America's top female skier won't be in Sochi, and that could mean trouble for U.S. medal hopes and TV viewership.» Read More
When Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault, we saw a few nifty entrepreneurs come up with T-shirts to try to cash in on the news. There were the Kobe Bryant T-shirts were made to look like a jersey, with Kobe's number on it and "Colorado Prison League" on the front. One supporter made a "Free Kobe" shirt. But never in the history of sports have we seen the cottage industry that has become Michael Vick dogfighting T-shirts.
One of the most surprising things about being here in Beijing is the absence of Yao Ming. I thought he'd be everywhere. Sure, he made his name in Shanghai, but I thought he was the pride of China. Well, apparently not. Aside from a Coca Cola ad on an occasional billboard and a wildlife poster, Yao isn't a force here.
I'm here thanks to a long plane ride, during which I watched "Blades of Glory" twice and read two books on the history of China. You thought the Boston Celtics were a dynasty? Imagine being dominant for 300 years! Anyway, I've come all this way so that I can bring you all the important business stories of the '08 games on the year-out anniversary on Wednesday, August 8 and actually throughout next week on CNBC.
As many of you know, yesterday I called for Nike to dump Michael Vick. They sort of did that minutes ago, when they suspended his contract. My prediction? They'll never reactivate it. It's a really good move. They were never going to use Vick again, so there was no reason to stand by him. I'm not ignorant enough to think that they my writing did anything.
I wandered on to NFLShop.com to do my daily check on everything Michael Vick and I noticed something strange. I couldn't find Michael Vick No. 7 jerseys anywhere. So I called the NFL and asked them why they had made this decision. "We have suspended sales of Vick-related merchandise on our official league e-commerce site, NFLShop.com," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. "This includes Vick jerseys and collectible items such as autographed balls and other memorabilia."
At the end of June, I announced my worst athlete ad contest. I received many entries of athletes in all sorts of ads from my readers, but I really didn't have any trouble picking a winner. Congratulations to reader Joe Gudema who sent me Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon doing ads for 125 Auto. Thankfully, it's on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
When activist organizations ask for a shoe and apparel company to drop athletes before the legal process has seen them through, I usually don't agree. The main reason I stand up for these companies is that it's good for business to ride it out. People forget and if you have an athlete who is acquitted of charges who is a big star, they will prove they can sell again.
As many of you know, I started boycotting my watching of the Tour de France this year because of all the drug scandals. Of course, the scandals have continued. German cyclist Patrik Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone and was suspended, Alexandre Vinokourov and his team withdrew after he tested positive for blood doping and we're waiting for the suspension one more rider that tested positive.
NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the media today to discuss what the league knows about former NBA referee Tim Donaghy betting on games. This is my live commentary as it happened.
The minor league baseball independent Long Beach Armada is hosting "Michael Vick Animal Awareness Day" on Sunday. Any fan who trades in his or her Michael Vick T-shirt or jersey will get free admission to the game and a donation will be made in their name to a non-profit that helps "inspire a better understanding of dogs." Those shirts and jerseys will be destroyed in some manner, the team says. Fans can also bring their dogs to the game, will be provided a special entrance to the ballpark and sit in a special section of the ballpark.
After watching much of the media look at the wrong data when considering whether NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on the games he officiated, I've decided to let the cat out of the bag. Folks, you're not going to get anywhere by looking at the point spreads.
Nike has a new statement out, which I have just received. They are suspending the release of the Vick V shoe, which was scheduled to be in stores on Aug. 23. Here is the text: "Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore, we have not terminated our relationship...."
Wherever Kobe Bryant is playing, he'll be wearing Nikes. Sources are telling CNBC that Nike has re-signed the guard to a multi-year extension. The exact length of the deal and the terms are unknown. It is also not clear whether Bryant's contract would vary depending on the market in which he is playing.
Those who know me or have followed my work in recent years know that, besides specializing in sports business, I know niche sports better than anyone in the country does. It started with my love of the competitive eating circuit and carried over to becoming the top handicapper in the country on the National Spelling Bee.Last year, while I was still at ESPN, I gave the betting public the top eight spellers. My No. 3 pick Katherine Close won it all and my other picks fared pretty well. So if you want to know who to root for this year, you have it all here for you.
After an endorsement relationship that lasted 18 months, Prince and American tennis star James Blake are parting ways in what will be a rare case of an athlete leaving a brand voluntarily in the midst of a deal.
Ford has signed Funkmaster Flex -- a popular hip-hop DJ and personality on New York City's Hot 97 radio station -- as a company pitchman for its Ford Flex Expedition, and as host of a new TV show where regular Joes compete in customizing one of the company's SUVs. This is a smart move by Ford for a couple reasons. First, Flex's popularity with younger car buyers can help the company gain some much needed buzz on the new Flex CUV. Second, it's another case of Ford trying to break out with a new approach.
Win on Sunday, buy on Monday. The people at BearingPoint only wish that were the case. Their big endorser Phil Mickelson won the Players on Sunday and gave them plenty of exposure on NBC's coverage of the event thanks to the branding on the visor. But don't expect a stock with a current market cap of $1.43 billion to receive any sort of boost from Mickelson's win alone.
Before the shoe drops -- as in if Kevin Durant, the potential number one NBA draft pick, picks Nike or adidas -- we've learned that Durant has signed an endorsement deal with Upper Deck. The sports card and memorabilia company will market Durant in all of its 2007-08 products, and on its packaging, and will unveil a line of autographed Upper Deck Authenticated items.
I was opening up my packs of Donruss' Score Select and I pulled this card. I was excited about who the player was, but I was really angry when I looked at this signature.I guess about 10 years ago, card companies started inserting signature cards in packs, but I have to tell you over the past couple years, the signatures have gotten worse and worse. I don't blame the card companies. They send these athletes a sheet of stickers to sign and in the end, the athletes just get lazy.
There's way too much to talk about today, but I'm leading it off with the Jim Stewart 400 because I think the folks at Diageo have been shortchanged because of the fight and the Derby -- and maybe even the Mavericks getting schooled.If you haven't heard about it, the NASCAR Nextel Cup race this weekend is actually named after a fan. The folks at Diageo, who bought the race for their Crown Royal brand, had an essay contest in which 15,000 fans wrote in their favorite life moment worthy of toasting with the drink.