2013 was full of spectacular sports moments. Sports governing bodies, sports events, sports teams, athletes, fans and other relevant parties, which shape and construct the convergence between ‘sport and business’, all contributed to the sports flashes of 2013. This context has changed in the sense that the most sensational and thus exposed moments are no longer necessarily what happens during the competitions.
January marked a defining moment in the sports year of 2013. Cycling star Lance Armstrong had a TV-interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he confessed what most people expected; he admitted the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The doping scandal was followed by a media storm and a commercial aftermath, which damaged Armstrong’s brand equity and thus commercial revenue streams. The first month also offered the news that one of the hottest football (soccer) coaches in world football, Pep Guardiola had signed with FC Bayern Munich to follow in the footsteps of the successful journey of Jupp Heynckes. Moreover, Spain saw great benefits from hosting and winning the World Championship in Handball. Commerically, TV viewing numbers were great compared to the previous championship in 2011. As I wrote earlier on my blog, there was also a positive spill-over effect of this event on television audiences in Denmark, i.e. “to underline the ‘meaning of sporting success’ and the ‘popularity of a sport in a country’s cultural DNA’ in terms of impact on television audiences, the recent success of Denmark’s men’s national team in handball paints a clear picture. Handball is one of the biggest sports in Denmark and the national team’s win against Croatia in the semi-final created a center of attention resulting in one of Denmark’s top audiences of the last 10 years.”
In February, one of the greatest commercial shows in sports worldwide (Super Bowl XLVII) presented not only a fine half-time performance by Beyonce and a great fight where Baltimore Ravens defeated San Francisco 49’ers by 34-31 but the game also included a clash between two brothers and head coaches, i.e. John and Jim Harbaugh. The Alpine World Ski Championships took place in Schladming, Austria and had Ted Ligety from the US as the BIG winner. He won Super-G, Giant Slalom and Super Combined. Commercially, he is looking forward to this year’s Olympic Games in Sochi for what reason he has engaged in a strategic CSR-initiative with one of his sponsors Kelloggs. To engage his fans via his web site, Kelloggs will give a breakfast to a kid in need for every share of the video below and tweet of #GreatStartsTed hashtag. That is a fine way to build an audience and to depict that ‘speed to market’ matters when striving to reap the commercial benefits of a successful winning streak – see more at Ted Ligety’s web site.
March highlighted moments like the beginning of NFL ‘free agency’, the start of the MLS season, the World Figure Skating Championships and not to forget ‘March Madness’. The latter was won by Louisville Cardinals, which CBS celebrated by its annual tradition of playing “One Shining Moment”, see video below.
Adam Scott dominated the US Masters in golf at Augusta in April in front of Angel Cabrera, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Tiger Woods and (with happy Danish eyes) the young Dane Thorbjørn Olesen. That victory (first for an Australian golfer) helped the Aussie secure the Male Player of the Year awarded by the Golf Writers Association of America. Scott won the award in close competition with Tiger Woods. Scott’s success has boosted his brand and the interest for golf in Australia. The Aussie may also help to spark the demand for golf tourism in Australia. Unfortunately, April also showed the ‘ugly threat of violence’ impacting the business of sports as the Boston Marathon was hit by bomb attacks. It raised the important question of security in relation to major sports events.
In terms of May, 2013, I really recall the UEFA Champions League Final where the winners FC Bayern Munich faced the German rivals from Borussia Dortmund. The final sent a vital signal about the development of German football and the current strength of the Bundesliga and it acted as a huge enhancement of the commercial activities associated with German top football. As I wrote earlier in 2013 “many stakeholders engage in activities surrounding the UEFA Champions League. The fact that the two German teams reached the final is a strong benefit for their pursuits to draw more people to their fan bases. Bayern Munich has been in 3 out of the last 4 finals and that is a significant development. Every time a club is exposed at the highest stage in European club football, i.e. the UEFA Champions League final, it means that the club is associated with lots of media and other forms of exposure and thus becomes strongly positioned in the minds of football fans worldwide. Fans are attracted by the way that these two teams have played this season.” THW Kiel is another German sports powerhouse and the club won its 18th German championship in handball while another German team, HSV Hamburg Handball won the Champions League to underline the strength of the German Bundesliga in Handball.
FC Bayern Munich also won the German DFB-Pokal in June to complete an extraordinary season under coach Heynckes. In June, the basketball super star LeBron James led his team Miami Heat to another NBA title when Heat defeated Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and San Antonio Spurs after a dramatic 7-game series. That process will add to Lebron’s legacy and super hero status but the victory did not come true until after an intense game 6 – an exciting tipping point. San Antonio Spurs was ahead 3-2 in the series and led by five points with 28.2 seconds to play. Most often, a good team will never throw away such a lead so that was a ‘tough moment’ for Spurs’ fans but a ‘defining moment’ to mark the success of LeBron and his Miami Heat. Tennis star Rafael Nadal came back after a career-threatening knee injury in 2013 and won the French Open defeating David Ferrer in three sets to underline his position as the ‘King of Clay’. Chicago Blackhawks prevented the Boston Bruins from winning two NHL titles in a row – Blackhawks won the series 4-2. Late in June, Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup and an outstanding Neymar showed football fans his amazing skills and hence raised expectations that he may lead the home nation to the FIFA World Cup title in 2014. The event was also characterized by massive social protests from Brazilians due to the lack of improvements in the societal structure of the country (health, education etc.). The protests were in sharp contrast to Neymar’s beautiful football skills but illustrated a significant question in relation to Brazil’s capability of hosting the World Cup. Finally, June also entailed FC Bayern Munich’s official presentation of new head coach Pep Guardiola and new player signings like Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantara. Mario Götze found the spotlight when he appeared at a FC Bayern Munich press conference in a Nike shirt – I bet that Adidas which is a kit sponsor and shareholder in FC Bayern Munich was happy about that (or NOT) 😉 Finally, the Danish women’s football team did well when qualifying for the semi final in the European Championship in Sweden.