Kudos to the Sports Business Journal for a great headline, “Dope Pedaler,” the morning after Lance Armstrong finally fessed up to using performance enhancing drugs to Oprah Winfrey.
The obvious question is “Why did Armstrong decide to admit his guilt now?” My guess is that Lance and his advisors were concerned about United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO’s Travis Tygart’s very credible interview with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes Sports,” which aired on Showtime a week before the Winfrey sit-down.
While Armstrong has rightfully been vilified by the public, he’s been a one-man economic stimulus package for a few televison networks.
For years, Versus (now the NBC Sports Network), had to settle for the sports programming scraps that ESPN and the broadcast networks had no interest in. Versus’s marquee event was the Super Bowl of bicycle races, the Tour de France. Of course most Americans couldn’t care less about it until Armstrong came along.
Armstrong’s fall from grace has been a godsend to Discovery Networks CEO David Zaslav, who made the decision to invest over $100 million to start the Oprah Winfrey Network, which badly struggled in its first two years. OWN started showing some ratings upticks this year but the Armstrong interview was a watershed moment in making it stand out in the crowded cable market.
Armstrong has had to share the sports scandal tabloid backpages with Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo, who has become a subject of ridicule because his well-documented tale of having a dying girlfriend turns out to be false. Manti and Notre Dame officials claim he was the victim of a hoax, while others say he had nefarious reasons for cooking up a bizarre story, such as trying to garner sympathy votes for the Heisman Trophy (he was runner-up to Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel) or perhaps hiding his sexual preference. Professional sports is not known for its tolerance of homosexuality.
T’eo is getting unwavering support from the Samoan community his home state of Hawaii according to Kim Kaimana, a sales executive who was representing the Polynesian Cultural Center, located on Oahu’s famed North Shore, at the recent New York Times Travel Show held at the Javits Center. “Just because you are a star football player at a big university does not mean that you are sophisticated when it comes to social situations such as dating or even using a basic term such as “girlfriend,” she told me.
Even if one is to accept Kaimana’s hypothesis, there is little doubt that Manti’s stock will drop precipitously in the upcoming National Football League Draft. Naivete is not considered an asset to NFL scouts and executives.
The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are coached by the brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, respectively, so it is pretty obvious what the overhyped media angle will be for Super Bowl XLVII. You can be sure that this coming Tuesday in New Orleans, when the annual Super Bowl Media Day is held, someone will play off the old Smothers Brothers comedy bit by asking the coaches, “Who did mom like best?”
Speaking before of the New York Times Travel Show, a number of organizations wisely used sports as a way of generating tourism at the event.
The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority gave out pamphlets promoting the ECAC Hockey Championships in which college teams from the eastern United States compete for the right to go the NCAA “Frozen Four.” The tournament takes place March 22 and 23 at venerable Boardwalk Hall.
Likewise the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the Long Island Rail Road, made folks aware that the US Women’s Open will take place the last week of June at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton. Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie are expected to compete.
Herb Clark, a longtime executive with the Sullivan County Visitors Association, promises that work will soon begin for a new entertainment and gaming resort on the grounds of the old Concord Hotel. He also talked about how nearby Holiday Mountain is the best place for novice skiers to learn how to navigate the slopes.
“Jewish Jocks” (Twelve Publishing) edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy , is a delightful collection of essays about Jewish athletes, sports executives and media types. Among the lives celebrated by various writers are those of Far Rockaway women’s hoops legend Nancy Lieberman, Sandy Koufax, Red Auerbach, Mark Spitz, Howard Cosell and former Islanders star Matthieu Schneider.
The George Clooney of the press box, New York Daily News Knicks beat writer Frank Isola, got off a great line on Twitter when he learned that the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect anyone to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
“The same people who cheat on their wives and on their expense reports are passing judgment on people who they think cheated on the baseball diamond!” tweeted Frank.