The implementation of iPad playbooks and video apps is “a trend in the NFL that has started to make the paper playbook a thing of the past,” according to Stephen Whyno of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Redskins TE Chris Cooley said, “What do you think the average age of our team is, 25? They all know how to use iPads.” He added, “It’s way more efficient than having a huge playbook to carry around, it’s way easier to get from play to play. You can search, you can find plays. We can put all our film on the iPad. Guys can watch film wherever they’re at. It’s the new game of football.” Whyno noted at least “29 NFL teams use iPads in some way.” Each player was issued one of the devices “with a case featuring his jersey number, a playbook app and the Hudl video app installed.” DragonFly Athletics Business Dir Chad Brown, whose company supplies playbook apps to several teams said, “The cloud and the iPad working together, we provide access to any coach, to any administrator, to any player, to their internal coaching content anywhere in the world.” Subscription costs per team are “based on factors such as cloud storage space and the number of users.” Another company, Hudl, “does that for 10 NFL teams, including the Redskins, working with a video editing company called XOS Thunder.” Hudl VP/Business Development Matt Mueller said, “(Teams) are really looking for the same things: How do we get away from DVDs or just extra effort from a video staff, and how do we make ourselves more efficient and give our players more access to film in an easier way.” Whyno noted one downside is “the distraction potential.” But the Redskins and other teams “solved that problem by issuing devices with just the playbook and video apps installed.” DragonFly and other companies also worked with teams “to build in multiple layers of protection” against hacking or leaks (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/16).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The NFL and NFLRA Thursday "disputed such issues as full-time employees and adding officiating crews," according to Barry Wilner of the AP. The union in a statement said, "The NFLRA is not opposed to full time officials if they are fairly compensated. While the NFL has never made any compensation proposal, comparable positions in other professional sports at the 20-year level earn approximately $350,000 to $400,000 and are provided health insurance, a pension, time off with pay and numerous other benefits." The union also "disputes the value of the league's current salary offer, which it says would not be a 5 percent to 11 percent increase." Instead, the officials said the proposal "includes aggregate game fee compensation increases of 2.82 percent per year, not the rates publicly claimed by the league." The NFL's proposal "does not contain any salary schedule." Rather it "contains aggregate game fees for all officials to be paid per a schedule to be developed by the NFLRA." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello "countered that officials would receive continuing increases in every category of pay, from game fees to travel and meeting fees, and, depending on how the NFLRA decided to allocate the salary pool, individual officials could expect annual increases of between 5 and 11 percent" (AP, 8/16).
The first effects of NHL labor uncertainty were felt Thursday when the Red Wings cancelled the annual prospects tournament scheduled to be held in Traverse City, Mich. Eight NHL clubs were scheduled to participate in the tournament in early September: the Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Stars, Wild, Rangers and Blues. Red Wings GM Ken Holland said the tournament was cancelled "due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties, including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families." Holland said all eight teams are committed to having the tournament in Sept., 2013 (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).
MONEY MATTERS: The CP's Chris Johnston noted players are "still upset the owners quickly dismissed their initial proposal this week." Canadiens D Chris Campoli said, "The industry's grown a billion dollars since (the lockout) and basically they just want more money. I thought in our proposal we made a step and considerable concession to them." Campoli was one of three NHLers "who took part in Thursday's sub-committee meetings, which covered secondary issues not related to the economic ones that have divided the sides" (CP, 8/16). In N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners "may be coming off as the villains in the eyes of the public in the NHL labor negotiations, but that won't matter to them one bit." Not while they "have the chance to save hundreds of millions of dollars each year." From the start of these talks there "has been no mystery about what Bettman and the owners are after." They "want a deal similar to the one the NFL and NBA owners got" (NYTIMES.com, 8/16). In Minneapolis, Michael Russo wrote a hard cap "remains in the union's counterproposal, but that's about the only thing the league likes." The NHL will "definitely not go with an agreement that reverts back to the current collective bargaining agreement in four years" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 8/16).
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR? In Toronto, Damien Cox writes it is "all looking depressingly familiar." The league "wants the debate to be about the size of the players' take, while the union would prefer the focus to be the way in which NHL clubs share revenues" (TORONTO STAR, 8/17). The CP's Johnston asks, "Where do they go from here?" There is "very little common ground between the proposals each side has put forth and neither seems particularly willing to move off its current position." The "first signs of animosity are beginning to surface" (CP, 8/16). In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon writes, "No matter what new protections the owners gain in the new collective bargaining agreement, you can bet it won’t take them long to circumvent those protections and resume overspending on players." An "underlying cause of the NHL’s instability is Bettman’s wrong-headed commitment to Sun Belt hockey." It was "worth a try, I suppose, but it largely failed" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/17). SPORTSNET's Michael Grange wrote, "Here we go -- how to end CBA negotiations forever in five easy steps. Gary Bettman and Don Fehr "have been cc'ed." Grange lists the following: 1. "Just get to a 50-50 revenue split and be done with it." 2. "Contract two teams; move two others to Canada." 3. "Limit player contracts to four years." 4. "Meaningful revenue sharing, Part I." 5. "Meaningful revenue sharing, Part II" (SPORTSNET.ca, 8/16).
NOT AS BAD, BUT...: CSNBAYAREA.com’s Kevin Kurz said, “It's very likely there will be a lockout in some way, shape or form” in the NHL but “it's not nearly as severe as it was eight years ago.” Kurz said “It’s still going to boil down to percentages right now. Once they get that figured out, I think the other stuff will come along. But right now, they're not very close and NHL fans should be worried" (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 8/16).”
EUROPEAN VACATION: In Toronto, Terry Koshan writes the "idea that players will pack their bags and head for Europe in the event of a lockout is not so cut and dried." The "respective European leagues haven't issued notice that they will loosen their import restrictions and, overall, they might not have an appetite to do so should NHL players come knocking." European clubs "wouldn't be amenable to the idea that players up and leave when a potential NHL work stoppage ends" (TORONTO SUN, 8/17).
Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said that track and field “may attract more media and sponsor interest in non-Olympic years if it ‘repackaged’ itself in the manner of the $1 billion Indian Premier League Twenty20 series, which lifted cricket’s shortest format into the mainstream,” according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Denson said, “I would love to see track and field come back on a more consistent regular basis. It would certainly be good for our business and I think there are a lot of people who’d be very interested. It’s a very compelling product to watch if done properly.” He cited IPL “as an example of a sporting makeover that track and field could try to emulate.” The nine-team IPL, which finished its fifth year “in May, takes place over eight weeks and attracts most of the world’s best criketers for matches that last about 3 1/2 hours.” Denson said, “If somebody could come in and do to track and field what the IPL did to cricket in India we would certainly like to be a large part of it” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/16).