How To Keep The Olympic Athlete Fire Burnin. Partner Winter and Summer Together…

Over the next few days and weeks the debate as to who the biggest marketing “winners” from the Olympics will be played out…Shaun White, Apollo Ohno, Lindsay Vonn, Julia Mancuso, even Shani Davis…will all appear on the watch list, make the TV rounds etc etc. with all the requestite experts chiming in. Then spring comes and we are on to baseball, soccer, NASCAR…the faces we see, hear and relate to every year and find a strong allegiance to.. The Olympians, despite their powerful platform and their inspiring stories, seem to get tucked away until the next cycle. Is there a way to find a link to keep that cycle going, thus keeping these great stories engaged and top of mind even if their biggest stage is still four years away in Soch.? For one idea, we can look to Michael Phelps. Many thought it strange that Subway, and even in some NBC promos, linked Phelps to the goings-on in Vancouver. However he is a transcendant athlete, away from his season and exposure point, and is link to the games raised the tide and perhaps got the Vancouver Games a little more buss going in. Prior to the Games, USA Wrestling, obviously in their transition time between Beijing and London, found ways to cross-promote with the USA Women's Hockey Team, using some of their marketing and branding muscle to get the team some additional exposure while they were a bit dormant. So with the Winter and Summer Games in two year cycles, why can’t a winter sport find a summer sport to work with and share marketing and star building power during the complete four year cycl.? Could swimming work with spped skating to cross promote athlete.? How about Beach Volleyball working with skier. BMX and snowboarding

Another common ground is philanthropic work. The Obama Administration recently announced their plan to eradicate childhood obesity. The Administration also announced a task force to grow and work with Olympic and Youth Sports. Why can’t elite winter and summer athletes, especially when they are not in peak training for their games, be a joint platform for the administratio.? Right now as the Vancouver sun sets, the two year cycle for the London games should begin, and a marriage of elite summer and winter athletes to promote the greatness of sport would be very timely, and a way to keep the Olympic branding flam. always burning and keep all the great stories we just witnessed alive and more top of mind than ever before.

The House of Mouse Raises Itezsms Sports Brand…

Slowly, steadily, the good folks at Disney and ESPN have turned one of the brand's more quizzical efforts into a mecca, not for characters, but for the character built through sport.

The once somewhat questionable child of the Disney theme empire was Wide World of Sports, launched on the outer edges of the expansive Disney World property in Orlando. At first, some thought the park was targeted to be the sports-themed version of all its fellow parks at Disney World. A place where you could potentially see games, especially college and potentially the odd professional game, maybe take in some top flight Minor League baseball and also participate in various physical events as part of a family Disney experience. However what the Disney leaders, especially former NFL and Dartmouth College star, Reggie Williams (who for years was the Pied Piper of the property) realized is that families heading to the House of Mouse didn’t want to sit and watch games, or really do many of the things they could do elsewhere. They wanted the thrill of the other Disney experiences, with the combo of competing, and that's where Wide World of Sports found its sweet spot.

Youth sports events from basketball to rugby to gymnastics to cheerleading, started flocking to Disney for an experiential event and large scale competitions in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom. Instead of playing with their parents, their parents came to cheer them on, all the while getting the service and Disney-quality vacation for the rest of the family. The Atlanta Braves brought spring training to the baseball stadium, the NBA hosted their Rookie camp, the Orlando Magic and Harlem Globetrotters came in, and for a time the Tampa Bay Bucs called the property their preseason home. An amazing destination for team sports of all ages was born, and it really started to flourish. But would the economy limit travel teams, and would other destination spots try and mimic the success that Disney had with youth team. Along came an answer.

It came in the form of ESPN, a network known for quality sports events of all kinds on the collegiate and professional level, but one looking to use its myriad of channels and digital platforms to tie to a younger audience. The first step was launching its series of local sites, which gave a more in-depth look at professional sports in cities like Boston, L.A. and Chicago, but also allowed for even more coverage of local events and stars. The results have been solid, and brand expansion continued for “The Worldwide Leader.”

So this week, the two brands in the family took the next step in marrying these two efforts to get the younger, athletic audience together. The result is ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Disney, a combination of all the youth and amateur sports you could ever want to see together with all the best in technology and media coverage ESPN can offer. Now for families that can’t make it to see the young stars of tomorrow in Orlando, highlights will be fed to Bristol or streamed online for family members to watch games back home. ESPN anchors may drop in to speak to the young track athlete or slugger competing, and interviews will be downloaded from a host of events with athletes and coaches and few out to the world. The best highlights of the day may even make it on to SportsCenter. Going even further, the entire combination of feeds will have their own dedicated channel throughout the Disney property and its thousands of hotel rooms, so the young folks can go back and watch a replay of their game around the tube that same night. All this could make for the quintessential athlete experience at Disney, in the same manor that other young people might feel a Princess breakfast or a meeting with Mickey may make their trip to Orlando complete.

Now is all this extra coverage and uploading of highlights overkill, and putting more pressure on young people to perform for the cameras like their professional heroe.? Maybe. Would it cause some young Ocho Cinco-wannabe to go a little further with taunting in hopes that he makes “SportsCenter. Possibly. However, the upside is giving all these young athletes a “once in a lifetime” experience when many times those who travel to play in events do so at a great sacrifice to experience other little events, like maybe going to Disney on a vacation because they are playing sports with their team.

Even with some critics, one thing is for certain. Starting this weekend in Orlando, Disney, with a lift from their family members at ESPN, has transformed what was once a difficult project into a success in a fairytale makeover that anyone associated with the Magic Kingdom can appreciate.

The Professionalism of The Business of Colleges…Latest Example

In the movie Andrew Sheppard (played by Michael Douglas) is approached by a chubby young man with a tartan vest and a bow tie at a state dinner trying to pester the President for a minute to lobby for college football. Sheppard brushes him off since he has to go on to meet the Prime Minister of France in another part of the room, and the movie continues on. The snippet of lobbyist. chubby, folksy, is what many people think of what college athletics i.but it is much more of what college athletics maybe was and is no longer. It is now big business on every level, with great branding and marketing opportunities from small town Division III schools to the largest Universities and schools are now bringing in leaders in business to show the way to profitability.

The latest example was in a Monday USA Today cover story on incoming University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon, an alumnus and head of Domin.s Pizza. The move to go outside the tradition athletic director profil.a former or current coach or career college the ;latest sign that schools are looking to find people with a wide business background that can acclimate to sports, not a sports background that maybe can meld into a business, when looking for leadership. Toda.s challenged economy has given schools a much wider swath of candidate.senior business leaders who are tired of the climate today and are looking for a lifestyle chang.who would like to come in and show colleges and universities what it takes to run an athletic program with innovation and business well as the skill of consensus building that has to come when juggling programs ranging from football to water polo on a limited budget. These business leaders know how to stretch dollars in conventional ways and apply basic business practices on top of the traditional fundraising that schools do. They are better equipped to find ways to make Universities understand the value of athletics as business, and in doing so can tap into much wider resources outside of the emotional bonds that many schools rely on for resources. Now this new outlook does.t just apply to the big schools. Small schools in many markets are also now looking to business leaders to show them how to better market, use social media, develop new streams of income and better run their bottom line while growing their brands in the market they are located. The same is true for mid-major and smaller conference.their leadership is also evolving into a combination of business and athletics, with the emphasis on business. Does this mean the end for the career athletic administrato.? By no means. Those people are learning how to adapt and grow their backgrounds as well, but it does mean that they do have to grow in their positions in order to make athletics as business and brand run smoother and more efficiently. It is ironic that institutes of higher learning, those developing the leaders of tomorrow, have been slower to adapt to the business of sports themselves than other segments of the sports business world. Colleges can learn a great deal from marketing, branding and selling from their local minor league teams, and in some cases have even developed a symbiotic relationship to grow together.

However those days of the folksy administrator who takes on an Athletic directo.s title as a retirement job are gone. The Universities may have been a bit slow to come around, but the wakeup call has gone off, and the opportunities that exist to grow both personally and as a brand for schools are really just getting started. No more bow ties and secret handshakes to get the Presiden.s attention.

Woods Takes The Next Step, But The Biggest Brand Question For Golf Remains Unanswered…

Friday Tiger Woods spoke…he controlled the message, he got his points out, he was serious and he addressed all the groups he needed to address in a statement. Another stage in the comeback is complete for him. He did not have the long, drawn out presser with reporters, especially those who cover him in his sport, in the room and he avoided distractions and forced the media to cover just what he and his brand needed them to cover. he was true to what he has always done in the better of times, he controlled the message and the access. Just as he would drive reporters to his website for comments and news, now he drove them to another ballroom in Ponte Vedra to listen while pool reporters asked a few questions to him and to his assembled group.

Now the fun begins. In the next few days, there will be the circus of getting reaction from the women involved, psychologists, “brand experts,” Women's organizations, politicians, equipment sellers, caddies, jockeys, zookeepers, whoever the media can find. But not Tiger. As George Willis pointed out in Saturday's New York Post, the one question that remains to be answered…that the sports fan and those who spend money on golf need to know…is when Woods will be back. Until he is back playing, the sport, and all those who work in the sport, will continue to suffer in these still challenging times. While the NBA ratings rise, Olympic viewers watch, the NFL sets records, NASCAR looks for new audiences and baseball gets going, golf is falling in as an afterthought in the eyes of the American sporting fan, and for that matter, the TV and branding world. With that, less people play, buy equipment, watch, spend money on food at events etc etc. That means less discretionary income going to those who work in the sport, and that is not good for the business of sports, let alone golf. Is it fair to have all this on the back of one supersta.? Maybe not, but that is the nature of sport. We love and follow our heros, and we love when they come back. When they don’t play, their stories are only just so interesting, and eventually we move on to something else.

For the last few years, golf has looked to try and figure out what is next when Tiger leaves, just like hoops looked to see what is next without Michael Jordan. it took time, but the NBA found their marketing and branding place and has come back. Can gol.? We shall see. One thing is for sure, Woods did what he felt he needed to do yesterday to start the process and diffuse some of the issues, and gave people just enough to get the comeback going. Did he answer all or any of the questions he needed t.? Thats up for debate. However the biggest question for those who make a living in the sport remains unanswered. And until that question is answered…when does the comeback on the course begi.? The issues for golf as a business are even begin that just one golfer, even the biggest star.

Looking Back At The Luge Tragedy…

The subject of crisis management and brand damage, both long and short, arose again last Friday as the world looked to Vancouver and the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics. By now everyone knows of the tragedy, the issues of blame, the decision for networks to show or not show the footage and for how long, and all the issues of nationalism that came about. Still it bears looking back after a few days as to how the tragedy was handle. and what the effects will now be as the focus has shifted from luge and into other key TV sports like figure skating and hockey.

Perhaps the most perplexing issue that arose was the Luge Federatio.s rush to speak and how they chose to assign.blam. in a tragedy which really has multiple layers of 20/20 hindsight, none of which will change the outcome. While it is true that the Federation spoke with a clear voice, that of head Svein Romstad,.the choice of timing and the assignment of blame was all so curious. Less than 24 hours after the tragedy, the Federation assigned blame to the athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili as opposed to any other factors that could have been involved. What was the reason for the rush to judge or for the need to put such a tragedy on the victim at this tim. Understandably, there was a need for statemen.remorse, investigation, responsibility, leadership. There was also the essence of time, as for better or worse, the luge competition was leading the Olympic events the very next day. But instead of showing the requisite time for reviewing every possible factor over an extended period, blame was assessed to the driver. In larger scale tragedies, from racing in sports to transportation crashes, there is almost always a long period of review and inquiry, to make sure that every possible constituent is included in the process. There is also a human deference to the bereaved, which will give them time to grieve and take the proper time to make sure all personal and professional affairs are in order for those involved. So the statement really went against a number of basic rules of crisis management.

-Take the time to gather all the facts

.Show respect for those effected personally and professionally.

.Only answer the questions that need to be answered at that particular time.

Now the ability to speak quickly and make the position known was done correctly. Whether that position is correct is a matter of debate. Could the position been that.we have made adjustments to the track and have consulted all involved and will move on with the competitio. been enoug. Was there a liability factor that would have opened up more issues if blame was not placed on the driver that could have endangered holding the competition itsel. That is unknown at this time.

The quick statement also temporarily shortened the news cycle and put the focus back on the event itself, but a strong conclusion of blame then extended the news cycle again, creating even more controversy for the Federation. IOC President Jacques Rogge and the Georgian officials actually handled the tragedy with great humanity, something that the Federation did not do in the eyes of the media. The reaction of all athletes and coaches as to the statement will also probably have a longer lasting effect well beyond the Games themselves. Will there continue to be speculation about the track itself and if this was an avoidable traged.? Of course. Will that change the course of events that led to the traged. No. Will the tragedy temporarily lead to more interest in luge from the casual sports fan, like what happened following the death of Dale Earnhardt at Dayton.? Probably. Even with all those factors and all the emotions involved, the rush for final judgment as to right and wrong put the Luge Federation in a very difficult spot with three of its biggest audience.the athletes, the media and the fans and followers of the Games.

If there is anything that could have been avoided easily, it was the Federatio.s lack of judgment in handling and addressing a very sad and difficult situation. Those issues may be just as hard to overcome in the future as the physical changes and precautions that will probably be brought to the sport in the future.

The Mascot Fills A Bigger Branding Role…

So it's the middle of winter and you have no idea who your players are…or you are having a terrible season and the trade deadline looms and you need to keep your brand fresh and identifiable. What to d.? The mascot. Now more than ever, with brands looking for more ROI, fans looking for personal engagement and athletes time limited, the value of having a fun, interesting and marketable mascot is higher than ever. Ben Hill's blog on points out dozens of minor league teams that trotted out nascot's for Valentine's Promotions or other teams that have unveiled new or updated mascots during the last few weeks to keep their brand top of mind with consumers. The New Jersey Nets worked not a player, but their mascot, into a Super Bowl commercial, while NHL teams are trotting out mascots while their players are away or off during the Olympic break. Now that it is so important to engage the entire family, older alumni may not always work as a compelling interraction, and the ability to have mascots in multiple places works as a fund rasier and a brand awareness tool. It is true that many major market or more established brands (the Knicks, the Rangers, the Cowboys, the Dodgers) have never embraced the mascot theme, instead relying on the power of their brand and all the pieces around it to drive interest. However for those really needing relevance, the investment in picking the right looking mascot and then marketing him, her or it appropriately, has become as valuable as any other brand campaign and one that is not taken lightly.

A Cause Worthwhile…Athletes, Pols Step Up To Battle Childhood Obesity

Big time sports and entertainment events draw big time advertising dollars. We all are more than familiar with the amount of sponsorship spent on Super Bowl, Olympic and NBA All-Star ads these past few weeks, and the payoff in exposure brands got with the largest TV audience of all-time for the Colts and the Saints las. Sunday. One of the biggest categories that support those events is snack foods. People loved watching those Doritos commercials, and loved chowing down on bowls of the stuff as they were watching the game. The tailgate, the junk food, are all very much a rite of passage surrounding the great American sporting event.

So it came as an interesting, and very worthwhile, mix last Tuesday when retired NFL star and broadcaster Tiki Barber joined First Lady Michelle Obama, and groups of influential doctors and children from key locations across the nation to announce the launch of “Let's Move,” the White House's most ambitious initiative to combat and hopefully eradicate, the plague of obesity effecting children in the United States today.

The obesity challenge has become a very popular one with athletes especially in the past year. NBA stars like Jerry Stackhouse, who saw firsthand with members of his family how a sedentary life and poor eating habits can bring on obesity and disease like diabetes, and the Celtics Paul Pierce (who l launched his own campaign to fight obesity and promote fitness in New England with the brand Switch2Health), have taken up the cause as their primary community calling. The Yankees’ Curtis Granderson also pledged his support, and the NFL has made the issue of obesity a strong platform as well through their Play60 campaign.

All the efforts are focused not just on snack foods of course. They all include exercise and education in healthy eating choices; two areas where today's video game infused, instant gratification lifestyles fall way short in implementation and explanation. The initiative, which will focus as much if not more on grassroots education than on celebrity, could well be one of the key pieces of the Obama legacy, not just for this generation but for generations to come.

“Let's Move” will have its hands full (no pun intended) in getting traction amongst youth who are constantly barraged with feel good, sweet tasting and appealing messages from brands. Eating healthy may be better for you, but it is still not as cool, nor does it look as slick, as the marketing machines behind the snack foods that line our shelves, or the video games that fill our closets and rec rooms.

Parents are time challenged and will often find it hard to make sure the healthy meal is available and their kids are up and about, especially in inner cities, where the options for healthy choices and lifestyles may not be as plentiful as in the suburbs. That's where leaders like Barber and Pierce can make the most impact. Barber is a product of public housing, and learned real life lessons on the playground while his mom was at work. It was those life lessons… teamwork, dealing with and resolving conflict, expressing oneself through creativity and athletics… that spurred him to mentor young people through program's like Harlem's Urban Village Academy and his own “Play Proud” program, which is refurbishing and building playgrounds as a haven for young people in inner cities throughout the Northeast. Pierce's programs will do the same for youn. people in New England, rewarding kids and young adults for time spent doing physical activities. They are just a few examples, but critical ones, of how athletes can make “Lets Move” get movin. At the end of the day, these key motivated athletes, along with celebrities, will have the platform to motivate and inspire the right mass of young people, which in turn will hopefully trickle down to their peers and parents. As other generations wanted to “Be Like Mike,” and follow Nike's mantra to follow Michael Jordan, this new group of inspirational athletes can motivate young people to an even healthier and longer lasting cause.

Still it will be interesting to see if brands glean on to the government supported cause as well. The long battle against big tobacco, once a sports stalwart, eventually forced changes in messaging and created programs paid for by the companies to assist those affected by cigarette smoking. Alcohol, especially beer, yet another category long on sponsorship activation, goes to great lengths to promote awareness and responsible drinking campaigns directed at young people. So will snack foods do the sam. Some promote healthy choices and responsibility to young people already, but the majority of ads still push the high sugar, high fat content drinks and snacks that most still enjoy when watching the big sports events. And although this should no way be a crusade against snack food brands, it is much more about healthy choices, exercise and education for both parents and children, the dollars and time that can be devoted to education on childhood obesity and ways to fight it, would be a welcome addition to the efforts spelled out by the First Lady and her team last Tuesday.

Will the announcement and the efforts help shape a legacy, as was announce. Tough to say given all the issues the Obama Administration needs to take on these days. But at least by starting the process and bringing in key influencers in health and celebrity, maybe their full plate will at least have a healthy alternative.

Racing Back To The Top…

As one looks for continued signs of resurgence in sports marketing…record viewership for the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympic Opening ceremonies, more global sponsors building activation platforms, increased and more diverse ad spending dollars being but forth from ’09…perhaps one should look to racing as a bell weather. Yes it is true that “The Great American Race,” the Daytona 500, will just beginning NASCAR's season this weekend, and that the aggressive new launch of IRL is still a few weeks away, but there are continued positive signs which are showing that racing, one of the the industries hit hardest in the recession the last few years, may be returning to form in terms of viewership, attention and brand awareness. NASCAR has started awareness campaigns in theaters across the country, designed to promote the personalities of the sport, has enhanced their digital presence and begun a more intense program to get their faces out to the widest possible audience going into the season.

On the NASCAR side, Danica Patrick's move has helped create even more buzz for Daytona and the ancillary events around the start of the season, while as Barry Janoff posted in his blog this week, a new group of brands have been looking to replace departing ones for activation and fan engagement. On the IRL front, IZOD has already started rolling some big marketing dollars into their new title sponsorship, including IRL-custom tagged ads that continue to pop up in other major sporting events across the dial. The IRL has a long way to go to return to the glory days of the Indy 500 of the ’70's and ’80's, but with an engaged and interested title sponsor leading the way, it appears like the circuit, now reunified, could also be on an upswing.? The early part of the sports year is already packed with large scale events, from the Olympics to the NBA All-Star game, and the world is awaiting Tiger Woods’ return to jumpstart golf, but racing appears to be just as engaged, if not more engaged. going into a season than the sport has been in years, and that push to not just re-engage their loyal fan base, but to find more reasons for the causal fan to tune in, could spell much better times ahead.

Some other good reads…on the NASCAR front, George Vecsey in the New York Times had a good look at Andrew Giangola's book about the loyalty of the fan… Yahoo's Mark Spears had a good q and a with NBA Commissioner David Stern… and has a look at the race issues still hindering the growth of Mixed Martial Arts.

Who Will Win The Battle of The Busiest Weekend On The Sports Calenda.

It is a good thing the NFL moved the Pro Bowl to the week prior to the Super Bowl this year. The game got much-needed attention and a record crowd, and won’t have to deal with being an after-thought on perhaps the busiest big event weekend on the sports calendar. Yes a week after the Super Bowl became the most watched television event of all-time, three major events…the opening of the Winter Olympics, the Daytona 500 and the NBA All-Star Game, will all battle for eyeballs, sponsor return and casual sports fans within 72 hours. Who will wi.? The battle has already begun.

Perhaps no one does a better long-term rollout of coverage than NASCAR does going into Daytona. For weeks, their PR team has been cranking out new activation stories, new coverage angles (Jimmie Johnson 24/7 on HBO) and getting more ancillary attention (will Danica race this weekend and why ois she on CSI Thursda.) to make the brand as relevant as possible going into what really is their biggest window, depsite being at the start of the season. In contrast, the NBA has pushed out their promotional platforms…a week-long caravan of community service projects started in Philly and will culminate Saturday in Dallas, while new sponsor additions and renewals were announced Wednesday and not saved until this coming weekend. Then you have what has been a late but very wide push by all involved in Vancouver to gain exposure with the casual fan, hopefully to also lure viewers starting with Friday's opening ceremony, from Lindsay Vonn's “suggestive” SI cover to all the Shaun White appearances you can take and then some.

So who will win, and which brands will benefi.? Perhaps the audience is wide enough to allow all to win, and even find some space for the Harlem Globetrotters to gran attention during their annual New York swing. The Olympic ceremonies will draw the casual and female follower,Daytona will pull its usual solid numbers and then the All-Star Game, on TNT and the only one of the three not on broadcast TV, will have its core and enough casual fans (albeit on valentine's day night) to be an effective weekend long marketing platform for the NBA and their players. The biggest question will be which events will a cash and staff strapped media staff, and will a rise of blog and indy coverage help each one of the events with buzz and eyeballs. If last weekend was all about the traditional win of broadcast TV, will this weekend be all about tweets and blogs and cabl. Could be, and if so, will provide an interesting yang of spin to the NFL's big Super Bowl broadcast win last week. Regardless, it will be interesting to watch as all three vye for attention and then try and claim their right prize through facts and spin. let the games…and the race…begin.

For All The Segmenting and Shrinking, Broadcast TV is Still King For Big Events…

Maybe it was the bad weather that blanketed much of the Middle Eastern states, or the rain that hit the Western United States. Maybe it was the allure of a quarterback who has been able to flourish as a marketing maven for brands like Oreo and Direct TV despite being in a small market. Maybe it was because America wanted to see a team from a devastated region rise higher than the flood waters did that tragic August day. Maybe it was because we wanted to see Betty White and Chevy Chase again. Maybe i.s because football is really Americ.s game. Whatever the reason, it does.t matter. The record crowd that tuned i.made even more amazing in this 30 second, HULU infused, Twitter possessed worl.showed once again why we love sports as a release, and why the industry and the medium used to show i.broadcast T.remains king to brands.

Yes there were ads like that drove action to websites. There were text messages to vote for the MVP and to donate to Haitian relief. But the most compelling images remained on television..on a network, CBS, which does not have the best digital footprin.and that mass appeal is what continues to make or break brands no matter what the distractions we have in our everyday lives. The other pieces of branding and marketing today are still media, digital platforms, on-site activation, fan engagemen.but the crucial piece remains what you see on the screen in front of you. It is what separates major events from minor ones, and niche sports from those in the mainstream. Some media folks can talk about the value that could be added if a league like the NHL abandoned television for all digital platform, but the fact remains in both perception and reality, to be a major sustainable sports property you still need to be on a networ.and that does include ESP.and you have to be able to use that time to effectively communicate your stories to your audience and through the brands who partner with you. The NFL continues to be king because the sport delivers on the big stag.a stage that had two small market teams in a league that still does not have a franchise in the natio.s second largest marke.and produces for its partners. It may not be the Zen-like devotion that NASCAR preaches to its partners (and we will see starting this coming weekend at Daytona) or the tribal following that the NHL professes, but the NF. does capture the die hard and the casual fan with its annual big event, the Super Bowl. Does the league and its partners activate on all the other platforms leading up to the even. Yes. Would the game have been just as big or viewed by as many people if it were not on a networ.? Of course not.

There is no doubt that times have changed and so have viewing habits. Disposable income is less and discretionary time is wavering in these challenged days for many. However one thing has not wavered. Americans still love big events and they love to watch them on television. That fact has not changed, and anyone who wants to dispute will have to look past Sunda.s record viewership numbers to try and make an argument. Big game, big event, big numbers, big ROI. Tha.s what the Super Bowl on broadcast TV means in 2010, and what it has meant for almost its entire run.

Some other good reads…the Arizona Star had a good piece on how college baseball events have filled up abandonded spring training sites…the Washington Post had a great recap of the goings on in New Orleans as the Saints won the Super Bowl… and's Chris Ballard had a good feature on Lakers strength coach turned teacher Joe Carbone.