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Volume 22 No. 12
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Vision for 2019: Risks, rewards and education

This time of year always makes me nostalgic about things that have happened and disappointed in things that didn’t happen, yet optimistic about things that could happen. This list would be a great start to my vision of what 2019 could be.

That the CFP watches “The Greatest Showman” and understands Barnum’s genius when it comes to using curiosity and skepticism to attract attention and interest. EXPAND and let the football field answer the skeptics and reward the curious with how UCF actually competed against Alabama and why a two-loss Georgia team really deserved to be in the final mix. 

A healthy recovery and long life for Urban Meyer the person, not Urban Meyer the coach, beginning with a restful 2019 without any issues of self-inflicted pressures. 

I have grown weary of Paul Finebaum’s incessant and unrelenting defense of the SEC. Spend a glorious football Saturday out of the SEC. Notre Dame vs. Michigan, Oklahoma vs. Texas, and a host of other possibilities come to mind as possibilities to expand Mr. Finebaum’s world view as it relates to non-SEC football.

A fan base for the Chargers worthy of the team and the start of a great intercity rivalry. The Chargers are a very interesting business story. They have struggled to fill the StubHub Center despite being a high-performing team, and as they begin selling their seat licenses for the new venue, they appear to be a bargain hunter’s dream. I would like to see them become a viable tenant with an avid fan base prior to moving into the L.A. Mega Stadium with their landlord, the Rams.

Another March Madness miracle and story like Sister Jean and Loyola. Unlike the CFP, David is always welcome to play with Goliath in basketball. In fact, David is welcomed by everyone except when he “busts your bracket.” The David factor is a key ingredient in the continued existence of the NCAA. Without it, it would be a power five-only basketball tournament, and where’s the fun in that?

A great outcome for the Fox RSNs that keeps them viable and accessible. Being a regular viewer of both my Florida options, I am hoping that a realistic alternative is found to keep this programming affordable and available. Amazon, Netflix and a variety of non-traditional broadcast options are the basis of speculation, but what about an RSN owned by multiple teams working together to produce content, sell space and share revenue? It isn’t that farfetched.

More movies like “Green Book” that explain our history while at the same time offering hope for healing and our future. As I focus on sport and entertainment, I wanted to share what I feel is a great story with Oscar-caliber performances that leaves the audience feeling positive and even uplifted in this current partisan, divisive climate.

The Cleveland Indians adopting the nickname Tribe — a name not rooted solely in Native American culture — but in fact dating back to biblical times. In pop culture terminology we discuss the importance of everyone finding his or her own tribe and in Cleveland this could be the outcome. Obviously I would eliminate the Wahoo logo, but with all of the creativity in the world today and evident in MiLB logos, we can do better. And since it is my list, maybe such activity could influence that team in the nation’s capital with the most offensive nickname.

A realistic educational training policy aimed at reducing violence against women (and violence in general) and a disciplinary policy that not only makes sense but also is a real deterrent. The NFL has the opportunity here to make a real statement, one that could make us feel better in lieu of the way the Ray Rice situation was handled and even more recently the signing of Reuben Foster. The punishment needs to fit the crime, no matter how talented the offender might be on the field.

Continued growth and acceptance of esports or competitive gaming as a viable activity at the collegiate and professional levels. The Big East has partnered with Riot Games for a Big East League of Legends Championship, a move that will be repeated by other college conferences throughout the U.S. Academic programs are growing as are club and intramural offerings. Can varsity competition by scholarship athletes (currently in existence and growing) playing for national championships be far behind? As student athletic fees are an essential part of athletic department budgets, this would seem to be the natural evolution. The only impediment would be amateurism, certification and governance. This will become a major story in 2019 and beyond.

The rise of recreational betting will be coming to a venue near you. By recreational betting I mean the type of betting by individuals without research just betting on something they find interesting and something that makes them more interested in the game they are watching/attending. For example, going to an Oklahoma City Thunder game and betting Russ will get a triple-double or that he will score the first basket, or the number of minutes before the first assist. Granted, these particular bets could be researched, but then there is the person who will bet on the Celtics because he or she is Irish. I think this type of betting is going to be much larger than expected and I sincerely hope that like state lotteries we can find a way to allocate some of the funds for the common good. 

Books: “The Attention Merchants,” “Everybody Lies” and “Selling the Hug Your Customers Way” are insightful reads that can have an immediate impact on the strategic planning and business initiatives of any business organization. Hoping everyone has read or plans to read them. I know my students in the Vinik program at USF will be reading them this year.

Here’s hoping that 2019 is a banner year for people everywhere and that it brings us closer together.

Bill Sutton ( is the founding director of the sport and entertainment business management MBA at the University of South Florida and principal of Bill Sutton & Associates. Follow him on Twitter @Sutton_ImpactU.