A Week In Links: May 19

Photo: SI

Here are some sports links from this week:

Sports Illustrated compiled their annual list of the most “fortunate” athletes in sports today, the “Fortunate 50.” Most of the athletes selected are predictable, with a few that deserve the reaction of “wow, he made this list?” Guys like Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano Matt Schaub, and Carl Nicks (Offensive Lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I didn’t know him either).

Here’s the top 10:

  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. LeBron James
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Kobe Bryant
  5. Tiger Woods
  6. Phil Mickelson
  7. Derrick Rose
  8. Peyton Manning
  9. Alex Rodriguez
  10. Zack Greinke

The “Fortunate” issue also included the Top 20 highest-earning International athletes that the casual SI reader will not know. Like Lewis Hamilton, or Li Na.

In a world of ever-growing athlete endorsement contracts, SI’s Daniel Roberts analyzes how companies have changed their approach in signing athletes who could be volatile and damaging to the brand like an adulterous Tiger Woods or a doping Lance Armstrong.

“So how do companies now protect themselves when signing a deal with an athlete they believe is squeaky clean? The problem isn’t just about steroids, but conduct as well — who’s to say the star won’t make a wrong ethical move and embarrass the brand as well as lose fans?”

***

ESPN and Granland and Men in Blazers Podcast wordsmith and host Roger Bennett interviewed Landon Donovan about his post-sabbatical soccer comeback. Donovan “retired” from soccer after last year’s MLS Cup Championship and spoke to Bennett about his feelings toward his age, retirement and the world of soccer, especially the psychology of a soccer player.

“So much of Donovan’s analysis relates to the mental side of the game, and I wonder aloud whether he believes football has learned from the tragic depression-related deaths of goalkeeper Robert Enke and midfielder/manager Gary Speed. “This is not just a football problem,” he suggests, “It is a societal one. We live in a world where we want everything to be happy to such an extent we are willing to ignore sadness and pretend all is good … which is what I was doing at the end of last year even though I was not in a happy place mentally. I think it is important to understand that maybe someone has something going on we are not aware of.”

***

RadioInk Magazine had an article this week about the growth of sports talk radio and how it is succeeding while music formats are failing.

“Today there over 700 carrying the format, five national sports networks and many other regional sports networks.” 

“Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says “I wish I had a sports station in every market.” He says we’re going to see more and more stations going sports. “It would not surprise me to see 1,000 stations programming sports and we’re going to see more sports stations moving to the FM.”

FM has superior audio quality and this generation of radio listeners – who actually still listen to the radio, apparently – don’t check the AM dial like they used to. Expanding to FM would reach a whole new, bigger audience. Sports talk stations have an advantage over music because the audience actually tunes in for the personalities, the opinions and the news of the day. Music format stations have almost deleted the on-air personality in an attempt to squeeze more songs and advertisements into the infinitesimal attention span of their listeners.

“Ryan Maguire told the Radio Ink Sports Conference crowd yesterday that “music formats on FM were in trouble,” because personalities no longer play the role they used to on music stations.”

And in the case of advertising, which is always the most important thing, RadioInk says:

“Another theme at the conference was the ability to make more money in the sports format, partly due to the blurred wall between “church and state.” Live reads and in-game sponsorships can be woven more into the content than in any other format. And hosts endorsing products has become big business.”

Sports talk radio is here to stay and is growing. Which, for people like me, is good news.

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