What Does Harper Deal Mean for MLB and Other Leagues?

By Drew Gallagher

March 18, 2019

Drew Gallagher is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is planning to major in Sport Management with a minor in General Business. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.

Back on February 28th, the most lucrative free agent contract in North American sports history was agreed upon by Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies. The deal ended up being worth $330 million over 13 years (Zolecki, 2019). The contract also included stipulations such as no-trade and no opt-out clauses for the 26 year-old outfielder (Zolecki, 2019, para. 5). Now, of course, this is an insane amount of money for any one individual to be making, especially since it is 100% guaranteed.

When you examine the deal individually, you can see that it benefits everyone involved. As Kram (2019) said, “Harper receives the largest contract by total value in U.S. sports history, while the Phillies can spread the payment over more years to reduce the per-year cost” (para. 1). When you examine the deal on the larger scale though, you see that it may be a sign of what’s to come for Major League Baseball. We can predict that deals, at least for star players, will start to become more and more about long-term security in the coming years. This is especially important when you think about the number of young talented players in the game right now who will all become free agents at some point within the next decade.

Many news outlets took this news another route though. Since the NFL is the most popular league in the country, why shouldn’t its players earn as much or more money than MLB players? There are many forms of this argument that we hear frequently since the NFL is infamous for limiting guaranteed money for its players. At the surface, this argument makes complete sense. The players that earn their league more money deserve to be compensated more for their play. But when you look at it from a business standpoint, it becomes apparent why that isn’t the case.

According to Cosentino (2017), “NFL players are far more likely to sustain injuries than those in MLB… the mean number of injuries suffered per game in the NFL is approximately 4.9 times higher than the sum of those other leagues [the MLB, NBA and NHL]” (para. 5). The truth is, such a high risk of injury leads teams to be more reluctant to dole out big money to players. The same can’t be said for baseball since it is rarer that a player suffers a major injury. Baseball is a more long-standing sport with a more influential players union. These two reasons set it apart from the other two major American sports.

It is my guess that the implication of Harper’s contract will extend primarily to MLB as a whole. It does make sense though that media outlets would try to apply it to other sports to make it a more universal topic for their viewers. The truth of the matter is that the sports world is very secular and not much of what happens in one sport will affect another.

References

Cosentino, D. (2017, August 1). Why only the NFL doesn’t guarantee contracts. Deadspin. Retrieved from https://deadspin.com/why-only-the-nfl-doesnt-guarantee-contracts-1797020799

Kram, Z. (2019, February 28). The ripple effect of Bryce Harper’s record-setting Phillies contract. The Ringer. Retrieved from https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2019/2/28/18245294/bryce-harper-philadelphia-phillies-giants-dodgers-yankees-cubs-trout-betts

Zolecki, T. (2019, February 28). Harper, Phils agree to 13-year deal. mlb.com. Retrieved from https://www.mlb.com/news/bryce-harper-deal-with-phillies

Social Media Discoveries Show a Different Story Between Westbrook and Jazz Fans

By David Dietrich

March 15, 2019

On Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz, 98-89. While the showdown between the potential playoff teams was a subject of discussion this week, it was not because of what happened on the court. A video surfaced that showed Thunder guard Russell Westbrook threatening two fans, with very strong language being used. The video can be found below, but there is inappropriate language used throughout.

When asked about his actions, Westbrook defended himself, telling reporters the fan made racially charged comments. “If I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing, because I truly will stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad every single time” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 5). Westbrook and the fan, Shane Kiesel, had conflicting stories about what was said. Westbrook claimed he was told to “get down on your knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 3) but Kiesel told the media he was yelling “ice those knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 6).

After the game, some of Westbrook’s teammates and opponents came to his defense, saying they heard the offensive comments and wanted to know how they were being protected as players. Westbrook and Jazz fans are no strangers to controversy, with Westbrook being criticized last year for slapping at a fan’s phone after a playoff game. It appeared this event would take the same path, with Westbrook receiving a $25,000 fine from the NBA. However, the discovery of Shane Kiesel’s social media posts completely changed the situation.

Because of the strong content, I will not be sharing links to the posts by Kiesel. I will leave it at this: racial slurs, offensive comments, and blatant disrespect are evident throughout. With this discovery, many came to the defense of Westbrook, such as USA Today’s Nate Scott (2019), who writes “The point guard screaming at the fan isn’t just an immature malcontent, especially when the fan allegedly said something horrible and has a history that appears to show extremely racist and violent thinking” (para. 13). Scott also mentions this is “one of those instances where I am glad we have the internet. Fifteen years ago, we would have labeled Russell Westbrook a problem or worse for what he yelled at a fan on Monday night. Today, we can (more quickly and easily) learn about the fan, and begin to understand and empathize with, if not exactly condone, what Westbrook did” (para. 6).

While Russell Westbrook’s comments were very inappropriate, they were nowhere near the level of offensiveness that Kiesel portrayed on social media. Like Nate Scott mentioned, this is a circumstance that was sorted out largely because of social media. Today, social media, especially Twitter, can be a blessing and a curse. With little to no context, we saw a video of an NBA star yelling profanities at a married couple. It is very easy to make assumptions based on this single video, but we are fortunate more information was brought to light. With news being spread as quickly as possible on social media, it is difficult to see the entire scope of every situation. Thankfully, media members in Utah and Oklahoma City were able to investigate the entirety of the situation. Because of their work, we are now aware that the video portrays NBA star Russell Westbrook standing up for himself against Shane Kiesel, a very racist spectator.

Note: The picture below is a screenshot of a statement from the Utah Jazz, which permanently banned Shane Kiesel from attending any events held in the Vivant Smart Home Arena.

Jazz statement

References

MacMahon, T. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatens courtside fan, fan’s wife. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/26234619/westbrook-threatens-courtside-fan-fan-wife

Scott, N. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatened a Jazz fan, but then we learned about the fan. USAToday.com. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/03/russell-westbrook-jazz?utm_source=ftw&utm_medium=recirc&utm_campaign=rail-most-popular

utahjazz. (2019, March 12). A Statement from the Utah Jazz. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/utahjazz/status/1105570407598321664

Woodyard, E. (2019, March 11). Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Jazz fans again. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/E_Woodyard/status/1105297381384368128

Understanding the business of the NFL Offseason and Antonio Brown’s “Fake News”

By Jordan Moening

Jordan Moening is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is a Sport Management Major with a Minor in Journalism. He is also a native of Wapakoneta, Ohio and is a huge lover of sports, mainly football, basketball, and soccer.

March 15, 2019

On March 10, 2019, Antonio Brown announced his intention of signing with the Oakland Raiders. Two days before his announcement, the Buffalo Bills were planning on signing him to their team. Antonio Brown quickly responded on the NFL’s Instagram by posting a comment saying, “Fake News.” This begs the question of how the business of the NFL operates during the offseason.

To start, the new league year for signing free agents technically started on March 13th. Since then, players have been getting their official new contracts. Free agency and the NFL draft are the two most important components of the off-season. Depending on the team, either one could be more important (If the team is rebuilding with younger talent, then it would be the Draft; if they are looking for an “all-in” year, they are looking to the Super Bowl). The real intrigue of free agency happened only a couple of days before the new league year opened. Teams need to make cap space for rookies and new players that they want to acquire. The best way to do that is to release a player and remove that player from the team’s payroll. Some teams sign players off of waivers after they have been released, and there are some trades between teams. The main trades that occur are between players and draft picks.

Some players have to make hard decisions about where they want to play. The decision is usually not as hard for very good football players like Antonio Brown. He can play for just about any team that he wants and get a big contract. Most teams hoping to acquire players need to look at their salary cap. Players that cut into the salary cap for a large amount of time cost a lot of money, and few players in the league are worth huge contracts that fill a lot of cap space, but Antonio Brown is worth it. According to NFL.com statistics, in 9 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has recorded 837 receptions, 11,207 yards receiving on 13.4 yards per catch, and 74 touchdowns (“Antonio Brown,” 2019). Those stats obviously make him one of if not the best receiver in football.

“Fake News.” The sports media tweeted, made an Instagram post, and put word out about the trade of Antonio Brown. In an interview with ESPN, NFL.com writer Grant Gordon posted quotes of Antonio Brown in an interview, “I don’t even have to play football if I don’t want. I don’t even need the game, I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone, If they wanna play, they going to play by my rules. If not, I don’t need to play. Another quote stated, “Obviously, I want the game, but I don’t need the game, it’s a difference” (Gordon, 2019, para 4). I personally feel that Brown is trying to make the game about money, instead of loyalty to try to stay with the Steelers and see if they can win championships together in Pittsburgh. Another example of a player leaving Pittsburgh was former teammate Le’Veon Bell who signed with the New York Jets and left Pittsburgh.

In the long run, the NFL is a business and players are going to choose where they want to play. They will ask for however much money they want, and if the player is very good and fits that team’s salary cap, then that team will make it happen. In Antonio Brown’s case, it’s not “Fake News” that the NFL Offseason is still very fun to follow.

References

Antonio Brown. (2019). NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/player/antoniobrown/2508061/careerstats

Gordon, G. (2019, March 3). Antonio Brown: ‘I don’t even have to play football.’ NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001020572/article/antonio-brown-i-dont-even-have-to-play-football

The Robert Kraft Scandal

By Jessica Rollins

Jessica is a third-year sport management student who minors in marketing and is from Laguna Beach, CA. After college, Jessica aspires to work for a professional sport team in community relations or marketing. Jessica is a fan of the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.

March 14, 2019

On February 22, 2019, the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, was charged with “two counts of soliciting someone to commit prostitution” (Hanna & Maxouris, 2019, para. 17). Prior to these charges, Kraft was known as a well-rounded business and franchise owner. The community had much trust in Kraft.

Among two-hundred individuals, the 77-year-old billionaire has been linked to a Jupiter, Florida day spa and massage parlor. At the day spa, the Jupiter police claim that Kraft was one of many individuals that were caught under surveillance accepting the “paid acts” (Hanna & Maxouris, 2019). Although Kraft was caught under surveillance twice, the owner could face “up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service” (Seifert, 2019, para. 5). Surprisingly, one of the “paid acts” was filmed on the “night before and the morning of [the] AFC championship game” (“Robert Kraft visited,” 2019, para. 1).

Although scandals are standard involving the high-profile team, this story caught many by surprise. When the news broke, social media went into a frenzy. Fans explained how Kraft and the Patriots cannot be trusted. As the scandal develops, many are questioning their loyalty to the New England Patriots. One fan stated, “everybody in their life has done one thing, two things, that they really really would like to get a pass for, me, you, Robert Kraft, doesn’t matter how much money you have, human is human” (Burcham, 2019, para. 7). Another fan wrote, “I would never expect something like that from him…I mean, he has such a high reputation” (Burcham, 2019, para. 5).

Along with the charges, Kraft could face additional punishments from the National Football League. Since NFL owners are subject to the personal conduct policy, the NFL has an important decision to make. The NFL released a statement later that day which stated: “the NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments” (Hanna & Maxouris, 2019, para. 24). According to ESPN, “the policy covers ‘conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible, puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL’” (Seifert, 2019, para. 7).

Under the personal conduct policy, NFL owners should be held to a higher standard. Kraft is the face of the franchise. Owners should be “subject[ed] to more significant discipline when violations … occur” (Seifert, 2019, para. 7). Along with the controversy, many fans wonder if NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, will punish one of the “NFL’s most powerful owners” (Seifert, 2019, para. 12). As the story unfolds, the media will cover if the NFL sweeps this scandal under the rug or punishes Kraft for his unlawful actions.

References

Burcham, K. (2019, February 23). ‘Human is human:’ Pats fans react to charges against Robert Kraft. Boston25news. Retrieved from https://www.boston25news.com/news/-human-is-human-pats-fans-react-to-charges-against-robert-kraft/924216340

Hanna, J., & Maxouris, C. (2019, February 23). New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft accused of soliciting sex, police say. CNN.com. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/22/us/robert-kraft-solicitation/index.html

Robert Kraft visited parlor for sex on day of AFC championship game, authorities say. (2019, February 25). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-robert-kraft-prostitution-charge-20190225-story.html

Seifert, K. (2019, February 25). What charges could mean for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/26056293/what-solicitation-charges-mean-new-england-patriots-owner-robert-kraft

 

Has the NFL Media Shortened the Shelf Life of Coaching Careers?

By Christopher Kyler

March 14, 2019

Christopher Kyler is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He plans to major in Sport Management with a minor in Marketing. Christopher is from Parma Heights, Ohio and is a diehard Cleveland sports fan. He is interested in many sports, but mainly football at the professional level.

Mike

Around and around the NFL Coaching Carousel goes, these days it seems there is always a story about rumors that an NFL coach or coordinator is on the hot seat. It seems the days of a 20+ year coaching tenure is all but gone in the NFL, but what is driving the carousel? The media, at both the national and local levels. This is both a blessing and a curse for coaches in the NFL.

The turnover in coaching reflects a general trend in the media of being less scared of backlash from coaches, and becoming more critical of the topics they cover. For sports this comes at a cost for players and coaches whose livelihood is on the line. That’s how you get national media figures like Cris Carter and Nick Wright saying on First Things First that the Texans’ season would be over if they fell to 0-3. The Texans since then earned 9 straight wins, but had the situation worsened, a good coach like Bill O’Brien would be on the hot seat by now. Already this year the Buccaneers, and Bengals have fired their Defensive Coordinator, the Browns, Cardinals, and Jaguars fired their Offensive Coordinators; lastly the Browns and Packers have fired their Head Coaches. The last firing was most surprising given that he had won a Super Bowl, although he had been struggling to use his players to their full potential.

Tom Landry during his 29-year tenure with the Cowboys won 5 NFC Championships and 2 Super Bowls. His first winning season didn’t come until his 6th season at the helm. After 15 years with the Dolphins, Don Shula, who has the most wins in NFL history, had 4 straight years where he did not have a winning season or make the playoffs. The media has helped to create an impatience in the NFL with a mindset of ‘win now’ which is draining teams, players, and coaches, instead of letting teams gel together and create a chemistry over time. One could point to Bill Belichick as being responsible for this change, since he went from 5-11 to 11-5 and Super Bowl Champs in his second season with the Patriots who have remained the most consistent team in the NFL since then.

The media has every right to criticize coaches, but there comes a point where they overstep their boundaries. They have spoken up and affected how an organization looks at their own employees who come into work every day. But somehow the people from the outside looking in have more of a say on someone’s job security than their employer.

References

Ketaineck, M. (Producer). (2018, September 20) First Things First. [Television broadcast]. New York, NY: Fox Sports 1

Coaches, Records, and Coaching Totals. (n.d). Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved from  https://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/

Talks of Change Immediate in Wake of Zion Injury

By Drew Gallagher

February 23, 2019

Drew Gallagher is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is planning to major in Sport Management with a minor in General Business. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.

On Wednesday, February 20th, the greatest rivalry in college basketball resumed and there was a lot of promotion put into the game. Less than a half-minute into it though, all that excitement was changed to dread for most Duke and NBA fans. As you probably already know, Duke star Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury that could have very well ended his season and maybe even his seemingly locked position as the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft. Being that Williamson is arguably the most hyped basketball prospect since LeBron James, you can imagine the thoughts going through everyone from basketball fans to NBA executives’ heads after it happened. Luckily for Zion, the injury is now “being labeled as a mild knee sprain” (Walton, 2019, para 3).

If you’re like me – constantly watching sports talk shows and reading sports articles – you noticed a common theme the day after the injury. Analysts seemed to flip-flop between the implications of the injury for Duke and a potential rule change by the NBA. This would include the eligible age to declare for the NBA draft changing back to 18. This would eliminate the “one-and-done” rule given that prospects could declare directly out of high school. The rationale of most analysts was mainly about a player possibly losing out on money if they sustain a career ending/hurting injury in college when it could have been avoided by being in the NBA already.

This talk was of course to be expected after a player of Zion’s ability had a possible career ending injury. It felt like the national media was just waiting for something like this to happen so that they could criticize the NBA for making players go to school for just one year. I find it interesting that they would wait like that because if it was truly as urgent as they all claimed it to be on Thursday, then it would’ve been just as urgent before the injury ever occurred. And yet, talk about a possible rule change only happened occasionally before. Granted, one may argue that since Williamson is as good as he is, the injury finally woke these people up and cemented the idea in their minds.

The media’s continual coverage helped lead the NBA to propose lowering the eligible draft age only a day later. This would be the first step towards changing the rule back to what it once was in the early 2000s. According to Goldberg, “the timing is reportedly coincidental” coming the day after the injury (Goldberg, para 3). I do find it very hard to believe that the injury just happened to occur the day before they planned to report this. The NBA would need to most likely wait to change this rule for good until the new CBA is agreed upon sometime within the next five years.

I do find it very interesting that this sort of talk has been reserved to the basketball ranks and has yet to make it into college football yet. This is surprising when you think about the risk of injury being much more prevalent in the sport of football than basketball. I did hear the occasional discussion about it when Nick Bosa decided to sit out for the rest of his season at Ohio State after an injury, but this talk was nothing compared to the media storm caused by Williamson’s injury.

It was apparent to any sports fan this week that Williamson’s injury caused a huge stir within the sporting community. We will see if the national media keeps arguing for the case of a rule change in the coming months leading up to the draft. My guess is that this talk will not cool down much until then.

 

References

Goldberg, R. (2019, February 21). NBA proposes lowering eligible draft age to 18 after Zion Williamson knee injury. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2821830-nba-proposes-lowering-eligible-draft-age-to-18-after-zion-williamson-knee-injury

Walton, M. (2019, February 21). Zion Williamson injury updated to Grade 1 right knee sprain. NBC Sports Chicago. Retrieved from https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/bulls/zion-williamson-injury-updated-grade-1-right-knee-sprain

Super Bowl LIII Recap

By David Dietrich

February 22, 2019

For the second year in a row, I was fortunate enough to be selected to work at the Super Bowl Experience as a member of the BGSU Sport Management Alliance. Last year’s trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and I had very high expectations for this trip. I wanted to take advantage of everything that Atlanta offered and genuinely soak in the experience. For much of last year’s trip, I was shell-shocked by the enormity of the entire spectacle, so I did not take much time to step back and think about how lucky I was. We had a slightly more relaxed schedule this year, so I had some time to literally sit down and soak it in.

I worked at the fan experience on Wednesday and Thursday, helping the guests at some of the attractions. My shifts included the NFL Draft Simulation, Champions Ring Display, and Punt Return Simulation. Each one offered different opportunities for different fans, so I was able to talk to and interact with fans of all ages. Many fans were proudly dressed in Falcons gear, with some Patriots and Rams fans spread throughout. Other popular teams included the Steelers, Panthers, and Saints.

On game day, my official title was “On Location Experience Wayfinder.” I was stationed directly outside of the pre-game party entrance, directing guests to their parties. There were three separate parties, so I had to inform the guests which direction their specific party would be. Unlike last year, this did not occur in the stadium, so we did not get to stay for the game. While this was a letdown, we knew in advance it was unlikely we would work inside the stadium. Fortunately, our credentials allowed us to enter the stadium on Saturday, which was our day off.

SB4

The main entrance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is truly breathtaking, especially when it is prepared to host the biggest event in American sports. We were not allowed on the field, but we could get as close as the first row in the corner of the end zone. After taking a few pictures there, I decided I had enough time to trek to the top row and get the best view of the stadium. I spent about 20 minutes sitting in the top row, soaking in the view. I thought about how blessed I was to be able to be on this trip, sit in the stadium, and be a part of another Super Bowl.

SB2

My panoramic view from the top row of Mercedez-Benz Stadium

There are countless aspects that go into the planning and execution of the Super Bowl, but I particularly wanted to observe the media’s presence throughout the week. Media Day occurred on Monday, which was before we began traveling. I saw some of the highlights online, but they appeared to be the typical question and answer interviews that happen every year. During the week’s festivities, I witnessed several media members actively creating content.

One thing that stood out to me at the Fan Experience was the massive number of reporters. They often walked around with a camera and microphone, looking for interactive events and passionate fans. Some fans were interviewed, others were filmed while they participated in events. A handful of reporters participated in the events themselves, microphone and all. On gameday, I noticed a separate entrance for those with media passes. Security was extremely tight, so I assumed the area was reserved to screen the equipment being brought in by reporters, journalists, or photographers.

My biggest takeaway from the week was how important it is to pay attention to every detail, no matter how big or small. It could be making sure the case surrounding the rings is secure or making sure a local news reporter is able to get a clear shot of the Lombardi Trophy. It could also be taking a picture of a Falcons fan next to a replica jersey or directing a fan to the NFL shop. Our goal was to provide a unique and memorable experience for each fan, so maintaining enthusiasm and positivity were incredibly important during our long shifts.

My personal highlight occurred at Super Bowl Live, an outdoor event that was free to the public. Among the attractions was an interview stage, and I stood in the fourth row while Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was interviewed by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.

SB5

Browns QB Baker Mayfield answering questions from Jay Glazer

I was in awe of the presence of both men, one being my favorite athlete and the other being one of my favorite NFL media members. Witnessing a live media event from a close distance was remarkable, especially considering the people who were involved. This singular event was my favorite part of the week, but the entire experience is something I will never forget.

I would like to thank BGSU and the Sport Management faculty for preparing our group for the trip, we could not have done it without your expertise and support! I would also like to thank Cory Radebaugh and the rest of the Sport Management Alliance for organizing everything, their hard work and dedication made the trip a success! Finally, I would like to thank friends, family, and the community of Bowling Green for supporting me and my classmates, we are grateful for everything you do for us!