Mar 24

March Madness vs. The NBA Finals? Talk about a blowout

March 24 - MarchMadness Does March Madness just keep getting better every year, or what? And, does it become more universal every year, or what? When I attended college in the late Middle Ages, guys were into the NCAA basketball tournament. Period. Now, it seems women are even more engaged in ‘bracketology’ than the men. And, how cool is that? (unless you happen to be a certain Kansas alum/intern who told this blogger her Jayhawks would win the national championship. Ouch!).

I think March Madness has become an opiate for the masses because of the success of such mid-majors as Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s. In the old days, it seemed like UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Maryland, Duke and a few other schools had a lock on the brackets. Now, it’s a wide open, fast break that any school can win. Even the smartest Ivy Leaguer wouldn’t have predicted Cornell would be a Sweet 16 team.

I reiterate the obvious because I just saw a print ad entitled, ‘Coming soon. The most anticipated television event of the year. The culmination of a long, emotional journey. A win or go home contest. All played out in front of a record-breaking national audience. America, are you ready for….The NBA Play-offs on TNT.’ I’m not. I could care less.

Aside from fans in Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and a few other markets, I think most sports fans find the NBA irrelevant. In my mind, it’s become the professional wrestling of big time sports. It’s all flash and razzle dazzle, featuring individual showmen trying to outduel one another (Gilbert Arenas pun intended). There’s no sense of teamwork or camaraderie in the NBA. The season is endless. And, the champion isn’t even crowned until mid-June.

That’s what makes the advertisement so irksome. I understand why the NBA is trying to leverage the national mania stirred up by March Madness. And, that’s fine. But, to run full-page ads suggesting the NBA Playoffs is the most anticipated television event of the year is ludicrous, if not borderline fraudulent.

My March Madness bracket may be worth a plug nickel at this point, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching each and every remaining NCAA game. As for the NBA finals? I think I’d rather watch grass grow.

Jun 17

Where’s Mr. Blackwell when you need him?

Forbes is great at compiling lists. They publish the 400 richest, the 100 best investments, the 300Top_10
Spartans. Oh wait. The latter wasn’t a Forbes list.

Regardless, Forbes has just published its list of the 75 most reputable companies in the U.S. There are lots of names you’d expect (Johnson & Johnson, GE and FedEx, for example) as well as a few surprises (Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). I found the latter two names particularly interesting in light of the sub-prime disaster.

But, enough about the good guys. I’d like to see a list of America’s least reputable organizations (a Forbes 500 version of Mr. Blackwell’s 10 worst dressed Hollywood stars, if you will).  Who would you put on the least reputable list?

Here’s my top 10 (bottom 10?):

1.) Jet Blue – From a reputation standpoint, this airline is a midair collision. And, what’s with JetBlue and bathrooms? First, they won’t allow passengers to use restrooms during a nine-hour delay on Valentine’s Day. Then, more recently, they forced a passenger to fly in a lavatory for an entire flight? (Note to self: use the restrooms before boarding).

2.) The entire airline industry minus Southwest.

3.) ExxonMobil, Shell and their ilk. How much longer before top oil and gas industry executives start fearing for their lives because of astronomically high gas prices?

4.) New York City crane suppliers.

5.) A New York City political infrastructure that allows crane safety standards to go by the boards.

6.) Ford (talk about being asleep at the wheel as the gas/environmental crisis loomed large on the horizon. They’ve finally begun shutting down assembly plans that make the gas guzzlers).

7.) Chrysler and the rest of the beleaguered American auto industry (imagine losing an 80 percent market share and still being in freefall?)

8.) The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, inc. (Mr. Wilpon: now, that you’ve finally fired Willie Randolph, it’s time to turn your sights on Omar Minaya. He’s the chief architect of this mess. Dump him ASAP and hire a GM who can build a blended team of veterans and up-and-comers.)

9.) The National Basketball Association. The game is a farce. Showboating "what’s in it for me?" players sharing the court with crooked referees makes for an NBA that’s on a fast break to oblivion (or, if not, at least becoming a legitimate rival to professional wrestling).

10.) The fast food industry. I still think they’re part of the problem, not the solution.

Thanks to Rob Longert for the idea.

Feb 21

Pro basketball fouls out

A new Harris poll of Americans shows a huge decline in pro basketball’s popularity. When asked to nameNba_3
their favorite sport, Americans chose pro football (30 percent), followed by baseball (15 percent) and college football (12 percent).

Pro basketball, which ranked third as recently as the late 1990s, is now an also ran. It garnered only four percent of the total, tying it with men’s college basketball and, ho hum, golf.

I’m not surprised by the results. Pro basketball is just plain awful. The season is endless. The games are boring. The players are one-on-one showboats. There’s very little teamwork and even less defense. Aside from that, it’s not bad.

The NBA model is broken and needs more than the next Michael Jordan to fix it. And, they’re paying the price with empty arenas and lower ratings.

I have to admit I never thought I’d see the day when Americans would rank basketball behind ice hockey, soccer and auto racing.   Hey, if nothing else, it may provide a co-branding opportunity. Maybe the NBA can strike a partnership deal with Ambien as a sure fire cure for insomnia?