Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo!’

Altered Reality: The Question of the NBA’s Legitimacy

Within a matter of four hours on Wednesday the NBA suffered a potential loss that won’t show up in any box score but could cost the league a lot of money. It’s loss: Integrity.

At 8 p.m., the league held its annual draft lottery to determine which team would get the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. To prevent teams from losing on purpose to secure the top selection, the league instituted a lottery in 1985 to make the choice random. Of the 14 teams that do not make the playoffs, their odds of winning are weighted according to record.

David Stern has come under fire recently with allegations the NBA is “fixed” or “rigged.”

This year the Charlotte Bobcats finished with the worst record in the league at 7-59, and therefore had a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. The Washington Wizards had the second-worst record at 20-46 and therefore had a 19.9 percent chance of winning. The order continues, with each improving record holding a statistically lower chance of winning. This year’s winner was the New Orleans Hornets, who had the fourth-best odds of winning at 13.7 percent.

A stroke of good luck for the Hornets, right? A little too lucky, many say. The Hornets filed for bankruptcy in late 2010, and until April of this year were owned collectively by the NBA until a new owner was found. Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, agreed to buy the team for a reported price of $338 million. The sale has not been finalized, however, meaning the league still technically owns the franchise. Winning the No. 1 pick — expected to be Kentucky star Anthony Davis — makes the Hornets better and a more valuable franchise, and therefore easier to sell. How convenient for the NBA, huh?

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a piece on a refrain that has been sung many times before: The NBA rigged the draft lottery to get the result it wanted. Wojnarowski quotes a number of unnamed league executives who believe the lottery was fixed so that the Hornets would win. Similar conspiracy theories relate to the 1985 lottery being fixed so that the New York Knicks would win (note the bent edge of the envelope that is picked) and the 2008 lottery being fixed so that the Chicago Bulls would win. New York and Chicago are No. 1 and No. 3 respectively in TV markets, so the better these teams are, the better the ratings for the league.

League executives aren’t alone on the conspiracy theory. Ten league players took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the lottery possibly being fixed. In addition, a poll from USA Today found that 83 percent of people think the lottery is fixed or could be fixed. Think about that number, 83 percent. There are perhaps more people who think wrestling is real than think the lottery is void of being rigged.

All of this happened prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, and this game only added fuel to the fire. In Game 1, the C’s were whistled for some very questionable technical fouls, including one that head coach Doc Rivers called the “worst I’ve ever had.” In Game 2 Rajon Rondo put on a show but was on the wrong end of some calls — a loose ball foul that went against him rather than LeBron James — and a no call that did not go his way. Overall through two games, the Celtics have not been beneficiaries of the officials whistles. Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch put together a fantastic Storify of reactions to the game, including the officiating.

First on the technical foul issue: Ira Winderman of Pro Basketball Talk points out how there was no fine for Rivers after he chastised the refs for his Game 1 technical. In the previous playoff round, both Frank Vogel and Erik Spoelstra were fined for comments about the officials. Perhaps Rivers wasn’t penalized because his comments were dead-on.

Next, on the calls going Miami’s way: There is speculation that the NBA would prefer the Heat in the NBA Finals so the attention is once again on James’ quest for a title, and the officiating hasn’t done much to quell this notion.

So there you have it. On one single night, the conspiracy theorists were given heavy artillery on their quest to prove that David Stern and the NBA are playing favorites rather than letting the games be played.

Personally, I’m not on this bandwagon — yet. Still, it’s hard not to look at shoddy officiating from past games (2001 Eastern Conference Finals, 2002 Western Conference Finals, 2006 NBA Finals, 2007 Western Conference Semifinals, 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals) and start to question what you’re seeing.

My point in all of this is that this is a dangerous time for the NBA. When fans begin to question the legitimacy of a sport, you have a major issue. If fans don’t think what they’re seeing is real, they’ll stop watching and tune into something different. The league’s integrity is suddenly a real concern.

So what do you think? Is the NBA in the business of “fixing” to get the results it wants? And how does this affect your level of interest in the league?

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

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I Get By With A Little Help From My (Blogging) Friends

Since starting this blog about sports and money, I’ve learned that good blogging is nothing without good sources. Here are some of my go-to websites for information on the financial side of sports.

My first stop is typically to Darren Rovell’s “Sports Biz” blog on CNBC.com. Rovell is generally regarded as one of the most-trusted sources for information on sports business. I really like his hands-on approach to reporting. He tries very hard to get one-on-one interviews with subjects and is willing to travel anywhere and do anything to bring unique content. Rovell does even better work on his Twitter account, constantly updating his followers at an astounding rate.

Another of my favorites is the Wall Street Journal’s sports section. The WSJ has interesting feature stories, like this one on the history of Harvard’s basketball program, and always has an eye on stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere, such as the battle between the state of New Jersey and the Giants and Jets over a new shopping mall.

Similar to WSJ, Forbes has a sports section dedicated to sports and money. I like Forbes because the stories focus on the economic implications of news items that are grabbing headlines, but explain them in a simple manner. An example is the work they did on Mark Sanchez’s new contract with the Jets.

In terms of in-depth investigation, no site does it better than Sports by Brooks. The stories are mostly based on scandals in sports, such as the Penn State fiasco. What sets Brooks apart is the extraordinary amount of detail he puts into investigations via interviews, and especially in researching court documents.

One website that brings in guest writers who have knowledge of specific subjects is Business of College Sports. Devoted purely to university athletics, the site digs up interesting facts and figures, such as this chart on college basketball revenue and attendance.

These are my main sites for generating content. Others I check out include: Awful Announcing, Boston Sports Media Watch, CBS Sports, ESPN, NBC Sports, Sports Law Blog, Sports Media Journal, Sports Media Watch and Yahoo! Sports.

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.

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.