Published February 15, 2011 - 1:07pm
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As the football season comes to an official end in both NCAA and the NFL, the headlines turn away somewhat from on-the-field aspects of the game and more to the business side of the game. With national signing day having come and gone, we don’t even have high school prospect videos to watch and debate; thus, increasing the business discussion of football.
Depending on your point of view, this might be a good or a bad thing. For me, the business side of football is indeed intriguing and something I enjoy discussing. What else should we be doing in the offseason? Watching pre-March madness basketball? Please.
Tim Tebow taught me something very important about the business of football – I watched the Tim Tebow documentary that aired on ESPN last month. It was excellent. One of the biggest takeaways from the documentary was learning about the business of Tim Tebow and how big it actually is. Tim Tebow the person, the athlete, the man. Combined, it equated to big time money. In the documentary, it was incredible to see just how many resources went into Tim Tebow as he prepared for the draft. Whether it was agents, lawyers, his family, trainers, nutritionists, quarterback coaches, corporate jets, world class facilities, etc. it was all an investment into the business of Tim Tebow. And the payoff was indeed worth it. Why allocate so much time, money and energy into the development of Tebow? Because the return justifies it. The return was nothing short of a huge contract with the Broncos, numerous endorsements and expanding the reach and quality of the brand of Tim Tebow.
Cam Newton is now duplicating this process that Team Tebow executed a year ago. The process has already begun with media workouts and attempts to, essentially, market the talents, abilities, and brand of Cam Newton. While some dismiss it as arrogant or silly to hold media workouts, the reality is that it is business – and smart business. The business of Cam Newton is big and growing (spare me the Auburn jokes at this point, please). Football analysts are becoming increasingly high on Newton’s abilities and now Under Armour has reportedly signed Newton to a record rookie endorsement deal.
NFL negotiations are also on full display right now as the players battle the owners over a number of business aspects of the NFL. Revenue sharing, length of season, and a number of other items are under negotiation, and reports are that the negotiations are not progressing well. Even as the possibility of a lockout approaches, as a football fan, the dumbest thing you can do is dismiss this process as nothing more than two sides that are just greedy for more money. It’s much more complex than this. The NFL is a business that generates and drives revenues in the billions of dollars and as such, there are a number of variables that go into it.
As a college fan, it will become increasingly interesting to see how the NFL negotiations impact the draft, the combine and the future of those college athletes that decided to leave college early amidst a high level of uncertainty.
The college game is far from immune to the impacts of big dollars and big business, and one only needs to look to the summer of 2010 as a prime example. Last summer brought a massive reminder that the game is very much dictated by business – that time in the form of conference realignment and expansion. As conferences and major programs clamor for television contracts and more revenue, big business trumps tradition and conference loyalty.
Like many, I would assume that this conference shifting/expansion/realignment is not over, and will again re-surface at some point. A deteriorating Big 12 conference will likely be the catalyst. Conferences like the Southeastern Conference will indeed look to grow market share, penetrate new markets and boost revenues – sounds very much like a business, no? As Saturday Down South contributor Paul Atwood wrote recently, we’re in a new era of college football – one which the business terms used above are just as important as terms like play calling, recruiting, and coaching.