A Most Disturbing Report …

There was a story on the front page of today’s Washington Post that involves a seamy side of the sports world.  It deals with the sexual abuse of young female athletes by coaches/trainers as they aim toward participation in the Olympics.  That is a horrible circumstance by any measure but it is made even worse by the fact that when such allegations are brought to the attention of the USOC, the USOC takes a slide.  This article is excellent reporting and journalism; it relies on fact as provided by documents used in court proceedings; it interviews people involved in the matter(s); it provides history and context.  In fairness, I must tell you that it is a lengthy piece; nonetheless, I commend it to your reading.

Let me give you just a couple of teasers about the article:

  1. A USOC official claims that the USOC has no athletes under its umbrella and that the athletes are covered by/belong to the various governing sport bodies.  When asked what TEAM USA meant if it was not about USOC’s Olympic Team, he said that TEAM USA was merely “branding”.
  2. Annual revenue for the USOC is $230M.  Sounds like a lot of money for folks who sit around and worry about “branding” …

Also in today’s Washington Post – this time buried in the middle of Sports Digest – is an item about the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers.  Recall that the Chargers will play their games this year in a small stadium built as a soccer venue with seating in the range of 30,000 but with expansion potential for 35,000.  The Chargers announced that tickets for their games at this stadium – the StubHub Center – will be more than just “pricey”.  Some data from the report:

  • Top shelf season tix for the LA Chargers will cost $150 per game more than top shelf season tix for the LA Rams.
  • Season tix (a 10-game commitment to include 2 exhibition games) for midfield seats behind the Chargers’ bench will cost $375 per game.

If these numbers make you wonder how this pricing strategy is supposed to endear the Chargers to new fans in the LA area, here is what the report has to say:

“The Chargers are counting on the limited supply of seats at StubHub – along with what’s expected to be a better team than the Rams – to move their product at higher prices.”

So much for the marketing strategy of developing a customer base by offering low introductory prices…

As MLB teams and players head to Florida or Arizona to begin Spring Training, you can anticipate the onslaught of formulaic reporting and giddy optimism emanating from those locales.  However, despite that annual happenstance, there has already been a Spring Training report that immediately made me think of Monty Python.  And now for something completely different…

“Kansas City Royals left-hander Brian Flynn is expected to be sidelined for eight weeks after falling through a barn roof at his Oklahoma residence.

“The Royals said Tuesday that Flynn broke a rib and had three minor vertebrae fractures.”

I do not wish Brian Flynn any ill and I hope he has a full recovery from his fall, but I do have to note that this is one of the reports out of Spring Training that does not fit the mold for such stories.

Often, there is a media focus on the efforts and the deals and the shenanigans involved in building a new stadium or arena somewhere in the country.  However, there seems to be little if any focus on what that city/county/state ought to do or needs to do with the old/outdated stadium or arena that is being replaced.  Today, we can take a glimpse into that world thanks to a report in the Kansas City Business Journal.

Kemper Arena is the old/outdated venue and it sits on 10-acres of real estate in KC.  According to this report, a committee of the KC City Council is ready to deal with the final piece of a deal that will transfer the arena to an LLC for the price of $1.  The new owners will then “transform it into Mosaic Arena, a two-level youth and amateur sports facility.”  Why such largesse?  Well, this transfer or sale or whatever you want to call it will relieve the city of the need to spend $1.2M per year to maintain and operate Kemper Arena.  Check out the link to this report if you are interested in other financial details.

Back in the late 70s, I went to Kemper Arena to see a KC Kings game.  [The team has since moved to Sacramento.]  I recall Kemper Arena as a very modern venue for that time and that the seating was compact so that you did not feel as if you were in an airplane hangar.  Obviously, its time has come and gone.  Sic transit gloria mundi

Finally, consider this commentary from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Yes, pucks and fists often mix — but in octogenarian shuffleboard?

“Herbert Hayden, 81, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge for punching a fellow competitor at the Pinellas Park (Fla.) Senior Center and whacking him with a shuffleboard cue.

“Hayden was ordered to pay about $1,000 in fines, fees and restitution. And just for good measure, the judge tacked on five minutes for fighting, two minutes for roughing and another two for high-sticking.”

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



4 thoughts on “A Most Disturbing Report …”

  1. Thanks for leading me to that Wapo article. It made me sick! Maybe the NCAA isn’t so bad after all.

    1. Doug:

      This report does not exonerate the NCAA; it merely shows that the USOC and other sports governing bodies have feet of clay.

  2. It’s more of an absolute power over Olympic access issue for the root cause, but appalling nonetheless. It’s not limited to the USA either, for years it was rumored that Nadia was Nik Ceaucescu’s mistress in Romania. If winning is the focus, it appeared the USOC considered stuff like this to be collateral damage that could not be helped.

    I’m amused by the Chargers gambit here, because even though the Rams returned to much ballyhoo, I don’t think there was such a stampede for tix that they sold out the Coliseum. Now, technically the Chargers are also returning, but I doubt there is 1000 people still alive that saw the last LA Chargers game, so sticking it to fans in what appears to be a “snob appeal” gambit will not end well. It may be that this particular experiment in bad owner behavior will result in a team with nowhere to go. Apparently there is another attempt to do a stadium in San Diego, but it’s sketchy at the moment.

    1. rugger9:

      Indeed, the Rams did not sell out last year. According to NFL attendance numbers at espn.com, the Rams played to 89.9 percent of capacity last year. That figure puts them 28th in the league ahead of San Diego, Washington, Oakland and Cleveland by that standard.

      I do not understand the “marketing ploy” the Chargers are using here. The stadium they are playing in is so small that I suspect they will come very close to selling it out – even at those prices – and will then point to their jump in the standings from last in percent of seats filled to some loftier position as “progress”. Whatever…

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