Last week, horse editor Michael Compton was featured in a 10 Question & Answers segment.Today, we return to horse racing, albeight briefly, to talk about sponsorship. With 10′s of thousands flocking to churchill downs for the Kentucky Derby next weekend (the first Saturday in May), sponsorship opportunities are endless and 3M has found one in a specific horse.
The company announced this week it will sponsor Kentucky Derby contender Mucho Macho Man (known by racing fans as “MMM”) in all three races of the Triple Crown, starting with the Kentucky Derby. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“This is a great opportunity to promote the 3M brand and 3M products on one of the world’s biggest and most historic stages,” 3M’s vice president of marketing, sales and corporate communications said Jeff Lavers in a company press release. “The Triple Crown represents quality of the highest level so it’s an ideal fit for our company.”
Where’s the connection between 3M and Mucho Macho Man you may be mentioning to yourself? The company develops, manufactures and markets products across a broad spectrum of animal care ranging from bandaging tapes to wound management solutions.
NBA TV advertising sales have grown more than 100% compared to this time a year ago, according to a report in the Sports Business Daily. Additionally the online publication said ad sales for NBA.com and related digital platforms are similarly up by strong double-digit percentages.
In related news,Fox Sports reported just two weeks agothat the NBA posted record-breaking television viewership and Web traffic this season. According to the NBA, viewership for professional basketball jumped 13 percent to 103 million and video views online jumped to 1.94 billion, an increase of 140 percent from the year before (hint to sports properties, take note of the growth of video for your own products).
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, took to the airwavesand issued an apology to fans, telling KCAl/KCBS local sports reporter Jim Hall that, “I’m sorry that my mess has become their mess and has affected the fan experience. I’m sorry that some of my lifestyle decisions has some fans thinking I did not want to put the best product on the field.”
Yu Knows Strategy: …and now he knows the 49ers. The San Francisco 49ers late last week announced they have named Gideon Yu Chief Strategy Officer. As for a practical sports background, Yu did not come to the NFL the traditional way. Apparently, All Things Digital, a technology must read, originally broke the story and then the website said the San Francisco 49ers followed up and issued a formal press release.I went to the team’s site and it was not posted there.Hmmmm
Since it is not possible to successfully interview a horse, I’ve gone ahead and done the next best thing ahead of the 137th Kentucky Derby.
For this session’s 10 question Q and A, meet Michael Compton, editor in chief for The Florida Horsemagazine. It is the first time I have interviewed a journalist, but as well all know, there are many different types of sports jobs. Journalism continues to be one of the most popular jobs.
1. Tell us about your position and your responsibilities as Editor-in-chief of The Florida Horse magazine.
As Editor-in-chief of the magazine, I work closely with our team of writers and photographers to chronicle the exploits of Florida-bred racehorses and their connections. The Florida Horse is the official publication of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association in Ocala, Fl., and we are proud to be the voice of Florida’s horse industry. Our family of publications—which includes Wire to Wire, a daily racing digest and Horse Capital Digest, a magazine that covers a broad range of breeds and equine activities—focus primarily on features and articles of interest to horse owners, breeders, trainers and racing enthusiasts.
2. Tell us what your average month is like as you prepare for a new issue. A typical month includes examining upcoming stakes races and finding out which Florida-bred horses are being pointed to which races. I assign articles to writers, accordingly, and arrange for photo shoots to cover the subjects. I work with a talented stable of writers and photographers, which makes my job even more gratifying. Most of my days are spent writing and editing copy, working with artists on layouts for our print and digital versions of the magazines, as well as dealing with advertising agencies and clients. I also invest a lot of time talking to breeders, owners and industry decision makers to stay abreast of issues impacting our industry at both the breeding and racing levels.
3. Talk about your career path, starting from your first job until you arrived to your current position. My first position in the thoroughbred industry was as a writer for California Thoroughbred magazine in Arcadia, Calif. That job provided me a wonderful opportunity to build upon my knowledge of racing by learning about the breeding segment of the business. Among my responsibilities in those early days, I covered races at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows in Northern California, legislative issues in Sacramento, as well as horse auctions.
I grew up attending the races in Southern California with my late father and my uncle. All of my early years at the track were spent following them around and bombarding them with questions. I was hooked on the races at a very early age. From my early teens, all I wanted to do in my career was write about racehorses. I feel extremely blessed for that to have materialized.
I also served as advertising manager of California Thoroughbred and managing editor of the magazine until I accepted my current position as editor-in-chief of The Florida Horse in 2000.
4. What is the best advice you ever received? I played a lot of basketball growing up. I will never forget my father telling me before one of my games: “Leave it all on the court.” It’s simple, but true. To this day, I use that philosophy in life and in business. I believe if you give your best everyday, win or lose, you have to be at peace with the outcome and move on.
5. What are your top horse racing memories you are most fond of telling others?
The day after my wife and I were married, one of my all-time favorite horses, General Challenge, was entered in a big race at Santa Anita. We went to the race, he won, and the entire family cashed on him that day. I’ve always figured that victory was a good omen.
I covered my first Kentucky Derby in 1998, the year after my father died. I was interviewed about the race on the NBC affiliate there in Louisville, my father’s hometown, a few days before that year’s Derby, and my father’s sister saw the interview live on television that morning. She immediately called my mother in California in tears knowing how much the Derby meant to my dad. Ironically, it was a bit of a dream come true for me to cover the Kentucky Derby, yet it was the first one I ever watched without my father. For the record, Real Quiet won the race.
6. Talk about the importance of the Kentucky Derby for the sport. It seems so many people tune in for this one race.
The Kentucky Derby, an American tradition since 1875, is older than the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship, and the Stanley Cup. Race day brings out celebrities, politicians and even royalty. It is the toughest race in the world to get into and the most challenging horse race in the world to win, as nearly everyone associated with this industry will tell you. For those of us involved in the business, and even more so for the people that care for these magnificent athletes, and know first-hand the investment, the risk, the rewards, the pride and heartbreak that go along with simply getting a horse to the race, the Kentucky Derby never fails to live up to its billing as “The most exciting two minutes in sports.”
The United States thoroughbred foal crop was approximately 33,000 in 2008 (3-year-olds of 2011). Out of those 33,000, a grand total of 20 runners will load into the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby on May 7th. The odds of even making it that far are astronomical, and simply participating in the historical event provides an unforgettable experience for most. This is an industry fueled by big dreams. It’s those dreams that move grown men to tears on Derby day.
7. What are some practical tips you can offer people watching the Derby for the first time?
For all of the horses in the Kentucky Derby, the first Saturday in May is an entirely new experience. These horses will encounter the largest crowd of fans they will ever face, likely numbering in excess of 150,000. That many people generate a lot of noise, and racehorses, typically high-strung, can be shaken by all the energy and festivities. How a horse handles the surroundings leading up to the race on Derby day is often a good indicator of what kind of performance is on deck.
Watching on television, fans new to the sport can look for some signs of how their choices are handling pre-race warm ups by their body language. You want to see the horse on its toes, maybe prancing a bit in the post parade, but not too much. Ears should be up, signaling attentiveness, not pinned back, suggesting he is tense or uncomfortable. You want to see a shiny, healthy sheen on their coats and you don’t want to see excessive sweating along their necks and shoulders (kind of a white lather), and indicates they are worked up. A little sweat is OK, like a boxer readying for a fight. You just don’t want them overreacting to a new experience as that will take away from their race. Horses that react strongly to the crowd noise can be bothered to the point that it may impact performance. Horses with a calmer disposition that are able to stay focused tend to leave the starting gate in a better frame of mind, which usually leads to a better effort on the racetrack. Think Kobe Bryant in clutch situations. The size of the stage doesn’t matter.
8. If I were going to the horse races for the first time, what advice would you give me for enjoying the experience? For the novice fan, a day at the races can be intimidating, and that is something our industry must address if we are ever going to seriously grow our fan base. It has a vernacular all its own and there really is so much to absorb that it is best approached in small chunks. I’ve worked in the business for two decades now, and I’m still learning. My best advice is just have fun and learn as you go. My wife didn’t really understand the sport when we first met and some of our early dates were to the racetrack, of course. She cashed as many winning tickets as I did in those days. Her methodology: wagering on the horses with handsome jockeys. Seriously, though, I would suggest that fans new to the sport, find their way to the walking ring where horses saddle up before a race. That is the place where jockeys receive last minute instructions from trainers and owners and get a leg-up for the race. Seeing racehorses up close and personal and being able to look in their eyes is magical. I believe the best racehorses, like the best human athletes, have that “it” factor. They know they are something special.
9. If you were not working in the horse industry today, what would you be doing? I’d be a sports writer. My appreciation for the game of basketball continues today, so I would think maybe a beat writer, sprinkled in with some boxing coverage.
10. Executives talk about being passionate in your job. What are you passionate about and why? My greatest passions are my family, my most important team, and racehorses. I’m truly blessed with a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. I have enjoyed growing as a couple with my wife, who has been supremely supportive of my career. Watching my children grow and develop as individuals is special beyond words. Having a supportive and understanding family allows me to invest the necessary hours pursuing my professional passion. I spend most of my days surrounded by like-minded people that share my feelings for thoroughbred racehorses. I’ve lived my dream of covering Kentucky Derbies and Breeders’ Cups and have been fortunate to be in the company of many of the greatest racehorses of my lifetime.
Lastly, is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to share? What to watch for in Kentucky Derby 137. There is an abundance of early speed (horses that like to set the pace in the race) signed up for this year’s renewal. When that happens, the horses on the front end through the early stages are not allowed to coast on an easy lead and they tend to run too fast early, paving the way for a closer, or a come-from-behind runner, to charge down the stretch and win the race in dramatic fashion. It appears that scenario could play out this year. If that is the case, and the early speed types duel early, look for a horse like Dialed In, winner of the Florida Derby earlier this year, to reel them all in. Good luck!
Over the weekend, I quietly celebrated two years of writing this blog. When it began with my first post back at the end of January in 2009, little did I know that it would grow into a regular posting about the people, trends, news and other tidbits of the sports business world. The title of the first post wasBad Economy = Front office Layoffs.While it was a start, I did not have pictures or links to go along with the blog. Just a simple message.
Today, I have learned how to create better posts with photos, videos, links to the stories I think people are interested in reading. I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed sharing. Yesterday, I received an email from Kelly Fluehr. Kelly wanted to let me know that sportsinfo101.com was named one of the “25 Best Sports Blogs You Aren’t Reading Yet.”
I guess you are if you are seeing this post, but I am grateful for people like Kelly mentioning me in this space. I love when folks share my posts on Facebook with their friends, family and colleagues. You never know how readers are going to react when a post is made in the morning so when I see entries like the infographic I used in2011 Key Facebook Statisticsreposted on the social media site 20 times, I know it has struck a cord.
Same is true for Twitter. My recounting of my trip to Las Vegas and the gaming industry called NFL, MLB and the Gaming Industryalso listed 12 Re-Tweets from the main home page. I know this just ne way to tell others you have enjoyed something I have written and its appreciated.
What is in store moving forward? More of the same. I will continue to pass along items I think are of interest to you. Items like sports management job listings like such as the US Marketing Coordinator position for Adidas Golf & AshworthI ran across online yesterday. (The Job summary) Assist in developing marketing strategies, determining best solutions and executing of solutions for the Adidas Golf & Ashworth brands. Work collaboratively with global marketing, marketing agencies and internal groups in the company across to create and execute a consistent, collaborative and complete marketing plan.
Every now and then, I will continue to add photos to posts from shots I take now and then, since I am an amateur photographer and have a passion for photography. Here is one photo from a visit to Laguna beach last week.
To see my entire photo stream, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/sportsinfo101/
I find it amazing that people from place like Colon and Munich in Germany to Paris and Nantes in France to 143 different cities in Illinois have found this site in the last month. Yes, every State inthe Union, Canada and virtually people like you from dozens countries from all over the the world have stopped by. I hope you till continue coming back for more. So Merci, Gracias, 谢谢, todah, Lorem, and Χάρη. Thank you.
January 2011 is set another record for visitors here. My sincerest thanks for the RSS feeds, the subscriptions to the site, and for passing sportsinfo101.com along to your friends.
Most businesses really believe they provide good customer service. In reality, only a few stand out from the crowd. I’d like to share with you a brief story about a company that stands out from the rest and what they did to earn my respect.
Not long ago, we purchased a ping pong table from Costco. It is a nice, all-purpose blue outdoor table that is supposed to last about two lifetimes plus three years. It current sits in the backyard and we have been using it for a month. Nothing has gone wrong with it and we have made no complaints.
Then, one day last last week, a package arrives at the house out of the blue. Among the contents was a letter. I have retyped it exactly as it was written:
Dear Costco Member and Kettler customer,
Thank you for your recent purchase of a Kettler Madein Germany outdoor table tennis table. For almost 40 years, Kettler has been the pioneer and worldwide leader in outdoor table tennis table technology. Kettler is proud of this heritage and is dedicated to offering the best quality products possible through our retail parter Costco.
However, we discovered that the table tennis accessory set (paddles and balls) included in this table did not meet the performance standards consistent with Kettler and Costco merchandising expectations. Included in this package is a no charge FREE replacement set of accessories including four high quality racquets, eight balls and a carry storage bag.
Please accept our apologies. Kettler is committed to meeting our customers’ needs, and values the opportunity to reach Costco members with our product line. Our goal is to insure that ALL of our products provide you and your family many hours of fun and entertainment in addition to many years of positive lasting memories.
I finished the letter and began thinking, why did the company do this? The original box included a set of four ping pong paddles and balls. They worked just fine and while I did notice while playing that the paddles seemed a bit old, old school, I was not ready to complain to the company about why we had not received the bubble type paddle surface. Here ae my best two guesses of what took place:
1) Other people complained about the quality of the paddles and balls to Costco leading to the move. I searched google under the news section for Costco ping pong paddles and problems with Costco ping pong paddles and not nothing back in the results.
2) Since this news search came up empty, I quickly settled on this idea. Costco is trying to protect its brand and relationship with customers and asked its distribution partner (Kettler) to supply the improved goods for its customers. I know for a fact from business associates that sell into Costco that the company is a stickler for quality. It appears they absolutely had a hand in the package that arrived at my home.
Regardless of how it came to be, someone was really concerned with the customer. All I could think to myself was “Now, this is real customer service.” I lesson for anyone in business.
People often ask me what are the most memorable sports stories of 2009. While most have taken the obvious road with the enthusiasm of a Tiger, I have chosen a different path with two moviing stories you probably do not know about. Let’s see.
Enough of words today, here are a couple of inspirational videos we all need to see.
The second, titled The amazing story of Mark Herzlich is also a keeper for 2009.
Sports can certainly serve as an inspiration. Pass these the link from today’s videos on to people that need a bit of hope.
December is here and the holiday rush to buy presents is on. In a related move, I recently posted a one question poll and asked, would you consider purchasing a comprehensive 2010 event schedule with a focus on sports? The overwhelming majority, 66% said, yes, there is an interest in this solution.
Since then, I have been hard at work creating something that would fit everyone’s need. You can visit it here at SportsCalendarPro.com
First, I created a master sports calendar. It has every major sports event in the United States. What did I include? In no particular order, here is a listing of just SOME of the events. The Super Bowl, The 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 World Cup, College Bowl Games, The Kentucky Derby, the Indy 500, the men’s and women’s college basketball NCAA tournament and Final Four, sports conferences for sports related events like the IEG Sponsorship Summit and the 2010 World Sports Congress. There are about 100 sports events in all.
As a sports executive and dedicated sports fan, I want and need to know what is happening and when it is happening. It would be nice to find everything in one place for the enter year. I am tired of searching for the Next event. It is also great for planning events. Not a sports fan, but you may be involved in major life events like getting married or you are just planning major events like fundraising dinners? Then this is ideal for you as well. I cannot remember how many times a major golf event or fundraising dinner collided with a major sports event and either a TV was wheeled in an event or continuous updates were given to keep people informed.
Belowis a snap shot of the calendar for two weeks in April. If you click on the image you can see it in a full screen view.
If you want additional details of the event itself, you can click on say The NCAA Frozen Four dates and you will see this
At SportsCalendarPro.com, I created the site where you can view it online via a gmail account and from there, you can easily download this or sync it with Outlook and iphone. I did it and it now runs as event dates on my master calendar.
The second option is to purchase the 2010 Master Calendar. This includes not only al of the sporting events, but also includes the 2010 Entertainment Calendar, the 2010 Technology Calendar and major U.S. holidays. For example, want to know when the 2010 Academy Awards take place or the ESPYs? Maybe you want to visit the Sundance Film Festival, CES in Las Vegas or Macworld? Then, this option is for you.
Last, which you won’t find on the home page but you will find on the ordering page, is the 2010 Custom Calendar. It includes all of the above and allows you to add four (total) sports team schedules to the mix. For example, say you live in New York or the Boston area. You can add the 2010 schedule for the Yankees, Mets, Nicks and Islanders in one place. Hate NY teams but love Boston sports? Then you can choose the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics schedules.
You write a sports related blog? This allows you to preview the event since you know what is coming up.
Okay, it is the first time I have blatently plugged a product in the year I have been writing this sports business blog, but it is my product and I really believe in it.
Please, visit the site, Re-Tweet and Post this onto facebook or Digg for others to see.
Consider purchasing this unique holiday gift for the sports fan or event planner in your life.
I desperately needed a new cell phone. The old Verizon phone worked okay but had been abused by years of bad hands and visiting the asphalt up close and personal. While I was happy with the reception I got from Verizon, it was tough to respond to text messages. I think each short message I responded to took about five minutes to complete.
My wife once again took matters into her own hands and surprised me with an Apple iPhone. Like everything else I have come to expect from Apple, I was surprised by its functionality, light weight and plethora of gadgets.
Ah, yes, the gadgets.
It did not take long to get hooked on all of the gadgets that have been created for this mobile device. Here I will review some of the free and paid sports applications.
Top 10 Paid Sports Apps according to Apple
According to statistics on the iPhone, Madden NFL 2010 is the top grossing app currently listed. It costs $9.99 but fans rated it 4/5 stars out of five so they must know what they are talking about. If you click on the photo to the left, iPhone provides the top 10 paid sports apps. It is not a surprise that the leader in this category is Fantasy Football 2009. A related app, ESPN Fantasy Football, at $4.99, is rated fourth on the list of top 25 top grossing apps (there is a difference in categories) and Golf shot GPS, with a $29.99 price tag is listed in the number nine slot.
I have not tried any of these applications nor been invited to test or write about them so I cannot tell you how good they are. If you look down to the right, I have also provided a picture of the top 10 free apps which again is a Fantasy Football app from Yahoo!
I have started to download a few items, both sports and non sports related, so I can review and speak to these a bit. The ESPN app is a cool and allows you to find the scores of major sports very fast. The value of apps is that information is pushed directly to you, extremely fast. The need for visiting a web site to receive specific information like sports scores is over. I have loaded the ESPN app MLB scores, NFL scores, NBA scores, men’s and women’s tesnnis singles scores and NHL scores as well as PGA tour updates.
Nike teamed with iPod to offer a great application for anyone that likes to work out. The app will sync with selected music you have and play the exact song you need when the time is right. The program offers categoeis which include a basic mode (open ended workout), timed, distance and a calorie counter. I am ashamed to say I have not tried it out yet.
This review is just trying to give you a taste of what is out there. When I went to iTunes and then to the sports section of the apps available, there more 109 pages of apps. Each NFL team for example, has a free app which lists the 2009-10 regular season football schedule. The apps are endless and I must say a bit mind boggling.
While these apps are sports related, I have also reviewed other non sports related applications on my business blog. It includes things you would expect like facebook, LinkedIn and Skpye but also some that you may or may not know about like Bump and Shazam.
You can see this review by going to www.coast2coastexperts.com and clicking on the link to the blog section, which is located at the top of the page. These apps are more practical for every day life. If you don’t have an Apple iPhone, some of this might seem a bit foreign to you. Just to give you a taste, here is a link to a video on one of the Bump app. Enjoy.
Yesterday, Washington Post invesitagive reporter James Grimoldi filed a newspaper story uncovering a ticket scandal with the Washington Redskins. The National Football League Team was violating their own ticket policy and selling seats to ticket brokers. Recently named the second most valuable NFL football franchise by Forbes Magaine, this black eye on the Redskins and the NFL comes as all 32 teams are preparing for the 2009 NFL football season next week.
The article titled “Redskins Fans Waited While Brokers Got Tickets” details how the team opted to sell scalpers lower bowl seats in exchange for buying the harder to sell club tickets.
The Washington Post was able to document the sales ASC Ticketa ticket broker which purchased more than 5,000 tickets for about $600,000 during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The tickets included nearly 1,700 GA admission seats in FedEx Field’s lower bowl.
All of this was going on while 160,000 fans had their names on a wait-list held by the organization.
Whether it was rogue ticket sales account executives or administrators turing a blind eye, the actions have damaged the perception and goodwill of the team. While the story mentions that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was “livid” when he found out, the team needs to turn to crisis communication experts and a truck-load of goodwill to repair the damage. The bottom line is this story hurts the reputation of the team with the fans it works so hard to attract and retain as customers.
If you are looking for a quick link to the story, I tried to provide one but the Washington Post requires you to register as a free subscriber first.
I did find a link for an interview with the Washington Post investigative Reporter James Grimoldi. It is not yet on You Tube, you can link to it here.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the opening day of the San Francisco 49ers training camp. Football is here folks and pre-season games are less than two weeks away. Hard to believe we are in August. This is a preview of the 2009 49ers football season, from a business perspective.
The 49ers are holding practices at their Santa Clara facility. Season ticket holders were invited to attend as well as fans in general. Due to construction at the corporate site, this year’s activities limited the number of fans who could attend each day. Saturday’s training session had a morning and evening workout while Sunday had only an afternoon workout.
While Saturday’s first practice did not begin until 8:30 a.m., the fans were already lining up by 6:45 a.m., dressed with all of their logo’s gear and items they hoped would be autographed by the end of the day. Fans were also greeted by 49er employees, already on site, setting up the grounds and making sure everything was in place for the day. If you think football is a great sport to work in because of the limited number of games must also reflect on mornings like these when you are at the corporate headquarters as the sun is rising, preparing for a fan experience. It is small details like this that really helps breed fan loyalty. Winning certainly helps create it but when you can attend a free event and watch football practice from a relatively close distance, it is an opportunity for an organization to “touch” the fan.
Once allowed to enter, the fans were greeted with strategically placed interactive activities like a football toss and a running drill to see how close they could get to a first down.
Entrance to 49ers training camp practice
Once by the field, the 600-800 fans allowed in each session had a great view from the bleachers to watch first year head coach Mike Singletary run drills with his coaches throughout the morning. The new coach seemed to keep his trademark focused approach to the game.
The fans applauded efforts made by the players and the only booing heard on the campus was made towards a fan who dared show up in a Cowboys jersey. Sourdough mockingly escorted him away from the bleachers towards the exit which received an ovation from the seated fans. He returned to his seat a few minutes later and was booed yet again.
The team also had a reserved section with a covered tent for family members to watch practice as well as a corporate tent for sponsors and special guests. An executive addressed the VIP’s as the offense and defense began stretching and explained what would be happening. The team’s defensive coordinator also addressed the 75 or so folks in the tent during a traditional breakfast that provided the guests with scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and sausage.
Overall, the 49ers provided a great experience for the fans that registered on the team’s website and received passes. It was the attention to detail that helped make the experience enjoyable. For example, as each fan entered the facility, they were presented with a roster sheet on one side and an autograph page on the other.
One couple boasted that they were visiting on their anniversary. Others brought out their kids to see the practice and there were enough babies on site to fill up a couple of day care centers.
After practice, players came to the fans lined up after practice and patiently singed autographs. I also saw on several occasions employees picking up trash left on the ground, trying to keep the area spotless. They not only wanted to leave a good impression on their guests but also ready for the evening practice.
By 11:00 a.m. the fans were headed for their cars and eventually homes, talking to friends and family I am sure about their day. The 2009 NFL football season is just right around the corner.
Tomorrow I will show you in pictures, my view of training camp.