31 March 2016

The Passion of a Boston Baseball Fan

Guest Post by Glenn Sullivan

Baseball fans come together for a grueling 162 game season with two months of pre-season and possibly playoffs. These fans spend nine months together and develop a sense of comradery, but it doesn’t stop there. Teams sell the idea of a family or community coming together for the same cause. Whether that cause be supporting a player or supporting another fan, just because the seasons over doesn’t mean the family goes away. According to David Ortiz fans are what get him going “I just love the feeling from the fans and when I'm walking on deck I can hear people screaming and wishing you the best. That puts you into the game more than anything.” But that doesn’t go without pressure from them as well “Sometimes you just don't feel the same everyday, it doesn't matter what you do, but when you have people looking forward to seeing you perform for them, that puts you in the mood, and that's natural in Boston. That's why it's such a special place to play.” Ortiz knows every time he steps to the plate he has 50,000 fans behind him motivating him to succeed. Fans develop a sense of ownership to their team as well, so much so that they are willing to go to war with the fan of another team. Fans triumph together, fight together and the loose together, but ultimately keep moving forward together.


When times are good there isn’t much for fans to complain about. During the off season your team came up with a plan and so far everything has gone accordingly. Those issues that have seemed to plague your team in the past disappear and it is nothing but blue skies. The dreams of a playoff run seem more real every day and you can feel the energy surging from the crowd at the game or bar. Fans are talking about the previous night’s game to their co-workers and making predictions for upcoming ones. Fans get so caught up in the moment they would do anything for their team. Take the 2013 Boston Red Sox, during their championship run the majority of the team stopped shaving and grew their beards out. Fans were quick to follow, growing their own playoff beards. Red Sox nation rallied around the slogan “beard strong.”

After winning the 2004 World Series for the first time in 86 years the Red Sox owner said "This is like an alternate reality. All of our fans waited their entire lives for this...We won't even need the airplane to fly home." --John Henry. The energy in the stadium after the win was surreal, fans waited hours after the game to spend time celebrating with fellow fans and players.


Some say Boston has the toughest crowed to play in front of. That’s because these fans will stop at nothing to support their team, even if it means taking things out side. During a 2005 game between the Red Sox and Yankees a fan threw a beer at Gary Sheffield as he was fielding a ball. This fan was ejected from the game, but had no remorse and felt he had done his team a great service in getting one over on the yanks. The hatred of a rival team runs deep and continues through the generations.


If your team is down and there seems like there’s no hope that is when the toughest fans shine through. Sometimes it seems like no matter what your team does it won’t make a difference you’re still going to lose that season. For years Red Sox fans have known true despair after going 86 years without a title. During those losing seasons the Red Sox would come so close to the promise land but never get in. They lost in the World Series to the Cardinals in 1946 and 1967, the Cincinnati Reds in 1975, and in 1986 to the Mets. It took true loyalty to be able to call themselves Red Sox fans while watching their team lose time and time again.

In the 9th

The Red Sox have an effect on their fans, a feeling of being overwhelmed with the atmosphere. It’s hard to describe the feeling but here is Simon Schama’s a Columbia University professor attempt at it “I'm helplessly and permanently a Red Sox fan. It was like first love...You never forget. It's special. It's the first time I saw a ballpark. I'd thought nothing would ever replace cricket. Wow! Fenway Park at 7 o'clock in the evening. Oh, just, magic beyond magic: never got over that”

Boston may be known for its tough crowd, but it’s also known for its diehard fans. We have known true glory during the banner years with the Celtics, and we have known true disappointment during the 86 year drought with the Sox’s. Boston fans know the meaning of loyalty and how to be there for their family through thick and thin. Regardless of the team’s record, we will always find lines at the gates and hear fans singing Sweet Caroline.


Baseball-Reference Playoff and World Series Index". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
Shaughnessy, Dan. "YES!!!" Boston Red Sox. Boston Globe, 28 Oct. 2004. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. .
Wilkins, Ryan. "Baseball Prospectus | The Week in Quotes: World Series Edition." Baseball Prospectus. N.p., 1 Nov. 2004. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. .
"David Ortiz Quotes." Baseball Almanac. N.p., 10 Oct. 2003. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. .

30 March 2016

A "Suite Deal" For Who?

Guest post by Leon Moore

During the industrial revolution, working people began to attend sporting events. The increase in real wages created a middle class and people with disposable income. This extra money could be spent on a ticket to a ball game and maybe a hot dog. Sports belonged to the everyday person. (6)

With this in mind, I looked on the Boston Celtics website at ticket prices. Single person tickets ranged anywhere from $25 to $300.(3) This to me seemed like a natural range, one in which the common person could find an affordable ticket. Then I saw the cost of renting a luxury suite for one game. It ranged from about $3000 to $5000.(2) The consumer of this did not fit with my image of the middle class sports fan.

What a person gets when they rent a luxury suite at the TD Garden includes 18 tickets, theatre-style seating, catering options, several televisions, and a private restroom. (2) The average fan would never buy this, so who is?

According to Chad Estes, the president of a premium ticket sales company that does business with the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, the consumers are “corporations and high net-worth individuals.”(1) He says that people buy suites with an aim towards building relationships with clients and sometimes as a way to create family time.

Suites are a great deal for owners as they provide steady cash flow throughout the season, and can be counted as Stadium Income, which in many cases is not subject to league revenue sharing operations. (1) In some cases, a suite can cost up to $900,000 for a year. (1)

With premium seating being great for owners, it surprised me to find that they only became mainstream in stadiums in the last 20 years. According to Emily Sparvero, assistant professor at the Sports Industry Research Center at Temple University, "Luxury suites have been growing in importance since the 1990s and are an essential part of any new stadium being built." (1) The two owners credited with starting the premium seating trend are Jerry Jones, of the Dallas Cowboys, and Joe Robbie of the Miami Dolphins. (4) Joe Robbie Stadium opened in 1987, and the debt incurred building the stadium was paid off in 10 years from luxury seat revenue at $16 million a year. (4) This success and other successes lead to the creation of many new stadiums, all built with premium seating included.

Yet the question of why these luxury seats began to be built in the 1990’s still remains. Almost certainly it involved a change in the consumer market. As previously mentioned, the consumers of premium seating are mostly corporations and high net-worth individuals. So in the 1990’s was there a change in this group’s resources?

From 1950 until 1980, corporate profits after tax increased from about $20 billion to to about $200 billion. From 1980 to 2000, the number increased $300 billion to $500 billion total. And in the second quarter of 2015, the profit was up all the way to $1,844 billion. (5) I cannot claim to fully understand what these numbers mean, but I do think I can say that they mean corporations today have more money to spend on things like luxury boxes. This could possibly explain why in the 1990’s many stadiums were built to include premium seating.

Another factor that could be creating a consumer market for premium seating is the increase in the wealth at the top of society. Political campaign’s today, like that of Bernie Sanders, are gaining traction because of the populus’ anger at the wealth inequality. This wealth inequality could be creating a market for premium seats. Stadiums at most only have a couple hundred luxury boxes that they need to sell for a season. When wealth is concentrated, the people with it can afford to buy an expensive entertainment item, like a luxury box. And because the owners only need to sell a relatively few amount of these boxes, it is not a problem that the wealthy people are so few in number.

But how will this change sports? I do not think luxury seats by themselves will change sports. A regular fan can still have a regular sports experience with a hotdog and beer even if someone is drinking fine wine eating smoked gouda in a luxury box above them. I believe what could change sports however is increased corporate profits and wealth inequality. This could and is helping to shrink the middle class, which could then decrease the number of fans in regular seats. This would harm the atmosphere of being in a raucous and wild arena or stadium.

To preserve the middle class fan base and therefore the sports experience, fans should do their research and support political campaigns that help foster a strong middle class. It is a shame that a fun thing, sports, should be tied to something which has such a negative connotation, like politics. But maybe we will lose our fun thing if we cannot do the unpleasant thing.

1 http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-02-04/cnbc-super-bowl-suites/52948968/1

2 http://www.nba.com/celtics/tickets/premium/bb-luxury-suite-rental-pricing-schedule.html

3 http://www.nba.com/celtics/tickets/individual-game-tickets?cfc=TICKETS_INDEX

4 http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/faculty/Vrooman/VROOMAN-NFL.pdf

5 https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

6 http://www.bostonfed.org/peanuts/sptspage/inning2a.htm

21 March 2016

Related-Party Transactions in the NHL

Guest Post by Jonathan "Jack" Decker

Related-party transactions shelter a staggering $100 million per year from MLB revenue. [1] This statistic alone shows how drastically this new relationship between sports teams and media companies has affected the baseball industry. Over the past twenty years, this “relationship” between teams and media operations, known as related-party transactions, has emerged as a trend amongst team owners and is employed by almost all teams, from the Yankees to the Pirates to the Dodgers. A tactic adopted as soon as MLB levied a 20 percent tax on teams’ net local revenues in 1996, the reason for it is simple: reporting profits under another company means teams evade paying taxes to the league. [1] Having read May the Best Team Win, the prevalence of related-party transactions seems to be clearly abundant in baseball, but it also plays a role in the sport of hockey. Here are examples of transfer pricing in the three largest NHL teams:

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs, professional hockey’s most valuable team, are the cornerstone of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, or MLSE for short, also owns the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, Leafs TV, Raptors NBA TV, and a few minor league teams. [2] The Leafs and Raptors share the Air Canada Center, a stadium built in 1999 and owned by MLSE. MSLE’s decision to merge the Maple Leafs and Raptors franchises served two main purposes. The first of these is being granted two channel licenses by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV, used to broadcast live games involving their teams in order to increase competition for their rights and drive up fees paid by other broadcasters. [3] The second purpose of the merge was a calculated 30% increase in ticket revenue under the new, shared stadium.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are run by Madison Square Garden, a division of Cablevision Systems that includes the NBA’s Knicks, WNBA’s Liberty, programming networks (such as MSG, MSG Plus, and Fuse), MSG Arena, the WaMu theatre, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre. [4]

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadians were bought by George Gillett Jr. in 2001 for $181 million. Gillett Jr. also purchased the Bell Centre, the home of the Canadians, which opened in 1996. [5] Furthermore, Gillett owns a controlling interest of the NASCAR team Evernham Motorsports, under the name Gillet Evernham Motorsports, and is the founder of Gillet Entertainment Group.

Although through these examples it is clear that transfer pricing plays a role in the NHL, perhaps not to the same extent as in the MLB but still a significant role nonetheless, the question remains as to why this is the case. The NHL “taxes” teams not through a levied tax on revenues, like the MLB does, but rather through a hard salary cap. [6] This means that revenue does not decide how much money hockey teams must pay to the league, but payroll does. This may seem like there is little incentive for owners to shuffle around their money like in MLB, but they still do. The reason for this is similar to the reason the owner of the Chicago Cubs used; the owners can use this hidden revenue to convince the players that the team has less money to pay for their salaries. Besides more technical cases, like the use of the Leafs-Raptors merger to boost ticket revenue, most NHL teams use related-party transactions mainly to lower player salaries. Hockey teams do not have to pay the levied tax that MLB teams must pay, but still can benefit, in other ways, from the same tactics that baseball teams use to avoid them.

If you find this topic of interest, please share your thoughts below. If there are any other examples of transfer pricing in the NHL that you find interesting, feel free to explain them in the comment section. After all, this post only examines the ownership of the three largest teams. Make sure to return to Tully’s Sports Blog for more exciting sports information!

1. May the Best Team Win by Andrew Zimbalist
2. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/31/nhl08_Toronto-Maple-Leafs_312012.html
3. http://web.archive.org/web/20030321125842/http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ownership/cht177.pdf
4. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/31/nhl08_New-York-Rangers_315381.html
5. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/31/nhl08_Montreal-Canadiens_314528.html
6. http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2010/06/nhl_sets_salary_cap_for_2010-1.html

18 March 2016

The Sports Industry and Television Rights

Guest Post by Kyle Artus
The average American will spend 9 years of their life watching television. [1] Months, or perhaps years, will be spent watching sports. Sports are becoming a bigger and bigger part of everyday life in America. Parents bring their kids to practice or games, athletes play, train, or practice, and fans will watch games and support their team every day. Due to the huge businesses that both sports and television have become, they now have a huge overlap. Sports teams and leagues make billions of dollars just by selling the right to play their games on television. Television stations engage in bidding wars to get these rights. More and more every year, the biggest product coming out of the sports industry is their television rights.

Television networks spend a tremendous amount of money every year to put major league sports on their network. For example, Fox, CBS, and NBC combined pay upwards of 2 billion dollars a year to broadcast NFL games. [2] ESPN and TNT pay about $2.66 billion every year for NBA games. [3] Fox and Turner Sports pay about $800 million annually for MLB games. [4] This is a huge source of revenue for teams and sports leagues. As this revenue source increases, it becomes more and more of a focus for the team owners. Teams and leagues are going to want to make their sports more TV friendly in order to maximize their potential for TV money. This is becoming evident in many professional sports leagues in America. The NFL has more stoppage of plays and commercial breaks than ever before, with an average of 20 commercial breaks and over 100 total advertisements. [5] The NFL game is prime for television, and this is one of the reasons that their TV rights cost so much. Millions of people watch every game and there is plenty of time for the television stations to make money by selling commercial slots.

In the NBA, the league is considering placing advertisements on their jerseys. [6] Now this is not directly related to their TV rights, but it could affect them in the future. With advertisements on the jerseys, and millions of people watching the games on television, the price for a company to place an ad on jersey could be astronomical. It is being reported that these ads would bring in approximately $100 million. [6] This could impact future deals with the NBA’s TV rights. If they get a new deal that expands their TV presence, more games on more nights on a more nationwide basis, these ads could become even more valuable. More people will see them and therefore, the NBA could charge more for them. In the not-so-distant future, I believe seeing jerseys like the one in the picture below will be unavoidable.

Major League Baseball has started experimenting with ways to speed up their games and make it more TV friendly. They have implemented rules such as strictly timed commercial breaks, requiring batters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, and making the managers stay in the dugout during replay reviews. Additionally, they implemented a pitch clock in the minor leagues to ensure that a pitch is throw in a reasonable amount of time. [8] This comes as perhaps a way to make the game more exciting and quick to appeal to a new generation of fans. This will make it easier for people to sit down and watch a game on television as a large complaint against baseball was the pace and how long games can be. This can only increase their appeal to television stations and could increase the value of the MLB’s television rights.

As teams and leagues make more money off of television, the games change to reflect this. It is smart business to try and make your product more appealing. As TV rights become a larger part of the revenue stream, the product that the sports industry is selling becomes more about the appeal the sport has for television. This could be great for sports fans as they could have a more accessible game to watch on TV. But it could also cause problems for traditionalists and sports purists. As the game is changed to becoming more appealing for television, some of the culture and what made the game so popular to begin with could be lost. It will be important for professional sports leagues to try and balance the changes that they do or do not make. They will need to consider how much they can change before the game becomes unrecognizable. They need to find a balance between making small changes that may help the game, and selling out to advertisers and wherever the money is coming from.

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics/
[2] http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7353238/nfl-re-ups-tv-pacts-expand-thursday-schedule
[3] http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11652297/nba-extends-television-deals-espn-tnt
[4] http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8453054/major-league-baseball-completes-eight-year-deal-fox-turner-sports
[5] http://qz.com/150577/an-average-nfl-game-more-than-100-commercials-and-just-11-minutes-of-play/
[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/mattpowell/2014/06/20/sneakernomics-coming-soon-ads-on-nba-jerseys/#76998712263e
[7] http://phillysportslive.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/nba-jerseys.jpg (PHOTO CREDIT)
[8] http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12351883/major-league-baseball-announce-pace-play-rules

16 March 2016

Baseball: A Model of Successful Business Adaptation

Guest Post by Steven Koonz

Baseball is as American as apple pie. It has been the American pastime since the late nineteenth century. Major League Baseball has been played since 1876. Over the years, baseball has changed and evolved into a billion dollar industry. The game today would be barely recognizable to a baseball fan in the 1870s, both in the way it is played and in the way the business of baseball is conducted. So how did we get to where we are now from when that first National League game was played in 1876?

As with any game, the rules of baseball have changed over time. The game played today is very different from the game played in 1876, or even before that. Changes have been made to make the game safer, more fair, and more exciting to watch. A century ago, players did not wear batting helmets. Spitballs were legal. Usually only one ball per game was used. The ball was made of materials that did not jump off the bat like the balls that are used today. These are only a few of the ways that the game was different.
Perhaps some of the biggest changes to the game of baseball were those that led to the end of the dead-ball era around 1920. The ball was switched out for one that was more lively, spitballs and any other form of doctoring the ball were made illegal, and umpires were required to replace the balls when they became dirty, thus making it easier for the batter to see them. These changes led to an unprecedented increase in offense, and paved the way for players like Babe Ruth to become stars. Whether it was the intended consequence of the changes or just a byproduct, these new rules made the game more exciting to watch. Another major change that was designed to increase offense was the implementation of the DH in the American League in 1973.

Rules have been adopted for purposes of safety as well. Helmets have become mandatory for all batters. MLB is experimenting with protective headgear for pitchers as well, although it seems unlikely that it will be made mandatory in the near future. However, with all of the recent concerns about concussions, the league is doing its part to prevent head injuries. Before the 2014 season, MLB tightened restrictions on collisions between catchers blocking the plate and baserunners, with the hopes of preventing injuries like the one suffered by catcher Buster Posey in 2011.

In addition to changes made on the field, the business behind baseball has changed too. Willie Mays, one of the greatest and most dynamic players of all time, made $165,000 in 1973. At the time, it was one of the top salaries in the league. When adjusted for inflation, that equates to around $900,000 in today’s money. The Red Sox just recently signed David Price to a long term contract with an average annual value of $31 million. Advertising deals, broadcast rights, and growing market size have all increased the earning potential of teams. Better technology, and cable TV becoming more accessible have led to huge broadcasting deals, like the LA Dodgers $8 billion, 25 year deal for TV rights. Free agency gave the players more leverage to negotiate their contracts with their teams and other teams, thus further increasing player salaries.

The reason MLB has been so successful over the years is that it has been able to change with the times. Men like Bill Veeck, Branch Rickey, and several others brought changes to baseball that make the game what it is today. It is this ability to adapt that has been responsible for baseballs resilience as our national pastime, despite labor strikes, cheating, and steroid use. When MLB was first founded, its founders probably had no idea that there would be games played in Tampa in air conditioning, or at night under the lights in Los Angeles, or that there would be ‘sausage races’ in Milwaukee. One can make a comparison between Fenway Park and the game of baseball. Fenway park is an old facility, one that has seen more than a century of baseball played on its field. Babe Ruth pitched from that mound. Ted Williams stood in the left handed batter’s box there for 248 of his 521 home runs. Despite its great age and history, Fenway is still a perfectly functional ballpark, with additions and renovations over the years to modernize the facility. Major League Baseball is similar, being an old game that has been modernized over the years.

13 March 2016

The Socio-Cultural Triumph of Mike

Guest Post by Nicholas Constantilos

If I were to ask you “Who is the most popular basketball star ever?” who do you think of? Soaring slam from the free throw line, which person comes to mind? It’s hard to come across someone who does not instantly think of the legendary Michael Jordan. The late basketball star Elgin Baylor once stated… “If you look up the definition of greatness in the dictionary, it will say Michael Jordan.” What this iconic man did for not only the game of basketball but for society is untouchable. He developed one of the most popular brands in the world, left a lasting imprint on popular culture, and forever remains a living role model. I am going to explain why Michael Jordan is a cultural and social legend.

Jordan Brand Significance

I can confidently say that if someone hasn’t owned one pair of Air Jordan’s in their life time, they have at least heard of the shoe brand. In fact, Michael Jordan was the first athlete to ever have his own shoe brand and from this he helped put the Nike brand on the map for sports shoes and apparel. Nike was initially a brand made for runners until Jordan’s fame started following him off the court and gave Nike a claim on basketball. What makes basketball and shoes so intertwined is how much people reflect their game on the type of shoes they wear. Basketball is the only sport where the shoe get most of the credit for one’s success; at least that’s what we all like to think is the reason. ESPN sports writer, Scoop Jackson, stated “Basketball shoes helped define who our hero’s were”. So when Michael Jordan took to the “Air”, he became defined. A large reason why the Jordan brand is so popular is due to Michael’s outstanding performance on the basketball court and with that he created an essentially flawless basketball career. When someone wears Jordan’s shoes they are wearing Michael’s spirit and carrying on his legacy. The shoe give people a sense of comfort because wearing Jordan’s means “success”. Speaking of success, when comparing the Jordan brand to the modern world wide brand “Apple”, a quote that stood out to me was “Apple is still 21 years and 18 iphone models away from being where Jordan is with its signature sneaker.” Now put that into perspective…

Popular Culture

Just when you thought Michael could only impact people on the court and with his shoes, he didn’t stop there. He changed culture itself by his starring in the movie Space Jam. Space Jam was so appealing because it tied together the culture of sports to other areas of pop culture such as the Looney Toons, popular Comedians, and popular musicians. No movie before Space Jam combined real life people and animation the way this movie did. During 1996 some of the most popular rappers at the time such as LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and Coolio were featured in the movie, Space Jam got them all on one song, which was never done before. Famous R&B singer R. Kelly also made a song for the movie called “I Believe I Can Fly”. What other movie can you say did that before Space Jam? This all was made possible due to the fact that Michael Jordan was the pumping heart of the movie making all these stars want to be a part of it, giving the movie a true purpose.

A Cultural and Social Hero

What came after Michael Jordan’s outstanding accomplishments and almost unbelievable transcript was the inspiration he gave everyone with his success making them want to be “Just like Mike”. If you ever see someone with bald head and hoop earrings…Michael is responsible for setting that trend. For the youths watching his finals moments, there is no better belief that anything is possible when watching Michael Jordan’s moments. Hall of fame writer, Sam Smith, emphasized “As kids it seemed like the ultimate hero story. No matter how much he’s down or what the odds were, he would find a way to win.” This amazing talent was echoed so loudly to the public that most people did not see “black or white” but a basketball player they enjoy watching, who gave them endless pleasure. By becoming this person it helped cross racial barriers which was and still is extremely impactful. The unique value this man brought to society as a whole will forever live on in history, inspiring people of all ages and ethnicities, including myself.
If you want to experience Jordan’s claim to fame and feel his legacy, check out his brand of apparel and shoes at http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/jordan

References: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/11/25/basketball/nba/jordans-global-impact-transcended-racial-economic-boundaries/

07 March 2016

A Plan to Bring Baseball Off of Life Support

Guest Post by P. Lumbean

Celebrating Diversity on the Roster: Marketing Accordingly

If you’re of the opinion that it’s a good idea to erect a giant wall along the US Border with Mexico, this piece is probably not for you. If you’re of the opinion that baseball is best when played by white American-born males, this piece is probably not for you either. Finally, if you’d just as soon watch a game surrounded by middle to upper income American born fans, you’re not going to like what I have to say either. Because I believe that folks from Spanish speaking countries in the Americas and those living in America who were born in Latin American countries (or are descended from such individuals) have the best chance at both saving Major League Baseball from itself and may even return it to its former glory.

Demographic Shifts in the United States

Despite what some of the political stage this year would have us believe, the demography of the United States is changing and it’s going to take a lot more than a really tall wall on our southern border to halt that change. The US Census Bureau projects that between now and 2060, the percentage of citizens of Asian heritage will be the second fastest growing group and those of Hispanic heritage will be the third fastest growing group. The fastest growing group will be those citizens who are of “mixed” or two or more races. By 2060, the Census Bureau projects that of the 416.8 million residents, 29% will be of Hispanic heritage. This represents a 115% increase from that same population in 2014. Meanwhile, the Asian-American population will increase by 128% from 2014 to 2060. By 2060, almost 40% of American citizens will identify as either Asian-American or Hispanic-American. This compares to the 23% in 2014.

It’s seems quite apparent that Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans combined will represent by far the largest ethnic category in the United States in 2060. Their economic clout at that time, should be significantly enhanced from what it is now. Businesses that want in on this economic gravy train would do well to start catering to these two groups sooner rather than later.

Fan and Player Demographics in Major League Baseball

If one Googles the term “fan demographics MLB,” one of the first items that appears on the results page is an article with the headline: “MLB Business Dead in 20 Years With Current Fan Demographic.” Yikes (or at least, “Yikes” for those of us who love baseball). Is this really possible? Let’s take a look by first extracting this quote from the aforementioned article:

“You know what the average baseball fan is?” Passan asked. “It’s a 55-year-old white guy. Fifty-five might be light. I’m serious. Baseball’s demographic these days is the worst demographic you can possibly find for future growth. For present business, it’s not bad – because 55-year-old white men buy things. But for future growth, if that is your average consumer, your business is dead in 20 years.”

This comes from columnist Jeff Passan who covers Major League Baseball for Yahoo Sports, and closer inspection of the data shows that he has a point. Nielsen, the self-described, global information and measurement company, releases an annual “Year in Sports Media Report.” There are some fascinating insights in these reports. Specifically, when breaking down the fan demographics, Nielsen found that among fans of Major League Baseball,

70% were male.
50% were 55 years of age or older
83% were white
36% earned $ 75,000 or higher

It does indeed appear as though the MLB fan base is (or at least was in 2013) comprised primarily of older white men in higher income brackets. This case can especially be made when comparing the demographics of fan bases in the competing leagues in the United States:

NFL: 37% are 55 and older
NBA: 40% are white
NHL: 29% are 55 and older
MLS: 27% are 55 and older

These statistics are not particularly effective unless one puts them in the context of overall popularity of sport. Logically, the more popular a sport is, the more financially healthy it is likely to be. Sports that are on the incline need to keep doing what they’re doing. Sports on the decline likely need to make some changes. Business Insider has been asking fans to identify their favorite sports since the mid 1980’s. Some of what they’ve found:

MLB and the NFL each got between 20 and 25% of the vote in the mid 80’s. Since then, MLB has seen a steady decline, reaching an all-time low of 13% in 2003. In the meantime, the NFL has seen steady growth reaching an all-time high 36% in 2011.

The NHL has remained fairly steady in the 5% range since the 1980’s.

The NBA, not surprisingly, saw a surge of interest in the 80’s and early 90’s (Magic-Bird era) and then again in the mid to late 90’s (Michael Jordan era). Since then, the league has settled back in to a predictable pattern of 6 to 7%.

Finally, pro soccer has been by far the least likely sport to be identified as a fan “favorite.” That is until recently, when since 2013 it has gone up rather dramatically and now competes with both the NBA and the NHL.

To be sure, asking fans to identify their favorite sport does not directly correlate to economic health or to sheer volume of income for any given league. After all, someone who identifies the NFL as their favorite league may in fact spend no money, directly or indirectly, on any other league “product.” On the other hand, someone identifying soccer as their favorite sport may spend their money on two or three other sports that they are fond of.

What the Business Insider poll does do for us is to create one barometer. It’s one somewhat useful indicator as to the health of a league, particularly when a league either seems to be ascending or descending markedly in popularity. It’s therefore quite instructive to note that Major League Baseball, whose fan base is dominated by older, whiter, wealthier, male sports fans has been declining n popularity while Major League Soccer has seen a recent, significant uptick.

The Hispanic Sports Fan

A closer look at the MLS (soccer) fan demographics gives an indication as to who it is that may be driving the surge in the league’s popularity in the United States. Returning once again to Nielsen’s 2013 “Year In Sports Media” report, we find that an astonishing 34% of Major League Soccer’s media consumers are Hispanic. This is a particularly notable figure when seen in the context of the figures from the other leagues. The percentage of Hispanic consumers elsewhere are as follows:

NFL: 8%
NBA: 12%
MLB: 9%
NHL: 2%

The report also notes the following:

Over the past year, a young, mobile, and tech savvy audience has embraced MLS in the U.S. Consider this: 52 percent of MLS fans who have expressed strong interest in attending live events and viewing games on TV are ages 18-34, the highest percentage of any pro league. Additionally, MLS fans are far more likely to be smartphone owners, with 76 percent of MLS fans owning a smartphone (Android & iOS) compared to 66 percent of the general U.S. population. And 42 percent of MLS fans have viewed mobile video in the past 30 days, compared to 21 percent nationally

The MLS therefore seems to most definitely be a league on the rise. It then occurs to me that a league whose future might not appear to be so rosy might do well to emulate some of the tactics employed by MLS. To wit: appealing to fans who may already be naturally predisposed to a sport.

Soccer is a huge sport worldwide. It then stands to reason that a high percentage of sports fans immigrating to our country are going to arrive with a predisposition to soccer. They will likely be drawn to the sport just because of a fondness for it, but they may especially be drawn to those teams who have players on their roster(s) from their home countries or regions.

The Hispanic Baseball Player

If you’re still with me, and following my train of logic, you see where this is headed. The 2015 opening day rosters in Major League Baseball had a total of 868 players (this includes players on the active roster, disabled list, and restricted list). 230 were born outside the United States. Of those 230, 201 were from Spanish speaking countries with the Dominican Republic (83) and Venezuela (65) representing the clear majority of Spanish speaking countries. So when more than 25% of the players come from foreign countries and when 23% come specifically from Latin American countries, how is it that such a small percentage of the sports fans are Hispanics? I am suggesting here that Major League Baseball has not capitalized on this most obvious of trends and until or unless it makes a concerted effort to do so, it is a league that will continue to founder until it runs itself into the ground.

What the Smart Franchises Are Doing or Should Be Doing

To be fair, Major League Baseball is at least saying that it recognizes the importance of catering to the current or prospective Latino\a baseball fan. Last Spring, MLB signed an agreement with what they called a “multicultural partner.” Latinworks refers to itself as a “cultural branding agency” and has been tasked with working with MLB to more effectively reach out to Latino sports fans. They have done so through television advertising campaigns and an expansion and improvement of various Apps directed specifically at Spanish speakers.

At the time that the agreement was announced, Jacqueline Parkes, MLB’s Chief Marketing Officer was quoted as saying: “This is us saying to Latino consumers, 'You are here, you are part of the game, and we want you to be here more frequently.' The campaign celebrates the nuances of the game and the powerful influence that Latino players have on the game.”

Individual franchises are also taking steps to increase their marketing to their Latino communities. According to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 43% of their fan base in 2013 was Latino. So it makes a whole lot of sense for them to have trademarked the term “Los Doyers” which references the team’s ties to the Latino community. This trademarking has led to the sale of everything with the “Los Doyers” moniker on it to the “Doyer Dog” hot dog at Dodgers Stadium. Similarly, Arizona’s Diamondbacks have “Los D-backs” t-shirts, an Hispanic Heritage Night, and postgame concerts featuring Latin music.

And I Haven’t Even Touched On. . .

As someone who has spent far too much time listening to candidates and self-described “experts” during this election cycle, I am now somewhat taken aback when I hear someone say something that is actually refreshing or in some way different. Yesterday when struggling to decide how I would conclude this essay, I heard the following from Jose Antonio-Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, founder and editor of #EmergingUS, and founder of Define American. In talking about this particular presidential election, he said:
Well, what is missing is a more truthful conversation about where this country is going. Look, the country is only going to get gayer—there’s only going to be more gay people coming out—more Asian, more Latino, more black. Right? And women will break every possible barrier there is, and should be broken. You know, what’s at stake in this country, in many ways—right?—is kind of the soul of a lot of heterosexual white men, right?

This piece has focused on the rise, or at least the potential rise of the Latin-American sports fan. The wisest politicians, business owners, and professional sports leagues will recognize that our country is going through a major population evolution, will embrace that evolution, and will ultimately cater to it.
I’ve focused on only one aspect of this demographic change here. I’ve left out those Americans (or new Americans) of Asian descent, the LGBTQ community, and young people growing up in the hyper-digital age to name only three of the additional groups that are positively changing our country. Leagues that want to die on the vine will continue to cater primarily to one category of citizen. Those that want to thrive will recognize the exciting changes taking place and will market accordingly.

Other Sources


04 March 2016

Putting Up a Fight...

Guest Post by Connor Maloney

Since the 2001-02 NHL season, the percentage of games with fights has dropped nearly 20%. What was once a significant part of the National Hockey League is slowly withering away but why?

Hockey is best known for its physicality. Body checking and other similar physical aspects of the game we’re actually written into the original rules. However, it wasn’t until 1922 when fighting was considered a five-minute penalty rather than an automatic ejection like most other sports. From the 1930’s through the 1940’s we saw an emergence of using fighting as a tactic for players to show that they weren’t going to be intimidated. It also began to be seen as a challenge to other players to see if they were committed or courageous enough to drop the gloves. Moving forward to the 1970’s we started to see the development of a new role on some teams, the enforcer. The enforcer was pretty much there for one reason, and that reason was to get into fights. They would score a handful of goals each year but there main focus was to motivate their teams through focusing on the physical part of the game by checking and getting into fights. But what happened to the enforcer(s) of today? The saying goes “Numbers Never Lie” and looking at the shear numbers, the number of players receiving fighting penalties is down 20% from the 2001-02 season. I believe that this change is due to a couple of social factors.

In recent years we have seen a tremendous amount of pushback regarding bullying and violence, significantly more so than in the 70’s and 80’s. So it’s no longer the “thing” to be the tough guy while others are expected to have thick skin. Instead everyone is expected to treat others kindly and with respect, and rightfully so

Additionally, we live in a world that is moving faster than ever. We have instant access to just about any piece of information in the palm of our hands. The game of hockey is changing from a game of physical prowess to a game filled with speed and finesse. If you look at some of the younger stars in the NHL like Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin, Detroit Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, or Ottawa Senators Defensemen Erik Karlsson, they all two things in common; speed and good hand skills.

Sports tend to follow the trends of society and I believe we can see evidence of the changing of the game in these two examples. So we are left with the question: Are the speedsters replacing the enforcers? It sure seems like we are headed that way.

02 March 2016

Does the NFL Have a "Product?"

Guest Post by Danielle Bruffee

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon. You have tickets to go see your favorite football team’s game. You can already hear the fans roaring with enthusiasm. You get amped up, your adrenaline is rushing, your beer is ready in hand, and you are ready for the game to begin!

If you’ve ever been to a football game then you know the thrill and excitement that you experience during the event. Do you ever think about why you are there? What gave you the decision to purchase game tickets, and possibly a drink or two? Well, the most likely answer to that question is that you are there to be entertained. Whether you realize it or not, you the fan are a big part of the entire NFL ecosystem.

Entertainment is what we as people tend to look for during our leisurely time. You can expect to experience some sort of enjoyment, relaxation and pure fun. If you are indeed a football fan, I can’t imagine a better way of spending a Sunday afternoon than spending it at the arena.

Let’s talk about the “product” the NFL is trying to sell... This “product” is a bit more complex compared to other corporations. The purpose of a football game is indeed to provide entertainment to their consumers (the fans). They are also trying to sell tangible items such as tickets, food, drinks, and clothing. However, the NFL really needs to create a strong fan base in order to be recognized.

Have you ever worn a cap or shirt with your favorite team’s logo on it? Is it more than just a hat, or a shirt? Yes, it is. When you purchase an item with your team’s logo on it you are in turn advertising that particular team.

Without the fans the NFL wouldn’t have much to go on. What exactly do the fans do?

• They sponsor their team.
• They support their team.
• They advertise for their team.
• They give their team acknowledgement.
• They are always loyal to their team.

As you can see the fans give the NFL power. What good would a game be without the fans cheering them on? How would the NFL make any profit if there were no fans (no consumers)?

When it comes down to it, the fan base is the heart and soul in the NFL. Even when teams are having a bad season, the fans are always there supporting their team, because for them it’s so much more than about winning or losing. There is a mutual bond between both the NFL teams, and the fan base. The fans continue to stay dedicated and true to their team through thick and thin, and in turn the players provide their loyal fans with entertainment.

So next time you’re at your NFL team’s game, sitting in the seats having a nice cold beer you can take note in the fact that you play an important role in the networking of the NFL. Without you and the many other fans there wouldn’t be much entertainment provided.