This week we had the honor to interview again Dr. Ron Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University in the school of business. Ron also worked for 20 years in sports, including 15 years in the NBA with the Sixers and the Nets, and then four years in the NCAA.
📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on NIL and the NCAA new draft for student athletes’ compensation as well as the potential US boycott of the Olympics in Beijing. Then we talked about the NFLPA and a recent NFT deal. We also discussed the MLB lockout, the sale of the Penguins for $900 million, and his predictions for the Super Bowl and the NBA championship.
🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Ron:
- On what NIL is: “NIL stands for “name, image and likeness. Now let’s go back to the Michael Jordan era of the NBA. It came out of that situation from ’84 to ’99, ’98. He played with the Bulls. The question was: “when he was doing things like the iTunes, the Loony Tunes commercial, could he use the Chicago Bull jersey with Jordan and Chicago Bulls written on it, with Jerry West, the NBA silhouette?” The answer was no. No, you’re not allowed to use that, unless you want to cut the NBA and Jerry Reinsdorf at the time. What the Michael Jordan war was, a black or red jersey, same colors as the Bulls. He had Jordan on the front, or he just wore 23. That’s what he was allowed to do. Nowhere did you see Bulls, nowhere did you see the Chicago Bulls, nowhere did you see the NBA silhouette logo. That was the agreement. Who owns that jersey? The agreement is that, the whole Nike jump logo, which is across the globe, is owned by Michael Jordan and the Nike company. The jersey, Chicago Bulls, with Jordan written on the back, number 23, that’s owned by the Chicago Bulls. That’s where the agreement came. With the name, image, likeness, players, male and female, can go out and sell any products they want and get paid for it. Now, that is legendary, that is earth moving landmark decision. That started July 1st, 2021”.
- On what student athletes can do with NIL: “ Student athletes can do a commercial, which has never happened before, whether it’s television or radio. Most of it is coming through the internet with things like social media such as TikTok, Snapchat, all that stuff. My greatest fear was that it was only going to be for male athletes and only for the Power 5 or group of five conferences, which of course is the Big Ten, the SEC is the biggest one for football, Pac-12, Big 12, and the ACC. They’re the five major ones. You could say that in basketball the Big East is probably the non-football one, but definitely a powerhouse for men and women’s basketball. That has not happened. It’s basically the people that are the biggest followers, are the ones that companies will allow and will pay money to the players. Fresno State had two twin basketball players, and they got paid decent money because they had 3 million followers. That’s where we’re at with NIL. All the universities are trying to figure it out as quickly as possible”.
- On the state of NIL right now: “NIL is still exploratory, it’s still evolving, there are no conclusions that we can make out of that, but I’m just glad to see other people, besides men football and men basketball, that are making money. Nick Saban of Alabama claims external money has gotten his quarterback a million dollars. He’s making a million dollars to do certain commercials and endorsement deals, and he wants that word to get spread out there, because he’s like, “Hey,” he wants the next Peyton Manning’s nephew, Eli Manning’s nephew to be the next best quarterback in the country”.
- On the potential US boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing: ”I was unaware of that situation in Beijing. Of course, they hosted the summer games in ’08, so I guess they could do summer and winter, weather wise. The history of boycotting, when you look at where politics collide with sports, normally it ruins sports. I would cite ’36 Berlin Olympics, where Jesse Owens from Ohio state went over there. Germany was trying to display their greatness and how much they’ve recovered from World War I. Of course three years later in ’39, we know how that all ended, right?”.
- On DraftKings and the NFL Player Association announcing a partnership around gamified NFTs: “The whole NFT thing is the modern day baseball cards, but it’s NFTs, they’re numbered. I have not invested any money into it when I was a child, I loved collecting the baseball cards, like every other person. I can understand something tangible like that, why it has value of the Honus Wagner card here in Pittsburgh. NFTs being said, if people understand that and they believe that they will hold their value like Bitcoin, crypto, and some of these other things, that’s one thing. Why the NBA and the NFL would get involved in it is another thing. Betting is here to stay”.
- On the MLB lockout: “Right now we have something called a lockout. That’s when the owners lock the door, they tell the players, “Do not show up for work. We are suspending business, we are not paying you. We realize, with the agreement in place, which has expired, we’re not allowed to use your name, your image, your likeness to sell tickets for 2022”. So all we can use in basketball, we had the same thing happen to us in ’98, ’99, that we had to sell the cheerleader logo, the mascot, the coaches, anybody in the front office do you want put out there, that’s how you had to sell a team. That’s a hard way to sell, not using the players”.
- On the potential outcome of the MLB lockout: ”The long and short story of it is, the owners are pointing at, “Hey, we’ll spend money. We just spent 1.7 million”. The players are like: “Well, that was only for a handful of players.” They’ve already suspended spring training. I don’t know if they’re going to do the winter games or not. They’re going to have winter meetings, because there’s really not much to talk about. They’re normally in the middle of December every year, right around now. I got a feeling this may drag into February, March, April, maybe even May. What’ll happen is, and the owners are counting on this, that on the players’ side, you’re going to have the Max Scherzers of the world, who’s probably on his last contract, or one of his last contracts at 37. He’s like, “Look, I want my money.” At the same time, Mookie Betts, Harper for the Phillies, and Wright, who was MVP, will all say, “Look, we’ve got to start playing, because every game we don’t play, I lose 162 of my salary,” right? They get paid on a basis of 162 games. The younger players are going to say : “Yeah, but when you’re retired in three to five years, what about us?” We’re going to be stuck with the salary going from what in ’16, at 12 million, the average salary drop down to $6 or $7 million”. Well, that’s a fundamental problem because that’s the majority of the players, not the outliers on both sides. The players union would also love to see the minimum wage go from $570k to maybe a million, but the owners aren’t going to let that happen (..) It’s an afterthought and baseball can’t afford a long absence because they’re going to fall behind hockey as the fourth sport, out of the top four in the United States.”
- On the purchase of the Penguins (NHL) for $900M by Fenway Group: “I think the John Henry group called the Fenway Group up in Boston, really wanted to have a play in the NHL. The six original NHL teams are very valuable. They’re probably worth at least 900 million, if not more. That would be of course the Boston Bruins, Montreal, Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, and they were not available. Now, I have some Bostonian friends that I went to college with at St. Joe’s and they’re upset. The city of Boston is upset that John Henry, who reversed the curse of Babe Ruth and won four world series, starting with the one in ’04. For the Red Sox fans, they are thinking: “why didn’t he buy the Bruins?” Well, he didn’t buy the Bruins because they weren’t available. You could see where, and LeBron James has a piece of this company by the way. A small piece, but a piece nonetheless. You could see where it would be a conflict of interest to own multiple teams in the same league. You could see that, it’s very obvious. If I can only have one team, but I can’t buy the Bruins, so I’ll buy the Pittsburgh penguins (..) Penguins fans should be thrilled because the Fenway Group does not move franchises. Look what they did, you know it better than I do, in Liverpool. They turned that team around. They also turned the team around with the Red Sox, reversing the curse. They’re going to draft better too. They’re going to use analytics, they’re going to draft, sign free agents and they’re going to make better trades, and this franchise will win more cups under this new ownership”.
- On his belief that the New England Patriots could win the Super Bowl this year :”Yeah, I think the Patriots will win the Super bowl this year. The Patriots’ running game is phenomenal. You saw what they did in Buffalo last weekend. The thing about the running game, it travels and the other thing about defense, they probably have the best defense in the AFC. Defense travels, their quarterback, who’s a rookie and inexperienced, only had to throw the ball three times and they beat one of the best teams in the AFC. Of course, there were going 40 mile an hour. Now the Pats have not found the new Tom Brady though. There’s only one Tom Brady. The kid from Alabama’s not Tom Brady, but he is good enough to win in that system. It’s a great system. February 13th, on a Sunday, that’s the Super Bowl and that’s my prediction”.
- On his predictions for the NBA championship this year: “I think the Bucks are going to win the East again, but Golden State (Warriors)’ going to get some of their other players back, and I think Golden State has one last run in them before they break that team up”.
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