I want to start today with two items that relate to economics and soccer and both items are focused on Brazil. The World Cup tournament was held in Brazil in 2014; there were 64 matches played in 12 cities around the country. All of the matches took place in newly constructed or significantly renovated stadiums.
I mention that because the mantra chanted by folks who seek to build new stadiums or to host big things like the Olympics contains the idea of long-term economic benefits that derive from the stadium or the event. I have never thought that was the case and Brazil offers another datum that contradicts the mantra.
A year after the World Cup and a year since all of the government funded stadium construction and renovation was completed, the Brazilian economy is not growing very fast. In fact, times are tough in Brazil. There was a short-term economic bump last year – not sufficient to cover all of the preparatory costs for the World Cup by any means but still a bump – but a year later the economy is “problematic”.
One of the newly constructed stadiums was in Brasilia – the capital of Brazil – and it cost a reported $530M. Estadio Mane Garrincha seats 72,000 folks but there is one problem with the stadium. There is no major team in Brasilia to play there; the local teams in the area draw crowds in the 10,000 neighborhood. So, the reports are that the stadium is being used as a bus maintenance facility. That is a lot of money to spend on a bus maintenance facility…
In another part of Brazil, a team has taken uniform sponsorships to a new level. Tune into any major soccer match on TV and you will quickly recognize that corporate sponsorships with sponsors’ logos on the jerseys is commonplace. Rio Claro Futebol Clube is a team that plays in the Serie A1 in Brazil and its home site is near Sao Paolo. Rio Claro has taken “jersey sponsorship” to a new level; Rio Claro has a “butt sponsor”.
Currently, on the rear end of players’ uniforms are the words:
“Porta dos Fundos”
That is the title of a Brazilian YouTube channel that specializes in satire. So, why would those sponsors want their names on the players’ butts? “Porta dos Fundos” translates into English as “The Back Door”.
If this becomes a trend, it could have unsettling circumstances in the future. Consider if the folks at Burger King decided to sponsor a team with a message on the front of the players’ pants. Somehow the phrase “Home of the Whopper” would be unseemly in that locale…
In a recent column in the SF Chronicle, Scott Ostler compiled a list of things that need to be removed from sporting events. Everyone knows there are things involved in games that diminish one’s enjoyment of said games; getting rid of them would be addition by subtraction. Here is a link to the entire column; I recommend that you read it all.
To give you a flavor of Professor Ostler’s thinking as to things that should be eliminated from sporting events, here are two of his suggestions:
“Turnstile searches will stop any fan trying to smuggle into the stadium a large ‘D’ and a little picket fence.”
“Athletes — golfers, wide receivers, baseball hitters, bowlers, etc. — will be allowed to wear any kind of gloves they want, but none during actual competition.”
Wednesday, in Spring Training baseball, Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the spring. Someone in the Yankees’ organization was “Tweeting the game” giving followers highlights of the game between the Yankees and the Red Sox and somehow that person managed to overlook/ignore/miss A-Rod’s home run. Bizarre…
Look, I get it that the Yankees’ fondest wish is for A-Rod to prove that he is physically unable to play such that he has to retire injured and the Yankees can get compensation from insurance to pay him the $61M coming to him for the balance of his ridiculous contract. I also get it that there is a reservoir of ill-will left over from last year’s more-than-contentious arbitration hearing that led to A-Rod’s season-long suspension for PEDs. Nevertheless, A-Rod is in camp and – given his age and his rehab status – is playing pretty well. So far he is 5-11 (one HR and one double) with 2 walks. That makes it seem awfully petty of the Yankees to seem to shun him in their “Twitter account”.
Alex Rodriguez is not a loveable guy by almost any yardstick you might propose. However, the Yankees’ behavior as an organization is beginning to make him seem like the “less-odious participant” in the ongoing snit-fest. And, if I were in A-Rod’s shoes, I would take each of these little slights and use them to steel my resolve to make the Yankees live up to every semi-colon in that stupid contract they signed. If I had any inclination to re-do the deal in any way, this kind of nonsense would eliminate it.
Finally, a month ago, Marshawn Lynch reportedly was contemplating retirement; that was before signing a new deal with the Seahawks. Back then, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald had this to say about Lynch’s possible retirement:
“Parting thought: Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch reportedly is considering retiring. The media declined comment.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………