Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

My latest:

Marathons have become big business as running has grown in popularity. While the proportion of people who run (half) marathons pales in comparison to the proportion who are professional sports fans, I nonetheless noticed something anecdotally. Nearly every runner I know travels semi-frequently to compete in races, and often with family/friends coming along. Initiatives like Team in Training coordinate travel for large groups. With this, they are spending on hotels, entertainment, and other amenities and experiences at their destination.

Today’s blog post, on the growth of soccer in North America. 

Soccer – in particular MLS – has succeeded by carving out a niche (through careful expansion and the cultivation of friendly stadiums and strong fan-bases), gaining exposure and familiarity (largely through greater youth registration), and catering relentlessly to their fan/consumer base. It may not be the sport of the future, but it’s a big part of the sporting landscape in the present, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue to be for a long time.

The Los Angeles Kings are the presumptive Stanley Cup winner (and may actually be the winner by the time you read this). I wrote about lessons we can all take from their success:

The Kings’ success in acquiring talent put them in a position to add the right pieces to flesh out a Stanley Cup contender. While in other industries you won’t have the benefit of trading talent (imagine if you could draft the best grads out of school!), but you can take to heart the lesson of timing – going above scope, or paying extra, to attract the right talent for the right initiative at the right time.

My latest:

While a segment of people who follow the tournament are fans of college basketball itself (or of specific teams), for many, the tournament itself is the draw. As a product, it is well defined, and its facets well understood by the audience. Casual fans are surely familiar with the alliterative names for different rounds – Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four. The opportunity for people to latch on to teams (especially lower-seeded underdogs) creates greater viewer engagement, especially when many of the key players turn over on a year-to-year basis.

Street soccer is a great initiative supporting those who have, or are experiencing homelessness. Add a Sam Cooke soundtrack and you get one fantastic video.

“In every kind of testing to see where I’m at, strength, speed, conditioning, I’m either right at or well ahead of the best marks I’ve ever had at this stage of training,” Fitch said. “A few weeks ago, we were concerned I was peaking too fast. I’d kick the [expletive] out of myself at the same stage of training for any of my previous fights.”

(…)

“The biggest thing is better recuperation from training,” Fitch said. “I don’t have the days where I came in flat. It’s made for the best training camp of my career.”

It was a game Connor Crisp will never forget. After allowing 13 goals on 46 shots for the Erie Otters on Sunday, he was named the first star.

The 17-year-old centre was never supposed to play net, but he got pressed into action as an emergency replacement when Ramis Sadikov was injured in the opening minutes of a 13-4 victory by the Niagara IceDogs.

Great discussion about sports:

Obama: Well, it’s funny, the mythology of sports is just — it’s deeply embedded in us. I remember I visited Iraq as a senator, and I think at that point I had already started running for president, but I can’t remember. Anyway, they invited me to go into this gym, and there were like 3,000 of our troops there. And somebody just handed me a ball and said, “Come on, Mr. President, take a shot.” And I said, OK, and I shot it and swished it from the 3-point line. And the amount of excitement that those folks had was surprising to me.

But I think it just sort of reminded me of the kind of bond that sports creates in people. People — for all our differences politically, regionally, economically — most folks understand sports. Probably because it’s one of the few places where it’s a true meritocracy. There’s not a lot of BS. Ultimately, who’s winning, who’s losing, who’s performing, who’s not — it’s all laid out there.

But unfortunately for John, I am not the type that can be satisfied with vague conversations about baseball, and admittedly when I sense that is as deep as the conversation is going to go, I tend to push a little bit for my own amusement. In the real conversation, I challenge John after he admits that he has never heard of Barry Larkin.

Major League Soccer moves to the NBC Sports Network. As a fan, I’m excited by how much promotion they’re doing. I hope it helps the game - and the league - grow even further.