Archive for January, 2012

University of Richmond Latest School to Benefit From ‘Flutie Effect’

An interesting news item caught my eye this week regarding the University of Richmond. It seems the 182-year-old institution received a record number of applicants this year, 10,121 to be exact. That’s an extra 660 from last year’s total.

Of course there are any number of reasons why Richmond’s popularity shot up in the past year, but it’s certainly no coincidence that the school’s basketball team making it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament had an impact.

Researchers have given this phenomenon a term: the “Flutie Effect.” It is named in honor of Boston College legend Doug Flutie’s miracle Hail Mary over Miami in 1984. Immediately after BC’s incredible win, application numbers began pouring in.

Some doubt the validity of the “Flutie Effect,” but ESPN’s Dana O’Neil had a great article a few years back on the University of Iowa’s popularity skyrocketing  after the hoops team knocked off perennial No. 1 Kansas that spring. The school came up with a 21-page report on how Ali Farokhmanesh’s game-winning shot changed the school. Some quick numbers: a 1,577 percent increase in sales at the online store, a 268 percent increase in unique visitors to the UNI website that month, and 24,306 Google searches for “Northern Iowa” on the day of the upset.

These schools are hardly alone. Jim Naveau pointed out in a 2007 column just what these upsets can meant to schools. NPR’s Andrea Seabrook held a podcast in 2008 to talk about the effect of March Madness upsets.

With plenty of debate raging about paying college athletes the “Flutie Effect” has taught us that even college sports means big business.

Live Tweeting Offers Positives, Negatives for Covering Events

I gave live tweeting a try for the first time this week when I used Twitter to cover the Northeastern vs. Hofstra men’s basketball game at Matthews Arena on Saturday afternoon. Given my work as an announcer for WRBB radio and as a reporter for The Huntington News I’ve covered quite a few Husky sporting events.

Northeastern's Reggie Spencer at the free throw line.

The challenge was finding a way to incorporate Twitter in a way that would inform my followers who have interest in the game, yet not tweet so often that other followers with no interest would be filled with tweets they won’t read. In many ways I feel this is the biggest challenge for Twitter users: How much tweeting is enough?

I began by sending a tweet at 12:10 p.m. a few minutes into the game to let my followers know I was there and that the game had just begun. Throughout the game I used the hashtags #CAAHoops and #GoNU so that fans of the Colonial Athletic Association (the conference Northeastern and Hofstra are in) and Northeastern fans would know to follow me. For the majority of the game I tweeted every 10 to 15 minutes with updates on how the game was going, as well as posting some pictures of the action. I also made sure to throw in some retweets from other users at the game.

Overall I had 14 tweets related to the game and CAA basketball on Saturday. I felt like that was enough to give insight into the game while not overloading my followers. I noticed I was gaining followers as the game went on, which shows at least some users found my posts useful, which is good. At the same time I found it somewhat difficult to concentrate entirely on the action as I tweeted.

As a first experience using Twitter I thought my experience was generally positive, but I’m new to Twitter so I still have a lot to get used to.

Follow the Leader: Using Twitter to Enhance My Blog

Until Tuesday I was a member of the minority who did not have a Twitter account. For me Twitter was just another social media network that I would have little interest in using or checking. That finally changed when @patrickmchugh89 joined the Twitter universe.

The most popular bird on the Internet

In the interest of gathering more information for my blog, here are some of the people I follow, what they tweet about, and how they help me.

@darrenrovell is the Twitter handle of CNBC’s Darren Rovell, whose popular blog Sports Biz looks at the business aspect of sports, including endorsements, advertisement, ticket sales, contracts, etc. Rovell tweets lots of facts and figures on these topics, and is often in the field covering events to post twitpics as well.

@paulsen_smw is the Twitter handle of the person who writes and runs Sports Media Watch, which examines how sports are being broadcast on television and how many people are watching. The Twitter feed alerts followers when a new article has been posted to the website, but unfortunately doesn’t add much beyond that.

@SPORTSbyBROOKS is the Twitter handle of Brooks, the main writer for Sports by Brooks. The website has a lot to say about sports scandals, especially in college sports. The Twitter feed has a little bit of everything, from quick factoids to updates about new articles being posted, as well as debates with followers over the topics he is covering.

@awfulannouncing is the Twitter handle of Brian Powell, who writes the blog Awful Announcing, which has been “putting announcers on notice since 2006.” As a sports announcer myself I find Powell’s blog entertaining and informative because he pays close attention to who is calling the games and how they’re doing. He conducts a lot of interviews with media personalities, and posts about these and updates to his blog on his Twitter feed.

@bruceallen is the Twitter handle of Bruce Allen, whose blog Boston Sports Media Watch examines how Boston’s local teams are covered in the media. Allen mostly retweets the stories and blog items when they have been posted.

@SBJSBD is the Twitter handle of Sports Business Journal Daily, which covers sports business from a variety of angles. The blog breaks its coverage into subcategories such as Marketing and Sponsorship, Media, People and Pop Culture and Research and Ratings to name a few. The Twitter feed alerts followers when a new item has been posted to the website, which is helpful considering how many subcategories there are.

@SMJournal is the Twitter handle of Keith Thibault, who writes the blog Sports Media Journal about where to find coverage of sports items, as well as critiques this coverage. The Twitter feed alerts when new items have been posted, which is helpful especially for the podcasts.

@Ourand_SBJ is the Twitter handle of John Ourand, who writes for Sports Business Journal. Ourand is one of the better writers on SBJ and gives interesting insight on his Twitter feed, as well as mix in some humor.

@BizCollegeSport is the Twitter handle of BusinessofCollegeSports.com, which looks at financial trends in college sports. The feed posts quick hits on news items and enjoys some fun banter with followers.

@WSJSports is the Twitter handle of Adam Thompson, who writes for the Wall Street Journal’s sports department. Thompson tweets about the latest financial trends in sports, and posts links to his latest blog items.

– Finally, a collection of handle I follow that tweet about sports in general: @ESPN, @ESPNResearch, @NBCSN, @CBSSports and @YahooSports.

Photo (cc) by eldh and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

All Eyes Watching: Why Super Bowl XLVI Will Set Viewership Records

The NFL hit it big this weekend with the Patriots and Giants winning their respective conference championship games to reach Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. League officials would never admit it but this was the match-up they were salivating over.

Why? Well consider the storylines. The Giants seem to have channeled their 2007-08 predecessors, turning what was a mediocre regular season into a late season stampede through the NFC playoffs as an underdog. In that season Big Blue shocked the football world by defeating the league’s only unbeaten team — you guessed it — the New England Patriots, in an unbelievable finish. (Disclaimer: If you’re a Giants fan, proceed to click the link. If you’re a Patriots fan just keep reading, unless you enjoy torture).

Now the Patriots have a shot at redemption (sort of) against the same foe that stripped immortality from them in Super Bowl XLII. Even those who know little about football know of the upset four years ago, and that alone should compel casual fans to watch.

Next, think of the big name players who headline the game, Brady and Manning (no, not that Manning). Tom Brady has long been a superstar of the sport, and Peyton’s little brother has elevated his game to an “ELIte” level. These established names, as well as new ones such as Cruz, Nicks, Gronkowski and Hernandez give the game some sex appeal.

Now throw in the fan bases and markets. The Giants and their mostly New York audience helped set TV ratings for the NFC Championship Game as high as they’d been in 17 years. The Patriots meanwhile have the benefit of the entire New England region to back them, and their run of success in the last decade has kept fans interested.

Of course the Super Bowl would draw big numbers regardless of who was playing in it. In fact last year’s Packers-Steelers Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. A grand total of 111 million people saw Green Bay win its fourth Lombardi Trophy, up from the 106.5 million who saw the Saints derail the Colts the year prior. The trend is all part of football’s dominance of American culture.

All of this will make for a wildly popular Super Sunday, but there’s one final puzzle piece which well put viewership over the top: online streaming. For the first time in Super Bowl history, the NFL and NBC Sports will allow the game to be streamed live on laptops, smart phones and tablets. This will undoubtedly expand viewership totals to new levels, and is why many predict this will be the most-watched Super Bowl ever.

God Save the Rams: NFL Franchise to Play a Game in London For Next Three Years

Could the NFL’s St. Louis Rams soon become the London Rams? The London Lambs perhaps?

Sam Bradford may want to familiarize himself with Wembley Stadium.

Big news dropped today from the league that the Rams will move one home game for the next three years to Wembley Stadium in London.   Next season’s game will be played Oct. 28 between the Rams and the New England Patriots.

The shift across the pond is nothing new. The league’s first regular season game outside the U.S. came in 2005 when the Cardinals and 49ers met in Mexico City, and every year since 2007 two teams have played a game in Wembley.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been keen on expanding the sport internationally, and once even hinted a Super Bowl could be played in London.

What makes this move interesting is that rather than having two teams randomly selected to play overseas, the Rams chose to move games to London with approval from Goodell. Unlike sports like baseball, basketball and hockey, football has a schedule of only 16 games per season, which means each team hosts eight home games. That allows teams only eight games to earn revenue through ticket sales, concession sales, game-day merchandise, parking, etc. Now the Rams, and more specifically the city of St. Louis, only has seven true home games through 2014.

Though the NFL is hugely popular, believe it or not there are some squads struggling through rough financial times, and the Rams are one of those teams. This past season the Rams finished 27th out of 32 teams in attendance, selling out only 86.3 percent of tickets in the Edward Jones Dome. Conversely, nine teams were at or above the 100 percent threshold of stadium capacity this season. The Rams finished 2-14 this season, tied for the worst record in the league with the Colts.

As Mike Sando of ESPN astutely points out, the fact that next season’s London game will feature the Patriots is a major blow to St. Louis. Though the Rams are struggling in attendance, the attraction of having Tom Brady and one of the league’s most exciting and successful teams would likely help boost ticket sales for the game. Now that the game is in London, however, St. Louis loses out on this possible revenue.

The news just dropped this morning so there will likely be reaction from across the league, but there are lots of things to consider: Could the Rams be relocating to London? I say probably not, but if the games draw huge fans like they have in the past then it would only add fuel to the fire. Could the Rams be relocating elsewhere (read: Los Angeles)? Very good chance of this I believe. It’s no secret the NFL would like to re-establish itself in L.A. Ironically, the last team in Tinseltown was the Rams, who moved out in 1995 at the same time the Raiders moved from L.A. to Oakland. In August, the city of Los Angeles unanimously approved a plan to build a $1.2-billion stadium.

The Rams will have a chance to leave St. Louis after their current lease with the Edward Jones Dome runs out in 2014. Don’t be shocked if the Rams, like Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” set off on a journey toward a new destination.

Photo (cc) by Dave Herholz and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

The Payroll: Good Sources of Information on Money and Sports

As every good journalist knows you can’t make it in the business without good sources. To help me in my quest for anything and everything related to the business of sports, here are some websites I will be following, and you should too:

Darren Rovell speaking to some Rays fans. Safe to say Darren has a larger audience on his blog.

The gold standard is Darren Rovell’s Sports Biz blog on CNBC. What makes Sports Biz the best is that it’s the perfect blend of sports and money. Rovell is a sports enthusiast at his core and does a lot of cool field work, including running the NYC Marathon, challenging Dwyane Wade to some hoops, and co-piloting with NASCAR racers among other adventures. Match that with CNBC’s financial acumen and Rovell becomes the go-to person in terms of trends, endorsement deals, contract signings and a host of other topics. For those of you who love the Twitter machine, you can follow him here.

Advertisers always want to know who is watching what, and Sports Media Watch does a great job breaking this down. SMW studies which games or shows received the highest TV ratings and gives its take on these trends. For instance, the watchmen found the Patriots-Broncos playoff game scored surprisingly lower than CBS execs predicted. How could Tom Brady and Tim Tebow not equal ratings galore? SMW points out that Saturday night is when people like to go out, so putting the game on Sunday likely would have drawn more viewers. Check out the Twitter page for more goodies as well.

Sports by Brooks gives some interesting insight into sports business, focusing mostly on scandals in the games we love. Not surprisingly, the Penn State fiasco has taken over the site in the last month. Follow the Twitter birdie here.

Since the advent of ESPN (I’ll get to them in a bit) the personalities who cover sports have become nearly as famous as the athletes themselves. Awful Announcing is a site that puts these personalities under the microscope and looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry. Twitter handle here.

Similar to Awful Announcing, Boston Sports Media Watch is one of my favorites on a local level. The site looks at how the local teams (Pats, B’s, C’s, Sox) are covered, who is covering them, and includes links to local newspaper, radio and TV websites. Consider it sports business on a micro level. Author Bruce Allen is on Twitter here.

One blog I find strikingly similar to what I plan to look at is the blog Money Players by Marc Isenberg. The blog’s tagline: “The Money. The Players. The business of professional sports, from high school to college to the pros.” I stumbled upon this site only recently, but it looks like it should provide some topics to brainstorm on.

Finally in terms of straight sports coverage I’ll check out ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports among others. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network has taken some flak recently for going too heavy on the entertainment on going too lightly on the sports. This is certainly true, but it still remains the “Worldwide Leader” for a reason.

Photo (cc) by Fifth World Art and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

From the Gridiron to the Diamond, It’s All About the Money

In its purest form sports is all about competition, just athletes performing against the clock or one another in a test of athletic prowess. But even the sports world cannot escape the clutches of business influence, advertising, sales, marketing and promotion. In other words, even sports comes down to the money.

Don’t think this is true? Here’s a question for you: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time? Michael Jordan, right? The highlights don’t lie, Jordan could fly. Seeking to capitalize on MJ’s incredible talent, companies such as Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties and a host of others used him as their poster boy to sell products. Jordan’s presence in these ads enhanced his image not only as a celebrity, but may have made him seem like an even better player than he already was. Check out Douglas Kellner’s take on the “spectacle” of Jordan and then pretend if you never saw a Jordan ad. Still think he’s the best baller? You might, but it definitely makes you think harder.

The influence of money is obviously ingrained in professional sports, but don’t think amateur athletes don’t get caught in the web as well. The enormous popularity of college football and college basketball has allowed schools to make huge sums of money off their 18 to 22-year-old players, who receive scholarships but don’t get a piece of the pie. Just last year, the NCAA granted a $2,000 stipend to players, a proposal that is already being reworked. Considering the tenuous system of college athletics, Charlie Pierce believes compensation is just the first step in an entire reconstruction of the college athletic model.

These are just of the examples of business and the bottom line’s influence on sports. Through this blog I hope to explore some of the major topics at hand in sports that have major money consequences. CNBC’s Darren Rovel does great work studying this through his Sports Biz blog, as well as sites such as Sports By Brooks, Sports Media Watch and others. My hope is that this blog will spark discussion of not just X’s and O’s, but expenses and cash flows.