Boxing’s Fight to Stay Relevant

With one of the greatest match-ups in boxing history… is the sport thriving or dying?

16788413705_1fc9d28e9c_oAs Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to celebrate his victory against Manny Pacquiao, astronomical sales figures for the “Fight of the Century” are still being calculated. It’s estimated at least 5.23 million people ordered the $100 event through pay-per-view. Tickets to watch the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas were selling for $1,500 to $500,000. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station even got a chance to view the match.

It’s going to be a once in a lifetime type of fight, and I’m going to be there just for the event of it all. Growing up loving sports, to be in a position where I can go to this type of event… it’s just wonderful.” -Tony Buzbee, an attorney who paid $74,000 for a pair of 12th-row seats

There has been a strong demand for Mayweather and Pacquiao to face off for years, but did they fulfill those wishes for the right reasons?

Mayweather didn’t waste any time showing off his first check worth $100 million. The fight also didn’t live Floyd_Mayweather,_Jr._vs._Juan_Manuel_Márquezup to the hype. Some say it was boring. It lasted less than an hour, and there were only a combined 229 punches. It doesn’t help that it was later revealed that Pacquiao was fighting with an injured shoulder.

Although the “Super Bowl” of fighting is over and it’s difficult to pinpoint what to look forward to next, boxing is certainly not dead. It’s a niche sport. Adam Wells with Bleacher Report points out the fight was only dull to people who occasionally jump on the bandwagon:

But this wasn’t so much a boring fight as a Floyd Mayweather fight, and you can label it dull if you wish, rail that he just doesn’t excite the masses with the offense everyone craves, but this is exactly what was likely to happen.”

Boxing will never be as appealing as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Despite Mike Tyson telling aspiring boxers to “Go to MMA,” boxing continues to show signs of growth.

Darren Rovell with EPSN points out boxing has delivered from both a revenue and time-filling standpoint as sports rights fees skyrocket. Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president of Showtime Sports and Event Programming, has this philosophy:

Millions of people in this country watch one fight a year. But if they have a really good experience, we believe they’ll watch two or three.”

Earlier this year, NBC and SpikeTV agreed to carry certain matches in primetime and on Saturday afternoons over the next several years. CBS also signed a multi-year contract to air at least eight Saturday events between April and September.

Boxing is thriving. The sport is just not on everyone’s radar until big matches pop up, like Mayweather vs.  Pacquiao, which help make up for lost time when they generate a projected record $400 million.

Will the NFL Exploit Its First Female Referee?

Congratulations, Sarah Thomas! The National Football League hired Thomas in early April, making thomas_Sarah_practice71her the first full-time female referee in the NFL’s 95-year history.

Thomas has a pretty impressive resume: working high school games in 1999, the first woman to officiate an NCAA game in 2007, the first female official to work a college bowl game in 2009, and the first woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium in 2011. She has also done sideline work for the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, and Indianapolis Colts during minicamp practices.

Although the married mother of three who also works in pharmaceutical sales told USA Today she’s “ecstatic” and “blessed,” not everyone is joining the celebration.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks told TMZ that he wondered if the NFL was “more interested in scoring publicity points than placing quality officials on the field.”

“It’s just like the Michael Sam situation – if he wasn’t gay, he would have gone undrafted. Instead, the league drafts him because I think they are trying to monopolize every aspect of the world. The same thing with a female ref. For the league, it’s great publicity. The NFL is all about monopolizing every opportunity.”

 
As exciting as the announcement can be, Marks makes a good point. Just one year ago, the league was dealing with a public relations nightmare: multiple players accused of domestic violence. The NFL is now trying to get back in good graces with women. A 30-second PSA aired during the first quarter of the Super Bowl to encourage viewers to pledge an end to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Drew Harwell with The Washington Post points out women are pro football’s most valuable players, making up an estimated 45% of the the NFL’s more than 150 American fans. Harwell cites C. Keith Harrison, a University of Central Florida associate professor, with finding women make or influence 85% of disposable-income purchasing decisions.

Female fans, a group beloved by advertisers, represent the league’s biggest opportunity for growth. Keeping these women spending has become a chief goal of the NFL.”

Thomas told USA Today she doesn’t consider herself a trailblazer. She says she plans to “wear her hair tucked up into her hat,” but will the NFL let her “blend in with the rest of her crew?” It may be too early to tell.

Do you know the name of other referees? Probably not. I’m going to put money on the idea that Thomas will be a household name by the end of the upcoming season for more than just her line judging during games.

Student Athletes Better Off As A Union?

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The jury is still out – so to speak – when it comes to whether college athletes should be able to join a union and “change the landscape of American amateur sports.”

The debate started grabbing national news headlines when the National Labor Relations Board ruled last March that Northwestern University athletes should be able to form a union because they are legally considered employees.

Northwestern is in the midst of appealing that decision.

Do you believe student athletes should be able to join a union? Click here to read a brief summary to get caught up and then vote in the poll below.