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Archive for May, 2010

Have NBA officials lost their credibility?

May 28, 2010 1 comment

Ever since the Tim Donaghy scandal from a few years back, the NBA has had to deal with countless questions and criticisms related to the credibility of their officials. Now, watching the current NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Magic, all kinds of negative thoughts are being stirred up for me.

Tim Donaghy

I would hate to think that games are being “thrown,” which would completely erase any remaining credibility the NBA has in my eyes. I love watching the NBA but I constantly find myself asking whether a particular call was serious. A major problem is that all officials are different in their perceptions of what constitutes a foul, or a travel for example. Traveling all together is out of control in the NBA and it seems as if it is rarely called, despite the fact that it happens often.

Foul calls are another subjective area for officials. It seems like sometimes officials will call any kind of contact a foul, which often leads to me yelling at the TV to let them play. Other times, nothing is a foul. Then again, sometimes, one team is getting called for everything, while the other gets called for nothing. Furthermore, we even see the calls shift to favor one team, while neglecting another. As a huge Celtics fan, when I attend games, I sometimes find myself staring at the JumboTron looking at the foul category. Seeing all of one team’s players with 2, 3 or even 4 fouls and the other team with 0 or 1 for each player, makes me question the officials.

Take a quick look at the Celtics Magic series which is going on right now. In game five, Kendrick Perkins, received two technical fouls. This lead to his ejection from the game in the second quarter and a possible suspension from the league (as those were his sixth and seventh technical fouls of the playoffs). The first technical was a bad call, as Perkins accidentally elbowed Gortat when his hand slipped off of Paul Pierce’s as he tried to help him up. The second technical call was absurd. Perkins was called for a foul and as emotions run high in the playoffs, walked away from the referee to express his emotions somewhere else. He was called for a technical foul as he walked away, leading to his ejection.

Perkins

The referees single handedly could have altered this playoff series with their technical foul calls. Perkins’ second technical was rescinded by the league, meaning he can stay in the series. Had the league not rescinded it, however, this could have completely changed the fate of the Celtics. By eliminating their best low post defender and most effective big man, the Celtics would no longer have someone to effectively combat Dwight Howard.

I hate to say it but the NBA officials have lost the benefit of the doubt in my opinion. I find myself asking whether or not they are being serious with some of their calls. Other times it seems like they aren’t paying attention. Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, it boils down to them not being good at their jobs. I say hopefully because I’d rather the reason be that they aren’t good ref’s rather than them cheating and throwing the games. The bottom line is at times officials are having too much impact on the outcome of these games. A single foul or technical foul can swing momentum in favor of one team, against another, and potentially change a game or even a series.

If another scandal is found out, there would be huge consequences for the NBA and league commissioner David Stern. This would change professional sports as we know it in the United States. Basketball as a business would be very negatively impacted and the league would have a long road building their credibility back amongst fans. Advertisers may be less willing to shell out their money, as it could lead to them being associated with a cause that isn’t credible and is known for cheating. On a smaller scale this is the reason why so many sponsors dropped Tiger Woods after his scandal. The impact of another referee scandal would have enormous repercussions for the business of the NBA.

What do you think? Is the NBA still credible in your eyes?

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Recommended readings for sport management and business professionals

Here are a few readings I would recommend. Some of these I have read in school and others I have read in my free time, but regardless, they are all useful resources and can teach you valuable lessons that can be applied to your career.

  • The Game Starts Here – Lewis Howes  (“How to take your career to the next level in the sports industry.” I couldn’t find a link for this, but the book is contributed to by the authors at SportsNetworker so you can check that site out as well)
  • Linked Working – Lewis Howes (This book is all about using LinkedIn to further your career. I threw this one in there because I cannot stress enough how important being on LinkedIn is for any professional, regardless of their field)
  • Good to Great – Jim Collins (Can help companies that are already in existence improve their practices, along with help set up companies for success)
  • Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuk (Great all-around book, written about wine production, yet contains so many direct connections to the professional world. Useful for improving personal practices and learning to self-promote and further your business)

Enjoy! If you have any suggested readings, leave them in the comments section. Hope you find these useful!


Will new technology spell the end of referees?

May 14, 2010 3 comments

Every year we see technology related to sports advance further and further. I recently read an article called “How Technology is Affecting Sports,” written by Michael Coco on SportsNetworker, which inspired me to write this post. We see technology advance each and every year in Olympics and in professional sports as well. We have seen instant replay become slower and more defined. Instant replay is being used in almost every major professional sport, including some college sports.

The article cites the use of Radio Frequency Identification Technology, which is being experimented with in European Rugby.

“This micro location technology can transmit the exact coordinates of the ball and players at an astounding 2000 times per second. It can also be used to calculate movement, speed, accuracy, and even force of impact. If this technology was implemented in the US it could do away with any type of bad call in relation to ball location and it would essentially eliminate the guess work from officiating. Not only that, but the type of data we could receive before, during, and after every play would be nothing shy of amazing” (Coco 2010).

The use of this type of instant replay could eliminate the need for officials. If this was broadcasting the call, depending on the location of the ball, we wouldn’t need to use the officials’ eye to tell us whether the ball is out of bounds or not. As technology advances, we may see something that can sense where players feet are on the field. This would help us determine whether a player had both feet down or not or was out of bounds. The NFL is the league that would most benefit from this type of replay. Challenges would be no more, as the computer would tell us where the ball was or whether the player was down or not. The computer could tell us if the ball touched the ground or not, or if someone had caught the ball (depending on the location of their hands and the location of the ball).

This would play a huge role in baseball. It could tell us the location of a foul ball, whether it was foul or fair. Eventually, we could see technology make the call of balls and strikes, eliminating the subjectivity of an umpires strike zone. We already can see the pitch zones in games, which doesn’t seem to be perfected at this point (I see myself saying, “there is no way that pitch was that far outside” relatively often).

Technology like Dartfish is being used in the olympics, allowing athletes to perfect their form. Looking at replays of their previous runs and comparing it to their practice runs can help them to perfect their mechanics and determine what they are doing wrong. This raises the question of whether or not we have an oncoming asterisk era, similar to what we have seen in baseball with steroids. In the past, these athletes didn’t have the advantage of replay or technology to perfect their skill sets. Today’s athletes appear to have a severe advantage when compared to those of the past.

The NHL uses replay to determine whether a puck crossed the goal line. If the puck had some type of chip in it and the goal line was hooked up with the puck, we could use this technology to determine whether a shot was a goal or not (same with the NFL in determining whether the ball crossed the plane of the goal line or not). This would eliminate instant replay on that type of play.

Regardless of the sport, as technology increases, we less of a need for referees to be present. As of now we will need them in all sports for particular things, however, we may see their presence decreasing as technology advances. This would change sports as we know them. What do you think?

What Dana White, President of the UFC, can teach us about sportsmanship

May 11, 2010 1 comment

When people think about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), many are under the impression that it is bunch of bruisers and meatheads who lack any type of sportsmanship, entering the ring to simply defeat their opponent in the most violent and exciting way possible. This is completely false and the UFC is an organization extremely focused on sportsmanship.

Dana White is the president of the UFC and although he doesn’t fit the mold of your typical president, he is doing an excellent job. At first glance, White appears at a press conference with his shirt unbuttoned, lacking the professional aura that is typically given off by presidents in other professional sports. He is one of the best presidents in all of sports and the best thing about him is he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He swears, publicly calls out fighters, and doesn’t always dress in the most professional manner, yet he gets the job done.

White sticks to his guns so to speak. After Anderson Silva defeated Demian Maia in five rounds at UFC 112, White went off. Silva is arguably the best pound for pound fighter and in a very one sided fight against Maia he can be seen dancing around the ring, taunting his opponent. He could have easily defeated Maia yet chose to embarrass him instead, drawing out the fight until the end. His extremely unsportsmanlike behavior can be attributed to the fact that Maia insulted him and didn’t show enough respect (in the eyes of Silva). After the fight, White was so displeased with the Silva’s actions that he didn’t even know how to respond and actually walked out of the fight. He handed the championship belt to Silva’s manager and left. Here is the post-fight conference (Beware, there is some colorful language):

This past Saturday was UFC 113 and one of the fights was Josh Koscheck against Paul Daley. Many fights in the UFC have an element of trash talking between the fighters, often occurring before the fights, but in Saturday’s matchup, Josh Koscheck whispered something in the ear of his opponent Paul Daley at the end of the fight, prompting an extremely unsportsmanlike act. The bell rang and as Koscheck began to walk away, Daley went after him, hitting Koscheck with a left hook after the bell had clearly rung and the fighters should have been walking to their respective corners. Daley was immediately subdued by the referee and the fight was over. Koscheck won the fight by decision, yet Dana White had words for Daley after the fight.

“I don’t give a s*** if he’s the best 170 pounder in the world, he’ll never come back here again.” He later went on to say, “that stuff like the eye gouging, the hit after the bell, will never be tolerated. He’s done. I don’t care if he fights in every show all over the world and becomes the best and everybody thinks he’s the pound for pound best in the world. He will never fight in the UFC again.”

White has extremely strong opinions yet he is changing the perception that most people have of this sport. His opinions and values that he has, which are protecting the credibility of the sport, are providing people with a new picture. This is not such a barbaric, violent sport, but one of skill and sportsmanship. Fighters are not to defeat their opponent by any means necessary, but are mandated to stay inside the rules. Anything like this will not be tolerated as White said and will result in a potential termination of contract.

The perception that people have of the UFC being an unsportsmanlike sport is being erased by White. Behind the perceived violence is true sportsmanship. It is extremely admirable that White is willing to terminate a fighter, despite having the potential to be one of the best in the world, as a result of an unsportsmanlike act. We don’t see anyone’s contract being terminated in the NFL, the NHL, MLB or NBA. The only consequences of league violations or unsportsmanlike play, if any, are fines and suspensions. Occasionally we will see a lifetime ban from the sport, however, this is extremely rare.

Dana White represents true sportsmanship. He stands up for what is right for the sport and is willing to make difficult decisions regarding fighters, regardless of their popularity. His attitude towards sportsmanship could definitely be used in other sports. Imagine if a player who was caught doing something unsportsmanlike was eliminated from their respective sport. This would completely change the games, cleaning them up for the better.

The bottom line is not to judge Dana White based on how he presents himself, but rather the values that he stands for. His attitude towards sportsmanship could definitely be used in other sports. The values that he expresses are altering people’s perceptions of the UFC from a violent, barbaric sport, to a sportsmanlike game.

Upcoming Networking Events

For those who are interested in the sports industry and information related to it, a great resource is Joe Favorito’s site. He sends out a weekly newsletter that is very informative, listing upcoming networking events, interesting articles, and sponsorship opportunities to name a few. He compiled a list of some networking events which I am relaying to my readers. Again, this is from Joe Favorito’s weekly newsletter (5/9/2010).

Sports Related Cause Marketing: How to get in the game

May 12th from 8:30 am to 10:00 am.

Location: ESPN Zone at LA Live (Los Angeles)

Link

NSMN Networking Breakfast and discussion on “Online Sports Content- The Paid vs. Free Paradigm.”

Speakers: Tracy Dolgin (President and CEO of the YES Network), Michael Aresco (CBS Sports Programming Executive Vice President), Terry Denson (Vice President of FiOS Content and Programming, Verizon), John Kosner (GM, ESPN Digital), Jeff Price (President and Publisher, Sporting News), and Jody Shapiro (Senior Vice President/GM, NHL Network).

RSVP Online, there are no walk-ins.

Link

Russell Scibetti’s Networking Event

May 25th (Tuesday) from 5:30 pm-8:00 pm.

Location: Gordon Biersch Brewery in Buckhead (Atlanta)

Link

Sports Marketing 2.0 by Pat Coyle

Time: May (Chicago) and June (New York)

Link

Sports Video Group  – College Sports Video Summit

June 8th and 9th

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Link

Women in Sports and Events (WISE)

Wednesday, June 9th (Luncheon)

Location: Marriot Marquis Hotel (New York City)

Link

Sports Management and Networking Night (Lakewood [New Jersey] Blue Claws)

June 17th

Lakewood, New Jersey at FirstEnergy Park

The Sports Executives Association

May 10, 2010 1 comment

I recently joined the Sports Executives Association (SEA), which I highly recommend. This is an interactive community of people interested in sports business, which can provide you with valuable opportunities to network and exchange information. The site is run by Lewis Howes, who also owns SportsNetworker. According to Sports Networker, these are the things you will receive upon joining (again, this is taken DIRECTLY from Sports Networker):

  • The Sports Sales Mindset Blueprint
  • Membership to the SEA at an introductory rate
  • How to Take Your Career to the Next Level in the Sports Industry: Ebook
  • One ticket to the inaugural SEA members only event in NYC
  • Instant access with other sports executives in the members only forum

Within the first two weeks you will also receive:

  • The Online Sports Networking Mind Map
  • Sports Sponsorship Guide
  • Live Q&A Call

The site is great and it’s cheap. At just $10 per month, you can’t really go wrong. It’s a great way to facilitate relationships with other sports business professionals and exchange information quickly and easily. Want to join? Here is the link, as I would highly recommend it.

Sports Executives Association

Dan Sullivan Sport Management has a Fan page on Facebook

Dan Sullivan Sport Management now has a Facebook fan page. If you are interested in joining, here is the link to the page:

Dan Sullivan Sport Management Fan Page