Leadership: Featured Writer Blogs
Blog: Respect Nature, Build Smarter
by Andrew Barnard October 2015
Where there's smoke there's fire. Truer words have never been spoken. The amazing thing about the relationship between smoke and fire, though, is that a smallish fire can create a more-than-largish cloud of smoke.
Blog: No Dirty-Play Epidemic in High School Football
by Jason Scott September 2015
Earlier this week, we shared another story about a high school football player making another ugly play on the field.
This time, the play was at least directed at an opponent, unlike the premeditated hit on a referee that made headlines earlier this month. There was also a less-publicized story about a player shoving a referee as a reaction to a call.
So what’s going on? Is there a culture problem in football? Are coaches skipping the part where they instill values? Are players out of control? Is there something in the water?
The likely answer: Probably not. Any of these might be a root cause for these incidents, or any random occurrence might have triggered them. The players involved in the hit on the referee alleged the ref had used racial slurs.
Whatever the motivation, this sort of thing has been going on for a long time — just with less media attention.
In today’s Internet culture, things can get noticed more quickly. The premeditated hit on the referee was just sensational enough to make us as observers perk up our ears. As new cases pop up that look and smell similar, we’re trying to connect the dots, looking for larger trends where perhaps none exist.
That’s not to say that we should do nothing to keep incidents like this from happening. We absolutely should.
What we should not do is panic. We don’t have to turn into football Chicken Littles. The sky is not falling.
For every instance of dirty play, the kind that grab headlines and leave us shaking our heads, there are many more examples of sportsmanship. Those things don’t get headlines, because the culture considers them boring.
Football idealists might look at the dirty plays recently and question their worldview. If participation in athletics is supposed to instill young people with values, how could this be happening?
That’s a question worth asking. We should look at some of the dirty play recently and double our efforts to teach sportsmanship to our young athletes. But let’s not freak out to the degree of questioning the value of sports participation in general.
Don’t let a few outliers ruin your enjoyment of the game.
Blog: Quantifying the Impact of Parks and Rec
by Emily Attwood September 2015
The National Park and Recreation Association's annual convention is underway this week in Las Vegas, Nev. After arriving Monday afternoon and getting my first taste of life in the City of Lights, I caught a brief glimpse of the sun and the strip before steeling myself for a day of windowless sessions in overly air-conditioned rooms.
Blog: Headset Allegations Just Another Conspiracy Theory
by Jason Scott September 2015
The first game of the NFL season happened Thursday night, and the defending champion New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were terrific, but it should come as no surprise that much of this morning's reaction has been centered on something other than the game: an allegation of malfunctioning headsets.
Blog: A Voice for Rec Renovations at the U. of Wisconsin
by Alex Peirce September 2015
Editors' note: In March 2014, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison approved a $223 million referendum to overhaul the campus recreation facilities, badly in need of improvement. Since then, the recreation program has been busy planning, fundraising, vetting architects and much more. As the project progresses, Alex Peirce, UW-Madison Rec Sports Coordinator of Marketing and Communications, will be offering an inside look at the process of coordinating such a monumental planning effort.
Rec Sports Master Plan: for the students, by the students
As you set foot on any college campus, the faculty will tell you that their students are totally unlike those at any other school. Each school offers a unique culture that attracts unique students who have a unique way of doing things. I have found this to be true, as the University of Wisconsin-Madison is now the third campus where I have worked with such a special group of students.
Introducing AB's New Online Managing Editor
by AB Editors September 2015
You may have noticed a new byline on many of our stories lately. That would be Jason Scott, our new online managing editor. Jason joined Athletic Business in August and will be handling all things digital — everything from the website and e-news to our Twitter… and yes, monitoring those of you who get a little riled up in the comments section.
No Social Media, No Problem for Clemson Football
by Jason Scott August 2015
The first day of fall camp for the Clemson University football team was Aug. 3, and that also marked the occasion of players hanging up their hashtags until the winter. That means no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, no pokes, retweets or mentions until the pads are put back into storage.
South Carolina Displays Kindness to Rival Clemson
by Stuart Goldman August 2015
When it comes to college rivalries, some of the more prominent include Ohio State-Michigan, Duke-North Carolina, Auburn-Alabama, USC-UCLA and Missouri-Kansas.
You can certainly add Clemson-South Carolina to that list. The two head football coaches at each school, Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, love to throw barbs at one another, as evidenced by this ESPN article.
Allegations at Minnesota Shouldn’t Deter Advances of Women in Athletics
by Stuart Goldman August 2015
After reading the sexual harassment allegations that forced Norwood Teague to resign as the athletic director at the University of Minnesota and the report of more allegations from a newspaper reporter who covers the Gophers’ men’s basketball team, I told a colleague in passing that Teague likely has acted this way for years. That may have been unfair, but the feeling was this type of behavior didn’t come out of the blue.
Blog: Women’s Soccer and Return on Investment
by Emily Attwood July 2015
In the days after the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s World Cup win, we’ve heard a lot of back and forth over the issue of how much the players were paid. The women’s team received a record-setting $2 million for their win… record-setting for women, that is. Last year, the German men’s team earned $35 million for its World Cup win.
“But it’s all about the revenue!” claim those who justify the discrepancy. The women’s tournament brought in a mere $17 million in sponsorship revenue compared to $529 million for last year’s men’s World Cup. Thus, because the men bring in more revenue, it only makes sense that they get paid more.
When I was in college, I interned for an editor at a book publishing company. I recall, among the editor’s many tales of the publishing world, the story of how he signed one particular new author and set her up for success. Her work was good, he said, but she was relatively unknown and still new.
For those more familiar with coaching contracts than book contracts, book contracts typically pay an advance, anything as low as a couple thousand dollars (J.K. Rowling was given a £1500 advance on the first Harry Potter book) to upwards of $100,000, if you’re an established name. If a new author doesn't go over well with the audience, the publisher hasn't lost much. If they're good, the publisher simply ups the advance on the next book.
Rather than offering this new author something at the lower end of the spectrum as would befit the situation, the editor swung big. I don’t recall the exact dollar amount, but I think it was at least $20,000 (chump change for a pro athlete, but a big deal for a struggling writer).
His reasoning? The more the publisher invested in an author, the harder it would work to ensure her success, giving her a preferred launch date, better marketing and visibility. Part of this was about recouping the investment — book advances are paid against royalties, which means a larger advance needs to be offset by greater book sales if the publisher wants to come out ahead.
What does this have to do with soccer?
I’m not in the sports marketing business. I’m not even in the book marketing business. But I do know that a product’s success is as much about the effort that goes into marketing it as the quality of the product itself.
Don’t justify lower pay for female athletes by pointing to the lower revenue they generate — they’re not the ones negotiating sponsorship contracts or selling commercial slots. In the case of women’s soccer, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke attributes the lower revenues to women’s soccer being a newer sport than men’s.
“We played the [20th] men’s World Cup in 2014, when we are now playing the seventh women’s World Cup,” Valcke said in December press conference. “We have still another  World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men. The men waited until 2014 to receive as much money as they received.”
Or, how about this: Pay the players what they’re worth, and then put in the effort to back that investment up.