Welcome back to the Spotlight, and Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa to all those who are celebrating holiday season. Hard to believe that 2022 has nearly come and gone, and we are all a year older, and I would hope I played a small part in making you a year wiser (jury is out one whether that would be from reading the Spotlight or thinking better of reading the Spotlight). Of course, no New Year’s celebration would be complete without a retrospective on the year that was. I tried to get Ryan Seacrest to take it from here, but it turns out that this is this one gig in which he has no interest. So, here I am, with my tuxedo (or what the moths left of it over the past 3 years) hanging up in the closet, to give you an oversimplified account of where we came from and where we might be going (call me Joshstradamus).
Up first, Argentine football/soccer star Lionel Messi closes out the year on a high note, claiming the FIFA World Cup earlier this week in a match for the ages over Kylian Mbappé and the French side. Speaking of messy, the artist formerly known as Kanye West (and currently known as unemployable), showed us that the marketplace of ideas has no place for hate, and the marketplace of consumer brands has no place for him. And while Chris Rock’s facial soreness from “The Slap” at the Oscars has abated, the memory of that incident is sure to last for years to come. Meanwhile, the sports and entertainment world proved itself for the um-teenth time a force for good and united in support of the resilient people of Ukraine and against Russian aggression and authoritarianism. Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals expanded over the course of their first year (a freshman fifteen, if you will) and, in their sophomore year. show no signs of slowing down or reducing their influence over athletes and universities. An NFT went from a three letter word to a four letter word with the crypto collapse. The number of copyright infringement claims in pop music have continued to build like a good chorus hook (and that’s only the ones that we hear about) while private equity investment in music copyrights reached stratospheric levels. And pickleball went from punchline to powerhouse, garnering widespread investment from entertainers and athletes alike.
Happy Holidays, y’all – see you next year!
Welcome back to the second to last (or penultimate, which is also the name I have given my favorite writing utensil) Spotlight of 2022! That’s right, I’ll be back next week to put a shining bow on the year that was, and then I’m off for the remainder of the holiday season. Lest you forget between hearing the seemingly ubiquitous jingling of bells beside a Salvation Army kettle, watching a marathon of different Hallmark Channel movies that are somehow all the same and suddenly having event plans that require more travel time than the amount of time spent at the event itself (bah humbug!). But don’t panic now, there is still plenty of time to get some last minutelast-minute shopping (and reading) accomplished. Need gift ideas? You’ve come to the wrong place. All I can tell you is what is likely an unpopular (digital) stocking stuffer this year, as compared to years past: NFTs and cryptocurrencies. I suppose that in light of recent lawsuits (related to EthereumMax and Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club) brought by strangers who have decided to stake their finances on the social media posts of other strangers (who happen to be famous athletes and entertainers that have announced their ownership of NFTs), I ought to disclaim here that this is not investment advice. Though I certainly need not disclaim that I am neither an athlete nor entertainer. So, you might say, for all the wrong reasons, NFTs and cryptocurrency is back in the spotlight.
- US Premier Rugby Sevens expands to a total of 16 men’s and women’s teams in an effort to spread interest in the United Kingdom-originated sport stateside in advance of the 2031 Rugby World Cup in the Americas. That’s one kind of UK spread I can get behind. Marmite on the other hand…?
- Rappers DaBaby and Roddy Ricch are among those named as defendants in a new copyright infringement lawsuit over their 2020 chart-topper, “Rockstar.” My defense strategy would be to plead infancy and have Roddy change his name to “Roddy Insolvent.” But then again, I am not a litigator.
- College sports recruitment season is in full swing, and the impact of NIL deals is being felt by schools such as Ohio State who are bitter that they are not the highest bidder.
Welcome back to the Spotlight! My grandfather and five-time Tony Award winning Broadway producer, Kermit Bloomgarden was, like many in the entertainment industry, prone to superstition. Both my interest in the entertainment industry and certain superstitions can undoubtedly be traced to him. It’s fair to wonder then, what am I doing proclaiming my sports fandom. Last year I sang the praises of University of Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz. Two mediocre (at best) seasons later, he is transferring out of the school. This summer, I waxed more poetic than a Crayola sonnet on the once unbeatable New York Yankees, only to send their season into a tailspin, culminating with a pathetic playoff showing against the (eventual World Series champion) Houston Astros.
Last week, I extolled the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of their World Cup soccer match against the Netherlands. And, well…they lost. So, perhaps to Badgers Nation, Yankees Nation and Nation…Nation, it was my fault and I should be more judicious with my praise. Or, maybe I should just blame supply chain issues—that seems to be en vogue nowadays. Yeah, let’s go with that. Besides, it is not as if anyone is reading this anyway. Anyhow, let’s get on with the show and what’s taking centerstage in this week’s Spotlight:
- Celebrity crypto influencers such as Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. dodge a lawsuit over the endorsement of the EthereumMax platform on grounds that the plaintiffs could not prove that they were actually influenced to purchase EthereumMax assets. In other words, the suit amounted to an effort to redirect blame for questionable financial decisions.
- As energy drink brand Bang Energy and makeup and skincare company Iconic recently found out the music available for synchronization on TikTok may not necessarily be approved for use in advertising. And no amount of caffeine and cover-up will get you out of a copyright infringement claim.
- New York state finally passes a name, image, and likeness law, but comes up short of the lofty promises once imagined for it. Notably, rather than including a mandatory 15% revenue sharing arrangement between the colleges and athletes, colleges have no such requirement and are instead prohibited from paying prospective athletes for use of their name, image and likeness. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere…seemingly as long as “it” does not mean as many NIL dollars as you anticipated.
Welcome back to the Spotlight! For all the controversy surrounding the selection of Qatar as the host country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the island nation’s scorching climate and chilly human rights record, I have been enjoying watching each of the 32 national teams playing “the beautiful game” of soccer/football/futbol (depending on who you ask). Maybe I am over-romanticizing sports, or maybe I still have “It’s a Small World After All” stuck in my head, but it is something to behold witnessing two teams representing their respective nations, such as those of the United States and Iran, set aside cultural and geopolitical differences and become united by the common game. To be sure, each team wanted to win, advance to the next round of the tournament and bring glory to its respective side (tip of the hat to U.S. Midfielder Christian Pulisic, aptly nicknamed, “Captain America”), but when the final whistle sounded—regardless of color, creed or nationality--the players were reduced to their lowest common denominator and in a show of class (and humanity) U.S. players consoled their defeated Iranian counterparts on the world stage. This act of compassion was in stark contrast to the threats of the Iranian team’s government, who threatened its players and their families with violence and torture if the team did not “behave” (i.e., remain silent in the face of its authoritarian regime). So, regardless of how far the Americans advance in the tournament, it has been nice to see the pureness of sport in the spotlight.
- Kim Kardashian finds herself in a public relations kerfuffle after luxury brand Balenciaga is panned for a controversial advertising campaign featuring children with provocatively dressed teddy bears. Ironically, Balenciaga once dressed Kardashian in a dress that completely covered her face. That (and a well-drafted corporate morals provision) could come in handy right now to extricate her from the blowback.
- For the third straight year, recording artist Bad Bunny claimed the title of the most streamed artist on Spotify, clocking in at about 18 billion streams worldwide. Fair to wonder how many more he might have if he was just named “Bunny.”
- Drake is teaming up with Nike to design a new sneaker dedicated to his mom, inspired by their favorite childhood book. Thanks a bunch, Drizzy. Now I am going to have to do better than flowers and a card for Mother’s Day this year.
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