misc1

Toyota Park Sprint

This past weekend a Spartan Sprint (3+ mi) came to Chicago at Toyota Park (home of the MLS Chicago Fire). Seeing as this is my backyard, I was able to enlist 4 additional friends in addition to Courtney and myself. The weather was nice but is starting to turn in Chicago – it’s only going to get colder from here for the last few races of 2018.

 -Alex

Pittsburgh Super

I finally convinced someone other than my poor girlfriend to join me on a Spartan Race this past weekend. The victim? One of my best friends from business school, Kevin.

Our race consisted of 9 miles through Midwest terrain outside of Pittsburgh. The race got off to a rocky start since the venue location actually changed a few days before the race when toxic waste was discovered dumped across the course. The new location that it was moved to consisted of three mile loops. Allegedly it takes weeks to set up for an OCR course, so although rather lame to run laps, I was appreciative they were able to secure an alternate venue on such short notice.

A grueling course in its own right, it was a heck of a weekend catching up with an old friend and hopefully getting another person hooked on OCR!

-Alex

Spartan Race - Well that was "Super"

Oh boy – what a weekend. I just ran my first Spartan Race, a Super 8+ mi obstacle course race for those of you who don’t know. Our organizations President emailed our leadership team about six months ago about signing-up for this race. A few people replied including myself. I invited my girlfriend along. Neither of us had over done an obstacle course race (i.e. OCR race) before, but it sounded interesting. I knew I needed to either start running or lifting to get myself prepared, but the last few months at work had been busy and I was burning the candle at both ends to build three separate divisions from the ground up and create organization-wide strategies. So I decided to leave that for a bit, and I headed into this past weekend feeling very intimidated about everything I had heard about Spartan and obstacle races. And as it would turn out, not very many people made the race for a variety of reasons. In fact, it was just me and my girlfriendI.

Even though I hadn’t been working out regularly, 8+ mi would not have been a big deal to me since I regularly walk just about everywhere I go. However, it had been raining for nearly a week straight before we took the course, and there was mud thicker than glue and 10inches deep. Trudging through that for 8+ mi is a totally different animal however than walking. I’ll spare the drawn out details but needless to say, it took us 5 hours to complete, and took just about everything we had to get through the 30+ obstacles and 10 inches of never ending mud and freezing streams. Eventually we came to the finish, thoroughly exhausted, and a funny thing happened – even after a grueling 5 hours, we both had ear-to-ear grins on our faces. The moment we leaped over the burning fire pit and across the finish line where they placed heavy medals around our necks, a real sense of accomplishment washed over us.

As we hobbled back to the car and started the hour drive back home, I started thinking more about why I felt such an incredible sense of accomplishment. I had friends and co-workers taunting me the weeks leading up to it that gave me fuel to prove them wrong, but it was the fact that it was legitimately difficult and that real suffering and struggle was involved that made the experience.

Game Over. I am hooked. And for whatever reason, I feel like going to the gym tomorrow, for the first time in a long time, to get ready for the next one.

Aroo,

Alex

Tide Ad Commercial

This year’s Superbowl brought what I think is one of the best marketing campaigns/ ads I have seen in a long time. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the main one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO553ijYaJw

Then there are these secondary tie-in ads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIW3l-ENHdA&list=RDIIW3l-ENHdA&start_radio=1%3A30#t=59s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIW3l-ENHdA&list=RDIIW3l-ENHdA&start_radio=1%3A30#t=1m13s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIW3l-ENHdA&list=RDIIW3l-ENHdA&start_radio=1%3A30#t=1m29s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIW3l-ENHdA&list=RDIIW3l-ENHdA&start_radio=1%3A30#t=1m35s

What is so brilliant about these campaigns is that it fundamentally made me change the way I watched the rest of the Superbowl ads, and subsequently, all commercials in general. The premise of these commercials is that every ad is, in essence a Tide Ad, since the majority of commercials are shot with clean, fresh looking clothing. It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s memorable, and it fundamentally disrupted the way I view content lately. I’d say it would have been enough to make me try Tide, but the reality is I’m already a Tide consumer. I really found the whole thing brilliant.

I wrote this post in a freshly cleaned and pressed button-down shirt…. does that then make this a Tide Post?

-Alex

The Dumbest Thing I Did in Vegas was Walk Away Even

I don’t consider myself much of a gambler in the traditional sense. I’ll play poker with friends occasionally, but I’m not the type of guy to run off to Vegas for a weekend and drop a few grand. As such, it may be no surprise to hear that I had actually never been to Las Vegas until last week. I had been invited out to the area to speak at the XLIVE conference (fun conference series, recommend it if in a town near you). Although not all that interested in doing a lot of gambling, I love exploring new places, so I planned the trip to give me a full day to roam around the city to explore the famous casinos and digs. I was staying towards the end of the strip at the Mandalay. After getting the obligatory picture in front of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, I made my way up the strip and through the Luxor, MGM, ARIA, Bellagio, Paris, Caesars Palace, Venetian, and the Wynn. It was a long day of walking, but had a fun time exploring the over-the-top extravagance of each. If I were to ever come back, I’d definitely bring a friend as I could see how this could be a fun weekend if shared with others.

As the day turned to night, I decided it was time to try my hand at gambling. When in Vegas right? As I mentioned before, I play a little poker, so I sat down at a Hold ‘em table. BIG MISTAKE. I’m down $500 within 15 minutes to a shark that came and sat down next to me immediately. Ha wow, I’m starting to hate that 15 minutes into this I’m already in a hole. Instead of doubling down I cut my losses and move on to a variety of other games including the slots, blackjack, and craps. I have varying success at these and start to climb out of the hole I had quickly dug for myself. But then I discovered roulette. Oh boy.

It was amazing how the time disappeared without realizing it. Before I knew it, it was after midnight and I was still at the roulette table – slowly but surely climbing out of the hole. Around 1am I’mup $20. I feel invincible, I’ve climbed the mountain and I’m ahead (yes, I realize $500 might be peanuts, but for a non-traditional gambler, it’s a fair amount). I start to inject rational thought into my brain which is now on a high. WALK AWAY. I get up but stand watching the tablefor a moment and let a round or two play out without participating. At which point I gathered my chips, stood up, cashed out, and headed to bed.

…. And the story should have ended that way. But as I found out quickly, Vegas does strange irrational things to people. The beginning of the end started the same, but ended very differently haha.

I sit outside the table for a moment and let a round or two play out without participating. At which point I gathered my chips, stood up, and started to walk towards the cash out booth… as I’m walking over I start thinking to myself.

“You did it, you climbed out of the hole!”

“So you made $20 over the course of 5 hours… that’s $4 an hour… not all that impressive.”

“You know, that was actually pretty easy to climb out of the $500 hole you put yourself in. In fact, you’re at over $100 an hour if it wasn’t for that damn hold ‘em game…”

“To hell with this, I didn’t come to Vegas to break-even!”

I stop halfway to the cash out booth, turn around and march promptly back towards the table.

“$520 on red.”

The ball rolls.

“Black. I’m sorry sir.”

Wow, I hate this place haha. I turn around, and head back to my room and finally get in bed. As I doze off I smile to myself, for whatever reason, I sort of love the fact I went out that way, even if it ended up being the most expensive blog post I’ve written.

-Alex

Maple Leaf Adventures

I had an interesting experience recently when I was laid over in the Istanbul airport on my way to Bulgaria for a friend’s wedding. Generally speaking I think I’m pretty easily identified as being American when I travel. It’s not that I’m overly loud, boisterous, or any of the other American clichés - I just think there are subtleties to the way one dresses, moves about, etc. This can have its advantages and its drawbacks depending on where you are sure. The conversation I ended up having though, was much more interesting. It went something like this:

I’m sitting at a bar in one of the most frequently trafficked part of the airport getting in some quality people watching while feverishly writing work emails and scribbling notes on my legal pad. I’m sitting alone at a counter facing the pedestrian airport traffic when a complete stranger sits right next me. He has a shaved head, long black beard, lower lip piercing and tattoo on his throat. “Stan” he says in a thick accent as he extends his hand. Five empty seats to my right, six to my left. “Buckle up” I think to myself as I’m left wondering what is happening. Instinctively I casually wrap my foot around my bag under the table and check that my wallet is still in my front pocket. This guy “Stan” was definitely about to try and rob me. Stan asks me where I’m travelling to and whether or not I was meeting friends during my travels. I start answering his questions and responding with a slew of questions of my own – where is he from, why was he in Istanbul, etc. Maybe I’ll rob him instead.

My initial tension starts to subside after a while, but I still wonder why Stan keeps going on and on. We talk about his Belgium girlfriend, and his work as “the machine implementation guy” for his company. I still never fully understood what kind of work he did, other than he “installed machines” all over Europe. He starts dogging on the USA and Niagra Falls, mentioning that the Canadian side of it is much more impressive and beautiful – I agree as I recalled seeing photos from friends trip there years ago. We talk about our favorite places to travel. I tell him about my trips to Ireland, Budapest and Tanzania. He tells me about his love for the south of France and his passion for anything extreme sports related. “Do you speak French?” he asks me at one point before launching into French sentences. I stare blankly and mutter the only French phrase I know, followed by laughing at myself. “Oh, you’re not one of those” he says. “What the hell was that supposed to mean?” I think to myself. We go on for the better part of an hour – Stan buys me a beer and a hamburger. Just two old friends catching up.

I eventually close my work laptop as I realize I’m not going to get anything productive done. Work emails can wait a couple hours I uneasily tell myself. I still wonder why Stan keeps going on and on as it was obvious I was in the middle of something – I had a laptop out and had been in the middle of scribbling notes down when he approached. As I’m thinking about this some more, Stan asks me a question – “so, where in Canada are you from?”

“What?” I reply utterly confused.

“I said, where in Canada are you from?”

“Oh man, I’m wearing my Canada hat aren’t I?” I think to myself. Yep, I sure was.

Long-story short, one of my favourite (see what I did there) baseball hats is a Toronto Blue Jays hat with a huge red Canadian Maple Leaf on the front – I’m not sure a more Canadian looking hat exists actually.

Embarrassed I laugh a bit and tell Stan that I’m in fact not Canadian, and I’m American. “American!? No way man, you are from Canada.” I laugh, pull my passport out of my pocket and slide it over to him – wait, wasn’t this guy trying to rob me a minute ago? I casually grab my passport back and stuff it into my front pocket again. “You’re too nice to be American, and no way have I come sit here if I know you are American.” Curious, I ask him why. Ah, Canadians are the best, nicest people to talk to when travelling. You always got to be nice to a Canadian guy, you know? “I’m a nice guy and I’m American” I protest. “Yeah, but it’s not the same you know?” He laughs after saying this and we continue to chat for a few more minutes. The tab comes and in insists on paying. “First time I buy a hamburger and beer for an American” he mutters to himself while smiling. “Always buy a beer for a Canadian” he goes on. I don’t really know what to do, so I apologize for being American and thank him again for picking-up the tab. We’re both laughing and having a good time with it – we shake hands and we depart in opposite directions.

When I finally arrive in Bulgaria, I meet up with my other friend’s also out to attend the wedding. I recount my story, and to my surprise, two friends tell very similar stories about times they travelled and were accidentally mistaken for Canadian – one of them even ended up being invited to stay at someone’s home free of charge for the week! Again, no real point, but next time you travel, don your best maple leaf hat and see if you end up having some interesting stories you wouldn’t have had otherwise – maybe Stan will buy you a burger and a beer.

Also, if anyone has seen my credit card, please let me know.

-Alex

Hell Finally Froze Over for Duke Football

 

"By approaching our daily lives remaining focused to do everything with the wisdom of our experiences and the energy of our youth, we can continue to seize our opportunities and achieve beyond what we can ever imagine."
-David Cutcliffe

 

December 26, 2015. Most people will remember this day as having been during the holiday. Others maybe as the day after Christmas. And maybe even more specifically, as the day they saw the long anticipated Stars Wars sequel. I however will never remember that day for any of those things. Instead, I will remember it as the day a streak came to an end and as one of the best sporting memories I will ever have. The cherry on top? I got to spend it all with my father.

Duke 44 - Indiana 41. For the first time in 54 years, Duke football won a bowl game - the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Hell may have officially frozen over for a day, we're still waiting on confirmation. For anyone that knows me personally, you probably know how big of a deal this was for me. 

Ordinarily I would have thought that winning a bowl game would have been the event that marked Duke footballs rise from the ashes to finally be considered a somewhat legitimate football program. Oddly though, I am left with a completely unanticipated emotion. Disappointment. Disappointment in the season as a whole. Duke started the season 6-1, and then proceeded to tank after a heartbreaking and controversial finish against Miami, dropping 4 of its last 5 games of the season. They finished the regular season at 7-5 and limped into Pinstripe Bowl. How far has this program come over the last several years for me and many other Duke football fans to be able to sit here after a winning season that culminated in a bowl victory and still feel disappointed? I think it says a tremendous amount about the rise of the program and that the benchmark of relevance was hit before this past season even began.

Something that surprises even myself to say, the expectation has shifted from whether or not we'll be bowl eligible to which bowl game we'll be competing in (that is pretty amazing). And, for the first time in my life I'm able to refer to a Blue Devils football team as a team of Champions. The heartbreak of the previous 3 bowl games will never truly go away, but this feels pretty good at the moment. 

Hear that Bama? We're coming for you. Roll Devils.

-Alex

Love to be Hated

 
crazies.jpg
 

We always vilify what we don't understand.
-Nenia Campbell

Sometimes it's fun to play the "villain." Being a fan of anything Duke, especially Duke basketball, thrusts you into this role whether you like it or not. People are programmed to dislike us, whether or not they've ever had a bad encounter. I read a great article yesterday that tried to explain this, which can be read here.

With that said, no matter who you are or where your allegiances lie, you have to have the right attitude and mindset. My father said it best when as a kid I asked him a question about Duke and being a fan (for those of you who don't know, he went to Duke and is the reason I've been a Blue Devil my entire life). Essentially I asked my Dad whether or not he hated UNC and their fans. Much to my surprise he said "Absolutely not. UNC is a great school and it's a beautiful rivalry because of the fans from both sides. Having a good attitude and giving each other a hard time is great, so long as it comes from a place of mutual respect." At least he said something very close to that. Not everyone may view it that way, but at the end of the day sports is a form of entertainment, and that should never be forgotten.

In any event, that was essentially the moment that I realized that you have to have the right mindset when it comes to rivalries and rooting against other teams. If people have the right mindset about it, then I love being able to play the villain. In fact, I embrace it. 

So tomorrow, Monday, April 6, when most of the United States is rooting against me and my Blue Devils, I'll be smiling. Hopefully the villain wins for the 5th time in the last 3 decades.

Go Duke!

-Alex


Update: April 7, 2015
National Title #5!

Seattle and the NHL

 
Seattle-Metropolitans-detail.jpg
 

For the better part of the last decade I have said that Seattle would be a great location for an NHL franchise. Over the last couple of years, a number of articles have been written that more-or-less say the same. Let’s dive into the issue and explore what has been said and where the issue stands today.

First let’s start by simply examining how Seattle generally stacks up to other NHL franchised cities.

If we approach it from a metropolitan population size, Seattle would rank 13 out of 28 with a little over 3.6 million (the New York metro area supports three different teams and Los Angeles metro area supports two). From a population size perspective, Seattle comes in around the middle of the pack – not bad.

If we look at NHL cities around the United States and their respective hockey programs (both youth and adult leagues as one indication of interest in hockey), Seattle would also rank in the middle from a pure number standpoint. From a percentage of the designated metropolitan area, Seattle would again rank in the middle. Another part of this story is also the stark difference between the northern United States’ interest in hockey when compared to that of the southern United States. It comes as no secret that hockey in the United States has generally been focused in more northern states. That is not to say that the NHL and hockey haven’t found success in the south, but rather that northern territories and regions have generally found more success for a number of factors – Seattle checks this theoretical box as well.

Population size and hockey programs are only parts of the equation when it comes to finding and building a sustainable fan base to attend games. A recent 2014 study (which you can view here) on fan demographics for the NHL revealed a fan base that is the richest of all sports. Not only that but a demographic that is 63% between the ages of 18 and 54, 92% white, and 33% making over $100k.

Graph from an The Atlantic article which can be viewed  here .

Graph from an The Atlantic article which can be viewed here.

Would Seattle take kindly to another professional sports team? If so, where are the fans going to come from?

There are a few things to consider here. 1) Is Seattle considered to be a sports town, and 2) would the existing sports fans in Seattle adopt the sport of hockey?

I don’t see much debate over whether or not Seattle should be considered to be a sports town or not. The city is currently home to 3 of the major 5 sports leagues in the United States – the MLB’s Seattle Mariners, the MLS’s Seattle Sounders, and the most recent Super Bowl Champions, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. In some respects, one could make the argument that interest in Seattle sports hasn’t been this high for the last 35 years since the former NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics brought home the NBA title back in 1979.

To some degree we’ve already touched on where the fans would potentially come from in first few paragraphs when talking about the general population of Seattle. Aside from the existence of hockey programs and a demographic profile that appears to fit-the-bill, there are still additional avenues to consider when assessing where a new franchise into the city is going to attract fans from.

In regards to current hockey fans already living in and around Seattle, the Vancouver Canucks are probably the most visible team from a live broadcast perspective although the San Jose Sharks are closest in proximity. Data over the last several years suggests that although many from Seattle would like to see a professional hockey team in their city, general interest in the NHL is somewhat low due to the proximity of Seattle to the closest NHL markets. To me this seems to present a great opportunity to grow a fan base from scratch. In the event the articles and data I’ve read through are incorrect and there is indeed a strong rooting interest in a current NHL franchise, I counter with more recent examples in which new professional sports franchises come to a market with an already heavy rooting interest elsewhere. In particular I think of the MLB’s Washington Nationals. Baseball in the Capital City had been all but extinct for 33 years since the Washington Senators left to go become the Texas Rangers. The majority of fans looking for a consistent rooting interest went 45 minutes north to the Baltimore Orioles up in Maryland. The Washington Nationals (midway through their 10th season back in Washington, DC) have been fairly successful in building their fan base from scratch and stealing back a considerable amount of “market share” from the Orioles. Yes, there is a rather complicated broadcasting rights issue that exists between Washington, DC and Baltimore, but is not something that need be covered here. In fact, some quick research into the broadcasting rights in and around Seattle doesn’t appear, at least on the surface, to present the challenges faced by the Nationals.

Although we just focused on NHL fandom in Seattle, believe it or not professional hockey already exists there in the form of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Although the team falls somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of attendance (4-5 thousand average a game), the team has found a home in Seattle since 1977 (first as the Seattle Breakers before being renamed the Thunderbirds in 1985).


Outside of current NHL and WHL fans latching on to a new team, there would still need to be significant amounts of fans coming from elsewhere. For this, you'd have to concentrate on non-hockey fans and split this segment into two additional groups. 
 

  1. People that become sports fans when a new team moves into their city

  2. People that are sports fans that get cannibalized from other teams or leagues in the area


I won't go into the analysis now (look for a post in the future), but studies that pertain to building a fan base for new teams that move into a new market and studies on what leagues have the most cross-over (MLS and NHL fans are eerily similar) suggest a NHL team in Seattle would do well. 


Expansion vs. Relocation of an NHL team

One question that is generally discussed is that if the NHL does come to Seattle, would it be through expansion or relocation? My gut tells me that Seattle is more likely to get a team through expansion than relocation of a current team, and let me tell you why. I’ll touch on this more in depth later on, but one reason is simply because the city of Seattle is strong leverage for the NHL right now in getting less financially stable teams throughout the league to make an effort in stabilizing their organizations. Long-story short “you still want to have a team in your city? Great, do what you need to do or we’re putting your team in Seattle.” The entire situation reminds me of the MLB putting the Washington Nationals in Washington DC, which went through a similar ordeal for a number of years before happening.

Expansion on the other hand seems to already have been hinted at in a number of instances both verbally and not. One non-verbal signal may be in how the current conferences are currently aligned. If you look at the NHL’s realignment of the league and its conferences starting in the 2013-14 season, you immediately notice that there are two less teams in the Western Conference (16 teams in the Eastern Conference, 14 in the Western). Both the Central and Pacific divisions in the Western Conference only have 7 teams whereas the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions of the Eastern Conference both have 8. It sure would seem to make a lot of sense to even out the conferences by adding two teams to the Western Conference, perhaps Seattle into the Pacific division slot.

So why all of this hold-up on putting a team in Seattle?

In reality your guess is probably as good as mine since I’m not behind the closed doors of the NHL or part of any of the potential investor groups that are trying to put a team in Seattle. However, here are probably a few or the more likely causes:

1)      Need of an NHL and NBA packaged deal or assurances

 
 

Aside from a small handful of the US-based NHL teams, most venues can be described as multi-purpose venues in regards to their ability to host several different types of sports under the same roof – primarily this has been basketball. Generally the reason for this is because it’s a lot cheaper to run one venue for two teams than it is for two venues for two teams. During 2012 and early 2013 Seattle seemed all but primed for an NBA and SuperSonics return when the Sacramento Kings were up for sale. When a last minute negotiation was struck that ensured the Kings staying in Sacramento, it seemed that hope for an NHL team coming to Seattle was also delayed. So could one come to Seattle without the other? Sure, there are plenty of instances (especially in Canada) of venues hosting only a single professional NHL team. It does however become a bit more difficult from an investment perspective. Now I’m not privy to  what is being said behind closed doors at the NBA or NHL league offices, but I imagine any venue that would have to be constructed will 100% be designed to hold both an NBA and NHL team.

2)      Where are the players going to come from?

Great question and something I had to do a bit of research on since the rules of expansion have gone through several iterations and changes throughout the last few decades. To make a long story short, expansion franchises are more or less able to draft from current players and prospects around the NHL. Yes, you could see some of your favorite players from around the league more or less shipped off to Seattle if an expansion team comes to the city. But before you start panicking over some of your favorite stars being forced to relocate, consider the fact that current teams have the ability to put parts of their rosters on a "protected" list. Here's a quick breakdown on how it would probably play out:

Each team will more or less be allowed to protect one (1) goaltender, five (5) defensemen, and nine (9) forwards. There are also some other slight iterations such as two (2) goaltenders, three (3) defensemen, and seven (7) forwards. From here there are all sorts of other rules that come into play and if you're really interested in reading more then I suggest clicking here (an article that I feel explains it well).

3)      Seattle (unfortunately) is serving as great leverage for the NHL

I alluded to this earlier when talking about expansion vs. relocation. Over the last half a decade there have been several teams around the NHL that were on the brink of being moved - or so it seemed. Without going into a lengthy explanation and analysis, the threat of moving a team from a city that already has a team forces teams to restructure or find a new ownership group. Similar situations happen all of the time in other leagues. Everyone saw what happened a few years ago when there was talk about moving the NBA's Sacramento Kings. The thought was that they were going to be relocated (to Seattle actually), but a last minute deal was struck that kept the team in northern California. One has to look no further than Washington Nationals here in Washington DC. Although the team is here now, the MLB was infamous for using the threat of relocating a team as leverage for poor performing teams to get their acts together. Yes, a professional team did eventually make its way to Washington DC, but not after years and years of threatening to move one here.

4)      The NHL probably hasn’t been ready until recently. Think about it - with all the lockouts that have plagued the NHL over the last couple of decades, the league has struggled to regain relevance as a major sport in the United States, not to mention trust of it's fans. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey and I love the NHL, but lets call a spade a spade. Out of what I call "The Big 5", which are the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS, the NHL has had arguably the most to prove over the last few years. Now yes, over the last half-decade or so the NHL has made a pretty decent comeback if you look at fandom growth rates, ticket sales, television deals, and just general overall interest in the sport. My gut tells me that before expanding to a handful of new cities, they probably want to first make sure that the sport of hockey and the NHL at large is back and thriving. All of this combined with the NHL finally creating a fund for franchises to borrow from (the last of the major leagues to do this by the way), the NHL is only recently finally in a position to expand.

5)      Venue construction - If you build it, will they come?

Currently it's a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" sort of problem. Plans in Seattle to construct a stadium that would be capable of hosting both an NBA and NHL team have come, gone, and come to a hault over the last several years. Investors and the city have both expressed great interest in building a new venue - so long as an NBA or NHL franchise comes to the city, but it's difficult to invest that kind of money in a project (especially one requiring a lot of tax dollars) without some guarantee that professional franchises will come based on solely building a venue. On the flip side there's nowhere in Seattle that could currently house both an NBA and NHL team - at least no where suitable.

6)      Other viable cities outside of Seattle

Earlier I mentioned that the Western Conference currently has 2 less teams than the Eastern Conference that I imagine will eventually be filled to bring parity to the league and the number of teams that qualify for the playoffs each season. Just because I mentioned 2 open slots doesn’t mean that the NHL can’t add more to either of the conferences. In fact, multiple cities have been mentioned as potential locations for NHL teams over the last couple of years. The cities generally mentioned in addition to Seattle include Kansas City, Las Vegas, Quebec City, and even another team in Toronto! Although I believe Seattle is best suited to handle an NHL team, solid arguments can be made for each of these cities. I’m sure someone in the NHL has a pretty good idea of which cities they believe would be best to expand to, but I also imagine that there is still a fair amount of due diligence and market studies that are currently being conducted and not to mention investor groups being identified that make one city more viable than the other.

Other interesting facts

 
Mets_1917.jpg
 

If an NHL team does eventually make its way to Seattle, Seattle hockey teams would rank tied for #13 out of the 30 current active teams in the NHL in Stanley Cup championship appearances. Yes, believe it or not the city of Seattle has made it to the Stanley Cup three times, winning one in 1917 as the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
 

Other thoughts - an exciting opportunity

Whether you’re here because you like sports, business, or are currently or wanting to work in the sports industry, I have to imagine that inserting a new team into a market like Seattle would prove to be incredibly exciting. As a marketer I think an opportunity and challenge such as building a brand from scratch and having the opportunity to help define what you want your identity to be and how you interact with your city and fans would be pretty cool. So I’ll put out an APB that if you or your uncle end up being responsible for putting a team in Seattle and are looking for a marketer to get things off the ground and to the races, let me know.

Well great. After years of bottling my thoughts on the NHL and Seattle, they are finally out. By no means do I think I have either a full picture or everything right in my analysis. As such I would love to hear from you and what your thoughts are – leave a comment below or email me offline!

-Alex

Harvard, the Duke of the North?

 
 

First, realize that the graphic above is only to serve the purpose of illustrating the humor behind rankings - UNC now at #12 (from #17)... that's crazy, these rankings are out of control. I mean how could any school in the state of North Carolina jump 5 spots in the ranking? Jumping 5 spots in this sort of ranking is somewhat unheard of and quite frankly a little ridiculous for anyone...

In any event, I'm proud to report that Duke jumped from #6 to #1 in Bloomberg's business school rankings - up 5 spots! Go Fuqua!

-Alex

 

I've got a great skit idea... my struggle with sketch comedy addiction

There's an area on this website that refers to my love for sketch comedy. Although my love for sketch comedy and making people laugh has existed since I was a kid, it didn't hit its full stride until I was a President of a club called FuquaVision when I was in business school at Duke. We had an expression/inside joke of "I have a great skit idea" which arose from the dozens of people you would come across in the halls at school that would pitch their funny ideas to you. The joke was that many had incredible ideas for skits but weren't willing to spend the time putting them together themselves. I understand this since most people did the "smart" thing and spent most of their time recruiting for their jobs after school. That, or their time away from schoolwork was spent relaxing and concentrating on aspects of their lives that let them escape from everyday stresses. However, for people like myself, spending inordinate amounts of time running a club A-Z and writing scripts for funny ideas was my way of letting go of the stresses of business school and doing something that I genuinely loved - and still do for that matter.

Alright, to the point of this post. I love my job and my life is going really well as far as I can tell. With that said, I still feel unfulfilled at times. The vacancy I feel is not having the time, money, or personnel to partake in one of the things I love most in the world - creating clever and funny (at least I think so) sketch comedy. I do find myself still writing a great deal in the scarce moment that I decide to stop working on work related things. Some ideas are ones that I've been kicking around for a number of years, while others serendipitous random thoughts or content that I see online that sparks an idea. For example, I am a huge fan of a few select sketch comedy groups that have a presence on youtube. In particular I have followed WKUK (Whitest Kids You Know), Key & Peele, and GoodNeighborStuff (Beck Bennet and Kyle Mooney are now on SNL) over the last several years. I love their brand of comedy and the scope in which they operate. It wasn't until the last year however that I found another group that has me wanting to scratch my sketch comedy itch more so recently than in the past. The group is a Norwegian comedy duo called Ylvis. For most of you, Ylvis probaly means nothing, but is the same group that created the global phenom "What Does the Fox Say?". Although I very much appreciate just about everything "What Does the Fox Say?" is, it is the other half-a-dozen videos Ylvis has (and that most have no idea exist) that I find to be incredibly fulfilling. Part of me wants to go through some of their other videos Pressure, Massachusettes, Stonehenge, and The Cabin to name a few, but instead I want to talk about one of their newer videos Trucker's Hitch and how it has me biting at the chomp to create sketch comedy again in my free-time. 

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Trucker's Hitch below:

What I love about this video is the simplicity and execution. The production quality is fantastic - as are all of their videos - but it's the simplicity and innocence of the subject matter that is fantastic. One of my biggest qualms with SNL (Saturday Night Live) over the last two decades is that so much of their comedy is reliant on what I either find grotesque or simply not funny subject matter. I can't count how many of SNL's sketches have related to some sort of sex, drug or incest related matter. Personally I find this to be overplayed or just straight up dumb. There's hardly ever any substance or true comedy behind the sketch. There's no juxtaposition or meta layers of humor. Its either a family that french kisses each other for three and a half minutes or a sketch about how you can hide drugs in any vessel laying around. It's playing to the lowest common denominator at times and frankly I don't find that to be either very clever or funny.

So what do I do? I have this passion/hobby that I haven't truly participated in for a couple of years now that I desperately want to continue but no real way in which I can really execute. Do I start small and do something totally solo? Do I try and recruit new faces and people around the city I live in? Do I try to get the gang back together for a weekend and film something? Or do I do something else? I have more than enough ideas but don't know how to scratch this itch.

In an odd way I have become the inside joke and am calling to myself from the past and whispering, "I have a great skit idea...."

-Alex

Social media: The Good, The Bad, The Accountable?

I originally started writing a post on how individuals (more specifically, athletes) interact with social media. I wanted to illustrate examples of how social media can help build an athlete’s image in a positive way, as well as affect it in a negative one. The post was going to be entitled "Social Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly". However, in light of everything that the NFL and NCAA are going through in regards to bad press, I thought we could briefly focus on something a little different -- how social media and the PR that it produces have recently, more-or-less, forced teams to become more accountable for their players' actions.

In the last few weeks and months we've seen the NFL, and football in general, develop a black eye in regards to both how some players conduct themselves and how they have dealt with off-field issues relating to domestic violence and abuse. Recently we've all heard about the exploits of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and to a lesser degree, Jonathan Dwyer, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Quincy Enunwa. We've also recently seen similar issues present themselves throughout the NCAA. For example, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has experienced a laundry list of issues stretching from allegations of sexual assault to theft to yelling obscene things to women on FSU's campus.

What sparked my interest in several of these cases, most notably with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jameis Winston, is the role that social media had in influencing their respective organizations and universities to be more accountable. And by accountable I mean how social media has seemingly had a direct effect on the suspensions and punishments doled out. What is important to note is how these suspensions and punishments changed to become stricter and harsher after public outrage at the seemingly small consequences that had been handed out -- most often social media being the channel in which this outrage was and is being spread.

We saw the Baltimore Ravens decide to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely, the Minnesota Vikings suspend Adrian Peterson, and the Flordia State Seminoles increase a half-game suspension of quarterback Jameis Winston to a full game for remarks he made to a woman on FSU's campus. Yes, there is a possibility that these decisions would have occurred regardless of the pressure that came out of social .media. However, I have the inkling that many of these teams’ positions were forced either as a result of the negative reactions to the minimal punishments or were the result of preemptiveaction tken to avoid the PR firestorm that they anticipated would have occurred had little to nothing have been done in response to these allegations. The Ray Rice suspension appeared to be reactionary, the Adrian Peterson back-and-forth suspension seemed reactionary, as did the Jameis Winston single-game suspension.

At the end of the day it's difficult to make decisions on matters concerning players, especially marquee ones due to the revenue they generate. Regardless, it's interesting to be living in a period where you can see the world around you evolving and noticeably changing every few weeks. It seems like there's a new channel or new feature to engage with every few weeks. This post was supposed to be how it surprised me to see individuals negatively affecting their personal brands -- now it's the realization that social media has the power to affect the decisions major organizations and institutions make in order to protect their brands.

In retrospect, retaining the title for this post of "The Good, The Bad, and Ugly" probably applies nearly as well. Despite the flak that social media takes in popular culture at times, and despite whether or not people or teams would still be held to the same accountability without it, how interesting it is to see the power of crowds affecting significant change. 

Next time you post something to social media, "you've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

-Alex

Defenses Don't Win Championships, Kickers Do

I like to think that I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong. With that said, I have to admit that I had it totally wrong when I wrote the post Defense Wins Championships: My Dive into Fantasy Football. That's because I have discovered over the last few weeks that it is, in fact, kickers that win championships. As a former high-school football place-kicker standout (career field goal percentage of 19%) , I can't say that I'm all that surprised.

Over the last two weeks, my kicker, Stephen Gostkowski has netted me 38 points. These 38 points are more than the amount of points that any of my quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers have netted me over this same time period. Not only that, but this stretch of two weeks also got me my first two wins of the season.

"You're kind of the hero or the goat, and rightfully so... or not." - David Akers

-Alex

Fantasy Football: We Won, but I Lost

Every reason I never wanted to play fantasy football came to fruition this Monday night. Let's give a little context to start. I have been a Chicago Bears fan for my entire life and I don't see much changing that. One of the greatest memories I have is going to the Bears vs. Colts Super Bowl with my father. Yes, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts ended up probably winning that game, but it was one of the best sports memories I have. I was with my father, we had VIP access the entire night, I got to witness Devin Hester take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and I was at the flippin Super Bowl! Monday was the first night in my life where I actively rooted against the Bears... at least for a moment. Why do you ask? The evil that is Fantasy Football.

I wrote a post before the regular season that joked around about finally participating in fantasy football for the first time. What I did not disclose was my trepidation for the situation that I encountered Monday night. I was rooting for overtime in a game that the Bears were winning for Christ sake - at least for half of the right reasons. Half of my fantasy offense are the Chicago Bears. I have Cutler at QB, Forte at RB, and both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as my starting wide receivers. Blah, blah, blah I'm an idiot for being Bear heavy on my fantasy team - whatever. But as the fourth quarter started to wind down, the Bears were ahead a touchdown, the New York Jets had the ball and were driving down field with ease, and I found my fantasy roster down 4 points. With less than a minute left, there was no chance Chicago was getting the ball back... unless the game went to overtime. 

With the Jets in the red zone, a depleted Bears defense stopped them on fourth down. The Bears won the game but I had a hollow feeling in my stomach. A hollow feeling! After a Bears win! Oh fantasy football, how I hate you.

-Alex

 

Defense Wins Championships: My Dive into Fantasy Football

I don’t know what the kids are being told today, but when I was younger it was that defense wins championships. So you can imagine my thrill when I was able to pick up Seattle’s defense with the number 3 overall pick in my fantasy draft this week. No one else apparently was aware of this old adage as they continued picking running backs and wide receivers through the first few rounds - all the while I continued to stockpile defenses.

Alright I admit I’m exaggerating, but I did just go through my first fantasy football draft. In fact this was my first anything fantasy sports related that I have participated in. The many years of holding out finally came to an end by some good old fashioned peer pressure at work. Allow me to share some initial impressions.

First, it can be really stressful! I suppose my initial hesitation to playing fantasy was the fact that I didn’t know much about the nitty gritty details. I understood the basic concept but that was about it. I didn’t want to be judged for making bad picks, having a bad drafting strategy, or God forbid, drafting someone who I didn’t realize was retired or injured.

Second, where do you start with the analytics and who do you listen to? For that matter, where do you stop? There's a wealth of data out there from a number of different sources. What stats should I pay attention to? After I started pouring through projection data I started to develop my own metrics but I had a TE in the top 5 and a kicker in the top 15 based on added point value - I'm assuming something went wrong. Regardless, I love data and analytics so it became rather addicting coming up with models.

Finally, everything else. Some people check the trade wire everyday... how am I going to do if I'm only checking once a week? I consider myself to be a pretty competitive guy so I'm curious as to whether or not that'll also apply to my fantasy team. So many questions that will have to be answered through my first plunge into the world of fantasy sports.

I figure some real NFL teams end up winning only a few games during the regular season, so as long as I can win at least a few, I shouldn't feel too terrible. It will however be interesting to start rooting for teams I normally couldn't care less about. So here's to trying something new that will most likely crash and burn - I'll check back in later in the season.

And since I started this post off with an old adage, I'll also end with one - let's just go out there and have some fun... or does this no longer apply either?

-Alex