Lockout Blues

July 1 brought the inevitable and dreaded NBA lockout that we all feared but knew was coming. Suddenly, two of the “big 3” look more like Washington DC than world class sports leagues. And much like DC, progress won’t be made without major concessions on both sides. Nothing should be “off the table”. It’s a major game of chicken, and no one wants to blink, but without compromise we are indeed headed towards armageddon.

In the case of the NBA, my biggest fear is that both sides rely too much on the last lockout to gauge the potential fallout of this version. The last lockout was over 10 years ago. Times have changed dramatically since then, and anyone who takes fan loyalty for granted in the 21st century is a fool. Fans today have a plethora of options when it comes to leisure time and discretionary spending. When my father was a kid, he spent his summer days listening to baseball games on the radio from his front porch. It was indeed “the national pastime”. When I was a kid, I watched the NFL and the NBA on TV. My 21st century son barely watches sports, and when he does he is simultaneously playing video games on his handheld device. And adults today have thousands of channels on TV, the internet and countless other activities to fill their time. If the NBA loses a season due to a lockout, no one should assume that the fans won’t find other things to do with their time. Fan loyalty, the golden goose of sports, is more fragile than many people believe.

In the case of the NBA, the gap between the union and the league feels enormous to me. We can debate the numbers, but it’s apparent that the league has endured some amount of loss during the recent recession years. On the heels of one of the best seasons in years (in terms of attendance and ratings), I imagine the league wishes the CBA had expired sooner. Regardless, we’re in the midst of a standoff. Here are the key issues that I think need to get addressed:

1. Revenue Sharing. The bulk of the losses are generated by small market and poorly run teams. There’s no way the Lakers and the Timberwolves are on the same page on this issue. If covering losses is the key issue, then profitable teams from mega-markets are going to have to subsidize smaller market teams. No way Sacramento can ever compete with New York. Teams rely on ticket sales, local broadcast and sponsorships to generate revenue. Expecting SAC to compete with NYC is like asking me to enter the dunk contest.

2. Contraction. This ties to issue #1. Every bricks and mortar business under the sun closes locations that aren’t profitable. Leagues are loathe to do that, but it may be unavoidable if the losses reported are even remotely accurate. Either through contraction or relocation, a few of the teams deepest in the red need to go.

3. Parity. I’ve said before that parity is a mirage. Small markets are not on an even playing field with big markets. Hard salary caps won’t help much, as they’ll simply guarantee deeper profits for big market teams. Small market teams can only compete when they are managed and marketed effectively (see San Antonio and OKC). Yes, some small market teams made the playoffs, but the big market teams made the finals, and almost always win the title.

4. Cake. I believe the NBA is in a situation where they want to “have their cake and eat it too”. The league is going to need to make a choice between limiting salaries and limiting free agency. If the Denver Nuggets can’t offer Carmelo Anthony much more than other teams, he is likely to bolt to a place where he has roots and feels he can improve his quality of life. If small market teams aren’t allowed to pay their top guys fair market value, they’ll all head to bigger markets, warmer weather, etc and the NBA will look a lot more like baseball. Say goodbye to parity.

4. Guaranteed contracts. The sacred cow on our side of the fence. The challenge with the current system is that teams locked into long term contracts with injured players (TMac, Michael Redd, etc) are basically eliminated from championship contention on opening night. The league wants non-guaranteed contracts, but my view is that bigger salary cap exceptions for injured guys is the better solution. Insurance policies provide some relief as well. The rest of the world allows for guaranteed contracts, so pro leagues should too. There’s probably a reasonable compromise available here, but eliminating guarantees isn’t one of them.

Bottom line is that neither side wants to appear weak, and without compromise on both sides we are doomed. A lost season will likely result in diminished fan loyalty that might never be recovered. Fans have many choices these days. Let’s not take them for granted.

Posted in NBA Lockout, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

David Beats Goliath

So now we know how the story ends. The people’s champion wins. Mighty Casey doesn’t strike out. The good guy gets the girl. We all love happy endings, right?

NBA championship teams have much in common. Dallas fits the bill. Miami doesn’t. Here’s my list:

– Time to gel. Teams don’t win overnight. Dan Gilbert is right. There are no shortcuts. Teams need time to gel, develop chemistry and get to know one another as a unit.

– Balance of stars and role players. MJ did not win alone. Even famous “Big 3” teams were rounded out with strong role players. MJ had deadly outside shooters, relentless rebounders, committed defenders, savvy veterans. Saying he won alone is a myth. Cartwright, Kerr, Pippen, Longley. Kukoc, Harper, Rodman and others all contributed.

– Great coaching. Championship coaches are hall of famers. Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Doc Rivers, Greg Popovich, Rudy T, Red, etc. Show me a list of championship teams and I’ll show you a list of great coaches.

– Pieces that fit. Great teams are comprised of pieces that fit together.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think most of us knew that Miami didn’t fit any of these descriptions. If they had won the title, all of our beliefs about what it takes to win an NBA championship would have been blown to dust. As NBA fans, of course we want “our team” to win it all. But if they can’t, I believe we all want the team that exemplifies all we love about the great game to take the prize. That’s why we all respect San Antonio. In our daily lives, we all need to work with our coworkers as a team. We need to know our role. We need to follow our bosses direction. We need time to gel in our groups and work over time towards a collective goal.

In the NBA, teams have never been able to “buy” championships overnight. A Miami victory would have destroyed much of what we love (and can relate to) about the NBA. Congrats Dallas. Chalk one up for the little guy.

Posted in LeBron James, NBA Playoffs, Sports Marketing | 1 Comment

Courage: 1, Homophobia: 0

Rick Welts is one of the most respected executives in all of professional sports. Rick is known for his intelligence, his creativity, his character and a lack of ego so common in high ranking sports executives. Today, in a high profile NY Times piece (http://nyti.ms/kgjrzt), Rick let the world know that something else separates him from of his contemporaries. Rick Welts is gay.

To some people that know Rick, this news may not come as a surprise. To some, including me, the news is worthy of celebration. Few of us can imagine what it might be like to live a life in which we would have to shelter something fundamental to our individual makeup, especially in an industry in which homophobia is sadly alive and well. I am thrilled that Rick and others who will surely follow him can now enjoy the rest of their lives without the burden of secrecy. Of course there will likely be bumps in the road. This announcement comes in the same month that Kobe Bryant called someone a “fXXXot”. I imagine Rick will receive overwhelming support from most of his friends and coworkers. People as admired and respected as Rick are often overwhelmed by the love and support that comes their way in times of challenge. But Rick made this announcement knowing that homophobia is still an issue, especially in pro sports. It’s a sobering reminder that while we’ve made progress in the areas of racial and religious discrimination in the US, gays and lesbians still must endure cruelty, judgement and secrecy.

When I first started in the sports industry, I didn’t know anyone. And as BDA was a small company with a very limited roster, I didn’t have much to offer anyone. Yet Rick treated me with kindness and respect from day one. We developed a friendship that seems to be rare these days. He’s helped me learn the ropes and shared with me knowledge and wisdom that allow me to do a better job everyday. He is a mentor and a friend, and someone I admire greatly for his character, intelligence, loyalty and honesty. Now I’ll add courage to the list. Bravo, Mr. Welts.

Posted in Sports Business, Sports Marketing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Changing of the Guard

Something funny happened on the way to what was supposed to be the best NBA post season in recent memory. Suddenly, the titans got old, and the next generation emerged. We all went into this assuming the Lakers would face San Antonio, and ultimately fight their way into the Finals, where they would go up against Boston or Miami. Then San Antonio got old, the Lakers got old and both Goliaths made whimpering exits. We expected Miami/Boston to be a heavyweight match. Then Boston got old and Miami came together as most of us hoped they never would. Suddenly the NBA playoffs are about something completely different than most of us expected.

So far, the playoffs seem a bit anticlimactic. But something really interesting is happening beneath the surface. While the old school make early exits, some surprising new contenders are emerging via triple over times, road victories and upsets. Atlanta, Memphis and Oklahoma City are all young teams loaded with talent and chemistry. And they aren’t going away anytime soon. Expect them all to be around for the foreseeable future.

It seems to me that two trends have emerged: superstar-loaded teams from big cities (MIA, CHI, BOS) and young, chemistry-loaded teams from small/mid markets (OKC, MEM, ATL, DAL). As someone who isn’t a big fan of the superstar/big market trend, I’m thrilled to see some of these mid-tier market teams come together. Basketball, more than any other team sport, is a team game. I’m an old school guy who loved it when Byron Scott knew his job was to drain jumpers. AC Green and Rambis knew they had to rebound. Coop knew he had to defend and shoot 3’s. Magic knew he had to create. Kareem knew he had to do damage in the middle. They worked as a unit, setting their egos aside for the greater good. Some of the young teams are showing the same kind of chemistry and team effort. It’s sad to see the Lakers and Boston go down like this, but seeing the young kids come together has been a blast. Three cheers for the new guard.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

NBA Playoffs: Let the Games Begin

Point of fact: David Stern is a marketing genius. He has expanded popularity of basketball globally, and kept the NBA popular and relevant here in the US. However even the commissioner can’t control everything, and for the L the timing of the pending lockout couldn’t be worse. On the heels of one of the most successful NBA seasons in years (ratings, attendance way up) comes what looks to be a playoff season for the ages. Big market teams like Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, New York are loaded with talent and all strong enough to win it all. Upstart teams like New Orleans, Memphis, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Oklahoma City are looking to establish themselves as perineal playoff spoilers. We are only in round one, and this year’s NBA playoffs are already absolutely riveting. What will follow these epic playoff battles, which will surely include record high ratings and ueber-buzz? Don’t be surprised to see the league and its owners claiming poverty and an unsustainable business model. Talk about bad timing.

I’ve argued that the NBA by design cannot deliver parity. Small market teams simply can’t compete without hard caps and real revenue sharing. But this year’s playoffs prove that great management and coaching can over come small market disadvantages. Parity seekers can find comfort in San Antonio, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Portland and Indiana, where savvy basketball decisions have helped these markets build exciting young squads that appear to be in great shape for the foreseeable future. The playoffs prove that the current model works, at least for well managed teams.

Yet the league will soon claim that the model is broken. No doubt there are issues. Teams who get stuck with bad contracts are often hamstrung for years. Small market teams struggle to afford the payroll necessary to compete in the modern NBA. But ultimately the league lives and dies with the strength of its players. The L is now full of exciting, talented and charismatic players. The players are the ones who drive ratings, ticket sales and sponsorship dollars. And players have a very limited window during which they make their money. Yes, I am biased. But this really is billionaires vs. millionaires. Big market teams don’t want to share more revenue, so they want players to make the sacrifice to help failing franchises. I don’t see how forcing players to take massive pay cuts is the fair or correct solution. Teams need to make better decisions, and avoid handing out long term contracts to players who don’t deserve them. Small market teams must get creative (or just copy OKC/IND/MEM/ATL) and build teams good enough to energize their local markets. Better management, more revenue sharing, relocating a few teams and (gasp) shutting down a few teams would fix all of the problems the NBA claims to be facing. Tough decisions, but fair decisions that require sacrifice from all sides.

For those of us in the basketball world, these truly are “the best of times and the worst of times”. The NBA is blazing hot right now. Big markets vs. small, superstar individuals vs. scrappy teams, legends vs. youngsters. This is the kind of playoff season that we all wish for. It’s almost too painful to dwell on the fact that what follows is potential armageddon. Let’s enjoy the playoffs, then we’ll see what happens when the real games begin.

What do you think?

Posted in Athlete Marketing, NBA Lockout, NBA Playoffs, Parity in Sports, Sports Marketing, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Mr. Rodgers, Madison Avenue Is On The Line.

Athlete icons are often seen as overnight sensations. And with a record breaking TV audience watching, there is no better launching pad for a marketing career than a Super Bowl. Yes, as Rich Thomaselli and others have pointed out, Aaron Rodgers has arrived. His absolutely stellar performance in Super Bowl XLV made Rodgers worthy of all of the praise he has received. SI covers and Disney ads don’t hurt either. Everybody, especially Madison Avenue, loves a winner.

But what catapults Rodgers into athlete marketability stratosphere is not simply a 300+ yard, 3 TD performance on Super Bowl Sunday. What makes Rodgers uber-marketable is much more than that. Rodgers is proof positive that the Player Marketability formula holds true:

PM = (Talent + Success) + (Integrity + Charisma)

Rodgers has it all. Football fans have been watching him develop the past few years, and were not surprised by what he did at the Super Bowl. The guy can flat out play, and is one of the best QB’s in the league. His talent is top shelf. His Super Bowl performance was the ultimate display of talent and success.

But to focus on the Super Bowl alone would not fully explain Rodgers’ stellar marketability. His charisma and integrity are what will really carry him to the marketing mountaintop. In this post-Tiger era, fans and corporations are all pretty leery of bad behavior. Character counts more than ever, and Rodgers oozes it. You’ve never seen Rodgers name in the paper outside of the sports pages, and he hasn’t given TMZ anything to talk about.

When Rodgers arrived in Green Bay, he stood in Brett Favre’s enormous shadow, and didn’t say a word. He handled the Favre circus with more dignity and grace than many pro athletes would have. He waited patiently for his turn. When his time arrived, he spoke kindly of his predecessor and didn’t try to fill his shoes. He carved out a name for himself, and over time won over the Lambeau faithful. Even when Favre had some success in NY and Minnesota, and some questioned whether the Packers made the right choice, Rodgers kept his cool.

Rodgers (unlike Favre and also his Super Bowl counterpart Big Ben) has remained controversy free. He seems to have not let the whole QB thing go to his head. I don’t know the guy personally, but my perception is that he is a stand up dude. Humble, grateful and happy to be playing football for a living.

Rodgers is not a typical 21st century athlete. A quick search on Facebook and Twitter (the 21st century athlete blessing/curse), doesn’t reveal much. His Facebook page seems to be either unofficial or neglected, and his Twitter page was inactive from August 1 until Feb 7 (since winning the SB, he seems to have embraced Twitter). I don’t think you’ll find Rodgers Tweeting from a night club anytime soon.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers is going to Disney World. But he isn’t going just because he won a Super Bowl. He’s going because he’s a stand up dude who has demonstrated integrity and character since he arrived in Green Bay. Couple that with the Lombardi trophy and you have a combination that Madison Ave can’t resist. He has kept his name out of the papers and stayed out of trouble. He projects a great attitude. Other athletes interested in marketing should take note. It’s not just about winning championships. It’s about winning them with dignity.

Posted in Aaron Rodgers, Athlete marketability, Athlete Marketing, Sports Business, Sports Marketing | 1 Comment


Every year on opening day, in every pro and amateur sport, fans like to think their team has a shot at the title. That magic is what makes sports tick. We want to think our team has a shot to win it all. But for most teams, especially in small markets, that fantasy evaporates within weeks of opening day. Before long, most fans go from “this could be our year” to “wait ’til next year”.

Food for thought: Is parity really attainable in pro sports, or is it a fantasy that belongs in the land of unicorns and leprechauns at the end of the rainbow?

The answer is both. In 2011, parity is alive and well in the NFL. Green Bay and Pittsburgh, two small market teams with 8 combined Super Bowl victories, are headed to Dallas for Super Bowl 45. During the 45 year history of the Super Bowl, small market teams have won it all more than big market teams have. As a Steeler fan, I’m obliged to point out that the city of Pittsburgh has celebrated more Super Bowl victories than any city in America. In the NFL, parity is the norm.

Each major pro league has tried to create parity, as has the NCAA. Not only is the idea noble, but it is critical for all key areas of local team revenue (ticket sales, sponsorships, local broadcast rights). In the pros, each league has roughly the same number of teams (NFL-32, NBA & MLB-30), so each league’s goal is to give roughly 30 teams an even shot at a title on opening day. Each league has tried to create parity through various forms of salary caps, revenue sharing and luxury taxes. Yet the NFL is the only pro league in the US to truly achieve parity.

The NFL is particularly parity friendly for several reasons. The (currently) 16-game schedule is the biggest factor. It’s pretty easy for Green Bay to sell out their stadium for 8 home games a year. They’re the only game in town, and there are only 8 home games each year. It’s much tougher for the Milwaukee Bucks to sell out 41 home game. Even tougher for the Brewers to sell out 81. Green Bay’s famous season ticket waiting list is proof that a small market can easily support an NFL team.

The NFL schedule also allows for fans around the world to follow each week’s drama throughout the season. A short schedule prevents fan burnout, and allows us to become emotionally engaged in each team’s personality and style. We become enchanted with Cinderella stories, dynasties and rivalries. The NFL season is the original reality series.

The NBA, with its 41 home game season, has established some parity. The San Antonio Spurs have had great success in spite of their small market fan base. But one glance at the list of NBA champions over the years reveals a massive advantage for big market teams. In spite of a soft salary cap and sharing of national broadcast and licensing revenues, it is still very tough for a small market NBA team to compete. Small market teams have a dramatically smaller base of sponsors, season ticket holders and viewers that they can monetize. It’s tough to claim parity when the NBA team with the highest payroll (Lakers) has more than doubled the payroll of the team who spends the least on players (Kings). I also believe that the nature of the sport makes parity a challenge. Basketball, more than any other professional sport, depends on team chemistry. Chemistry takes a long time to develop, and contributes greatly to the establishment of dynasties in the NBA. The Lakers, Celtics and Spurs have all been playing together for a long time, and they’re tough to beat. In the NBA, stability matters.

MLB has its own challenges with parity. With no salary cap, MLB relies on the luxury tax to create parity. The Yankees always outspend the competition, and are often the favorites to win it all on opening day. In fact, the Yankees have appeared in the World Series more than any other team (40), more than twice as many times as any other team. However unlike basketball, MLB teams can develop chemistry quickly. Teams willing to put together a winning team are free to spend what they want. This leads to the frequency of “one hit wonders” in baseball. Teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Florida Marlins can go on a 1-year run, win it all, and miss the playoffs the following season.

The bottom line is that while commissioners would like for fans to believe that parity exists, outside of the NFL it really doesn’t. And I don’t believe it ever will. Without hard salary caps and total revenue sharing, teams can’t ever be on equal economic footing. And in addition to economic factors, there are too many other intangibles that lead to success. Good management is critical, and can’t be regulated. Good management evaluates talent well, avoids bad long-term contracts and fosters a climate of success. Fan loyalty builds over time, and is only the result of many years of winning and success. While we all may want to believe our team has a real shot every year, MLB and NBA fans in smaller markets are usually spending a little time in fantasy land.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Blogroll, Marketing, Parity in Sports, Sports Business, Sports Marketing, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Christmas List

Dear Santa,

All in all I’ve been pretty good this year, don’t you think? I’m hoping you noticed, and were able to look the other way now and then. Just in case I made the cut this year, here’s my holiday wish list, in no particular order. This Christmas, I wish for:

  1. Yao Ming to recover fully from his recent injury and return to the court. Soon.
  2. Steve Nash to win an NBA championship…with the Phoenix Suns.
  3. Rajon Rondo to win another ring.
  4. Brandon Jennings to continue to emerge as one of the most exciting players in the L.
  5. Greg Oden to fully recover and get back on the court.
  6. BoomDizzle and the Clips to prove everybody wrong.
  7. BDA to control the NBA draft. Again.
  8. Peace on Earth. And between David Stern and Billy Hunter. No lockout please Santa!
  9. Tiger Woods to return to dominance. A rising tide (even in athlete marketing) rises all ships.
  10. The Dodgers to return to MLB elite status. Peace in the McCourt court.
  11. A healthy economy and all of the marketing dollars that accompany it.

Not too much to ask, right Santa? 2010 has been a bit of a bumpy year. How about a healthy, happy prosperous 2011 for all of us? Sound good? Cookies and milk are waiting.

Much Love,


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There has been a ton of talk lately about comebacks. Michael Vick. Tiger Woods. LeBron James. The topic began to catch heat (pun intended) when LeBron and his new team returned to Cleveland. More comback talk was generated when Tiger launched his social media campaign and then had a shot at winning the Chevron World Challenge earlier this month. The most recent comeback discussion is being generated by Michael Vick, whose stellar play has people wondering if he has a shot at a full comeback. AdAge chimed in here: http://adage.com/article?article_id=147726.

I think people are way too quick to declare that an athlete who previously fell from grace has made a comeback. It is important to note that a comeback on the court/field does not equate a comeback on Madison Avenue. While there is no question that on court/field performance is the most important factor in determining athlete marketability, character counts almost as much. Here’s the athlete marketability equation as defined our group:

Athlete Marketability = (Talent+Success)+(Integrity+Charisma)

It is really that simple. You show me an athlete with all of those components and I’ll show you an icon. Falls from grace almost always come in the integrity department. Tiger, Kobe, LeBron and Vick all took hits when they were at the top of their games. The only thing that suffered for each of them was their integrity. Vick is only talked about now because of his stellar play. He is nowhere near returning to the good graces of major brands.

In Kobe’s case, although his stellar on court performance  has him back in the good graces of basketball fans, he is not yet embraced by mainstream brands such as McDonald’s. Kobe was the All-American boy. Although he is clearly one of the greatest professional athletes in the world, he has not returned to the athlete icon mountaintop. Yes Nike stood by him, and Vitamin Water uses him in their offbeat spots. But you don’t see Kobe in mainstream ads for McDonald’s. He isn’t appearing in Gillette ads alongside Derek Jeter. And I don’t expect that he ever will.

If Tiger starts winning championships again, as I imagine he will, I expect for him a path similar to Kobe’s. There will likely be a sponsor or two who takes a shot. When they do, you’ll read stories about Tiger’s comeback. But will Accenture ever bring him back? Will Buick? Will Gatorade? I doubt it.

LeBron remains the enigma. He had everyone convinced he was a hometown, loyal kid. That was his brand. He shattered it when he said “I’m taking my talents to South Beach”. Now he’s one of the most hated athletes in the world. I really don’t ever see him winning back fans in New York, Chicago or Ohio. Even if the Heat win the multiple championships that they’re expected to, I see them as more like the Detroit Pistons of the 80’s. They’re the new Bad Boys. I think LeBron’s best shot is to embrace that role and not attempt to convince people that he’s any kind of a golden boy.

The bottom line is that in my view, an athlete who falls from grace can never really make it all the way back to the mountaintop. Some have come close, but I’ve never seen anyone make it all the way back. In the eyes of fans, perhaps. But Madison Avenue isn’t very forgiving. Behind every fallen athlete is a marketing executive who has to take the heat for signing them. In athlete marketing, a reputation is the hardest thing to build and the easiest thing to destroy.


Posted in Athlete marketability, Athlete Marketing, LeBron James, Sports Marketing, Tiger Woods, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yahoo Top 10 Lists

A team marketing exec asked me recently how sponsors value athletes. I told her that not long ago, everything was about Q Scores. Not anymore. Today, the meaningful metrics that measure athlete marketability are all web based. Sponsors not only want to know about how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers an athlete has, they also want to know the age demos and locations of those fans. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Facebook fan counts are the 21st century Q Scores.

Today, Yahoo released their annual top 10 lists. Some interesting tidbits in the world of sports marketing:

Top Searched Events on Yahoo! in 2010:

  1. World Cup
  2. Winder Olympics
  3. Super Bowl
  4. NFL Draft
  5. US Open Tennis
  6. NBA Playoffs
  7. World Series
  8. Masters 2010
  9. Wimbeldon
  10. March Madness

What? NBA playoffs are #6? Behind US Open Tennis? But I work in the world of basketball! Surely there must be a mistake.

But there isn’t a mistake. This is accurate, useful information. Especially to those of us who work in one particular sport. Basketball is not the center of the universe. Neither apparently is baseball, which didn’t make the list. The biggest events of the year were World Cup soccer and the Winter Olympics. Those of us who are myopic enough to think only about our own sport need to remember that we have a core group of fans who need to be maintained, but also that there is a larger group of fans out there who can be converted. Keep the circle big, but try to make it bigger as well. There’s plenty of room for growth.

Another interesting list:

Top Searched Sports Stars on Yahoo! in 2010:

  1. Manny Pacquiao
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Anna Kournikova
  4. Brett Favre
  5. LeBron James
  6. Danica Patrick
  7. Lindsey Vonn
  8. Maria Sharpova
  9. Cristiano Ronaldo
  10. Serena Williams

An interesting list. A boxer at #1. Tiger, LeBron and Favre (in their years of controversy). Several attractive female athletes. Goes to show you that sex and controversy rule the search engines in the world of athlete icons. Also interesting to note that no athletes broke the Top 10 list of overall celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Megan Fox rule that world), demonstrating once again that celebrity models, actors and musicians still draw a great deal more attention than athletes do.

What to learn from all of this? First off that search engines are just one metric for measuring athlete popularity. Important to note that searches are clearly dominated by a younger, likely male audience. Second lesson is that controversy  and sex appeal generates searches. Lastly, it is important to keep these lists in perspective. They’re interesting and clearly demonstrate what the hot topics are. But they don’t measure fan loyalty, the most critical element of athlete marketability.


Posted in Athlete marketability, Athlete Marketing, Marketing, PR, Sports Business, Sports Marketing | 6 Comments