Tag Archives: games

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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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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College Athletes Can Now Make Money

It’s been a long time coming, but finally college athletes can make money! A new NCAA policy allows student athletes to earn compensation by marketing their name, image, or likeness (NIL). This is a big shift in policy from the NCAA which has long banned college athletes from receiving any compensation other than tuition.

The new NIL rule will let student athletes earn income from licensing merchandise, podcasting, offering lessons, promoting brands, opening businesses, and other deals. In addition, student athletes can use their personal brands to earn money. Many athletes have a strong social media presence that can be leveraged into marketing brands and products.

On July 1st, hundreds of student athletes announced deals for NIL.  Big winners right away were sisters Hanna and Haley Cavinder, basketball players at Fresno State who are now spokespersons for Boost Mobile. Auburn football players Bo Nix and Shaun Shivers also announced partnership deals (with Milo’s Tea and Yoke respectively).

Some athletes will be paid for appearances, others will endorse products for payments, and still others are launching merchandise lines. The deals are not necessarily tied to sports. Athletes are now able to earn income from gigs as musicians, designers, and artists also.

It’s important to note that of the hundreds of thousands of college athletes, many will not benefit from the NIL policy. Athletes still cannot be paid directly by colleges beyond their attendance costs, nor are athletes to be considered employees of the colleges. But the opportunities are now there and will certainly influence sports and business.

The times are indeed changing.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion on the new NCAA policy that allow student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness?
  2. What are the positives and negatives for the policy?
  3. How will this policy impact marketing activities?
  4. Show video about the college athlete pay debate: https://youtu.be/q8dtMX_wXNY
  5. Show Open Sponsorship website: https://opensponsorship.com/
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop ideas on how businesses could use college athletes in their marketing.

Source:  Ad Week; Assoc. Press; CNBC; NBC Sports; New York Times; other news sources

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