Are the London Riots A Threat To The 2012 Summer Olympic Games?

It has been just under a week since the London Riots of 2011 engulfed major parts of the city, leading to nearly 1,200 arrests, intense fear among the city’s residents, and a racial tension between certain London communities thick enough to cut with a knife.  Certain of the city’s officials worry that the riots are a mere indication of what will transpire in the future.  Indeed, New York Times journalist John Burns reported on Wednesday that “police and political leaders worr[y] about a potentially explosive new pattern of interracial violence that could be set off by the past four days of mayhem.”

The violence in London could not have come at a worse time.  Just two weeks ago, the city celebrated its one-year countdown to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, scheduled to commence on July 27, 2012.  Concurrently, several International Olympic Committee (IOC) members arrived and still remain in the city, as they review London’s progress in completing its athletic facilities and an Olympic friendly environment.  As a result of the recent violence—which reached within four miles of the main Olympic Stadium and other key venues on Monday—the IOC has witnessed the cancellation, postponement and/or interruption of several Olympic test games and matches associated with the start of the English soccer season.  Certainly, this image is far from what London wanted to convey to the IOC during one of its last visits to the city prior to the commencement of the Summer Games.

Thus, the question arises, would the IOC ever reschedule, move, or cancel the 2012 Summer Olympic Games based on the recent violence or the potential for future violence in London?

In the 115-year existence of the Summer Olympic Games, the Games have been cancelled only three times—and each time, the World was in the middle of a massive war (i.e., either WWI or WWII).  It goes without saying that the IOC did not have to consult a rulebook prior to each of the aforementioned cancellations to determine whether the Committee’s decision was appropriate.  However, to determine whether the IOC would ever reschedule, move, or cancel the 2012 Summer Olympic Games as a result of the recent violence or the potential for violence in London, I consulted the Olympic Charter.   The Charter is a set of rules and guidelines that has been adopted by the IOC and ultimately “governs the organization, action and operation of the Olympic Movement and sets forth the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.”

Pursuant to Rule 33 of the Charter, the host city agrees to organize an Olympic Summer Games experience that is, among other things, competitive and fair for the athletes, but most importantly safe for all individuals:

The Olympic host city “must submit to the IOC a legally binding instrument by which the said government undertakes and guarantees that the country and its public authorities will comply with and respect the Olympic Charter.”  Further, the National Olympic Committee (NOC)—the committee that develops, promotes and protects the Olympic Movement for the host country—“must guarantee that the Olympic Games will be organized to the satisfaction of and under the conditions required by the IOC.”

According to Rule 33, London is treading in deep water.  With only a year to go before the city hosts the Summer Olympic Games, violence has ensnarled the neighborhoods within miles of the primary athletic venues.  Currently, the host city is not safe, and should the violence persist, London arguably would be in breach of the abovementioned agreement with the IOC.  So, with this potential outcome, can the IOC designate and prepare an alternate city to host the Summer Games?

At first glance, the answer appears to be a clear yes.  Pursuant to Rule 34 of the Charter, “[a]ll sports competition must take place in the host city of the Olympic Games, unless the IOC Executive Board authorizes the organization of certain events in other cities, sites or venues situated in the same country.”  Thus, it initially appears that the IOC can move the Summer Games, or at least certain events or venues, to other cities within the United Kingdom.  Not so fast.  Bylaw, Rule 34 specifies that “[a]ny request to organize any event, discipline or other sports competition in any other city or location than the host city itself must be presented in writing to the IOC at the latest prior to the visit of the Evaluation Commission for candidate cities.”  In other words, The IOC can only grant a request from a host city (e.g., London) to relocate the Summer Games to another city where the request is submitted prior to the Commission approving London as the Olympic Games host.

Hmm…  Interestingly, Rule 34 does not specify whether the IOC can relocate the games without a city’s relocation request.  I’d imagine the same rules apply under such circumstances, but do they?

Rule 36 of the Charter provides that “in the event of non compliance with the Olympic Charter or other regulations or instructions of the IOC, or a breach of the obligations entered into by the NOC, the OCOG [i.e., an organizing committee created by the NOC] or the host city, the IOC is entitled to withdraw, at any time and with immediate effect, the organization of the Olympic Games from the host city, the OCOG and the NOC, without prejudice to compensation for any damage thereby caused to the IOC. In such a case, the NOC, the OCOG, the host city, the country of the host city and all their governmental or other authorities, or any other party, whether at any city, local, state, provincial, other regional or national level, shall have no claim for any form of compensation against the IOC.”

Ah-ha!  Though the IOC has to meet somewhat of a hefty burden, it can withdraw the Olympic Games from the host city at any time based on the city’s failure to comply with the Charter.  Thus, while it appears the IOC cannot relocate or reschedule the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, it maintains the power to cancel them altogether as if WWI or WWII is occurring all over again.  My message to London is simple: reign in your social unrest before the IOC bypasses your city for Rio in 2016!

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Friday Morning Workout

A-Rod under investigation by MLB for allegedly participating in high stakes, illegal poker games with Hollywood’s elite.

NFL players officially ratify a new ten-year CBA on Thursday.  Under the agreement, Goodell retains exclusive authority to discipline players under the personal conduct policy, and the NFL becomes the first league to implement HGH testing.

Kansas City Chiefs TE Leonard “Champ” Pope attributes the lockout to him saving a child’s life.

Why on earth do so many athletes want to become musicians?  An answer may not exist to this question.  However, Here’s ESPN’s list of musicians who would make it’s starting five.

Roethlisberger’s civil sexual assault case still on in Reno.

NFL’s most flamboyant personalities.

NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter is betting on a cancelled 2011-12 season, while encouraging his players to work elsewhere.

Rather than waiting for the players to decertify and sue, as the NFLPA did this year, the NBA owners took their own legal initiative.

Track NBA players who intend to play or are considering playing overseas.

The Milwaukee Bucks Brandon Jennings is spending his NBA lockout interning at Under Armour

NASCAR Drivers are using Social Media to promote themselves and their sponsors

Comcast is suing DirecTV over ‘Deceptive’ Claims of Free Televised Games

Former Gridiron Great and Movie “Star” Bubba Smith passed away this week.  Here’s a nice tribute to him from Michael Weinreb

The Harvard Business Review outlines Six Steps to Successful Sponsorships

This guy has over 2,000 pairs of Nike shoes.  And he shows you all of them in just 11 minutes. He also built a museum for them.

Want to be a Sports Agent in California? Make sure you’re in accordance with this new law.

Braylon Edwards has a big week!  First, authorities implicate him in a bar fight in Michigan.  Then he signs a 1-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Former NBA player Darius Miles attempts to sneak a concealed gun through airport security.

Mark Cuban provides his guide to getting rich.

Duke basketball contacts the NCAA for rule interpretation.

A new venture by Brand Affinity Technologies called Fantapper could revolutionize professional athletes’ media presence.

California district judge upholds a class action suit against EA Sports, which alleges EA unlawfully used college athletes’ likenesses without their consent.  Should the athletes prevail, EA could owe plaintiffs up to 25 percent of its annual revenue.

Common Themes of the Best Athlete Endorsed Brand Campaigns

Celebrity and athlete endorsements are without question some of the most useful marketing tools that a brand can use.  The way fans idolize their favorite athletes allows brands to capture those positive feelings by using those athletes to endorse their products.  With many products that use athlete endorsers, the suggestion that the average person can jump higher or run faster by using a particular product makes the endorsement all the more powerful.

While there are literally hundreds if not thousands of brands that have partnered with athletes over the years, there are several products and campaigns that have stuck with us through the years.  These particular brands managed to use their athlete endorsers to not only help sell products at that moment in time, but to
also create a lasting image that garnered positive feelings for that brand long after that commercial or campaign had been shelved.

Today, we’re going to take a look at a handful of those campaigns, and what common themes they utilized to make their ad campaigns iconic, much like their spokesmen.

MEAN JOE GREEN DRINKS COKE

This commercial debuted during the 1980 Super Bowl, and ever since then, it has ended up near the top of every list of the best Super Bowl commercials ever.  Besides using an iconic pitchman like Mean Joe Green, the real key here is the juxtaposition of the tough football player and the young generous boy.  The message here is pretty strong – the implication is that drinking a Coke can improve anyone’s mood – as Mean Joe becomes a nice guy after drinking the Coke.  While the jingle itself isn’t that catchy, the end catchphrase of “Have a Coke and a Smile” works because it’s easy to remember, and fits into everyday conversations.  But what really sells this commercial is the young boy’s reaction when Mean Joe goes from hard-ass football player to a giving soul.  His face lights up, and we get the secondary catchphrase, “Thanks Mean Joe!”  That’s the lasting image from this commercial – and over 30 years later it still gets replayed every February when everyone is talking about Super Bowl commercials.  For that, this campaign ranks among the best ever.


TIGER WOODS GOLF – NIKE

At the end of the millennium, no question existed as to who was the best golfer in the world–Tiger Woods. He was in the process of obliterating the course record at the Masters and was already anointed as the one who would pass Jack Nicklaus, even though he had only won a few majors at that point.  Nike had launched its entire golf product line by partnering with Woods, and instantly gained credibility in the market. And while that probably would have happened regardless of their ad campaign, one commercial served as the catalyst for Nike Golf, and Tiger Woods.

Unlike the other campaigns on this list, there was no catchy jingle, no catchphrase, nor any additional celebrities.  Instead, it consisted of Tiger Woods bouncing a ball on his golf club without it hitting the ground, using the club to toss the ball into the air, and then taking a half golf swing and crushing the ball into the distance.  The message was what we already knew; that there were things Tiger Woods could do on a golf course that nobody else was capable of.  The key was that you had to see it to believe it, so people made a point to see it.

The other advantage this campaign had over others was that it happened in the internet era.  While YouTube wasn’t in place, this ad and campaign still spread like wildfire.  And it’s still a popular view today, with almost 1.8 million hits on YouTube.  It’s so popular that the bloopers from that commercial shoot have over 1.1 million views.  It’s easily the most popular golf ad ever and certainly ranks in the Top 5 of most powerful sports endorsement campaigns ever too.

ITS GOTTA BE THE SHOES – NIKE AIR JORDAN

While some of the other campaigns Michael Jordan has been involved with may have been more memorable, he’s still best known as the original, and really the only, spokesman for Nike’s Air Jordan Brand.  Starting in the mid-80’s, Jordan was synonymous with basketball, dunking, and Nike. While there were many great commercials involving Jordan, the signature campaign included Jordan and a loud, scrawny character named Mars Blackmon, played by rising director and actor Spike Lee.

While Jordan dribbled, shot and dunked, Mars asked Jordan what made him the best basketball player in the world.  Jordan never gave a definitive answer, while Mars continually asked what became a rhetorical non-question: “It’s gotta be the shoes?!” And even if nobody really believed that Nike’s shoes made Jordan as good as he was, kids playing basketball across America eagerly pointed to their shoes after a made shot or dunk and repeated the phrase.

In the end, the name Mars Blackmon may have been more popular than the phrase itself, as the new Nike ads with Spike became highly anticipated events themselves.   But the combination of Jordan, the phrase and Mars Blackmon is something that every male teen and pre-teen of that era remembers.


BE LIKE MIKE – GATORADE

By 1992, there was no bigger star in sports than Michael Jordan.  He was far and away the best player in all of basketball.  He had already won his 1st NBA Championship, was well on his way to his 2nd and he was about to lead the Dream Team to a Gold Medal in the 1992 Olympics.  Anything he endorsed on or off the basketball court was going to turn to gold too.  But Gatorade managed to take the icon to another level with its Be Like Mike ad campaign.  The visuals of the commercial itself aren’t anything spectacular – just Jordan doing what Jordan does.  But the message couldn’t have been any clearer – if you drink Gatorade, you will BE LIKE MIKE.

The catchphrase itself was enough to create a national word of mouth campaign, but what made this campaign one of the best ever was the jingle written by Bernie Pitzel and composed by Ira Antelis and Steve Shafer.  As a 13 year old, I memorized the lyrics, which I still know today. I even bought a CD with the song on it. If iTunes had been around back then, it easily would have moved a million units.  The jingle was that popular then, and for those individuals who came of age in the early 90’s, it’s still synonymous with Gatorade.

Sometimes I dream

That he is me

You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be

I dream I move, I dream I groove

Like Mike

If I could Be Like Mike

Again I try

Just need to fly

For just one day if I could

Be that way

I dream I move

I dream I groove

Like Mike

If I could Be Like Mike

*For the full story on how the Be Like Mike campaign came into existence, check out Darren Rovell’s First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon.

BO KNOWS – NIKE

Much like the Be Like Mike campaign, Nike’s Bo Knows campaign originated in the early 90’s. It centered around the greatest athlete of his time, Bo Jackson – the superhuman running back and baseball player for the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Royals.  While there were several different commercials associated with the Bo Knows campaign, the most memorable one was probably the Bo Diddley version, which in fact featured Blues legend Bo Diddley.

The concept was creative yet relatively simple – Bo Jackson is a great football player and baseball player, but what else does he “know”? Utilizing athletes and legends from every other major sport, including the likes of Wayne Gretzky and John McEnroe, Nike used celebrities and the catchphrase “Bo Knows” to create a memorable ad campaign.  Certainly the presence of other athletes gave
the campaign credibility, but the often repeated phrase of “Bo Knows” is what
sets this ad apart.  The icing on the cake was Bo Diddley telling Bo Jackson, “Bo, you don’t know Diddley!”—a phrase that made its way into the American lexicon for several years.  It even served as the title of Bo’s autobiography
“Bo Knows Bo”.

Subsequent versions of this campaign featured a similar theme of Bo Jackson, the super athlete, competing in every sport, and even a cameo from Sonny Bono poking fun at the Bo Knows campaign.

In the end, Bo’s injuries and shortened career took him out of the spotlight sooner than expected. But if you mention his name to anyone of the age range 25-40, they will ineveitably make some mention of Bo Knows.

So as a brand looks to partner with an athlete for a national campaign, what kind of lessons can they learn from the Cokes, Gatorades and Nikes of the world?

The first lesson is to secure A+ talent.  With the possible exception of Mean Joe Green, the other athletes used were the absolute best at what they did at the time.  If you’re trying to convince people to use your product, you have to be able to convince them that the best athletes in the world use your products.  And if you have the budget to bring in other celebs or athletes, do it.  They don’t have to be the principal endorser, but they’ll help provide that extra oomph.

The second lesson is to find a catchphrase that resonates outside of the commercial.  Be Like Mike and Bo Knows caught on not because of the 30 second spot, but because of the two and three word phrases that kids and adults repeated over and over again.  Use the athlete’s name, keep it short, and make it repeatable.

The third lesson is to think bigger than the 30 second spot.  3 of the 5 campaigns on this list weren’t one-off advertisements, but rather a series of ads based around the same theme.  Mars Blackmon was a running theme for Nike Air that spanned several years.  Bo Knows included several ads that all focused on the Bo Knows themes, but were different variations in their own right. Be Like Mike not only served as a jingle for the Gatorade commercial, but it became its own revenue stream when the company began selling the single.

Finally, be original.  For instance, (i) the reason the Be Like Mike ad succeeded was because nobody saw it coming from Gatorade; (ii) an acclaimed director/actor playing a central role in a basketball shoe commercial had never been done before Nike did it; (iii) Tiger Woods bouncing a golf ball on his golf club was an unconventional way to show his skill; (iv) Mean Joe Green was one of the first athletes used in a Super Bowl commercial like that; and (v) Bo Knows was one of the first commercials to use several other athletes and celebrities to sell a product primarily marketed by another athlete.

Friday Morning Workout

The legendary Larry Bird illustrates the gamesmanship behind professional basketball.

The NFLPA executive board and the player representatives for each of the 32 teams voted unanimously on Monday to approve the proposed CBA and end the 4½-month lockout.

Click here to get a breakdown of the final agreement in laymen terms.

In the fight between the league/owners and the NFLPA, which resulted in a new CBA, who are the winners and losers?

Should the NCAA present a case to the NFL that Terrelle Pryor could have been eligible for any portion of the upcoming 2011 college football season, The NFL likely will deny Pryor’s application to participate in the 2011 supplemental draft.  According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, “[the supplemental NFL draft is for players whose circumstances have changed in an unforeseen way after the regular (college) draft. It is not a mechanism for simply bypassing the regular (draft).”  Though the NFL has yet to consider Pryor’s eligibility to participate in the supplemental draft, on Tuesday, OSU’s athletic director issued a letter declaring Pryor ineligible for the entirety of the 2011 college football season.

After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge in NY last Friday, Jets’ star WR Braylon Edwards could face jail time if a Cleveland judge determines that the plea violates his probation related to an October 2009 incident of disorderly conduct.

Cooperstown honors new Hall of Fame inductees.

The NBA’s 2010-11 season audit reveals that basketball-related income and player compensation increased by close to 5%, a sizable jump in comparison to the last two seasons.

The NBA players who intend to jump ship for Europe next season could learn a lot from the American-born, European veteran/legend Marcus Brown.

Taking advantage of his time off during the lockout while demonstrating the importance of education, Cavaliers’ guard Baron Davis returns to the UCLA campus 12 years after he left.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as an ESPN guess writer, attributes the loss of revenue by small-market NBA teams to the slow development (or total lack thereof) of players who enter the league too early with enormous contracts.

An NCAA special panel proposes to broaden the definition of “agent” to include “people marketing athletes to colleges, not just professional teams, for profit.”  This would include family members, such as Cam Newton’s father Cecil, who marketed Cam to Mississippi State for money prior to Cam’s enrollment with Auburn.

Following the NFL lockout, is it possible for fantasy football to recover as a moneymaking industry this year?

This summer has seen business as usual for NFL ad sales.

Michael Rosenberg of SI gives his take on why elite student-athletes should be paid.

NBA star Kevin Love gives Pro Beach Volleyball a go.

Peter King of SI reports HBO has cancelled its 2011 season of Hard Knocks.

 

Pop Culture – League Dress Code

As promised, THIRDandFOUR will occasionally mix in pop culture to keep things fresh and exciting.  This week, we address the various dress code policies that have been implemented within the professional sports leagues.  Our focus concerns the manner in which certain professional athletes, e.g., Amar’e Stoudemire, have taken advantage of these restrictions to further their professional image and create new professional opportunities for themselves either away from the field or off of the court.

***

As an attorney, I have grown accustomed to regularly wearing either business casual attire or suits.  I’ve accepted that this attire—though uncomfortable at times—is necessary for co-workers, clients, and adversaries to perceive me as professional and as someone who takes his work seriously.  The key to enjoying such attire, however, is to have a little fun with it.  I accomplish this level of fun by wearing immaculately shined shoes, custom-fitted shirts, uniquely lined blazers, colorful pocket squares, and signature argyle socks.  Often, I stand out in a room full of people.  But who doesn’t like a little attention? It can be the deciding factor as to whether you get your dream job or meet your future wife.

For many professional athletes, loafers, wingtips, slacks, dress shirts, blazers, and ties are as foreign to them as a consistent golf swing is to me.  Understandably, these athletes consider this attire bizarre, when their typical daily attire throughout high school, college or the minors consisted of either athletic shorts, sweats, t-shirts, or hoodies.  In comparison to most young Americans, Individuals who strive to become professional athletes never partake in semester or summer-long internships that require a business attire “uniform.” They work on their game.  Thus, this conservative attire never becomes an integral part of their professional lives.

That being said, once professional athletes reach the “league,” most of them yearn to stand out and fully project themselves.  As entertainers, they are drawn to the spotlight and naturally crave attention.  Unlike me or someone else who maintains that 9 to 5…6…7…8…9…10…11 job, they are naturally less worried about what their teammates, their boss, or the opposing players think about their attire.  Generally, professional athletes are of the mindset that if their clothing or jewelry draws attention—any attention—to them, they have accomplished what they set out to achieve.  It’s natural for them to think this.  These material things display their personality, wealth, and level of success.  Moreover, some, but certainly not all, professional athletes believe that once they strip away the uniform and step off of either the field or the court, their bosses, the media, and the fans no longer judge them.  Thus, they aren’t required to present themselves in a manner that is considered professional by either the league, the media, or the fans.  These individuals are misguided.  Professional athletes—as entertainers—are under a spotlight 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  To be successful, at all times, they must cater to the audience (i.e., white-collar fans) that roots for them, purchases expensive tickets to their games, buys ridiculously overpriced beers and hotdogs, and ultimately pays their salaries.  As a result, most professional sports leagues have recognized this principle and implemented some sort of off-the-court dress code policy that controls what players can wear while conducting league business.

For instance, the Commissioner of the National Football League—probably the most lenient of the big-four leagues when it concerns attire—retains jurisdiction over the players’ attire for ninety minutes after the end of games.  Thus, according to the Houston Chronicle, players are not permitted to conduct interviews while wearing clothing with visible logos of non-NFL licensed apparel.

According to the Communications Manager of the Major League Baseball Players Association, no MLB dress code exists.  However, individual clubs have the discretionary authority to compel players to abide by certain standards.  Many teams, such as the Yankees, have taken advantage of this authority.  The Yankees, for instance, prohibit all facial hair other than sideburns and mustaches.  Similarly, NFL teams maintain the discretion to instill a dress code, for instance, when traveling to and from the hotel or the stadium.

The National Hockey League is quite unique with respect to its dress code.  ESPN columnist Scott Burnside sums it up best: “hockey players have been told what to wear for years, long before they reach the NHL.  Most junior and minor-pro teams have some form of dress code covering what is and isn’t to be worn to games and around the rink.  Dress codes for minor hockey teams are also common and are seen as a way of fostering team unity and cohesion.”  According to Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent Lecavalier, “everybody wears a suit.  We’re just used to it.”  Burnside also noted that although an unofficial dress code exists in hockey, Exhibit 14, Paragraph 5 of the collective bargaining agreement officially checks those players who have a tendency to venture offsides (pun intended).  It states: “[p]layers are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants to all Club games and while traveling to and from such games unless otherwise specified by the Head Coach or General Manager.”

***

Over the past two decades, the National Basketball Association has been synonymous with hip-hop culture.  For instance, during the 1990’s, Shaquille O’Neal—now, the “Big AARP”—rapped his way through his entire career with the Orlando Magic and three seasons with the LA Lakers.  He produced such great hits, like “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” on his 1993 album Shaq Diesel; “Freaky Flow” on his 1994 album Shaq-Fu: Da Return; “Strait Playin” on his 1996 album You Can’t Stop the Reign; and “48 @ The Buzzer” on his 1998 album Respect.  And let’s not forget about his favorite Lakers’ teammate Kobe Bryant, who collaborated with model Tyra Banks to produce the hit song KOBE.

So during the 2005-06 season, when—to the surprise of most of their players—the NBA implemented a very strict dress code, the new restrictions created quite an uproar.  In a memo issued to NBA players on October 17, 2005, commissioner David Stern required players to wear “business casual” attire while engaging in “team or league business” (i.e., all activity conducted on behalf of the team or the league during which the player is seen by, or interacts with, fans, business partners, members of the public, the media, or other third parties).  During players’ attendance at games in which they are not playing, they must additionally wear a “sport coat” along with “dress shoes or boots, and socks.”

Following his review of the memo, then Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell expressed his discontent regarding the new rules, stating in a quote to ESPN, “I understand they’re making it out to make us look better to corporate and big business.  But we don’t really sell to big business…  We sell to kids and people who are into the NBA hip-hop world.  They may be marketing to the wrong people with this.”

Wrong!  Try again, Raja.  As explained above, “corporate and big business” pay your bills.  David Stern understood this principle in 2005 and certainly wasn’t going to let something as simple as his players’ attire drive away the substantial amount of revenue obtained by the league through corporate America.

Editor-In-Chief of Vogue Magazine Anna Wintour and Amar’e Stoudemire attend the Tommy Hilfiger Spring 2011 fashion show

So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Since the inception of the NBA dress code policy, the Knicks’ star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (aka STAT – Standing Tall And Talented) has done just that.  In the illustrious words of Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, over a five-year period, Amar’e has become a fashion icon.  He has enlisted the help of stylist Rachel Johnson and 6’5″ tailor Waraire Boswell to conquer his 6’10” height–a fashion barrier for many.  While Lebron James and Dwayne Wade sit beside each other during post-game press-conferences dueling over whose windsor knot is larger, Amar’e consistently appears before the media solo, dressed confidently for success.

Lebron James and Dwayne Wade address each other and the media after Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Amar'e Stoudemire addresses the media following a First Round Playoff Game against the Boston Celtics

Amar'e Stoudemire addresses the media following a First Round Playoff Game against the Boston Celtics

THIRDandFOUR applauds Amar’e Stoudemire.  He has taken the restrictions imposed upon him by the NBA and turned it into a love for fashion and a way to further himself professionally off of the court.  His new friend Anna Wintour has featured him on the cover of and within Vogue Magazine.  There, he is complimented for “his fashion instincts” that “are remarkably honed.”

Moreover, he has partnered with fashion designer Rachel Roy to design and release a women’s fashion line in fall 2011.  As for the rest of the NBA, many players should take notice:

Friday Morning Workout

Former UGA football coach Jim Donnan accused of making millions via a Ponzi scheme.

Mendenhall Sues Champion based on his terminated endorsement deal.

15 Popular Athletes who squandered their millions—many of whom you’d never guess.

Odds are good that Clemens will face another trial despite his argument regarding double jeopardy.

USC’s Kiffin suspends senior starting running back Marc Tyler for making inappropriate comments to TMZ.

Lance Armstrong fights back against prosecuting attorneys, claiming they leaked inappropriate grand jury investigation information to the media.

Laker’s Odom was a passenger in a vehicle that struck and seriously injured a motorcyclist and killed a young pedestrian in New York.

Bengals’ Cedric Benson jailed on assault for the second consecutive off-season.

Deron William and Zaza Pachulia officially sign contracts to play in Turkey contingent upon the NBA work stoppage continuing through the start of the season.

LA Lakers longtime trainer Gary Vitti recounts the days leading up to and after Magic’s announcement to the world that he had contracted HIV.

Once the NFL season commences, replay officials will automatically review every scoring play during NFL games, likely lengthening games considerably.

Insurance costs could hinder NBA player participation in the London 2012 Olympic games.  Stern and FIBA are scheduled to meet this coming Tuesday to discuss.

The Women’s World Cup final set the record for tweets per second.

Tiger Woods abruptly fires caddie Steve Williams after a 12-year relationship in which Tiger won 72 times and 13 major tournaments.

Rick Reilly’s suggestions to Tiger concerning how he can revamp his image and his game.

SEC Commissioner Slive opened the Southeastern Conference media day on Wednesday by pushing the NCAA to make extreme changes, including toughening academic requirements for student-athletes and broadening recruitment rules.  Interestingly, Slive chose to push for these changes in a year when more than one of his schools faces sanctions or an investigation by the NCAA.

Continuing to ride the comeback wave, Vick snags additional endorsement deals.

75 Ex-players sue the NFL and Helmet maker Riddell, claiming defendants intentionally withheld from players their knowledge about the long-term, adverse impact of multiple concussions on the brain.

Former NFL GM Vinny Cerrato offers five rules that the 32 NFL teams should follow when tackling this year’s abnormally short free agency period.  Can these teams feasibly sign hundreds of players in a number of days?

Ivy League football decreases full contact practices from five to two a week to limit the risk of concussions.

The NCAA strikes again, sanctioning the LSU football team after an assistant coach improperly provided a JUCO player transportation and housing.

A generation with a strong sense of self-entitlement is rewarded for pouting.

Chad Ocho Cinco, allergic to the sun?!?

 

Rashard Mendenhall Sues Champion – Good Move?

This week, Pittsburgh Steeler’s running back Rashard Mendenhall sued Hanesbrand, parent company of his ex-sponsor Champion apparel, for $1,000,000 for their termination of his endorsement contract with them.  As you may recall, on the night that United States forces killed Osama Bin Laden, Mendenhall used his Twitter account to voice his opinion about the killing of Bin Laden.  Specifically, Mendenhall tweeted the following:

“What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how
people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one
side.”

In regards to the 9/11 attacks he continued:

“I’m not convinced he was even behind the attacks we have really seen no
evidence to prove it other than the gov telling us.”

Those tweets were condemned by just about everyone.   Shortly thereafter, Champion terminated its deal with Mendenhall which went through April 2015, stating that “while we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion.”

While Mendenhall could have just kept his head down and let this fall by the wayside, he decided to fight for the remainder of his contract.  And while its nearly impossible to make a sensible public relations case or defense for Rashard, this suit does raise a very interesting legal issue – can an athlete or celebrity be in breach of a moral turpitude clause of a contract just for voicing an opinion?

Almost every endorsement, appearance, or performance agreement involving a public figure includes a moral turpitude clause that gives the hiring party the option to void the contract if the public figure is in violation of the moral turpitude clause.  These clauses are fairly standard in language, and Rashard’s deal with Champion was no different.

According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, the language in Mendenhall’s deal stated that Champion had the right to terminate Mendenhall if he “commits or is arrested for any crime or becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”  As far as moral turpitude clauses go, this one is actually fairly broad, as it seems to cover any situation where Mendenhall is involved in a scandal that offends the public, and is not limited to just specific actions by Mendenhall.

However, Mendenhall’s legal team thinks he has a case.  According to the suit – “this case involves the core question of whether an athlete employed as a celebrity endorser loses the right to express opinions simply because the company whose products he endorses might disagree with some (but not all) of those opinions”.  To be sure, this is a very interesting question moving forward, especially as celebrities have more and more ways and means to express themselves to large groups of people.  But upon a closer look at the language of Mendenhall’s contract, it seems like he’s arguing a case that he can’t make for himself.

The language of his contract seems to clearly state that if Mendenhall “….becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public” he will be in violation of his agreement with Champion.  Given that his comments were wildly read throughout the internet and on newspapers across the country, and were almost unanimously condemned and ridiculed by both pundits and the public, its pretty obvious that his actions are in breach of his moral turpitude clause.  A plain language interpretation yields a poor result for Mendenhall in this fight.  His lawyers seem to be focusing on the fact that Champion didn’t agree with what Mendenhall’s opinion was on Bin Laden, and that they can’t terminate him for that.  And they may be correct about that.  But the language for termination isn’t based on Mendenhall being at odds with the morals of Champion.  Its based on him denigrating himself through his actions in such a way that offends the majority of the public, which he clearly did.

The basis of 95% of all moral turpitude clauses are not because celebrities need to live up to the morals the company sets forth.  Rather it is to ensure that the company is getting what it is paying for.  As a spokesperson for a company, there is an understanding that the reason a company is working with the celebrity is because of the value of that celebrity’s reputation and recommendation in the marketplace. Once a celebrity has tarnished that through their actions, they no longer provide that same value to the company.  Both Michael Vick and Tiger Woods lost endorsement contracts for their actions based on this.  If your spokesperson is no longer worth the millions of dollars you were paying him to endorse your products, the company needs a way to get out of those deals.  That is the purpose of a moral turpitude clause.

Had Mendenhall’s contractual language been more finely tailored to limit his moral turpitude to just specific acts or arrests, and not included the broader language of insulting or offending the majority of the public, he may have had a stronger legal footing.  But the language here actually seems to contemplate this specific type of scenario, where Mendenhall’s words or actions insulted and offended the masses.  And there seems to be no doubt that is what occurred here.

Beyond the legal case, which he will likely lose, Mendenhall is on a slippery public relations slope.  While his comments were big news when he made them, he has largely avoided the spotlight since then.  And while this story will probably never be entirely wiped off of his Wikipedia page, the masses were beginning to forget, as they tend to do.  Now Mendenhall has gone to great lengths to remind everyone of what he said, and in doing so further tarnished his image.  If there was a slam-dunk case for him to win the $1,000,000, it may have been worth it.  But since that case is dubious at best, he’s now left without an endorsement deal and is reminding fans and sponsors why he’s not a good person to be doing business with.  Mendenhall is putting all of his eggs in this one endorsement basket.  As it was, he was unlikely to garner any other national endorsement opportunities.  That is even more so the case now that he has taken it to the courts.

It seems like Rashard has gotten some bad advice, because this is a loss in the courtroom, a loss in the court of public opinion, and a loss in the endorsement game.

Weekly Correction – Let the Kid Pout!

This past Tuesday evening, the San Francisco Giants played the Los Angeles Dodgers before a uniquely tense home crowd.  The crowd was emotional, not because a Giants’ win against L.A. would have decided whether the team maintained its NL West Division lead (the Giants are in the driver’s seat with respect to the division, holding a 4-game lead over their closest competitor the Arizona Diamondbacks), but because a Giants’ foul ball went to its rightful owner.

For those of you who missed the fiasco that transpired in the Giants’ stadium Tuesday night, here’s a quick synopsis: In the fourth inning of the game, first baseman Brandon Belt zinged a foul ball into the upper deck stands.  As the ball headed directly at an adult male fan, in true first, second or third date form, the fan sacrificed his left hand to snag the ball, and then gifted it to the beautiful lady that accompanied him to the game.  Upon receiving the gift, the “damsel in distress” smiled and celebrated, while her man described to the people around him the pain he endured while seizing her prize.

Concurrent with this celebration, a young male child, sitting just one row behind the guy who snagged the ball, threw an absolute fit before his father and, unbeknownst to him, the viewers watching at home, at bars, and wherever else people watch baseball games in San Fran.  Shockingly, this child’s reaction was not reminiscent of the childish fit you expect from someone his age—in other words, the fit most children throw when they can’t eat candy before dinner.  This kid pressed his chin tightly into his chest, squinted his eyes, stared intently at the man and his date, and reminiscent of a scene from the 1988 movie Child’s Play, gave the couple the look of “Chucky” (i.e., death).  Notwithstanding his father’s attempts to reason with him, the kid continued this spectacle for close to a minute and a half, until the Giants’ television announcers arranged for the stadium’s staff to deliver to him and the calm child sitting next to him two baseballs similar to the one in the lady’s possession.

***

Now, as a preface to what I’m about to say, I do like children.  I even love certain children.  In fact, I hope to be a father one day.  Nonetheless, the manner in which the Giants’ announcers and stadium staff reacted to and dealt with this kid absolutely infuriates me.

I understand that at a young age, it’s natural for a child to have a strong, yet unrealistic sense of entitlement.  However, those individuals around the child must curtail it immediately.  Under the circumstances described above, even though the foul ball travelled and eventually landed in an area far from the pouting child, he still believed that he deserved the ball because of this unrealistic sense of entitlement.  I can just imagine the thoughts that ran through his head after he didn’t receive the foul ball: “I’m seven.  I usually get whatever I want from my family.  I want this ball.  I will pout until I get what I want.”

This line of reasoning and natural reaction is absurd—even for a child his age—and should not be rewarded.  Here, I pat the father on the back for not succumbing to his son’s moaning and whining.  The father generally ignored him, and when the child eventually threw his hands up in disgust, the father shook his head, as if to say, “your reaction is not okay.  This is life.”  Thank you, dad!

On the other hand, the Giants’ announcers supported, and essentially advocated for, a thriving generation of individuals who believe that they can obtain whatever they desire without earning it.  For a case in point, look at all the Wall Street snobs and Ponzi schemers who defrauded Americans of their hard-earned money and still don’t quite understand why everyone, including the government, hates them.  These guys and gals were probably raised with this same unrealistic sense of entitlement.

 

In final, let’s give it up for the boneheaded Giants’ announcers—the guys who fed the bear when the sign specifically said, “Don’t Feed the Animals.”

Friday Morning Workout

Friday Morning Workout

Welcome to your Friday Morning Workout, THIRDandFOUR’s new weekly post for those of you who missed the week’s news concerning sports law, sports business, sports media, or sports public relations.  Dig in and make sure you break a sweat!

Selig fully supports David Einhorn’s purchase of one-third of the Mets from principal owners Fred Wilpon and family, notwithstanding the $1-billion plus lawsuit that has been brought against the Wilpons by Trustee Irving Pickard on behalf of victims of Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme.  The Court recently granted the Wilpons’ motion to move the case from the bankruptcy court to a federal district court, where Judge Rakoff likely will limit the plaintiffs’ recovery based on a theory that the Wilpons’ failure to investigate Madoff’s investments did not constitute “willful blindness” or culpable intent.  Read more.

Erin Andrews opens up about her stalker.  Read more.

The assistant to Canadian sports doctor Anthony Galea claims that though the doctor treated Tiger Woods after his 2009 knee surgery, he did not inject Woods with any illegal substances.  Read more.

Shaquille O’Neal decides to join TNT’s NBA Coverage. Read more.

Former Cowboy’s wide receiver and sports commentator Michael Irvin appears shirtless on the cover of the gay men’s magazine Out, where he explains that his passion for marriage equality is a direct result of his relationship with his gay brother who died from cancer in 2006.  Read more.

ESPN Now Making Candy Bars too?  Read more.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association project that they will ratify a new CBA by July 21, 2011 in order to save the entire NFL pre-season.   The most complex issues yet to be resolved through negotiations are veteran free agency and the rookie wage system. Read more.

See how sports figures use Twitter. Read more.

The NFL salary cap will undoubtedly be lower than before once a CBA is adopted.  With a hypothetical $120 million cap, the following six teams already exceed it: (1) the Dallas Cowboys; (2) the Oakland Raiders; (3) the New York Giants; (4) the Pittsburg Steelers; (5) the Minnesota Vikings; and (6) the Indianapolis Colts. Read more.

CNBC’s SportsBiz expert Darren Rovell provides 100 rules for using Twitter. Read more.

Pursuant to the 1999 NBA collective bargaining agreement, the NBA withholds 8% of player salaries and places it into escrow each season to ensure that these salaries do not exceed 57% of league revenues.  Unlike every other season, the NBA will soon return this year’s money to the players due to increased revenue throughout the 2010-11 season—a welcome surprise for certain players and fuel to the players’ argument that the League does not need to overhaul the current financial system.  Read more.

Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s Vice President of Enforcement, has made it clear that the NCAA is not done investigating Auburn with respect to its dealings with Cam Newton.  Read more.

ESPN initiates suit against Ohio State University, accusing the school of violating the state’s public records law by denying requests for information concerning the NCAA’s investigation of Tressel and Pryor.  Read more.

Despite Prince Fielder’s displayed adoration for his sons during the MLB All-Star festivities this week (a true image booster), he has no intentions of rebuilding the torn relationship between him and his father, former all-star first baseman Cecil Fielder.  Read more.

Sports Illustrated’s List of 100 people in Sports To Follow on Twitter.  Read more.

Adam Pacman Jones may have, for once, been profiled and improperly targeted leading up to his July 10th arrest.  Read more.

The NCAA nabs its next victim: Georgia Tech over a mere $312. Read more.

Breaking News Analysis: The Roger Clemens’ Trial

Roger Clemens in 2008 before the Congressional Committee

Yesterday afternoon, multiple media outlets broke the news that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had declared the Roger Clemens’ perjury trial—just two days into witness testimony—a mistrial due to improper prosecutorial conduct.  Here’s the gist of what transpired: Judge Walton clearly understood entering the trial that testimony by Clemens’ former teammate Andy Pettitte (a future witness for the prosecution) would likely dictate the outcome of the trial.  Pettitte was scheduled to testify that Clemens represented to him in 1999 or 2000 that Clemens actually used human growth hormone—a statement in complete contradiction to Clemens’ prior testimony in 2008 before the Congressional House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Had the prosecution sufficiently established this contradiction, the jury likely would have found Clemens guilty of perjury, and the Government would have prevailed in its “fight” against banned performance enhancing substances.  However, the prosecution royally screwed up in the following manner before it could even place Pettitte on the stand:

During the first few days of trial, the prosecution demonstrated that it intended to initially set a foundation concerning Clemens’ congressional testimony prior to putting on the witness stand important witnesses, such as Pettitte, who would draw a stark contrast between Clemens’ congressional testimony and the supposed truth.  As part of this tactic, yesterday morning, the prosecution played to the jury a video of Clemens’ 2008 testimony, in which Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) described Pettitte as being “credible” and then made the following statement about an affidavit provided to congress by Pettitte’s wife Laura: “Let me read to you what his wife said in her affidavit.  I, Laura Pettitte, do depose and state, in 1999 or 2000, Andy told me he had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Roger admitted to him using human growth hormones.”

D’oh!!!!!!

To agree with and quote District Judge Walton, “I think a first-year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence.”  From the point of view of a former first-year law student and now an attorney, I’ll explain to you the problem with what the prosecution did.  Apparently, the other media outlets think America is too dumb to understand simple evidentiary rules.

The primary principle you need to understand is “hearsay,” which is an out-of-court statement used to prove the truth of the matter asserted.  Hearsay evidence is generally inadmissible in a court of law. Here, the prosecution attempted—maybe by accident—to use the out-of-court statements of Rep. Cummings and Pettitte’s wife to (i) add credibility to Pettitte’s character; and (ii) corroborate/bolster Pettitte’s future testimony that Clemens previously confessed about using human growth hormones.  So you’re probably thinking to yourself, isn’t Clemens’ testimony before congress also hearsay, and therefore inadmissible?  Well, no.  As an exception to the hearsay rules, generally, former testimony of an individual is admissible, so long as the testimony was provided under certain conditions.  Additionally, an admission by a party-opponent—i.e., a prior statement by a party (i.e., Clemens) offered as evidence against him/her—is also generally admissible.  As a result of the prosecution’s actions, the jury saw and heard evidence that (i) should not have been admitted; (ii) was certainly prejudicial to Clemens; and (iii) would have likely prevented the court from providing Clemens a fair trial.  What’s more, the prosecution had already been informed by Judge Walton that it could not call Pettitte’s wife as a witness because she never actually spoke with Clemens.  Her testimony would lack credibility because she would be providing a perception of Clemens based solely on hearsay!

Nonetheless, stay tuned.  These prosecutors may get another bite at the apple.  Should Judge Walton determine on September 2nd that a new trial would not violate Clemens’ protection via double jeopardy, we could watch these same bumbling idiots present the same case before the court and this country in a couple months.  Sigh…