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First Take Debates The Fairness Of NBA’s Return

“During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.”

Ricky Keeler

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This week, NBA teams will be heading into the bubble down in Walt Disney World outside of Orlando, Florida to prepare for the resumption of the season. Players have to be feeling the concern of heading into an unknown that has never been done before. And on top of that stress, this is all being done in one of the USA’s COVID-19 hot spots.

New Orleans’ Pelicans guard J.J. Redick addressed those concerns to the media last week in terms of the comfort level or lack thereof that players feel. 

On Monday’s episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith, Jay Williams, and Dominique Foxworth debated Redick’s concerns and this question was asked: Is it fair to ask players to return under current circumstances?

“That would depend on whether or not it’s fair to ask anybody to go to work in this day and age. If it is unfair to ask anyone to work in this day and age, then of course it is unfair for the players,” Smith answered. “But, if other people are asked to go to work, then it is not unfair for them…We have an economy.”

During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.

“It’s not just about games and that’s the thing that drives me crazy and I am not talking about players. I’m not pointing my finger at the players at all. I’m just addressing those who have this mentality: the health of players are at risk just to play a game. It’s not just a game to thousands upon thousands if not millions of people that the games affect economically and monetarily…It’s a reality that isn’t going anywhere. It’s not a popular thing to say, but I am not trying to be popular. I’m trying to be real.”

Foxworth, a former NFL defensive back and later COO of the NBA Players union, agreed with the premise of dealing with unfairness, but told Smith it was wrong that players have to go to work because others have to go to work since he brought up his friends who are lawyers or have office jobs do not have to go to work. However, he did bring up the point about the NBA not being more than just a game:

“The fact of the matter is this isn’t essential,” Foxworth said. “It helps us all, we love it, we like entertainment. I agree there are people around these teams that don’t make a lot of money and need this opportunity. This ain’t essential. You have the opportunity to say I don’t want to go…It’s not fair to ask them to expose themselves.”

This is another conversation that is tough to have, as Williams suggested, because of the unfairness that exists not only for the NBA players, but people working in essential businesses.

“When you compare health to the economy, protecting health is not getting in the way of economic recovery. Protecting health is the route to economic recovery.  There are levels of unfairness and I don’t like this whole conversation all the way around.”

Smith brought up the key word in the question: ask instead of force “because it is a request.” So, the wording of the question can sometimes be a key factor. He added that the unfairness for the players was the lack of a backup plan by the NBA.

“If we want to talk about the unfairness of what the NBA proposed, it’s the fact that they don’t appear to have a backup plan. Had he mentioned that, that would have resonated even more so.” 

The games are still going to go on later this month as Kendrick Perkins brought up on Twitter on Monday, but the unfairness topic is something that has to have been brought up amongst sports fans with their friends and families and it’s a debate that won’t stop anytime soon as we learn more and more about the bubble. 

Sports TV News

David Kaplan Leaving NBC Sports Chicago

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement.”

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David Kaplan has announced he is departing NBC Sports Chicago. In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Kaplan said a new path opened that he couldn’t turn down.

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement. You’ll still be able to catch me weekday mornings with Jonathan Hood on the Kap and JHood morning show on ESPN 1000. It will also allow me to provide you with more engaging and outstanding content right here on YouTube.”

Kaplan, who will turn 62 this weekend, accepted a buyout offered by NBCUniversal. He has hosted several different shows for the network during his tenure.

“He’s made enormous contributions to our network, and his passion, opinions and love of Chicago’s teams have made him a beloved and respected figure, not just with fans but also his colleagues,” NBC Sports Chicago Vice President of Content John Schippman told The Chicago Sun-Times. “We wish him the best and look forward to seeing what’s next.”

December 30th will be his final day at NBC Sports Chicago. He called his time with the network “an amazing run”.

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Sports TV News

NASCAR Chasing Nearly $1 Billion Annual Rights Fee In Next TV Deal

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport.”

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The current media rights deal for NASCAR with FOX Sports and NBC Sports doesn’t end until after the 2024 season, but the organization is currently plotting what it wants its next deal to look like, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

Currently, NASCAR makes $820 million per year from the two networks. In its new rights deal, it is expected to seek a deal in the neighborhood of $900-950 million range.

NASCAR plans to begin negotiating with its current media partners in the early months of 2023, but is currently happy with FOX and NBC.

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport. Whether that’s pushing more brands and advertisers to spend on Fox and NBC,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Media and Productions Brian Herbst told FOS. “Fox had their third consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. NBC had their second consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. So it’s working for them — both from a viewership and an ad revenue perspective.”

In February of this year, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast that broadcast television “has to be a part” of the organization’s next television rights deal.

As its current media partners, FOX and NBC have exclusive negotiating windows with NASCAR.

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Sports TV News

NFL Sunday Ticket Negotiations With Apple ‘Have Gotten Silly’

“Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

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A report from The Athletic details why the NFL has not announced a new partner for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. David Kaplan claims there have been continued hiccups in the negotiations, mentioning the bargaining has gotten sideways between the league and Apple.

“This negotiation has gotten silly. … Clearly, there’s a problem. I think it’s really clear Apple is learning things they didn’t know,” the anonymous NFL source told Kaplan. “What the conversation is, is Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

The report also details Amazon Prime and YouTube remain in the mix as potential suitors for the service, should talks with Apple and the league fall apart.

The NFL is looking for as much as $3.5 billion annually for rights to the service.

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