Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Super Bowl 53 Carol

‘Twas the moment before kickoff,
and in all New England junctions,
nothing was moving
not even at Dunkins.

Homes full of hope and cheer
Welcomed guests from far and near;
Wearing Patriots blue
Bringing chips, dips and beer.

With wings and guacamole aplenty
the craft beer cold,
My spot on the couch secure,
Heather’s #12 jersey sans fold.

All through New England a similar scene,
Settling in for the championship game:
Pregame hype finally ended,
the prognostications extended.

Super Bowl fifty three was set to be played—
The teams in their finest uniforms arrayed.
Frozen for a moment in time,
A football tableau sublime.

On one sideline stood leader Tom Brady,
Beside familiar faces—Gronk, Edelman, the McCourty twins
Even dour Belichick in his hoodie
Seeking the sixth of Super Bowl wins. 

And we in our waiting,
scornfully dismissed the hating.
For we knew without a doubt—
As long as time remained in the contest,
Our Patriots would give their best.

Though you may hate the GOAT,
And think the Patriots cheaters,
Watch as the game advances
How the future Hall of Famer seizes his chances.

Like the game, this doggerel has no fix,
So Happy Super Bowl to all,
And to all a good number six.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

More Wagering Equals More Benefits for '2nd Tier'​ Sports (published at Money Inc.)

An historic moment in American sports wagering happened last May. It didn't happen on a field, in a rink, a ring, a court, or a gym. No balls were thrown, no shots taken, no races run, no records set nor bets placed. The players wore uniforms and they were on the same team. When the gown-clad Justices of United States Supreme Court determined as unconstitutional the federal ban on sports betting established by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), they made sports history: They opened the gates to the sports gambling kingdom.
With legalized sports wagering a reality, experts agree there's plenty of money to be made. By 2023, 32 states could offer regulated sports betting, generating a market worth more than $6 billion in annual revenue (Eilers & Krejcik Gaming). As Big League organizations tread tentatively into this uncharted territory, they'll follow the pioneering trail blazed by Brett Lashbrook, whose USL soccer squad was the first pro sports team to fully embrace sports wagering. Attend a Las Vegas Lights game and you're likely to listen to an MC encouraging attendees to use their mobile devices to bet on almost anything game related.
Owner and President of the Lights, Lashbrook is bullish on sports wagering's potential to open new revenue streams for lesser leagues.
"We tapped into Vegas' existing sports wagering infrastructure to establish and promote mobile gaming in our stadium," said Lashbrook, whose Lights last year signed a deal with William Hill, a bookmaker based in London, England. He explains that lesser leagues and teams have more flexibility in terms of creating partnerships and experimenting with sports gambling.
While the impact of legalized sports wagering to expand profits for major pro sports leagues is well established and exhaustively discussed, Lashbrook's activities indicate that widespread betting offers '2nd Tier' leagues like the USL and others opportunities to generate new revenue streams and increase team exposure.
According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, in 2017, betting in Nevada on football, basketball and baseball each achieved record highs. Of the overall betting pie, football, basketball and baseball took about 91% combined (36%, 31% and 24%, respectively). The 'other sports' category–hockey, soccer and others–comprised a record 9% of 2017 betting.
Increased betting on 'other sports' slightly eroded betting on football, basketball and baseball. The end of PASPA will accelerate that trend, making regulated sports gambling widely accessible and spurring unprecedented growth. Because regulated gambling opportunities will expand alongside the growth of regulated gambling venues, gaming experts believe betting on other sports will also increase.
Count Lashbrook among those experts: "There absolutely will be a trickle-down effect. Being at the forefront of this trend has generated sponsorship dollars we hadn't anticipated months ago. This is a huge market for all sports,” Lashbrook continues. "The concept is the same, only the scale is much bigger."
Lashbrook contends that legalized sports wagering offers lesser leagues and teams three sources to generate revenue:
  1. Traditional sponsorships: Teams can sign exclusive sponsorships with a betting company so only that company will be promoted to its fans in the stadium. At the Lights stadium, William Hill is the only gambling signage, and the team promotes only their lines. Lashbrook explains: "This doesn’t mean MGM/Caesars/Stations sports books can’t take bets on our games. We just don’t promote it." With mobile gaming, he adds, "companies can reach exponentially more sports fans in a venue like ours, where we offer both mobile gaming and the unique advertising opportunities that come with it."
  2. Sign up incentives: Because the gaming industry seeks the attention of sports fans 24-7-365, there’s a battle brewing among booking agencies to get users to sign up for “their” app. As casinos compete to convince fans to choose their app over the others, lesser pro sports leagues have more leverage to negotiate 'exclusive' deals.
  3. Partnerships with rapidly expanding sports wagering information networks. Organizations like the Vegas Sports Insider Network (VSIN) offer wagering advice but don’t accept bets. As Lashbrook explains, "it’s like investment advisory services but for gambling." Think Wall Street Journal meets sports wagering.
Lashbrook says more sports wagering will generate more revenue simply because betting is fun: "Gambling makes the game more fun, and we want our fans to have as much fun as possible." Lashbrook’s Lights are in the business of monetizing fun, and business is booming.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

National Mentoring Month January Is: Mentors My Life Helped Shape

Looked back on your life have you? Realized trying to help you succeed someone was? Didn't see it at the time, did you?

January being National Mentoring Month, here's a glimpse at how my mentors informed some of my most influential professional and personal decisions:
  • Applied for and earned a three-year Army ROTC scholarship
  • Chose a "hardship duty" post in Korea as a young Lieutenant
  • Enrolled in and completed a Master's degree program while in the Army
  • Left a great job in D.C. and moved to Massachusetts for love
  • Referred to MIT for a communications position in a new Engineering Leadership program
  • Started a boutique communications firm that helped several clients meet their branding, marketing and fundraising goals
In some cases to my personal and professional detriment, I dismissed advice from mentors (Yoda, you were right!). Hindsight shows how right they were, their courage telling me what I didn't want to hear, and their commitment to stick by me as I learned from my flawed decisions.

The Original Mentor

The story of Mentor comes from Homer's Odyssey: Before leaving his kingdom of Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War, Odysseus entrusted the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus' son, Telemachus. The word 'Mentor' evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person. 

In more recent history, research on youth mentoring shows that it can foster academic achievement, encourage positive peer relationships and healthy behaviors, prevent and reduce juvenile crime and recidivism, and support youth who may be struggling with mental health challenges. 

Mentorship Improves Youth Outcomes

Having a mentor helps young people stay in school, develop a positive attitude toward learning and make them more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and succeed in a work environment. According to the Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP): 
  • Youth who have mentors are 52% less likely to skip school, making them more likely to graduate
  • 64% of students with mentors develop a more positive attitude toward school, leading to better learning
  • Youth with mentors are 63% more likely to reduce high-risk behaviors like violent tendencies, and drug, alcohol and tobacco use

In Massachusetts, MMP drives efforts to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities. MMP works with mentoring programs and youth development organizations to assess programmatic needs and organizational capacity, offering customized strategies that strengthen youth, families, and communities. 

MMP reports that more than 3,000 youth across Massachusetts are waiting to be matched with caring, adult mentors.

What Makes a Good Mentoring Relationship

In a balanced mentoring relationship, one person invests time, energy and personal knowledge to enhance the growth, ability and opportunities of another. Mentors are caring adults who are committed, responsible, and reliable. Mentoring is most effective when it’s a structured and trusting relationship that connects young people with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement. 

In my experience, mentoring has had an enduring positive effect on my life, and--I hope--the lives of my mentors. It's comforting that history offers many examples of helpful and productive mentoring relationships (Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung). 

While history will neither record nor remember my contributions as a mentor, the mentors I was fortunate to have provided outstanding examples of how I can best serve my mentees. Make a difference. Be a mentor. 

Mentoring Resources