Chat with Darren Rovell
Rovell, author of First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into A Cultural Phenomenon, appears on numerous ESPN radio affiliate shows, analyzes the sports business world for ESPNEWS, and contributes to ESPN's flagship "SportsCenter" and investigative shows "Outside the Lines" and "Outside the Lines Nightly."
Send in your questions now and join Darren for the answers on Monday at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (11:59 AM)
Helloooooooo! Darren will be here shortly!
Darren Rovell (12:01 PM)
And I'm here. Let's talk all the biz you want...especially NFL Draft endorsement questions...marketability of Bush, Leinart, Young, even Jeremy Bloom.
Mark (Chicago, IL)
Darren, are ball-clubs owned by individuals (such as Steinbrenner or Artie Moreno) run differently than ball-clubs owned by corporations (such as the Tribune Company or AOL Time Warner)?
Darren Rovell (12:04 PM)
Mark, That's a great question. There's no generalization you can really make other than to say that obviously the individuals can do as much as they want without answering up to some shareholder's wishes. While there has been more and more scrutiny over corporation run teams (which they can't have in the NFL), they are such a small part of the overall revenues that it's often not the first thing that goes. From an evaluation standpoint, it's also tough to determine how they run because they typically hide finances so they are not as transparent as they should be.
Matt, (Champaign IL)
Minor League baseball seems to be booming all over the country. WIth independent leagues like the Northern League (both of them actually), what do you see as the future for those teams? Is there money to be made in smaller cities like Joliet, Gary, Schaumburg, St. Paul, etc?
Darren Rovell (12:06 PM)
Minor league teams are doing so well and the return on the investment for those who got in in the early 90s and recently sold has been incredible. That being said, I don't think it's an automatic. I think you have to market well to the community and have a lot of fun -- something that the major league teams really don't know how to do that. If their team suffers, attendance suffers. That's not necessarily the case in the minors, as long as you have sumo wrestling at the seventh inning stretch!
Who is the most marketable player in the NFL draft?
Darren Rovell (12:07 PM)
Definitely Reggie Bush coming in. I think he'll be the first player to have $1 million in deals coming into the draft -- between Subway, adidas and a couple other deals in the works. The question becomes, if he goes to Houston is he that marketable? Matt Leinart in New York might beat that out.
lets say matt leinert loves dr pepper more than anything else...how easy would it be for him (or other big name stars regardless of their sport) to walk up to dr p and say "hey i want to be a spokesman" thanks!
Darren Rovell (12:10 PM)
Really easy. But how much money would he make? The problem here is that in order to max out dollars you'd have to take offers from a whole bunch of soft drink companies. If you say, I love Dr. Pepper, there's no leverage there unless you say, I also love Mr. Pibb! In my experience, athletes rarely do deals for products they absolutely love. Michael Vick's favorite product is Chap Stik and for some reason they couldn't come to terms on a Vick Stik, which would have been awesome -- half eye black, half lip balm.
When you have a client like Leinart or Bush, how much work would you really have to do to secure endorsements? Wouldn't it be just a matter of picking up the phone when a huge Corporation calls and negotiating a contract?
Darren Rovell (12:12 PM)
LeBron James is a whole lot easier, believe me. NFL players aren't as marketable as you would think. There's only about seven guys that make more than $1 million. And good agents make sure they make the right decisions for their clients. Signing everything too early might be a huge mistake because you might not maximize your client's potential. Ben Roethlisberger is only cashing in now because his marketing agent Ryan Tollner didn't sign every deal that came across his desk during his rookie year.
you did a recent interview on espn news discussing the up and coming marathon business. what are the types of companies you see benefitting from an increase in marathon popularity? shoe companies? the networks? who else?
Darren Rovell (12:15 PM)
I'm not sure actually. It's very intriguing to me that the race directors of the major marathons are putting their heads together and at least trying to have some consistency across all their races to try to increase interest in the sport. I'd say the closest model is what tennis did with the Masters Series. Shoe companies have definitely benefited from the rise in marathon participation already, but I think TV has to be the driver behind this all. It would make sense in the near future if all the races could be broadcast on one network -- but in order for that to happen there has to be more demand.
Say Reggie Bush has the best selling jersey in the NFL next year. Does he get a cut, or does it all go to the Texans, or the NFL?
Darren Rovell (12:17 PM)
Joseph, I've never been to around. What state is that in? Anyway, yes, Bush does get a cut through his deal with the players association. But the Houston Texans split their portion of revenues with the rest of the teams in the league.
How far has soccer come since the 2002 World Cup? It seems to me that everyone's more interested in this Cup. How has that affected the marketability of US soccer? Even the MLS?
Darren Rovell (12:18 PM)
I think everyone was surprised, Ryan, when they saw that people were willling to wake up early to root on the US in 2002. I think the expectations are certainly higher for them and that more people are expected to watch than ever before. That being said, I don't think this hype translates to the MLS unless the US wins it all.
Darren, it seems with the success of underarmor and even the old terry tate commercials (Reebok) that less companies need spokespeople to have effective marketing. Do you think this trend will continue?
Darren Rovell (12:20 PM)
I think there's definitely a sentiment out there that you don't need a high profile athlete if you have a good product. I'm not sure what Terry Tate did for Reebok's sales, but it certainly got the attention of some people. What you have to remember is that there is no such thing as a good endorser. Michael Jordan was great for Gatorade and Nike, but what did he really do for Ballpark Franks and Rayovac?
Travis (Terre Haute, IN)
How are players compensated for being in video games such as Madden and NBA Live?
Darren Rovell (12:23 PM)
They all get an equal split of the dollars. Before each season, they sign what is called a group licensing agreement. They don't have to sign it by the way. Barry Bonds hasn't signed it and that's why he's not in the video games. All NBA players are required to sign over their naming rights for use on video games. It's actually the reason why MJ's comeback in 2001 was held up because he had an exclusive deal with EA because at the time he left the league video games could be opted out of, but when he returned it was a new rule that he had to be in all of them.
Is there really a problem with fantasy sports, and players names being used in likeness with them?
Darren Rovell (12:24 PM)
There is a debate. It will play itself out in court in St. Louis this summer where a company is suing Major League Baseball for requiring them to pay a fee to be licensed for fantasy baseball. I think the burden of proof will be on baseball because there is some pretty compelling case law that suggests that players names when tied to statistics are facts and are therefore not subject to federal copyright law.
Every year people talk about paying NCAA athletes because of all the money the bring in. Do you believe the NCAA should allow that? Personally I believe the amount they receive in free education and living expenses is adequate. Wouldn't this system also hurt smaller D1 schools more than the bigger revenue schools such as Texas, OSU, USC and others?
Darren Rovell (12:27 PM)
I believe all athletes in football and men's basketball should get a cost of living adjustment, but I don't think they everyone should get paid. I do think that the cream of the crop, whose jerseys are sold, should get a percentage gross of each jersey sold. It's blatant exploitation and can't be denied. This all being said, there are several problems with this. Including the fact that it's probably against Title IX to pay men's athletes and not give the same financial benefits to women.
What's the word on the effect the new stadium will have with the Cardinals. They clearly have been at a disadvantage playing at Sun Devil field (revenue, schedule, etc.)
Darren Rovell (12:29 PM)
Ken, this is going to be the ultimate test case on stadiums. Assuming the Cardinals don't make the playoffs in the future, will people pack a stadium to look at the same product just because the seats are new? Should be interesting to watch.
Lucas Oil Stadium money goes directly to owner pockets? and not shared with city?
Darren Rovell (12:30 PM)
Because cities like Indianapolis have been effectively threatened if they don't allow sweetheart deals like this one and others, including guaranteeing a certain amount of revenue.
Darren, with Reebok being acquired and before that they were coming out with these new designed Hockey Jerseys, is that still happening or dead in the water.
Darren Rovell (12:32 PM)
I've been told that adidas will still let Reebok operate under Reebok as it was before. But there's definitely going to be some consolidation and some of the goals have to change now that it's under a different management.
Do you think that the Houston Texans will make more money with Bush or Young?
Darren Rovell (12:33 PM)
Let's get this straight. As of right now, the Houston Texans don't need to draft Vince Young to sell tickets. They had more than 70,000 people at the "Reggie Bush Bowl" against the lowly 49ers. What seats are you going to fill? So the answer is, they will make money off whoever is better and will lead them to a Super Bowl.
Does a Reggie Bush Texans jersey have a chance to be the top selling jersey in the NFL this coming year or will a possible Vince Young Raiders one end up on top?
Darren Rovell (12:35 PM)
I think No. 1 has to have great performance and a solid tradition. That's what we've seen in previous years. Brady. Roethlisberger. Vick. I think whoever is better fastest among Leinart, Bush and Young will be No. 1. If any of them are on the Jets, I think that gives them a head start.
Neil (Gainesville, FL)
I have the baseball package and when watching the Red Sox feed one night I noticed that their pregame show's sponsor has a sponsor! It's called the "Olympia Sports Presents the Boston Globe Pre-Game Show." Is this unprecedented or are there others like this?
Darren Rovell (12:37 PM)
That's pretty funny Neil, but I don't doubt it. If you are a good marketer for an event or show you can sell a presenting sponsorship (Olympia Sports) and a title sponsorship (Boston Globe). It's confusing nonetheless and I hope the Globe is paying less than if it were just the Boston Globe Pre-Game show.
Dave (New York)
How is Duke selling more LAX merchandise?! The athletes are innocent until proven guilty, but why would rape and kidnapping accusations cause an actual INCREASE in sales? And if people somehow believe that buying the merchandise will give money to support the defense of the players, they need to understand that Duke has distanced itself from them and will be keeping every last dime...
Darren Rovell (12:39 PM)
Dave, I'm surprised that Duke is still selling the merchandise. I don't think it says the general public that they think the kids are guilty, they just don't want people treating their school as a joke. The increase shocks me, but that's just a snapshot of our society.
do you think the vikings' aquisition of steve hutchinson and brad johnson starting will fill more seats?
Darren Rovell (12:41 PM)
No way. Not just by acquisition alone. Only if those guys help the team into the playoffs.
ben (new york, NY)
what is the market for a sports & business/money magazine or newsletter? the layout would be similar to the usa today special sports newsletter (i.e nfl draft preview)...
Darren Rovell (12:42 PM)
Ben, it depends on who you want to sell it to. There's an audience, but it's a niche audience and obviously there's already a player in that space -- SportsBusiness Journal and Daily.
Beau (Perham, MN)
Normally we don't like to mock anything, expect maybe Ace Young's staredown from American Idol, but one sporting event each year cries out to be mocked and that is the popularity contest that is the NFL draft. Do you think that marketing or advertising is going to be big as this draft gains popularity?
Darren Rovell (12:44 PM)
The draft is humungous and frankly I find it embarrassing how big it is. I mean technically it's just the calling out of names, right? And we do this for something like 18 hours. But the demand continues to be there and god bless Mel Kiper, the man is a magician.
What kind of sales do you expect a possible Lendale White Steelers Jersey?
Darren Rovell (12:46 PM)
David, do you know something I don't? Are the Steelers definitely taking Len Dale? In what round? I'd be interested to know one of the most intriguing stories of this year's draft -- before it happened! Anyway, the way Len Dale has been going I bet there won't be jerseys with White on the back until he runs for back to back 100 yard games.
What are the Chiefs chances of getting a roof over Arrowhead and bringing a Super Bowl to KC? Does their performance this year matter a great deal towards getting the roof?
Darren Rovell (12:47 PM)
Jason, roofs are extremely expensive. You'd get a better value buying a 400 carat diamond. Winning always helps sway the politicos who have all the power and strip the democratic ideals from the locals.
The popularity of the NFL Draft is simple: We all think we are better at being a GM then the real ones, and want to see how they do...plus we get to see where our favorite college players end up.
Darren Rovell (12:50 PM)
You got it.
Do you think the infamous "boat" scandal thrown on top of the other countless scandals surrounding the Vikings over the past year will have a major negative impact on attendance and merchandise sales? Not to mention losing Moss and now Culpepper?
Darren Rovell (12:51 PM)
Moss and Culpepper losses are worse than the "Love Boat," but it certainly doesn't help in the community.
Darren Rovell (12:52 PM)
I have to go. Jeff from Iowa has copy pasted his question so many times that he's ruined it for all of you. I can't see any other questions, Jeff. Thanks for joining me today and if you have anything additional -- and your name is not Jeff from Iowa -- you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org