Posted on: February 27, 2009 3:30 pm

Sports and the Economy


This has been a tough winter for professional sports. It was a tough free agent market in MLB where many teams just refused to spend how they have in the past. The Yankees went crazy, but very few teams spent what they used to, and many free agents had to settle for less. The same story is happening in the NFL where many of the top free agents are getting their money, but many of the lesser ones will have to settle for less. The NBA announced they will borrow $175 million to loan to struggling teams. The AFL cancelled their 2009 season. The list goes on.

But when you consider the struggling US and world economies, sports are an excellent source of discressionary consumption spending on two fronts. First of all, think about it. What is the constant gripe about professional athletes? They get paid too much money and spend it on stupid stuff like bling and fancy clothes. Why didn't the first stimulus payment thing Bush passed in 2008 work? Instead of wasting their rebate checks, people paid bills and saved the money. Pro athletes are swimming in money at a very young age, so they waste it. What better people to put money in the hands of if you want to stimulate the economy? Is it fair or ethical? Shouldn't this money be helping poor people? Probably, but if you consider all the jobs these athletes save and businesses they suppport through all the stuff they buy and do, the effect is great.

Further, think about sports and the average consumer. Think about how much money sports fans waste spend on sports. Think about ticket sales, merchandise, cable and satellite tv packages, consessions, travel, and large electronics. Without sports, presumably people would find other things to waste their money on, but probably not to the same extent as they do with sports. Considering the enduring emotional attachment people have to their favorite teams and cities, there is no way people would spend just as much if they got really into some other hobby.

This is all without mention of ad revenue, tv contract revenue, and endorsement deals that all provide revenue and spending power in the lucrative sports industry.

From all of this, it seems clear to me that sports are an essential piece of our economy. I haven't bothered to look up any numbers or statistics on this, but I think my logic holds. Certainly in a tough economy like this, some people aren't as willing to shell out the money for season tickets or flying down to Arizona to see spring training, but I believe the pull back on sports spending will be far less severe than the pull back in other areas. Further, this past quarter, Comcast showed larger than usual increases in cable subscriptions. This shows that potentially many people will choose not to renew their season tickets, but instead will buy a NFL Sunday Ticket type package to compensate. I feel like for the economy to recover, sports have to survive and lead the way.
Category: General
Posted on: January 8, 2009 8:57 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2009 8:59 pm

New BCS Playoff System

Two questions entered my mind when watching pregame for the BCS National Championship game tonight.


1) Who is should be this year's national champion? The winner of the Florida/Oklahoma game? Utah? Texas? USC? There won't be consensus.


2) Why haven't Florida and Oklahoma played before this game? This one has a simple solution. Unlike college basketball where a major component of making the NCAA tournament is strength of schedule and quality wins, this is not the case for football. In the football rankings and polls, wins and losses generally prevail. This is why teams schedule unbalanced schedules in terms of home/road games, and why teams schedule creampuff opponents consisting of FCS and Division II teams.


To address these two issues, I think most people believe there should be a playoff at this point. Here's my solution.


In 2009 there will be 120 FBS teams. Lets have 10 conferences of 12 teams. Each team will play an 11 game schedule comprised entirely of their conference. No more creampuff schedules. The teams with the top two records in each conference will play a conference championship game. The winner will make a 10 team playoff.


Currently there are 11 conferences plus 3 independents (Army, Navy, and ND). Conferences today range from 8-13 teams each. This will obviously mean rearranging conference ties. How can the Big Ten not have 10 teams? It already has 11. One conference will have to be completely dissolved and teams rearranged. Most historical rivalries and traditions will stay in tact, but I can't think of a conference where there's not a team or two who could move. Would teams in BCS conferences want to move to Mid-Majors? Of course. Why wouldn't they like a better opportunity to win the conference and enter the playoff? This will also lead to more parity in recruiting and competition. Players would want to win championships by lifting a Mid-Major team through a poor conference instead of being one of several top players in a powerhouse conference in which only one team can win.


There can be regular season rankings, whether BCS or AP, as there are today, but the final rankings, published after the conference championship games will be used to seed the conference champs going into the tournament.  The 7 seed will play 10, and the 8 seed will play 9. The lower seed who wins will face 1, and the higher seed who wins will play 2. This is similar to the NFL system of byes. From there we have an 8 team tournament, which means three more weeks of games before a champion is crowned.


The 9 games in the playoff will comprise the 9 largest bowls. The other bowl games can still exist, separate from the playoff system. This will create better matchups in the bowl games. Since the 9 largest bowl games will be played by 10 different teams instead of 18, we will have less bowl games pairing two 6-6 teams. The other bowl games will be played during the week between weekend playoff games. They will still be scheduled according to approximate quality as they are now.


This system means all teams will play a minimum of 11 games and a maximum of 16. Most teams would play 11 or 12 (only regular season or regular season plus a bowl). I'd prefer to keep the season short, so that means no bye weeks unless you make the playoff as a 1-6 seed. The playoffs begin the week following the conference championship games. I wouldn't mind skipping conference championship games and instead relying on regular season performance only.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or