Archive for the 'Sports' Category

Phil Freaking Mickelson

This shot is so unbelievable. I don’t think I’d ever even try this on a range.

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Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50

Picture 1

Sports Illustrated released today its sixth annual “Fortunate 50” list, which lists the 50 top-earning American athletes in salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. You’d probably be able to guess the Top 10 at your local pub’s Trivia Night with the exception of Allen Iverson, who grossed nearly $29 million last year.

In case you were wondering, the average earnings for the Fortunate 50 in America was $23.6, while SI’s list of the 20 highest paid International athletes came in with an average of $29.5 million.

Fortunate50Breakdown

Top 10:

1.) Tiger Woods, Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 1
Salary / Winnings – $7,737,626
Endorsements – $92,000,000
Total – $99,737,626
2.) Phil Mickelson, Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 2
Salary / Winnings – $6,350,356
Endorsements – $46,600,000
Total – $52,950,356
3.) LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 3
Salary / Winnings – $14,410,581
Endorsements – $28,000,000
Total – $42,410,581
4.) Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year’s Rank: 6 (tie)
Salary / Winnings – $33,000,000
Endorsements – $6,000,000
Total – $39,000,000
5.) Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 6 (tie)
Salary / Winnings – $20,000,000
Endorsements – $15,000,000
Total – $35,000,000
6.) Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 8
Salary / Winnings – $24,750,000
Endorsements – $10,000,000
Total – $34,750,000
7.) Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 5
Salary / Winnings – $21,262,500
Endorsements – $10,000,000
Total – $31,262,500
8.) Allen Iverson, Detroit Pistons (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 12
Salary / Winnings – $21,937,500
Endorsements – $7,000,000
Total – $28,937,500
9.) Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year’s Rank: 10
Salary / Winnings – $20,000,000
Endorsements – $8,500,000
Total – $28,500,000
10.) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Last Year’s Rank: 9
Salary / Winnings – $14,500,000
Endorsements – $13,000,000
Total – $27,000,000

The Battle of the Babes

Controversey abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Controversy abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Here’s a fun little story.

The All England Club, the folks responsible for hosting the Wimbledon Championship, has admitted that a player’s personal appearance is a factor when considering who plays on the prestigious Centre Court.

Controversy sparked after No. 8-seeded Victoria Azarenka faced Sorana Cristea, seeded 28th, at Centre Court on Friday.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

And what’s wrong with that? Well, top-seeded Dinara Safina and the No. 2 seed Serena Williams were both demoted to the modest outer courts, while Azarenka and Cristea happen to be freaking gorgeous.

Sorana Cristea

Sorana Cristea

All England Club Spokesman Johnny Perkins told The Daily Mail that, “good looks are a factor,” in deciding court schedule. Added a source from the BBC, “it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court…Our preference would be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing ratings.”

This clearly is chauvinistic, unfair and a PR gaffe for the ages. The concept of sport relies on the premise that the better player is rewarded and celebrated. Sport should never be a beauty contest, and this strategy by the All England Club is unquestionably unjust.

But – off the court, field, rink, track, etc. – we do reward and celebrate the better-looking player almost uniformly. Don’t we?

Let’s play a game. Name five ugly “superstars.” Can you even name three? Here, I’ll spot you Randy Johnson (in his prime).  Ronaldinho is pretty ugly, too. Joakim Noah is borderline disgusting, but he’s certainly not a “superstar.”

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

The ugly truth is that our superstars are attractive. Most men haven’t even heard of top-seeded Dinara Safina, but they could tell you the beautiful Maria Sharapova (unseeded) has green eyes. Soccer hunk David Beckham is arguably one of the most popular athletes in the world, and yet Sport.co.uk has questioned whether the England national team will even need him in the 2010 World Cup.

I’m not an expert in what makes an attractive male, and I probably will never be one. Still, you can’t tell me that Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or Roger Federer is ugly, can you?

Sex appeals and beauty sells. Just ask Danica Patrick.

But to fans of sport, athleticism also sells. Teamwork sells. Strength sells. The will of a champion sells.

Here’s the point: Marketability (off the court) and Sportsmanship (on the court) should actually remain independent of each other.  True sports fans want to see the best, the fastest and the strongest compete – not the sexiest.

Need proof? Look no further than last Friday’s match between Azarenka and Cristea. As Kate Nocera at the New York Daily News put it, “Die-hard tennis fans who came to the event seemed to know better,” leaving the stadium at Centre Court virtually empty. My guess is people went to watch Safina and Serena and the rest of the elite play.

Besides, they probably already Tivoed the match (on HDTV) for when they got home.

Are the Broncos this year’s Falcons?

Kyle Orton: The Legend

Kyle Orton, sans neck-beard

Coming off one of the most bizarre and turbulent off seasons I’ve seen as a Broncos fan, I think I’m strangely optimistic about the upcoming season.

Will we win the AFC West? Sorry, not a chance.

Can we make the playoffs? Unlikely.

Will we even finish above .500? Maybe, maybe not.

But if the Broncos’ franchise were a stock (Quote: DEN), I’d buy it today at its 52-week low. The pundits – local and national – sold their shares over the past few months, and it’s pretty easy to see why:

Uncertainty is the theme here, and because sports “analysts” are in the business of guessing correctly to ensure job stability, nobody wants to touch the Denver Broncos as a sleeper in the 2009 NFL season. But let’s be honest here, these analysts are habitually correct as often as they are incorrect. The “sexy” sleeper pick almost never survives lofty expectations and there are always handful of teams that surprise. Baltimore, Miami and Atlanta all came into last season with low expectations and proved these so-called experts wrong. Why can’t the Broncos be one of those surprise teams?

  • Coach McDaniels, despite being young, has an outstanding pedigree and a starting quarterback he actually petitioned for during the Cutler fiasco.
  • Assuming Denver is able to pacify the Marshall situation, the offense has playmakers at every position and should be fairly dynamic.
  • The defense really can’t be any worse than it was last year, and now it boasts some natural leaders in Dawkins, Bailey and LB Andra Davis.
  • Although the schedule looks terrifying now, the NFL is as erratic as ever. The smart bet is that one of those aforementioned opponents will not be nearly as formidable as expected. Besides, Denver still gets Oakland and Kansas City twice a year.
  • Finally, character counts in sports. After watching video after video of new Denver personnel this off season, it’s clear that the new regime values character more than the past administration. Furthermore, the new players believe in Coach McD, they believe in this organization and they truly believe they can win in 2009. As local residents just witnessed in the Denver Nuggets, anything is possible when your players buy into the same concept.

Realistically? No, I don’t think the Broncos will be this year’s surprise juggernaut. But it really isn’t out of the realm of possibility like some would have you believe. And just like the Phillies fans in Philadelphia asked last October, “Why Can’t Us?”

Way to go, Rox!

The heart and soul of the Colorado Rockies   

The heart and soul of the Colorado Rockies

Every spring, Denver sports fans ask one thing of the of their teams, “…  just try to keep it interesting until Broncos training camp starts.” The Nuggets got us half way there with a late season surge and a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Now, it looks like the Rockies might actually be able occupy our minds until Kyle Orton’s first snap at QB.

After suffering six different losing streaks of three games or more, the Big Purple has quietly put together an 11-game winning streak, tying a franchise record for consecutive wins. It’s not quite as catchy as the 2007 slogan, but “Rock-une” is positively upon us.    

In the big picture, though, the Rockies’ streak really has only served to remind fans of their existence. 

 

Todd Helton

Todd Helton

At 31-32, Colorado is still 10.5 games behind the Dodgers for the NL West title, and LA has been without Manny Ramirez for a substantial chunk of the season. The Rox just lost relief pitcher Taylor Buchholz for the remainder of the season. And, realistically, this streak can’t go on forever.

 

But it has been certainly fun to watch. The pitching has been outstanding, they’re manufacturing runs left and right, and everybody seems to be having a blast.

 

What has been most fun to observe is the transformation of roles on this team. This isn’t the same squad as the 2007 NL Champions, but it does have a similar cast of characters. Brad Hawpe has turned into a consistent, legitimate bat this season, filling the void of Matt Holliday. Dexter Fowler and Ryan Spilborghs have replaced Willy Taveras and Cory Sullivan as leadoff men and base stealers. You’ve got the new kid, Carlos Gonzalez that plays the 2007 rookie Troy Tulowitski. Huston Street, 2009 = Manny Corpas, 2007. And the list goes on.

Now that people like Drew Soicher are paying attention to this sizzling hot streak, it probably has run its course. Either way, new manager Jim Tracy has this ballclub 3.5 games out of the NL wildcard, and that’s exciting.

It’s nearly July, and baseball matters in Colorado.

The Eye of the Bulldog

nvo9wlAt the end of these NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant will finally have something he has needed to secure his place in basketball folklore. No, I’m not talking about a title sans the Big Aristotle – though he will certainly have that when the Lakers clinch in five. What Kobe Bryant has been missing is a signature. A defining image. An iconic picture worthy of a stamp on an envelope.

I’m talking, of course, about newborn Kobe Face. Up until now, when the average fan brings up the image of Kobe in his or her mind, one of the following visions appear:

Now, his legacy will also include this bulldog impersonation.

As much as stings to admit this, Kobe deserves a ring without Shaq. Much like Shooter McGavin, this is Kobe’s turn to win the gold jacket. And, like all the other greats, it was time for the Black Mamba to burn an image into our memory. 

It’s hard not to be suspicious, though, of the origins of the aforementioned expression. I know Kobe is extremely marketable (as evidenced every other commercial during these NBA playoffs), but doesn’t a signature look give him even more marketing moxie? On his latest podcast, Bill Simmons jokingly asked Matthew Berry if Kobe had been practicing “the badger” face in the mirror – but it doesn’t really seem too far-fetched.

Riddle me this… Kobe is a perennial All-Star in his 12th season, and we are only now seeing the Eye of the Bulldog? If this face truly is just spontaneous manifestation of pure grit, shouldn’t we have seen this underbite years ago? Furthermore, if this look is actually genuine, does this mean he wasn’t trying as hard in the previous 12 seasons? Can humans change their face behavior overnight? 

Questions abound, but the truth is the Kobe Face is a new invention – or rather, it’s a reinvention. Instead of being perceived as a whiny adulterer who never lived up to the “Jordan-esque” potential, Kobe Bryant will carve out his identity as a bona-fide winner. And the Kobe Face will forever serve to remind us as such. 

In the months following the 2009 Finals and the weeks leading up to the 2010 Playoffs, look for Kobe and his new expression to be as omnipresent as ever. Forget sharing the spotlight with LeBron, Kobe will in a surplus of Gatorade, Nike and – of course – Puppychow commercials for years to come.

Sports PR Blog

It pains me to do this (as she is a diehard Red Wings fan), but I have to give some love to Christy Hammond (@behindthejersey) of Sports PR Blog. I was doing some researching on Michael Vick’s public image and how to restore it when I came across Hammond’s Web site. After a few minutes of perusing her blog, it became apparent that this isn’t some amateur site (like mine), but rather is a legitimate resource for when sports and public relations overlap. What’s even more august is that Hammond is a college student at the University of Michigan, an intern for both the Red Wings PR dept. and the UM media relations dept. – in addition to being a full-time blogger.  

Her Web site is pretty expansive too, citing job opportunities, providing career advise and looking at PR case studies. 

Suffice it to say, I am thoroughly impressed with Hammond’s site and credentials, and anyone interested in public image and sports should give her sight a once-over.