Tag Archives: sports

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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2022: Super Bowl LVI

Winter may be cold, but the Super Bowl game always pumps up the heat! The Super Bowl has become one of the premier venues for marketers. The thrills, the chills, the excitement and surprises – and that’s just the advertisements!

At a cost of a mere $7 million (yes, $7 million) for 30 seconds of air time, the Super Bowl is also the most expensive advertising placement of any event or show. Add to the air time the costs of designing and producing ads, plus the integration into other marketing tactics, and a company can easily spend upwards of $8 million on a single day.

Love them or hate them, Super Bowl advertisements have become a talking point before, during, and after the game. More than 50 brands took out ads designed to help them stand out to consumers, some with high-profile athletes and celebrities such as Serena Williams, Scarlett Johansson, Zendaya, Anna Kendrick, and Mattel’s Barbie. Happily, the E*Trade baby also returned to the game after many years away!

Cryptocurrencies took several ads, with Coinbase using a simple, floating QR code that linked viewers to a site where they could get $15 of free bitcoin. Some brands even focused on their competitors, with Swedish EV manufacturer Polestar taking on Tesla with its simple ad.

This year an audience of 112.3 million adults in the U.S. tuned in to watch the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. The audience increased 16% over last year, including 99.2 million viewers on NBC, 1.9 million viewers on Telemundo (the first Spanish language network to show Super Bowl), and 11.2 million on streaming platforms.

More numbers:

  • Reach of 167 million viewers.
  • Expanded 17-game regular season schedule.
  • 103.4 million viewers of Pepsi halftime show.
  • $7.6 billion in gambling bets.
  • 1.42 billion chicken wings to be consumed during the game.
  • 67 million points of avocados to be consumed during the game.

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Which ad is your favorite this year?  

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Bring up one of the Web sites that have all the Super Bowl ads: https://www.ispot.tv/events/2022-super-bowl-commercials
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a Super Bowl ad to analyze and present in class.
  3. What is the target market, key message, and offer from the ad?
  4. How does the ad integrate with a company’s other advertisements?
  5. Are the messages integrated with a company’s Web site and social media?
  6. As a class, after each commercial have students assign one to five stars for the advertisements. Which advertisement won the class vote?

Source:  Ad Week; NBC; iSpot.tv; Nielsen Research; NY Post; other news sources

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