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No Matter Who Wins, America Won’t Change

If a mangled country is beyond repair, and the candidates are as phony as the election itself, the best advice Tuesday is to watch a movie and try to stay safe in a volatile moment in U.S. history.

Jay Mariotti

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First there was a blue moon on Halloween, in freaky tandem with a red Mars. Now, on the first Tuesday of the rest of our frazzled lives, a President with orange hair will try to win re-election. He isn’t to be trusted. His rival isn’t to be trusted. The media, the vote-counting, the results, the inevitable waiting … all resemble a sham in progress. It would be an opportune time to flee, but few countries will have us, viewing Americans as coronavirus-coated zombies.

Zombie Companies Feasting on Coronavirus Relief Funds Hurt Growth -  Bloomberg

“Gonna be the Change, the Change, the Change!” comes the rally song of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as if new leadership can control the virus, quell the anger and bring a purposeful equilibrium to whatever this nation has become. The America of November 2020 likely will be the America of 2021 and far beyond, our lost past and mangled present bleeding into a dreary future no matter who wins. A hybrid of esteemed leaders could be resurrected and tasked, and nothing would Change, Change, Change. I still have “The Pledge of Allegiance” memorized from my schoolboy days, but some of the words are different. We are not one nation anymore, nor under a God that is recognizable — and we obviously are divisible, with liberty and justice still reserved for the privileged and moneyed.

Not far from the famed Santa Monica Pier, where millions used to flock to the iconic neon sign for a blast of California, stores and restaurants are boarded up. This seaside town I call home, once filled with vacationers and surfboarders, is prepared for the same rioting, looting and violence that left the city in ruins last spring. I came to Los Angeles for the hokey American dream. I’m left with a grotesque thought: An earthquake or a tsunami might be a better fate if protests explode into madness, the police fire back, and the city turns into a war zone.

I also might make a suggestion: Do you really want to torture yourself with hours of TV soul-sucking when Election Night would be better spent with wine, pizza, edibles and enough Netflix binge-watching to stretch into bedtime? Sports are shut down, except for European football and women’s tennis from Japan, which is appropriate, as no U.S. sports event ever will match the magnitude and gathering bedlam of this indescribable chapter in ignominy. Donald Trump vs. The World is our sport in 2020 and has been for a while. If he loses, no bulldozer or crane may be large enough to dislodge him from the White House, though he has publicly maintained at least 39 times since February that COVID-19 was going away.

But I’m not sure he’s going to lose, or whether the actual result will be known for days or weeks or months … or ever. If we’ve learned nothing else from 2020, it’s to expect what is farthest from the norm. Four more years of Trump would be just that, a deeper venture into a tragicomical apocalypse. A Biden victory would be a shift toward a calmer America, but I don’t think a better America. All I know is, I’m queasy, having just read a story about a nationwide spike in gun sales. We all want to be hopeful, but realism and shelter are the smarter plays when our faith has been completely shaken.

A mask? Hell, I’m looking for a bulletproof ensemble, head to toe. This country has been building toward a violent cultural explosion for years. Vegas, I suspect, is taking prop bets on it.

You may ask, “Why aren’t you sticking to sports like they are at other sports sites?” Because sports never has been less relevant in my time on Planet Earth, which has included wars and terrorism and too many natural disasters to count. Do you really care right now that Bill Belichick is 2-5 and  has lost the divorce to Tom Brady? That the Buccaneers are taking a dumb gamble on Antonio Brown, who is more likely to end up in a Tampa jail than a Super Bowl end zone at Raymond James Stadium? That the Steelers are 7-0 in a monstrous AFC, while Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are the NFC’s best? That Tua Tagovailoa only has to manage the Dolphins’ offense if their defense is that punishing? That Jerry Jones again looks like the world’s richest football fool with his Mike McCarthy hire? That Crazy Jerry Reinsdorf hired 76-year-old Tony La Russa to manage the White Sox only because Kid Gleason wasn’t available? If you need sports to escape from politics and stress, I sort of get it. If you need sports because it’s all that interests you, well, that’s why Kanye West is on the ballot.

I officially stopped caring about sports until further notice — or the end of the world, whichever comes first — the night Justin Turner decided his desire to celebrate a World Series title with his Dodgers teammates took precedence over his COVID-19 infection. Major League Baseball, hardly upstanding itself with a history of lies and scandals, predictably assailed Turner without taking questions about its own suspicious testing timeline in the 36 hours before Game 6. “It is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of the others,” MLB said in a statement. “When MLB security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.” Yet, almost a week later, we’ve yet to hear an apology from Turner or an explanation from commissioner Rob Manfred about why a system lag would allow Turner to play into the eighth inning Tuesday night when he originally tested Monday. I realize baseball dawdles about everything, including a pace-of-play crisis that ultimately will destroy the game, but Manfred is as culpable as Turner when a system out of a Utah lab — Utah? — is slow and negligent.

In 2020, I care about COVID and social justice protests. I don’t care much about games. Yet leagues continue to plow on, through landmines, in their nauseating pursuit of TV revenue before a possible industry crash in 2021. What, you thought sports was immune from a virus shutdown just because it crammed in a few bastardized seasons this year? If you haven’t noticed, the pandemic could be even more destructive next year. “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” said the infectious-disease rock star, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a Washington Post story. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter seasons, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Same goes for sports. If fans aren’t returning to stadiums and arenas in more than a smattering, leagues might prefer to close shop than deal again with positive tests, team quarantines, mask politics and scheduling chess. Manfred pocketed the $1 billion TV payout for the cash-bleeding owners and scrammed from sight, with MLB uncertain to return next season until owners are assured sufficient numbers of fans in the seats. The NBA wants to start next month, with the usual five-game Christmas fare, to avoid $1 billion in losses if it started in January. The NFL, which now plays games regardless of positive tests inside team facilities, is just hoping to have 13,000 fans in attendance at the Super Bowl.

Jackson: Silence at empty Broncos, NFL stadiums never sounded so terrible

And college football? Wouldn’t you know that Clemson megastar Trevor Lawrence, the COVID-iot who became an activist in demanding the season be played, tested positive and will miss the season’s biggest game to date at Notre Dame? “I hate that I can’t be there,” he said, “but I’ll be watching from isolation and pulling for our guys while I wait for the opportunity to rejoin the team.” A better idea? Stay healthy, forget the Heisman Trophy and opt out for the NFL draft, whenever that might be. It’s a disgrace to our educational system watching university presidents and wealthy coaches acting like loons, asking non-paid athletes to keep producing revenues by playing games on virus-stricken campuses. Sensing the football landscape will be ravaged by COVID victims by next month, I say they’re better off shutting down the season. Of course, with the College Football Playoff windfall awaiting in January, that’s not happening.

Said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, whose team has dealt with COVID issues but now stands to benefit: “He’s the best player in college football. But the virus is indiscriminate. It doesn’t care. The virus is going to do what the virus does.”

Not exactly the “Win One for the Gipper” speech from Knute Rockne, but 2020 is not 1928. We have made it through baseball, basketball and hockey without anyone dying — though, if family or friends got sick, the leagues wouldn’t tell us anyway. The most condensed stretch of sports in American history is pared down to the NFL and college seasons, both stumbling, and the Masters in two weeks, which still sounds bizarre without patrons or azaleas or a competitive Tiger Woods.

You do realize who made sports possible in a pandemic? That would be President Trump, who thinks the economy is better when rich friends who own sports teams aren’t losing their asses. If not for Trump’s urging to finish seasons, LeBron James, for instance, wouldn’t have won his fourth NBA championship in the DIsney World Bubble. That hasn’t stopped James from continuing his endless attacks on Trump via an Election Eve embrace of Barack Obama, who appeared on James’ HBO program, “The Shop.”

Said the 44th U.S. President: “We’re trying to make sure that people understand the stakes in this upcoming election. We all drew inspiration from the protests and activism that sprung up as a consequence of George Floyd’s murder and the awakening we started to see with the young people, including my daughters, who were saying to the American people and to their government, `We expect better.’ “

Said James: “We love this country. It’s the greatest country in the world. But we also want to see more love than hate. There are a lot of things going on in the community and in our country that is being affected by hate. We know it won’t change overnight or next year, or a year after, but hopefully in 50 years, when my grandkids are walking around, they can say, `My papa was in that moment’ when they see change.”

As for the 45th U.S. President, he was thrilled to see a video of trucks, driven by pro-Trump drivers, surrounding a Biden campaign bus between Austin and San Antonio. The Biden staffers were so freaked, they called 911 and canceled two scheduled stops.

“I LOVE TEXAS!” Trump tweeted.

The ideal American President, if you believe cinema, was the character played years ago by Michael Douglas. The election to determine the next American President, in real life, is made for another Michael.

Michael Buffer.

Michael Buffer is back in Philly and ready to rumble on the set of 'Creed  II'

I won’t be watching the rumble.

BSM Writers

Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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BSM Writers

Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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