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Speaking of Bailouts, What ‘bout Them Browns??

It’s not a good time to be a sports team owner.

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Particularly if your sport is not considered one of the Big 3. Even then, baseball, football and basketball are tightening their belts (which Plaxico should have done).

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The NFL laid off 150 employees, the NBA cut 80 last month. MLB, which has more problems than can be addressed here (yet, still survives) surely will follow suit…as soon as Bud Selig wakes out of his stupor. So I’m guessing May earliest.

After that, the rest of the sporting world is in trouble. The potential demise of the Arena Football League is terribly tragic. It is a fun and highly entertaining product, with family-friendly ticket prices and edge-of-your-seat play. We in the Cleveland/Akron area just got a franchise last year; now it may be gone.

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The NHL Board of Governors met this week, and held heavy discussions about the near-term (and even long-term) future of the league. Given the state of the economy, many NHL teams may be on extra slick ice right now. Which, again, is too bad.

NASCAR is taking serious sponsorship hits. Formula 1, the same. Bernie Eccelstone may have to take a pay cut. IndyCar hasn’t been heard from yet, but it cannot be pretty. Second, third and fringe race series are probably in the same boat. Grassrooters probably stand a better chance; getting a few hundred in sponsorship cash from the local Safeway is easier than hitting Safeway corporate for a few mil.

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Golf? Well, Tiger lost his ride, and if Tiger takes a hit, everyone down the money list is taking a hit. The LPGA, a solid three wood away from somewhat healthy before the world melted down, better worry more about the checkbook than English lessons.

We will all soon be living in a far different sports world, one in which we could be saying things like: “I remember back in the day when there was professional football.”

All this means is that your favorite tire companies will likely have far fewer venues for brand promotional and participation. And the sporting world will be the poorer.

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If you have comments to share, send to me at [email protected]

– Jim Smith

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