Tag Archives: Football

NBC’s Creative Accounting

NBC is claiming it lost a boatload on the most recent Super Bowl telecast:

The GE-owned network purportedly lost $45 million on the Feb. 1 telecast, despite monster ratings and a record $206 million in ad sales. The loss contributed to a 45 percent plunge in first-quarter profit for NBC Universal, according to corporate parent GE, which released earnings yesterday.

The claim is ridiculous on its face. As the Post piece speculates, this is probably all about NBC’s trying to strike a blow against escalating rights fees. It’s a lie, but NBC is hoping it’s a useful lie. In some ways it’s appropriate, in that NFL owners–and owners in almost every professional sports league–routinely lie about their financials as a way to apply downward pressure to labor costs. They’re all losing money, they say, and that’s why greedy Player X needs to soften his contract demands. It’s an ageless refrain.

Anyhow, it’s curious how NBC gets promptly called out for its lies, and, for instance, Latrell Sprewell is roundly ridiculed for his “feed my family” remark. But when your local grandfatherly sports team owner shrugs and shows you the linings of his empty pockets, the media is mostly sympathetic and unquestioning.

(HT: With Leather)

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Getting Uglier

The Dallas police officer who pulled over the Houston Texans’ Ryan Moats, pointed a gun at his wife during a traffic stop, and prevented Moats from visiting his mother-in-law on her deathbed may have been spoiling for a fight. Busted Coverage unearthed this Internet posting by Robert Powell, the officer in question, written during his academy days:

“The count downs begins:

18 days of work then the real work starts and I can shoot people.”

It’s possible he was joking, but it’s also possible he’s a sociopath.

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College Football Will Know Orrin Hatch by the Trail of Dead

Fightin’ Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), whose home-state Utah Utes were shut out of the national-championship discussion last season, will soon introduce legislation to do away with the Bowl Championship Series:

“As I have said before, the BCS system is anti-competitive, unfair and un-American. I am looking forward to exploring what legislative remedies might be applied to fix a system that violates our nation’s antitrust laws by placing non-BCS universities at a serious competitive disadvantage.”

Normally, I’d object to this kind of transparent pandering, but I’m prepared to swallow my principles if it leads to a playoff system in college football. My only regret? That the certifiable Zell Miller is no longer around to challenge the BCS computer to pistols at dawn …

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The NFL Hits K Street

MLB has had a full-time Washington lobbyist on the job since 2000, and now the NFL is joining the unsavory fray:

The NFL has established a Washington office in the last year, hired a full-time lobbyist and created a political action committee to make federal campaign donations. The moves come as a work stoppage looms as a possibility in two years, which could generate some unwelcome congressional attention for the league.

The NFL also is facing more immediate controversies from how games are broadcast to whether a ban on Internet gambling on games should be continued.

To that list I’d add the pension/disability controversy, congressional outrage over peformance-enhancing drugs (which remain more of a problem in the NFL than in MLB, despite the column inches devoted to the latter), and the league’s desire to preserve its limited anti-trust exemption.

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The Plight of the College Athlete

Irvin Muchnick in BeyondChron provides a necessary reminder of the business of NCAA scholarships:

Most fans mistakenly believe athletic “scholarships” – the very word is an Orwellian perversion – have four-year terms. Not so, Huma points out: “The NCAA only allows year-to-year scholarships. At the end of a scholarship year, a coach can take the scholarship away from a player for any reason, including permanent injury.” You can’t accuse them of reneging; the agreement is explicitly worded to permit the institution, at its sole discretion and convenience, to yank the scholarship out from under the recipient like a hook rug.

For whatever reason, the exploitation of the college athlete tends to pass under the radar. Keep in mind that college athletics is wildly profitable–consider, for instance, the 2007-08 budgeted revenues reported by the NCAA:

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Baseball to Dominate Kentucky Senate Race?

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, is facing a tough road toward reelection and maybe even a tough primary. If, however, he makes it to the general, then Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler may be waiting to take him on. That’s notable because Ben Chandler is the grandson of Happy Chandler. That’s notable because Happy Chandler was commissioner of baseball from 1945-51. Four years after Chandler was forced out of office (mostly for backing Branch Rickey’s plan to integrate the game), Bunning made his major-league debut with the Tigers. Ah, the symmetry of spolitics …

Elsewhere–Michigan to be precise–former NBAer Dave Bing is running for mayor of Detroit, and former Michigan State head football coach George Perles is running for governor.

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Obama Tabs Rooney

President Obama has named Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney as ambassador to Ireland. His qualifications for the position (besides being a wealthy Obama voter, that is) …

The grandson of an Irish immigrant, Rooney in the 1970s helped found the American Ireland Fund, an organization that has raised millions for advocacy of peace and education in Ireland. His legacy is reflected in a Steelers-themed bar in a disused linen mill in one of the roughest parts of northwest Belfast.

Often, ambassadorships are honoraria handed out to prominent supporters, but with the IRA perhaps resurgent and the Irish economy in trouble, Rooney may have some genuine challenges ahead. Best o’ luck to him.

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