The Word On...

The Word On...

May 20, 2015 4:00pm


International soccer is a pretty corrupt sport. So this story shouldn’t come as much of a shock. It kind of is what it is. Brazilan newspaper O Estadao recently reported that “Brazil sold partial control of its squad selection to a marketing firm ISE,” in 2006. Brazil’s federation is denying the report, because, well, of course they are. They aren’t just going to come out and say, “Yeah, we did it. Sorry.” More from The Big Lead:

The notion scandalizes. Few are gratified viewing soccer as first and foremast, a grand enterprise for marketing and personal profit. But, that’s more or less the reality. The World Cup is the “single greatest marketing tent pole on the planet.”

Brazil is big business. Just the swoosh on the chest earns the CBF $33 million per year from Nike. Players will wear those sassy new warmup jackets in the 90 degree heat!

Brazil friendlies are big business. The players have been international soccer’s troubadours for years. Stars are based on Europe. The national team seldom appears in Brazil. Eleven of the team’s last 13 friendlies have been abroad – London, Paris, Vienna, Istanbul, Singapore, New York, Miami, Johannesburg, Toronto, Beijing, and Seoul. The other two were warm up friendlies for the 2014 World Cup.

Read more here.



The Gulf nation of Qatar will play host to the 2022 World Cup. Since being granted the rights, Qatar has come under scrutiny from nearly every news organization worldwide for its treatment of workers. Earlier this year, while filming a documentary on the worker conditions, a German television journalist and his camera crew were arrested. From Vice Sports:

When they'd finished filming the dorm, the crew thanked the workers and moved on to a new location. At their next stop, Bauer and his crew were approached by two men in plainclothes who introduced themselves as police and arrested the group. The police took Bauer and his team to a station, where, for the next 14 hours, they were interrogated. What were they doing here? Did they have permission to film? Was there an ulterior motive? When they were through, the authorities released the crew to their hotel, where they weren't allowed to leave for the next five days. Bauer and his team didn't get their equipment back for weeks, and when it was finally returned, all of the information—work-related and private data, like photos and contact details on Bauer's phone—had been deleted.

Now, one of the biggest news organizations in the world, the BBC, is telling a similar story. From Awful Announcing:

On Monday the BBC posted an article written by Mark Lobel entitled, “Arrested for reporting on Qatar’s World Cup labourers.” The article documents a group of BBC journalists traveling to Qatar to document supposed improved working conditions for migrant workers on a PR tour set up by Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee.  While doing other research away from the carefully guided PR tour, the journalists were arrested.

Check out more from Vice Sports and Awful Announcing.



Clickhole is a satirical website. (It’s the same people who run The Onion.) Anderson Cooper is a journalist at CNN. Anderson Cooper wasn’t aware that Clickhole was a satirical website. Clickhole recently published a “story” on “What Anderson Cooper Told a College Graduation.” Anderson Cooper, still unaware of what Clickhole is, fired away a response on Twitter.

Anderson Cooper was eventually told what Clickhole is.

[h/t: Huffington Post]



Putting your John Hancock on a camera screen looks pretty sweet. Terrell Owens did it. Tennis players do it. The winner of a Red Bull Signature Series event does it (like James Stewart at Straight Rhythm last year). There is typically a protective screen over the camera. When Collins Injera, an international rugby star, signed it a camera recently, there was no such protective screen. How much will it cost to replace? Try a cool $94,000 (!!!!!), according to Yahoo. WOW. Just wow!

[h/t: Yahoo]



Flying cars were once a thing “that was bound to happen.” It didn’t. Something that may be more likely to happen is electric planes, says Motherboard. NASA apparently hopes “electric airlines could be buzzing across the skies in twenty years, and hybrid planes a decade sooner.” Interesting. From Motherboard:

But where the commercial flight industry has been slow to change, NASA seems to be positioning itself as a thought leader. Over the next decade, the space agency will focus on making conventional propulsion systems cleaner, by designing more efficient engines and cutting conventional jet fuel with vegetable oil or biomass-derived fuels. While biofuels do, in theory, emit fewer greenhouse gases than their petroleum-based counterparts, whether they could make a substantial dent in an aircraft’s pollution footprint is, at this point, an open question.

“No emissions data [for alternative fuels] exists at cruise altitude conditions, and fuel effects on plume chemistry and contrails are not known,” NASA writes.

You can read more here.



So if NASA gets into electronics, what about rockets? Well, apparently there are other uses for those. Some guy named Colin Furze attached at rocket to a GoKart and it worked. A rocket, man!!! A rocket!!!!

[Please don’t try this at home]

[h/t: Esquire]



Jon Lackman of the New York Times recently had an interesting article on extreme sports—snowboards, skateboarding, motocross etc.—and kids competing in such sports. Like many of you, I grew up in extreme sports—BMX, motocross, snowboarding—and still participate in them today. Yes, they are dangerous, but that’s kind of why we do them, right? For the thrill. I don’t have kids, but I’m sure some of you do. Did you know that action sports might make your kid behave better? What are your thoughts on the article? More from the Times:

The Norwegian research psychologist Ellen Sandseter, who has published two dozen papers on children and risky sports, describes herself as having been “a sensation-seeking child,” phrasing she prefers to “thrill-seeking.” She was lucky, she says, to have a father who took her skiing and mountain climbing. By the time she was a young adult, she noticed that parenting attitudes were changing, that fewer kids got the opportunities she did, and she resolved to investigate why.

In the 1990s, she says, a program introduced Norwegian teenagers with drug problems to sky diving and other extreme activities. After that, they committed fewer drug offenses, fared better in school and reported being happier. In a later study of 360 high schoolers, Sandseter and a colleague found that those who said their parents encouraged things like rock climbing and kayaking were less prone to criminal and antisocial behaviors like speeding, stealing and vandalism. “If you’ve grown up with a lot of experiences with risky play, this teenage period will be more manageable, you’ll be more realistic in your risk assessment,” Sandseter says.

Read more here.



Mike Rogge of Vice Sports recently asked: “Do the X Games still matter?” It’s a question he doesn’t really answer in his article, but a good question to bring up. [Full disclosure: I do research for X Games part-time.] In our world, motocross and supercross, the X Games has lost some luster—freestyle isn’t nearly as popular as it once was and they no longer hold supercross events. In other action sports it’s still the biggest event of the season, and the move to Austin in 2014 has done wonders. This year, Metallica will headline the event, with Nicki Minaj, Talib Kweli, Pennywise, Kid Ink, and more joining. Here are some numbers from Vice Sports, which I think kind of answers their question, which they didn’t do: YES!

X Games Austin last year saw the largest audience—160,000 attendees—in the event's history, despite moving the event from late July to early June. TV numbers, according to Nilesen ratings, for X Games Austin reached 32 million viewers, up 10 percent from 2013. One ESPN insider who spoke with VICE Sports said coverage of the debut of video gaming was among the highest trafficked content on

And while the event broadens its reach, some, such as SNOWBOARDER Magazine editor Tom Monterosso, believe value in the event is dependent on storylines.

"X Games has more impact on the core audience than the Olympics," says Monterosso. "The X Games, as far as a core audience is concerned, still has the ability to be a king-making event, like when Danny Davis this year beat Shaun White and won gold. If Shaun wins, the core doesn't necessarily care all that much, but if someone beats Shaun, like Danny did fair and square, it matters."

X Games also weighed in via Twitter.

Check out more on Vice Sports.



Blackout policies were created long ago by sports leagues to entice people to attend games. The NFL has a policy in place stating: “a home game cannot be televised in the team's local market if all tickets are not sold out 72 hours prior to its start time.” The MLB and NHL policies are a tad different. According to Deadspin a “U.S. District Court judge Shira Scheindlin yesterday granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify class action status in an antitrust lawsuit against MLB and the NHL, a case that threatens to demolish the decades-old blackout system in sports media.” More from Deadspin:

Scheindlin’s decision, which you can read here, finds that essentially all members of the class of consumers in the market for MLB or NHL content have the same alleged injury due to the antiquated blackout system that denies fans a la carte access to teams outside their league-mandated local market.

Check out the full article here.



Two-time defending Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Ed Carpenter had a scary crash this past weekend in pre-qualifying. Carpenter luckily walked away unscathed, but according to USA Today, IndyCar announced “later Sunday that teams must lower their turbocharge boost to pre-qualifying levels and race in the trim they qualify in Sunday.” More from USA Today:

After the crash, a group of high-powered officials and IndyCar players including Team Penske owner Roger Penske, Team Penske president Tim Cindric, Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar president of operations and competition Derrick Walker were seen gathering, along with Carpenter. That group later expanded to include Honda and team owner Michael Andretti, among others in the IndyCar trailer. The group met—in different incarnations—for a couple of hours before Miles and Walker announced the changes.

“Safe to say,” changes will be mandated for the Chevrolets soon, said Cindric, who noted there were different opinions in the room and Team Penske had its own. Ultimately, the decision on what to do – and change, and when – is up to IndyCar.

Read more here.



Since Kyle Busch’s crash in February left him with a broken right leg and left foot, NASCAR has taken measures to install new soft walls and tire packs at racetracks around the country. According to the New York Times, the reaction from drivers was both gratitude and some confusion.

“I don’t know why it would have taken my crash for them to review it as in-depthly as they’ve shown lately,” Busch said this week after announcing that he would return for the All-Star race. Busch is eligible to compete on Saturday because he won a race in 2014.

"It’s unfortunate there’s as much coming after crashes than there is beforehand,” he said. “But it has been encouraging to see the response that we’ve gotten from post my crash.”

“A lot of times you don’t react until you see something bad happens and you’re like, 'Oh, shoot, maybe we should have done this or should do this to make sure it doesn’t happen again,’” the driver Joey Logano said. “Unfortunately, we see a lot of big gains after something goes terribly wrong.”

Read more here.


Powerful People in Sports Media

The Big Lead recently ran a list of “The 25 Most Powerful People in Sports Media.” Topping the list was Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN. Also on the list was Charles Barkley (TNT), Peter King (SI and MMQB), Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) and Steve Matthes…kidding. Let’s not give Steve too much credit. Anyway, what would your list of “Most Powerful People in Sports Media” in supercross and motocross look like?