The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill: Top 5 Moments This Week in Sports (12/11/11)

THE NETWORKS SPORTS TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that occurred during the week in sports in The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill.  Take two minutes out of your day to get our view on what’s going on both on the field (or court) and in the front-offices!

Top 5 Moments from the Week of December 5, 2011

With NBA executives rushing to get ready for training camps, Baylor winning its first Heisman Trophy, and the BCS Championship game set, this week was a fairly active one across the sports world.  But at the end of the day, the week will forever be remembered for another act of God from David Stern and a brawl that filled Twitter timelines.  Here are the 5 moments that topped our list this week:

5.  While there could be an argument for Novak Djokovic being the Sportsperson of the Year, Sports Illustrated certainly selected two very deserving individuals for the honor when they named Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.  Two of the winningest basketball coaches in NCAA Division I history and two of the classiest individuals in the industry. The respect that they have from their current & former players is a strong indication of why they deserve the honor.

4.  In a weekend with a heavy focus on hoops, Indiana Men’s Basketball (under the leadership) of Coach Tom Crean) has restored balance to MBB.  Since Bob Knight’s departure, there hasn’t been this much excitement about the program in Bloomington and after the amazing buzzer-beater on Saturday evening, basketball purists around the country couldn’t be happier to see this program back in the national spotlight.  What a scene it was at Assembly Hall as students, alumni, and fans stormed the floor to celebrate an improbable victory.  In all honesty, something just wasn’t right about not having the Hoosiers competing for an NCAA title, and while this may not be THE year for this team to return to the Final Four…a return to the Championship conversation is surely imminent!

3.  The unfortunate events of the crosstown rivalry between Xavier and Cincinnati will certainly be one of the events that will be remembered this week.  One of the best things about college athletics (or athletics in general) is the great rivalries that have been created over the years and this hoops match-up is certainly one of the best rivalries around.  Unfortunately, over the years it seems as if the rivalry has extended beyond the court and outside of the 48 minutes of quality basketball that fans have come to enjoy.  Early this week on Twitter (yes, social media plays a bit part in this) apparently some UC players made comments that incited the Xavier players, so before the jump ball, tensions were high.  In what ended up to be a less than competitive game on the court escalated into a brawl that is an embarrassment to all involved in sports.  In the end, the two coaches seemed to handle it very well in their press conferences.  Both letting out their raw emotions and feelings of disappointment in the behavior of their players.  Mick Cronin was lauded for his strong words in fact.  Unfortunately, as of Sunday afternoon, the discipline that had been determined was less than many thought it would be with some players receiving 6 game suspensions (which would allow them to play the majority of the conference season). We’re still not sure of what the conferences and/or NCAA will do, but something has to be done as college athletics seems to be getting out of control.

2.  After months of hype and hoopla surrounding Andrew Luck (everyone’s frontrunner for the 2011 Heisman Trophy), Baylor’s Robert Griffin III proved that it does pay dividends to play on the final Saturday of the regular season in college football.  There were at least 7 or 8 legitimate candidates for the Heisman this year including Boise State’s Kellen Moore, USC’s Matt Barkley, and Houston’s Case Keenum, but in the end RGIII’s incredible statistical display, capped off by a win over the rival Texas Longhorns was too much for heavy favorites Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck to overcome as they and their teams were left to watch the SEC & Pac-12 Championship games on television on the final weekend.  Luck had an incredible career as he led the resurgence of a Stanford program that few believed would ever be in the national championship conversation and would certainly have been the perfect individual to represent the proud Heisman Trust.  As would Richardson who help to lead his Alabama team back to the BCS Championship Game.  Instead, Griffin took his Superman socks and the entire Baylor Nation to Broadway & stole the show with a very touching speech…”…an unbelievable believable moment!”

1.  David Stern set off a domino effect that could alter the course of the upcoming NBA season when he (“independently” and without influence from owners around the league) decided to nix a 3-team trade (between New Orleans, Houston, and the Lakers) that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.  That singular move not only handcuffed the Hornets brass & General Manager Dell Demps, but it also put several other significant trades and free-agent moves on hold (most likely eventually canceling the moves).  As a result, all heck has broken loose.  Players like Deron Williams and Danny Granger have denounced Stern for being a bully, a revised trade between the Lakers & Hornets feel apart late Saturday night, and several NBA rosters are still in flux with only two-weeks to go before the lockout shortened season starts on Christmas Day.

For a “New View from the Sidelines”, tune in to Game Changers Live Wednesday’s at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT on BlogTalk Radio as the co-hosts cover important topics in the sports world.

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NetWorks Sports Industry News – Girls Who Run the World (Sports World, that is)!

Girls Who Run the World (or Sports World)
Written by Angela Taylor

This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

Who Run the World? Girls!

This goes out to all the women getting it in,
Get on your grind
To the other men who respect what I do
Please accept my shine

Well, there’s no doubt that Beyonce Knowles is certainly one of the entertainers who is running the world these days as is evidenced by her latest hit song (lyrics listed above) Girls Who Run the World.

Hope Solo

Following in her footsteps, it seems like several female athletes have taken Beyonce’s lyrics to heart and are trying to put their own stamp on the sports world.

While the sports industry remains a male-dominated industry and the support for women’s sports (team & individual) is modest at best (but growing), a few women have leveraged their athletic skills to demonstrate their marketability, which may eventually allow them capitalize financially.

The summer of 2011 has seen two injured stars re-acquaint themselves with the winner’s podium (Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova), a young hoops star captivate the attention of the best to have ever played (Maya Moore & MJ), a tennis star captivate a country (Li Na), and a team (USWNT) compel Americans to actually enjoy watching more than one soccer game in a week.

As a result, corporate marketing departments are opening up their vaults to a group of athletes who had only seen modest endorsements opportunities in the recent past.  Now, not to get ahead of ourselves, because the market & ability for female athletes to garner the eight figure endorsements that their brethren make is no where near, but we are making progress.

Here are a few of those individuals who are leading the charge and dancing to the beat of Beyonce’s hit song.

Maya Moore

In May, the #1 Draft Pick in the WNBA Draft, Maya Moore, signed an endorsement deal with Brand Jordan.  Moore, handpicked by Michael Jordan and his Brand Jordan team, was the 1st women’s basketball player to sign on to the brand.  That fact didn’t go unnoticed around basketball circles.  The WNBA and Maya’s representatives are hoping that such a commitment from the legend himself will provide her with an extraordinary platform to build her brand on a global basis.

Women’s tennis has had a huge boost to its portfolio, as the Top 3 highest earning female athletes (according to Forbes) are all tennis players.  The top earner is Maria Sharapova who, it is estimated, earns approximately $24 million per year in endorsements & prize money.  Serena Williams, who is reportedly #3 on the list, is making a bit of a comeback on the tennis circuit after missing a year due to multiple medical issues.  She recently won the championship at the Bank of the West Tournament in Stanford, CA, which could propel her back to the top of the tennis world and certainly carve into that ranking over 100.

The person who recently leapfrogged Serena to take the #2 spot of the list of highest earners is Li Na, who after winning the French Open earlier this summer has had her phone ringing off the hook with endorsement opportunities.  According to her agent Max Eisenbud (also Sharapova’s agent), she has signed 7 deals worth about $42 million over the life of the deals.  These deals include contracts with Mercedes-Benz & Taikang Life Insurance Co.

Yani Tseng

Then there’s newcomer & relatively unknown, Yani Tseng the 22 year-old Taiwanese golfer who has quickly burst on the scene in what is promising to be one of the most dominant golf careers (male or female) that we’ve seen in decades.  With her recent victory at the British Open (winning that title for the second straight year), etched her name in the history books as the youngest golfer – male or female – to win 5 majors. These praises had been reserved for Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, and Michelle Wie.

But probably the biggest story to follow will be Hope Solo’s.  In her two weeks since the Women’s World Cup Final loss to Japan, Solo was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has driven the pace car at the Brickyard 400, has been on what has seemed like a continuous media tour, had her Twitter followers multiply 30x, and secured multi-year endorsement deals with companies Gatorade and Bank of America.

Solo’s teammates, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, have also capitalized on the momentum.

Undoubtedly, more stars will shine as we are a little over a year from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  The Olympics always has a way of generating a few household names.  Maybe even putting them on boxes of Wheaties…just ask Mary Lou Retton!

All in all, this is certainly good news for women’s sports.  The added attention & increased dollars being spent marketing these athletes should help to bolster attention & support for their sports here in the United States and around the world.

Who runs the world…for the time being, these five girls (or women) are doing their best to make sure that future generations of female athletes will have the chance to take their talents to the biggest stages in sports!

 

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and Angela Taylor @AFTaylor22