Tag Archives: Fitness

Finally March Madness Applies to Women’s Basketball, Too!

By chance did you watch the NCAA Final Four Basketball? It was an incredible final match-up with Univ. of Connecticut and South Carolina, with So. Carolina the final champion. What a game!

Oh wait. Sorry. Did you think I meant the men’s final? Not this year – it was the women getting some equity and coverage. Finally.

Remember last year’s disparity in how the men’s and women’s teams were treated? The issue caught fire online and the outrage caused an outside review of the NCAA’s treatment of the tournaments. The 200-page report stated that the NCAA “prioritized men’s Division I basketball over everything else” – including broadcast agreements, sponsorships, distribution of revenue, and culture.

Not only were locker rooms and equipment clearly unequal (among many other issues!), but the women’s tournament wasn’t even allowed to call itself ‘March Madness’. Only the men’s tournament could use “March Madness” branding. And we all know how powerful branding is for business.

In response to the report’s findings, there were a lot of changes made this year and you may have noticed expanded media coverage as one of the changes. It seemed as if suddenly sports journalists discovered just how powerful women’s basketball was with audiences.

The final championship game was the most-watched women’s national championship since 2004. The 4.85 million viewers on ESPN was an increase of 30% from 2019. The full NCAA Division I women’s tournament averaged 634,000 viewers/game for an increase of 16% from last year. In terms of hours of TV viewing, it was roughly 4.1 million more hours of viewing this year versus 2021!

The research report also found that NCAA has left tens of millions of dollars on the table due to its NOT recognizing the earning potential of the women’s tournament. Estimates are that the women’s tournament could bring in as much as $100 million in broadcast payments. That’s revenue that NCAA can’t afford to miss!

Think about it for a minute. The math is simple.

More viewing hours means more opportunity for marketing and advertising.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who watched the women’s tournament? Who watched the men’s tournament? Why or why not?
  2. Show video of last year’s discrepancies: https://youtu.be/ozGknW86DWA
  3. (Optional) Video of the money behind March Madness: https://youtu.be/ubqGb4_iJMI
  4. Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
  5. For NCAA, break students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis grid.
    1. Strengths: what is company good at?
    1. Weaknesses: what needs work?
    1. Opportunities: what is going on in marketplace?
    1. Threats: what should company be wary of?
  6. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  7. Where would the women’s basketball tournaments fit into the grid?

Source:  Baccellieri, E. (18 March 2022). March madness faced a gender reckoning. Now everyone gets a pasta station – but what else? Sports Illustrated.; Bachman, R. (15 March 2022). A year later, women’s NCAA tournament has more teams, more sponsors and ‘March Madness’. Wall Street Journal.; other news sources.

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Plant Milks Keep Growing

What is your favorite milk drink? And, no, we don’t mean do you prefer skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk. Because today there are more “milks” available to consumers than just dairy milks.

There are numerous plant-based milks available made from various nuts, seeds, grains, and even vegetables. But the latest is one you might not be familiar with on your morning cereal – it’s a plant milk made from – wait for it – potatoes! The new potato milk is made by Swedish company Dug Drinks and is already being sold in Great Britain with distribution in the U.S. planned later this year.

Dug is far from alone as a non-dairy milk on the shelves and in coffee shops. With a growth in health-conscious diets such as vegan and non-animal food fare, the market has seen a proliferation in food and drink plant-based substitutes made from oats, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, and more. Plant-based foods are trending up as consumers gain interest in sustainability, health, and ethical practices. And of course the pandemic’s impact on supply chain also pushed people to try different products when their old reliable products were not easily available.

“Milk” drinks alone are a large category of products. Sales of plant-based milks in the U.S. were an estimated $2.5 billion at the end of the year, accounting for 15% of all retail milk sales and 35% of all plant-based foods. Repeat sales of the beverages averages 75% for a high level of retention. And, plant-based milk is one of the most developed plant-based food categories and is consistently shelved next to dairy milk.

Most plant-based milks are made the same way; the main ingredient is soaked in water, then pressed or blended into a puree. This is then filtered to remove particles, and additional ingredients may  be added to gain better texture and flavor.

However, the drinks also carry a political weight; the dairy industry had been petitioning the U.S. Food and Drink Administration to prohibit the  term “milk” label for all non-dairy products. And many drinks made from nuts can have adverse environmental impacts, particularly when water is scarce in communities. But, the category is quite innovative and keeps growing to offer additional plant-based drinks and foods.

Now that you know some of the options, what is your favorite milk?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Poll students: What are reasons for people to consume plant-based foods?
  3. Show a brief video about the rise of plant milk: https://youtu.be/yoAeuJlt7qo
  4. Have students use laptops to review various plant-based milk drinks.
  5. Oatly oat milk: https://www.oatly.com/en-us
  6. Dug potato milk: https://dugdrinks.com/
  7. Silk almond milk: https://silk.com/
  8. Ripple plant milk: https://www.ripplefoods.com/
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for a plant-based drink. What are the two axis labels they will use?
  10. What happens if the axis labels change?

Source:  Petersen, V. (28 February 2022). Have we reached peak plant milk? Not even close. New York Times.

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A New Sport Takes the Stage – Pickleball!

Quick question: What is one of the fastest growing sports in America?

Answer: Pickleball!

Surprised by the answer? Does pickleball conjure up images of old fogies slowly meandering around a small tennis court? Well, pickleball might have been first adopted by an older crowd, but it quickly made inroads into a younger people.

What is pickleball? Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Three dads on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle, Wash.) are credited with inventing the sport in 1965 to have fun with their family members. Creating a court and improvising equipment and rules, the first permanent pickleball court was built in 1967. In 1972 a corporation was formed to protect the new sport and by 1976 the first known pickleball tournament was held in Washington state. By 1990 pickleball was being played in all 50 states.

The popularity of the new sport grew quickly. By 2021, the USA Pickleball Association estimated that more than 4.8 million people played pickleball.  Community organizations, tennis clubs, and athletic gear companies have all gotten in on the new sport. Professional pickleball players abound – many are former pro tennis players – and tournaments can found around the nation.

What are you waiting for? Get in on the action!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What are favorite sports? Which sports do the students play?
  2. Who has played pickleball? Describe their experiences.
  3. Show USA Pickleball website: https://usapickleball.org/
  4. Have students research pickleball gear: https://www.pickleballcentral.com/
  5. Show videos of Pickleball on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4vHhZ03O0PI
  6. Have students search for “pickleball” on social media.
  7. How does the cost of pickleball compare to other sports?
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a promotion plan for pickleball.

Source:  Plummer, T. (Feb. 18, 2022). Pickleball is ready for Prime Time. New York Times.

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