agreed for five of the next seven Spanish Supercups to be played in China. The RFEF will be charging around 30 million euros, and a significant portion will go straight into the pockets of the clubs playing in the cup. The supercup in 2012 will still be held in Spain, because it is already too late to move around FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF's pre season schedules. However, starting in 2013 the Spanish Supercup will be played in Chinese soil, with the venues still to be announced. 

It will be interesting to see what the Spanish people will have to say about this bold move by their federation, even with the financial implications being so large. The Spanish Supercup is a historic competition, where the winner of the Copa Del Rey will play the Spanish league champion in the first game of the season. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cry Me A River: The State of Refereeing in the NBA

In critical moments during basketball games, foul calls can make a big difference. Shooting fouls can give the other team an opportunity to add points by taking free throws, giving them more chances to score and win close games. In the playoffs, where both teams are often equal competitors, extra free throw attempts can mean the difference between a win and a loss, and ultimately, advancing or getting knocked out all together.

Officiating in basketball is more subjective than in any other sport. This leads to problems at all levels of the game, but most visibly in the NBA. In a sport like baseball, umpires have much more objective things to look for when making calls (except balls vs. strikes, which is pure subjection). In baseball, umpire decisions like safe vs. out or fair vs. foul are fairly black and white. Did the runner reach base before the first baseman caught the ball? If so, then the runner is safe. If not, then the runner is out. In basketball, almost all of the calls that an official has to make are very subjective. Did the defensive player get his feet set in time for the play to be called a charge? Did the defensive player make negligent contact to the offensive player on a shot? What really defines a shooting foul vs. a no call? These types of decisions are made on a situation by situation basis, with different refs making the call every time. Officials are given the discretion to make the calls as they see them. It's extremely hard for officials to get every call  100% correct because they all have different interpretations of the rules.

Flopping seems to be more and more of a growing problem in the NBA. Like in soccer, players are beginning to intentionally feign contact where wasn't any and fall to the ground dramatically to get the call from the ref. Flopping may result in more points for your team, but the act isn't performed in the essence of sportsmanship and fair competition. In basketball, hitting the floor when you're not driving to the basket isn't a common occurrence, so there's pressure on the refs to blame someone for hitting the floor. Not making calls during these situations results in scrutiny of referees because fans and spectators want to argue that their player was pushed to the ground intentionally by an opposing player. Monday night's Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat gave us some great examples. During two separate situations, two players from both teams fell to the ground at the same time, pressuring the refs to call a foul on one of them. In the first play, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James fell under the basket. The officials ruled that Garnett fouled James, even though they appeared to be tangled together and brought each other to the ground. The second instance happened later, when virtually the same thing happened between LeBron James and Mickael Pietrus, only this time, James was called for the foul. Both calls probably shouldn't have been made, as it appeared that both players fell in efforts to assert position under the basket, with no player actually instigating and pushing another player to the floor on purpose. This illustrates the point that officials are compelled to make a call because there was some form of contact and two players fell. During these types of situations, referees should be more aware and assess whether this was an instance of letting the players play and not calling anything.

LeBron James and the Heat have also been scrutinized for their behavior in recent games. Like fans, players and coaches also get frustrated about the inconsistent and spotty accuracy of officiating. This has lead to visible displays of disbelief and disappointment by players during play of the game. Rajon Rondo pointed this out in a surprisingly honest halftime interview during Game 4 when he said the Celtics were exploiting the Heat's constant bickering with refs. Ironically, Rondo was given a technical foul for arguing a charging call later in the game. Arguing with referees should be much more severe than it currently is. Although Rondo was punished, many current players aren't penalized for hassling referees during games. When players become overheated and belligerent, refs should crack down and dole out technical fouls. It's infuriating as a fan to watch a player angrily plead their case in front of officials. Even if the referee made the wrong call, it's never ok to whine and cry like a baby every time a call doesn't go your way.

Another problem with NBA officiating, especially in the playoffs, is the dichotomy of "let them play" vs. calling all contact (little, some, or a lot) between players. The ideology behind "let them play" is that basketball is a game with grown men playing a physical sport, and not all contact should be considered foul play. Clearly you need both of these ways of thinking in order to have successful officiating. Contact of any type shouldn't always be considered a foul, but players also shouldn't be allowed to have free reign with their opponents and be as physical as they can be. NBA referees should strive to implement a combination of both ways of thinking, and right now, they may be too prone to call fouls when any sort of contact takes place.

Fans will always complain about officiating in sports. They want every call to be right all the time, but referees are human and can't be that held to pinpoint standards. As technology improves, and the league become more open to using replay as a way to determine calls, more referee decisions will be reviewed and corrected. However, more review causes games to slow down. We saw an example of this last year when the NFL decided to review every touchdown call every time, regardless of how obvious the call may be. This tedious analysis makes fans and players unhappy, so a proper balance between ensuring correctness and keeping the flow of the game moving is needed, but has yet to be found. Either way, it's clear the NBA needs to do a better job of training it's referees in in-game decision making. A championship should never be decided by poor officiating.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tiger Woods Winning Again

Yesterday, Tiger Woods won the Memorial Tournament by two strokes over second place finishers Rory Sabbatini and Andres Romero.  The win gives Tiger his 73rd career win on the PGA Tour, tying him for second all time with the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus. 

Tiger will look to ride this momentum into the PGA Tour's next major, the US Open, which begins in 10 days. 

After every Tiger Woods round, there are always a plethora of questions, and this one is no different.  Is the Tiger Woods of old back?  Will Tiger return to consistent greatness?  Will Tiger pass Jack Nicklaus's record for career majors? 

The question for you is what are your thoughts on Tiger returning to greatness?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Interviewing: practice (and preparation) makes perfect

At the career center and the university, this week has been a heavy week of interview practice, mock interviews, tough interview question workshops, and the like.  Interviews come in many shapes and sizes, including phone interviews, Skype interviews, one-on-one interviews, group interviews, and panel interviews.  I’m sure there are others but the one in particular that I wanted to focus on was the one-on-one in-person interview.  This is the most common one that you will experience in your career with a panel interview not too far behind.

Let’s start off by stating the obvious- dress formally, conservatively, and ideally in a suit.  I’m reminded of a scene from Remember the Titans when Coach Boone says to his players, “You will wear a jacket, shirt, and tie. If you don't have one, buy one, can't afford one then borrow one from your old man, if you don't have an old man, then find a drunk, trade him for his.”  I don’t know if I’d go as far as the last method of acquiring a suit but you get the point.  Despite our industry being more casual in nature than let’s say Wall Street, do not show up dressed like you are about to play a game of pick-up basketball or like you’re going right from the interview to play 18 holes of golf.  Start off on the right foot!

Other before-the-interview tips include: do your research and prepare questions to ask.  Research includes visiting the team/organization website, searching for them on Google, and reading about them in industry publications like The Sports Business Journal.  Also, part of researching the position includes knowing the job description inside and out.  Know the bullet points like the back of your hand and be able to address each of them as they pertain to your skill set and personal experiences.  Finally, prepare 3-5 good questions to ask the employer.  Don’t ask about a recent trade rumor or who they might draft or why they just signed so-and-so to that many years or that much money.  Ask about the company culture; ask about the ideal candidate; ask about the room for growth and if there is an opportunity to get professional training.  All of these things show that you are genuinely interested.

Practice, practice, practice.  Practice with a friend, professor, career counselor, or even just yourself.  There is no way to tell what questions that you will be asked during an interview but there are standard questions that should be easy to conquer- tell me about yourself, what is your greatest strength, where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years.  Be ready but don't sound robotic...

Then there is the actual interview.  This is your time to shine.  Sell yourself.  Tell them why you are the best person for the job.  Be confident but not cocky.  More than anything, answer the question that you were asked, provide details and examples every chance you can get, and answer questions with passion and enthusiasm.  Lastly, be the expert in the room on your resume; don’t be surprised by a question that someone asks if it pertains to your resume.

Think you are done?  Not quite.  After the interview concludes, close it with a great handshake, ask for their business card, and thank them for their time.  Now comes the differentiator- that same day or at least within 24 hours, send a thank you letter and thank you email reiterating your interest in the position and in the company.  If you promised to send them additional documents like a list of references or a portfolio of your work, this is the time to do it.

Do not be Robert California -

Do not be Dwight Schrute -