Everybody loves March Madness. It’s a wide-open world of anybody vs anybody, where anybody can win. Davidson vs Goliath, if you will. Many people probably think this kind of wide open tournament is the best way to settle who the national champion is across a wide variety of conferences and styles and such.
With the news of the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame electing four new members last week, many fans of the Braves and Indians find themselves thrilled with the elections of Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. How could you not be? These are two players who excelled on and off the field, had long, successful careers, and are adored by fans throughout the league. They are no doubt Hall of Famers, and I don’t think anyone could make any kind of argument to the contrary. Unfortunately, the other two men to be inducted this summer hit a different note.
Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I can’t even begin to count how many times I heard that growing up. It has skewed countless young peoples’ view as to what constitutes happiness in the workplace. As a generation, millennials (myself included) seem to struggle with this most of all. We have a difficult time separating what we do from who we are, and we struggle to find fulfillment in our work if we are not happy with it. This causes us to change jobs frequently, and to leave jobs we may have been happy to keep if we had been raised in a different time. Kyrie Irving, perhaps one of the most famous millennials alive, is apparently no exception to this possible paradigm.
In Ohio, sometimes when referring to the school in Columbus (no, not Capital University, the bigger one), an individual may refer to The Ohio State University as “OSU.” Elsewhere in the country though, the school remains stylized for athletics as “The Ohio State University,” or simply “Ohio State.” Recently though, Ohio State filed paperwork with the trademark office to seek the right to create apparel and accessories with the stylization “OSU.” Why does this matter? Who cares? Why can you seek trademarks on random letter combinations?
When we take part in an activity, whether it’s a sport, a board game, a job interview, or a court appearance, we’d all like to think we’re getting a fair shot. We hope that the rules work to even out any advantages the other parties involved may have inherently. If we don’t have a chance to win, why would we bother participating. At some point, this idea found its way into professional sports. The NFL, NBA, and NHL decided that there needed to be a ceiling on salaries to prevent the same teams from winning the title year after year. Major League Baseball did not buy into that. Has the salary cap made sports more fair? Less fair? Has there been any change at all?
FC Barcelona, one of the most successful, iconic, and wealthy sports franchises on the planet, are sponsored by Qatar Airways. For a long time though, they resisted. They resisted the idea that their iconic shirt should be used for advertising. As the money poured into soccer, one of the biggest clubs tried to fight the trend. For a long time, Barca gave their shirt space away for free to UNICEF, the worldwide charity. When they opted for a financially viable advertising sponsor, club legend Johann Cruyff (arguably the greatest footballer and manager of all time) accused the club of “selling their uniqueness.” Barcelona, however, knew that in order to compete with the big boys in the sport, as well as the big boys across the entertainment spectrum, they needed the (at the time) $25 million per season. The NBA has reached that same crossroads, and the Cavaliers are willing to move forward with the league.
In light of the recent firings at ESPN, where the sports network fired nearly every respectable member of their team in favor of their “Highly Questionable” team of yellers and thoughtless pontificators, now seems as good a time as any to have a look at the way sports media works (or doesn’t work). Even though the events of a few weeks ago are a good hammer blow to the way things should be, I think we all have to admit that these changes are not drastic, and have been a long time coming. Why is that? Is it really just that ESPN was bloated with staff, and the market did not require them? Is Disney squeezing them to be a leaner outfit? Does Disney/ESPN really think that what they’ve left us with (watered down SportsCenter, First Take, Outside the Lines, and Dan Le Batard) is what the people want?