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The Top News In #Sportsbiz – 12.02.13 – 12.09.13


Top news in the #SportsBiz for the week includes a short write-up celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life.  News topics include Discover’s Fan Loyalty Poll, Cal football partnering with Kabam for a stadium naming rights deal, the MLS Final featuring two small market teams, and Levi’s stadium being loaded with technology.  To get a full dose of #SportsBiz news, read on.


Celebrating Nelson Mandela

Celebrating Nelson MandelaAt this time, it is important to take a moment to celebrate the life of the courageous Nelson Mandela.  Mandela (1918-2013) was the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize; he was an amateur boxer; he was the President of South Africa; yet he was so much more.

Nelson Mandela spent a total of 27 years in prison for his politics, yet simultaneously convinced people to fight the apartheid. While he was imprisoned, he recited the following poem:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Mandela became a free man in 1990 when he walked away from cell in which he was imprisoned.  Perhaps many remember him for his bravery.  Others may remember him for his ability to hold back any resentment towards his captors.

But what many may remember most (aside from his smile) was when he united a nation through rugby.  It may be better understood as the capstone of his movement to unite South Africa.

There is no better example of how he seduced all races than the day South Africa beat New Zealand in the 1995 rugby World Cup final.

As best explained by CBS Sports:  “Rugby had been the white man’s sport — the green jersey a potent symbol of apartheid for blacks. But here was South Africa’s first black president being cheered as he walked onto the field wearing one.”

Journalist John Carlin added:

“For the first time ever, both black and white South Africans wanting one common goal, which was for the team to win.  It was the moment when white South Africa crowned Mandela king, and to have achieved that is, I think, one of the great political achievements of all time.”

There is so much more to Nelson Mandela’s heroic life.  I urge everyone to read more about the man’s struggles, sacrifices, and bravery.

For two full articles, read here and here.

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Social Media In Sports

Why social marketing should be part of the plan

Discover Orange BowlDiscover conducts its Fan Loyalty Poll twice per month, the results of which should be taken into consideration when setting up a marketing plan.  The poll concluded that 50 percent of college football fans cheer on their teams through social media.

Week six of the poll found the following:

  • One-third of college football fans use social networks while watching their favorite team.
  • Seven percent comment on opposing teams, and only three percent criticize their team.
  • 31 percent of college football fans do all of the above.
  • 56 percent of millennials log on to social media during a game.

With these statistics, it’s clear that many companies are likely to find their target markets within the college football landscape.  Careful consideration should be taken when initiating a social marketing plan.  Because of the polling, Discover is helping to sway that consideration.  For instance, even older college football fans are logging on to social media during games:

  • Age 40 to 49 – 40 percent
  • 30 to 39 – 38 percent
  • 50 to 64 – 26 percent
  • 65 and older – 17 percent

There is no denying the facts when given the numbers.  The college football landscape is full of business opportunities, it just takes some digging to find out exactly where the numbers lie.

In this case, Discover may have been doing its own marketing by releasing the poll results.  It’s interesting to note that Discover is the official presenter of the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl on January 3.  Nice work Discover.

You can read more here.

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Sports Sponsorship

Cal football partners with Kabam for stadium naming rights

Cal's Kabam FieldStadium naming rights are a big deal in the sports industry.  Stadium deals are some of the most lucrative deals in sports, and this one is no different.  Cal football will now be played at Kabam Field.

California Memorial Stadium is a 90-year old facility that holds around 63,000 fans.  Because of its age, the new naming rights deal with Kabam is part of the university’s financial model to pay down the debt on the $321 million renovation and seismic retrofit of the stadium.

The new deal is a big one:  15 years worth $18 million.  Such a deal is important to Kabam, a mobile-gaming company that was founded by three Cal graduates.  With the deal in place, Kabam also hopes to start a scholarship fund for Cal students.

Kabam and Cal have come up with ideas to make the stadium multi-purpose ready.  Vice chancellor, John Wilton explained:

“This is innovative in and of itself.  A lot of stadiums sit idle (after football season). Now we’re going to make for a year-round facility. We’re going to make it another hub of campus.”

Athletic director Sandy Barbour also explained the importance behind a deal with Cal Alumni:

“This is an important partnership for so many reasons.  This was a partnership from minute one. You feel the common values, the reasons there were to do this. This is right. This is really right. This is a great Cal story.”

You can read more here.

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Sports Business

MLS Final features two small-market teams

MLS cup FinalThis year’s MLS Final featured two small market teams:  Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.  While some leagues and owners may see this as a disaster, MLS has taken it to heart.

Small market teams in sports typically represent a “less appealing product” in the eyes of fans.  But the MLS claims that this type of showdown is what American soccer is all about.’s Simon Borg wrote:

Saturday marked “the first time that two teams outside the Top 10 media markets in the country will be contesting the league’s championship match.” While fans of other sports “sometimes roll their eyes with indifference at small-market showdowns, for MLS supporters – even for those from the other 17 teams – this ‘small market’ final is a badge of honor.” 

Perhaps support for this type of matchup can be seen in the numbers too.  Secondhand tickets were selling for around $300 a peace.

What’s more, Alan Black writes:

“Attendance continues to rise. The fan culture grows and is louder than ever. Spectacular describes the scenes in Portland and Seattle.”

And MLS Commissioner Don Garber told

“For us to think for one minute that that is not good for Major League Soccer would be violating one of the core equities that it was founded on…If the larger markets don’t like it, they’ve got to find a way to beat them.”

Even frigid temperatures haven’t kept the fans away.  It appears MLS may finally be catching on in the US.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the league expands in the coming years.

In case you were wondering, Sporting KC pulled out the win in a shootout.

You can read more here.

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Sports Technology

Levi’s Stadium will be loaded with tech

Levi's Stadium TechThe man behind the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium technology is Chief Technology Officer Kunal Malik.  Levi’s Stadium is said to be largely driven by software, which is comprised of existing tech and custom written code that Kunal explains as “like taking a blank piece of paper and redefining the fan experience”.

Two important features of the new stadium include a “real-time dashboard” for game-day fan tech features and a data analytics suite for use by the team’s executives.  A few major tech focuses of Levi’s Stadium are mobile, data analytics and fan experience.

Other focus areas heavily surround the fan.  For instance, fans will be able to order food from their seats by utilizing their smartphones and the stadium’s Wi-Fi.  Attendants will then deliver the food directly to the fan’s seat.  Advanced ticket scanners will also be used to help get 70,000 plus fans into the stadium in a quick fashion.  Need to use the restroom?  Nearly live streaming bathroom line updates will be available to those fans that are using smart phones.

Another area being looked into is a fan loyalty program.  A lot of raw user data will be collected and turned into meaningful insights.  All of this tech will be available to 49ers fans.  Other sports entities that are slated to play at the stadium, such as the San Jose Earthquakes, may see some of the same tech.  Malik added:

“We are first trying to make sure that the 49er experience is prioritized.  We can expand from there. A lot of these things are very reusable.”

With the cost of Levi’s Stadium hovering around $1.3 billion, it better be loaded with the best sports tech available.

You can read more here.

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