As NBA Commissioner David Stern talks about the vision of a European Division, the NHL looks toward European Expansion, even the UFC continues to take their successful North American Mixed Martial Arts business and tries to grow in Europe, we note a tale of caution coming the other way…The Premier League's plans to add another round of matchups from the top clubs and play those matches globally, especially with an eye toward North America. The London Telegraph has several extensive stories on the plan, explaining the positive and the negative of the idea, hatched by Sir Rod Eddington, and Foxsports.com's solid soccer guy Jamie Trecker has the silver lining in the plan for American fans in his piece. While the idea of friendly exhibitions has been around forever, the 24/7 world of sports today, along with the added incentive of business partners to attract more return on their investment globally, seems to be leading the biggest sports brands to figure out how to make games count on a global scale, and give local fans the feeling that they are seeing an event of value to the teams involved. American sport has tried to export games worldwide for years, sometimes with success as in basketball, sometimes with little success as in American football. The problem comes when the sports brands try to overshadow local customs, traditions and plans and almost force local business partners and fans to accept a game, or the outsiders version of a game, because it is the way it is marketed and presented abroad. The pushback and the longterm effects can be very harmful. Will cheerleaders and thundersticks work in Old Traffor. Probably not, but they are not needed to have sponsors, broadcasters and fans understand the value of staging a world class event in the venue. Would it be great to have people experience the best the Premier League has to offer around the glob. Yes. But not at the expense of adding short term “value” by sacrificing long term “health.” Given Newscorp's interest in the idea (and the belief that MLS is going to continue to grow in the States), here's looking forward to a great mix of dash and flash with respect for tradition when, not if, the plan goes through. For more balance on the piece, also check out mls.com, a solid q and a in the Houston Chronicle with MLS Commish Don Garber, and Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone's own ideas on the subject.
Some other weekend reads of note…Paul Vigna of the Philly Daily News had a solid piece on NL MVP Jimmy Rollins and how he is capitalizing on his success from a marketing standpoint, while the KC Star has the bizarre story of the ghost of late WWE wrestler Owen Hart haunting Kemper Arena. This is a great example of how viral stories gain steam these days, as the story began with a web posting by the school newspaper at Rhode Island College. Hopefully some enterprising sports marketing group, or team, takes advantage of the myth to exorcise the ghost from the arena…lastly, Media Post had a good commentary this week on what baseball and cycling can learn from each other in handling the abusive of performance-enhancing drugs by competitiors. Good balance in the piece.