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Posts from September 2023.

This past week a Sports & Entertainment Spotlight unto itself shone bright at Arrowhead Stadium as Taylor Swift cheered on her rumored love connection Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.  In the wake of that game (Kelce scored a touchdown and his team won, by the way) the media has been abuzz about the budding romance, and Kelce has seen his social media following, podcast listeners and jersey sales go through the roof. Is that the Taylor Swift effect? Probably.  But, in fairness to Kelce (a future hall of famer and two-time Super Bowl champion tight end), for that same game, he did shed his goatee in favor of a firefighter-chic mustache—so maybe there is some correlation there...?  We already knew from Swift’s global tour that tickets were hard and expensive to get – but that was when she was performing.  Now with the price of Chiefs tickets ballooning (including for this week’s tilt against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, at which Swift is rumored to be in attendance), you still have to break the bank when she is a spectator. All of this is coming together at the perfect time. The Writers’ Guild of America and Hollywood studios agreed on terms to end the months-long strike. Surely, some writers will be inspired to retell the story on the big screen, while others will be able to write jokes for late night television. Worst comes to worst, Swift will have a memorable breakup song to perform in the future under her stadium spotlight (on the stage—not in a suite).  

    • The Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium pilots an artificial intelligence-powered version of owner Jerry Jones to answer various questions. AI Jerry has been strategically placed near restrooms for convenience of those who inevitably soil themselves in fear.

    • Goddess of Pop, Cher is alleged to have hired men to kidnap her son amidst a divorce fight between her son and daughter-in-law. A shocking but not surprising revelation for a singer of the song, “I Got You Babe.”

    • Iowa Pork Producers Association shows their humor chops cutting a squeal deal with Iowa State Cyclones football players Myles Purchase, Tyler Moore, Tommy Hamann and Caleb Bacon  (Purchase Moore Hamann Bacon), and in so doing, temporarily assuaged my beef with humanity. 

    • League One Volleyball (LOVB) launches with $35 million in Series B funding to be the first season-long professional women’s volleyball league, setting themselves up for a bump and spike in interest in the sport.  

For those of you that were already feeling overwhelmed by the early onset of pumpkin spice at the end of summer, with autumn now being upon us, it is now socially acceptable for those flavors and aromas to pervade daily life.  Autumn also means that football season is in full swing. And while certain fanbases take football season as license to be lunatics (looking at you, Buffalo Bills fans), it is never socially acceptable to threaten violence upon athletes.  Last weekend, the University of Colorado football team, that has been enjoying a name, image and likeness (NIL) fueled renaissance under new coach Deion Sanders faced off against its in-state rival, Colorado State University. In the midst of a hard-fought game with emotions amplified by rivalry and media fervor centering around a war of words between the larger-than-life Sanders and CSU coach Jay Norvell, CSU defensive back Henry Blackburn delivered a late hit on Colorado’s star player and future NFL draft pick, Travis Hunter, knocking Hunter out of the game.  Although Hunter’s team ended up winning the game, we later learned that Colorado fans had sent death threats (via social media, text and phone) to Blackburn in the aftermath of the late hit. Sadly, the lack of human decency is not new, but with NIL driving media prominence for college athletes who are connected with fans like never before, more needs to be done to discourage this type of behavior. After all, it is just a game. With that off my chest, let’s see what else we have in the spotlight. 

    • Pop singer-songwriter Katy Perry sells her music catalog (both her interests in master recordings and musical compositions) to private equity-backed Litmus Music for a teenage-dream exceeding sum of $250 million.
    • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise becomes the official mayonnaise of six top football universities, opening up the door for cardiology sponsorships at six top football universities.
    • Hollywood talent management company Brillstein Entertainment Partners is acquired by sports, entertainment and media representation agency Wasserman. Details of the tie-up were not disclosed, but I’m told someone stomped on a glass at closing.

Week one of the NFL season is in the books, leaving many teams, players and fans (whether it be New York Giants fans such as myself bemoaning a Sunday night beat down at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, or Los Angeles Chargers fans frightened by the experience of sitting in the stands next to humanoid robots) trying to tear pages out. The week was also riddled with injuries—not all that surprising in the sport of football. However, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ tearing his Achilles tendon was entirely unexpected particularly after an offseason of hype (chronicled on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”) and Super Bowl aspirations. Brands, sponsors and media companies who staked significant sums on the Jets bandwagon certainly got their money’s worth with the Jets and Buffalo Bills’ matchup on Monday Night Football earning the highest ratings for the program in history, but whether that value will hold over the course of the NFL season seems like a riskier proposition.  Going forward, it’s fair to wonder whether in negotiations, companies will be more attuned to the risk that a star player’s injury could end up squandering their investments. After all, Inter Miami Football (Soccer) Club without Messi is messy. And the Jets without Rodgers may well be stuck at the gate.

    • The two major pickleball leagues merge in a deal valued at $50 million, signaling yet again that pickleball is ready for brinetime.
    • Speaking of pickles, DJ Steve Aoki is the latest recording artist to wade into the fast food industry, joining forces with Burger King to create a “Whopper” track. When Aoki asked for creative control, Burger King said “have it your way.”
    • Tom Brady joins Delta Airlines as a strategic adviser for its workforce. Amongst Brady’s likely tips: have multiple retirement parties and whatever you do, don’t eat bread.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! I am just a few days removed from hand surgery, so on the one hand, I’d ask you to excuse my brevity. But on the other hand I’d sheepishly ask, hat in hand, for you to clap your hands for my shorthanded effort. Your handsome award for handling my handwringing puns?: this week’s installment will ensure your finger is on the pulse for the latest in Sports and Entertainment. 

    • On the heels of a statement upset by the Deion Sanders-coached University of Colorado football team over Texas Christian University, Colorado’s star players Shedeur Sanders (Deion’s son) and Travis Hunter saw their name, image and likeness valuations soar by a combined $5.3 million. Talk about a Rocky Mountain high!
    • Just as Universal Music Group and Deezer forge a pact on a royalty model that incentivizes popular human recording artists over those of artificial intelligence, AI music creator, Ghostwriter releases a fake Travis Scott track and Warner Music Group signs digital influencer Noonoouri to a record deal. To Noonoouri’s credit, “she” was gracious in thanking her ardent supporter, 001101011100.
    • Hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen purchased a New York based team in Tiger Woods and Rory Mcilroy’s TGL Golf League. Because if there’s one thing the Mets know better than the baseball diamond, it’s the golf course. 

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