About Me

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I am an experienced direct marketer who is now perusing a graduate degree in Entertainment Business with a concentration in Sports Management and a master's degree in Internet Marketing.  One day soon I will be a Director of Social Media Marketing for a major sports organization.   I am avid runner who in the next 6 months will run at 2 full marathons and 3 half marathons and that doesn't include the training runs. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NFL Blackout Rules - What's right, what's wrong

Living in what is considered a small market broadcasting city, I am well aware of the issues around the NFL’s policy to blackout NFL games when the stadium is not sold out at least 72 hours in advance of the game.  While the Jacksonville Jaguars have not had a blackout game for the last two seasons, it is always threaten to happen.  Most weeks during the football season you will hear that the team received an extension to the rule.

What many don’t realize that the NFL did not instill this rule, but that Congress passed the legislation back in 1973.  Prior to 1973, the NFL blacked-out all home games during the regular season and during the playoffs.  According to recent tapes released during Nixon’s presidency, the President wanted to watch a Washington Redskin’s game that would have under normal circumstances would have been blacked-out.

According to an SBNation the blackout rule was derived when the NFL made most of their money from ticket sales.  With the financials changing to have most of the revenue provided by the broadcasting rights, the rule is under investigation by the FCC.  The FCC will rule on the need to change or not change the blackout rules, as they are set today.  The review will take place this week on February 27, 2012. 

Here in Jacksonville, some people are hoping that the rule will not be lifted.  That sounds strange doesn’t it?  I agree, except that the tipping point could be reached and teams in smaller markets, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, could pick up and leave for a city like LA.  What would stop them from going if ticket sales go down and heading to a city that can afford to put a winning team on the field, one that in the end would create higher revenue from Ticket sales and broadcasting or so that is what the proponents say? 

Florida is hit hardest by the NFL Blackout rule with 3 teams in the state with low attendance and a higher percentage of blackouts occurring.  So 2 Florida lawmakers are fighting to end the blackout rule.  Since each of the teams used or requested public funds over the last 30 years, the Senator’s, according to a recent report in Tampa, Florida, want to ensure that customers in those markets fans or not are given a better chance to watch their favorite teams.  It will be interesting to see what decision the FCC comes to and where we go from here. 

We have learned from MBL Baseball that broadcasting allows teams to be competitive.  The question remains if the NFL could change this so that smaller markets can compete.  I am very interested in what the FCC has to share. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Marathoners Assumption of Risk

On February 12, 2012 I ran the National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida.  The weather was very different than a normal February day in Florida with temperatures never reaching higher than 40 degrees and a wind chill unheard of, at 20 degrees.  Friends suffered hypothermia and dehydration along the course reminded me of the legal and liability issues around marathons.  Runner safety should be the backbone of every running event, but we have all been a part of or heard of event that went terribly wrong.

With a registered field of 45,000, the 2007 Chicago Marathon was looking to be a great race.  The elite athletes proved this by having two of the closest finishes in the history of the marathon, but what was happening behind them would prove to be a future case study for race directors and lawyers. 

There is really no way to articulate what happened that day or who was at fault.  So many worlds collided in one event that questions have arisen on who is liable for the wrongs of an endurance event.  Runners World magazine describes in detail the “Melt Down” that occurred that day.  The weather topping 92 degrees in the sun, the lack of water at water stations due to faster runners using more than what was forecasted, the race director cancelling the race in what has been deemed to late for the conditions, runners not recognizing their own bodies telling them to stop, EMT’s in unfamiliar locations with limited directions and overwhelmed emergency rooms in the area, all of these created a snowball effect creating a disaster with 1 death and over 300 people treated at area hospitals. 

Every participant signs a waiver of liability, essentially waiving the right to assumption of risk. Just like purchasing a ticket to a baseball game does for foul balls.  The question is does this cover negligence on the part of the race organizers or the volunteers if you are at the back of the pack during a marathon?  Do you sign away your rights to have water available in extreme heat or that the ambulance driver will know the way to the emergency room?  The Sports Law Blog questions all of this and how much warning does a race organizer have to give?  The expo had announcements that it would be extremely hot and that participants needed to ensure that they took every precaution.  Is it then the participants’ responsibility to ensure that they have enough water and Gatorade to make it through the first part of the race?  In my opinion it is.  I feel that as a casual back of the pack runner, it is my responsibility when running a Marathon or Half-Marathon that I have trained well and am prepared for the race.  If it is hot, as it was in Chicago, then it is my responsibility in signing a waiver of liability and assuming a risk that I dress appropriately and ensure my own hydration needs are met.  As with the Florida marathon in the cold, it was also my responsibility to ensure that I was dressed appropriately and stayed hydrated.  While I don’t think that those running up front of a race should use all of the resources I think in extreme conditions it will always be a calculated risk that happens. 

I think that the best thing that the race officials did is stop the race.  Do I think that they could have done more, sure?  I think that they could have worked to start the race at an earlier time given the forecast.  Would this have made participants angry if they wouldn’t have started on time, yes but most waivers signed by runners give the organizer the ability to make changes?  Changing the start time in advance would have proved to be a smart idea.  Every participant has to retrieve his or her own bib number at the expo, communicating the change here would have been appropriate.

As a runner in Florida, I often experience the conditions like those at the Chicago Marathon.  There are races that I won’t do any more because I see how participants are treated and how race officials are prepared.  Race directors should look at what worked and what didn’t at the 2007 Chicago Marathon and should learn from them before any more people get hurt.  That said runners should take responsibility for yourselves just as you do on a training run and make sure you are prepared for anything. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

David and Goliath in Endurance Sports

An interesting thing happened this week in endurance sports and the companies behind the technology we use every training and race to make us faster and stronger.  Whether you are just an avid runner, a part-time runner or an elite runner you have a pair of shoes that are your favorite.  You also have thoughts around what can make you faster or feel more confortable during the run.  If you are also a triathlete you have technology that goes beyond just shoes.  You buy the best that you can afford for your bike and your wetsuit.  Just a few seconds saved in a transition can make you better than the person next to you who you have been competing against the last three seasons.   

What if you work for a company who makes bicycles, wetsuits or running shoes?  As your running through the streets of Chicago and an idea to limit blisters that always come up in mile 20 of your run pops in your head.  You decided that you think you know how to build a better shoe or bike and quit your job.  Your job is in the marketing department so your thoughts really don’t make any difference for your company if you have them or now.  You don’t design their shoes you just market them and wear them.  You decide to take your idea to a design shop and build a contraption that stops blisters at mile 20 helping people get beyond the marathon wall.  Your idea takes off and is now being worn by runners all over the Chicago Marathon.  Does the running company you work for own the idea you had? 

That’s what Specialized bicycles thought when they filed a lawsuit against the founders of Volagi bicycles.  Two avid riders who just happened to work for Specialized when they had a thought about technology that would improve the comfort of the bike while riding for long periods of time.  Anyone who has done a Century Ride or an Ironman knows how uncomfortable a bike can get.  The founders of Volagi were sued because they signed a confidentiality agreement that covered their thoughts while they worked at Specialized. 

Both Volagi and Specialized believe they are winners in the race, I mean lawsuit.  Specialized proved that the founders of Volagi breached their contract with Specialized but were unable to prove the Volagi owners stole the Intellectual Property that Specialized believed they did in the design of the Volagi bicycles.  For his part in the breach of contract Volagi founder Robert Choi is fined $1 that is owed to Specialized.  The question in the end is if Volagi is really a winner as they claim or if Specialized bankrupted Volagi with the lawsuit making it now impossible to continue to market and sell the bikes they create. 

Regardless, I am sure each one of us will continue to find new and improved ways to make us for comfortable as we train for our marathons, half-marathons, century rides, triathlons, and Ironman’s.  Train on.