SBJ: The 2015 class of Forty Under 40 SBD: Nike Signs Mariota To Endorsement Deal SBJ: Levi’s Stadium numbers don’t lie SBG: Man City Waits On Outcome Of FFP Case SBJ: Gambling a key topic at All-Star SBG: Theo Walcott Leaves Nike For Adidas SBD: MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith Out SBJ: Concessionaires go deep with analytics SBD: MLB Considers Partial MLBAM Spin-Off SBG: Chelsea Signs $308M Deal With Yokohama
September 16, 2014 01:11 PM
The opportunity to present their sports and stories to a digital, millennial age while also focusing on business diversification was a prevalent theme from leaders of women’s sports during a panel at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York. WTA CEO Stacey Allaster led the charge by repeatedly imploring leagues and properties to rethink how they tell their stories and present their game. She said the WTA Tour was on a “journey of sport-entertainment,” combining the sensibilities of those two industries. “As we tell our players, you are athletes, but you are entertainers.,” she said. “We need to do more for fans. We must provide unique experiences to fans and sponsors that fans can’t buy, for us to be able to win.”
State of Women's Sports Properties
Moderator Chris McKendry, ESPN
Stacey Allaster, WTA
Swin Cash, 3-time WNBA champion
Kathy Milthorpe, LPGA
Bonnie Rothenstein, SAP
Laurel Richie, WNBA
BUILDING BRANDS: WNBA player Swin Cash noted how players are far more cognizant of their brand than ever before, and are using that to build interest in sports. “Each player is a brand, each to themselves,” she said. “A lot of us are thinking, ‘How am I growing my brand with the league?' It’s no longer separate. It is more working together with the league, to not only grow the league, but to grow the player’s brand. And we can’t just stay domestic, we have to grow globally.”
At times during the panel, Cash also expressed frustration with the media’s coverage of women’s sports. “We have to start holding accountable the people who are telling our story,” she said “We have this multitude of personalities, but if the public is not told the story, all you hear about is basketball. We, as players, and a league, have to do better talking to media. But the media needs to start telling better stories, better messages.” WNBA President Laurel Richie agreed, “Our players are very accessible before the game, after the game and in the community, and that makes a huge difference for us. Fans want to talk to our players, so they have been very generous giving fans a peak into their lives beyond the court, and that’s what makes them interesting. It humanizes our players and gives young girls many touch points to dream big.”
LPGA CFO Kathy Milthorpe noted the opportunities, as well as the challenges, of telling stories through digital media. “It’s not easy,” she admitted, “because as soon as you think of something, you probably are already out of date and need to try something new. So we are focused on social media, to connect fans to the players’ personalities and to their lives off the course. We are doing a lot on the tournament side for social media hangouts, to connect with people who are not at the course. Social media is interesting because it’s a blank piece of paper and you can do it with limited resources.”
SOCIAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: Cash acknowledged that she’s in contract talks with a potential sponsor, and “they want to know how many Twitters followers I have and Facebook friends, and how I’m using Instragram. That’s where it’s at with players these days. As I tell players: You are the CEO of ‘me.’ That’s how businesses are looking at you as players. Now we can sit at the table with our organization and it’s not just about the game, but about corporate level, a community level, and those are the game changers.”
Cash touted a program she did with American Express that featured a two-minute video about her life off the court. “It showed where I’m over-packing my bag and figuring out how to put 70 pounds into a 50-pound bag,” she said. “Personal things like that, and that feedback on social media was amazing and people wanted to know about life off the court. As we move forward, we’re starting to drive these stories that fans can’t see on national television, but we can show on our own platforms and channels.”
Richie concurred: “The great part about that is, the cost of that effort is very minimal. I think back to my advertising days, and to think what we used to spend on a commercial is crazy to me now. Because now you’re able to effectively, affordably produce great content, leverage the players and their great stories and get this out quickly, and that form of production works on so many levels for us. It really shows what’s beautiful about the game.”
DRIVE TO DIVERSIFY: As the panel concluded, Allaster made a strong call to the audience and the industry. “Revenue is the oxygen which drives our business,” she said, “so we’ve worked on diversifying our revenue.” She noted the WTA’s new sponsorship deal with SAP, and said “they are helping us transfer the WTA to a true sport-entertainment enterprise using big data and engaging the fan.” She stressed how critical it is that businesses look at diversifying revenue streams, and pointed to the WTA Tour’s new event in Singapore, which will be held for the first time next month, as an example. “Thirty five percent of our net operating revenue now comes from one source – Singapore,” she said. “You have to transform. We need sponsors, yes. We need television, yes. Those need to grow and they are growing. But the reality is, to grow, we need new diverse revenue streams, and that’s where new events come in. We are thinking ahead, asking, Wouldn’t it be great to have another major asset that we could own?”
Allaster added, with a call to growing attention to and exposure of women’s sports: “We need leadership. We need companies like SAP to say we’ll invest in our sport. We need media leadership, like ESPN, that won’t just talk about it, but will do something. That’s what we need. We need people to dedicate themselves day in and day out. It’s time for people to invest time, energy and money to women’s sports.”
September 16, 2014 11:11 AM
September 16, 2014 10:47 AM
The storylines of domestic violence in the NFL led the discussion during the opening panel of today’s Game Changers Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. “It is the most controversial story we’ve ever seen in U.S. sports, potentially the biggest story in U.S. sports,” said panel moderator Christine Brennan, columnist/commentator for USA Today/ABC News, PBS and NPR.
The Executive POV
Christine Brennan, USA Today/ABC News
Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys
Kathy Carter, Soccer United Marketing
Janet Marie Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mary Wittenberg, NY Road Runners
The panel was titled “The Executive POV: Examining the Intersection of Women and Sports.” In addition to Anderson, panelists were Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing; Janet Marie Smith, senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers/Dodger Stadium; and Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners.
Carter: “We in sports have a responsibility, an obligation, but more importantly an opportunity to use sport as an agent of positive change and to be the conduit for conversation.”
Smith: “This takes an issue that’s been in the closet for decades and puts it [in the public eye]. Let’s talk about this. Let’s empower our women.”
Wittenberg: “Make this the opportunity. If you’re the commissioner, you’re saying ‘Let’s get through this so we can be a huge force in … hopefully changing the state of domestic violence today.’ The NFL has a platform to do it.”
Among other topics covered during the panel:
On the influence of Title IX:
Carter: “The sheer volume of women that are a part of the conversation, whether it’s in sports, politics or in business is it’s totality.”
Wittenberg: “Women are finding their voice as athletes. Participatory sports are helping women who can identify as athletes later in life.”
On marketing to women:
Anderson: “Women are the gatekeepers to the family. They’re the ones making the buying decisions [and] are deciding what sports their child will play. As we progress as a society, unfortunately, fewer times are we gathering around the table to eat dinner. But we are gathering around to watch sports, and it is a unifying element and women are leading the charge there.”
Carter, anticipating sponsor activation for next year’s Women’s World Cup on the heels of this year’s World Cup: “It’s more about a family environment than just watching the game. What better way for a father to communicate with a daughter than through sports?”
On fans, including women, wearing Rice jerseys at last Thursday’s Ravens game:
Brennan: “It’s troubling. It’s kind of mindboggling, isn’t it?”
Smith, noting those fans didn’t take part in the Ravens’ proactive effort to offer a jersey exchange program: “I don’t know what you do about individual stupidity.”
On the best way for young people to break into the industry
Carter: “Don’t be afraid to use any avenue, contact or relationship that you have. … Once you get in, it’s all on you.”
Wittenberg, encouraging diverse experiences: “Moving every few years … gets you the experience that these leagues and businesses want.”
Anderson: “Start early. High school internships — anything you can do to get your foot in the door is significant.”
Smith, considering sports-management programs vs. nontraditional backgrounds: “There’s something one brings to the sport when you have other expertise.”
September 15, 2014 03:30 PM
ESPN The Magazine’s Don Van Natta Jr., on Roger Goodell: “He says, ‘You've got to protect the shield.’ Everything he does is to protect the shield. The question is whether his behavior in this particular investigation has actually tarnished the shield” (“OTL,” ESPN2, 9/14). HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, on Goodell’s job security: “There's no evidence to suggest that his job is on the line. His fate is controlled by billionaires who care most about him making them money. Not whether he lied or not, not how he bungled this or not” (“Meet the Press,” NBC, 9/14). ESPN’s Adam Schefter: “The public at-large is squarely against Roger Goodell. The public has lost faith in him, his credibility has taken a hit then and they don't believe that he's fit to serve in that role as many polls indicate” (“SportsCenter,” 9/14). Fox’ Mike Pereira, on Goodell's future: “I think it depends really (on) what did he see. If he saw it, he lied, he's gone. That pretty simple” (“Fox NFL Kickoff,” FS1, 9/14). ESPN’s Cris Carter: “Goodell, a husband, the son of a senator and has got two twin daughters. If he looked at that tape and gave Ray Rice two games, that’s a crime in itself” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/14). Fox’ Pam Oliver, on the NFL: “I am shocked really, not just at the video, but the league's response to it. The commissioner makes very few missteps, but on this, he has made tons of missteps” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/14).
PRESSURE RISING: N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica said, “They have to throw out whatever rules of conduct they have and whatever series of penalties they have in this sport and they've got to start all over again” (“The Sports Reporters, ESPN2, 9/14). U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said of the NFL, “This Ray Rice incident could really be a turning point because this exception where we have a video -- mostly this crime occurs behind closed doors surrounded by stigma, shame, secrecy -- which could be a real opportunity that we need to seize from Congress and from the NFL to do more” (“This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” ABC, 9/14). ESPN’s Suzy Kolber: “Think of the NFL muscle and what the NFL was able to do with changing the way it's played physically. … How about if we change the mentality? Go back to as kids, little boys need to learn how to treat women and that’s where it has to start and the NFL has the power to do that. Instead of growing better players, let’s grow better people" (“NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/14). Wayne King, Senior Advisor to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), said, “I can't imagine why government intervention always needs to be on the forefront. This should be handled in the private sector the same way as it is in the public sector and that's what we as people should demand" ("Flashpoint," WCNBC-NBC, 9/14). MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski asked of NFL sponsors, "Where are they on this because we're sitting here condemning the NFL, rightfully so, for their stupidity, bone headedness and stone deafness? … But these sponsors are in the same boat" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 9/15).
FINDING BLAME: NBC’s Bob Costas, on the Panthers deactivating DE Greg Hardy: “It's hard to believe that all of a sudden they had some sort of moral epiphany. Obviously, they finally bent to overwhelming public pressure because there was no defending what they were doing" (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/14). NFL Network’s Michael Silver: “People are starting to understand that this is a massive branding issue that we have as a community. … If you go back to the early days of Roger Goodell's commissionership, when he basically said, ‘I'm going to protect the shield, whether due process applies or not.’ I think now the entire league is in a siege mentality when it comes to that and I'm proud of the Carolina Panthers for recognizing the new reality” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 9/14). FS1’s Mike Hill said of the Vikings deactivating RB Adrian Peterson, “I know he’s their best player, but it's just a football game. I think maybe the NFL and teams around the league should look into doing that when it comes to their players” (“America’s Pregame,” FS1, 9/14). ESPN’s Mike Ditka: “We can go around and we can spin this stuff any way you want to spin it, but it's nobody's fault but the individual's fault” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 9/15).
September 15, 2014 03:06 PM
Jenn Sterger, who cooperated with an NFL investigation into whether former quarterback Brett Favre sent her unwanted, sexually explicit texts while she was a New York Jets employee, said the NFL needs to change its procedures for investigating alleged misconduct against women.
Sterger, pictued here during a 2011 interview, said last week she did not meet with a single woman during the NFL's investigation of Brett Favre in 2010.
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
The NFL today sent a memo to league and club officials announcing it had retained three women as advisers to help the league develop policies and practices on domestic violence and related issues.
Sterger agreed to a brief interview last week on the subject of how the NFL conducts investigations, in the wake of controversy surrounding the Ray Rice case.
She said that when the NFL was investigating allegations that Favre behaved inappropriately in 2010, they asked her and her attorney to produce multiple text messages, including those that did not involve Favre, and that she complied with the request.
“They demanded I turn over all of my personal texts,” Sterger said. “Every text message I ever sent during 2008, they got ahold of. They demanded it from me. They wanted my entire life.”
Told of Sterger’s comments, Greg Aiello, NFL senior vice president of communications, did not comment, but emailed SportsBusiness Journal the Dec. 29, 2010, NFL news release that announced the results of the Favre-Sterger investigation.
The NFL launched that investigation in 2010, after Deadspin.com published photos and voicemails allegedly from Favre to Sterger when they were both employees of the Jets in 2008. The NFL investigation was to determine whether Favre had violated league policies regarding conduct in the workplace.
The NFL found that Favre “was not candid” during the investigation and fined him $50,000 for “his failure to cooperate with the investigation in a forthcoming manner,” but found there was no violation of league policy.
Sterger said that during 2010 she and her attorney met with many NFL investigators and attorneys, all men.
“I did not speak to a single woman during the entire investigation,” she said.
“The fact I had to sit there and have extremely invasive and personal conversations with these older men, who could have been my grandfather, was violating in itself,” Sterger said. “There was not a single female for me there.”
Additionally, Sterger said she and her attorney met directly with Goodell, who was accompanied by several attorneys. “I felt outnumbered. And I just felt he was just going to do what was best for business.”
Sterger took several weeks after the launch of the NFL’s investigation before agreeing to cooperate with it.
“In the NFL’s actual investigation of Brett Favre’s inappropriate behavior towards me, I was treated like I was the guilty party from day one,” Sterger said. “And that is why I took so long to meet with the investigators. Because they treated me like I did something wrong.”
September 15, 2014 01:22 PM
Jay Monahan spent much of last week at the Tour Championship in Atlanta celebrating the end of the season with the PGA Tour’s marketing partners. But Monahan broke away for about 30 minutes to talk to SportsBusiness Journal in his first extended interview since becoming the tour’s deputy commissioner on April 1. He’s sharp, thoughtful and intensely focused on his job as deputy commissioner, and he’s adamant that he’s not thinking ahead to what might be when Commissioner Tim Finchem eventually retires.
We met in the upstairs card room at East Lake Golf Club, site of the Tour Championship. You don’t just stumble upon the card room — it’s tucked in the back of the men’s locker room. On the walls are a dozen framed black and white photos of Bobby Jones, many of them featuring Jones and his father. Monahan, an avid and accomplished golfer, removed his jacket and walked around the room looking at the photos before sitting down.
Much of what Monahan talked about is in this week’s SBJ. But there’s more, including his thoughts of the tour’s globalization and his experience as a former tournament director. Here are some excerpts:
■ Monahan on breaking down how his time is spent as deputy commissioner: “Players. Our people. Partners. Our product. We’re a membership organization, so understanding how our players think and getting a well-rounded perspective on that is something I’ll always be working on.”
■ On signing off some emails with “Keep attacking”: “I do think that’s a good way at looking at life, to get the most out of every conversation, get the most out of every situation. Whether that’s me personally or the people sitting on the other side of the table, I just think that’s a good way to approach situations. … It’s just something I heard. I can’t attribute it to any person or something I read, I just thought it was appropriate. It fit. It started with me thinking along those lines, and then using it more regularly in conversations. I’ve internalized it more than I have in the past, but I try to wake up every day and live my life that way.”
■ On his experience as a tournament director at the Deutsche Bank Championship and later The Players Championship: “Our ultimate product is our tournaments. Understanding the perspective of the host organizations, how they’re structured, how important they are to their community, I think I have a pretty good perspective on that. But I wouldn’t say I’m unique in that regard. We, as an organization, have put a tremendous amount of energy on our tournament business. It’s a huge priority for us, how we support the tournaments and the host organizations.”
■ On the tour’s players: “I see it every week — our athletes connect with our fans at the course, and away, as effectively as possible.”
■ On being deputy commissioner, a job that hasn’t existed for 20 years: “It’s evolving. Any job evolves. The role has a short-term function and it has a long-term function. Its short-term function is executing the business and longer term it’s understanding and having a better perspective on the business. You go from short term to long term several times on a daily basis.
■ On the tour’s international initiatives: “We have a very strong global presence; we’re a global sport. Our international TV distribution is approaching almost 1 billion households in 225 countries. Close to 45 percent of our traffic digitally is coming from the international marketplace. Twenty-five percent to a third of our membership comes from international. We’re pleased with where we are and it’s a clear focus for us going forward.”
■ Do you get a lot of questions about potentially being the tour’s next commissioner? “No, not a lot of questions. I get lot of questions about the job I have.”
■ On his golf game: “I work at my game, it’s something I love to do, and like most people I have a strong desire to get better. Being in the industry, I need to put the effort in to get better. Over the last 18 months, I’ve gotten back to taking lessons at the tour academy and I’m playing more golf with clients and friends.”
September 15, 2014 09:00 AM
Among the comments:
■ "Lying about it, that would be a different story. But no one who knows Roger (Goodell), no one close to the situation, seems to remotely think that's a possibility. So with that said, it does appear he's quite secure."
■ "What's interesting is, all the attention is on the NFL. It's not on the judge who saw the tape and gave Rice the light sentence. It's not on the prosecutor. Very little has been on the Ravens, very little has been on the police authorities, who actually arrested the fiance for apparently getting knocked out. It's all been on Roger and it's all been on the league office."
■ "Roger should not have been speaking to the victim like this in front of the victimizer. It was a huge mistake. … Roger clearly mishandled it. But in terms of was he lying about knowing Rice had hit her, I don't think there was any question after that first video that he had hit her. I don't think that was the ambiguity that Roger was referring to."
■ "Roger was very poorly served. … Does Roger need different advisers? Does he need somebody new in that office, a fresh perspective?"
PFT's Mike Florio said of reports that a copy of Ray Rice’s tape was sent to the NFL in April, “If it is true, I don't see how Roger Goodell recovers from this. When you see Greg Aiello’s statement finishing with the sentence, ‘We will look into it,' that underscores the importance of getting an outside investigator to explore this issue from top to bottom of the Ravens organization and the league office to find out who knew what." Florio said of NFL’s leadership, “It's going to be very difficult to recover from this if that report is true. I think already at a minimum we're going to see people high up in the organization quietly leave for other employment after the season ends."
*SI's Peter King: “If it does turn out to be true, I do think that Roger Goodell may be in jeopardy of keeping his job."
*Former NFLer Hines Ward: “If this is true, I'm going to be embarrassed and ashamed to be affiliated with them" (“Pro Football Talk,” NBCSN, 9/10).
*MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said, "You can't begin to talk about how bad this is for the NFL, how bad Roger Goodell looks, how bad the Ravens look, how bad the entire National Football League looks. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and they are screwing this up like they're a mom-and-pop startup" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 9/11).
*NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "What the NFL has done by appointing an independent investigator is taking the situation out of their hands. This is as transparent as they could possibly be saying, ‘We are going to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take a look at everything and see who knew what.' (Goodell) has told members of his NFL staff to cooperate with Mueller. They are going to make all of their files available with the hope of figuring out exactly who knew what then. The important thing about this is the final report will be made public” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 9/11).
*Radio host Dan Patrick said the "NFL investigating itself (is) the big concern I have" ("Today," NBC, 9/11).
*ESPN’s Mike Greenberg: “The investigation concludes months from now when this has quieted down, this isn't top of everybody's mind, things have calmed to a degree and you can go on sort of business as usual” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/11).
September 10, 2014 03:31 PM
THE DAILY offers a sampling of the myriad reaction to Roger Goodell's interview with Norah O'Donnell:
- ESPN's Keith Olbermann said "assuming only for the sake of argument" the NFL is "not outright lying, it literally did not know who to ask for a copy of the Ray Rice elevator tape." Olbermann: "In addition to the resignation or dismissal" of Goodell, NFL Senior VP/Labor Policy Adolpho Birch and Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash, "it is clear that" NFL Senior VP/Health & Safety & Chief Security Officer Jeff Miller, "who clearly as of this morning had no earthly clue where the tape's been hiding itself … or who could and could not give it to him, must also go." Olbermann: "From the lowest-paid at NFL Security involved in this case, straight up to Commissioner Goodell, their credibility is gone. Permanently" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 9/9).
- N.Y. Times columnist William Rhoden: “The NFL has turned this into a legal problem, a business problem. This is a moral problem and they never saw this through the lens of a moral problem. … They looked at it as a protector of the corporate shields" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 9/10).
- ESPN's Roger Cossack: "There's just no way that I will believe that the NFL couldn't have gotten a hold of that video if they wanted to" (ESPN, 9/9).
- FS1’s Rob Becker: “The NFL is not a mouse. The NFL doesn’t have to be granted an opportunity to do anything. It's a strong organization, as you know, and it’s a hell of a lot stronger than TMZ. TMZ just asked and got it. They asked the hotel and they got the video. Roger Goodell did not explain who he asked, whether it was the resort or the police. He didn't explain whether he knew where the various copies were. There's basically no explanation for why the NFL didn't ask the resort, ‘Please give us the tape'" (“America’s Pregame,” FS1, 9/9).
- ESPN's Louis Riddick said, "My only question is, why did you need to see this video? What were you expecting to see? You knew it was going to be violent, you knew it was going to explosive. This situation should have been handled a long time ago in my estimation" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/9).
- Prior to last night's interview, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "This is the most prolonged and most embarrassing moment of Roger Goodell's career as commissioner and by the way, it shows no sign of letting up at this point" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/9).
- Former Ravens player Ed Reed said of the Ravens organization, “I need everybody to come out because Ray Rice is a family member. I need to see Steve (Bisciotti) and Ozzie (Newsome) out there. I need to see somebody other than just coach (John) Harbaugh to be the guy who kind of takes it” ("Jim Rome on Showtime," Showtime, 9/9).
September 10, 2014 11:33 AM
Among the comments:
■ "I've never seen such concerns about the leadership of the NFL from the mainstream media."
■ "I don't want to say that they have a bunker mentality right now, but they're still trying to figure out their message."
■ "The idea that the commissioner's tenure is in jeopardy is, I think, farfetched. … Realize, he has made the owners a lot of money."
■ "It's sort of a perfect gift. Everything came together for the fans of Buffalo."
■ "Those who suggested the (sales) process was being poorly run, either it's really ugly to watch the sausage being made or they didn't know what they were talking about."