I apologize for the late arrival today, there was simply too much excitement for me to get this up earlier.  Did the Orioles just put up 11 runs on a major league baseball team?  Did they start counting all hits as runs?  Even if they did, that would be impressive for this team.  The one night that I don’t diligently check in on the Orioles they manage to score some runs.  I guess living in Michigan I still wasn’t far enough from the Orioles.  While I am sure we would all like to bask in the possibility of not being the worst team of all time (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves), there is a lot left in the world of sports.  Let’s line up for the kick…

 

Starting July 1, It’s LeBron Watch 24/7

Did the Championship happen already?  Oh yea, it was that 7 game thing that went to the… Lakers?  Yea, that sounds right.  And the draft?  John Wall, other Wildcats went, right?  Okay, just wanted to make sure.  See, now that that’s all over, we can talk about what really matters.  Where LeBron James is going to play.  Mind you, LeBron is an incredible talent, but exactly how many championships has he won to this point?  In basketball, no singular superstar ever wins you a title.  In fact, very rarely can a superstar and a great complementary player win you a title.  If I was an NBA team I wouldn’t be scrambling to acquire LeBron James- he is going to max out wherever he goes, and while he may be the best player in the NBA that isn’t the most important thing.  Peyton Manning has probably been the best player in the NFL over the past decade, and he only has one title to show for it.  Even Kobe needs a great supporting cast.  If I was an NBA franchise I would target several top free agents- if it took a courtship of LeBron to land them, then so be it- but I won’t mortgage my future on one player, I want to be in a position to succeed with or without him.  The way a lot of teams are going after LeBron, you have to wonder if they even have a Plan B.

Will Soccer Become a Major Sport?  Not So Fast…

Every four years they ask if soccer is going to catch on in the United States, as though the national success of the team will spur on greater enthusiasm in the long run for a sport that has, for the last 40 years, been considered the “next big thing”.  However, in that time span, an Arena Football League managed to survive for a decade while the MLS is barely scraping even.  Even bringing the biggest star in the sport to the U.S. didn’t net it more than a blip on the radar.  Even when the U.S. women won it all, a women’s soccer league was started and promptly went under.  But perhaps we haven’t used the right approach yet.  After all, women’s leagues of all types have been started but have failed to attract big money regardless of the sport.  I love the WNBA, but I wouldn’t invest in them.  Moreover, bringing in Beckham isn’t going to make people excited, because it isn’t their product.

Perhaps if the U.S. advances decently far in the World Cup people will begin to recognize their own stars, American stars that don’t have to be imported.  At this point there is only one player most people would pay to watch, and that’s Landon Donovan- he showed why with his team-saving goal against Algeria.  I hope there is room for such a league, in a sport that has national appeal at the youth ranks but seems to fade out in the teen years.  There is also the sense that it is “the rest of the world’s game and not America’s” which rankles my sensibilities and reeks of isolationism, and hopefully people can just enjoy the sport for what it is.  I hope the U.S. does well, but without a huge following I see it becoming like curling- fascinating every 4 years, but not profitable in between.

Debbie Yow Leaving Might Not Be All That Terrible…

…at least not for the revenue-generating sports.  Look, Debbie Yow has been an incredible athletic director for the University of Maryland.  She has risen the profile of the school, and made every sport (almost) at least competitive in their sport.  It is understandable that she would leave for a better situation with a more stable President (i.e, there is one) though with a budget ($39  million) that is dwarfed by much of the ACC including Maryland ($61 million).  However, Maryland isn’t exactly a cash cow itself, riddled with revenue problems over the last several years.  Yow probably doesn’t want to have to deal with those cuts and the demands of a new President.  But this could be a good thing.  A fresh face will be needed to handle the inevitable new head football coach after this season, and the new A.D. will have to find more ways to leverage the UMD brand to generate more revenue.  Yow knew how to make her teams competitive across the board, but she didn’t know how to raise money aside from selling every square inch of space in her arenas and stadiums out for advertising.  There has to be a better way, and either UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway (rumored among the candidates) or someone else will have to find it.  I might be biased based on where I work, but any major college athletic department ought to be able to support itself for the most part.  Maryland certainly has the brand name to do it.