NetWorks Two-Minute Drill: Week of March 19-25, 2012


Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that caught our eye 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 Topics from the Week of March 19-25, 2012

This was a statement week in sports.  Typically when March rolls around, we are focused on  our tournament brackets & mesmerized by some cinderella (see VCU & Butler in 2011) making a run through the Big Dance.  As March Madness rolls along this week & after Peyton Manning finally found a landing place, little did we know that the week of March 19-25 would be would of the most interesting “off-court/off-field” weeks in a long time. Here are the 5 topics in sports that topped our list this week:

5. RGIII & Andrew Luck Thrilled and Impressed Scouts in Pro Days: As we’ve witnessed since the end of the college football season last November/December, many sportswriters and NFL experts have spent the last several months critiquing RGIII & Andrew Luck.  Who is or will be the better quarterback prospect?  Is Luck nothing but Hype?  Is RGIII more than an athletic quarterback?  Is Luck more of an athlete than we think?  While both players did nothing to hurt their status as two very talented quarterbacks, it has seemed like that if you like one of them, you can’t like the other.  After both went through their on-campus Pro Days this week (RGIII on Wednesday and Luck following on Thursday), folks finally have come to the conclusion that they are BOTH extremely talented (and athletic) quarterbacks who (in the right situations) will have very long and successful careers in the NFL.  Both dazzled in their Pro Days as they displayed their arm strength, accuracy, and mobility.  Both showed their very different personalities.  And both showed that there is no reason for us not to believe that they are very deserving to be the #1 and #2 picks in the upcoming April NFL Draft.

4. Roger Goodell & the NFL Impose a Harsh Penalty on the New Orleans Saints: Earlier this month when we heard about a 50,000 page report dealing with BountyGate, it was evident that Roger Goodell and his staff were taking this scandal very seriously.  A statement was going to be sent to owners, executives, and players that things of this nature are simply unacceptable.  While many speculated about the potential penalties, citing the Patriots punishment for illegally taping opponents play calls as a point of reference, most had no idea that the eventual penalties would be so severe.  When the verdict came down on Wednesday afternoon, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Goodell intended to put an end to this practice & send a strong message to anyone who thought otherwise.  The long-term impact is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that the New Orleans Saints organization will feel the impact of these penalties immediately and potentially for years to come.

3. Tim Tebow Take His Talents to New York: Most will admit that after Peyton Manning decided to take his talents to Big Sky Country and John Elway decided to make Tim Tebow available for a trade, there was little (if any) thought that Tebow would end up in New York.  A realistic landing spot would have been Tampa or his hometown Jaguars.  Maybe even a back-up role under the tutelage of MVP quarterbacks in either New England or Green Bay.  But the New York Jets?  The same New York Jets team that just signed fragile starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a new deal?  In a surprise move that met some resistance from several Jets players (many of whom refused to go on record but were quoted as being against this move), Coach Ryan seems to have found his back-up QB.  More importantly, Tebow has found the biggest media market in the country to use as a platform for his social initiatives.  One minute the deal was done, the next minute the deal was being held up, but in the end…Tebow is with the J-E-T-S , Jets, Jets, Jets!  Monday’s press conference announcing the team’s new “back-up QB” should be very interesting.

2. Tiger Woods WINS!: It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the red Nike polo shirt walking to the 18th hole with the crowd standing & cheering on a PGA Tour victory.  After over 900 days, Tiger Woods smiled from ear to ear as the drought was ended.  In what has become one of his favorite tournaments, Woods finally brought home the victory after his life and career took a turn for the worse on that early November morning a few years ago.  With a few weeks until the top golfers reconvene at Augusta National, Woods was able to find the greens and find his putting stroke that have failed him miserably up until recently.  He put it all together and held it together to stave off all of the challengers on this weekend as he looks ahead to regain his legendary form.  On a day when four teams were competing for a chance to head to the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, there was strong evidence that many television sets were tuned into Tiger’s quest for another championship.  Further proof that Tiger winning is still a driving force in the interest in golf.

1.  The Miami Heat Make their Strongest Statement OFF the Court: Heading into this past week, most basketball aficionados would have expected the Miami Heat (and the Big 3) to make their strongest statement this on-court as they headed to Oklahoma City for their first match-up of the season against the Western Conference leading OKC Thunder.  After the Heat suffered an embarrassing 16-point thrashing at the hands of Kevin Durant & his comrades, one would agree that the strongest statement the Heat made this week was the team photo taken in a Detroit hotel on Thursday night.  The photo of 13 of their 15 players donning the “hoodie” on their NBA-issued Miami Heat sweats in support of Trayvon Martin (a teenager killed in what seems to be a senseless crime), was a powerful image that may just have been the strongest message they have sent since coming together during the summer of 2010.  In a volatile week of sports-related news, this easily is the story that will be etched in our memories for months to come.  In fact, Angela has written a blog about how proud she was in this display of social leadership.  Read the blog “When A Miami Heat Photo is Worth (More Than) 1,000 Words” and share your thoughts!

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

Poll of the Day: Is it Crouching TIGER (Woods, that is) or Hidden Dragon?

There have been a lot of drastic changes in Tiger Woods’ life over the last 20 months. He went from being one of the most admired & respected celebrity athletes to the world wondering if he’ll ever win another golf major.

Since November 2009, his wife divorced him, he has suffered season-disrupting & (maybe) career threatening injuries, he has failed to win a major, his agent left his longtime firm, he has fallen out of the Top 10 in world rankings, and he has parted ways with his friend & caddie.

Maybe even more devastating to his ego, many have anointed Rory McIroy as the new “young star” on the scene after his recent win in the U.S. Open.

That’s a lot of change for anyone to go through in such a short amount of time. What is the long-term impact for who was once the brightest young stars in sports. Will he surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18?

What seemed like a foregone conclusion less than two years ago is now an honest debate. Can he bring home the trophy for 5 tournaments wearing his trademark red on Sunday’s in order to etch his name in history as the winningest golfer in majors? What do you think? Will he or won’t he? Vote here:


[polldaddy poll=5252208]


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