SBD/March 26, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cuban Says He Was "Shocked" Recent Comment On NFL Became National Story

Cuban's comments about the NFL imploding have been widely criticized
Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban today said he was "shocked" his recent comment about the future of the NFL "took off the way it did." Cuban, appearing on ESPN Radio's "The Herd" this morning, said, "This was not a press conference or some in-depth analysis I was doing with somebody. We were just shooting the ‘you know what’ with a bunch of reporters and it came up." He called the NFL a "champ" in business, adding, "When you lose some self-awareness and feel you’re infallible and that you’ve gotten to the top of the mountain and you can take it as far as you want, that’s where greed starts to set in. I’m saying there is a risk the NFL could go there. You would think that at some point, ‘I don’t need to press for more profits. I need to make sure that my fans are extremely happy and that I keep my fans rather than go for more’” (“The Herd,” ESPN Radio, 3/26). Cuban added, “I was on the Stairmaster talking to a bunch of reporters, and we started talking about the NFL. I was like, 'Look, if they keep on adding nights, they could implode in the next year because pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.'" Cuban said the NBA needs to continue to "grind" to improve the game. He said, "We’ve got a great product, great fans, we keep on growing. Our bigger challenge relative to the NFL was that we have to schedule our (national TV) games further in advance. You are not necessarily going to get the best matchups. Hopefully, we can modify that with our next TV deal. Instead of worrying about exclusivity on Tuesday night or Thursday night, we can have a bigger schedule and pick the best matchup and put that on TV, and that will make us even stronger" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 3/25).

CAUSING A COMMOTION: Cuban's comment continues to draw reactions throughout the sports world. In Orlando, David Whitley writes Cuban is a "brilliant businessman, but he's wrong about" the NFL. The question "isn't whether the NFL could successfully expand the schedule," but whether "it should." There is "a saturation point for some." It is "doubtful 25 million people would watch" the Raiders play the Bills on a Tuesday night. But the ratings "would still be more than good enough to justify the broadcast." There is "no shame in trying to maximize profits." That is "what business do." It is just that the NFL "is a unique business" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/26). In Denver, Benjamin Hochman writes, "When it comes to the NFL's popularity, I'm sorry, I can't see oversaturation of games or concussions or lawsuits or player arrests or any haunting, looming issues bringing this thing down." There is "nothing more '2014' than NFL football." Ten years "is just too soon for an implosion" (DENVER POST, 3/26). ESPN's Jemele Hill said the NFL is the "nation's addiction, and, if I am an NFL owner, I want you to max out that addiction." ESPN's Bomani Jones said "implosion" is "too strong a word" to use in this situation. However, he added, "When you start talking about pigs and hogs and slaughter, you've got to talk about the greed element, because that's what Cuban was really pointing to. The NFL has had some pretty lofty projections of what they want their revenues to be over the course of the next decade ... and given how much football they sell already, it's hard to imagine that you could get to those revenue projections without having to take some pretty big gambles" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/25). ESPN's Jason Whitlock: "Anything can be ruined, including football, by too much exposure. All sports are suffering from this and the NFL is very, very vulnerable" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/25).
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