Category Archives: Sports

Top 10 Wide World of Sports Moments

50 years ago this week the Wide World of Sports debuted on ABC:

“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory, and agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”

Today ESPN’s SportsCenter ran through their list of the 10 best Wide World of Sports moments:

  1. Unbridled winning the 1990 Kentucky Derby
  2. Richard Petty’s 200th (and final) win in 1984; notable for Petty’s post-race celebration with Ronald Reagan, the first time a sitting US president attended a NASCAR race
  3. In 1975, German magician Ralf Bialla catching a bullet in his teeth
  4. In the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Brandi Chastain scored the championship game-winning penalty kick
  5. In 1974, Mohammed Ali knocking out George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle”
  6. Pele’s final game in 1977, scoring in the second half
  7. In 1999, Lance Armstrong won the first of seven straight Tour de France victories
  8. Evel Knievel’s 1974 attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in a rocket
  9. The 1973 World Heavyweight Championship in Jamaica, in which Joe Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier, leading to Howard Cosell’s famous “down goes frazier!” call
  10. In the 1970 Ski-flying Championships in West Germany, Vino Bogataj’s crash which became the cornerstone of the “thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat” video intro

ESPN Best Mobile Coverage of NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

Normally I rely on the mobile edition of Yahoo Sports but recently realized they are completely missing any coverage of NCAA Women’s Basketball, specifically the Final Four tournament now in progress.

Fortunately, ESPN mobile is giving the women equal billing with a dedicated section just for the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Our house was very sad when the Stanford women were beat yesterday, but at least Notre Dame beat Connecticut so now we can root for the Irish tomorrow night!

Screenshot - ESPN Mobile Sports - NCAA Women's Basektball Coverage

The NFL Commissioner Emailed Me Today

After buying something from the online NFL store this Christmas, I quick received a barrage of spam from nfl.com. Fortunately those messages subsided once I “unsubscribed”. I guess they still felt it important to send me this email titled “Thanks and a Look Ahead” from Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner. Too bad the NFL players don’t have a similar platform to communicate their side of the story…

With one of the most exciting regular seasons now completed and the playoffs about to begin, let me first thank you and all NFL fans for your incredible support. Many fans have been asking me where we stand on signing a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Let me update you and be clear at the outset:

I know we can and will reach an agreement.

My goal as Commissioner now is to help our teams and players find a solution that is fair to everyone and ensures that football becomes more popular, accessible, and fun. We want the next decade to be the best yet for our fans, and I’m ready to work day and night to make that happen.

We’ve come a long way. Compare where we are today with 10 years ago. From player accountability to player safety, more and better television coverage, upgrading the in-stadium experience, innovations like the RedZone channel, the Draft in prime time and playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl, we are focused on doing what’s best for the players, teams, and fans. My priority is and always will be the game and the fans who love our game.

The NFL is great because fans care deeply about it. Economic conditions, however, have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA. A 10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all. Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money. I get it.

Yes, NFL players deserve to be paid well. Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing everyone to make tough choices and the NFL is no different.

These are not easy negotiations, but the outcome can be positive. If both sides give a little, everyone, including fans, will get a lot and the game will improve through innovation.

Even in difficult economic times, a new CBA presents us with the opportunity to secure the future of our game. You may ask how will the NFL look under this vision?

A significant change would be to resolve fan complaints about preseason by modifying our 20-game format. Fans tell us they don’t like the quality of the preseason games, and we’re listening. An enhanced season of 18 regular season and two preseason games would not add a single game for the players collectively, but would give fans more meaningful, high-quality football.

Our emphasis on player health and safety is absolutely essential to the future of our game. We are strictly enforcing rules that protect players from unnecessarily dangerous play, especially involving hits to the head. We are changing the “play through it” culture to a “player-first” culture to ensure that if a player has a head injury, he doesn’t play again until his health is certain. We are also addressing the potential wear-and-tear on players
in the way they train in-season and off-season.

It’s not just the health of players that concerns us. We must ensure the health of the league. That includes a new system that properly compensates proven veterans and retired players by shifting some of the outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a list of the 50 highest-paid American athletes that included five 2009 NFL rookies. Every other athlete on the list was a proven veteran. In 2009, NFL clubs
contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field.

Don’t get me wrong: top draft choices will continue to be highly paid. All we’re asking for is a return to common sense in paying our rookies. Other leagues have done this and we can too.

These improvements and more will lead to better football, plain and simple. A forward looking CBA that is fair to players and clubs will lead to a great future for the NFL and our fans.

My job is to represent the game — the fans, teams, players, coaches and business partners. Protecting the integrity of the game and ensuring it thrives is a responsibility I take very seriously.

This is about more than a labor agreement. It’s about the future of the NFL. We have to improve and will be relentless in our quest. The commitment to our fans is to make the NFL experience even better in the years ahead. With a responsible CBA, we will fulfill that vision.

Happy New Year and enjoy the playoffs.

Ask.com: Official Search Engine of NASCAR

Watching the Great American Race yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that Ask.com has tuned into NASCAR in a big way. Sure enough, it turns out that Ask.com has signed a big deal with NASCAR:

Ask.com, a leading search engine and an operating business of IAC, announced Wednesday it has entered into partnerships with NASCAR, NASCAR.COM and Hall of Fame Racing. Under the terms of the partnership with NASCAR, Ask becomes the Official Search Engine of NASCAR, with category exclusivity and a broad set of promotional rights in order to reach the sport’s estimated 75 million loyal fans.

In addition to the on-screen advertising, Ask.com is sponsoring Bobby Labonte in the 96 car (for 18 of the first 21 races), has created a NASCAR toolbar, and has created a new NASCAR homepage. I think the idea of an “official search engine” is pretty solid, even if it sounds a bit hokey. This move won’t put Google out of business, but Ask should pick up some incremental search traffic from NASCAR fans during the year.

For an idea of how valuable this kind of exposure can be, see my previous article on NASCAR sponsorship exposure value.

I wish Yahoo! had taken this opportunity a couple years ago when we were involved in NASCAR (Yahoo! sponsored Tina Gordon in her Busch series car). Unfortunately, I don’t think the value was there for Yahoo!, especially considering that Gordon didn’t qualify for many races and didn’t spend much time running up front.

Here’s a screenshot of Ask.com taken in the middle of the Daytona 500 yesterday:

Ask.com screenshot during the 2009 Daytona 500 race