Welcome back to another week of the “Sports & Entertainment Spotlight.” Sadly, for the third week running (first legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden, then beloved Golden Girl, Betty White), the S&E world is coming to grips with the passing of another indelible figure of their respective crafts — this time comedian, “America’s Dad” for the ‘80s and ‘90s (and by all accounts a great person), Bob Saget. It always strikes me as interesting that one can feel such a sense of loss in the death of someone whom they have never actually met. In a way, however, each reached out and forged their own relationships with their audience, seeded memories and became a part of the audience’s life story, though it was never a part of theirs. To paraphrase John Madden himself in his eulogy of his late friend and broadcasting partner Pat Summerall, you can determine a person’s life accomplishments in a field by whether you can still tell the history of that field without reference to that person. By that measure, Madden, White and Saget all had outsized accomplishments in spades. For that, we owe them all a debt of gratitude. For my part, I owe you a debt of knowledge that I intend to pay back with interest in this week’s Spotlight.
- The New York Giants and New York Jets football teams were sued by a fan challenging their right to be called “New York” teams even though they play home games in East Rutherford, NJ. The plaintiff argues that if they are called “New York” they should have to play in New York. Though if recent history is a guide, I’m not so sure us New Yorkers would want that.
- Sticking with the Empire State, the New York Times is acquiring sports media website The Athletic for $500 million, putting the valuation of the Spotlight at somewhere between zero and $500 million.
- Highlighting the pitfalls of endorsements of cryptocurrencies, particularly on social media, Kim Kardashian and Floyd “Money” Mayweather are among a few high-profile celebrities facing a lawsuit for pushing a “pump-and-dump” scam. Call me crazy, but I think having the nickname “Money” qualifies you to make sound investment advice.
- John Legend gives the “Green Light” for his songwriting catalog to “Get Lifted” in yet another private equity investment in music copyrights.
Welcome back to the “Sports & Entertainment Spotlight,” where all are permitted entry – even Novak Djokovic. First and foremost, allow me to be among the last to wish you a Happy New Year 2022! Seriously folks, like birthdays, you can’t go wishing people a happy New Year more than one week after the fact — it’s just bad form. At any rate, less than one week into the year and there are already stories a-plenty. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown had his contract terminated for taking off both his uniform and from MetLife Stadium in the middle of a game. Several fans suffered non-life threatening injuries falling from the stands after a railing collapsed at the Washington Football Team’s (WFT) FedEx Field, leading the appropriately-named Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts calling for the National Football League (NFL) to act to prevent such a near-tragic event — that almost injured Hurts himself — from happening again. The Grammy Awards have been postponed due to the ubiquitous Omicron variant (luckily still not quite as infectious as Adele’s singing voice). And the aforementioned Men’s Tennis star Novak Djokovic gets denied from entering the Australian border to compete in the Australian Open for failing to substantiate an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination (like tennis scoring itself, Djokovic and Australia’s mutual love is zero).
But wait, there’s more…
- Less than a year after Saturday Night Live parodied his song, “Without Me” to catchily explain non-fungible tokens (NFTs), rapper Eminem makes a substantial splash in the NFT marketplace, including a nearly $500K purchase on a Bored Ape NFT.
- Just in time for “Dry January,” Katy Perry unveils a line of non-alcoholic aperitifs. Wonder whether at least one of the flavors will be “cherry chapstick.”
- In music news, although streaming is bolstering the industry, rapper T-Pain points out that a measly stream is hardly enough to “Buy U a Drank.”
Welcome back to the final "Sports & Entertainment Spotlight" of 2021 (cue the fireworks, standing ovations, Champagne-popping, etc.)! If there’s one thing I have learned about New Year’s Eve in my 30-something trips around the sun, it’s that the pomp and circumstance (I feel like that would be a great name for a hip-hop duo) never quite live up to the hype. Sure, watching the ball drop in Times Square sounds great in theory until you realize you’re standing around in the cold for hours on end, without a restroom in sight, while listening to mediocre lip-synched performances (that’s to say nothing of the additional challenges from the pandemic). For a truly enjoyable evening, low expectations are the name of the game. So, it is in that vein that I write this entry. Were you hoping for a countdown of the top sports and entertainment law stories of 2021? I hope not! Perhaps some sort of retrospective of notable events? Not going to happen! An Auld Lang Syne-themed post along the same lines as last week’s "Jingle Bells" rendition? Surely you jest! No, my friends, this year I will keep it low-key and leave you with gratitude for your readership in 2021 and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
With extra creative juices stored up for 2022, maybe I’ll try something a little more ambitious for next NYE. Whatever it is, at least I’ll know that I will have set the bar low…
Happy holidays! Whether you light a menorah (like myself), a kinara or a tree, I’m glad that you decided to make the “Spotlight” part of your holiday season. In the spirit of this time of year, I am, despite my better judgment, obliged to start off with (public domain) holiday cheer to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” Hey, if Irving Berlin and Mel Torme can do it, why not this mensch? So, without further ado…
N-I-L, N-F-L, so much more to read.
I appreciate your visit whether you click or scroll top speed.
Deion lures a future pro,
To play ball at Jackson State,
O’er larger programs he’ll go,
And build his brand in school while laughing to the bank – ha ha ha!
Then there’s the NFL,
Seeing COVID cases rise,
Instead of withholding salaries and cancelling games,
Moving them to Tuesday night!
Oh, and Sean John sells,
Landmark brand o’ hip hop apparels,
Back to P. Diddy,
For a tenth of what he originally sold it for --
he must feel giddy - tee-hee-hee!
In the meantime,
Major League Baseball challenged on its status as antitrust exempt,
Will I find a rhyme,
Or will I be verklempt?
And NFTs, time shall tell,
Whether they’re a fleeting fad,
For the music industry they may be suited well,
So read-up, you’ll be glad!
Any tips or stories for the Spotlight?
Don’t hesitate to reach out and say!
Oh what fun it was to write
this Spotlight for today.
Welcome back, thanks for stopping by, and kindly take your shoes off at the front door. We begin this week’s installment of the “Spotlight” on a somber note. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to those (like my wife, who greeted me in tears the other night) still reeling from the (SPOILER ALERT) Peloton-induced demise of Mr. Big (played by Christopher Noth) in the “Sex and The City” (SATC) epilogue series, “And Just Like That…” Now, I do not claim to know much about SATC, but I know a thing or two about product placements, branding and marketing. My initial reaction on hearing the news from my wife (actually, my second reaction, after “WHO?!”), was one of surprise: either the production did not clear the usage of Peloton cycling equipment and branding in the show, or that someone at Peloton must have agreed to have the brand featured in the show ignorant to the context in which it might be depicted. Seemingly, no matter how you sliced it, it was another public relations embarrassment for Peloton after a product recall earlier this year and a controversial 2019 holiday advertisement (subsequently lampooned by Ryan Reynolds’ Aviator gin brand). Wall Street agreed, as the negative depiction triggered a sell off the very next day. Whether or not Peloton’s next move was actually premeditated or (as reported) a face-saving viral moment that came together in a whirlwind, it amounted to some shrewd marketing — this time with Ryan Reynolds and his marketing agency, Maximum Effort coming to the rescue with ad featuring a very much alive Christopher Noth. Will that be enough to sway public perception (and stock prices, which rebounded after the ad was released)? In light of unflattering late breaking news regarding Noth, probably not.
For now, here’s a glimpse of some other stories to cycle through in this week’s “Spotlight”:
- For some time, the fledgling NIL era in college athletes has been marked by endorsement deals with regional fast-food chains and off-campus businesses. Now, multibillion-dollar brands Bose, Nike and Gatorade are entering the fray, giving me yet another reason I want to go back to college (though I would still need to work on that “athletic” part…).
- James Brown’s estate sold his song catalogue for a cool $90 million, undoubtedly making his heirs exclaim, “I Feel Good.” Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen sold his catalogue of songs and recordings for a reported ho-hum of $500 million. Springsteen could not be reached for comment as he was too busy “Dancing in the Dark.”
- Nike and Adidas each jumped feet first into the metaverse with the former acquiring an NFT digital shoe company and the latter buying a “plot” in the Sandbox metaverse. Just in time for the holidays for you to stuff in your digital stockings.
Thanks for stopping by – see you next week!
Maybe I am exhausted by the pandemic, jaded by having unvaccinated members of my fantasy football team spend weeks on the National Football League’s (NFL) COVID-19 Reserve List, disheartened by people not looking out for one another or all of the above. But, regardless of one’s views of the virtues of getting vaccinated (or not) against this scourge, if failing to get vaccinated is a selfish choice, then failing to get vaccinated and obtaining a forged vaccination card to evidence your vaccination status to skirt public health protocols is the pinnacle of selfishness. Enter: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown, who was recently suspended by the NFL for the latter. Brown’s conduct not only calls into question the type of teammate and member of the community he is (prior media reports indicate this is just the tip of the iceberg) , but also may have amounted to a criminal offense – one that could likely give rise to a termination right under Brown’s player contract for a so-called (but in this case, aptly named) “morals violation.” Whatever the case, I will be keeping an eye on that, while hoping that common sense and rationality once again come back into fashion. For now, here’s a knowledge booster dose I like to call the "Spotlight":
- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hopes to capitalize on name, image and likeness groundswell, bringing college athletes real money for the promotion of fake wrestling.
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) took centerstage at Art Basel in Miami, Florida, as electronic dance music DJ, Deadmau5 sought to become Florida’s second most popular mouse and ride the wave of NFTs’ growing adoption to the music industry.
- On the heels (soles?) of establishing an athlete advisory board a few months ago, footwear brand New Balance takes a further step toward appealing to professional athlete community, this time from the business side, joining forces with sports agent Rich Paul for an endorsement of his own. If New Balance ever wants to pivot back to being a “dad shoe,” I know a 30-something-year-old lawyer with two sons and unabashed dad jokes…
Welcome back to the “Spotlight”! After taking a week long hiatus for Thanksgiving, I feel like a modern day Rip Van Winkle awaking from a tryptophan-induced coma to find myself in a world in which “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey is again reigning as a chart-topper, NFL telecasts increasingly featuring the fan-favorite ‘steam-rising-from-the-300 pound lineman’s head’ shots, and my DVR starts getting populated with schmaltzy holiday movies. It’s true, the holiday season and cold weather is upon us, so in the spirit of the season of giving, I invite you all to get cozy and take in the very first “Spotlight” of the very last month of 2021…
- Celebrity-backed cannabis brands are showing varying degrees of success. One possible trend to look for as cannabis continues its path of de-stigmatization and comes into the mainstream: consumers may demonstrate stronger celebrity brand affinity. Or they may forget that celebrity brand exists altogether.
- The NFL and St. Louis, Missouri settled their four yearlong lawsuit over the relocation of the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles for a whopping $790 million. That alone is news, but the fine print in the settlement agreement gives the lawyers who represented St. Louis at least 35 percent of that amount. The sound you just heard was a horde of lawyers encouraging their home teams to go away.
- Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot’s action-comedy film, “Red Notice” makes viewership history. One wonders how they would have done had they gone with my suggested title, “Two Guys, a Girl and an Interpol Chase.”
- A testament to the fever pitch surrounding them, “NFT” has been crowned Collins dictionary’s 2021 word of the year. The runner-up? 2020’s unofficial winner: “WTF.”
Welcome back to the “Spotlight”! With Thanksgiving just around the corner (brace yourself, midsection), I wanted to pause to take a moment to reflect on all that for which I have to be thankful. Certainly my family, health and employment to name a few. But, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank my outstanding colleagues for their support in getting the “Spotlight” off the ground in its inaugural year. I literally could not have done it without you. In observance of Thanksgiving, I will be skipping next week’s edition but back at it (and presumably a little huskier) for the first week of December. In the meantime, grab a plate and allow me to serve you up a heaping portion of knowledge in this week’s “Spotlight.”
- In a follow-up to the “Spotlight” blog post from just two weeks ago (don’t you love when that happens?) regarding director Quentin Tarantino’s sale of “Pulp Fiction” related NFTs, Hollywood film studio Miramax has sued Tarantino alleging that its rights are being infringed, notwithstanding Tarantino’s reserved rights in the film property. In other news, Quentin Tarantino probably will not soon be making films with a certain Hollywood film studio: Miramax.
- In a follow-up to the “Spotlight” blog post from just three weeks ago (I’ve now likely lost my entire audience other than my wife and my parents), the Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby team have settled their lawsuit against the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball team. Financial details of the settlement are undisclosed, but both organizations will continue using the Cleveland Guardians name while not winning World Series championships. I’d say “there goes the Cleveland audience,” but neither my wife nor my parents are from Cleveland.
- For the low price of $300 (roughly the cost of a beer and hot dog at a New York professional sports stadium/arena), you can own a piece of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers. But before you jump at the thought of making money off the cheeseheads, you ought to read the fine print.
What a difference just a few months makes. The weather turns from oppressively hot to cool and crisp. The leaves turn from a healthy bright green to all manners of reds, yellows and browns as they cling precariously to the trees before floating down to the ground. And the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) drafts a new constitution that actually acknowledges a student-athlete may commercially market his/her/their own name, image and likeness. That would have been unthinkable earlier this year, that is, until the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in NCAA v. Alston that non-cash education-related benefits (and, by extension name, image and likeness restrictions) violated antitrust laws. Indeed, Justice Neil Gorsuch might as well have been the author of this draft NCAA Constitution as his guidance in writing for the Court, referenced exactly what the NCAA is apparently deciding to do (albeit by necessity) – delegating rulemaking authority to its member Conferences and Universities. Of course, delegation is in and of itself a coup for the public, as few good things come to mind in recent history that the NCAA actually did itself. This is all to say that NIL is not going anywhere any time soon.
Also not going anywhere anytime soon? The “Spotlight” and yours truly. So for now, let’s check in on what else you should be in the know on this week:
Part of what I love about having a Sports Law practice is exactly what makes it difficult to cram everything I want to discuss into each week’s installment of the "Spotlight." No, it’s not that athletic prowess is not required. Rather, my work is wildly diverse, as it's comprised of many constituent bodies of law. By focusing on just one legal issue, a heap of thought-provoking, topical stories are given short shrift. That is why, to make the Spotlight a little more well-rounded (incidentally, “well-rounded” is exactly why I lacked athletic prowess in my early years), I have decided to retire the “Right of Publicity” section in favor of a broad “Sports” category. This will enable me to cover more ground, and perhaps allow me to sleep at night (my kids have other ideas). With that explanation out of the way, let’s take this souped-up knowledge machine for a spin:
- With this week’s $8 billion acquisition of sports drink brand BodyArmor, Coca-Cola not only shored up its sports beverage portfolio (which already includes Powerade), but also boosted the portfolios of many stars who invested in the brand. Among them, was the late Kobe Bryant, whose estate reportedly netted a whopping $400 million.
- Trailblazing a path for those who come after him is 17-year-old basketball phenom Mikey Williams who has linked up with athletic apparel brand Puma, becoming the first American high schooler to land a global endorsement deal. From the sound of it, his back to school clothes shopping for his senior year of high school will be all taken care of.
- Electronic dance music mega-group Swedish House Mafia forges a partnership with Swedish household furniture retailer IKEA. Exact compensation details of the deal are undisclosed, but it is rumored (by me) that a portion of it will be paid in meatballs and difficult-to-assemble furniture.
- Quentin Tarantino’s name is synonymous with film storytelling from the end, but it may soon be with NFT monetization of “never before seen” clips, repurposing uncut scenes from Pulp Fiction. A Royale with Cheese NFT may soon follow.
The Sports, Arts & Entertainment group at Foster Garvey provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.