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Failing Sports Beauties And Final Four "Checkmate"

Sports Beauties Not Getting It Done:
This weekend was just another normal weekend for those who are called some of the most marketable female athletes – another weekend without a win. Many following in the footsteps of Anna Kournikova, who pulled in $15 million a year in endorsement deals, despite going 0-for-122 in singles events throughout her career on the WTA Tour.

Danica Patrick
AP
Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick spun out in lap 154 (out of 200) and finished 14th in her first Indy Racing League event of the year on Saturday night. Patrick, whose car is plastered with Motorola and Argent logos and has individual deals with GoDaddy, Peak, Secret and Hostess, is now 0-for-31 in Indy Racing League events.

Michelle Wie, who pulls in millions from the likes of Nike and Sony , hasn't had a chance to improve on her 0-for-31 in LPGA events due to a wrist injury. She has failed to make the cut in nine other men's tournaments.

But Wie's fellow golfer Natalie Gulbis could be the sporting world's most marketable 0-for.

Michelle Wie
AP
Michelle Wie

Gulbis, whose sponsors include Adidas, RSM McGladrey and TaylorMade, didn't make the cut this weekend at the Safeway International. That makes her, at least according to my count, 0-for-138 events on the LPGA Tour.

You have to wonder, how long these women can go before they are unmarketable? Well, the truth is as long as they are out there, the answer is never completely unmarketable. But there is a time when they will face the reality of falling off corporate America's most popular list. When will that happen?

Here are my predictions:
Danica Patrick – 0-for-64. This would mean that Patrick didn't win for all of 2007 and 2008 on the Indy Racing League circuit. The only thing that would be able to breathe new life into her would be a switch to NASCAR, but with an 0-for like this, who would give her a chance at the higher stakes game?

Michelle Wie – 0-for-75. She'll be able to join the LPGA Tour when she turns 18 this October. Let's say she plays in 10 tournaments until then and fails to win. That will put her at 0-for-50. I'll then give her 25 chances – between the LPGA and a men's tournament here and there – and I'd say if she hasn't won by the start of the 2009 season, she's in trouble. Her deal with Nike will expire at the end of that year.

Natalie Gulbis
Natalie Gulbis

Natalie Gulbis – 0-for-160. That will basically take her to the end of this season. This golfer known for, at one time, dating Ben Roethlisberger looked like she was on the cusp of being a very marketable icon – especially given the attention she garnered for her calendar. She turned pro at 18 and by the start of next season, she'll be 25.

The Real Final Four:
You might think the Final Four is Ohio State, Georgetown, Florida and UCLA. But I love the fact that there's a Final Four of Chess. On Sunday, the University of Texas at Dallas won, beating out the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Duke and Miami Dade College. This was a major upset by the way. UMBC has won the past four titles, but the tournament was played in Fort Worth and UT-Dallas recruited two grandmasters (there are only about 50 grandmasters in the whole U.S. I'm told) this year in order to take the title on their home court. The next question you're going ask from reading this is, is "Do Chess Players Get Scholarships?" And I'm here to tell you the answer is Yes! In fact, according to the City Paper in Baltimore, UMBC takes $100,000 annually from its agreement with Coca-Cola to have vending machines on campus and puts it towards chess fellowships. They get full tuition paid and a $15,000 yearly stipend for living expenses – much more than any school gives a player playing in the Final Four.

Drink It Up:
Gatorade -- the NBA's longest standing sponsor -- has expanded its marketing partnership to include China. The inclusion was added as part of the PepsiCo brand's multi-year renewal with the league. Gatorade already has the right to use NBA branding in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Philippines. New areas Gatorade can use the NBA mark include China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and Australia.

Best Indy Car Designs:
With the IRL season underway, here are the best car designs in my opinion:

  • Scott Sharp's Tequila Petron car – Neon green and black combination is hot.
  • Danica Patrick's Motorola car – Black and sky blue is eye-catching.
  • Tony Kanaan's 7-Eleven car – It's not new, but just love the logo.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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