Barrett Sports Media’s editor, Demetri Ravanos, wanted us to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming and go with Election themed posts this week, given today’s monumental election.
In that spirit, I decided to reach out to a few media professionals that were gracious enough to answer a few questions for our gambling constituents. To begin with we have Ben Heisler (BH) who is a Host, Analyst, and Editor for Sports Illustrated; Scott Miller (SM) the executive editor for The Action Network; and last but not least, Bernie Fratto (BF) the National Host at FOX Sports Radio.
I hope you enjoy it and everyone get out there and vote!
How does the path to legalization change with either candidate in charge?
BH: To be honest, I thought a Trump presidency four years ago would have been positive on the federal level for legalizing sports wagering across the country. Since it hasn’t happened yet, I can’t see it happening again if he were to be elected for another four years.
I legitimately hope the Biden campaign will soon embrace sports betting and it’s growing popularity within our country. With trillions of dollars due in taxes by the end of 2025, it’s one possible way to slowly begin the process of helping to pay off the national deficit. Colorado’s budget has been reaping the benefits of marijuana legalization for years, and last September, the state generated more than $207 million in sports betting revenue! Assuming a more progressive political party wins the election, I’m optimistic to believe we will see all 50 states eventually allow for sports wagering sooner rather than later.
SM: I don’t think the winner of the presidency will impact the future of wide-spread sports betting legalization in the country. Since any movement toward legalization is happening at the state level, the most important races to keep an eye on are in the state legislature and the governor’s office. For example, in New York, State Sen. Joesph Addabbo, who has been the biggest proponent of legalizing online sports betting in NY, is up for re-election. Addabbo losing would almost surely cause a delay in any momentum for pushing a bill through in 2021 (New York currently allows for in-person betting at a few upstate casinos).
BF: Currently there are about 18 states with legalized sports betting and a handful of others who have begun legislation in some form or fashion. Irrespective of party, each state has its own legislative process and as such, given the demand and the incredible growth since the overturn of PASPA in May, 2018, the future of legalized sports betting in the United States is very bright, regardless of who will be our Commander in Chief for the next four years.
In your opinion, has sports betting activity increased, decreased or remained neutral during election season?
BH: I think it’s increased, but it’s not directly correlated to election season. We just have so many more options on the calendar, compared to when the pandemic first hit. Everything was taken away, and we were choosing between marble races and Madden simulations at one point!
SM: We’ve seen sports betting interest increase significantly in the past year. There are a variety of factors for that, most notably that multiple new states have recently started accepting online bets — Illinois, Tennessee and Colorado. I’d expect interest in sports betting to be very low on Election Day, mainly because there are no events on which to wager. But once the games come back — MACtion on Wednesday night, anyone?! — bettors will again be looking for a reprieve from election coverage.
BF: As far as regulated markets go, the election has no influence whatsoever, since you can’t bet on elections in Las Vegas, or in any other state which has legalized sports betting. Additionally, thanks to the four month COVID hiatus, the pent up demand for sports bettors has been massive. Handles in all sports have been record setting. However, it’s also worth noting, that in offshore markets, I’m told the 2020 Presidential Election will have the largest handle of any betting event in history.
Lastly, if the sports betting industry had a face of its two most popular people, who would be the President and Vice President?
BH: I suppose it depends on where you identify politically, right? Do you want the smartest candidate? The most popular candidate? The loudest voice in the room?
If I were casting my sports betting ballot, I think Todd Fuhrman is arguably one of the sharpest and brightest analysts in the space and is one of the faces of the industry both before and during its ongoing rise into everyday sports betting conversation. He’s thoughtful, well-researched, and a terrific communicator.
He could bring on my guy Joe Fortenbaugh for a hell of a running mate. Joe’s sharp, witty, and has a terrific ability to connect and grow audiences. He’s hustled everywhere he’s been and with his move to Vegas, he’s only going to become bigger and brighter in the industry.
SM: I’ll go with a Scott Van Pelt/Stuckey ticket. SVP has the biggest platform of anyone who discusses sports betting both regularly and intelligently. Stuckey, The Action Network’s self-proclaimed King of Degenerate Nation, has mass-appeal with more hardcore bettors.
BF: Hank Goldberg and Brent Musburger would have to be President and Vice President. After decades of professing their love and expertise for Sports Betting, both have since relocated to Las Vegas. But they didn’t come to town to sit on the sidelines. They are very active with their own respective modalities and in addition to being lifelong ambassadors for all things sports betting, they are still omnipresent on the airwaves.
So, there you have it folks. Question 3 is a fun one and I’d love to hear what your choices would be. Feel free to tweet me your responses at @docksquad33 on Twitter.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.