March Madness And Money

Notwithstanding the fact that Mount St. Mary’s and K-State won their play-in games last night and that there are two more preliminary games on the card for tonight, the real NCAA Tournament begins tomorrow.  Prior to the tip-off, I would like to offer up some financial data/stats regarding the tournament as an event.

First, according to a brief article at, the total revenue for advertising throughout March Madness last year was $1.24B and that a 2% increase is expected for this year bringing the expected revenue for 2017 to $1.26B.  Yes, I know that is for 67 games; nonetheless that is a lot of money in comparison to some other sports events.  Consider:

  • The NBA post-season brought in $1.03B in 2016
  • The MLB post-season brought in $569M in 2016
  • The college football bowl games brought in $358M in 2016

Naturally, the NFL post-season and Super Bowl are the behemoths in terms of advertising revenues in the sports post-season category, but the NCAA Tournament is a clear second.

The second “financial matter” regarding the NCAA Tournament relates to the amount of money that will be wagered on March Madness.  Let me begin with a disclaimer:

  • The numbers cited here are estimates made by the American Gaming Association (AGA).  This organization is a trade group that represents and promotes the casino industry.  They see part of their mission as “relentlessly protecting against harmful and misinformed public policies.”  They work toward getting rid of PASPA and thereby opening sports betting to any of the individual States that would choose to implement that form of wagering.

This report from the AGA says that wagering on March Madness by Americans this year is projected to be $10.4B.  The projected handle for the Tournament games in Nevada – where sports betting is legal – is $297M or about 2.9% of the total handle.  The other 97% will be wagered in an underground economy.

AGA uses these numbers to point out that PASPA is a failure when it comes to preventing wagering on sports events [No doubt about that] and urges folks to be politically active to get the ban on sports betting overturned.  Anyone who reads these rants even once in a while knows that I agree completely with the AGA on that point even if I have no way to confirm any of its projections and even though I am skeptical about the magnitude of the money flow in the underground economy.

Here you can find the statements made by the AGA on this matter and look at the methodology by which they came up with their estimates.  What I found interesting was that according to their data/estimates, a total of $2.03B is wagered in bracket pools around the country.  That is a lot of cheese…

Earlier this week, I was driving somewhere and had a local sports radio program on in the car.  The hosts were filling time “debating” who should be the NBA Most Valuable Player for this season – – even though the season is not going to be over for the next month.  I call that sort of thing “Killing Time Radio”.  However, one of the hosts mentioned something while considering Kawhi Leonard’s performance this year that surprised me enough that I went and looked it up.  The host was indeed correct.

  • As of this morning, Kawhi Leonard has played 1989 minutes this year in 59 NBA games.  The Spurs have played 66 games so Leonard has been involved in most of those games.  In all that time on the floor, Leonard has more steals this year (108) than he has personal fouls committed (96).

To put that in perspective, Michael Jordan was widely acknowledged as a great defensive player – as well as an offensive giant – during his career.  In only one season in his career did Jordan finish with more steals than fouls committed.  [In the 1992/93 season, Jordan had 221 steals and only committed 188 personal fouls.]

The Cleveland Browns released RG3; he is an unrestricted free agent looking for a job.  Some folks have suggested that the Jets might be interested in him; I suspect that he will get an invitation to some team’s training camp simply because there will be a coach somewhere who believes that under the right system and environment, RG3 might recapture his magical rookie season energy and take his team onward and upward.  I put that in the “unlikely category” but I think someone somewhere will buy into it.

What I find more interesting about the Browns’ decision is this:

  • Griffin started the opening game for the Browns in 2016.
  • With his departure, that means that the Browns will have a new starting QB for their opening game in 2017- – AND – – that will mean that the Browns will have started a different opening day QB five years in a row.

The Browns are not “searching for a franchise QB” here.  They are still at the stage where they are searching for a guy they can tolerate as their starting QB for more than a season.

Finally, here is a note from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“The best high school basketball player in Utah is named Stockton Malone Shorts. His last name is Shorts, his first and middle names are ‘Stockton’ and ‘Malone.’ It could be worse. His parents could’ve named him ‘Under.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………