Thursday, November 29, 2012

Water Cooler Talk: Marvin Miller: The Man Who Changed the MLB



Former executive director of the MLBPA, Marvin Miller passed away on Tuesday at the age of 95.  Miller served as executive director from 1966-1982.  During this time he was able to change baseball in many ways.  He is regarded as one of the most influential figures not only in the MLB but in all of sports.  His accomplishments as executive director formed the MLB that we now know today.  

One of Miller’s first accomplishments was negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement in 1968.  This led to the increasing the league’s minimum salary.  The increase was from $6,000 to $10,000 and was the first increase in two decades.  In 1970 Miller negotiated arbitration into the CBA.  This allowed player disputes with owners to be taken to an independent arbitrator rather than to the commissioner.  Miller’s biggest accomplishment was encouraging Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to play out the 1974 season without a contract.  This led to the Seitz decision which eliminated the reserve clause and opened up free agency.  

After all of these accomplishments that forever changed the landscape of professional sports, Miller is not in the Hall of Fame.  It does not make any sense to me that one of the most important figures in MLB history is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  In 2003 and 2007 he fell short of the votes needed by only a few percentage points.  Since then the voting in of non-players has changed.  Unfortunately in 2011 Miller still fell one vote short of making the Hall of Fame.  Miller is not eligible for the Hall of Fame again until 2014.  I believe that his well-deserved enshrinement will finally happen that year. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Man Advantage: Feasting!



Stop me if you’ve heard this one before from me:

I love college basketball.

There isn’t another sport that fills me with such happiness and excitement. The pageantry, the rivalries, the fans, the spirit of hope that even the smallest school has a shot at championship glory... couple it with my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) and Feast Week is without question one of the best things on the planet (disregarding March Madness of course).

While other people were spending their "Feast Week" on “food, family, and FOOOTBAAAAALLLL,” I enjoyed a cornucopia of great college basketball games. From Tuesday to Saturday, I probably watched 15-20 games (with bits and pieces of several others thrown in). Here’s some tidbits that stuck out to me:
  
Drexel guard Frantz Massenet
    1.)    Dragons Fizzle: Is there a bigger early season disappointment than our own Drexel Dragons (Maybe Memphis)? Picked to run train through a depleted CAA, the Dragons have looked remarkably unremarkable through six games. The non-conference schedule, with games against Illinois State, St. Mary’s, and Xavier already, is much improved from last year--unfortunately this team, which returned all notable pieces from last year’s 29 win squad except do-it-all forward Samme Givens, hasn’t earned the pre-season hype. The injury bug has hit frequently, limiting Damion Lee and likely ending Chris Fouch’s Drexel career. Junior guard Frantz Massenet, the preseason CAA Player of the Year, has been sloppy and forwards Dartaye Ruffin and Daryl McCoy have struggled to be consistent presences in the post-Givens era. Fortunately, Drexel started the season very similarly last season before turning it around and winning 25 of 26 games on their way to the CAA Tournament finals: the next few games are very winnable. Unfortunately, however, the Dragons close out 2012 with home games against cross-city foe St. Joseph’s and…

    2.)    Davidson Roars: The Davidson Wildcats, the team that may have impressed me the most this past week. While their 3-3 record so far this season might not seem noteworthy, anyone who saw their victories over Vanderbilt and West Virginia in the Old Spice Classic saw a bracket buster in the making. Their only loss came in the tournament finals against a Gonzaga program that is arguably a top-10 team this season. Keep an eye on these Tigers—this is an experienced team that can do some damage in March.

    3.)    Atlantis Rocks: Was there a better Thanksgiving tournament than the Battle 4 Atlantis? How many tournaments in November can boast four top-20 squads, along with two dangerous mid-majors and two quality major conference teams? The field was something to see, and while three of the four semi-finals teams make my stomach turn with revulsion (I was unable to watch the first semi-final at a risk of losing my Thanksgiving leftovers), the games were fantastic. For the basketball fan who just wants to see a good game, the Louisville-Missouri semi-final was just fun to watch, even as a born-and-raised Kentucky Wildcats fan. The tempo and intensity from both teams reminds us of what we love about March…. In November.

Did you catch much college basketball over the break? What jumped out to you? Answer in the comments!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reggie Evans and the Fall of Flopping


In an effort to promote fair play, the NBA instituted “flopping” rules this season to discourage players from feigning contact in order to get a foul call. The NBA will monitor and review all games throughout the season and hand down punishment if they feel a player clearly flopped. They’ve chosen to use an escalating system of punishment, with the first offense only resulting in a warning from the league. After that, the league goes after the players wallets. A second offense will cost a player $5000, a third offense $10,000, and so on. Reggie Evans, an example used in the NBA’s flopping video (below), has already committed two offenses in just the first month of the season, becoming the first player ever to be fined for flopping. A few other players have been warned for flopping, but for the most part, players who were thought to be the most prolific offenders have behaved themselves so far this season.


When the league first talked about instating these new rules, I was skeptical that players would even listen. Thankfully, it looks like players are behaving and not trying to dupe the referees as frequently. Anderson Varejao, one of the league’s worst floppers the past few years, hasn’t even been warned as of yet. "I'm not flopping anymore," Varejao said before the season. "I used to flop a little bit." It seems that professional basketball players, at least in the NBA, care a lot more about their checkbooks than one call during a game. It will be interesting to see how the season progresses with these new rules in place, and if fines are truly a deterrent later in the season during the playoffs when the games mean so much more. As a big NBA fan, I’m happy to see that players are taking these new rules seriously and that the league is eager to punish those who unfairly flop during games.


Source:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Under Further Review: What Sport Means To Me


Although we should all give thanks every single day, there is no better day since Thanksgiving.  Below is a paper that I wrote for Dr. Staurowsky's Technology and Sport class about what sport has meant in my life especially within the past year.

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Sport was something that I took for granted for most of my life.  I played sports but was never good enough to play competitively beyond high school.  I have always been a knowledgeable and enthusiastic sport fan but truthfully game results never determined whether I was having a good or bad week.  Sport has always been a big part of my life because within my family it will always provide a special bond between my brother, mom, dad, and I.  The bond that sport provided made communicating easy, and we always had something to talk about.  Even with the bond that sport provides my family, I still took it for granted.  The bond was never tested; it was there, but none of us knew how strong the bond truly was.  That was until this past year.

In late April this past year, my mom got sick.  I say that she simply got sick because nobody knew what was wrong, not even the doctors.  The situation would have been scary for any family, but my family had never been through a health scare like this before.  My mom ended up spending 28 of the 31 days in May in the hospital.  At about the halfway point of the month-long medical runaround of doctors calling her condition a stroke, a blood clot, a bad heart valve, and pneumonia, the answer became clear: my mom had blood clots in her leg, lungs, and brain.  The cause of the blood clots was a cancerous mass located on one of her ovaries.  The next two weeks were spent in recovery after surgery to remove the mass and during that time a prescription for 18 weeks of chemotherapy was handed down.  My mom remained a fighter, never shedding a tear and never uttering one complaint.  The month long medical nightmare shook up my family, but we began to realize how strong the bond of sport truly was between the four of us.

Throughout the period of recovery in the hospital and then the continuing recovery in the comfort of home, sport played a tremendous role.  One of the roles that sport played for my family was as a distraction.  We used sport to distract ourselves by consuming sport and then talking about it.  Our house was a microcosm of what D. Stanley Eitzen and George H. Sage call our society’s “sportsmania” in “Sociology of North American Sport.”  The sports section in the local newspaper was always read and always discussed.  The only time that the television was on a channel other than ESPN was to check in on the MLB Network or the Tennis Channel.  Although Eitzen and Sage said that one-fifth of television networks dedicate some time to sport, my household dedicated about four and a half-fifths of its television-watching time to sport (Eitzen & Sage, 2009).  Sport at our house is not only consumed; it is analyzed and talked about.  The first two of the three sociological assumptions are that individuals are social beings and individuals are socially determined (Eitzen & Sage, 2009).  In the way that my family talks about sport, we are the perfect embodiment of the sociological assumptions.  Everyday we are spending time seeking conversations with each other or others to talk about games of the previous days and to look ahead to games in the coming days. 

Although sport was constantly used as a distraction from my mom’s health issues and a social starting point, sport was also used as a release.  On page nine of “Sociology of North American Sport,” Eitzen and Sage describe sport as a social institution.  They define social institutions as “social arrangements that channel behavior in prescribed ways” (Eitzen &Sage, 2009). They also add that one of the societal purposes of sport is “sport serves as a safety valve for both spectators and participants, dissipating excess energies, tensions, and hostile feelings in a socially acceptable way” (Eitzen & Sage, 2009).  Throughout the time spent in the hospital and in recovery, sport provided that channel for behavior and that “safety valve” so the entire family could dissipate the tensions of the medical fiasco.  Sport has been one of the social institutions that my family has used as a crutch to help us get through our tough time dealing with my mom’s medical condition.  Sport has done its job in helping to deflect some of the emotions of my mom’s situation and channel those emotions to something that we as a family can come together over. 

In the American culture, just as any other culture, there are many shared values, attitudes, and beliefs (Eitzen & Sage, 2009).  One of the American values seems to be that we tend to sympathize and rally around those that are sick, just as sport fans rally around their favorite teams and players.  The outpouring of support for my mom from family and friends was outstanding, just as sport fans would support their teams and players.  As a society we cheer on the sick to make a full recovery like we would for our favorite teams and players.  We also boo the existence of the medical conditions that have put the sick through unspeakable pain and suffering like we would for our favorite teams’ most heated rival.
As my mom’s medical nightmare comes one giant step closer to being over this week when she receives her 18th and final chemotherapy treatment, I will never forget what sport has meant to my family over these past six months.  Before it all began, sport was simply something that I loved, something that I played, and something that I wanted to make a long, prosperous career out of.  I knew it had a deeper meaning, but the only evidence I had of any deeper meaning was from reading and hearing stories.  Now I have lived it.  I have seen what sport can do for a person and a family.  In my life sport has become a family bond, a rallying point, a representation of hope, a distraction from real world problems, and a release of pent up emotions and tension.  In my life I have seen sport save my family and mom’s life.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Global Scope: Shakhtar Donetsk FIFA "Foul" Play

The world's most prestigious club football competition, the UEFA Champions League, is one more round of group stage action away from starting their round of 16 phase on the beginning of February 2013. One of the world's emerging clubs, the Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk, has been in the headlines of the UEFA Champions League many times this year. Especially after drawing 1-1 with Italian powerhouse Juventus FC in Turin, and defeating reigning Champions League champions Chelsea FC 2-1 at their brand new arena in Donetsk, Donbass Arena.

The team slowly started to gain the headlines and achieve success nationally after a bombing-assasination happened at the team's old stadium which killed Shakhtar's president at the time, Akhat Bragin. In 1996, the year following the death of President Bragin, a Ukranian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov assumed presidency of the club and began to heavily invest in Shakhtar Donetsk. Since then the club began its surge to become an European power house and have won 7 Ukrainian Premier League titles (including the last 3 competitions in a row) and 7 Ukrainian Cups. However, it wasn't until 2009 that Shakhtar achieved their goal of winning a major European Title. Shakhtar Donetsk are the last official champions of the UEFA Cup, defeating German side Werder Bremen 2-1 in Istanbul with goals from Brazilians Luiz Adriano and Jadson.

The 2012-13 Shakhtar Donetsk roster is definitely the best roster they have ever had, and one could become one of the best squads in Ukrainian football history. In addition to the team captain and Croatian international, Darijo Srna, they officially have 10 Brazilian born players, including Eduardo da Silva, a brazilian born striker who represents Croatia internationally. The team's top players, Brazilians Willian, Fernandinho, and Luiz Adriano have constantly been appearing in headlines all over Europe with rumors about transfers to London clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. It seemed as if such a step was going to be a natural one in the players' career, but one incident in yesterday's Shakhtar convincing win over Nordsjaelland 5-2 may have changed Luiz Adriano's future.

It was on the 26th minute mark of the match when Nordsjaelland were up 1-0 that after the referee stopped the play for a Nordsjaelland player to receive treatment. When the play was being resumed, Shakhtar's Willian struck the ball back to the Norwegian side's defense and goalkeeper. That was when striker Luiz Adriano hustled toward the ball and after clearing out goalkeeper Jesper Hansen scored his first of three goals on the night. Nordsjaelland players/coaches as well as the football community worldwide criticized Adriano's actions making the incident the number one trending topic on Twitter for November 21st. The Brazilian striker responded via his Twitter account "O Choro é livre" which translates to "Crying is free," referring to all the complaints that he has been receiving on Twitter.

This may seem like everyone is making a big deal out of this incident, since Shakhtar dominated in the 2nd half and defeated the Norwegians by a final score of 5-2 with Luiz Adriano scoring a hat trick and Willian contributing with two goals. Also, Shakhtar Donetsk is the first in their group and are well on their way to qualifying to the round of 16, leaving either Chelsea FC or Juventus FC behind. However, FIFA was undergoing a heavy amount of criticism for lack of real punishment to lack of fair play and any kind of discrimination including racism. This in part led to the creation of the FIFA program, "My Game is Fair Play." 



Luiz Adriano e Pakhust, Nordsjaelland e Shakhtar Donetsk (Foto: Agência EFE)
USA International Michael Parkhurst confronts Luiz Adriano


Luiz Adriano certainly did not help his odds of transferring to a major European club, like he was rumored to, by scoring this goal (ironically he went on to score a hat trick with the "foul" goal as his first) and is now going to face disciplinary actions from UEFA. In an official release on its website, UEFA has affirmed that Adriano is likely to be punished for violating the principles of conduct of the entity's Disciplinary Code and he will go to trial on November 27th. Shakhtar's manager, Mircea Lucescu in his press conference apologized for his striker's goal that caused so much controversy and stated that he scored the goal on what he calls "goal scorer instinct" and did not mean harm. Unfortunately for Lucescu Adriano's now erased Twitter post did not seem to comply with what his manager said at the interview. Scoring that goal was a very unfortunate action by Luiz Adriano, and with FIFA's growing concern for fair play actions throughout the world, there is a good chance an example will be made of him come trial time, we'll know for sure next Tuesday. As of right now I do not think punishing Luiz Adriano in court is the right action, because I believe that fair play is definitely something we should push for but it needs to come from the individuals, it should not be a "law" or regulation because it ruins the act of fair play. Any thoughts?


You can see the entire incident here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Member Spotlight: Lindrit Shkodra



Lindrit Shkodra joins the Drexel Sport Management Student Union with big dreams in mind.  With an interest in player representation, Shkodra has his sights set on becoming the next Drew Rosenhaus-type agent.  He also has a general interest in sports marketing.  Coming to Philadelphia from Maple Shade, NJ just barely across the Betsy Ross Bridge, Shkodra has just begun his freshman year at Drexel.

With high career goals comes an inherent need for high industry involvement.  From the get-go, Shkodra has been involved with the Sport Management Student Union and gained valuable sports industry experience through his volunteering at the US Open of Squash held at Drexel University.  He was also the manager of his high school football team.  Shkodra has maintained his position at a local Wegmans Food Market as a full-time student this year.

Shkodra is an avid basketball fan.  The Los Angeles Lakers are his favorite team and his favorite player happens to be a Lakers player with deep Philadelphia roots, Kobe Bryant.  In addition to basketball, Shkodra also enjoys spending time with his family and friends.  Shkodra also happens to be bilingual, speaking fluent English and Albanian.

The Drexel Sport Management Student Union welcomes Lindrit Shkodra on as one of our newest members!  You can follow him on Twitter @LindritShkodra and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Interested in being in the spotlight?  Contact Kevin Rossi at ktr36@drexel.edu!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NLL to Stream Games on YouTube


For their upcoming season the National Lacrosse League (NLL) is going to move their live streaming of the games online from their website to YouTube in a deal that was announced earlier this week.  This deal will not affect the TV that the NLL has with CBS.  Eight to ten games will still be broadcasted on CBS but the rest of the season will be streamed live on YouTube.  The NNL games will be part of the Lacrosse Network which will also include indoor and outdoor college lacrosse games.  The idea behind this agreement is to use YouTube’s global presence and make the NNL known worldwide.
This is the first time that a professional sports league’s games will be broadcasted on YouTube live.  This idea has a lot of potential if it is marketed the right way.  The NNL must make it known to fans on their website about the change and also have it announced a couple times during the games on CBS.  If they are not able to spread the word quickly that could affect the potential viewing audience.  

One thing that I am personally curious about with this deal is what kind of sponsorships YouTube will be able to attract.  The Lacrosse Network will be handling the sponsorships instead of the NNL.  The price of the sponsorship is going to be much less for this than it would be for a game on TV.  This could either hurt the network or help it.  Since the price is lower it might attract some bigger sponsorships because they will not have to pay as much and the audience viewing potential could be very high.  The opposite could occur if the bigger sponsors do not know what to expect with this new idea they might not want to get involved.

Hopefully the NNL’s deal with YouTube works out well.  The potential is great and if it is successful could open the door for other leagues to try it out.  This could be a good idea for sports that struggle to get viewership.  It could also be used for a league to try to develop a more global viewing audience. 

Here is a link to the Sports Business Now story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Under Further Review: When is Enough, Enough?


Over the past couple of weeks, the world of sports has seen racism rear its ugly head in the most vocal of ways. Analysts like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Fox’s Terry Bradshaw have been on the wrong side of racially charged comments that have gone viral for all of the wrong reasons.

Stephen A. Smith was engaged in one of his lively debates on ESPN’s First Take when he dropped a “n***a please” as if it was completely fine to say on air (or ever). In one of the best moves Skip Bayless has ever made in his career, he swooped in and saved Smith from going any further on the subject. 

The part that is concerning is that ESPN, though apologizing for the incident, did nothing to punish Smith.  Smith denies that that’s what he even said prompting a flurry of tweets speculating what was actually said (and they were hilarious).  Fast talk or not it’s pretty obvious that he said it. See for yourself:



In week nine of Fox’s NFL coverage, the crew was going over highlights from the day’s games. Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush was running for a touchdown when analyst Terry Bradshaw blurted out that Bush was running “like he was chasing a bucket of chicken.”  Here is the video:



Of course, Fox did not have the luxury that ESPN had in saying that Smith didn’t actually say what he said.  Studio host Curt Menefee later defended Bradshaw saying that it was an inside joke with co-analyst Jimmy Johnson.  Either way, it was poor judgment on the part Bradshaw due to the easily racial perception.  Similar to Smith, Bradshaw was not punished by Fox.


Is this a link to a bigger issue?  People are now allowed to say anything that they want as long as they are a cog in huge money making machines?  These are people that influence opinions believe it or not, and comments like these cannot simply go unpunished.  Both ESPN and Fox could have stepped up the discipline and showed that racial comments have no place on their networks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Member Spotlight: Michael Proska



Michael Proska may only be a freshman here at Drexel University, but he is already becoming one of the most dedicated members of the Drexel Sport Management Student Union.  Coming from Springfield, PA just from the west of the city, Proska is an avid Philadelphia 76ers fan.  In fact, Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday is Proska’s favorite player. 

Proska joins the Drexel Sport Management family with big dreams of becoming a general manager in the NBA someday, and he has already become active in pursuing his goals.  Aside from joining the Sport Management Student Union upon arriving on Drexel’s campus, Proska is also interning in the Drexel Athletics office in the area of marketing and game-day staff.  Proska also has prior experience as a basketball camp counselor for AllBall Inc. and he carries his position at Saint Francis of Assisi Church over into college as well.  Music, tennis, and working out join basketball as Proska’s big interests.

The Drexel Sport Management Student Union welcomes Michael Proska on as one of our newest members!  You can follow him on Twitter @mikeprosk and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Interested in being in the spotlight?  Contact Kevin Rossi at ktr36@drexel.edu for details!