Welcome back to the “Spotlight!” What a difference a week makes. Last week, I was gripped by the New York Yankees in the playoffs (a convenient excuse for writer’s block), and this week I am gripped with disappointment in yet another postseason loss to the Houston Astros. I guess it is only fitting that the Yankees’ play would be as ghastly with Halloween right around the corner. On the “bright side,” my weeknights have been freed up for the foreseeable future (Knicks and Rangers, you’re cordially invited to fill the void). Speaking of filling a void, Corporate America has finally acted to replace its deafening silence towards recent antisemitic hate speech of Kanye West, with a long overdue rebuke of the artist. Indeed, companies such as Gap, Balenciaga, Adidas, Foot Locker and TJ Maxx (the lattermost being the most severe penalty one can receive in the eyes of my mother-in-law) have all severed ties with West – likely out of some mix of principle and concern for their own bottom line. Suffice it to say, West, who ironically rebranded himself ‘Ye.’ will have to get used to hearing the word, “nay.” Which, if I may, is enough to make me say, “yay!” But credit where credit is due, how prescient of West was it to seemingly implore listeners in a 2010 track to “runaway as fast as you can?” While that advice should have been heeded then, it seems West is now losing his spotlight.
- Norfolk State University’s basketball team strikes a name, image and likeness deal with a moving company. Word to the wise, don’t have them help out if you have to travel with a fish tank – they’ve been known to dribble.
- A group of former NCAA athletes seek to certify a class action lawsuit against the NCAA for having deprived them of the right to profit off of their names, images and likenesses while still in college. Their victory would likely feel as good as finding cash in an old jean jacket pocket – thousands of times over.
- Social media image-sharing platform Pinterest strikes licensing deals with major record labels for the inclusion of music on the platform. Undoubtedly, Queen’s “I Want It All” will be a frequent play.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight," and well…I am watching the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series while writing this, so let’s just jump right into it:
- Jay-Z is taking JV (Jay-V?) partner Bacardi to Delaware Chancery Court in a bid to compel the spirits company to disclose corporate records regarding the jointly owned Cognac brand D’Usse. Not an unreasonably request if I D’Usse so myself.
- Plant-based food company Wicked Foods launches concession stand for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx home games at the Target Center selling approachable vegan fare to basketball fans. Wicked is sure to be at the tip of the tongue, especially when the Boston Celtics are in town.
- LeBron James’ son Bronny James continues to rake in NIL dollars, because apparently being really good at basketball and having a father who is really good at basketball makes you really marketable. Which is to say, my sons would do well to hit the books.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" If you are just wakening up from last week’s snooze-fest of a Thursday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts, you have come to the right place. Allow me to bring you up to speed on some world developments over the past seven days. Kanye “Ye” West went on an antisemitic tirade for an audience of tens of millions, but not to worry, folks – Elon Musk (who is, by the way, back on course to acquire Twitter) spoke to Ye to express his concerns. Musk then went on to chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin about ending the war in Ukraine.
On a brighter note, I had the pleasure of attending the Sports Business Journal World Congress of Sports (Editor’s note: this marks just the first time in recent history that “pleasure” and “Congress” have been used in the same sentence), at which sports executives, league commissioners and other key figures discussed topics ranging from pickleball, to NIL, to eSports, to the ascendance of women’s sports, to sports betting, to collectibles, to streaming and everything in between. And although the “r” word (recession) loomed as something of a headwind, the consensus (another word not often associated with “Congress”) was that the sports industry is uniquely suited to weather the economic storm. Later, I “attended” an excellent virtual discussion between Prof. Michael McCann and ESPN College Game Day’s Rece Davis regarding NIL in college sports just a year in and where things figure to go from here.
For a nightcap, I finished it all off with a New York Yankees home playoff victory. Suffice it to say, over the next few weeks, I hope not to be getting nearly as much sleep as the well-rested Mets fans, and continue watching my Yankees deep into the October spotlight.
- Major League Baseball makes history, becoming the first major professional sports league to enter a sponsorship deal with a CBD brand, radiantly naming Charlotte’s Web as its official CBD sponsor. One can only wonder whether this move Wilbur-ing other leagues to the table.
- Private Equity stays bullish on music copyrights, with Brookfield chipping in a mere $2 billion to give Primary Wave a war chest from which to continue its acquisition of various artists’ song catalogs. $2 billion has a lot of zeroes, but that pales in comparison to the number of Spotify streams that it will take to recoup that investment.
- An early embracer of NFTs, DJ Steve Aoki’s revenue from NFTs has outpaced his earnings from music royalties – this presumably coming before the bottom fell out of the NFT market. Just goes to show you that the early bird catches the worm, but the early worm gets eaten.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" If you’re like me, after having fasted all day Wednesday, you’re probably relieved to be diving back into your morning coffee, mid-morning snack, mid-mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and so on. Of course, I am referring to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith in which one seeks forgiveness for their misdeeds by neither eating nor drinking for 24 hours and then (to loosely paraphrase the Torah) gorges oneself with bagels, cream cheese and lox when all is said and done, only then to seek forgiveness of one’s cardiologist. Fittingly, over the past few days, there have been other prominent (and less caloric) instances of making amends in the realm of Sports and Entertainment. To start us off, Kim Kardashian agreed to settle charges from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) over her having promoted via social media the EthereumMax cryptocurrency token without having disclosed that she received compensation (approximately a quarter million dollars) for the promotion. Perhaps I have been in this world for too long, but I don’t know how someone would not understand that Kardashian was being paid for the post. In any event, in lieu of fasting, Kardashian agreed to forfeit the fees she received from EthereumMax, plus a $1 million fine. Elsewhere in Hollywood, Alec Baldwin agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Halyna Hutchins, the Director of Photography of the film, “Rust” who was tragically killed on set when struck by a real bullet from what was supposed to have been a benign prop gun wielded by Baldwin during filming. In this case, the sum to make Hutchins’ family “whole” was undisclosed, but unquestionably, no amount of money could ever make up for the loss. With that backdrop of doing one’s best to legally right wrongs, what, if anything, is the olive branch that will be extended to Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who—after having clearly demonstrated neurological distress following an in-game hit on September 25th, was not only cleared by a neurologist to return to the same game, but also cleared to take the field again just four days later. As you may have heard, the results of the latter decision were horrifying to see, as Thursday Night Football viewers witnessed Tagovailoa experience brain trauma that sent him straight to the hospital. Thankfully, Tagovailoa says he is doing much better, and his case is causing a re-examination of the NFL’s concussion protocols, but what comes next for him and those who might have wronged him (hopefully more than a bagel and a schmear) is a question that will remain, for the time being, in the "Spotlight."
- As the mid-term elections approach, on tap for the new Congress will likely be a renewed look at federal name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation. For the sake of leveling the playing field across all states and athletic programs, hopefully the outcome will be greater than NIL.
- Chris Hemsworth, who plays the role of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is in far better shape than me, signs an exclusive first look deal with NatGeo Channel. The announcement itself is not that all unusual given that he’s not someone who likes to be low-key (get it…Lo-ki?).
- Phil Collins and two Genesis bandmates sell their song catalog for approximately $300 million. For Collins, it’s just another day in paradise.
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