Monthly Archives: May 2009

Most Interesting Mark


mark_cuban

Standard Cuban expression at a Mavericks game.

Does anybody else find Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, to be among the most interesting figures in sports? He attends just about every Mavericks home game, and many on the road as well, sitting in the stands amongst every other fan. He usually wears a Dallas Mavericks t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, and is always noticeable. He seems like the kind of guy who had everything handed to him his whole life, and is now blowing money like crazy, and making a scene while doing it. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., moved to Dallas, TX in 1982 where he was a bartender turned software salesman. After being let go less than a year in, he started his own company, MicroSolutions which he sold in 1990 for $6 million. Cuban then joined forces with a fellow Indiana University alumnus  and started Audionet. Eventually, Audionet became Broadcast.com, which was later acquired by Yahoo! for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock (I would love to provide you with links to Audionet and Broadcast.com but they all redirect to Yahoo! so you aren’t missing anything). 

Since then, Cuban has had his hand in everything from reality tv shows and movies to satellite radio and blogging. He truly is a self-made billionaire. 

Since becoming owner of the Mavericks in 2000, Cuban has been fined over $1,665,000 for 13 different on and off court actions. His propensity to criticize officials, fans and opposing players has earned him a questionable reputation.

In 2006, Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki had this to say about Cuban:

“He’s got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can’t lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he’s got to learn that, too. He’s got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don’t think that helps us…. He sits right there by our bench. I think it’s a bit much. But we all told him this before. It’s nothing new. The game starts, and he’s already yelling at them. So he needs to know how to control himself a little.”

What many people don’t see or understand about Cuban is what he does when cameras aren’t rolling. For every dollar he has been fined by the NBA, he matches it with an equal donation to a charitable cause. In a nationally publicized incident he criticized the league’s manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, saying he “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen.” When DQ management took offense, Cuban worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Texas. 

The most recent incident with Mark Cuban involved him approaching Kenyon Martin’s mom in the stands at a Mavericks/Nuggets playoff game and saying, “Your son is a punk.” Obviously tempers flared, Cuban was immediately regretful and issued an apology on his blog to the Martin family. 

This incident spurred my interest in Cuban. Anybody who watches the NBA knows about Cuban. Most people think he is loud and arrogant, but not many people know the nitty gritty about him and it tends to lead to a grand misunderstanding. In reality, Cuban could be perceived a great ambassador for the game, although sometimes a PR nightmare. Even when he does do things that the public greatly criticizes him for, he makes up for it in his own way, behind closed doors. He doesn’t intentionally draw attention to himself, he genuinely cares about his team, his fans, and the sport of basketball. I think it’s great that while most team owners are passive observers, Cuban is passionate about his team. He stands up for his players and coaches, shows loyal support by attending the majority of their games, and continues to build his investment portfolios off the court.

The man is truly a controversial genius.

But I Don’t Wanna Grow Up!


No, this is not me

No, this is not me

When asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” most little boys have three standard responses:

1) A police officer

2) A fireman

3) A baseball player

As they get older, most kids find other interests and realize that Major League Baseball is probably not in their future. I was not one of those kids. I was 17 years olds and still convinced that me and Kenny Lofton would be sharing the outfield at Jacob’s Field one day.

Turns out I was wrong. Apparently being a 6’2″, 150 lb senior in high school isn’t exactly what the scouts are looking for.

Whatever.

So, like everybody else, I graduated from high school and had to pick a “real” career.

Boooooooring.

I eventually decide to pursue a career in public relations, with every intent of working for a sports team. Like most people in the world, I couldn’t tell you what public relations did or meant, or how I could apply it to sports, but it sounded fun.

Five years later, I think I finally get it.

Before I explain my revelation, you have to understand my obsession with sports. I watch the 6 a.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m. episodes of Sportscenter every day. I have read every single Bill Simmons and Rick Reilly article since the summer of 2004. I love everything about competition, from the perils of training to the thrill of victory. I can rationalize and appreciate just about any form of competition there is…

…Except for horse racing.

I don’t get it. People actually watch this garbage? A little dude rides around a muddy track on an enormous horse for two minutes, and this is exciting? Excuse me? Am I the only person who is completely baffled by this? Am I the only person who was thoroughly annoyed this weekend because ESPN was dominated by the Kentucky Derby? Am I crazy? Here is what’s wrong with the Kentucky Derby:

The Horse Names

Growing up, a lot of my friends had pets, and those pets had “normal” names like “Buddy”, “Nick”, “Scooter” ,”Fluffy”, and “Captain.” You know, standard, one-word nouns that your pet could learn and respond to. My uncle had a Golden Retriever named Nick. Nick new his name, and Nick would respond when he was called.

Well, apparently, the bigger the animal, the bigger and more ridiculous its name has to be. Oh, and they can be entire sentences! This years Derby winner’s name was ” Mine That Bird”, followed by “Pioneerof the Nile” and “Musket Man” Could you image every time you wanted to call your dog inside you had to yell, “HEY! Pioneerof the Nile, get over here!?” Ridiculous. 

The Stupid Hats

Apparently this "outfit" won an award...

Apparently this "outfit" won an award...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough said. 

The Cost of the Horse

Some of these race horses are sold for tens of thousands of dollars. You are telling me that there are animals out there that are worth more money than my car? Some snobby millionaire is willing to pay $40,000 for a horse that he will never ride, never actually take care of himself, never develop a relationship with and probably won’t live more than a decade? You have got to be kidding me.

The Competition

So now we have a stadium full of snobby millionaires wearing goofy looking hats, cheering for the horse(s) they own, but they are so far removed from their “investment” that they probably couldn’t pick it out of a line up. Thrilling. The race begins. Everybody cheers. Two minutes pass. It’s over. 

Lets pretend that I pay my horse $40,000 per race. The race lasts two minutes. That equates to an hourly rate of $1.2 million. Well worth the money… 

Say my horse wins. Who gets the prize money? The horse? He did the actual work to win the race. The trainer? He put in the hard work and dedication get the horse into shape. The jockey I paid $11/hr to ride my horse? He guided my horse to victory. No. I get the money. I can chose to do with it as I please, but I get the money…and I did nothing but write a big ass check to some breader in Oklahoma. Fantastic “sport.” 

My Epiphany 

So now we are back to my revelation. In my opinion, the Kentucky Derby is the single greatest sporting achievement in the history of the public relations and marketing fields. You cannot tell me that these millionaires actually give a damn about some mammoth horse, or the mini person riding it. But I bet those millionaires are treated like gold. I bet they feel like they are much more important than they really are. I bet Churchill Downs puts on a quite a show for these people. 

The Kentucky Derby is marketed as an experience. By attending, you are considered among the elite, you are treated like royalty and encouraged to relax and enjoy the races. It really is amazing. The public relations work that goes into an event like this is astounding. The marketing is brilliant. The prestige is unmatched. The competition … an after thought. 

Five years ago, if you were to tell me that the Kentucky Derby is merely public relations at its finest, I would have introduced you to running water. Today I can accept the fact that I am not going to play Major League Baseball because I can appreciate the affect a public relations practitioner can have on a sporting event, and I can’t wait to have my hand in it.