Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hello Europe

I grew up watching basketball stars like Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant. All great players- yes. One thing that started their careers though is that they never went to college. They went from doing high school math to staring at millions of dollars. Three years ago, the NBA made in mandatory for high school graduates to go to college for at least one year before entering the draft.

As a result, highly talented high school basketball players, while some still went to college, found a way to get the immediate payday they desired. Many of the high school stars are African Americans from tough financial situations, and money for their family can't come soon enough. High school graduates have been going to Europe to play for a year instead of college. They are able to see the world, gain experience, and make some money. Most notably, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings did this last year. He was drafted 7th overall with many scouts surprised he went so high. Why? Because he only averaged single digits points in Europe league for an entire year. Although athletes make money, many NBA scouts feel like the European game is much different than the NBA, and attribute a lot of European busts, like Darko Milicik, to the game being so different.

However, a trend may be starting. Jennings is averaging over 20 points a game in his first NBA season. He has lead the Bucks to a winning record and proved he was worthy of a 7th pick- thus far. What's alarming is the implications this could have for the NCAA. They are losing talented players to Europe that bring them millions of dollars from advertising college basketball games and the March Madness tournament. What the NBA should do is let college kids go pro after graduating. The NBA claims they're not mature enough. But if you wanna see mature players, check the list at the top of the page. The NBA has brought in many stars from high school. After all, can't 18 year olds make their own adult decisions?

Tiger-less Tour

For the past few weeks, many people have been cracking jokes about the once beloved Tiger Woods and his private life chaos. Tiger was one of the most respected athletes in the game. He always had a smile on his face and the right things to say. After admitting his involvement with women besides his wife and being questioned for hitting a tree with his car at two in the morning, Tiger seems to be on heading on a slippery slope. He has lost sponsorship with Nike and Accenture, and is facing the loss of more. However, Tiger is worth a few billion dollars, and the sponsorships, although damaging to his reputation, don't affect his financials.

It's not Tiger's situation that should worry people, it's the amount of time he may be off the course to deal with the issues. When Tiger wasn't on tour last year for knee surgery, viewing took a major hit. People barely wanted to see tournaments unless Tiger and his fist pump were present. It's the loss of viewers CBS and other stations will lose that's troubling. Just as Tiger had more young kids interested in golfing, he ruins his reputation AND isn't going to be on TV for possible months. The situation, in reality, is tough for Tiger. Especially since most think he is such a good guy. It's implications to the golf world and the upcoming tour, however, is far worse to the sports world.

A New Face for Nascar?

For years NASCAR has been growing. Fans have been able to connect with driver's and NASCAR has done a great job with sponsorships, new camera angles, and finding ways to make 3 hours of racing laps exciting. Over the past few years, however, NASCAR has lots its edge. NASCAR focuses most of its marketing attention on lower class citizens. People who know what it is like to sit around and enjoy a beer or work on their car on Saturday. Because of this, the sport has seemed to level out in growth. Most of NASCAR's growth started with them bringing more people to the sport, including African Americans and other minorities in the late 1970's. Perhaps, in today's setting, there is another marketing idea that could have NASCAR back into growing mode.

On the other side of things, in the world of Formula One, Danica Patrick has been climbing the charts of success. She has even been talking to NASCAR lately about joining, which make her the first female ever. This is a great idea for NASCAR. It allows women to connect with the sport more, and opens up marketing opportunities for NASCAR as well. Marketing a young, sexy women in the sport will draw attention from males and females alike. She has a zest to her, including an altercation with another driver in Formula One where she brushed his shoulder. This move would have NASCAR back on its feet, and just as it was with minorities and the sport years ago, this is another move NASCAR can make to prove to the world they accept everybody.