The WNBPA announced the "formation of a board of advocates, which brings together leaders in business, politics, sports and entertainment," according to Ava Wallace of the WASHINGTON POST. The union, which currently is in CBA negotiations with the league, created the 14-member board to "serve as a resource for players during the negotiation period and beyond." The board will "focus on three major issues: general advocacy; marketing and group licensing; and player activism and philanthropy, per the group's mission statement." Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Basketball HOFer Alex English and former NBAer Jerry Stackhouse will "serve on the board." All members of the board, "none of whom are paid," were "selected with the input of the WNBPA's executive council." The board has not yet "decided on a specific schedule of meetings, or even if regular group meetings will occur." Partnering with names like Abrams and actress Kathy Ireland "helps give voice to a group of players who may not be as well known in realms of politics or entertainment" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/30).
WNBPA BOARD OF ADVOCATES
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
Level Forward co-Founder & CEO Adrienne Becker
NYU Adjunct Professor David Cooper
Basketball HOFer Alex English
Thirty Five Ventures GM Sarah Flynn
ABC's Sunny Hostin
Kathy Ireland Worldwide Chair, CEO & Chief Designer and former model Kathy Ireland
Turn 2 Foundation President and Jeter Ventures VP/Strategy & Development Sharlee Jeter
Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Former Girls Inc. President & CEO Joyce Roche
Former NBAer and Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse
Edelman PR Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer & VP Trisch Smith
Deloitte Greater Washington Area Managing Principal Tamika Tremaglio
The NFL and Roc Nation have announced their first two projects together: "Inspire Change," an apparel line out later this year, and "Songs of the Season," a music project that will showcase artists and integrate their music into NFL promotions. Meek Mill, Meghan Trainor and Rapsody are the first artists up in the SOTS project. They will perform Thursday in Chicago's Grant Park ahead of the Packers-Bears kickoff game. Mill left jail in '18 after Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Fanatics Founder & Exec Chair Michael Rubin and Jay-Z advocated for his release. Proceeds of both projects will go to “support organizations committed to the key priorities of Inspire Change,” the league said: education and economic empowerment, police and community relations and criminal justice reform. The Inspire Change apparel line will be available later in the '19 season. The NFL and Roc Nation first announced their partnership on Aug. 13.
More than 1 million people attended an NFL training camp event this summer, league Senior VP/Club Business Development Bobby Gallo said. There are no prior year comparisons available, so it is impossible to tell whether that number has grown. But it marks the first time the league has attempted to measure total camp attendance, and it would not have even been possible until recently, Gallo said. Five years ago, just nine clubs required tickets or registration for camp events; now, all 32 do. The commercialization of training camp is handled at the club level, and the league has not issued any rules or guidelines, Gallo said. But clubs have rapidly gained an appreciation for the value that can be generated by giving more fans more ways to connect with the team. “The football side is conducting business the way they need to conduct business. But from the business side, these are way more than training camp practices,” Gallo said. “These are really viable touch points for fans to experience the game in a different way." Not all of the events directly generate revenue. But with every team now requiring registrations, the events generate useful data on fans, many of whom are not season ticket holders during the season.
SHARING CAMP HIGHLIGHTS: Gallo’s club business development division has been sharing best practices from training camp. In a recent newsletter to clubs, the division shared mini-case studies from around the league’s camps. That includes the Titans’ “Kickoff Party” presented by Pinnacle, built around an intra-squad scrimmage at Nissan Stadium; the Colts’ use of a text-to-chat function that brought tailored messages to fans attending camp at Grand Park; an Alzheimer’s Awareness Day in Denver and a Special Olympics event that coincided with a Buccaneers camp day.
Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said one difference between the NBA and NFL is that the football league sells the league itself, while the NBA "sells its players." He said, "The NFL markets the NFL. The NBA markets its players, and players drive who we are." The NFL's "core problem" is that fans "couldn’t identify 90%" of the league's players by looking at them. Cuban: "On the Dallas Cowboys, you could name Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott and probably recognize them if you saw them, but the other 51 guys on the roster, you probably wouldn’t recognize them if you saw them. Unlike the NBA, where between NBA 2K and social media, you recognize typically 15 guys on the roster." However, he added that is the "design of the NFL because that gives them more leverage." NFL players "don’t make nearly as much off the field -- other than the quarterback and one skill position player -- as NBA players do because they just don’t have the brand or visibility." That gives the league "a lot more negotiating power," but it is "something that the NFL should be helping its players with more" (“Kanell and Bell,” CBS Sports Radio, 8/28).
SAME OLD STORY: ESPN’s Jalen Rose noted Cuban's sentiment has been talked about "for the last 15 years." Rose: "Look no further than the logos. In the NBA, it’s a player, Jerry West. In the NFL, it’s a shield, and they always talk about making the shield great, not necessarily what’s going to happen for the individuals." ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, "I understand why the NFL players would want to be marketed more and that sort of thing, but there’s an old expression; if it ain't broke, don't fix it." He added the NFL is "doing just fine doing things the way they are." ESPN’s Bobby Carpenter: "You have to be captivating new and younger fans and this is the way fans connect to their sports; through individuals, and they will follow them from team to team." He said another issue is NBA players "play for 10, 15, 20 years," but the only NFL players that do that are quarterbacks "because the average life span of a player is three to five years" (“Get Up,” ESPN, 8/29).