This past semester I attended two events in which incapsulated the theme of this semester at the University of Michigan: “Sport and the University”. As a Sport Management major, I have gained a keen eye for the industry of sport, and the topics of discussion at the events that have been put on by the university have all caught my eye as “go to” events. While I have been to many, I decided to write upon one of the events I attended this past semester: the Michigan Sports Business Conference.
ESPN commentator Mike Tirico
On October 24th, 2014, hundreds of business sport oriented students from various universities flocked to the Ross Business School to take in a day filled with presentations, interactive learning, and networking opportunities from some of sports largest industry players. Among many others: ESPN Commentator and Ann Arbor resident Mike Tirico came to be a moderator of the first speech with Chief Operating Officer John Collins of the NHL, B1G Commissioner Jim Delany, and my personal favorite former Chief Marketing Officer of Vitamin Water and entrepreneur Rohan Oza. All these speakers carried a common theme throughout: that Learning and growth in any industry, specifically sport, results from the relationships and experiences developed over the course of your life leading to a well-rounded thought process about the world.
As a spectator, I was given the privilege of viewing two games in which perfectly outlined Edmund Burke and his philosophy on tradition. Earlier this month, I attended the first Michigan basketball home game against Wayne State, and this past week, I attended the Detroit Lions game vs. the Chicago Bears in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. Having been a Lions season ticket holder my entire life, I am no “rookie” to the sights, scenes, and smells at Ford Field on Turkey Day. However, having since read Burke’s Reflections On The Revolution In France prior to attending the game, my awareness of the spectacle that was truly going on was extremely high.
The Detroit Lions dig into some Thanksgiving Day Turkey
Starting in 1876 with Harvard vs. Yale, Thanksgiving Football is an American Tradition that will never be broken. In fact, games between the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago between 1885 and 1902 were deemed “The Beginning of Thanksgiving Day Football” (Wikipedia). In the NFL, the Detroit Lions were the first team to initiate Thanksgiving Day Football with then Lions Owner G.A. Richards using it as a marketing ploy to get fans to come to the games in 1934 (Wikipedia). Since 1966, The Lions and The Dallas Cowboys have hosted games on Thanksgiving every year with the Lions hosting an NFL record 74 games (NFL.com)
Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) or “doping” have been an emerging problem in sports since the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of investigations such as BALCO and the Mitchell Report in the MLB, and player “tell-alls” the past 10 years have been a PED centered decade in sports (CNN.com). Names like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa come to mind when thinking of the most influential athletes who have used PED’s in order to perform better on the field. While many have come in the MLB, there have been thousands of incidents all across professional sports including the NFL, NBA, Olympics, etc. According to CNN, the first organization to ban the use of any PED’s (Anabolic Steroids, stimulants, HGH etc.) was the International Olympic Committee(IOC) in 1976. A recent occurence in the NFL has been players using adderall/other ADHD medications in order to stay more focused on the field (i.e. Richard Sherman Cornerback Seattle Seahawks). According to Richard Sherman, “Half the League uses adderal”. (yeah okay Richard..)
Richard Sherman – Cornerback for the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks
On the “wishlist” of sports fans of all ages is to one day accrue enough money to purchase a professional sports franchise. While we can’t personally experience the highs and lows of being a professional sports owner, we can live vicariously through outspoken Owners such as Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys or Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks in order to gain more insight into how these insanely rich and powerful men conduct their respective sport empires. With professional sport ownership, one would have to develop a powerful estate prior to purchasing such a large sized venture. This means that it is really unlikely to see owners who are not elderly. For example, in the NFL, only 2 owners are under the age of 50 (Mental Floss)
Jerry Jones and Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo sharing a laugh before a game
Many professional sport franchises, just like many organizations worldwide, are corporately operated almost exclusively by families. Recently, it has become more of a prevalent issue in professional sports as to how to manage the ownership of a Sport franchise. With these owners acquiring so much wealth and with many in the elderly stages of their life, the question remains: Who takes over the team after the primary owner passes, and how will their estate be managed?
After a whirlwind of a Saturday afternoon filled with a Michigan Wolverine win (see my opinions on that program at The Fortuna of Michigan Football – Alex Dolik), I could not have wanted Sunday to come anymore than Daylight savings time could take it. No I am not talking about having to go to the library to write this blog post, what I am talking about of course is Fantasy Football!
Rafi from The League on FX. A Sit-Com revolving around Fantasy Football.
The ritual of waking up at 11 AM on a Sunday Morning throwing the TV on to Fantasy Football Now on ESPN and grabbing your laptop to tinker, mold, and solidify your “Lineup” for the week is one enjoyed by millions of “fans” (men and women) across the entire country. According to Fantasy Facts, 26 Million Americans participated in Fantasy Football in 2013. The rise and emergence of Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Football specifically have drastically changed the landscape of professional sports. Fantasy Sports is a Multi-Billion dollar industry in which major industry players such as ESPN and CBS have targeted exactly the competitive nature of its fans. Using shows such as NFL Redzone, Fans can track their respective players “days” instantaneously. Fantasy Football has created the act of following a sport, an actual “sport” filled with just as much vicarious competition as the normal playing field presents the physicality. Continue reading
It was Saturday Night, October 4th, and I was sitting in my living room watching a team I had put my soul into since birth go into battle in Piscataway, NJ against Rutgers University. This team of course is our own, University of Michigan Football Team. I have spent a vast majority of my 19 and a half years of living analyzing, studying, and memorizing the trajectory of College Football’s winningest program. So it goes without saying the amount of hardship and disappointment I have faced these past couple weeks with the speculation surrounding the program and the university as a whole. My whole life existence almost coming into question (its that serious).
The face of agony
For whatever medium you receive your news, it has been impossible to not be inundated with all of the terrible media swirling around Ann Arbor. Whether that be on social media or on ESPN, a team that I have close near lived my life for has been dismantled. So as I was watching my heart being ripped out on Saturday Night, our discussions this past week on Machiavelli’s Prince and the topic of “Fortuna” crept into my mind. According to Machiavelli, Fortuna is all circumstances in a human’s life that they simply have no control over which in turn have a direct correlation to a human’s success or failure in whatever capacity. Whether these events are a gigantic typhoon wiping out a city or your new puppy running away from your house, all these instances are outside personal decision making. In Chapter XXV and beyond in The Prince, Machiavelli also addresses this idea that no matter what Fortuna will take its course leaving the Prince with little to no chance at mitigating good or bad circumstances.