Fragmentation In Niche Sports Proves To Be A Killer…

Speaking with one voice, whether it is to a business partner, the media, or to fans is always important, especially in the alphabet soup of niche or second tier sports. With the limited dollars and eyeballs available for the casual fan, splitting the marketplace with alphabet soup of organizations usually leads to confusion and can ultimately drive partners on to a platform which is much more simple to understand. The latest example of split markets being a killer is in indoor soccer, which despite the huge success the outdoor game is seeing in the US, just fell further off the roadmap this week. Last year the Indoor game split into two “leagues,” both of which struggled for any kind of existence in far-off marketplaces, and despite the local success of teams like the Milwaukee Wave and the New Jersey Ironmen (who were in two different leagues by the way) the sport is on the verge of extinction. Another sport teetering but doing better with some unity is lacrosse, where the National Lacrosse League extended commissioner George Daniel this week, sending a positive message to all involved. Still, lacrosse, indoor and outdoor, needs to be presented as one platform to be an effective tool, but at least in their case the sport has a platform of success to build on. Indoor soccer has hurt itself with divergent forces for the indoor game, forces which told the sports world they were too fragmented to present a unified front, and in the end, all suffered. Would having one unified league have worke. Perhaps. But with the alphabet soup presented last winter to fans, media partners and business partners there was no chance of survival in an already tight marketplace. Hopefully the indoor game can be resurrected and lifted by the continued success of the outdoor product, but with too many cooks it will be next to impossible to deliver.

Some other good reads…with all the positive baseball news leading into the All-Star game, the Boston Globe had a good look at the Red Sox helping push ALS awareness with events this weekSI's Richard Deitsch has his look at June's Media Power Rankings… and the Washington Post's Tom Boswell has a good look at the potential clash of eras between golf's Tiger Woods and Anthony Kim.