Friday, December 11, 2015

Will the NFL Fight against CTE?

The new movie Concussion is opening a possible flood gate for the NFL. This flood gate could possibly affect the NFL in the long term and hurt them. The movie trailer follows forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who was the first to publish his findings on CTE.

CTE's Problem is the NFL's Problem

What is CTE you may ask? CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disease is a progressive degenerative disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as sub-concussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. CTE has been commonly found in professional athletes who have and are active in football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. People who have CTE tend to show symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma. Testing has been created to assess possible cognitive impairment in athletes in contact sports, but a test to determine the presence of CTE while the person is alive is not yet available.

Now the biggest concern the NFL might have is dealing with people who might not even want to play football anymore, professionally or amateur league. They have to take into consideration the parents who will not want their children associating themselves with the sport. If this becomes a true popular problem. The NFL could lose potential future players and also current players who will fear for the disease.

An example of some former NFL players who have been confirmed to have the disease are Jovan Belcher, Forrest Blue, Cookie Gilchrist, Chris Henry, Tom McHale, and Mike Webster. These are just a few but the NFL tops the list for most players who have contracted this disease.

The growing number of CTE cases could damage to the reputation of the NFL. There are so many problems that could arise from the increased awareness of CTE. Such examples could be if parents prevent their children from playing the sport. Players could shorten their NFL careers due to the scare of the head trauma disease in their future.

Been There, Done That

Oddly enough this is not the first time the NFL has dealt with this type of situation. In 1905, at least 18 people had died and more than 150 people were injured playing football. Between 1900 and 1905, 45 players died from either internal injuries, broken necks, concussions, or broken backs. Nearly every death that was on the field was cause by unnecessary roughness. The future of football may have been saved by Teddy Roosevelt, who came together with Yale’s coach Walter Camo known as the father of American football and Harvard coach William T. Reid, Jr. The three had come together Roosevelt as the mediator. They then discussed how they could make the sport safer for players.

Even today a high number of high school players are getting injured. Recently, a high school student by the name of Andre Smith, age 17, died due to blunt force head injuries due to a football accident. Luke Schemm, 17 passed away after scoring an extra point for his team. He then ran to the side line and collapsed and passed away that same day. Cam’ron Mathews, age 16, collapsed on the sideline and later died that day.

Let's Clean Up this Mess

Now the question is how they will save football from the clutches of what almost got them once upon a time ago?

There are some possible solutions that the NFL can take for this horrific situation. The NFL can build awareness of CTE throughout the league promoting players to know the effects of playing football (a form of a warranty). They could also enforce stronger rules that will prevent players from being tackled unnecessarily too hard. The biggest thing they could do is promote and create better equipment for their players. The equipment they are using is simply not good enough. Consider all of the other sports that deal with impact and are not exposing their players to having the highest rate for having CTE. If they promote the idea that the NFL does care about their players to fans and concerned consumers, this situation could be less damaging if the NFL addresses the situation versus completely ignoring it. That seems to be the biggest concern of parents and consumers, which is that the NFL does not care about their players. They could even go as far as where they show their respects to those players who have CTE and are still living. Show how even though they have the disease they have no personal grudges against the NFL.

In conclusion the NFL seems to be focused more and more on profits and not their assets which is their players. The sooner that they recognize who is important and how to show these emotions the lesser chance I can imagine them suffering from the disaster caused by football CTE.

Daryle Webb is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why Is the Student Section Empty?

by Victoria Shillingsford

Middle Tennessee State University, is an NCAA Division I FCS school located about 30 miles outside of Nashville in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The MTSU Blue Raiders are members of Conference USA and have decent sports programs. However, their fan base is not so decent.

Where Are All the Fans?

This is my fourth year in the Band of Blue, and I have never seen a sold out game at Floyd Stadium. There are even some games when we wonder where the student section is. MTSU started out great this season and may have hit a road bump but revived themselves with a 3-overtime win over a then 8-1 Marshall team. I wonder why people were not there to watch MTSU (who was favored to win) beat an 8-1 team. Attendance for the opening home game this year was around 16,000 people. The stadium holds around 30,000.

Image Credit:
The low attendance raises questions such as:
  • Were there other college games on TV at the same time? Yes. 
  • Was the University of Tennessee playing on TV at the same time? Yes. 
  • Is there free stuff given out at games? Yes.

What's It Going to Cost Me?

The cost to get into any MTSU athletic event for a student is free. Student guest tickets are sold for around $8, general admission tickets are around $15 and reserved seating is anywhere from $25 to $40. That’s not bad for a Division I school. Although there were other teams playing, scores of other games are shown on the scoreboard throughout the game. Spring break trips are given away, free hot dog vouchers have been given out, and Blue Zoo t-shirts have been given out. What else does the marketing team for athletics have to do? They even raffled off a flat screen TV! College kids love free stuff yet there were only 25 students in the Blue Zoo (MTSU’s student section) for the game against Florida International University. Next to the student section is the Band of Blue, which has around 325 members every year.

Is the Team Even Good?

MTSU ended the regular season 7-5 and earned a berth in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. The second game of the season against Alabama was kind of a long shot but the Blue Raiders showed the Tide they weren't going to go down without a fight. They also put up a good fight when Vandy came to Murfreesboro and suffered a close lose when they played at Illinois.

In my opinion the marketing department has outdone themselves this year trying to get people to the games. It is now up to the MTSU student body, faculty and the Murfreesboro to come out and support their Blue Raiders at home games.

Victoria Shillingsford is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University. She is graduating in May 2016 with a bachelor's degree in Media and Entertainment and a minor in Marketing. She enjoys watching The University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Eagles and college basketball. You can reach her on Twitter at @_1ging.

Who is Bryce Kershaw?

by Joey Jennings

LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, and Clayton Kershaw are all dominant athletes in their respective sports, but which one do you think my mom (who watches zero sports) has never heard of? Clayton Kershaw. She knows all the other athletes very well from the media coverage they get, but also by the big endorsement deals and commercials they star in. What about 3-time Cy Young winner? She assumed he was a guy in a band I liked. Why is this? Baseball players just don’t get the coverage or big endorsements other star athletes receive.

It's Good to be King

In 2015 it was reported by Business Insider that Major League Baseball was significantly more popular than the National Basketball Association. So one would assume poster boy Clayton Kershaw would be equal to or more popular than NBA’s king of kings, LeBron James, right? Well no, LeBron is not only king of the court but the king of endorsements and public exposure with $42 million in 2014, compared to Kershaw’s $1.2 million. In fact, LeBron made more from endorsements than the top 10 MLB players combined. Whoa. At the same time, the NBA Finals got substantially more viewers than the World Series. So more people watch the NBA than claim to follow it closely? Does LeBron get the endorsements simply because more people have seen him play? Are these decisions based on exposure, performance, or overall popularity of the sport? The numbers point to exposure.

Major League Problems

This situation can be explained by looking at many different factors. I believe the main reason is the MLB has problems generating casual fans. And, Major League Baseball has had a problem generating new fans. The numbers are still there, but they have not been increasing. The same fans that watched in 1999 are still watching in 2015 and they haven’t generated many new ones. The casual fan doesn’t exist. Either you love baseball 100% or you don’t care at all. The NBA has effectively generated a causal fan base. These fans can keep up with the superstars and the Finals while effectively being involved in a minimal way. That’s where the MLB fails. As a result, their superstars fall in endorsements. The potential is there, there is plenty of superstar talent, but baseball has become a major niche market and it needs to find a way to rebrand itself to be more universal. Something that is hasn’t done in a long time.

Once Upon a Time

Now this wasn’t always the case. I remember a time when athletic endorsements were filled with baseball stars. Names like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr. were everywhere. So what was different then? Excitement. Most of the big stars of the past were human highlight reels filled with towering home runs and dazzling outfield plays. Today in a post-steroid era, pitching dominates and while equally impressive, it’s boring to the average fan. While no one can support steroid use, there can be changes to the rules. Maybe its time to finally move the mound a few feet back, this actually has two positives. It increase hitter reaction time and that equals more hits and home runs. Secondly, it gives pitchers more reaction time when the ball is coming straight for their head, but that’s a different issue completely. 

Baseball needs to break out of its pastime traditions and “unwritten rules”. There’s a stigma in baseball about celebrating: it breaks tradition, it is poor sportsmanship, it doesn’t belong. That needs to change. Baseball and football thrive on that added excitement. LeBron’s baby powder toss, Cam’s end zone dancing, and Trout’s pine tar? It’s time baseball came around, and surprisingly it's taking baby steps one bat toss at a time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All Work, No Pay

Photo Credit: Mike Bloomgren -

by Dustin Henry

As an aspiring sports professional, I have spent the past two years molding myself in preparation for potential job opportunities after graduation. I have interned for Alliance Sport Marketing and am currently a volunteer assistant in the recruiting off of the Football Department at a Division I FCS program. These experiences have impacted my career vision while also helping sculpt and grow my prowess in the sport industry. But, they have also taught me the how social sacrifice and low financial support are inevitable.

I have spent the past eight months volunteering in the Football Department at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in hopes of educational and practical preparation to accept a Graduate Assistantship (GA) position this upcoming spring. While I perform and gain knowledge/experience in agreement for free, I sacrifice between 20-30 hours a week. Most say that is typical for an internship, but look at this from a graduate assistant’s perspective.

Graduate Assistant Perspective

What is a Graduate Assistant?

A football coach or sports administrator beginning their career in sports usually fresh out of college (undergraduate degree).

What does a Graduate Assistant do?

1. A graduate assistant must get accepted into a graduate program the school they will being assisting at.

2. They must attend full time graduate level classes

3. They work 100-plus hours a week for the football team, averaging around 15 hours a day, Sunday-Saturday.

What financial assistance do Graduate Assistants receive?

Typically, they receive a scholarship to cover their tuition (occasionally housing) and an incredibly small monthly stipend. You wondering what do I consider small? Talking to the graduate assistants here at MTSU, they earn $900 dollars a month to live off of. This averages out to $5.63/hour on a typical 40 hour work week. If we take the in-season hours, the GAs bring home $2.25/hour (100 hours in a week). This is the assistance of a Division I-A program.

One of the graduate assistants transferred in from LaGrange College (NAIA). He was compensated by the coverage graduate tuition and a $4,000 stipend for the entire calendar year.


Let’s look back at this. These college students go to school full time (don’t forget about homework and projects) and devotedly work 100-plus hours a week in the football office to earn a living of under three dollars an hour. The work commitment and sacrifice of these young men well outlast the assistance they receive by the school. These young coaches and sport administrators deserve a simple boost in their pay to support the work they provide for universities and colleges across the nation for extremely low pay.

The introduction of the “Cost of Attendance” scholarships presented to student athletes to help cover everyday necessities such as gas, school supplies and personal living needs would be a starting place for additional compensation toward graduate assistants.

Dustin Henry is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University.

Is Daily Fantasy the Same as Season-Long Fantasy Sports?

by Connor Grott

It’s the question that’s being asked in New York and Florida courts.

Are daily fantasy sports considered gambling, or are they just a form of entertainment like season-long fantasy leagues?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on it for the first time Sunday evening, saying that daily fantasy sports are just that, entertainment for NFL fans around the globe.

Websites like DraftKings and FanDuel have seen a meteoric rise in a likewise growing business in fantasy sports.

With that growth, it’s not a surprise that people are becoming outspoken that it is a form of gambling that needs to be regulated, or completely eradicated in some states, especially after the internal scandal just a few months ago.

Daily Fantasy Games = Gambling?

And honestly… it just may be a form of gambling.

Analytics and skill can only account for so much in an evolving and unpredictable entity known as the National Football League.

Can anyone truly predict that Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller will explode for 41 fantasy points against an opposing defense?

The answer is no, because external factors outside of skill determine his potential success or the outcome.

Much like season-long leagues, time is invested to look at match-ups and potential injuries that have affected some players on each teams.

But, statistics can only do so much.

It all boils down to making a gamble.

Should someone play Miller over Vikings running back Adrian Peterson or Rams running back Todd Gurley?

Should someone playing blackjack hit one more time?

It’s a gamble that could burn a fantasy player, or card player, or reward them with monetary gain.

As someone who plays daily fantasy and in season-long leagues, there’s a difference between gambling and playing for fun.

One involves money, the other does not.

The Regulation Reality

As lawmakers push for regulation, is it really a big deal that daily fantasy isn’t being regulated in some states?

Probably not.

Because there are bigger issues going on than someone wagering money they earn on whether Miller will have a better game than Gurley.

Connor Grott is a electronic media journalism major at Middle Tennessee State University.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why the Decline in Youth Participation?

Photo Credit: Norfolk YMCA
by Chelsea Floyd

“Mom do I have to go to basketball practice today?” as I’m sitting in the backseat changing out of my cheer uniform.Yes Chelsea, and don’t forget to be ready to go to your brother’s basketball game when I pick you up. No lolligagging around after practice, we have to go.” This was the daily car conversation between my mother, me, and older brother growing up. We were both involved in at least three different sports and were on the go six days out of the week. Youth sports and activities were always something I looked forward to after school and helped influence the person I am today.

According to Sports & Fitness Industry Association, Inactivity among children approached 20% in 2014, continuing a six-year upward trend. This statistic is hard for me to believe. With the Little League World Series and high school sports getting more air time on ESPN than ever, what could be the cause of the downfall in participation? I have formed my own opinions on some causes this downfall.

Participation Awards

What has happened to the competitive aspect of youth sports? I attended a soccer game of my 5 year- old nephew. At the end of the game, he walked up with an award and I asked what was it for? He explained that it was for just showing up to the game and giving his best. They didn’t even announce the winner of the game, because score didn’t matter. I found this a little ridiculous. How is a kid gonna gain the drive to compete in a sport if there is no winner?

Sports are played to compete with one another to have a winner and a loser. If we are watching an NFL game for four quarters and at the end of the game we get a thanks for watching goodbye, don’t you think that was a waste of time? Competitiveness gives you the drive to do your best. Kids want to be rewarded for doing well and winning. When kids are winning it keeps them motivated to continue playing and learning the game. When kids are losing, there is motivation to get better so next time they can have the feeling of winning and holding up the trophy. From a marketing point, when kids are motivated to a sport they want to attend games to learn from the professionals. Since kids are not being rewarded, they are beginning to lose excitement towards playing and leaning to other activities that are becoming more competitive.


I always say, "I wish that I had an iPhone, iPad, or the most popular video games when I was growing up. But do I really wish that?! It’s becoming crazy to me that my niece and nephew, who are 5 and 9, both had cell phones and iPads before they were even in kindergarten. Last summer, while staying with me their concern was not going outside to run around, but what show is coming on next.

Kids now have adapted to doing what they see their parents doing. As adults, we are now so consumed on social media or work that our kids are the ones suffering. iPads are known by parents for being the object that keeps kids quiet, so they can get work done. What happened to going outside and playing in the field with neighbors after school? Kids are now coming home and hopping on the latest video game to compete with one another. If we can’t get kids outside playing sports , what makes us think we can get them in stands to watch games instead of catching highlights or watching the game on TV. When kids are participating in youth sports, they get to feel the excitement of being on a field or court competing for a win. So when they get the opportunity to attend a sporting event, they are able to put themselves in the athletes shoes because they see them doing the same thing that they do when they are competing. It makes for an unbelievable experience that will keep them coming back for more.

How Do We Fix This?

We have to put the excitement back into youth sports. There are plenty youth organizations where kids can compete. The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of America both have youth sports teams where kids can come and play. Not only do we need to get them playing again, we have to bring back the competitive nature. You have to crown a winner and loser to provide motivation to be better. We want kids to inspire to be like or even better than the professional athletes they see on TV. What steps are you gonna take to make this happen?

Chelsea Floyd is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University.

From Sports Stars to Designers

by Kayla Currin

Professional athletes get a lot of recognition for what they accomplish in their sport. However, sometimes they do not get a lot of recognition for what they do outside of the sport. Some professional athletes have been known to spend all of their money from their contracts on cars, houses, and other materialistic items. On the other hand some athletes have taken their money and turned into an entrepreneur by starting businesses. Some of these ventures become extremely successful as where others do not. The ones who seem to become successful are those of athletes who stay in the public eye on and off the court. Some of these popular sports stars to designers include David Beckham, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Jordan. Some of the lines that are not as well-known include lines by Steve Nash and John Salmons.

Photos via CNBC

What Makes a Pro Athlete Different from Other Designers?

So what does make a professional athletes designs so different of that from other designers? For one any professional athlete who is active in a sport has a fan base already, these fans generally follow what their favorite athletes do. Having this plethora if followers already puts the athlete ahead of other designers. Secondly, many well-known designers or brands look to collaborate with professional athletes because they know it could be beneficial expose an athletes fans to their product/brand. 

Also, athletes are able to bring a different perspective to designers when collaborating. Professional athletes tend to create things that they themselves would wear. For instance, John Salmons collaborated with Sherman Brown and they created an exquisite tailored line that includes sizes for men who are tall like an NBA player. David Beckham has been known to be an Armani underwear model. However, in February 2012 he launched a collection of undergarments in H&M that he had designed. These ideas produced by athletes definitely set them apart from other designers.

John Salmons (photo via CNBC)

Professional Athletes' Position within the Fashion Industry

I believe professional athletes do have a future in the fashion industry. Because they are always in the public eye, everything they do has an impact on fans. If they are seen wearing something fans are going to be curious as to wear they got that outfit or a particular item. This natural curiosity will lead to the promotion of the items. It is becoming more popular for designers to collaborate with athletes. This opportunity of collaborations for athletes gives them and inside view of what it takes to design a collection. This in turn gives an athlete a chance to design without placing a lot of time and money into the design process. I personally am excited to see what collaborations or individual lines that professional athletes come out with. I encourage everyone to keep up with their favorite athletes to see if they do any collaborations with clothing brands.

Kayla Currin is a senior fashion merchandising major at Middle Tennessee State University.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Invincible Iron Man

by Stephen Leech

What if I told you all records are meant to be broken, but not all will break?

You’d be sad if someone you admired was to have his or her record broken. You’d root against the athlete going toe to toe with history. Certain athletes may not have to see their accomplishments surpassed.

There are three names that may, forever stand alone; Brett Favre, A. C. Green, and Cal Ripken, Jr.

In sports, the title “Iron Man” does not get tossed around too lightly. By sport’s definition, an iron man is an athlete with unusual physical endurance. The perfect title for an athlete who does not miss games due to illness, injury, or anything else unforeseen. Each sport has their own athlete with a record of their very own streak of games played in a row. What I am going to talk about is the iron men of the past and the modern day iron men in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB) and how the “Iron Man” records could possibly stand the test of time.

Iron Man Favre

The record for most consecutive starts at any position in the NFL was at 270 games. It was held by Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings. The record stood for thirty years. The record is now at 296 games, held by Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers. There are many whose personal records fall short of 200 games, but nowadays many stop short of 100 consecutive starts. The longest active streak goes to Eli Manning with the New York Giants at 169 games and counting. While that number continues to climb, he has a long way to go. Eli is the earliest person who can break the record and even he will have to start every game until the second game of the 2023 football season. There are only eleven players who have an active streak above 100 games, several of those players are nearing their retirement. To put Favre’s record in perspective, to play 296 games consecutively, you must play at least eighteen and half seasons. The average NFL career lasts a little over three years or six years if you make the roster as a rookie. Another matter of perspective is students who are now fifth graders will be starting their freshman year of college by the time Eli should break the record, if he does.

Iron Man Green

The NBA has not tracked its stats for as long as the game has been played, but it has an Iron Man record that may not be broken for a long time either. A. C. Green broke Randy Smith’s record of 906 games in 1997. The record is now 1,192 games played consecutively. Smith’s record stood for fourteen years. Green started his streak while Smith was nearing the end of his. While A. C. Green’s record physically looks more daunting than Brett Favre’s it will take less time if a player were to start towards Green’s streak today versus Favre’s. Although Favre’s record will take longer to accomplish, according to the trend of players in the NBA today, it’s much more likely to be tested than Green’s record. fourteen and a half seasons after Green started his streak he sat on the bench, putting a definite number on his record. The player with the best shot at his record is DeAndre Jordan with the Los Angeles Clippers. DeAndre is 892 games away from being tied with NBA’s iron man. While he has his own lengthy streak of 300 games, it will take him almost eleven more seasons to break the record. DeAndre would be thirty-eight years old and seventy-two games deep into his eighteenth season as a professional basketball player when he ties Green’s record of 1,192. DeAndre is an NBA center, so for his career to last until he’s thirty-eighth would be incredible. In a matter of perspective, the average NBA player plays for almost five years. Center’s careers usually last less time than that.

Iron Man Ripken

The NFL has Favre’s record, which may not be broken, at least not for a while. The NBA has Green’s record, which also may not be broken. Then there is the MLB. The previous record for most consecutive games played was 2,130, held by Lou Gherig of the New York Yankees. His number of games played consecutively was so astounding the record was dubbed unbreakable when he retired in 1939. The record stood for fifty-six years. Broken in 1995 by Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken’s streak continued until he decided he wanted to sit out of the last series of games in 1998. His streak ended at 2,632 games. Ripken’s streak didn’t take as many seasons as Favre’s did, I think Ripken’s streak is far safer than Favre’s. The longest active streak in the MLB is a whopping 149 games and it belongs to Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. His streak started when the season started and if it continues he’ll need to play every game till at least the forty-first game of the 2032 season to beat Ripken’s record.

Iron Man = Product Pitchman

There could be many explanations of why the Iron Men of today are nowhere near those of the past. I believe it is due to the evolution of sports. Sports has turned into a business. Players are paid far more than ever before, and, therefore, owners and upper management want to protect those players as much as possible. The mindset of coaches and owners in the past was to use what you have and play to win. Today, coaches and owners play for tomorrow as well. They play to win still but will not hesitate to sit star players nearing the end of a season where the playoffs are missed. Some coaches even sit their players leading into the playoffs to prevent exhaustion or injury. Either way the facts still remain the same. Sports have evolved into a business juggernaut with high influence in the economy, and the Iron Man records may forever stand.

With such an amazing accomplishment under their belts, their name markets their body of work for them. Brett Favre and Cal Ripken Jr. may not be able to or want to play anymore, but because they did for so long without any break in between some companies used them as a way to market their own brands. Wrangler jeans is known for having Brett Favre in their commercials wearing their jeans and having Brett Favre tell us how tough and durable they are. While Cal Ripken Jr. may not a deal with Energizer, that didn’t stop them from showing off this picture of the Energizer Bunny and Mr. Iron Man himself. Energizer is known for saying their batteries are reliable and they keep going and going and… I think you’ve heard it before. They’re different companies, but their messages are similar: durable, tough, reliable, and long lasting.

Stephen Leech is senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University.

The Life of a Displaced Sports Fan

by Chris Troxell

Watching sports and being a sports fan is something that typically doesn’t require much effort. Most people are fans of their respective teams or athletes because of geographic location. If you grow up in Wisconsin you’re going to be a Packers fan, in Tennessee you’re likely a Titans and/or Volunteers fan. Because of this situation, it makes it very easy to market to those in-state or regional consumers. Merchandise and apparel will be readily available at all sports and specialty shops and even at the local Walmart. But what happens when you are a fan living in foreign territory?

A Displaced Fan's Experience

That is the predicament I have been in for the last six years. Born and raised in rural Missouri, I became a fan of Mizzou Athletics, the Kansas City Royals, and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, I decided to ditch the Chiefs and follow the Dallas Cowboys once I was old enough to have a say in the matter, probably because of the dynasty in the 90s. During that time it was a given that I would be able to watch those teams play on television. I could buy merchandise and get information about those Missouri teams. The sports segment on the local news always covered what I was interested in, I was able to attend games, and almost every retailer that carried sports merchandise had what I wanted. That’s the way it is for most people, and in a perfect world, everyone would be in that situation.

That all changed when I graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army. No longer was it the case that everyone around me cheered for the same teams, or even sports for that matter. I was now living in upstate New York with people from all over the country. I wasn’t able to watch Missouri football or basketball games, or Royals baseball without some hassle and a definite effort involved. I had to order gear and apparel to be delivered to the local chain stores, because they didn’t stock them. It was very difficult and oftentimes frustrating to be a fan and keep up with my teams. I used websites and mobile apps to read articles and review stats, trying to stay connected as best I could. Things did get a little easier when I came to Tennessee in 2011. Now only living one state away and Missouri joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012, I have more access to Mizzou athletics and games. On the flip side, almost everyone here seems to be a Volunteers fan. There is more media coverage with the SEC Network, but nothing beats being an in-state fan. 

Serving the Displaced Fan

So what should marketers do differently? Is it reasonable to expect to have constant coverage and access to your favorite teams, no matter where you are? No matter how many networks or reporters there are, the experience will never be the same as if you were local. It would detract from one of the things that makes sports so special—having pride in your team and where you’re from. Sure, every sports store could be exactly the same and carry merchandise and apparel from all schools, teams, and sports. That wouldn’t be very personal, though. However, I think things are moving in the right direction. Local stores should carry mostly all local teams. That’s where the majority of their sales are coming from. They should also be willing to order and have shipped in merchandise from other teams for the select few who want it.

While it isn’t always easy to get the things you want, or watch the games you want, that’s just part of being a displaced fan. You take pride in where you’re from and who you cheer for. You’re ok with ordering all of your merchandise online, searching for a place to watch your games, and not fitting in with all those around you. You’re ok with it because you’re loyal and it doesn’t matter where you are, you’ll make it work…especially when your teams beat the others around you.

Chris Troxell is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University studying Animal Science and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fashion Meets Sports: A Market Opportunity

by Raven Hagan

Today, many women represent multiple sports brands, and they are fierce and strong. We are so used to seeing the strong suit of these women and the sports they represent, but there does seem to be a slight disadvantage as far as appearance goes. Men sportswear is highly represented and comes in a wide variety as far as stylish pants, polos, and shoes, whereas women’s sportswear is distasteful and bland. There are a couple of brands that are now showing more variety of sportswear for Women than there was before. Brands like Nike offer fun clothing, shoes, and accessories that cater specifically to a woman’s needs without womanizing them. Their items are made solely for comfort.

Ripping the Runway

Fashion in sports is even starting to hit the runways. Sports related themes have been seen in this years fashion weeks all over the globe. Paris Fashion Week started it all showing women's wear collections of Chloe, Carven and Paco Rabanne and Balmain. The French are showing us how they are styling in comfort for the next coming season.

Photos via

As women's interest in sports is growing rapidly so is the need for fashion for them. It is something that is needed and is trending. How do you feel about the need for women's sports fashion?  

Raven Hagan is a senior fashion merchandising major at Middle Tennessee State University.

A First-Hand Perspective of Marketing Collegiate Tennis

by Alannah Keele

This academic year I was given the opportunity to intern for the MTSU Men’s Tennis team as their marketing manager. I am in my senior year of college pursuing a marketing degree in hopes of working in corporate sales for a sports team at the professional level. I felt as if this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. I really enjoy playing tennis leisurely and do it frequently, but have never played on a league or team so the knowledge that I have is very limited. The head coach, Jimmy Borendame, told me my main duties would be to come up with marketing strategies to attract fans to the home matches. I thought to myself “how hard can that be” and gladly accepted the position.

Marking MT Tennis

Since accepting the position I have quickly learned that attracting fans to matches is much more difficult than a person would think. When MTSU Athletic Marketing came to speak to my Sports Marketing class they spoke about how they market to all MT sports but the main three sports that they market are: football, basketball, and baseball. I have found that tennis is unfortunately at the bottom of that marketing list alongside golf and track. However, the reason I am in this position is to overcome those obstacles and raise attendance for our matches. Season does not start until the spring semester so I have not gotten to see how well my marketing tactics work out, but what Iwill do is give you five sincere reasons as to why I believe everyone needs to attend an MTSU Men’s Tennis match.

5 Reasons to Attend an MTSU Tennis Match

  1. The MTSU tennis players are good, really good. The men play a few tournaments during the fall semester and the first tournament they played in was the Dale Short Shootout which took place at home on 9/28/15. During that tournament the men were able to secure a win in 7 of the 9 matches they were in against Austin Peay, the University of Alabama Birmingham, and Lipscomb University. This means that the team was able to win 78% of all matches that weekend and the two they lost were incredibly close.
  2. These guys are incredibly athletic. During their preseason the guys are required to run their mile in 5 minutes and 35 seconds or less. I do not know of many sports where the entire team can run a mile in less than 5 minutes and 35 seconds. Not to mention how fast they actually hit and return the ball. I went down on the courts once to take pictures of the team in action and lasted less than a minute because of fear that I was going to get hit and severely injured.
  3. Another reason why you should attend an MTSU tennis match is because the team is committed to helping their community. This season alone they have hosted two free tennis clinics to the children of Rutherford County. During these clinics they taught the kids the basic fundamentals of tennis and put on an exhibition for them. After the clinics were over the team signed autographs and took pictures with all of the participants. Not once did I hear a player complain or say anything negative during the clinics. The players were more than happy to get the community involved in the sport that they love so much. See picture below from our first free clinic this year. 
  4. Is one of your reasons for not coming to a tennis match because the weather is too cold or rainy? If you answered yes then this problem will not be an issue anymore! This summer the City of Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee State University unveiled an eight-court, $5.8 million indoor tennis complex. MTSU will host 19 home matches this season and half of those will be played at the new indoor complex. The new indoor complex allows fans to watch the matches above the court to get a great angle, the building has heat and air conditioning, there is a concession stand available during the matches, and the best part of all is that the matches are completely free to attend. Everyone should attend a match atleast to just experience the indoor facility. I can almost guarantee that there will be some free goodies to the matches that you attend! You have to come to the matches though to see what those goodies might be.
  5. The final reason I believe people should attend MTSU tennis matches is because the guys need your support. MTSU is its own community inside Rutherford County. I consider MTSU my home and my classmates and friends my family. There are ten players on the roster this academic year and out of the ten eight are from a different country. There are players from Spain, Germany, Australia, Msccor, and Paraguay. With the players being from so far away it is impossible for their parents and family members to attend their matches. We, as their MTSU family, need to come and give them the support they deserve. I know as a soccer player I always played better when I had friends and family at my games to support me. The guys risked a lot to move halfway around the world to play for our school and we owe it to them to give them our support.

Additional Reasons to Attend a Match

I encourage everyone to attend an MTSU Men’s Tennis match this upcoming spring. All matches are completely free to attend and I can almost guarantee there will be some sort of giveaway at each match. If you hate the match you are not required to attend another one or even stay the whole time, but I have a good feeling that you will like what you see. The MTSU Men’s tennis page where you can find their schedule, roster, and any news about the team can be found at

If there are any suggestions you have about marketing MTSU tennis or any experience you have with marketing collegiate sports please feel free to comment.

Alannah Keele is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University from Manchester, Tennessee.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Blackhawks Keep It Classy On and Off the Ice

Photo via Chicago Blackhawks
by Elizabeth Tullos

Giving back to the city of Chicago is nothing new for the six-time Stanley Cup winners, the Chicago Blackhawks. Each season, the Blackhawks participate in a variety of charity and community efforts, such as book and food drives, hospital visits and promoting environmentalism. None of the Blackhawks’ efforts stand out quite as much as their What’s Your Goal campaign.


Earlier this year, The Chicago Blackhawks began their What’s Your Goal campaign to reach out directly to the fans and ask what their goals were and how they could help. Thousands of tweets began pouring in with the hashtag, #WhatsYourGoal.

The fans spoke and the Blackhawks listened, responding to as many #WhatsYourGoal requests as possible.

A five-year-old Girl Scout named Alexis reached out to the Blackhawks, stating that her goal was to sell Girl Scout cookies to her favorite player, team captain Jonathan Toews. Towes and teammate Patrick Sharp bought over one hundred boxes of cookies from Alexis and helped her add a Blackhawks patch to her Girl Scout vest.

Downers Grove firefighter, Kevin O’Leary was surprised by a visit from Right Wing Patrick Kane at his firehouse after his wife submitted a tweet asking him to visit her husband.


Five-year-old Cammy Babiarz suffers from Rhett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that has left her without the ability to walk or speak. When her parents became aware of the #WhatsYourGoal campaign, they immediately tweeted the team that nothing would make their daughter happier than to meet her favorite player, Assistant Captain and Defenseman, Duncan Keith.

Keith was happy to oblige the pint-sized fan to make her one goal come true. Instead of just showing up and taking pictures with the fan, Keith brought Cammy a jersey and skates. Cammy’s parents were worried that their daughter wouldn’t recognize Keith off of the ice, but when he walked in, they said she was “star-struck”. Cammy is able to communicate through a machine called a Tobii, which reads her eye movements. After talking with her favorite player for a while, Keith took Cammy to the ice for the first time in her life. Thanks to Duncan Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks, Cammy was able to skate for the first time and even scored a goal, thanks to an assist from Keith.

Blackhawks Score with #WhatsYourGoal

What’s Your Goal has been a success with the Blackhawks both online and offline. Countless newspapers, blogs, and social media users have picked up stories on the Blackhawks’ initiatives in the Chicago community. The more the Blackhawks are involved in their community, such as with What’s Your Goal, fans and even non-fans alike have taken an interest in the Stanley Cup Champions. This initiative, as well as the other community relations and charities the team is involved in, such as Keith Relief, a charity designed to help alleviate the emotional and financial burdens of medical debt, the Blackhawks brand will continue to grow. The more the Blackhawks brand grows, ticket sales and merchandise sales are sure to follow.

As the 2015-2016 season picks up, the Blackhawks are sure to continue the popular initiative and make more fans’ goals come true.

To learn more about #WhatsYourGoal or see more stories of the Blackhawks giving back to their fans, visit the Blackhawks Facebook page at

Elizabeth Tullos is a senior public relations and political science major at Middle Tennessee State University.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Court to Catwalk: Serena Williams Takes on NYFW

photo via
by Laura Watkins

We all know she dominates on the tennis court, but this year, professional tennis player Serena Williams took her talents to the runways of New York Fashion Week to debut the first spring season of her clothing line. After suffering from a shocking loss to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals, Williams turned to another industry she has become very familiar with over the years, the fashion industry.

Forever a Fashion Lover

Fashion is not necessarily something that comes to mind when we think sports, but the two go hand in hand for professional athletes, and Serena Williams is no exception. The tennis star has been known to always have had an appreciation for the industry, having taken fashion courses in the past, to wearing the biggest names in fashion on red carpets and on the covers of magazines. Williams was extremely proud of the line, as she should be.

Serena’s Success

Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, was Serena’s mentor on the project and helped her with the collection. Any advice from Wintour is good advice indeed! The collection was for HSN, the Home Shopping Network, and featured a lot of leather, suede, and fringe, three things that have been up and coming on the fashion forecasting radar for quite some time. Williams really hit the nail on the head with this one, not straying away from her roots in athletics, seeing as each piece was very wearable, suitable for women on the go such as herself. This goes to show that the tennis star has many talents, and it is safe to say that we will be seeing much more from the athlete in the fashion world when she’s not on the court of course.

Laura Watkins is a senior liberal studies major at Middle Tennessee State University.