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.”
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.