Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Game Is About To Change...Continued

On the ESPN spin off editorial blog “Grantland”, CharlesPierce penned a really good entry along the lines of a train of thought that Ihad been thinking about for a while.  If you don’t have time to read it, I can summarize it here:

If you are on the side that everything is “FAIR” in college athletics and the money that student athletes receive in the form of scholarship money is fair compensation for the product they put on the field for the 3 or 4 years that they play…Than what about the time and activity post graduation where the NCAA and the associated Universities use that athlete’s image and likeness in order to promote the NCAA or the University’s agenda?

You know…Denard Robinson’s image on 110,000 tickets for the home opener?  What about Nick Stauskas all over the season opening program?
Yeah…that stuff.  Not to mention the video games and whatever else the NCAA or University can license, sell or make a buck off of. 

This is where Wilkensen is really digging in…Which is her area of expertise:
…Whether NCAA athletes like the plaintiff, former UCLA All-American Ed O’Bannon, have signed away the rights to their names, images, and likenesses to the NCAA based on its purported code of amateurism, and whether, by enforcing that purported code — even after athletes’ eligibility has ended — the NCAA has been acting in restraint of trade and in violation of antitrust laws. Wilken was curious about one point.

“Are you saying,” she asked Heckman, skepticism edging every word like a razor, “that being paid for your name, image, and likeness is the same as being paid for the activity itself?”

If Wilken believes that payment for an athlete’s name, image, and likeness is something different from being paid simply for playing the game — that it constitutes something not in violation of the rules regarding amateurism, but rather something outside of them — then that’s the ballgame.

In short, you can’t take a person or their image for the “Rest of their life” if they’ve given you 3-4 years in the athletic arena.  Not only that, but if Wilkensen rules that the individual owns their own likeness….That person should be able to take that image and make money on it whatever way they can – period. 

Which, if you’ve been paying attention to the MMQ:
THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING!!!  LET THE KIDS MAKE MONEY WHERE EVER OR HOWEVER THEY CAN!!!  Whether they are playing or long after they leave....

In fact, I think the NCAA and the Universities simply haven’t thought it through, which is really sad.  What I mean is, if you let the athlete use the “Image” he created at your university (jersey) and he makes a Nike shoe ad, the University will be getting a lot of free advertising from that student athlete.  And per DB, who doesn’t want free advertising?  This could be the easiest "Win-Win" no brainer out there.....
This ruling is going to dramatically change the way athletes are dealt with in Division 1 College athletics, especially Football and Basketball.  And the Universities better start figuring out a way to get on board with it.  The NCAA may already be gone and they might not know it yet. 
It’s going to be an interesting summer….

Friday, June 20, 2014

And Here They Are!!! Step Right Up and Buy a "Package"

This irks me on SO MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS that I’m not even sure where I want to begin….However, in the spirit of being objective, I will take DB’s side on this to show why this is an absolutely wonderful thing for the university of Michigan (having un-sold season tickets) and how they can leverage this “opportunity” to their advantage.

I guess I will fall back to the old numbering system to logically lay what Brandon has to believe is a “great marketing opportunity” and I in turn will spell out my perturbed-ness of this mess….

1.     DB” Pro - So, packages of tickets are now being put together with shirts and refreshments for particular games.  The casual fan now has the opportunity to see the Michigan Wolverines live and in person.   This is great for the many Michigan Fans that never, ever get a chance to come and enjoy Michigan in the Big House!!!  MMQ ConWell That’s Fantastic…The LOYAL long time ticket holders get screwed by having to pay not only for PSL’s and season tix with the likes of App State as part of the season package, but we also get to fight the university on any potential re-sale of our tickets for individual games we can’t attend or don’t want to attend…    RESULT:  Pissed off loyal fans that will quickly figure out that it’ll be better to just dump the regular season tickets and buy packages for games you want to go to, if for no other reason than to get out of the PSL’s….

2.    DB Pro   - Michigan will get to market itself to potentially new, loyal season ticket purchaser’s and other fans that they haven’t had a chance to ever sell to before due to the long waiting list that Michigan used to have….This will present a great opportunity to bring new money and fans into the Michigan Fold and let them see what the Big-House has become…
      MMQ Con   - My guess is that casual fan will see the product on the field and what they have to go through to get in and out of Ann Arbor on Football Saturday and without the tradition of “The Tailgate” and something to do before and after the game, they will quickly figure out that going to catch the Wolverines live simply won’t be worth it and you will see them once and they will be happy to stay home and watch them on their 60” screens…

3.    DB Pro  - We will have a whole new mailing list to send fans requests for contributions and possible season ticket opportunities… 
     MMQ Con – Yeah…Sure.   You think that a casual fan that is buying a package that includes a free shirt, hot dog and a coke is going to pony up a minimum of $150/seat for the “right” to buy season tix and then throw down another $500 for a single season ticket?  Exactly which casual fan are you hoping to entice with this?
So, you can see how I believe this will be the beginning of the end for Michigan’s “Continuous Sell-Out” record.  Granted, attendance figures have always been fudges and I’ve attend a couple of “less than 100K” games in my lifetime, even though Michigan still claims that is a running record due to Season Ticket Holder sales…

Maybe Hoke and company can turn it around and all of this becomes a moot point…the product on the field has always sold tickets and kicked up demand.  That’s just the way it is and will continue to be for any sporting event or sports team.

Yikes…Early lines are out…They are depressing, but sadly, probably very real. Michigan as a dog against Michigan State (they are +7.5) and Ohio State (+8). They're only +3 at the domers, which domer home field and all….

Michigan is a touchdown favorite against Penn State and –3 against Northwestern.  As for the rest…if they are anything less than double digit  favs against what remains of the schedule(well, except Utah – I expect a tough one at home there)…it will be a sad year indeed…

The NCCA – O’Bannon Trial
This continues to draw my interest and while I haven’tbeen following as closely as I would like, some of the stuff coming out of itjust makes you shake your head and wonder “who” the entitled people in thisoutfit are…Emmert was making arguments that if you lose “amateurism” in college athletics, the very fabric that makes college athletics possible by competing on a level playing field will be gone…and Alabama and SW Louisiana State are level playing fields????  And this coming from a man whose salary is $1.6 million annually and he’s making money off these “amateur” athletes?
Please…I want to throw something at somebody.  Of course…that’s probably why I’m not a judge.

Here’s another quote from Emmert:

 The lawsuit and other efforts targeting the NCAA have already had some effect, with the biggest five conferences moving quickly toward giving athletes more money and benefits. Emmert said he supported those moves, but said giving athletes more than the true cost of attendance would cause a free-for-all in recruiting and force many schools to give up smaller sports…
Excuuuuuse me…But isn’t college “about” studying and getting an education?  It’s only been about additional sports for men and women since Title IX came about…and who said any university “HAD TO HAVE” a sports program for field hockey just because someone else in the conference figured out a way to support one?  If the sport can’t pave it’s own way through ticket sales or private donations…welcome to the "Field Hockey Club" and the pay to play model. 

And the judge also got into the act with Emmert on the stand.  As the plaintiff’s attorney was wrapping up his questioning, Judge Wilken intervened with some of her ownquestions.
"If the money was held in trust until the athletes graduated," she asked, "would that have the same effect?"   The last thing the NCAA wants to hear mentioned in this trial is a post-graduation trust fund. It's an idea that makes a lot of sense. The money would come from merchandise manufacturers and television networks, it would not affect college budgets and it would make no changes in the players' lives on campus. It's also an idea Emmert and the NCAA will not consider…
…The judge was not done. A few minutes later, she again turned to Emmert, asking him to explain what he meant when he talked about the "exploitation of athletes" by commercial enterprises .

"I am talking about third parties who would take advantage of them, like agents and financial advisers, people who would use them as shills for products," Emmert replied.
Any payment to an athlete would be exploitation, Emmert said. (Judge) Wilken, obviously perplexed that additional resources for a college student could be viewed as "exploitation," was clearly incredulous.

"Do you think it's exploitation of them or something you don't want happening?" Wilken asked.
It didn't get any better for the NCAA when Isaacson produced several images of current and past NCAA athletes appearing in promotional materials for the NCAA men's basketball tournament and other NCAA-sanctioned events. A photo of Wisconsin's football players appearing at a Rose Bowl news conference -- in front of a Vizio logo -- also was presented into evidence. So was a photo of Texas A&M's football players celebrating a bowl victory in front of a table featuring the Chick-fil-A and Kia logos.

"And that's perfectly fine?" Isaacson asked Emmert.

"That's fine under the rules," Emmert replied. "It's not something I'm personally comfortable with."
Back to the MMQ:  The NCAA is sooooooo......F’d here.  I’m surprised they are going to go through with this all the way to the end vs. getting a directed verdict.  But with a ruling, the NCAA can continue to appeal and drag this mess out and continue to “waste” money that could be going to student athletes.  A lengthy appeals process would go so much further to protect the NCAA’s little kingdom.  Frankly, I hope Wilken’s ruling is so sound and logical that any appeal will be automatically thrown out on the grounds that any appeal is in fact ADDITIONAL EXPLOITATION by the organization that claims it’s protecting the student athlete FROM exploitation. 

That….would be perfect.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Game is About To Change "IV" and Potpourri

Today’s Word:  Potpourri – Extensively used in Jeopardy to signify a category that can mean anything…Today’s entry is kind of a big bag of crap with no one main topic…just stuff that’s happening around collegiate athletics and Michigan.

The O’Bannon vs. NCAA Trial started this week without a whole lot of fanfare, I think only because the issue has been openly debated for so long in the mainstream media and the blogosphere that everyone is simply waiting for the NCAA to make whatever impossible or lame argument it’s going to make and the judge is going to slap them with a “You’re so full of BS that I’m baffled you can stand there and make that statement” verdict.  O’Bannon took the stand and did not mince any words.  He openly stated that he was steered into curriculums that made it easier to keep his eligibility and he was a student in “name only” and was there to primarily play basketball.   He also stated he spent 50-60 hours a week performing that duty and took final exams in a hotel while at the NCAA Tourney.  Well, surprise, surprise.  I think we all saw that coming.  The question becomes, what can the NCAA possibly throw at the plaintiffs and who can they put on the stand that can somehow demonstrate that a “Student-Athlete” is more of a student than….An Athlete.  It’s not going to be easy (in fact, I think it’s impossible) and the idea of amateurism and a level playing field are going to become insurmountable issues to defend.
In fact, Washington’s AD is making statements that are going to be difficult for the NCAA to explain away in any closing argument, no matter how brilliantly contrived.  From the Seattle Times, here’s a quote that more or less directly contradicts what the NCAA stands for:
“If you’ve got a $6 million athletic budget, you shouldn’t be worrying about what I do,” Young contends. “You’re never going to compete with us. We don’t recruit the same players. We don’t even play on the same field. It just doesn’t matter.”

So, I expect the NCAA to bring a parade of former players and or coaches/AD’s in (including Brandon and Hollister from MSU) to make the case that the college “experience” has some value to it on top of the scholarship money.  Well, sure...  But how on earth do you put a monetary value on that?  And where’s the cash that goes along with it?  On top of that, DB, why not say that the experience is better due to the fact that fans value it more because they are paying high ticket prices?

Speaking of Ticket Prices
Mgoblog.com did a little research and was able to come up with the following student ticket prices for all the B1G schools. 

Ohio State -- $252 for 7 games
Penn State -- $218 for 7 games
Wisconsin -- $188 for 7 games
Iowa -- $175 for 7 games, $165 with future alumni group discount
Michigan State -- $175 for 7 games
Nebraska -- $166 for 7 games
Purdue -- $119 for 7 games
Illinois -- $99 for 7 games
Rutgers -- $99 for 6 games
Minnesota -- $90 for 7 games
Indiana -- $60 for 6 games
Maryland and Northwestern -- tickets free with full tuition and student fee payment

(get a load of Maryland and Northwestern…I remember when Michigan Hockey, Track Baseball and probably a handful of other sports had the same policy – show your student ID and come on in!!!  Sigh…It must be hard to be a student fan nowadays…)

Is it any wonder WHY the student season ticket renewal is DOWN at Michigan, much less the average ticket buyer?  Michigan student tix are $50 higher ($277 for the season) than OSU and Michigan is barely 0.500 in the last decade….Michigan used to have a general population waiting list for 30 years to buy tickets because fans thought it was a good value and hey, you could always scalp a couple of games for more than you paid…Now when you try to scalp, it feels a little bit like visiting the proctologist.  You are absolutely tickled if you can get $20 for a pair when the opponent is the likes of App State.  And you’re happy because you “only” have to eat $150 for a game you can’t attend…John Bacon also pointed this out and his blog entry is worth the read…
Brandon attributes the 68% student renewal to be about the same as the no-show rate for certain games.  Uh, Dave…The kids that are “no-showing” are going to be the same group that $300 doesn’t mean crap to because Mommy and Daddy are footing the bill from some far-off locale and the kids are telling them, “Oh, yeah…I was at the game!!” while they are partying at the frat – dorm – apartment, whatever.  My guess is the no show rate stays about the same for lousy games and next year’s renewal might improve a little, but once you lose the good student fans and they find “fun alternatives”…well, they might be gone forever.  When is all of this going to sink into DB’s little BB brain and it’s going to hit him that this is not his kingdom…It’s history that is built by the team and especially…by the fans.
Brandon’s legacy is getting worse by the minute…He’s pissing off many loyal fans and has gotten me to the point of wanting to take some sort of action – and that’s pretty hard to do.  I should have recognized that IMMEDIATELY when he canned Jamie Morris-a more loyal Michigan Man you will never meet.  I want to stand in front of DB and ask him if he remembers how his former coach openly argued against noon and 3:30 start times because College Football was meant to start at 1:00 PM on SATURDAY!!!  Yeah, I know invoking Bo’s words don’t have much effect in today’s television driven market, but this ain’t the Super Bowl, DB.  It’s Michigan.  And your loyal fans have a long relationship with that school and the game day mystique.  You keep screwing that up and more importantly, charge too much for it and, well, it’ll be easy to stop writing the season ticket check – and don’t expect many athletic donations, either, at least not from the average joe.  I’ll keep my parking pass just to enjoy the pre-game festivities with friends and family, but taking a walking tour of Ann Arbor or finding a local pub to watch the game in might become the new tradition for even the most loyal of fans.
Big Brother Might Say, "Not So Fast, Isaac…"
Ty Isaac, a heralded and successful TB from USC is transferring to Michigan due to family health issues.  (His mom went deaf).  According to the NCAA (JEEZ I HATE THESE GUYS!!!) Ty may not be eligible to play immediately under the Family Hardship Rule and he may have to sit out one season.  Frankly, anything and anyone that can come in and help the offense is welcome…leave it to the NCAA to screw stuff up.  But, what else should I expect these days?
Don’t Get Rid of That Harris Jersey Just Yet, Sparty….
With a HUGE switcheroo, the coveted WVU transfer Eron Harris, who everyone thought was going to the run and shoot offense of the Wolverines, is actually going to the land of the Jolly Green Giants after talking with Beilein about playing for the Maize and Blue.  I guess Beilein and Harris didn’t see eye to eye on what his role would be.  While this is a loss for Michigan, Sparty fills up some more offensive minutes that they lost and is looking more and more like a quiet contender for a run at the B1G Championship…  Nuts…But at least Sparty has a Harris jersey laying around…albeit they may have to change the number.
And Finally:

Good Luck Redskins!!!