Sports and business are a match made in heaven, purgatory or college

Sports column: Cash Cropp

Despite what the NCAA told Jeremy Bloom or what NHL fans want to believe, sports and business are inextricably linked. I will include poker as a sport and a business. I promise that this will be my only mention of a game – I mean, sport – where sweaty, balding men exhibit dominant control of their facial muscles to intimidate or beguile opponents. And according to Buddy Cianci’s definition of a business, if money is being “rightfully taken” from a “willing” party and given to another, “respectable” party poker fits the bill.

So what are some cases of the two worlds colliding?

The NHL, the owners, the players and the fans (given in order of descending wealth) all know that hockey is the prepubescent poster child for the sport and business dilemma. Hockey is the sport and the NHL is the business, with the former taking a back seat to the latter. Right now, the best we can hope for is a government subsidy or the return of the Intolerable Acts with a hockey clause slapped on. (With the departure of John Ashcroft, the prospects of this are looking bleaker and bleaker.)

Just as Bo Jackson knows baseball, football and cricket, George Foreman knows boxing, cooking, naming children (all of his children are named George) and, most recently, house cleaning. With his Lean Mean Grilling Machines, he proved more than his worth in the business world. Now he has introduced a home cleaning system, which will probably sell like hotcakes. If anyone can sell weapons of mass destruction to Iraq and then convince the New York Times that it actually didn’t happen, I’m sure it would be him.

Michael Phelps is a good athlete, but he made a bad business decision. What was he doing driving drunk? I’m disappointed, for the obvious reason that he could have been going home with just about any girl wherever it was that he was drinking. He should be jailed for his poor decision-making, in addition to his drunk-driving charge. I don’t think many sponsors will be calling him up too soon, unless they happen to be the same ones sponsoring NASCAR events. Stick to the water, Mike.

There are plenty of sports products that have gone kerplunk faster than Fidel Castro’s baseball career. The XFL, for example, was a great idea in practice. I’m sure anyone who has watched “SportsCenter” has seen Tom Emanski’s Defensive Drills video – possibly even seen the video back-to-back-to-back – and never, ever wanted to buy it.

There are some products that do not work with the diamond-ring principle, wherein if you make someone’s marital and sexual wellbeing depending upon the purchase of a product, it will be bought. The defensive drills video does not fit that description in most states, though not the 10 of 11 where citizens have decided that there are specific morals in sports.

As much as I have scoffed at the relationship between sports and business, I am morally obligated to praise the hand that feeds me. Without business, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to analyze sports while being remunerated at the current salary of NHL players. I doubt the NCAA is profiting off my labor, and I sure hope nobody at Brown is. I must warn anyone who tries: Buddy Cianci eventually will get out of jail.

Herald sports editor Ian Cropp ’05 enjoys the GCB.