#michaeljordan

Daft way to run a business

Why the celebration? CM is all for equal opportunity. Just not equal outcome. As CM said at the time of the US soccer team’s whinging over equal pay, if Megan Rapinoe and team make more revenues and broadcasting rights, pay them “more” than their male counterparts, not the same. Who could forget the almost North Korean level chants of “equal pay” during the Women’s World Cup this year?

How is equal pay remotely sensible for the Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) women’s team, the Matildas? Surely within the women’s team, there are proper stars and average players. Will those pay rates be equalised? So that the women’s soccer supremo that scores the most goals and achieves the highest number of tackles gets paid the same as the forward who can’t score and can’t defend to save herself? Who do the fans want to see? Who powers the turnstiles?

Look to other sports. Lewis Hamilton in F1 gets paid multiples more than fellow competitor, Romain Grosjean. Same job, Same conditions. Same everything. Yet, the 6x world champion gets factor fold levels of advertising dollars, hence he also banks that in his contract. Marc Marquez, the 8x world champion in MotoGP gets paid a fortune. Whereas Tito Rabat does not. Maybe because he is leading most of the time that the race coverage is focused at the front, rather than the back. It is all based on performance and TV exposure. Michael Jordan, Shaq, A-Rod and so on. The cream always gets paid what the market will bear. Some might call the $100mn that Ronaldo gets paid at Real Madrid as excessive but the club wouldn’t pay it if his magic didn’t cover the bills.

Ronaldo has 78 million Twitter followers vs his Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos who has a pitiful 16m. Surprise, surprise. Ronaldo makes more. Rapinoe has 899,700 followers. Should she get paid the same as Ronaldo? US men’s soccer team player Landon Donovan has 1.4m followers. Does the USSF see that the box office is sadly still skewed to the men’s game?

Once again, 260m watched the Women’s Soccer World Cup final in 2019. The 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia saw 1.12bn tune in for the final. 4.3x the audience.

To quote the Football Federation of Australia’s annual report of 2018,

Sydney FC had the honour of hosting the Westfield W-League 2018 Grand Final against
Melbourne City FC at Allianz Stadium. In front of a vocal crowd of 6,025.

Six thousand. Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle can feel a bit better about the abysmal attendance rugby has at home for the domestic series.

The men’s Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets soccer final in 2018 saw 29,410 fans attend that match. 5x that of the women’s final.

Same for the Matildas. They achieved a peak crowd attendance of 16,829. The men’s Socceroo team saw 77,060 supporters at ANZ Stadium on 15 November 2018. 4.6x more fans watched the men’s national team over the women’s. It is nothing to do with gender. Fans prefer the men’s game. Because of that, sponsors are willing to pay for greater exposure.

This is not to denigrate the Matildas. It is to point out that this constant pandering to “equal pay” is a disastrous way to win over fans. Because if the right talent isn’t paid accordingly, an overseas league will quickly bid them away and hollow out the local market. Attendance will drop and the revenues and sponsorship dollars will dry up with it. Doesn’t require rocket science.

Still, get woke, go broke. The Wallabies are proof is in the pudding for management that focuses on inclusivity and diversity instead of accepting reality of what actually pays the bills – the fans. The financials continue to deteriorate.

By all means, if the Matildas smash the Socceroos for revenue, viewership and broadcasting rights then by all mean pay them more, not the same. Welcome to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Australia in 2019 where virtue signalling means more than merit.

Just watch the mainstream media gush at how progressive the FFA is before realising in years to come just how regressive it eventually becomes for the game and how could it have happened?

Slam dunking slavery

When will we reach peak woke on grievance where it actually doesn’t exist? The NBA has decided that the use of the word “owner” is racially insensitive given most of the basketball players are African-American. The idea is that it has links to “slave owner.” Therefore the use of “governor” is deemed more appropriate terminology for the individuals that legally “own” the team.

Hang on a minute, doesn’t Michael Jordan, legendary black basketball player of Chicago Bulls fame, own, sorry, govern the Charlotte Hornets? Will he get an exemption? Perhaps the NBA should have a quiet word about using blonde white supremacist females to promote his basketball wear as being unfair to models from minority backgrounds? Or could it be he doesn’t give a damn, like many of the basketball players held back by the chains of multi-year multi-million dollar contracts?

Steven Curry must be feeling oppressed by his $201m 5yr deal. Perhaps governors can get around the salary cap by including slavery reparations as a component of pay. It would be unconscionable for NBA Governor Adam Silver to deny such action.

This political correctness is just plain stupid. Silver should be sacked. If there were own-goals in basketball, he’s scored it. Let’s see if NBA attendance falls on the back of this crap.

In rare support of Nike

Who could forget Nike’s political stunt in favour of the kneelers supporting BLM? Recall the millions it paid Colin Kaepernick to tell us about the bravery of those sacrificing everything if they believed in it. Social justice is a thang at Nike, at least among the marketing department. Naturally, it provoked a lot of anger from real Americans who served their country, some who paid for it with their lives. Taya Kyle, the war widow of legendary sniper Chris Kyle, wrote a stern letter to Nike which was on the mark.

Now some are taking Nike to task over the sponsorship contracts it holds with superstars, especially females. Nike does not appear to sacrifice everything, especially when it believes it.

Six-time track and field Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix penned an op-ed to The NY Times telling of the cold realities of re-contracting while considering having a child. Sadly the Nike contracting team is probably staffed with icy cold hard-nosed realists compared to the cuddly socially active marketing department.

33-yo Felix said Nike wanted to contract her 70% less after her pregnancy. She wanted the original value to stay in force even if she suffered slight underperformance in the months after childbirth. Her request is totally understandable. Surely Nike could have done some celebrity mother and child adverts to pluck at the heartstrings of the average person? Get all those mothers with newborns to sport a pair of Nike kicks and leotards as they push their strollers to yoga. Just the sort of mush that a marketing department craves.

High-end endorsements are extremely hard to get. The bigger the payout the higher the pressure and expectations thrust upon the star. Contracts are driven by athletic performance and the ability to drive sales off the back of it. These performance-based targets are likely to be written clearly in black and white. It sounds like Felix needed a much better sports agent to negotiate such clauses. Serena Williams had a child and her Nike endorsements rolled on unaffected. The tennis champ even narrated a “dream crazier” advert solely looking at women in sport.

Is Felix’s 70% haircut anything more than Nike’s endorsement team taking a view on her future performance when it comes to which brand ambassadors will keep driving sales? It must have made a judgement call that Felix was past her prime. If we looked at all the females sponsored by Nike, what rank is she within the long list of names? Usain Bolt hung up his golden boots at age 30.

It is unclear how many millions that Felix received from Nike every year. Sponsorship is slightly different from employment. There are lots of caveats in sports contracts which ensure that athletes behave responsibly “outside” the game to reflect the values of the organisation. One might feel some pity that the choice to have a child ruined her contract terms but Nike has not done anything illegal.

It is unlikely that any two Nike superstar endorsement contracts are the same. Michael Jordan ended up with his own brand within Nike. Undoubtedly he was paid better than an up and coming college NFL star. It is most likely that Serena Williams’ contract had many different term and conditions to Allyson Felix. If Felix signed her contract she took on all of the legalities within it, including the fine print. Unlike an employment contract, sponsorships terms can change on a whim.

The Nike sponsorship Rolodex is undoubtedly littered with stars – male and female – in their 30s, re-contracted at far lower rates than when they were in their prime. Felix wouldn’t be alone. Age, rather than maternity was probably the bigger driver for the Nike decision makers. The world of sports is brutal. Unless one is a Valentino Rossi of MotoGP fame, a Roger Federer/Serena Williams in tennis or an Usain Bolt in track & field, ongoing sponsorship tends to fade as these stars get put out to pasture.

Yet we are not Nike and we do not have the full facts of how it grants its limited marketing dollars. Perhaps we should ask why Adidas or Puma aren’t beating a path to Felix’s door to contract her and get some mileage out of the controversy? Nike knows the endorsement field probably better than most. The risk of her defection is minimal at best, therefore, Nike can drive hard bargains. Take it or leave it.