Archive for October, 2010

Examples of Sports’ Social Significance: Liverpool FC Fans Stabbed in Napoli after Europa League 2010 Match, The Soccer War, and Jesse Owens in 1936

As if Liverpool FC and its fans did not have enough to worry about with the controversy involving the team’s sale (eventually sold to New England Sports Ventures), now fans have to worry about a new wave of hooliganism abroad.

According to an article broadcasted early Thursday 21 October 2010 over Britain’s BBC News’s online service, Liverpool FC supporters were allegedly attacked by gangs of Napoli fans through the evening of Wednesday 20 October in separate incidents.  Three Liverpool fans remain in a Napoli hospital recovering from stab wounds and other injuries.  BBC’s correspondent in Rome, Duncan Kennedy, reported that “a father, his two sons, and a friend” were also attacked.  According to the article, the four Liverpool fans were surrounded by 30 to 40 rioters and brutally beaten.  In addition, Alexander Philips (53 years old) and another Liverpool resident (27) who preferred anonymity are also recovering from the attacks.

Napoli police confirmed that a group of extreme Napoli fans called “Ultra” were responsible.  Much like the “hooligans” British authorities claim to have all but eradicated from soccer matches with the help of local law enforcement, the “Ultra” violently confront opposing teams’ fans in public and in the stadium.  “Filippo Bonfiglio, head of DIGOS, the local department which deals with terrorism and political activity,” assured the public that law enforcement personnel would do everything possible to prevent a recurrence.  However, Bonfiglio cautiously emphasized that in a city of 1.5 million, it would be impossible to make any guarantees.

In a related story published earlier this week on BBC News’s online service, another Europa Cup game in Italy was disrupted – and ultimately cancelled partway through the match – when hoards of fans loyal to a Serbian team scaled fences separating fans from the field and threw lit flares onto the pitch.  Political issues in Europe centering on Serbia’s potential membership in the EU and alleged persistent racial tensions in the continent are believed to be major causes of the game’s cancellation.

Sport, in its spontaneous nature, can ignite emotions unlike few other social catalysts.  It is meant to unite, entertain, and inspire; yet, there are groups who use its emotional equity to fuel unrelated agendas and transform rivalries into violence.  Those who feel that sport is socially insignificant need only look at examples like this year’s Europa League championship or even the 100-hour war (the Soccer War, or La Guerra del Futbol, in Spanish) between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969.  Unresolved immigration issues and border disputes between both nations boiled over when riots broke out after a soccer match between the two Central American countries.  Though a cease-fire was secured nearly 100 hours later, a peace treaty was not signed until 1980.

African-American track star and sports legend, Jesse Owens.

As with all of man’s inventions and plans, there are pros and cons – sad stories intertwined with the good.  A clear example of the positive role sports play in society can be found in the history of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany.  Track legend Jesse Owens, an African-American athlete, shocked Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party by winning four gold medals in the long jump, 4×100 meter relay, 100 meters, and 200 meters at the games hosted in the heart of the so-called “Third Reich.”  Through his success on the field of human endeavor, Owens returned to America an Olympic gold medalist, champion of civil rights, and hero to millions around the world.

Sport is one of society’s most powerful tools.  It can be used to divide… or it can be used to unite.

Cam Suarez-Bitar.

This year’s tournament has been marred by racial and political tensions exacerbated by gangs of hooligans who target opposing teams’ fans.


One Week Off: My MSA Studies are Coming to a Close

Dear Readers,

The second half of my final semester of coursework is upon me, so I have to dig in and prepare for mid-terms.  This week, I am channeling all of my energy towards preparation for an upcoming exam.  For now, please avail yourself of the articles I have placed in the archives or send me an email with any questions or comments.

Thanks, as always, for your support.  See you next week!

Best regards,


Cam Suarez-Bitar.

ACC, ESPN, and Raycom Deal is Evidence of the Importance of Relationship Building in Business

Raycom Sports has covered ACC sporting events since 1979 and both entities have helped one another prosper over time.

In the 4-10 October 2010 issue of Sports Business Journal, an article by Michael Smith and John Ourand titled, “History with ACC secures future for Raycom,” covered how the long-term relationship between the ACC and Raycom saved the latter from possibly losing its biggest media contract and main revenue stream.  Their article is the basis of today’s post and a starting point for my conclusions.

Basically, North Carolina-based Raycom simply could not match bids with networks like ESPN and Fox – who were both vying for the conference’s rights – nor survived negotiations without CEO Ken Haines or his staff’s efforts to underscore the role Raycom has played in the ACC’s history over the past thirty years.  Nevertheless, talks between ESPN and the ACC would eventually end with a $1.86 billion contract that goes into effect at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, according to Smith and Ourand’s article.  Where does that leave Raycom?

I Remember the Time You Helped Me when I Needed it Most… Thank You (And You Have Been Here for Me all of these Years… Thanks)

When ESPN launched in 1979, it faced the challenges all start-ups face, not to mention the level of competition found in the sports industry.  Raycom sold the rights to some of its ACC basketball games to ESPN in the early 80s, giving ESPN a chance to establish itself.  Later, in 1993, Raycom sold the rights to a Duke-North Carolina basketball game that allowed ESPN2 (the network’s new channel) to enter the scene with a fair degree of credibility, according to Smith and Ourand.  As the decades came and went, ESPN grew and became the premier sports network in the US.  As for Raycom, it remained in its market and built on its relationship with the ACC.

Raycom CEO Ken Haines (right, with Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tim Newman) says, “We really are the marketing and corporate relationship arm of the conference.” (caption taken from 4-10 October issue of Sports Business Journal)

Through the Summer of 2010, Raycom was in the fight of its life to secure a deal with the ACC that would guarantee its survival.  “Everyone involved in the negotiations cited Raycom’s 31-year history as the main reason it was able to strike a deal,” wrote Smith and Ourand of the negotiations between the ACC, ESPN, and eventually Raycom.  According to Smith and Ourand’s article, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said, “It tugged at me… We wanted to keep Raycom as a partner, but we had to do what was in the ACC’s best interests.  That we got the deal we got and kept Raycom involved was icing on the cake.”  Indeed, Haines used Raycom’s history with both the ACC and ESPN as a major talking point during negotiations.  The product: a $50 million a year sub-licensing contract between ESPN and Raycom that secured at least 50 North Carolina jobs for the next twelve years.  If you look in either Smith and Ourand’s article or Raycom’s website, you will find some of the particulars of that deal.  Essentially, Raycom keeps “ACC football and basketball, [remains as] holder of regional cable rights, administration of ACC Properties and management of all ACC digital platforms including operation of, and the official conference web site,” according the


While the bottom line influences all smart business deals, it is not the only path to follow during negotiations.  There is a popular misconception that business is simply cold and harsh, and defined by cliches in popular culture such as the great “Wall Street” villain Gordon Gekko when he famously states that “greed is good.”  Indeed, management and leadership must act with the company’s/stakeholders’ interests in mind, but managers who lead both prosperous and honorable careers and leaders who earn the respect of their peers do not forget those who helped them along the way.

Without Raycom’s willingness to sell rights to some of its hottest properties to a new competitor also struggling for credibility (ESPN and ESPN2) so long ago, or its loyalty to the ACC over 31 years, ESPN and the ACC would have spent more time and resources searching elsewhere for rights to quality programming and securing media service for its properties and events.  Whether in business or life itself, one always appreciates another’s efforts to make life a little bit easier.  Sure, one cannot dismiss the fact that Raycom has profited from these relationships over the past thirty years in one way or another, but so have ESPN and the ACC.  In fact, all parties must benefit if a relationship is expected to function well and last a long time (Raycom, ESPN, and the ACC prove this concept).

A long time ago, I learned an important lesson from the greatest people I have ever known (my parents, grandmother, and brother – and am reminded of it every day by theirs and my fiancee’s unyielding example) and would like to emphasize today.  Remember that as long as one dutifully conducts oneself with honor, integrity, and can walk in and out of an establishment with his or her head held high, there is no failure to fret about nor any outcome to fear.  In fact, it is one of the best methods of achieving success and fueling confidence in any endeavor.  This is an irrefutable truth that we must exemplify throughout our lives in order to be truly successful and thoroughly satisfied at the end of the day.

Cam Suarez-Bitar.

Thanks, as always, for your readership.  This article is a tribute to all of who have played a positive role in my life.  From friends and instructors who have provided both wisdom and support, to my family and future wife who have not only helped make me the man I am today, but indeed make this world a better place through their words, actions, and love.

The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the NFLPA’s Possible “Decertification”


If the NFLPA decertifies, it could sue the NFL by using federal antitrust laws. Decertification, however, would seriously weaken players' ability to bargain collectively.

An article in Sports Business Journal dated 13-19 September, written by Liz Mullen and titled, “NFLPA Handing Out Voting Cards to Players; Move Could Prevent Lockout by Owners,” tells a brief story of an attempt by the NFL players’ union to ward off the possibility of an owners’ lockout in 2011.  The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league and players is set to expire in March of next year and the union (NFLPA), under instructions from its Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, issued ballots to all NFL players for a vote on possibly decertifying the NFLPA.  Should the players vote in favor of decertification, the NFLPA would cease to operate as a union and function as a trade organization instead.  According to Mullen, as a trade organization, the NFLPA could sue the NFL in the event of a lockout and rely on an arsenal of antitrust laws to wage its war.  A letter to the NFL announcing the possibility of decertification with a firm deadline for a new CBA and a threat of legal action in the event of a lockout accompanied the issuance of ballots to the players by the NFLPA.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

The NFL is not powerless here, however.  Mullen mentions that the NFL also has the option to sue the NFLPA and call its decertification – if it is accomplished – a “sham” and accuse it of still acting as a union but decertifying itself in order to gain access to antitrust laws.  “A source close to the league,” as Mullen puts it, stated that the NFL would have a strong argument.  In 1989, the NFLPA decertified only to once again become a union in 1993 after negotiating a new CBA with the league.  Still, the 1993 Reggie White v. NFL case set a precedent allowing the union to decertify in the first place.  Finally, the downsides for the NFLPA should it choose to decertify include: loss of power to collectively bargain, inability to collect dues from members, and inability to control its members’ marketing rights.  Tension continues to mount between the league and union and will likely remain for several months before the public hears the first murmurings of talks regarding a final agreement between both parties.

Let us wait and see what happens by the end of the season.  I will keep a close watch on the entire process and report any developments.

Cam Suarez-Bitar.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has a long road ahead. If the league and union cannot agree on a new CBA by March 2011, the following season could be cancelled. A lockout could hurt partnership values and stifle activation strategies, thus decreasing the value of future NFL sponsorship agreements. Properties earn 30-40% of their revenue from sponsorships and a locked out season has serious implications in front offices throughout the NFL.


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