Posts Tagged 'Sports'

Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50

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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.

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.

Street & Smith’s Sports Business Awards

SBA09_webbanner5

NBC Sports, ESPN and IMG all took home multiple awards at the 2nd annual Sports Business Awards in New York City. (Complete awards list below.)

After its magnificent coverage of Beijing 2008, NBC Sports deservingly won Best in Sports Television, while NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol earned Sports Executive of the Year.

The Boston Celtics were awarded Professional Sports Team of the Year, topping fellow nominees the Chicago Blackhawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays. Much to the chagrin of good friend James Allan, the Pittsburgh (“Six-burgh”) Steelers weren’t nominated.

The rest of the award winners made sense to me, with the exception of Professional Sports League of the Year, which was presented to the NBA. This award should be given to the NFL every single year. After this spring’s repugnant, woeful and afflictive officiating in the NBA Playoffs, look for the Association to miss out on a nomination in 2010.

2009 Sports Business Award winners: 

Lifetime Achievement – Peter Ueberroth
Sports Executive of the Year – NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol
Athletic Director of the Year – Joe Castiglione, Univ. of Oklahoma
Professional Sports Team of the Year – Boston Celtics
Professional Sports League of the Year – NBA
Sports Event of the Year – Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic
Best in Sports Media – ESPN
Best in Sports Television – NBC Sports
Best in Digital Sports Media – ESPN Digital Media
Best in Talent Representation and Management – CAA Sports
Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services – IMG
Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services – IMG
Sports Event Marketing Firm of the Year – GMR Marketing
Sports Sponsor of the Year – Coca-Cola
Sports Facility of the Year – Lucas Oil Stadium
Best in Sports Technology – MLB Advanced Media for MLB At Bat

Why isn’t the NHL on ESPN?

The Worldwide Leader in Sports

The Worldwide Leader in Sports

There’s actually a pretty easy answer to the above question. The 2004-2005 lockout year, in which the NHL and NHL Players Association could not come to an agreement on the issue of an inflexible salary cap, destroyed the league’s credibility in the States. When the salary cap issue was resolved, the national television network with the most to offer the NHL was Versus, with NBC picking up high-profile games throughout the season.

In truth, that’s why the NHL isn’t on ESPN.

The more compelling question is… Why is the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN? Better yet, why is the Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open (that’s a bowling tournament, folks) on ESPN? How on Earth is Bassmaster a mainstay on ESPN, while the NHL takes plays recluse on Versus?

Hockey should be on ESPN. Period.

Paradoxically, I happen to enjoy watching the aforementioned events, but that’s beside the point.

It’s hard to say exactly where the NHL fits in the League Hierarchy, but it can’t be lower than the Professional Bull Riders (another ESPN favorite), can it? I don’t even know how you would qualify which leagues are more ESPN-worthy, but I think it looks something like this:

  1. NFLThe King
  2. MLBAmerica’s Pastime
  3. NBACould jump MLB with all the young, marketable stars
  4. NASCARI will never understand this, but it makes loads of money
  5. PGAShould be in the top-5 as long as Tiger is around
  6. NHLEx-member of the Big Four, but is slowly turning itself around
  7. X-GamesESPN’s own. Hard to argue with its ESPN-worth
  8. Premier League soccerStill probably more popular than America’s league
  9. MLSPromises to resonate with Americans, but I doubt the numbers agree
  10. PBASadly, bowling is entrenched in ESPN culture

Both the lacrosse leagues (NLL, MLL) deserve to be somewhere on that list, but I don’t know which is more popular. I would also probably find a place for the WNBA, but they are folding. However you see it, it’s hard to argue with the top six on that list. Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home, the TWA – Turtle Wrestling Association – would be No. 14. (Keep reading…)

Colorado center Paul Stastny

Colorado center Paul Stastny

And now, with young superstars Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and even Colorado’s Paul Stastny, the NHL is gaining some marketing momentum – but still no ESPN love.

According to ESPN spokesperson John Krulewitz, there are no immediate plans to bring the NHL to ESPN. More and more sportswriters are at least discussing the possibility, though, which is somewhat encouraging.

Even NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly understands what ESPN could do for the NHL. At the Sports Lawyers Association on May 16, Kelly spoke candidly about the difference in exposure between Versus and ESPN.

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly

“It is not ESPN,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t have a sports highlight show. It doesn’t have a lot of properties people want to tune in to, unless you are a hunter or a fisherman or you like turtle wrestling.”

Ultimately, I think the NHL gets back on ESPN at some point. It has to, right? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the WNBA gets more exposure than the NHL. Hockey is more HDTV-friendly, has incredibly loyal fans and boasts the second-most compelling rivalry (Ovechkin v. Crosby) in sports.

This just seems like such a no-brainer. So I ask you again…

Why isn’t the NHL on ESPN?