The Business & Politics of Sports


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Behind Nike’s Decision to Stand by Colin Kaepernick

Be entertained. Every level of sports — from your local youth leagues straight up to the pros — has become big business that generates big money and big influence. On Capitol Hill, that sports business blatantly wields its power to get what it wants, and often succeeds.


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In the justice system, sports figures are, perhaps more than ever, at the center of major criminal investigations because they once felt invincible, but are no more. On the field, the sports world produces heroes that are discussed around the dinner table, in nearly every part of our country, with a searing fervor otherwise saved for debating politics or religion.

In the Olympic world, sports help give nations credibility and also can spark international conflict. For good and bad, the sports world is bigger and more powerful than ever, with athletes wielding more and more influence over our culture and our politics. RSVP for all of Juliet's seminars here. When top athletes talk, why does the public listen so closely?

Because, in many cases, they have more power than politicians. When several members of the St. When LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates wore black hoodies to show their support for slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, it spurred countless dinner time conversations about whether athletes should even involve themselves in serious issues.

Should athletes keep their focus on the playing field, or do they have a duty to speak out on social issues because so many people look up to them? Or, when Russia enacted an anti-gay law before the Sochi Winter Games, why did so many Olympic athletes refuse to talk about the politics of it, saying sports and politics should remain separate?

What, exactly, is the duty of the athlete in those situations? Guest via Skype : Richard Lapchick, a sports sociologist who has long been considered one of the nation's leading experts on sport and society. How did those FIFA officials reign without much, or any, impunity for so many years? How did the International Olympic Committee allow global soccer to get to this point of such widespread corruption that, by the end of , more than 40 officials in the sport pleaded guilty or were arrested for crimes that included receiving bribes and kickbacks?

Why was the United States government the one to finally step in to say, enough? Can leadership of international sports — where so much money is to be made in the face of so little oversight — ever be trusted? Guest via Skype : George Vecsey, author and journalist who penned the Sports of the Times column for more than 30 years.

Vecsey is an expert on the history and inner-workings of international soccer.

Your Politics Are Hilariously Indicative Of Which Sports You Like - Business Insider

Fantasy-league betting has become a multibillion-dollar industry. But will it soon be extinct? Yet those days might be coming to an end. Those sites and ones like them are at the center of an ongoing, sizzling public policy debate that pits whether internet fantasy league gambling is a game of chance or a game of skill. We discuss the future of fantasy leagues and whether they should be legal. Also, does that type of gambling dehumanize the athletes, who feel like disposable pawns in that money-making game?

Should fans even care? Guest: Bill Bogot, a Chicago-based lawyer who specializes in gaming law.

Now do these women, whose World Cup-winning final game was the most watched soccer game in United States history, have the power to demand better fields? And as we birth startup unicorns at an ever increasing clip, how will the scale versus profitability debate evolve in the coming year? Happy reading, and a very happy ! On December 11, to be precise.

As three states in the Hindi heartland— Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan— had polled in favour of the Opposition Congress, the potential allies of a Mahagathbandhan grand alliance became hyperactive. The subsequent bus ride of the opposition bigwigs representing as many as 17 political parties to attend the swearing-in ceremonies of the new CMs became a potent visual symbol of opposition unity. And its growing strength is derived from one factor — even parties with opposing ideologies are willing to unite for the cause of Modi hatao remove Modi.

For the BJP, too, Modi will be the central card of , making the election a referendum on him. And come the month of May, three possible scenarios, not necessarily in this order, might emerge. First, Modi manages a decisive mandate similar to his seat victory of He will tame the bureaucracy better, experiment with long-term reforms, attempt some bold disruptions, like he did with demonetisation in November , and continue attempts to consolidate power across all domains.

The economy and the market will hail the stability factor and the world will hear much more about the India story. In the second scenario, Modi is a weakened PM, dependent on the whims and fancies of new coalition partners.


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  • Course summary.
  • The third scenario is that of a clear victory for the opposition coalition, the exact shape of which is still emerging. This will mean an end to the Modi era and the return of coalition politics. But then, it would be a government on the edge, with relentless negotiations and remote controls across the nation — in Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, and yes, Amaravati. It was the first Indian endorsement by the Argentine, a fivetime Footballer-of-the-Year award winner. It threw up a surprising result. Football was the real game in town for them. In fact, there is a healthy tussle between sports when we look at television viewership.

    But what is concerning marketers is the perceived shift away from cricket among the socioeconomic cream of the audience.

    Institute of Politics

    One barometer of the public mind is the endorsement deals signed by brands. The new kids on that block actually come from areas other than the traditional pin-up nurseries such as cricket, football, badminton and tennis. Think about how year-old Hima Das bagged a contract with global footwear and sports equipment maker Adidas after she won two gold medals in the Asian Games earlier this year.

    This startup just won $75,000 to bring relevant healthcare information to people of color

    Cricket always had challengers for mindspace in the last decade. As a result, cricket has moved more towards the hinterlands in its search for new players and newer viewers. While others sports are notching up minor victories, cricket remains a sport where India is at the top, both as a team and as the most influential spectators of the game, raking in the moolah.

    But in , it will battle the erosion of the undefinable coolth from its ranks. Startups have taken this mysticism a step further, anointing those ventures that scaled the billion-dollar valuation mark with this burdensome tag. You can raise never-ending sums at galactic valuations and justify the burn by flaunting market share, or even market creation in some cases, with no clear path to profitability.

    This is the most divisive debate in the world of startups. Conservative investors baulk at the thought of throwing money at companies that grow recklessly, with no profitability in sight. The ever-present assurance that the unit economics are intact and the firm can turn a profit if it stopped growing cuts little ice with them. But then, when such companies one day land the biggest of exit cheques — think Flipkart — making mouth-watering returns for their seemingly reckless backers, the sceptics shake their heads in disbelief. India is making unicorns at a faster clip than ever.

    The latest entrant into the club — B2B marketplace Udaan — took just over two years to get there. In , we also saw SaaS firm Freshworks, hospitality platform Oyo and food delivery app Swiggy joining the club. Growth plans are also getting more ambitious. And it has solid investors backing that dream. In more than ever, therefore, the scale versus profitability binary will be hotly debated. His decade-old company is a profitable unicorn.

    Ride sharing giant Ola says it is profitable at a unit level and is working towards making money at a company-wide level, whereas Swiggy has seen losses double in as it pours capital for growth.

    Stick to Sports: Why Sports and Politics are the Perfect Mix

    So, while funding-fuelled scale is heady and even necessary to some models, startups that disregard profitability do so at their own peril. Or do they? India should do away with the Concurrent List, he said. As high school Civics lessons taught us, the Concurrent List contains subjects that both the Central and state governments have a say on, leaving room for ambiguity, unlike the state and Central lists with their clearly defined scope and powers.

    Blurring the line between sports and politics

    This was the latest salvo by Rao in a growing clamour for greater autonomy for the states. State governments hate meddling by a muscular central government on key subjects such as education, health, environment and forests. When Modi government came to power in with an absolute majority after 30 years, it was only natural that the Centre would assert itself and try to fasttrack major decision-making. This government has not been accused of policy paralysis.

    This would not have been possible without nudging the states to undertake a range of reforms. There are currently separate debates raging about data around both. The GDP growth data has been muddled up over the last five years. First, the base year for calculating the growth was shifted to , rendering infructuous comparison with years prior. Earlier in , a committee under the National Statistical Commission released a back-series that upped the UPA-era growth by basis points. That sufficed to discredit all government data. Commentators pointed out that the trends from the official data did not match the data on related indicators from the period.

    There are signs of healthy increases. But these numbers are inadequate as they report only organised sector jobs, and many organisations were reporting for the first time. Jobs shift from one sector to the other, as the size of a company grows, and job losses in one can overshadow the job generation in the other.

    Private sector data sets that use surveys to come up with jobs numbers Centre for Monitoring Indian Econo-T my, for instance indicate a slight increase in the unemployment rate. Answers may be available in the NSSO survey , but it is unlikely to be available soon enough. At the same time, one of the engines of job creation, the small and medium enterprises, had a tough time in the last two years, hit by demonetisation and issues over GST implementation. In urban areas, jobs may have been created in gig-mode, with the Zomatos and Ubers, but again, these may just have been people moving on from a job of another kind.

    Economic growth can also come without jobs. There is an interesting data table by the Centre for Sustainable Employment that shows how jobs growth has de-linked from GDP growth over the decades. On top of that, the Indian economy is decelerating, according to some experts. The former chief economic advisor to the government, Arvind Subramanian, said as much in December.

    As did a report from Nomura, which said growth peaked in the April-June quarter. The most foolproof engine of growth, exports, have stagnated over the last five years, leaving the economy dependant on consumption and government spending.

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