It is not often that I can start a rant with a Biblical reference. Everyone can open their Bibles now to Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 and Verse 9:
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
[Full disclosure: I remembered that this was a Bible verse, but it was Google that let me identify where in the Bible is was.]
In the world of sports and television, the old has become the new as of this morning. Reports say that FOX and the WWE have gotten together on a 5-year deal that will put 2 hours of live professional ‘rassling on network TV every week. Back in the infancy of television, pro ‘rassling was on the air regularly; then it went away as viewers turned to sitcoms and adult Westerns; then came mini-series programming; and now, pro ‘rassling is back.
The program is called Smackdown Live and it evidently has been on cable networks for a while. FOX is paying $205M a year for this programming meaning that each of the 52 shows a week will cost FOX $3.9M; that seems to be a cost they can cover with two hours of advertising to sell.
Right now, FOX and FOX Sports are focused on televising the World Cup games. Given the fact that the US Men’s’ National Team did not qualify, there has to be some diminution of interest at a broad level for the event in the US. [Aside: If you have seen how terribly Panama has played in these World Cup games, you have to wonder how the USMNT finished behind them in the qualifiers.] FOX says, nonetheless, that they have had strong ad sales for the games in the Group Phase and market analysts say that FOX has been the beneficiary of the NBA Finals going only 4 games. That reduced sports competition on the air and it attracted some of the sports advertising dollars that did not get spent on an extended NBA Finals.
Of course, worldwide interest in the World Cup Games is immense. We were in Belgrade and heard an entire city erupt in cheers – and what sounded like gunfire – in celebration of a goal by the Serbian team about a week ago. And folks in that part of the world do not only watch their own teams; they watch all the games all the time. Back in 2014, the World Cup Final game was watched by an estimated 700 million people. That is more than twice the population of the US and about 10% of the world population.
The ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting has produced some fallout beyond getting a couple of assistant coaches fired and producing a report from a Blue-Ribbon Panel that seems to have faded into memory already. The tangible fallout is a civil lawsuit brought by Sketchers (a shoe company) against Adidas (the alleged bad guys in the FBI probe) on this basis; Sketchers alleges that Adidas:
“… created false advertising and unfair competition by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret payments to high school and college basketball players and their families to wear its products.”
Moreover, Sketchers asserts that those secret payments:
“… effectively blocked Skechers and other companies from competing on a level playing field for young, NBA-level endorsers, and unfairly bolstered consumer perception of Adidas’ overall brand quality and image well beyond the basketball footwear market.”
Not unexpectedly, the response from Adidas was to say that this complaint was “frivolous and nonsensical”. I won’t pretend to be the modern-day incarnation of Oliver Wendell Holmes here but let me just say that Sketchers probably would not want me on the jury if this ever went to trial.
Back in the late 50s – – back when pro ‘rassling was a network TV staple – – the Detroit Lions were a solid football team. In 1957, the Lions won the NFL Championship beating the Cleveland Browns (also an NFL powerhouse at the time) 59-14 in the championship game. The QB in that game was Tobin Rote who was substituting for the Lions’ starting QB, Bobby Layne, who was out with a broken leg. According to reputation, Layne was a “bad boy” whose commitment to training and sobriety was not complete. Nevertheless, he was a fine QB once game-day rolled around. After winning the championship with backup Tobin Rote under center, the Lions’ braintrust decided they had had enough of Layne and they traded him away to the Pittsburgh Steelers (an NFL doormat at the time). Layne supposedly said that the Lions were stupid and that they would never win another championship for 50 years.
Last year, was the 60th season after the Lions traded Bobby Layne. Not only have the Lions not won a championship in those 60 seasons, they have only won 1 playoff game in that span of time. The Lions record in playoff games since their championship in 1957 is 1-12. That lone win came in 1992 when the Lions beat the Cowboys in a first round game. The Lions lost the next week to the Skins by a lopsided score.
To give you an idea of the futility of the Lions as a franchise, the team has been in the NFL for 89 seasons (since 1930). Over that time, the Lions winningest coach was Wayne Fontes and Fontes’ career record with the Lions was 66-67-0.
Here is another Lions’ oddity. Since the merger of the NFL and the AFL in 1970, no head coach of the Lions was ever a head coach for another NFL team after the Lions fired him. It is almost as if the rest of the league does not want to risk that sort of taint on their franchise. Welcome to Detroit, Matt Patricia…
Finally, consider this item from Dwight Perry’s Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times:
“TBS’s Conan O’Brien after President Donald Trump tweeted that he is considering a pardon request made by Sylvester Stallone: ‘The pardon is for the guy who wrote Rocky V’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………