Good morning. It’s Monday, February 25, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
With the MLS season kicking off on Saturday, the soccer league is launching a new platform this week designed to celebrate the “art, detail and nuance behind every club’s jersey” with fans heading into the year. The platform, dubbed Jersey Week, will see 12 MLS clubs will unveil at least one new jersey in 2013 and next year all 19 clubs will take part.
Cynopsis Sports asked MLS CMO Howard Handler about the upcoming season, sponsorship this year, Jersey Week and other ways the league is looking to engage fans.
Handler on the new season: We can’t wait to get started. We’re excited for that first whistle to blow, which happens March 2. This year for the first time we’ll hold what we’ve dubbed Rivalry Week, which will take place March 16-17. Our partners at NBC will have a special ‘whip around’ show where they will check in on multiple games that are going on. We’re really excited about that and we think our fans will embrace it.
On fan engagement: Our team at MLS Digital has been doing some great work. Again this year we’ll have incredible apps which will add dimension to the game experience and satisfy that multi-screen itch. We’ll once again have MLS LIVE, where fans can watch every MLS game in HD quality on their tablet or their device of choice. We are laser focused on social media and our team is creating great content that our fans are sharing and liking and commenting on.
On the fans: The electricity, energy and passion of our fans – who we call supporters – creates an exhilarating live experience unlike other sports. Our supporters are organized and deeply connected to our clubs. They assemble before the game and march to the match. They stand for 90 minutes. They sing in unison, beating drums. They create breathtaking tifo displays. Our club in Seattle averages more than 43,000 fans per game. It is a lot of fun to be a part of.
On Jersey Week: Jersey Week is one element of our new March to Soccer platform. The launch event is tonight in New York, in conjunction with the New York Red Bulls. Artist Curtis Kulig will be unveiling original pieces of art featuring all 19 MLS clubs. There are previews up on Facebook right now. In addition to the national event, there will be 11 local events where MLS clubs will unveil a new primary, secondary or third jersey. This concept celebrates the art, the detail and the nuance behind every club’s kit and the passion that supporters have for their club.
On the pitch to sponsors: Our fans are multicultural, young, educated, fit, tech-savvy, passionate and committed to their clubs. Our supporters are the exact demographic that sponsors and advertisers are interested in.
On reflections from year one with NBC Sports: NBC leaned in hard from the get-go. A few things stood out to me. Firstly, Arlo White is an incredibly engaging play-by-play man. Secondly, having the analyst – former MLS player Kyle Martino – between the benches is very innovative and our supporters love it. The angle and vantage point that he has is so unique. It really adds to the viewer’s experience. He is interviewing coaches on the bench. He’s speaking with players at halftime. Most of all, NBC Sports is known for story-telling, helping you to see more, and making you care. They brought all of that to MLS, and we know we’re only getting started.
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada revealed the new realignment plan for the NHL, which will see the league boast four conferences, if the plan is approved. In the proposal, both the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets would move to the eastern portion of the league with the likes of Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec. While the eastern conferences would have eight teams, the western pair would each have seven.
Amid some recent challenges for the NCAA, President Mark Emmert received a boost of support from the association’s executive committee, which released a statement that the committee unanimously affirming its support of Emmert. However, the committee also stated that “the association move forward with the next phase of its regulatory review. A thorough examination and subsequent improvement of processes, policies, procedures and investigative tools is necessary. Developing a mechanism for monitoring adherence with policies, while also reviewing the interaction between the legal and regulatory staffs, is key to moving forward. In short, we demand the highest level of integrity and accountability not only from our peers but also from the national office. While progress has been made, additional important work remains.”
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com reports that the Mountain West Conference circulated a memo among its presidents questioning the leadership of the NCAA that read, “Is it time for the presidents to seek new NCAA leadership or a new organization? The NCAA has evidenced decisions that focus on trivial and penalize our athletes. The salaries for the NCAA leadership are excessive and an embarrassment to the Mountain West schools. Their decision making is cumbersome and oblique.”
Official confirmation on the ESPN/Big East deal. With an approval expected this week from conference presidents, Commissioner Mike Aresco sent reporters a statement that read, “ESPN has matched the third-party offer that the Big East received and, subject to Big East approval, ESPN and the Big East will continue, for years to come, their long-term relationship which began in 1980.”
NBA TV’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint will next feature the Cavaliers/Bulls tomorrow night at 8p, thanks to fan voting. Fan Night host Ernie Johnson and analysts Greg Anthony and Chris Webber will offer analysis during the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show at 7:30p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Tomorrow-FEB 26 || 1:30-3:15pm ET
Learn the New Social Media Secrets from Sports Insiders Hear from the following panelists: Kate Guerra (Social Media Mgr) from INDYCAR, Susie Lokey (Sr. Dir., Consumer Marketing) from Golf Channel, Gabe Lozano (Co-Founder/CEO) from LockerDome & Caty Marzi (Mgr, Social Media Business Devel.) from NHL + Moderator, Mike Trudell (Lakers.com Beat Reporter & TWC SportsNet Lakers Sideline Reporter).
Sponsorship & Promotion
FOX Sports revealed the newest recipients of its FOX Sports Supports initiative, which is designed to maximize exposure and awareness for charitable organizations. This year’s group will include Johns Hopkins Medicine, STOMP Out Bullying and Feeding America. FSMG will now dedicate resources toward the three charities this year in campaigns that span all of FSMG’s sports properties, events and assets beginning Sunday’s Daytona 500 and running through the 2014 Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey.
The ACC is getting into the restaurant business, and will be setting up The ACC American cafe next year, according to the Hartford Courant. The conference is partnering with HMS Host for the branding venture, which will open at Raleigh-Durham International Airport next year and offer dished inspired by the home cities of the conference’s teams.
NASCAR issued a statement about the fan-shot footage popped up from Saturday’s wreck that injured dozens of fans. After a YouTube clip of the incident was posted online and quickly yanked, that organization stated that “The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident. Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.” The video is now back up.
Sports journalist Joe Posnanski joined the NBC Sports Group where he will serve as its national columnist for NBCSports.com. Posnanski is the author of four sports books and will now contribute content across NBC Sports Group’s array of properties, with three long-form stories a week including a Friday column dubbed “The Big Read.” Posnanski was named the 2012 National Sportswriter of the Year by the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber will conduct his March to Soccer address via the MLS YouTube Channel, according to the league, and will take questions from reporters via an exclusive Google+ Hangout. The event is slated to take place on Wednesday, February 27, at 6p.
The Main Event
Golf Channel offers the season premieres of The Haney Project Michael Phelps and Feherty tonight with the doubleheader starting at 9p.
ON THIS DAY in 1987: Michael Jordan sets a Bulls record with 58 points in a game.
In The Know: What NBA player was known as The Admiral? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was the name of the club featured in Caddyshack? Answer: Bushwood Country Club. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Syndicated Network Television Association/NY; Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NY; Barbara Behrins-Captivate Network/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal Mc Cann/NY; Tim McGhee-MSP Sports/Summit; Juan Delgado-Telemundo/Hialeah; Mike Doyle-Spot On Media Consultants, LLC/Madison; Gregg Morriss-ESPN/Bristol; Jennifer Hernandez-Comcast SportsNet/Chicago; Jim McDonough-Captivate Network/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Maxus Media/Chicago; Rick Selah-TargetSpot/Dallas; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Jim Bernard-FOX Sports/LA; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego; Brian Robin-Brener Zwikel & Associates. Inc./Reseda; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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