Sunday, December 19, 2010

Press Credentials

Should bloggers have the same access to press credentials that trained, professional journalists have? Some would say outright no. Journalists spent the time and money to go to school, to learn how to write and report ethically and therefore, these people are entitled to press credentials. I would agree. Those who want to be professional should gain education. However, we cannot ignore the fact that some great sports writers are bloggers. They may have a bigger following than journalists. Some magazines are even including blogs or links on their sites. 

So what would cause someone who is a blogger to have their press credentials revoked? In this article Chris Botta had his press credentials taken away after criticizing a team. The team, the New York Islanders, paid for his first year. "We funded his blog for the first year. When that changed he went from reporting the news to making the news'' says Kimber Auerbach, the team's spokesperson. Maybe funding the blog was a conflict of interest. It did not permit Botta to clearly speak his mind. So does sponsorship by a team equal censorship by the blogger? Maybe so. 

Scott Rabb is dealing with a similar issue. After reporting negatively about LeBron James he was denied press credentials. Do these bloggers write derogatory comments about players that have nothing to do with their performances or do they report the game and team officials get upset? It could be a little of both. This means a sports blogger has to be careful about what he says about players and teams. If he or she can back up the words with statistics it would be difficult for a team official to get upset. However, making up things damages credibility and makes it that much more difficult for genuine writers to get press credentials. Maybe if someone wants to get into writing about sports they should pick up a sports journalism book. 

One article discusses what may be used in deciding whether or not a sports blogger gets in. One important thing to consider is the reason a sports blogger may want press credentials. The article points out the appeal of distance. One reason sports bloggers want distance is so they can comment objectively. Of course, you cannot remove personal preference. I am sure even news reporters have their preferences when interviewing politicians. Loyalty to teams runs deeper than that. Another is the thing to consider is size of his or her presence. Does he or she have faithful readers? Because they cannot grant everyone’s wishes they must choose carefully. Could it be that some popular writers insult the wrong player and the team may think the blog will lose readers? This is a possibility.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Conflict Resolution

How would you feel if you found out your lawyer was representing you and your opponent?  Perhaps you would feel your lawyer may not give his all to your cause because either way he wins the case. This may be the feelings some athletes are having. Agents who primary represented athletes are now representing the club owners and coaches as well. This creases a conflict of interest. How is the agent going to create the best deal for his athlete if he is also working to create the best deal for the owner. Certainly they have different interests. The owner wants to pay the athlete as little as he can, within reason of course. The athlete wants a record breaking deal. The coach wants the best athletes. The various interests cannot co-exist. This article by Rick Karcher describes the situation as being a violation of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules are found on the American Bar Association website. This could mean some serious consequences for attorney agents. If a bad deal resulted after half-hearted negotiations a client could create a bit of noise in the media. Public attention could lead to more than a tarnished reputation.  So how does a client make sure his needs are honored by his agent if the agent has also pledged his allegiance to the boss?

It seems natural that an agent would want what is best for his athletic client. The more the client succeeds the more likely they are to stay around and demand bigger deals. But some agents are finding new ways of making money off their clients. Many find this new method unethical. In his article Dashiell Bennett comments Ted Forstmann's admission to betting on clients his firm represents. I am sure this is a violation of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. It is not in Ted Forstmann's interest, nor his clients, for him to bet for or against his clients. Besides appearing he does not have faith in his clients' abilities betting on the games his firm has a financial interest in makes him look as if he has some control over the outcome of the games. It then calls into question the legitimacy of the wins. As Bennett suggests, it is the responsibility of the agent to use the information they attain from the clients to further the clients' interests, not their own. Bennett says agents like Forstmann should not be allowed to represent clients. I have to agree

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trademark Infringement

Even though some will use a trademark and not register it is wise to register a trademark. This is important when others want to use the same or similar marks. It may be difficult to establish who had trademarks first. Trademark infringement lawsuits seem to abound in surfing. In an article by Jeff Schad Morgan Berk, co-founder of the New York Surf Film Festival sues over trademark infringement. She began using the trademark in August 2007. She registered the mark in 2007. In the following years she worked hard to develop the festival. The defendants Breuer, Cannizaro and Machemer began to control the festival and tell sponsors the originator was no longer a part of the festival. Most would pay to transfer the trademark. The defendants are infringing on her trademark because they are trying to change her brand, or create a new company, using the brand she created. This is a grey area.

A clearer form of trademark infringement is expressed in this article by Ryan Saxton Jim McGrath has created a successful surf shop called Bethany Surf Shop. Local shops have been bootlegging their shirts and using their brand on shirts they created for their stores. This confused customers who returned shirts to Bethany Surf Shop. These stores dilute the brand because they produce inferior products. When a brand works hard to create an image it can be tainted by other companies who use the brand and do not create quality. Consumers only see the brand, not the manufacturer, or retailer. They then believe the quality is the same in the different stores and no longer trust the brand. But what if you use the name, not the logo. If it is enough to call confusion and the courts believe you intentionally set out to deceive others, the plaintiff may have a case. To avoid this it is wise to use a noticeably different name and logo from any existing brand within the same industry. 

What about when a bigger company infringes on the names of trademark holders. In an article in Business Wire Kat House Productions LLC had Surf Chicks and Surf Chicks Get Wet. Mega brand Christian Dior Couture created Surf Chicks. However, Surf Chicks is not a unique mark nor is it used in another way outside of the brand's industry, for example Apple making computers and not fruit products. Therefore, one could argue Christian Dior did not tend to deceive, nor did they confuse their products, image, and reputation with that of Kat House Productions. Others could argue Christian Dior should have done research to make sure they were not using someone else's trademark. Because they both produce apparel they are not using the name outside of the industry that already owns the mark. This is another grey area. Again, it is important to use a different name and have due diligence in researching before settling on a brand name. A company such as Christian Dior has the resources to do such research.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My 2 Cents on The Last 10 Years

To watch an interesting video about the ten biggest plays in sports from CNBC please click here or watch below.  One of the biggest issues to hit sports in the last decade revolved around Tiger Woods. He has spurred interest in golf. His infidelities brought into question athletes' images as role models, how much of a public figure's private life the media should cover, an athlete's moral accountability to fans, and if people expect athletes to be perfect. 

Athletes are seen as role models more so than rock stars or actors. Even adults look to athletes to have the perfect marriage. This is true of a more "classy" sport more often enjoyed by blue bloods. Tiger Woods made golf accessible to middle class children and showed anyone with passion, dedication, and skill could excel at golf. He broke the stereo-type and became the first billionaire athlete (Badenhausen, 2009). (Read more about it here.) 

This helped create a squeaky clean image for the athlete. Now athletes are no strangers to adultery and scandal, including in the past few years Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade to name a few. But Tiger Woods seemed to receive more press and criticism than the others. Fans were asking for apologies and people were saying he should not be allowed to play. Many of these fans being parents who passed off the responsibility of being a role model to Tiger Woods. He lost sponsorship. But does Tiger Woods and other athletes have a responsibility to be moral compasses? Can they make mistakes? Or is it the nature of being famous athletes? Fans buy products that athletes endorse and lose of fans effects business. For more on evaluating whether or not to continue sponsorship with Tiger Woods read The Tiger Woods Scandal (2010).

The internet has changed the way people participate in recreation. Recreation has always been big business and the internet will continue to affect fan participation. So perhaps the internet is the biggest player in sports in the last decade. Because of more wireless more and more people are getting their sports content online. 

Fantasy sports is one example. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA, 2010) was created in 1999. Fantasy Football takes the lead in fantasy sports. According to an article from Paul R. La Monica entitled "Fantasy football...real money" "about 85 percent of all fantasy sports participants play fantasy football, mainly online" (2006). Some leagues are free and perks include boasting rights or weekly prizes and more. Google once and one will find many leagues. iPhone applications have been created. Social networking sites such as Facebook are getting in on it. It has more than 100 member companies today. This has provided a great avenue for advertisers. Fantasy football providers are advertising on sports related sites such as Sports Illustrated. 

Of course, with all these fantasy football players do broadcasters benefit? Are those players watching the games to see how the athletes on their teams perform? Or, are they going to more games? This is a good question and time will tell who stands to gain the most from fantasy football. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bringing In the Crowd

After reading an article by Steve Fall entitled, "Taking Attendance" about facilities using creativity to compensate for lower attendance. In a down economy, where live entertainment often take a hit, facilities have to think of new ways to attract a crowd and two popular methods are increasing the perceived value an event and discounting the cost of an event. 
Taking these two methods into account I have come up with some ideas. First I noticed people love to bring their children to sports events. Facilities could create "My Child's First Game" package. Parents could purchase a package that includes tickets for two adults and two children at reduced rates as well as snacks from the concessions. They can also include autographed memorabilia. This plays on sentiment, value, and discount. A parent may not be so inclined to purchase snacks from the concessions. However, they may perceive a value if all are combined. Memorabilia is an added bonus because people will have not only a proof of attendance, but also because something they later chose to sell or have appraised. 
Facilities can also introduce loyalty packages. Avid attendees can build up points and then be rewarded by a free or severely discounted ticket to a game. They may want to run this promotion for a limited time. People are more likely to take advantage of a value if they know it will not always be available. This will encourage those who may not attend the games frequently to come more often without giving away too many free tickets to those who already frequent the facilities.  A facility may use a percentage value to qualify loyalty, twelve games, for example. They could run a promotion that states, “Attend three games at regular price between October and December and receive a 30% off and 3 hot dogs and two beverages on your fourth visit.”

Auctions of exclusive events may be an avenue a facility can take. Because auctioned items do not have a cap on how much they can generate these can be a great source of revenue. People pay top dollar for exclusive items. Facilities need to sell the experience. 
As long as people believe they are getting a bargain for something they were thinking about or wanting to participate in they will bite and facilities will see an increase in attendance. 

Monday, October 25, 2010


Follow that cheerleader? Yep. You see, I am everyone's personal cheerleader. I love to encourage others. Well, I thought it was cute. I am here to talk about my interests in sports and grow in knowledge in the process. My favorite sports are football and basketball. I am a proud member of the Who Dat Nation. Go Saints! My grandmother and a long list of women are from the Gulf Coast and I grew up there until I was nine. So I love to watch my Saints win, I mean compete. When I am not cheering for them I am supporting the home team, the Atlanta Falcons. When it comes to basketball, my brother is all about the Lakers. I support them as well. I was excited to see them play against the Atlanta Hawks last year. The timing could not be better. It was my graduation day and I got to go to a game with my brother. I saw a lot of celebrities and spent $4 for coke.

I am getting a Master of Science in Entertainment Business. But why a sports angle? This is because my brother is going to be a personal trainer. He wants to do sports conditioning. I thought it would be interesting. Also, I was friends with a pro football player. During that time I thought about writing characters who where in the sports field. I thought this would be a great way to learn about the inner workings of the sports world. My writing will benefit from knowledge. And a bonus is I can have conversations with my brother and know what I'm talking about. My best friend is also a sports junkie. Most of my friends are into sports, if not athletes themselves. Whatever I learn may benefit them someday.  I am looking forward to learning more and more and sharing that with you here.


Sara Jo