Read on Twitter this morning that Greg Shaheen is being replaced as “NCAA Tournament Czar”.

Based on Jeff Goodman’s article linked above, Shaheen is almost universally liked.

Supporting Goodman’s position are Seth Davis’ tweets:

“The vast majority of people would have quit when they posted his job in December. Shaheen stayed thru tourney. Just cared too much.”

“There has been no greater advocate for the NCAA tournament than Greg Shaheen. Dumb move by Mark Emmert and Jim Isch to run him out of NCAA.”

Shaheen’s replacement is Mark Lewis, most recently of Jet Set Sports.

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Now that I have you up to date on the facts of this story, on to my observation, which is about the power of LinkedIn:

I don’t know any of the people mentioned above.  Not Shaheen, not Lewis, not Goodman, not Davis,.

But I could.  You may be familiar with LinkedIn.  A quick review of what I found out about each man:

I have four Connections who are connected to Shaheen.  Small world!

Lewis was a member of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee. Goodman claimed not to know anything other than the Jet Set position.

Come on Goodman, you are better journalist than that!  If I can find out about Lewis’ past in a few seconds, you can too!

Surprisingly, neither Goodman nor Davis has a LinkedIn profile.  I’d recommend they do ASAP.

Because even if you don’t wish to “connect” with people, it is a valuable resource.

You can use what I call the “Daryl Morey” and sign up for a LinkedIn account without engaging anyone.

Then you have full power of this resource, with no effort required.  LinkedIn is a Small World – be part of it!

 

 

 

 

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This ESPN description of Matt Cain’s $112.5 million contract leaves out one detail: his career record.

To save you the time of looking it up, his mark is 69-73.

Yes, a losing record.

And the Giants just made Cain the “highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history”.

Whether this signing works out or not is inconsequential, in some ways.

The SABR/analytics crowd has won.  Instead of wins and losses, the ESPN report included this chart:

Most Wins Above Replacement

Since his first full season in the majors in 2006, Giants starter Matt Cain trails only Roy Oswalt among NL pitchers for most wins above replacement (NL pitchers, since 2006):

Pitcher WAR
Roy Oswalt 23.9
Matt Cain 23.4
Tim Lincecum 23.2
Cole Hamels 22.5

Bill James, SABR, Baseball Prospectus, The Sloan Sports Conference crowd and others have totally reshaped the narrative on baseball performance.

Today ranks second only to Felix Hernandez and his 13-12 Cy Young season in 2010 as landmarks in recognizing this monumental shift.

 

 

 

Two major sports business stories this week involve Tiger Woods and Coke.

But not in the sensational way your mind may have connected these topics.

First, Tiger.  A tweet from @darrenrovell sets the stage:

The Arnold Palmer Invitational last week got its highest weekend TV ratings in 10 years thanks to Tiger’s win (via @NBCSportsPR)

We KNOW ratings go up when Tiger is on the leaderboard.

What we don’t know is how high those ratings will spike with Woods on the leaderboard on Sunday at Augusta  – with a chance at golf redemption.

This expected surge in ratings is a potential boon for corporate partners of  The Masters, as higher ratings means more eyeballs on their ads.

The second story to watch this week is the admission by Coke that 30 second ads are no longer the optimal way to reach their target market.

The fact that so many viewers fast forward through ads has driven Coke to increasingly use “live” TV programming, primarily sports and “reality” shows.

Additionally, the linked article emphasizes the importance of not just showing ads, but that driving social engagement is how brands benefit in this space.

In many ways this story is not “news” as ad/media/sports executives have been preparing for this coming reality for a decade.  What may be noteworthy is that discussing the shift away from an emphasis on 30 second ads in such a public way may mark 2012 as the “tipping point” in a major shift in the way firms promote to their potential customers.

Finally, how are these two items related?

Well, The Masters’ corporate partners are expected to benefit from an increase in ratings.  But the real question is: How will they engage those viewers in a social/digital way that allows them to maximize the impact of the increased ratings?

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A Yahoo! story reports today that Real Madrid is opening a resort in the United Arab Emirates.

I wanted to offer some analysis. Which is interesting, given that I know almost nothing about soccer, Real Madrid or the UAE.

But I do know something about Sports and Brand Extensions.

And so do you.

As sports fans and consumers, we experience brand extensions regularly.

From Raider Image Stores, to ESPN2, to colts.com, to the WNBA we have all encountered new product offerings that allow sports brands to leverage their place in fans’ hearts, minds and wallets.

My favorite academic framework for considering brand extensions is from Park, Milberg & Lawson who suggest the two elements to consider in predicting the success of a brand extension are Product Feature Similarity and Brand Concept Consistency.

Product Feature Similarity (PFS) refers to how close the brand extension is to the original product.  Gatorade and G2 are both flavored, colored sport drinks – thus, high on PFS.  ESPN and ESPNZone restaurants are a TV network and a restaurant chain – thus low on PFS.

Brand Concept Consistency (BCC) is more interpretive. If ESPN’s brand concept is defined as “the place to be for sports”, it is easy to see the BCC between ESPN (the network) and ESPNZone (the restaurant).

Returning to the Real Madrid/UAE resort brand extension effort, I have no idea if this brand extension will work.

Having briefly presented the PFS/BCC framework, I’d be interested to hear if my readers have any predictions based, on their knowledge of Real Madrid’s brand and whether it will translate easily to a resort property.

Modern philosopher Mark Cuban recently blogged about “passion” as it relates to career decisions.

His point was that passion grows out of being good at something.  And being good at something is often about repetition and hard work.

His post triggered me to revisit the topic of causal misattribution.  Humans are often poor at linking cause and effect. And really, that is the story Cuban is telling.

There are very few of us that discover a passion about a particular industry at an early age and have it lead to a career.

Rather, as Cuban’s post infers, we are exposed to a variety of industries, secure a job and then begin to develop skills and experiences that transfer to the next position and – ultimately – become a career.

Yet, after the fact many people describe a “passion” for an industry as the CAUSE of their success.

Rather, in most instances, the passion grows concurrently with experience and success.

The logical conclusion is that passion is typically the RESULT of career success.

However, Cuban’s assertion that following your passion is “the worst career advice” is not necessarily true.

Some subset of the work force IS able to identify a field about which they are passionate, and through continued effort succeed in that field.

In January one such person contacted me about entering the business she had passion for: Sports.

She was working in another industry, but within two months had landed a job with an MLB team.

Will she be successful?  Too soon to tell.  But had she not pursued her passion, she would have never found out.

So perhaps “following your passion” is not the right advice for everyone.  But that does not make it “the worst career advice”.

 

I went to the Warriors game last night, mostly to watch Chris Mullin‘s number retired.

What fans were treated to instead was witnessing a PR nightmare.

Here is the video of owner Joe Lacob’s being roundly booed during the ceremony.

Three quick observations:

1) Lacob – and Warriors PR personnel – wildly underestimated the raw emotion created by the team’s recent trade of Monta Ellis.

The team needed to realize that putting the owner on the mic just days after this move was risky.

2) The sequencing was awful.  After Mullin made his comments, Lacob spoke.  The crowd had just reached a fever pitch, giving Mullin a rousing standing ovation.  The next logical step was to raise the banner.  Instead here comes Lacob, who just unloaded Monta for a player who can’t even play this year (due to injury).

Had Lacob spoken first, during the introduction – when the crowd was excitedly buzzing in anticipation of the ceremony – the fan reaction to Lacob would have been much different.

3) Lacob froze at the moment of truth.  Once the booing started, he needed to “own the room” and launch into his comments.  But he stopped, thinking the fans’ boos would dissipate.  Instead, his hesitation emboldened more fans to join in.  It was as if he were a WWE “bad guy” standing with the mic in his hands, taunting the crowd.

The combination of these three factors led to a disappointing experience for all involved.

Most disappointing was that a night to celebrate Chris Mullin’s acheivements was overshadowed by Lacob and the fans.

My recent post about why Mark Cuban is wrong to advise students NOT to pursue careers in sports business has garnered some great feedback (and retweets – thanks!).

Presented below is the logical follow up advice, answering the question “how does a student find job opportunities in sports?”.

Based on my observations of students trying to enter the sports business landscape, there are four specific behaviors that can help students find jobs in sports:

Tip One – Know Somebody.  Of course, this idea holds limited appeal for most students.  After all, if they knew somebody, they would not be asking me – a professor – how to get a job in sports.

But in fact, many do have a connection.  A parent or friend who knows someone working for a team, for example.  With a little effort almost every student I talk to comes up with one connection to someone working in sports.  And likely they know more.

Tell EVERYONE you know that you are looking to work in sports.  Contact your high school coaches.  Anyone you know who is tangentially related to sports should know you are looking to work in the industry.  And even people you don’t know are connected to sports may know someone who can help you find an opening!

Tip Two – Volunteer or Be an Intern.  Spreading the word that you want to work in sports is good. But even better is WORKING in sports while looking for job opportunities in sports.

This approach has two big advantages. First, one way to be different from all the other applicants is have experience.  An Internship or Volunteer position (preferably multiple) signals that you are behaviorally committed to pursuing a sports career – not just talking/dreaming about it.

Second, once you have volunteered or interned you will start to know other people who work in sports.  Now reread Tip One!

Tip Three – Create an Online Brand Presence The starting point for most students is to get a LinkedIn profile.  The site allows people (and students are people!) to quickly create an online profile.  For students who have used Facebook for years, this process is easy and intuitive.  Increasingly HR professionals are using LinkedIn as part of their hiring process, so being visible in this space is important.

Once your profile is complete, start joining LinkedIn Groups. Search the word “sports” and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many career oriented sports Groups there are.  Join a few and start to follow the conversations about the industry and you will become more knowledgeable about the sports job landscape.

Tip Four – Visit teamworkonline.com This site is the primary resource for investigating the jobs available with sports teams and leagues.  Spend time familiarizing yourself with the types of jobs available, experience required and locations of potential jobs.  There is an easy way to sign up for email updates on the site, to keep you current on emerging opportunities.

In the headline and introduction to this post, I used the word “find” three times. The intention of the tips presented here is to help you find job opportunities.

Follow up posts about how to land your sports job, as well as more advice on how to further leverage the Tips presented here will be coming soon!