Monday, November 13, 2017

A Hyper-linked List of Journals that Publish Sports Governance Research

Impact Factor
International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 3.353
Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 2.593
Journal of Sport Sciences 2.095
Psychology of Sport and Exercise 1.768
Sport, Education and Society 1.333
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 1.261
Sociology of Sport Journal 1.125
Leisure Sciences 1.109
Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 1.098
Leisure Studies 1.096
Journal of Sport and Social Issues 1.049
The Sport Psychologist 0.933
Quest 0.902
Journal of Sport Management 0.727
International Review for the Sociology of Sport 0.725
European Sport Management Quarterly 0.638
Journal of Leisure Research 0.592
Journal of Sports Economics 0.544
International Journal of Sport Psychology 0.453
International Journal of the History of Sport 0.291
International Journal of Sport Finance 0.179
Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education (open access) 0.062

Inspired by the North American Society of Sports Management (here in PDF), above is a list of journals that publish research related to sports governance. The one's listed above are sorted by the journal's impact factor.

The ones listed below do not have readily-available impacts factors and are sorted alphabetically. This listing is compiled for my own research purposes, but hopefully can be of use to others interested in sports governance.

If you know of any journals that ought to be on the list, just let me know and I'll add.

ABA Entertainment and Sports Lawyer
Applied Research in Coaching and Athletics Annual
Case Studies in Sport Management
Communication and Sport
DePaul Journal of Sports Management and Contemporary Problems
Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University Entertainment & Sports Law Journal
Detroit College of Law Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law
Entertainment and Sports Law Journal
Entertainment and Sports Lawyer
European Journal for Sport and Society
European Sports History Review
Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law
International Journal of Developmental Sport Management (online)
International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
International Journal of Sport communication
International Journal of Sport Management
International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing
International Journal of Sport Management, Recreation & Tourism (open access)
International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
international Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship
International Review on Sport and Violence (open access)
International Sports Law Journal
Journal for Sport for Development (open access)
Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education
Journal of Amateur Sport
Journal of Applied Sport Management
Journal of Contemporary Athletics
Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law
Journal of Intercollegiate Sport
Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics
Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport
Journal of Park and Recreation Administration
Journal of Physical Education and Sport Management (open access)
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports (online)
Journal of Sport and Health Research (open access)
Journal of Sport and Tourism
Journal of Sport Behavior
Journal of Sport History
Journal of Sports Analytics
Journal of Sports and Recreation
Journal of Sports Media
Journal of the Philosophy of Sport
Marquette Sports Law Journal
Mississippi Sports Law Review
Pamukkale Journal of Sport Sciences
Physical Culture and Sports Studies and Research (open access)
Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Recreational Sports Journal
Serbian Journal of Sport Sciences
Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law
Soccer and Society
Sport History Review
Sport in Society: Cultures, Politics, Media, Politics
Sport Management Educational Journal
Sport Management Review
Sport Marketing Quarterly
Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal
Sporting Traditions
Sports Historian (currently known as Sport in History)
Sports Law e-Journal (online)
Sports Management International Journal: Choregia
The All Rounder**
The Sport Journal (open access)
University of Denver Sports & Entertainment Law Journal
University of Miami Entertainment & Sports Law Review
Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Forum
Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal
Women in Sports & Physical Activity Journal

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Girls Youth Soccer and the College Scholarship

For the past several years I've been on the board of FC Boulder, our local youth soccer club, and this fall I became co-president. This vantage point, coupled with my day job, has led me to develop some views on youth sports. But to be perfectly clear, even though I refer to FC Boulder in the post below, the views offered are mine alone and not those of FC Boulder or my colleagues on the Board.

These views are offered to stimulate discussion, ultimately over what is best for our children in youth sports, recognizing that the answer to this question will be different for different families.

With that, let's take a look at girls youth soccer and the college scholarship.

Playing college soccer is an ambition for many girls. For some the opportunity comes with a financial benefit, for others it is simply an opportunity to continue playing the game that they love at a higher level. To understand the challenges faced by a players, their parents and the clubs that they pay for it is instructive to look at some numbers.

There are 333 NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer programs (PDF). Although they average 28 players per team, under NCAA rules, each program only is allocated 14 scholarships. That means that nationwide there are 4,662 total scholarships available. Because scholarships are awarded over a period of 5 years (during which a player is eligible for 4 of those years), that means that there are only on average 930 full scholarships open every year.

Most programs split their scholarships up to distribute them more equitably across their team, so on average, a college player “on scholarship” is likely to be on about a 1/3 scholarship.  Based on its population, Colorado should expect about 30 such partial scholarships to be awarded each year. NCAA Division II schools award about 2/3 of the scholarships of Division I, and Division III does not award scholarships.

At DI, DI and DIII levels there are about 27,000 total college soccer players. There are approximately 5,000 total scholarships. Right away it should be clear that playing soccer in college is not identical to securing a scholarship, much less a "full ride."

Lets look at some specifics. Colorado has more than 60 youth soccer clubs, but if we assume that the 10 biggest clubs are the ones that secure scholarships (not exactly right but pretty close), then just as a proportional average my club-- FC Boulder -- should expect about 5 (partial) Division I and II scholarships to be awarded to girls in the club every year.

But what if we don’t care about scholarships? What if we look to all girls in Colorado who sign with NCAA universities to play soccer regardless of whether they get financial assistance?

Last year the state of Colorado saw 121 girls commit to play NCAA soccer: 69 at D1, 38 at D2 and 14 at D3. Almost 2/3 of these commitments came from three clubs in Colorado:
Not surprisingly, these are also the programs with dedicated elite girls’ programs - specifically the US Soccer Girls Development Academy and ECNL. That means that the other 44 college soccer players came from about 60 other clubs. If we again assume that the top 10 clubs (other than Rush, Real, Storm) produce these athletes, then we should expect FC Boulder to have about 6 commitments per year -- that is less than 1% of girls who play at the club.

In recent years, the numbers suggest that FC Boulder has punched above its weight, for instance in the class of 2017, 9 FCB girls signed with colleges. FC Boulder does this even though it does not offer the formalized, elite-level programming offered by other clubs in the state. While that is great, even if we wanted to, FC Boulder could not replicate the programming at the bigger clubs because FC Boulder simply does not have the size or resources to offer such programs. Most clubs in Colorado (and every state) are face similar limitations based on their size and programming.

Given these realities, should there come a time when the best advice a local club can give an outstanding player is that there will be better opportunities for development by moving on to specialized elite programs at other clubs? Of course we should!

Advice to move on can be tough to hear for parents (trust me), and also for a club. Moving to a bigger, non-local program with elite programming might mean a commute to practices of an hour or more. It could mean more expenses. It will inevitably mean that your daughter (or son) no longer plays with her friends of many years in order to seek new opportunities. From the club standpoint, they lose one of their very best players. It might also mean giving up the chance to play in high school, which I fully endorse (but I know many do not).

Moving on is exactly what happened with FC Boulder (boys) player Shane O’Neill, who played for FC Boulder and then moved on to the Colorado Rapids Development Academy, then the US U-20 MNT and a professional career.

It is also what happened with Colorado standout Mallory Pugh, who went from training with an elite girls’ program to training with a boy’s US Soccer Development Academy when her growth as a player exceeded what was available on her team. She recently de-committed from UCLA to pursue a pro career and US WNT service when it became apparent that college soccer wouldn’t serve her developmental needs and career ambitions.

Youth soccer clubs serve their players well by helping them to identifying when it may be time to “graduate” to the next level. They also serve them well by being realistic with parents about the opportunities to play in college. The fact is, only a small percentage of girls (and boys) go on from youth sports to play in college. However, these numbers are of limited value because we all think our kids are special, and some parents (and kids) suffer from a form of "scholarship derangement syndrome." 

So what advice would I give to the parent (and kid) who wants to play in college?
  • If the ambition is financially motivated, understand that the typical scholarship to play girls soccer is valued at about $70,000 (assuming a 1/3 scholarship for 5 years and a full annual scholarship worth $40,000). With youth soccer costing as much as $5,000 to $10,000 per year (equipment, club fees, tournament travel, etc.), a family could save $70,000 over 18 years by socking away half this much each year by cutting soccer in half. The pay-to-play model for US soccer is much discussed these days (and some families can't afford soccer or college), but for now, its the way the game is played. Bottom line: The parent-provided "scholarship" is always going to be a far better way to pay for college than an athletics scholarship.
  • If the ambition is athletically motivated, understand that there are many different options for playing soccer beyond youth sports. The more prestigious D1 scholarships in the power conferences are few and far between, and go to the exceptionally talented players - its just a fact. Talk to coaches inside and outside your club and ask for the straight scoop. But for most girls, the opportunities will be found at smaller programs. There are also university club programs and intramurals. The opportunities to play beyond youth soccer are much broader than scholarship opportunities, and each girl and her family needs to find the right balance of education, soccer and life. But make no mistake, playing high level sports in college and succeeding academically is a lot of work.
The United States is unique because Title IX has created many opportunities for girls to move from youth sports to women's ports in college. But the number of girls playing soccer has increased much faster than have college opportunities. That is great news for soccer programs in college because the talent pool is deepening, but might not be great news for your daughter, as it means that competition for roster spots is tough.

As with most topics, the best advice to to get educated. Seek different points of view. Ultimately, recognize that soccer is a beautiful game that can be played by both men and women for many decades after youth sports, high school and college are in the rear view mirror. As we say at FC Boulder -Soccer for life.

Friday, October 13, 2017

US Soccer MNT Performance Under USSF Presidents Since 1974

The data in graph above comes from Wikipedia and It shows the improvement or decline in the ELO ratings of the US men's national team for each USSF president. The ELO rating is a measure of relative team strength based on performance.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Coaching Position at FC Boulder

Monday, October 2, 2017

Saudi Athlete Learns He Was Cleared of Doping 6 Years Later

This is an emerging story, but here is what I've been able to piece together.

Saudi Arabian footballer Al Kowaibki was suspended for 1 year in 2010 for doping. The WADA lab under which he was suspended (Malaysia) was subsequently suspended by WADA for having false positives. The Malaysian lab then filed a CAS case against WADA to protest the suspension.

WADA entered into evidence in the case the example of six athletes wrongly accused, including Al Kowaibki as a false positive. WADA won the CAS case. (Details here in PDF)

However, apparently no one - not WADA not SADO - ever notified the athlete that his sample was considered a false positive. He has lived the past 6+ years as a convicted doper. Remarkably, just recently the athlete just recently learned that he was cleared years ago. WADA is apparently investigating.

How can it be that an athlete was cleared of doping but no one told him?

This case was brought to my attention by legal researcher Ahmad Alamir, who has offered details in Arabic on his Twitter feed. We are working on translations at which point I'll revisit this issue.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Has the United States Reached Peak (American) Football?

At Play the Game I have a new column up that asks and answers the question whether the US has hit "peak football"?

Here is how it starts:
Last month my son’s middle school principal announced that there was not enough interest among students for the school to form an (American) football team to compete in 8th grade interscholastic competition. On the one hand, this seemed notable, as playing youth football is a cherished American tradition and football is what Gregg Easterbrook has called the King of Sports. On the other hand, I live in Boulder, Colorado – an environmentally-friendly, health-conscious, exercise-crazy college town -- an American outlier in many respects.

So, to assess whether my son’s school is an oddity or part of a larger trend, I decided to look into the state of American football, and this essay reports what I’ve found.
Head over to read the rest. I welcome comments.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NASL and Jeffrey Kessler Take on US Soccer

The North American Soccer League has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation and the lead counsel for NASL is Jeffrey Kessler, a leading anti-trust lawyer often involved in sports litigation. The lawsuit itself can be found here and a nice overview here. I discussed some of the earlier tensions between NASL and MLS in a blog post 2 years ago, here.

I'll leave the matters of law to the lawyers, but in this post I offer some thoughts on the lawsuit in the context of the governance of US Soccer. The lawsuit reveals some broader problems in the governance of US Soccer, ones that I have discussed at various times in the past (e.g., here and here). These broader problems focus on, what else, money and the use of soccer organizations to cash in.

The NASL characterizes US Soccer, Major League Soccer, Soccer United Marketing and (to a lesser extent) the United Soccer League as inter-related parts of a "conspiracy" to protect the monopoly status of the MLS. The lawsuit explains:
"By promulgating a changing portfolio of so-called “Professional League Standards” and regulations to protect MLS, and now USL, from competition, the USSF enriches itself and protects MLS as the only top-tier Division I men’s professional soccer league located in the U.S. and Canada, immune from competition from new entrants and potential rival leagues even though the USSF is a private organization and has no legal authority to confer immunity from competition to anyone."
The basis for the lawsuit is NASL's interest in its survival as a league and ability to compete fairly against the MLS to provide professional soccer in the United States.

But more generally, what the NASL lawsuit describes is a money machine. US Soccer, MLS and SUM have created a highly opaque, financially interdependent set of institutions legitimized by FIFA that would appear to benefit not just the individual team investors in the MLS, but also other (largely unknown) owners of SUM and MLS. Some of these individuals may include USSF officials. As the lawsuit explains:
"Upon information and belief, SUM is controlled by MLS or by the owners of MLS. SUM has entered into commercial relationships with USSF that are designed to align the economic interests of the USSF to favor MLS and protect its monopoly position."
The lawsuit further explains:
"103. The economic motivation for the USSF to use its Professional League Standards to maintain the MLS Division I monopoly, in concert with MLS, is evident from the series of commercial arrangements that the USSF entered into with MLS under which the USSF profits (notwithstanding its putative non-profit status) from the monopoly status it maintains for MLS. Most prominently, the USSF’s commercial rights have been pooled together and sold jointly with the commercial rights of MLS in “Soccer United Marketing” (“SUM”), a marketing company that, upon information and belief, is owned and controlled by MLS or its owners.

104. Acting in concert with the USSF, MLS has sought through SUM to control as many of the commercial rights relating to top-tier men’s soccer leagues located in the U.S. and Canada as possible, and thereby ensure that the fruits of any efforts to promote top-tier men’s soccer in the U.S. and Canada jointly flow to MLS and SUM’s stakeholders. Their objective to concentrate the revenues from top-tier men’s soccer in the United States in a single company is aptly summarized by SUM’s slogan: “One Sport. One Company.”"
What kind of money are we talking about?  The NY Daily News provided some insight in a 2016 article, which discussed the role of MLS president Don Garber and USSF president Sunil Gulati in the context of the organizations' rarely discussed finances:
In the early 2000s, [Don] Garber and the owners wanted to get the fledgling MLS on television to build a fanbase and sponsor interest, but broadcasters weren’t interested — a lure would be required to entice them. When Garber noticed the U.S. broadcast rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups had not yet been picked up, he found his bait. The league acquired the potentially lucrative property and created SUM to serve as its business arm. SUM shopped the World Cup rights to television networks but with one condition: they also pick up MLS games, terms that ABC and ESPN ultimately accepted.

Through that kind of packaging and “one-stop shopping” for sponsors, SUM is able to pool revenues fairly quickly. By 2011, when SUM sold a 25% stake in the company to Providence Equity Partners, a private-equity investment firm, Major League Soccer’s “commercial arm” was estimated to be worth $600 million.

According to US Soccer president Sunil Gulati, SUM pays an annual guarantee to US Soccer — in 2004 it was $3.5 million; by 2014 it had grown to $8.25 million — in exchange for most sponsorship, television, licensing and royalty revenues. Not only does SUM benefit through financial remuneration, it allows it to package the gold-plated national team brand with other SUM properties — such as MLS — when selling rights to sponsors and broadcasters.

Once SUM reaches an undisclosed amount of profit on these commercial rights, it splits the rest with US Soccer, with 30% going to SUM. Financial statements ending in March 2015, the most recent available, show that SUM paid a total of $18.3 million to US Soccer. What is not indicated is how much of US Soccer’s potential revenue SUM retains. For example, of the eight-year, $720 million broadcast deal SUM recently inked for MLS and national team games, neither SUM nor US Soccer publicly discloses how much makes its way back to the federation. (Dan Courtemanche, senior spokesman for SUM and MLS, would not comment on business arrangements, citing SUM’s status as a private company. SUM president Kathy Carter declined to be interviewed, and Garber did not respond to interview requests.)
There is a lot in there (a lot of dollars too), so let me summarize:
  • SUM was worth a reported $600 million in 2011.
  • SUM paid USSF $8.5 million in 2014 in annual guarantees
  • SUM paid an additional $18.3 million to USSF in 2015, implying a profit of $7.8 million retained by SUM (i.e., $18.3/0.7)
There is more. According to the NY Post, MLS president Garber has a conflict of interest when it comes to SUM:
According to US Soccer, Garber recused himself from voting on its financial arrangement with SUM, standard protocol for someone who has interests with both parties. 
It also appears that USSF president Sunil Gulati is a shareholder in SUM, because he reportedly also recuses himself from USSF discussions of SUM, based on what USSF told me in an interview for this article last year.

If that is the case then that would mean that both Garber and Gulati have a piece of the $600 million of equity (in 2011) represented by SUM. Just as interesting, some fraction of SUM's television rights packages were helped along by none other than the late Chuck Blazer, who was caught up in and helped to move along the US DOJ investigation into corruption among FIFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL officials.

The conflicted roles of Garber and Gulati quickly descend into a situation of endemic conflict of interest, as literally every decision made by US Soccer related to professional or international soccer has implications for the SUM bottom line. I discussed the problematic nature of US soccer's lack of a conflict of interest policy at some length at Soccernomics last year. Are there other US Soccer officials with similar conflicts? We don't know.

Back to the NASL lawsuit -- the desire for a monopoly position among US Soccer might not simply be a matter of the desire to promote the fortunes of the MLS at the expense of other leagues. It may also have something to do with the fact that the USSF, MLS and SUM have created a fantastically lucrative arrangement involving TV and other marketing rights, international friendlies and other matches, as well as a stranglehold on professional soccer in the United States.

This arrangement sounds ... FIFA-esque.

The NASL lawsuit thus threatens to blow all of this wide open. Of the three organizations -- USSF, SUM and MLS -- the USSF is putatively a non-profit sports organization under US law. As such it is right to ask the organization to provide a much greater degree of transparency and to implement basic conflict of interest provisions.  It would also be appropriate to ask US Soccer to clearly separate from the for-profit enterprises in MLS and SUM. As things currently stand all that looks very unlikely.

The NASL lawsuit threatens the entire superstructure of US Soccer. That might be a good thing.

For further reading:

Farrell, J., & Clopton, A. W. (2015). Re-Evaluating Major League Soccer (Mls)'s Claim as a Single-Entity League: 10 Years after Fraser V. Major League Soccer. Journal of Contemporary Athletics, 9(3), 173.

Jakobsze, M. J. (2010). Kicking single-entity to the sidelines: Reevaluating the competitive reality of Major League Soccer after American Needle and the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement. N. Ill. UL Rev., 31, 131.