Tidbits, Thoughts & Tips around sports business…
News, notes and nuggets from our Publisher for Aug 8-14
Dallas fans make case for a speedy return to empty venues—or stop playing the damn anthem
Fanless games cannot be better than watching in person, right? Or, are they what we deserve right now?
Here at Team Marketing Report, we are all about being fan first (or as I like to always say, fancentric). We place the utmost value on understanding the fan’s perspective to help sports business pros maximize fan engagement to in turn maximize revenues.
As such, we tend to err on the side of fans. But c’mon FC Dallas supporters—especially the 2,912 fans at at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday (Aug 12) to watch FCD v. Nashville SC —you’re better than this.
Maybe those fans on hand for Major League Soccer‘s return to teams’ playing on their home pitch—and featuring the two clubs unable to play in the MLS is Back tournament due to high coronavirus infection rates—were simply upset and needed to vent…about having to read all the fine print and sign this migraine-inducing waiver:
Or, maybe empathy, compassion or a basic effort to understand why others are feeling marginalized simply weren’t there.
You see, during pregame ceremonies, all players and referees decided to take a knee as one in support of Black Lives Matter. And then the National Anthem began to play, and with it came a chorus of boos.
“You can’t even have support from your own fans at your own stadium, it’s baffling to me,” said exasperated FC Dallas player Reggie Cannon in his postgame remarks. “We had someone chanting ‘U-S-A’ when they don’t understand what kneeling means…and they can’t see the reason. They just think we’re the ignorant ones, and it’s just incredibly frustrating. I’m sorry to have this tone, but you have to call it for what it is.”
— Angel Madison Franco (@angelmadison_) August 13, 2020
Cannon, a USMNT player from nearby Grapevine, Texas, said teammate Ryan Hollingshead turned to him when the anthem was done and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry for our fans.” Even worse, the Dallas Morning News reported at least one fan threw a water bottle at players. That’s brutal.
Ironically, Cannon said players, who were unable to show their BLM support in MLS is Back games in Orlando (where MLS did not play the anthem), planned to kneel whether or not the anthem was played. Players asked team management to not play the anthem to make sure something exactly like this would not happen. But MLS commissioner Don Garber said last week teams were going to play the anthem with fans in attendance.
Yesterday, Garber issued the below statement:
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) August 14, 2020
That’s all fine and dandy, but how about an actual solution? You know, like DON”T PLAY THE ANTHEM any more.
Sorry Francis Scott Key, it’s a lovely enough poem sung to a (un-singable) drinking song, but to what end? Before matches between teams representing countries—you know, Olympics, World Cups, Ryder Cups and the like—that makes sense.
But, what purpose does it serve in pro sports, especially when most athletes are from anywhere but the good ol’ U.S. of A.? Dallas and Nashville were not fighting over national interests.
Remove the pointless flash point and then we can focus on the next (fixable) dumb problem: racist chants.
W.A.R. — Worth A Read
I get asked all the time who to follow or what to read in #SportsBiz, so I thought I’d start calling out some of the best of the best reporters and authors here.
Will start off with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. I’ve loved following what’s going on in sports media for years and Richard is among the best in this space since his time at Sports Illustrated, not only in his columns and stories but on his excellent podcasts.
Yesterday’s piece on Hard Knocks is a great example of what you get from Richard.
Then there are his regular “Media Circus” columns. They are a tour de force not only for the deep dives on a unique, interesting story (like his look Monday at Dave Sandford’s photo from the Avalanche/Blues game last week), but then he drops multiple timely notes regarding talent, ratings and programming. Oh, and then you’ll get a dozen or more links to recommended sports pieces of note. But, wait! That’s not all! He also shares even more non-sports pieces of note!
Have always wondered where the hell he gets the time to do all this reading—more than ever now that he and his wife have young twins—but the recommendations are always worth the read.
And now he can add this career-capper to his CV: “inspiration for TMR W.A.R.”
Bet on it
Driven by a deep passion for understanding all things sports gambling? Curious of the role sports betting can have in sports marketing? Want to avoid running a promotion that leads to federal prosecution? The Sports Gambling Education master certification program is for you.
As mentioned last week, we at TMR have partnered up with the SGE program recently launched by Ohio University, US Integrity and Cyanna. Three courses offer a deep dive into a rapidly growing industry—even in the middle of a pandemic—encompassing compliance, analytics, sponsorship, media, risk management and more…taught by prestigious lecturers from sports, gaming and academia.
Here’s a brief sizzle reel video with more info and if you’re interested in signing up, don’t forget to use our code for the TMR Community—TMR15—to get 15 percent off any/all of the three courses.
Raise a Glass: Athletes Drinking in Beverage Investments
Lots of new coverage this week on this story.
Read our coverage on last week’s announcements by BioSteel and OXIGEN about investments from Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and 2X NBA MVP Steph Curry. How are brands approaching these partnerships that extend well beyond paid endorsements with additional looks at two more beverage companies: Ready Nutrition (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and BodyArmor (Kobe Bryant, James Harden, etc.).
Site updates continue
Make sure you take a gander at our ever-evolving SportsSponsor FactBook where TMR MVPs and All-Stars have access to the thousands of team, brand, league, property, agency, supplier and governing body profiles.
Have a profile that needs a refresh (or you’re interested in more details and would like a peak behind the paywall before grabbing a paid membership), let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ending on an up note, Marie Kondo-style…
The basement of Soccer House, U.S. Soccer‘s headquarters in Chicago’s near south side Prairie District, was filled with hundreds of game-worn jerseys, mostly from the time period from the historic 1999 USWNT World Cup Championship team and the overachieving 2002 USMNT World Cup squad.
Per the Chicago Tribune‘s Jeremy Mikula, when the pandemic hit, U.S. Soccer officials decided these kits had a higher purpose than being framed and hung in someone’s home office: instead they will protect frontline workers.
They reached out to Melizabeth Santos, a dual language coordinator at Chicago’s Sabin Magnet School who also runs the SewEffie shop on Etsy, to turn these famous men’s and women’s national team jerseys into 500 masks—250 cloth face masks and 250 N95 covers—and donated to frontline workers across the country.
Among the beneficiaries were two former players-turned-doctors in Rachel (Buehler) Van Hollebeke and Robbie Russell. Another included the Nationals fan with the 45-foot, really, really flattened Opening Day curve, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Also beneficiaries are those in charge of U.S. Soccer archives. Now, they’ve gained a bunch more storage space.
Have a weekend and, as always, stay fancentric friends!