Monthly Archives: April 2012
Thanks to our friends at FAV (www.fansagainstviolence.org), we received an update today concerning the proposed California legislation “Improving Personal Safety at Stadiums Act.” The organization notes that “[i]t is FAV’s mission to encourage fan safety at professional sporting events through education, discussion and partnerships with like-minded organizations. We believe that attending sporting events is an act of fellowship and community between fans, and that each person who attends a professional sporting event should feel safe and be protected by the hosting facility and franchise.” Kathy Samoun, a devoted Oakland Raiders fan, founded the organization and authored today’s enlightening article. Among other things, she explained that the California Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media unanimously adopted the legislation today following several critical amendments to the proposed bill. Certainly, this new California legislation could be the catalyst to compel other states to create necessary change. Please click on the link above to enjoy Kathy’s article and further support a great organization!
Where the Regulation of Violence in Sports Will Inevitably Extend: The Stands & Outside the Stadium/Arena
The professional and college sports industries have without question reached milestones with respect to revenue generation over the past decade. Both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association experienced pre-season lockouts and subsequent consuming negotiation sessions with their respective players’ unions concerning profit sharing. In 2010, the NCAA signed a monumental $10.8 billion contract with CBS Corporation and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting for the media rights to its beloved Men’s Division I College Basketball Tournament, known by most as March Madness.
It goes without saying that fans are the impetus behind such revenue growth. Whether a country and its citizens are facing a recession—even bankruptcy—or marvelous economic times, avid followers and fans of professional and college sports teams will pay hard-earned money for the pleasure drawn from watching talented athletes perform for up to three hours on the field, court or ice. Fans will do so by attending such events, watching them at bars/restaurants, or through the purchase of oversized, flat-screen televisions for home. David Levy, the President of Turner Sports, acknowledged in signing the March Madness media contract with the NCAA that “the tournament’s popularity and success [had outgrown] the ability for one network to provide all the coverage fans are looking for.” Similarly, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus recognized, “the opportunity for viewers to watch whatever game they want to on up to four different networks has to result in more eyeballs, more gross rating points and more exposure for the tournament, thereby creating much more value for the advertisers.”
I think it’s awesome that fans of professional and college sports teams continue to use this source of entertainment as an escape from the struggles facing the lives of individuals on a daily basis in many countries around the globe, including financial turmoil, disease, death and general unhappiness. However, over the same decade that the sports industry has experienced rapid revenue growth and increased popularity, the fan experience at and following sporting events has become more violent, tragic and unpleasant. A problem clearly exists that neither the professional leagues, the NCAA Directors nor the athletes have sufficiently addressed, or are even equipped to address.
Indeed, the European professional soccer leagues have essentially condoned fan violence since their creation. The Philadelphia Eagles’ late Veterans Stadium maintained holding cells to accommodate unruly fans. These facts represent proof that the sports industry has accepted violence as part of the overall fan experience for quite some time. For instance, in 2004, Lakers forward Ron Artest—or as legal documents now refer to him, Metta World Peace—climbed into the stands as an Indiana Pacer at The Palace of Auburn hills to exchange punches with a few rambunctious fans. In 2010, I attended a New York Jets game in New York as an Atlanta Falcons fan and was threatened by four Jets fans following the Falcons’ last minute defeat of the Jets. Fortunately, violence never ensued, though not as a result of action taken by stadium security. In 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan experienced the wrath of Dodger Stadium when several Dodger fans beat him almost to the point of death. And just a few weeks ago, University of Kentucky basketball fans nearly burned down and destroyed Lexington, KY, following the Wildcats’ Final Four win over state rival Louisville to gain a spot in the National Title game.
However, what has either been condoned or overlooked by these leagues and the NCAA will inevitably draw a divide between fans, compelling those who are visiting the home stadium or establishment (e.g., sports bar) of an opposing team to discontinue their participation. This decreased fan participation and interest will inevitably compel revenue to decline for the professional sports leagues, the NCAA, media outlets and corporate partners and sponsors. Should violence and unpleasant behavior by fans persist at or following sporting events, how could it not have a domino impact on the sports industry?
So, where should we as fans and professionals in the industry place blame and seek assistance in preventing this evolving problem? First and foremost, responsibility should be placed on the individuals who are involved in such inappropriate behavior. Fans have progressively turned their allegiance to sports teams into something personal. However, sustaining a loss through a favorite team is not analogous to losing a love one. Fans must realize that their personal lives will continue unscathed, so long as they categorize sporting events as entertainment and nothing more. This point allows me to transition to my second and final position. The professional sports leagues, the NCAA, the athletes, the media outlets and the corporate partners and sponsors must take on the responsibility of reminding fans of this fact. Indeed, most professional sporting venues stop serving alcohol at a certain point during team play. College venues refuse to serve alcohol altogether. Great, by taking alcohol out of the picture, these entities and individuals have indirectly implied to the fans that they should behave responsibly. However, I’m asking—maybe even pleading to—these same entities and individuals to make a direct and blatant statement to the fans: “Stop the violence and inappropriate behavior!” The NFL has already done so much to prevent violence on the field in an effort to protect its brand and revenue stream. Take the next step and prevent it from occurring in the stands and outside the stadium.
Hey guys, it’s your money, not mine, that’s being placed on the line.
This piece was written by guest author Jack Rollo, a lawyer and sports & entertainment enthusiast. Please welcome him to the THIRDandFOUR family.
I would like to thank Chris Ryan for being unable to let something go. A few months ago, LA Clippers star Blake Griffin threw down a rather impressive dunk on Oklahoma City’s defensive-minded center, Kendrick Perkins. At the time, many commentators felt that it was necessary to not only praise Griffin’s athleticism, but to mock Perkins — who was simply trying to do his job — as well. This was disgraceful, and, sadly, representative of the sports media (and media in general) as a whole. I wanted to write something about it, but I was too busy and time passed. Now, two months later, Chris Ryan has decided to refer back to Griffin’s “postering” of and “mid-air obituary” for Perkins. In doing so, he perpetuates the most negative aspects of the media, but has reopened the door for me to say my peace. So thanks again, Chris Ryan.
Kendrick Perkins plays defense. And he plays it hard. Because of this, it is widely known that Perk is a Beast. Now, it shouldn’t be noteworthy that a man who gets paid millions of dollars to play a game actually works hard on the defensive end of the floor, but it is. Perkins is limited in his offensive abilities, but he is unquestionably a valuable NBA player because he is a large man (even by NBA standards) who plays defense and grabs rebounds with a fury that far exceeds most others in the league. This fury led to Perkins trying to defend Griffin on a play where, in reality, Perkins had little chance of defensive success. Griffin is too big, too athletic, had too much momentum, and was too close to the rim for Perkins to stop him. Of course, in real time, it’s hard to make that kind of judgment, so Perkins tried and failed. Griffin threw down an incredible dunk. Perkins was posterized.
This same fate has fallen upon other NBA players, which makes sense. If you work on the defensive end, it almost certainly will happen to you. Some of your opponents will have extraordinary physical gifts, and your attempts to stop them will be in vain. Of course, other NBA players are never posterized. They avoid doing so in a rather simple manner: they don’t attempt to play defense. When an opposing player elevates to dunk, they simply let him do so. Nobody ever writes their “mid-air obituaries.” They never look foolish on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night.
In fact, SportsCenter’s Top 10 probably perhaps best captures the problem I am addressing. How often on the Top 10 do you see some version of the following: “A monster dunk by Player X. His team lost by 20 points” or “A monster dunk from Player X, but he had a rough night overall. He shot 2-847 from the floor and had eleventy billion turnovers”? If his team got crushed or he had a terrible game, why should we celebrate Player X’s monster dunk? He had a bad night. He did not help his team win. He did not perform his job. We are celebrating the momentary individual achievement over the team. We are celebrating the meaningless over the valuable.
And in team sports, one of the most valuable attributes a player can have is defensive intensity. It is no coincidence that NBA champions frequently have a player on their roster who is there for his defense. Defense is fundamental to winning, and it’s fundamentals that should be celebrated. Kobe Bryant best illustrates this point. Bryant is a star because he is a prodigious scorer, but he is one of the greatest players of all time because of his fundamentals. He is widely known as one of the league’s elite defenders. Even his scoring is predicated largely on fundamentals, as he has one of the greatest mid-range games of all time. This gets ignored. Watch the Top 10 and tell me how many mid-range jump shots you see.
What I want is for us to celebrate consistent hard work and effort over a single flashy play; celebrate substance over style. Bryant has his fundamentals because he is a notoriously obsessive worker. Likewise, defensive success is predicated mostly on tenacity. Perkins, on that famous play, put forth effort and came up short. There are countless plays, however, where Perkins’s effort will lead to success. The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the best teams in the league, one of the most complete teams in the league, and one of the favorites to at least reach, if not win, the 2012 NBA title. Kendrick Perkins is a major reason why.
We should all approach work and life the way Perkins plays defense. Work hard. Be tenacious. Make the most of the talents we have. And when we see our personal Blake Griffin charging toward the hoop, have the courage to step in and try to stop him, even if we probably can’t. Griffin’s dunk on Perkins should not be referred to as “postering” or a “mid-air obituary” or any other crime against the English language. It should be referred to as a man, Perkins, working hard to do his job and, in one moment, failing to succeed. Perkins should be praised, not mocked. Regardless, I would imagine that, because Perkins is a professional, he has shaken off that night and that moment. I would imagine he still plays defense with heart and without fear. I hope so. It’s a lesson that all of us can and should import into our own lives. Here’s hoping the sports media find some cute terminology to promote that story, too.
– Jack Rollo