Gabelli Sports Business Initiative

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Gabelli School Sports Business Initiative

Focused on the Future of Sports

Sports business is evolving at an unprecedented pace. From the popularity of new recreational sports to advanced use of biometric data to aid in athletic success, the world of sports is becoming more complex and more controversial. As a result, sports business models, legal standards, and ethical questions are becoming more complex and fascinating. Players are asserting their rights, owners are profiting through new revenue streams such as gambling and streaming, and sports fans are coping with the intersection of sports and politics. Additionally, mental health concerns, sexual abuse, and gender identity of athletes have produced debate on all levels of the sports hierarchy.

The Gabelli School Sports Business Initiative is at the cutting edge of everything that is happening in sports business. It examines and analyzes current issues involving sports and provides a forum that brings together stakeholders across professional sports, amateur sports, collegiate sports and Olympic sports, for critical discussions on what matters most.

From sports podcasts to symposia to lectures, the content we produce and deliver provides the insights and thought leadership that will drive the future of sports.


Professor Mark Conrad

Mark Conrad

The Gabelli School Sports Initiative was founded and is directed by Professor Mark Conrad, JD, who teaches in the Gabelli School’s Law and Ethics Area, and who also directs the Sports Business concentration for Gabelli School undergraduates. He has taught sports law and business classes at Fordham University for over 25 years. Professor Conrad has served as a panelist discussing sports law and business topics at other institutions, including Harvard University, Duke University, The University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham Law School, and is frequently quoted in major media outlets. He has lectured at Columbia University and Northwestern University in Doha, Qatar.

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NEW – Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C

Professor Mark Conrad interviews sports experts, authors, and athletes on the topics that are changing the industry. He also comments on the key issues of the day. His law background provides a ground-breaking approach to enlightened exchanges with guests who join him in tackling tough topics. Tune in to these stimulating discussions to gain diverse perspectives, learn about interesting trends, and delve into the depths of the controversies that often make headlines.

Contracting with FIFA: We Know Who Has the Leverage

When negotiating contracts, the question: "Who has the leverage?" is critical. The world of sports is no exception, and powerful sports organizations often have the leverage to negotiate contracts that give them significant advantages. FIFA's recently negotiated contract with MetLife Stadium, which secured it as the venue for the final match of the 2026 Men's World Cup, provides a great illustration of this phenomenon, and the ways in which sports organizations gain the upper hand when brokering massive deals. Tune in to this edition of the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C. to learn more.

  • 00;00;06;21 - 00;00;39;05
    Mark Conrad
    Hello and welcome to the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C, the podcast that explores the world of professional, collegiate, amateur and Olympic sports. I'm Mark Conrad or Prof. C, from Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business, where I serve as Professor of Law and Ethics and the Director of the Sports Business Initiative. Contract law discussions make up a large component of my sports law classes.

    00;00;39;07 - 00;01;08;22
    Mark Conrad
    I love to give examples of player contracts, coaches contracts, endorsement contracts, and stadium or arena licenses, to name some examples. One central tenant of contract law affirms that there are few legal parameters to determine what is fair and what is not. That is up to the parties to negotiate and conclude an agreement that they think best represents their interests.

    00;01;08;24 - 00;01;39;10
    Mark Conrad
    Yet there have been more than a few contracts that have been one sided in favor of a particular party. The reason for this is summarized in one word: leverage. In sports as well as other areas of business, leverage is the key reason why a contract favors one side or another. And FIFA, the international governing body of what we call soccer in the U.S., is not afraid of using its leverage at the negotiating table.

    00;01;39;12 - 00;02;11;12
    Mark Conrad
    As many already know, the next men’s FIFA World Cup will take place in North America, and a number of cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico will host games. The championship games location is MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, meaning that the NY/NJ market will have the honor of hosting the final match, watched by billions around the world and probably 70,000 lucky fans who can obtain tickets.

    00;02;11;14 - 00;02;43;00
    Mark Conrad
    Recently, The Athletic Magazine detailed the contract signed between FIFA and the host organizers and as the headline put it, significant concessions were made to FIFA because it had the leverage. And what leverage did it have! Not surprisingly, FIFA, nor the organizer wanted the public to see this contract. It took a Freedom of Information Act request by a newspaper to get all 350 pages of it.

    00;02;43;03 - 00;03;13;15
    Mark Conrad
    I've not been able to see it, so I am taking the information from the article, which admittedly is second hand, but nothing prevents me from believing what has been written. According to the article, the contract gives FIFA near-total control over stadium operations and places a great deal of the costs of hosting squarely on the organizers. In some instances, FIFA's control can extend up to one year following the World Cup final.

    00;03;13;17 - 00;03;42;14
    Mark Conrad
    The contract jettisons the naming rights deal with MetLife during the time of the tournament, and any seating arrangements used by luxury box holders. It requires that any upgrades to the stadium be paid for by the facility owners and not FIFA. More interesting tidbits: FIFA may establish offices free of charge in spaces provided by the host city with “state of the art infrastructure.”

    00;03;42;16 - 00;04;08;24
    Mark Conrad
    No other sports events could be staged in the host city seven days following the final match. A peculiar provision for New York, as either or both the Yankees or Mets would likely be playing seven days after the World Cup final. So it would be interesting to see how strictly this is interpreted. Another gem the host city must use “best efforts” to make public spaces

    00;04;08;24 - 00;04;39;13
    Mark Conrad
    “as attractive as possible.” It's hard for me to make sense out of this one. The New York/Northern New Jersey area has many advantages, but beauty of public spaces is not exactly a category that would rank that high. No one will confuse downtown Newark or Midtown Manhattan for the boulevards of Paris. Those sentiments aside, one can see that FIFA drives one hard bargain and cities are willing to accept it.

    00;04;39;15 - 00;04;57;09
    Mark Conrad
    The World Cup will begin June 11th, 2026. Any thoughts? Send them to me at [email protected]. Thank you for listening. Until next time, this is Prof. C for the Gabelli Sports Business Initiative.

Doping in Sports - A Different Perspective: A Conversation with Alexander Hutchison, Ph.D.

Is doping in sports defensible in certain situations? Are the rules prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs too restrictive and impractical? This is not a commonly held perspective in lieu of the present views of athletes and international sports organizations, but a new book by this episode's guest, Alexander Hutchison, Ph.D., editor-in-chief: Current Protocols, tries to refute the common wisdom. Whether you agree with his views or not, this episode of the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C. interviews Hutchison, providing an outlet for his ideas on reforming this system. It makes for interesting listening. Tune in now.

  • 00;00;06;24 - 00;00;42;13
    Mark Conrad
    Hello and welcome to the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C, the podcast that explores the world of professional, collegiate, amateur and Olympic sports. I'm Mark Conrad or Prof. C, from Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business, where I serve as Professor of Law and Ethics and the Director of the Sports Business Initiative. On this podcast, I like to explore alternative views and different angles on prominent issues in the sports industry.

    00;00;42;15 - 00;01;10;25
    Mark Conrad
    So I was intrigued when a new book came my way titled “In Defense of Doping - Reassessing the Level Playing Field” by Alexander Hutchison. Doctor Hutchison is a fitness and wellness expert based in Dallas. He received his PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Houston. Welcome to the Sports Business Podcast, Doctor Hutchison.

    00;01;10;27 - 00;01;13;05
    Alexander Hutchison
    Thank you for having me, and happy to be here.

    00;01;13;07 - 00;01;42;06
    Mark Conrad
    And when I saw your book, you know, I was intrigued. And I read through it and I was somewhat honestly skeptical. So before we get into the details and the meat of the matter, just to give a background in your book, you take a position that's contrary to many, if not most athletes and just about all sports federations, and that is that doping, at least some doping, is not bad

    00;01;42;06 - 00;01;46;13
    Mark Conrad
    and should not be banned. Is that a correct assessment?

    00;01;46;15 - 00;01;48;29
    Alexander Hutchison
    That is a correct assessment.

    00;01;49;02 - 00;01;55;22
    Mark Conrad
    And how do you feel? How did you come to this position and why do you feel so strongly about that?

    00;01;55;25 - 00;02;13;23
    Alexander Hutchison
    It was a long evolution over a number of years, and I can tell you that, you know, I've been a lifelong sports fan. The, my initial position on this in the late 90s, when I was really paying attention to doping, for the first time, was that I was just like all the other people that you've mentioned.

    00;02;13;23 - 00;02;31;29
    Alexander Hutchison
    I was very much diametrically opposed to doping in any way, shape or form until I started to actually do some more research during my graduate studies. And in addition to that, at the same time, I was competing a triathlon at a relatively high level, and I was started to deal with my own series of injuries and stuff like that,

    00;02;31;29 - 00;03;05;10
    Alexander Hutchison
    that would come along when you start to do an endurance sport time after time. and you know, over the years of researching more and over the years of watching athletes compete at different competitions, namely UFC, boxing, football and road cycling, there were just a number of anecdotes that I started to pick up from different athletes about how difficult the time they had recovering between training sessions, between competitions, and some of the tactics that they would use to try to, well, hasten that recovery time.

    00;03;05;12 - 00;03;27;13
    Alexander Hutchison
    And the only things that really worked in any meaningful way were drugs that were on the banned list. And these are typically steroids that we're talking about. In addition to that, I had my own experiences with, you know, competing in age group weightlifting, while also being on therapeutic testosterone. Getting a therapeutic use exemption is exceedingly difficult.

    00;03;27;15 - 00;03;42;25
    Alexander Hutchison
    I went through the entire process, and I was rejected by USADA. And when I asked them, well, what's my next remedy for this problem? They said, well, you got to go off your testosterone for six months, and then we have to wait for three months thereafter to test you three consecutive months to prove that you were hypogonadic.

    00;03;42;26 - 00;04;00;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    In other words, you don't make enough of your own testosterone and then you can go back on. So this is going to be almost an entire year process just for the purposes of competing in [...] weightlifting. I thought that's remarkably restrictive for somebody who doesn't really care about winning anything. I just want to have an organized competition to go to.

    00;04;00;12 - 00;04;25;08
    Alexander Hutchison
    And then finally, the last, you know, straw that broke the camel's back, as it were, was during the 2021 Olympic trials. So this was officially the 2020, but it was postponed by year, obviously because of Covid. And we had Sha'carri Richardson, who was another Dallasonian like myself, who won the 100 meter dash, and then two days later, was - she tested positive for THC, obviously the active ingredient, marijuana.

    00;04;25;10 - 00;04;48;21
    Alexander Hutchison
    And she was disqualified from that event and subsequently prohibited from competing in the Olympics in Tokyo. And having had my own experiences with marijuana for a number of reasons, but mostly recreationally, I can assert that there's no possible way that marijuana is a performance enhancing drug. And so as I looked more into this, because most people didn't know that THC was on the banned list.

    00;04;48;23 - 00;05;14;02
    Alexander Hutchison
    You know, you run into WADA’s position that it's a a drug of abuse. And since it's illegal in many countries, they were also going to prohibit its use amongst athletes. That particular event, combined with my own frustrations with WADA, not being able to get a therapeutic use exemption, really drove me to start considering writing this book. And then I put the research in and my position became much clearer as I went through the process of running the book.

    00;05;14;05 - 00;05;43;04
    Mark Conrad
    So just by background. for those who may not know, for the last 30 years or so, the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA, W-A-D-A, has been charged with establishing the kind of substances that are banned from competition. And they published lists every year. Most sports federations have accepted their standards and have abided by the standards, and the punishment for being caught is fairly severe.

    00;05;43;06 - 00;06;13;14
    Mark Conrad
    So Dr. Hutchison is correct that indeed, it could be a ban for two years, maybe more. And it's what's called a strict liability standard. So in other words, if you have certain excuses, they may not be complete defenses. [...] It's in your system, you've been caught, and generally speaking, the punishments are severe. But, to go back to Sha’carri Richardson's issue; she accepted the sanction,

    00;06;13;22 - 00;06;41;12
    Mark Conrad
    she's competing now. And it leads to the fact that or the point that most athletes I've spoken with over the years are fairly happy with the WADA system, because if it wasn't for that system, wouldn't there be more abuse of, performance enhancing drugs by athletes in certain countries, certain sports systems and the like? So while imperfect, is it the best we have?

    00;06;41;14 - 00;06;59;23
    Alexander Hutchison
    I don't know that it's the best we have. I mean, if you look at what you're saying is correct, and I'm sure that there's athletes who have you spoken with who they not only tell you that they like the way the system is, but I also have spoken to a number of athletes who said the exact opposite. Unfortunately, and I don't know if you had these conversations.

    00;06;59;25 - 00;07;30;01
    Alexander Hutchison
    you know, you were expected to keep these things private and confidence. But I can tell you that when we when athletes are asked about these things up front, they put themselves in a very difficult position where the only really answer they can give is I'm in support of WADA, because if you have a dissenting view and you're an athlete, there is a lot of people who would be concerned that they would be picked on more so than normal in terms of their testing regimens, and maybe something goes wrong with the test, and then they're not going to be viewed in a favorable light.

    00;07;30;04 - 00;07;56;00
    Alexander Hutchison
    The best evidence that we have is when we have anonymous survey data. And, there are a number of studies that have been published, the most recent one that I looked up, surveyed athletes who were track and field athletes, at a world championships and also the Pan Asian Games. And the number, the percentage of athletes who were surveyed who said that they had used or were currently using doping agents was between 33 and 50%.

    00;07;56;02 - 00;08;30;26
    Alexander Hutchison
    So if you assume that there's a level of, you know, that's rather conservative, still, even in an anonymous survey, people are not going to necessarily want to be honest because they just don't trust it. Still a huge number that's admitting to the fact that they're taking something. If you contrast that with the NFL - anonymous surveys that were taken with the NFL specifically for steroid use - and it always hovers around 10 to 15%, a much lower number, with punishments that are much less restrictive and less and less punitive than what WADA turns out these days, and also some level of collective bargaining with the NFL.

    00;08;30;28 - 00;08;48;11
    Alexander Hutchison
    That's really where my aim is going. So I'm not necessarily interested in just obliterating WADA. I think it does some good things. But the biggest problem with WADA is, is this is one organization who's telling all of the athletes, which is their labor force, exactly what they're going to do, when they're going to do it and how they're going to do it.

    00;08;48;13 - 00;08;50;15
    Alexander Hutchison
    The athletes don't have any say in this whatsoever.

    00;08;50;20 - 00;09;14;28
    Mark Conrad
    Well, is that a problem with the Olympic system rather than with WADA? Because the athletes cannot be unionized in an American sense, because one, it's an international sports federation, not just the IOC, but all the federations. And two, they're not employees. The NFL players are employees, and therefore they have the right, under the U.S. labor law, to form a union and negotiate this.

    00;09;15;00 - 00;09;24;25
    Mark Conrad
    How do you clump together athletes of 200 countries in a sports federation trying to replicate the same situation?

    00;09;24;28 - 00;09;43;02
    Alexander Hutchison
    Yeah, I don't know the ins and outs of the labor laws. What I can say is that Major League Baseball and the NBA both have teams in Canada. So there at least there's some level of cross-border negotiations that have to take place. It has been done for at least two countries. I understand that this would be a significantly larger feat than just the two.

    00;09;43;04 - 00;10;04;10
    Alexander Hutchison
    However, I do think if there is a will, there is a way. It shouldn't be impossible to allow for for athletes to negotiate the rules of their own engagement and also be full time employees. What you mentioned there is one of the biggest problems I have with the international sports federations is they exist, is that they do not treat the athletes as though they are employees.

    00;10;04;12 - 00;10;24;06
    Alexander Hutchison
    They're barely even contract labor. It's more along the lines of freelance labor. They don't necessarily get any [...] for the Olympics, they get no payment for winning. And in many instances, they get very little, if any, support from their own country's national federations for training purposes and to stay alive while they're trying to compete for the Olympics.

    00;10;24;09 - 00;10;46;19
    Alexander Hutchison
    The long and the short of it is that when you think about a sporting event, that's entertainment. That's exactly what it is. And athletes are the product itself that are being put on the field, and they deserve to have a great deal more say in what it is that they are allowed to and not do, and also what level of punishment they're willing to accept for themselves and their fellow athletes.

    00;10;46;25 - 00;11;12;10
    Mark Conrad
    Okay, let me throw a hypothetical then. Let's say there is an athlete's union of sorts, and there are a few organizations that have tried to do that, to be fair, and they’re international athletics. Now you have about 40 sports federations. How do you get athletes from all these different sports, trying to negotiate something that is consistent throughout that Olympic system

    00;11;12;13 - 00;11;38;21
    Mark Conrad
    when the nature of competition, the nature of sports, the nature of compensation differs because these organizations have very different financial backing? Track is far wealthier than archery, for example. So how do you fit in, an all encompassing organization which would be much more difficult than, say, the NFL Players Association, where all the players play American football. So is that a challenge

    00;11;38;23 - 00;11;44;24
    Mark Conrad
    that is so difficult that has to be impractical?

    00;11;44;27 - 00;12;04;14
    Alexander Hutchison
    If you were to try to get every single sporting federation under the same umbrella I would say yes. But what I'm more interested in is having each individual sporting federations’ athletes have their own respective union and negotiate their own thing. So what may be legal in one sports may be not legal in another, and that's currently how the situation is. What you can do,

    00;12;04;17 - 00;12;22;12
    Alexander Hutchison
    for example, and I put this in my book, what you can do in tennis, maybe very different than what you can do in cycling, specifically as it relates to cortisone injections, which is one of the big things that we've that's been around for many, many years. But cortisone plays a very important role in helping athletes recover from injury, particularly acute injuries

    00;12;22;12 - 00;12;41;29
    Alexander Hutchison
    if they still have to perform. So let's let's get a hypothetical here. Let's just say that you have, you know, a twisted ankle and you got to go in there the next day and in and perform. What you may be asked to do or what you may ask your doctor to do is give you a cortisone injection to bring down the inflammation in the injured joints to last for that one more game.

    00;12;42;01 - 00;13;01;20
    Alexander Hutchison
    There's a number of sports internationally, including tennis, where that would be allowed. If you did the same thing in cycling, you'd have to be out of competition for eight days straight. So let's say you're in the middle of a three week tour - Tour de France, Giro via the Vuelta - you go down real hard on stage ten. But you're, you know, all you need is a little bit of pharmaceutical assistance just to stay in the race.

    00;13;01;20 - 00;13;31;14
    Alexander Hutchison
    You can't do it if it's cycling, you could do it if it's tennis. That precedent’s already been set. So having different sporting federations adjust their own rules and regulations as per their vote, that's the way we want it to be. So we don't necessarily have to have a blanket rule across all sports. It's already, that already exists. So all we're doing is going to be expanding the level of representation and say, instead of restricting it and not really providing the athletes with any type of representation.

    00;13;31;16 - 00;14;01;14
    Mark Conrad
    Okay. Fair points. let me just try one more hypothetical. Let's say we have, the, athletes that represent a union of sorts and track and field, and then negotiate with international athletics, which is their governing body, and revise some of the WADA rules there or wish to do so. But what if the athletes that represent the union members, if you call it that, are in favor of the current system?

    00;14;01;16 - 00;14;03;26
    Mark Conrad
    Let's say they say so. Great. Okay.

    00;14;03;28 - 00;14;29;12
    Alexander Hutchison
    But that's fine if but again, it comes down to what do the athletes actually want? I'm presenting an opinion as an outsider. My opinion may be very different if I was actually an active athlete still at that level. but if the athletes who were voted in as representatives of their constituents then go in and vote to maintain things as they stand, that's their say.

    00;14;29;12 - 00;14;52;17
    Alexander Hutchison
    And that's exactly the point. They will have a say. I would be surprised if everything remained exactly the same, like I think THC would be out immediately. I think there would be some looser therapeutic use exemptions for a number of different drugs, particularly during, recovery from injury. and and I but most and also I think they could also negotiate some level of additional compensation.

    00;14;52;20 - 00;15;08;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    They have some leverage there in which is they can say, look, we'll, we'll keep the, the drug restrictions as they are in exchange for compensation because if this federation is making billions of dollars off the backs of the athletes, they should be spreading that wealth around just a bit.

    00;15;08;11 - 00;15;30;13
    Mark Conrad
    A few international federations, ironically, have decided to compensate their athletes in the upcoming Olympics, such as track and boxing. So do you think that that trend could help, as you said, in possibly negotiating, an agreement regarding, drug use in return for at least some kind of compensation?

    00;15;30;16 - 00;15;48;04
    Alexander Hutchison
    I hope so, again, I want this to be the decision of the athletes, the educated decision of the athletes. I did see the track and field is going to be compensating for, or at least rewarding, money for gold medals. At least I don't know about the rest of them. I didn't hear about boxing until you just told me.

    00;15;48;04 - 00;16;12;05
    Alexander Hutchison
    That's a great positive. What I would say is that that is in direct response to the enhanced games coming online, and the enhanced games offering $50,000 for a gold medal. now, if you don't know what the enhanced games are, this is, it's going to be a parallel games to the Olympics, during which athletes will not be tested for performance enhancing drugs.

    00;16;12;05 - 00;16;33;25
    Alexander Hutchison
    At least that's the framework that they have established now. And as soon as they announced that they were going to be awarding a cash prize for gold medalists, at the very least, I think it was two weeks later, World Athletics came through and did the same thing with track and field. I'm not sure what the actual amount of compensation is, but it's the fact that they're offering anything is in direct response to their being a change.

    00;16;33;28 - 00;16;55;24
    Alexander Hutchison
    So let me let me parallel this. Give an analogy. If anybody is paying any attention to the XFL or the USFL when they merged to form the UFL, the secondary league is, you know, doing a lot of experimental things in terms of changing the rules slightly to increase the interest of the game and also the improved player safety.

    00;16;55;27 - 00;17;14;18
    Alexander Hutchison
    The NFL is relatively slow to react until they get to see something on the field. And now they've already adopted three rules, and they're going to have to do a couple more. So when you have some level of additional competition for your league, so you're not the only dog in the shed, you are forced into a position if it's popular to actually make some modifications yourself.

    00;17;14;18 - 00;17;20;28
    Alexander Hutchison
    So if the enhanced games accomplish nothing else, they have already accomplished this much. And that's plenty as far as I'm concerned.

    00;17;20;28 - 00;17;27;26
    Mark Conrad
    Can you tell us more about the enhanced games? I don't think many listeners have heard about them.

    00;17;27;29 - 00;17;53;17
    Alexander Hutchison
    So this is the brainchild of Aaron DeSouza. He is an Australian lawyer. I believe he went to Oxford and it's being backed by Peter Teal, who's the guy who, created PayPal. And his brainchild was that - it's pretty simple concept - they just they want to see how fast athletes can actually perform if not restricted on what it is that they can take.

    00;17;53;19 - 00;18;19;00
    Alexander Hutchison
    Now, I'm sure that there's going to be some level of restriction on what they will and will not allow. So it's not going to be an absolute free for all where you can just take anything under the sun. That said, you know, the the expectation and the hope is that we see some athletes perform better than they could without those drugs because we want to see them perform at their highest possible level, even if that includes some level pharmaceutical assistance.

    00;18;19;00 - 00;18;40;21
    Alexander Hutchison
    Now, the reason that I don't find a problem with this is because I don't look at the drugs as being anything different than the best equipment that you can get your hands on, the best nutrition changes and sleep habits. All of these things that have happened over the last 30 years that have made athletes significantly more competitive than they used to be, they would just be enhanced that much more with performance enhancing drugs.

    00;18;40;23 - 00;19;21;23
    Mark Conrad
    But let's get to the elephant in the room and that is the abuse by governments or by governmental agencies. And we talk about RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency. We talk about allegations involving Chinese swimmers. we have allegations going back many years to East Germany. How do you protect competitive integrity if you deregulate the system to a point that a fair amount of PEDs are available and some coaches, not only in those countries, but in the United States too, as well as, policy planners do this by forcing athletes to take these medications.

    00;19;21;26 - 00;19;45;25
    Alexander Hutchison
    Well, let's be clear. You can have a coach force an athlete to take a medication, whether there's a WADA in place or not. These types of things have happened in the past, and unfortunately, they will continue to happen in the future. How do you actually regulate it? You're going to have to have a list of things that you I suspect I don't think that you can have just an open system where anybody can take anything, including drugs, that have not been approved by the FDA.

    00;19;45;27 - 00;20;11;19
    Alexander Hutchison
    But, you know, you have to have a system in a place where you can have whistleblowers call in to to report abusive behavior by coaches, trainers, managers, etc.. those systems are by and large, in place in a lot of federations. I know with my daughter who swims, we have safe coaching classes that people have to take in safe sport, courses that the athletes have to take, and there is a hotline to call in if you suspect abuse from your coach.

    00;20;11;21 - 00;20;38;08
    Alexander Hutchison
    These things are not difficult to actually set up in terms of having a place for people to go. Whether the athletes will go and get that help is the question, but there's only so much you can do to lead that horse to water. You can't necessarily make them drink. But I'm not tremendously concerned that there will be an uptick in the level of abuse or coercion that coaches will do to their athletes, because by and large, if you have an unethical coach, they're going to do it whether there's rules in place or not.

    00;20;38;10 - 00;21;07;21
    Mark Conrad
    But not many countries have a US safe sports system where the coaches could be banned and what do you think are the chances of an athlete from, say, Russia complaining about their coach, the doping, the athlete? And, is it impractical to adhere, have a system consistent around the world when there are many countries that have, a history of using doping to expand or enhance athletic results?

    00;21;07;24 - 00;21;33;27
    Alexander Hutchison
    You're right. That's that's that is a very fair point. But what I would point out is that even, even with WADA in place, RUSADA, you know, if you get a chance to see Icarus, which is a documentary about doping specifically within Russia leading up to the Sochi Olympics, the athletes there [...] RUSADA, as you pointed out, you have WADA as the global entity which is run by the Olympic Committee

    00;21;33;29 - 00;22;02;18
    Alexander Hutchison
    and then you have the international, the separate national doping agencies, which basically are the ones who were responsible for setting up WADA accredited clinics or labs in which the samples will be tested. So what Russia did was that they had their own accredited labs, [...] but they were taking tainted samples of urine, cracking open the unsealable bottles that were supposed to be unsealable, and then sticking it or just getting rid of it and replacing that with clean urine.

    00;22;02;21 - 00;22;23;26
    Alexander Hutchison
    All, the vast majority of the athletes knew it, that they were being doped. And if you have a situation like that, then you already have no particular regulation over rogue countries if they're not going to participate in a meaningful way. So we can't have any idea what's happening in Russia or China or North Korea or any of these other rogue states.

    00;22;23;28 - 00;22;42;15
    Alexander Hutchison
    The fact that we would loosen our own restrictions isn't going to have any impact on the level of cheating that's happening on those levels, because we can't control that. And obviously, WADA is rather loose in their interpretation of those rules because they knew exactly which athletes had been doped and they still allowed the majority of them to compete.

    00;22;42;15 - 00;23;02;19
    Alexander Hutchison
    This is Russia, under - not the Russian flag - but the Olympic flag. That was the level of punishment they came up with is you can't represent your country. You know. Right. China, they didn't have anybody disqualified at all. And they had 21 swimmers who tested positive for - and I can't remember which drug it was - and they said it was just contamination

    00;23;02;24 - 00;23;27;17
    Alexander Hutchison
    and all of their athletes were allowed to to compete. If Sha’carri Richardson had tested positive for THC, which has no performance enhancing benefit whatsoever, and is disqualified from the Olympics. So we're already dealing with this inequitable situation between ourselves and other countries like us who actually follow the rules and rogue states that do not. I don't know that it's going to make much difference whatsoever if we change the rules.

    00;23;27;19 - 00;23;51;20
    Mark Conrad
    Well, in your book, you mentioned the history of certain substance issues, particularly in competitive cycling, and discuss Lance Armstrong, and I don't think we can really say Lance Armstrong is like Sha'carri Richardson - maybe a one time error - given what happened with Armstrong and how long it took for him to admit, that indeed, he was doping.

    00;23;51;23 - 00;24;07;01
    Mark Conrad
    So, what do you think his case reflects? And what lessons can be learned from, the controversy that he and, invoked many, many years ago?

    00;24;07;03 - 00;24;25;08
    Alexander Hutchison
    There's there's so many lessons that can be learned. But I will say you're absolutely right. What Lance Armstrong did is not the same as what we're talking about with Sha'carri Richardson. Sha’carri Richardson took a recreational drug to alleviate anxiety after being ambushed by a reporter who told her that her birth mother had just died, which she was not aware of.

    00;24;25;10 - 00;24;41;28
    Alexander Hutchison
    This was a day before her race. That's not the same thing as systematically taking a performance - a series of performance enhancing drugs - for the purposes of trying to win a race, which is precisely what Lance Armstrong did for the better part of his career. Now, that said, around 19

    00;24;41;28 - 00;24;42;22
    Mark Conrad


    00;24;42;26 - 00;25;03;10
    Alexander Hutchison
    93 or 4, Lance Armstrong was faced with the decision, knowing that everybody else in the peloton - this means the field of cyclists - was taking some form of performance enhancing drugs, if not multiple. His choice was either to continue doing what he was doing, which is not take anything and lose, or to do with what everybody else was doing and try to compete.

    00;25;03;18 - 00;25;25;23
    Alexander Hutchison
    Now he, you know, everybody can ask themselves their own question, what would you do under those circumstances? But I always ask people to remember not much of an education beyond high school, no other real job skills that were available to him at that moment in time. And then the most important thing, remarkably competitive individual that most of us are not.

    00;25;25;26 - 00;25;53;15
    Alexander Hutchison
    So it's difficult to empathize on that level until you really sit down and try to think about it. So what would any one individual do? He chose to go down that other route and join the rest of the peloton, who was doping. Now, he was also aided in this by the UCI - this is the federation for cycling around the world. In as much as they really turned a blind eye and looked the other way, because he was popularizing the sport at a time when it needed it the most.

    00;25;53;17 - 00;26;21;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    So similar to what happened with Major League Baseball in ‘98, when we had the home run chase that really, catapulted baseball back into the mainstream. It made it so it wasn't a niche sport any longer. Cycling was desperate for a savior when Lance Armstrong came along and everybody was quite content to ride his back, knowing full well that he was doing something until such time as it became necessary for them to throw him under the bus as a sacrificial lamb.

    00;26;21;11 - 00;26;46;07
    Alexander Hutchison
    So some of the lessons that I look at with that are, if you're not going to do anything to regulate drug usage within your sport, it's very difficult for you to then come back when the general populace decides that this is unpopular and say, well, we really had no idea this was happening. And then to get rid of all the cyclists who caused the problem, as it were, when you've made all that money off of their backs.

    00;26;46;09 - 00;27;13;14
    Mark Conrad
    I'm here with Alexander Hutchinson, the author of In Defense of Doping - Reassessing the Level Playing Field. So continuing our discussion, if you liberalize some of the rules and basically, you're not there to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but if you liberalize some of the rules, what message, if any, do you think it may send to young athletes, say, teenagers in particular?

    00;27;13;16 - 00;27;37;01
    Mark Conrad
    Do you think possibly it could create, a situation where they say, hey, you know, it may not be such a bad idea to use PEDs to get better results in competition? Maybe it's not as important or ethically less sound. Are you concerned about what effect liberalizing some of these rules could be on younger people?

    00;27;37;03 - 00;28;00;03
    Alexander Hutchison
    There is that possibility. But in my research that I did, there were congressional hearings in 2005 and 7, I believe, for Major League Baseball specific to steroids in baseball. And that was, that specific reason was what was given by Congress as to why they were having these hearings. We have to protect the children.

    00;28;00;06 - 00;28;21;03
    Alexander Hutchison
    So I went back and I looked at the number of deaths within teens that could be specifically ascribed to taking steroids, which was the big deal at the time, and I looked at for more research thereafter, tracking those same numbers after the hearings were done for the next ten years. The number of teenagers that died specific to that was the exact same.

    00;28;21;05 - 00;28;44;26
    Alexander Hutchison
    The anonymous survey data from high school and collegiate athletes about their steroid use stayed the exact same. So legislating out bad behavior, as it were, is a very difficult thing to do with anybody, but particularly children. Now, let me come back to the point. I do not advocate for any child to take anything that is not prescribed by their doctor.

    00;28;44;28 - 00;29;11;00
    Alexander Hutchison
    A child has a developing brain or is an adult - their brain is already developed. Developing body, same is true. but that said, children's athletics is different than adult athletics. We mandate specific rules within children's games to increase the amount of safety that takes place. Dimensions of the field are different. They’re shorter, narrower. The goals are smaller depending on what sport we're talking about.

    00;29;11;00 - 00;29;28;12
    Alexander Hutchison
    The safety equipment is mandated and much safer than what you would see in an adult sport. So you mean let me give you an example like hockey. Hockey you have you have to wear a helmet with a visor, but you don't have to have anything that actually protects from your nose down. And people take pucks to the face all the time.

    00;29;28;15 - 00;29;44;26
    Alexander Hutchison
    even then, if you look at it, hockey players in the NHL, when they're wearing their helmet, it's not strapped tight. If they take a hit, that thing's flying off and there's very little they actually protect their head. If we look at children's athletics within hockey, they have a full mask with face gear that's not going to allow for anything to smack them directly in the face.

    00;29;44;26 - 00;30;06;19
    Alexander Hutchison
    And that helmet has to be strapped tight. So we we already see that there is differences between adults and in, children when it comes to how they participate in sports, this would be no different. [...] And the other thing that we make sure we do is the same thing we used to do in the 80s with PSAs for illicit drugs is educate them, don't touch this kid.

    00;30;06;19 - 00;30;26;25
    Alexander Hutchison
    You don't need to. There's no reason to, unless you get yourself into a position where you're going to be an adult professional athlete. That said, will there be an uptick? It's hard to say, but I don't think that that can be your sole reason for preventing athletes from being able to make decisions for themselves as far as it relates to these particular drugs.

    00;30;27;00 - 00;30;59;09
    Mark Conrad
    But in some sports, the children let's, define that as anyone under 18 often do compete in elite levels like women's gymnastics, that many competitors are under 18. Sometimes that's the case for swimming, and it could be for track as well. So you do find at least a cadre of quote unquote children in the elite level or professional level of athletics in certain sports because of the way the sport is made, how it evolves, etc..

    00;30;59;12 - 00;31;09;19
    Mark Conrad
    So there how do you deal with the issue in a case of a 17 year old gymnast or 17 year old track and field star?

    00;31;09;21 - 00;31;26;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    Yeah, I would do it the same way I do for anything else. The parents have got to be the, the primary screener for anything that's taking place with their kids. so, you know, when it comes down to this, at the thought of, of an athlete being a role model, and they have a specific responsibility to all the children across the entire world,

    00;31;26;11 - 00;31;47;08
    Alexander Hutchison
    I don't agree with that. I have a 13 year old daughter. She has her role models. But I never abdicate responsibility for what she does to anybody else except for myself. So when it comes to these young athletes and we see the same thing in figure skating, they can be as young as 14. But they should have a parent there as a hawk, preventing anything from coming near their child that they don't want to come near their child.

    00;31;47;15 - 00;32;05;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    That's as much as you can do. you know, if you have people who are going to be handlers of those kid athletes who have bad intentions, until you root those people out, it's very difficult to protect anybody from anything. But let's let's be very clear. We've had sex scandals within gymnast gymnastics. They have nothing to do with drugs.

    00;32;05;12 - 00;32;25;07
    Alexander Hutchison
    Larry Nasser's your best example. And he had something like 50 some odd, victims, many of whom had their parents in the room with them when they were victimized. So to think that we can obliterate any type of bad behavior against children by just having 1 or 2 rules in place, it's it's it's foolhardy. It's not really going to happen.

    00;32;25;10 - 00;32;53;04
    Mark Conrad
    You spoke about therapeutic use exceptions and how hard it is to get. But generally speaking, the United States has had the most therapeutic use exceptions in the WADA system. Do you think that does create a skewed environment as opposed to athletes, maybe poor countries or countries where, the attitude toward taking certain substances is very different than the United States.

    00;32;53;07 - 00;33;14;25
    Alexander Hutchison
    It may, there may be a competitive disadvantage there if you came from come from a country that doesn't have means, that can actually afford these pharmaceutical drugs. the same may be true if you come from a country that's more restrictive just in terms of their culture, when it comes to taking drugs. But the same competitive disadvantage is going to occur anytime one country has more money than another country.

    00;33;14;25 - 00;33;31;20
    Alexander Hutchison
    I put this in my book, the correlation coefficient between, the GDP of a country and how many medals they can win in an Olympics is right around point eight. So in other words, you can do a great deal of prediction of how many how many medals a country can win, depending on how much money they actually have in that country.

    00;33;31;22 - 00;33;55;24
    Alexander Hutchison
    So money is the biggest tipper of the the scales of justice or balance in terms of competition than anything else. Those people, those schools, those states, those countries that have money will have athletes competing at a higher level than those who do not. I don't think that this is going to be the biggest problem of all, particularly when you think about the drugs that we're that we know for sure really work.

    00;33;55;25 - 00;34;06;11
    Alexander Hutchison
    They're cheap and just about everybody can get them. And if there's a monetary incentive to allow this athlete to get that money or to get that drug, then they'll make it happen.

    00;34;06;14 - 00;34;13;24
    Mark Conrad
    For those interested in, obtaining your book, where are the best places to buy it?

    00;34;13;27 - 00;34;16;09
    Alexander Hutchison
    Amazon. [Mark Conrad: Okay.] That would be the best place to buy it.

    00;34;16;09 - 00;34;23;17
    Mark Conrad
    Okay. In Defense of Doping - Reassessing the Level Playing Field. What is the best place to contact?

    00;34;23;20 - 00;34;32;14
    Alexander Hutchison
    They can find me through my website, which is goodegg.fitness, and goodegg is one word just like it sounds: G-O-O-D-E-G-G.

    00;34;32;17 - 00;34;45;08
    Mark Conrad
    So you do say when all is said and told that there should be some kind of regulation, but the WADA system is way too restrictive and unfair.

    00;34;45;11 - 00;35;08;23
    Alexander Hutchison
    Yes. So I'm not openly advocating for there to be just an open system where we you can take anything you want. There's too many drugs out there that are relatively popular, but have not been approved by the FDA. We just don't know what the long term ramifications of those drugs are. But a lot of athletes are turning to those drugs because they can't take the ones that they would prefer, which are the ones that have been out there in the market for a million years.

    00;35;08;26 - 00;35;30;04
    Alexander Hutchison
    And I'm referring to drugs like cortisone, testosterone or any other type of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and oh my goodness [...], so in a we can go over what each of those drugs does, but just in general, we have a list, a very short list of drugs that we know for sure have a big impact.

    00;35;30;06 - 00;36;01;16
    Alexander Hutchison
    If athletes had access to those drugs, they would probably stick to those and not worry about taking something that's not approved by the FDA. So, yes, I do think that there is some level of regulation that should happen. but I do think that it should be the athletes who are making these decisions after being consulted by those who are in the know, in terms of what it is that they want their to be able to want their their fellow athletes to be able to take if they need it, as opposed to what we currently have, which is a system that really doesn't work.

    00;36;01;18 - 00;36;18;10
    Alexander Hutchison
    It works really well in a country like ours, where USADA follows the rules of WADA, you know, straight up. But if you have if you're competing against another country where they're not going to do that and they're actively going to flaunt the rules and cheat, then how is this working for anybody?

    00;36;18;12 - 00;36;30;24
    Mark Conrad
    But then even if you liberalize it, how is it going to work for anybody too? But, even if you do have, say, ten PEDs listed, it still may not work if those countries are going to cheat right?

    00;36;30;26 - 00;36;47;26
    Alexander Hutchison
    Nothing's going to be perfect. If they find it, if they find an extra special, better drug that they make themselves is going to be better than anything that we have on our approved list, they'll have a competitive advantage. I mean that that is the proxy war between nations when it comes to sportswashing. That's just what they do. This is what they've done for generations.

    00;36;48;03 - 00;37;05;02
    Alexander Hutchison
    It's what they will continue to do. That's the separate, you know, conversation that's really outside the scope of what I'm talking about. And it's something that I certainly don't have a solution for. What I'm really talking about here is that the biggest level, making sure that the athletes get more of a say in what it is that they wish to do.

    00;37;05;05 - 00;37;35;27
    Mark Conrad
    And on that note, unfortunately, we have to come to a close on behalf of Fordham University, the Gabelli School of Business and the Sports Business Initiative, thanks to Doctor Alexander Hutchinson for an engaging and informative discussion. His book In Defense of Doping is available on Amazon. And thanks to my producer, Victoria Ilano, for her great work. And thanks to all of you for listening in. For the Sports Business podcast at Fordham's Gabelli School of Business, I’m

    00;37;36;00 - 00;37;39;27
    Mark Conrad
    Mark Conrad or Prof. C, have a great day.

The NCAA Settlement is Not the End of the Fight for College Sports

The announcement of a settlement of three class action antitrust cases filed against the NCAA and the major conferences may end the immediate cases, but many issues remain open before the issue of athlete compensation and labor rights is resolved. Professor Mark Conrad explains in the latest "Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C" episode.

  • 00;00;00;00 - 00;00;36;08
    Mark Conrad
    Hello and welcome to the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C. The podcast that explores the world of professional, collegiate, amateur and Olympic sports. I'm Mark Conrad or Prof. C, from Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business, where I serve as Professor of Law and Ethics and a Director of the Sports Business Initiative. The brave new world of commercial college sports has arrived.

    00;00;36;10 - 00;01;11;14
    Mark Conrad
    After years of litigation and criticism from the media, athletes, and the public. A settlement of three antitrust cases against the NCAA and the major athletic conferences marks a conclusion to these long running and highly publicized cases. If approved by the court, the $2.7 billion settlement announced in late May will, for the first time, craft a system where certain college athletes will earn compensation for their services.

    00;01;11;17 - 00;01;41;17
    Mark Conrad
    No doubt this is a victory for many past and present college athletes. It may well be considered a clever decision by the NCAA and the power conferences, which could have been on the hook for billions more if the case went to trial. But before we open the champagne, there are significant unresolved questions that are not addressed, and that is why this settlement will not mark the end of the battle for the future of college sports.

    00;01;41;19 - 00;02;18;28
    Mark Conrad
    Let's break the settlement down, assuming court approval, and I'll get to that in a bit. It ends three class action lawsuits filed against the NCAA and the so-called power conferences, which were the then five of the most powerful college athletic groups in the country. The settlement requires these parties, along with non-party Division I schools, to pay $2.7 billion in damages to former Division I college athletes who played from 2016 to 2021.

    00;02;19;01 - 00;02;56;01
    Mark Conrad
    That amount would cover damages for name, image and likeness rights they would have earned prior to 2021, and a negotiated percentage of broadcast revenues. About 14,500 players are expected to be paid. Varying dollar amounts. Future college athletes from schools in the power conferences will share $20 million per year for each school, beginning as early as 2025, but important questions have not been determined and important issues remain.

    00;02;56;03 - 00;03;21;22
    Mark Conrad
    First, the judge in these cases must accept the settlement. While this occurs more often than not in antitrust cases, it is not a certainty. The judge may reject all of it or parts of it, and the parties may have to go back to the negotiation table or continue the case. And that process could take months. But let's assume that Judge Claudia Wilkin accepts the settlement.

    00;03;21;25 - 00;03;50;13
    Mark Conrad
    Then the settlement only applies to the three class action cases file known as the House, Carter and Hubbard cases, all filed by the same lawyers, making similar antitrust claims against the NCAA and the power conferences. But there remains a fourth active case titled Fontenot v. NCAA, which is not part of the settlement and still active. Why is this important?

    00;03;50;15 - 00;04;22;13
    Mark Conrad
    Plaintiffs in the House, Carter and Hubbard cases do not have to accept settlement and can seek to continue litigation. It is quite possible that some of these plaintiffs could join the class suing in Fontenot, where different attorneys are representing these athletes. The settlement raises peculiar and troubling questions because non-parties, meaning the Division I schools not in the power conferences will also have to pay their athletes out of their budgets.

    00;04;22;16 - 00;05;03;00
    Mark Conrad
    While it is reported that the NCAA will shoulder over 1.2 of the $2.7 billion settlement. The Power 5 conferences will be on the hook for a considerable percentage, but the so-called “mid-major” schools would have to pay about 40% of that amount over a 10-year period. In addition, the parties have to determine the exact amounts of the payments to the athletes since the payment standards have not been determined. Making this more complex is that the group will be divided into three different classes, with different amounts for each class.

    00;05;03;02 - 00;05;35;12
    Mark Conrad
    I suspect that this would take some time and possibly more negotiations. While we don't know the exact dollars involved, it stands to reason that these schools do not have the athletic department riches that their more powerful schools do, and I suspect that more than one athletic director is not thrilled with being a part of a settlement of a case where their schools are not a party. And that means these departments may have to cut programs or find new methods to raise money.

    00;05;35;14 - 00;06;15;09
    Mark Conrad
    Private equity firms are beginning to sniff at opportunity. While the cases settled our antitrust cases, they do intersect with labor law questions. And that leads to the next issue. The effect of this settlement on the growing calls for unionization of college athletes. The short answer it does not limit unionization efforts. As many of you know, Dartmouth College's men's basketball team elected to unionize as they consider themselves employees under the labor laws and a regional representative of the National Labor Relations Board has agreed with this assessment.

    00;06;15;11 - 00;06;42;16
    Mark Conrad
    The matter is far from resolved due to an appeal by Dartmouth to the full National Labor Relations Board. However, a broad unionization effort could curb the effect or alter the settlement in some cases. The $20 million plus paid to athletes in the power conference schools creates an effective salary cap, averaging around 22% of the revenues from a school's athletic budget.

    00;06;42;18 - 00;07;15;17
    Mark Conrad
    That is far less than the caps found in the NBA and NFL collective bargaining agreements, which are about 50% of revenues earned with some exceptions. If students are deemed employees, will they accept 22% or try to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with better terms? The NCAA is so concerned about the labor implications that it has pressed Congress to pass a uniform law to exempt students from being considered employees.

    00;07;15;19 - 00;07;43;01
    Mark Conrad
    It would also include a statutory exemption of college athletes from antitrust laws. Thus far, the NCAA and the conferences have not been successful, despite spending an estimated $15 million on lobbying. But that may change in the wake of the settlement. And if enacted, the statute would put to rest the argument whether these athletes are employees and whether they could unionize.

    00;07;43;03 - 00;08;18;22
    Mark Conrad
    And finally, this Title IX, the landmark 1973 law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in schools that receive federal funding. In short, Title IX is interpreted to require equal funding of men's and women's athletic programs. But does that mean that male and female athletes should be compensated equally? If the settlement calculates that students from revenue producing teams (the polite term for football and men's basketball) receive more than women's teams,

    00;08;18;25 - 00;08;59;24
    Mark Conrad
    watch for the potential, even likelihood, of litigation. The settlement of the House, Carter and Hubbard cases marks a new beginning for college athletics, but it does not resolve all of the issues. Any thoughts? Send them to me at [email protected]. Thank you for listening. Until next time. This is Prof. C for the Gabelli Sports Business Initiative.

Immersive Technology and Sports: A Conversation with James Giglio, Founder of MVP Interactive

For this episode of the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C, we dive into what is known as “immersive technology” and how this kind of delivery system can rethink how sports teams and brands can engage with fans. Prof. C. interviewed James Giglio, the founder and CEO is MVP Interactive, a firm that engages in using immersive technology in the sports area. It is a fascinating guide into the latest sphere of sports and technology. Enjoy!

  • 00;00;06;22 - 00;00;54;13
    Mark Conrad
    Hello and welcome to the Sports Business Podcast with Prof. C, the podcast that explores the world of professional, collegiate, amateur and Olympic sports. I'm Mark Conrad or Prof. C from Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business, where I serve as professor of law and ethics and the director of the Sports Business Initiative. On our podcast, we have discussed issues of technology and sports, and for this episode, we will dive into what is known as immersive technology and how this kind of delivery system can rethink how sports teams and brands can engage with fans.

    00;00;54;15 - 00;01;17;08
    Mark Conrad
    With me to discuss the potential of immersive technology and how it is currently used is James Giglio, the founder and CEO of MVP Interactive, a firm that engages in using immersive technology in the sports area. James, welcome to the Sports Business Podcast.

    00;01;17;14 - 00;01;23;21
    James Giglio
    Well, thank you for having me Prof. C, I can be James G. Just to kind of keep the, the moniker going here.

    00;01;23;24 - 00;01;35;15
    Mark Conrad
    Oh, that's very good. Okay. It rhymes too. Yes. So for those of us who don't know or may not know. What do we mean by immersive technology?

    00;01;35;18 - 00;02;02;11
    James Giglio
    Yeah, it's a good question. And you know, obviously I don't think it's a part of the everyday nomenclature of our everyday lives. And so I think the easiest and simplest way to describe it is really, the blend of a digital and physical environment. And so, that could be a wide range of digital technologies, most notably known as augmented reality or virtual reality.

    00;02;02;14 - 00;02;39;06
    James Giglio
    but it's really not secluded to just those two technologies where there is a host of, gesture based experiences that technologies can integrate a individual into an experience that, again, blends a physical environment with a digital screen or a digital environment that allows a user to immerse themselves into an environment by using 3D sensors or peripheral technology devices to really allow yourself to escape into a setting both digitally and physically at the same time.

    00;02;39;06 - 00;03;06;14
    James Giglio
    And so, you know, for many years when we would try to describe our tech, our company MVP Interactive, it was very hard because you can imagine, you know, ten years ago when you were talking about AR, VR, that wasn't necessarily a trending topic. And so, you know, it was a bit of a tongue twister trying to sell our technology to sports teams or marketers, trying to explain what, immersive technology or creative technology was.

    00;03;06;14 - 00;03;53;13
    James Giglio
    And so, you know, I think the the use were right around 2020, 2021, the term XR or mixed reality had sort of come to fold through, the metaverse or, augmented reality technologies or, you know, when NFTs started to kind of come to light and, you know, I think when, Apple was started teasing their Vision Pro products that, were sort of sort of teasing out into the market that, you know, this, this or this definition of mixed reality kind of came to light, where immersive technologies were starting to find its way into the marketing world and definition, and where people now have a better understanding that mixed reality is really a

    00;03;53;13 - 00;04;00;08
    James Giglio
    combination of all these technologies that fold under the umbrella of immersive technology.

    00;04;00;10 - 00;04;04;04
    Mark Conrad
    And when did you start MVP Interactive?

    00;04;04;06 - 00;04;09;23
    James Giglio
    Yeah, it was the spring of 2012. May 1st to be exact.

    00;04;09;25 - 00;04;19;15
    Mark Conrad
    And why at that time and why this company and where did you come from to get to the point of starting MVP Interactive?

    00;04;19;17 - 00;04;46;27
    James Giglio
    Yeah. Well, it was, kind of a crazy story. I had been working in advertising and in particular the out-of-home advertising realm. And, you know, this was back in 2008 with the advent of the iPhone. And as you remember, when the iPhone sort of came to market, it really revolutionized how we communicated not only on our mobile devices, but how we interacted with technology and brands and with the use of mobile apps.

    00;04;46;27 - 00;05;28;10
    James Giglio
    We saw the trend on not only entertainment applications in how we would kill time and how we would just use these, you know, fun, quick hit, gamified experiences on our phone to entertain ourselves. But you know how we could use our mobile devices to interact with our everyday lives, whether it was mobile banking or communication. And so I started to see a trend where brands were really leaning into technology and being in and around New York, you started to see stunting marketing campaigns, right where they would be called, you know, station domination activations, right? Where you'd go through Penn Station or, Grand Central Station, and there would be a brand that would, you know,

    00;05;28;10 - 00;06;08;02
    James Giglio
    build a, a prop set of some sort. And, you know, they would create this sort of entertaining footprint where, you know, commuters would go by and they were handing out these sort of tchotchkes. And, you know, it was a great way to kind of generate some PR and some buzz around the brand for a particular promotion. And, you know, you know, it just felt a little more analog in terms of, how marketing was was leaning towards a face to face communication with, individuals and, but I knew technology, just as a general interest of mine, where I was by no means a software developer or a techie traditionally, but I was always very,

    00;06;08;09 - 00;06;52;07
    James Giglio
    interested in the realm of technology. But more importantly, I just saw a trend in where technology was evolving and how it was going to to change our, our lives because of the iPhone. Granted, I was always a sports fan, and growing up playing sports and attending sports games, I had a distinct memory of attending games and walking the concourse and being solicited by brands for, you know, exchange of information and and in a very similar fashion, you know, credit card companies or banking companies looking for applications to fill out for, you know, for fans so they can get a, a towel or a foam finger or some type of like Tchotchke again, and,

    00;06;52;10 - 00;07;32;20
    James Giglio
    you know, having this yard bar kind of experience walking through games. And I felt, you know, through the last few years from 2008 to 2010, 2011 to 2012, that, you know, what a perfect way by attending, a sports environment or sports game that you can tap into the passion of attending a live event, like a sports game, that you can leverage technology as a two way form of communication between a brand and a fan, by allowing a fan to interact with the brand in a very seamless way by giving this fan a really unique experience through technology where it doesn't seem so obstructive, right?

    00;07;32;20 - 00;07;54;28
    James Giglio
    So it was a frictionless, frictionless communication, we like to say where, you know, you could essentially go up to some type of interactive technology and participate in something or very seamless exchange of information with, you know, generally a brand that you may not be interested in. Right. And but it just felt natural because you were immersed in this environment, you were attending a game.

    00;07;54;28 - 00;08;13;27
    James Giglio
    And, you know, as you know, when you attend a game, you're investing in a full day of your time as well as a pretty significant financial investment. So you really want to maximize your time and your dollar. And so you want to see the sights. Right? And so at the time, I really had no idea what that was.

    00;08;13;27 - 00;08;41;01
    James Giglio
    But I knew in theory, you have tens of thousands of people in one central location for hours on end, where you have brands already invested in the business of sports through sponsorships. And I just felt that there was just a perfect combination of where consumer engagement and marketing could live together. And so this idea just kind of kicked in my head for, for quite some time.

    00;08;41;01 - 00;09;08;08
    James Giglio
    And then as, as things went on, I started noticing trends in digital signage. And I was in and around technology, you know, being in this advertising environment and starting to see interactive technology kind of taking fold. And then I and then it sort of dawned on me where it's like interactive kiosks, you know, I started to see these wayfinding kiosks in malls and, you know, the Xbox Connect and Play stations were really coming to fold.

    00;09;08;08 - 00;09;38;13
    James Giglio
    And, you know, my brother was very much more of a gamer than I was or really technical and seeing, you know, his gaming activities. And I thought, simulated sporting experiences where what if you take this Xbox or this Madden like experience out of your home and bring it into a venue where you can create these customized, you know, branded games to an event right where you could have, say, the Coca-Cola version of a of a Madden football game where the users could participate.

    00;09;38;13 - 00;10;00;18
    James Giglio
    And so I kind of sketched out these, these interactive kiosks and I thought, yeah, this is the module. Right. This is, this is what could possibly bring this all together. And so I was down in Tampa on an ad pitch working for this other company. And I was in Tampa for a few days, and I was literally obsessing.

    00;10;00;18 - 00;10;24;22
    James Giglio
    I just could not I was like a crazy person. I could not get this idea out of my head, and I was obsessing over it, and I, I had a little bit of downtime and I told myself, okay, here I am in Tampa. They have three major sports teams here. I'm going to do my best to get in front of either the Bucs, the Lightning, or the Rays to see if they'll take a call and just hear me out.

    00;10;24;24 - 00;10;48;07
    James Giglio
    So I went online, I scoured YouTube, I had no database of contacts. I just tried to find contact information. So I happened to find a YouTube channel for the Tampa Bay Rays. I found a marketing manager named Brian Killingsworth who was at a bar event for the Tampa Bay Rays. He seemed about my age. He seemed like a likable guy.

    00;10;48;07 - 00;11;11;15
    James Giglio
    Like, he seemed friendly. He had his contact information in that YouTube video. And so I called him up and it happened to be February. March. So it was the pre-season. And he said, sure, you know, I'm taking meetings. It's the pre-season. Won't you come on down and I told him I was in town just for a few days and the next day I brazenly showed up to his office in Saint Pete's.

    00;11;11;15 - 00;11;35;17
    James Giglio
    He was. His office was at the stadium. I had no collateral, no business card. And, essentially pitched him what I'm explaining to you guys right now. And he goes, you know, we just had a meeting about this because, you know, we're in Saint Pete's. It's about 40 minutes from Tampa. We can't really get fans from Monday to Wednesday in our stadium.

    00;11;35;17 - 00;11;57;21
    James Giglio
    And we were just thinking about ways how we can disneyfy Tropicana Field, like how do we get attractions. And we were thinking about ways that we can, like, really enhance our venue and create fan experiences. I said, yes, that's the vision. You know, you want to create this entertainment like environment where it's just not about the game, because obviously that's very important.

    00;11;57;21 - 00;12;13;26
    James Giglio
    But you need to use these other marketing points and, you know, you can help the sponsors or you can help underwrite these experiences through the sponsorships and so on. And he goes, you know, this is great. You know, how much is how much does this stuff costs? And I go, I don't know, give me three months, give me some time.

    00;12;13;26 - 00;12;42;06
    James Giglio
    And so, you know, I was very candid with, you know, where we, where I was with, you know, this sort of vision and the capabilities, but I essentially left that meeting doing cartwheels. I thought I had discovered, you know, bread. Right? You know, it's just like I, I, I discovered something and as insane, and again, I always tell people I would not recommend starting the business on an anecdotal meeting or just a good idea like you, there's a lot more that goes into it.

    00;12;42;06 - 00;13;03;28
    James Giglio
    But I was naive, which is is super power in many ways, you know, when you don't know what you don't know and you can use that to your strength, but I, I went back to New York and, you know, with that information, I, I did present this to my then boss, who I said, listen, I can spin up a sports and entertainment division of our company.

    00;13;03;29 - 00;13;27;17
    James Giglio
    Let me run it in. You know, I think we need to create these these modules, if you will, and it didn't stick it completely diverted from what their normal business. So I don't blame them, you know. And it would have been a totally different entity for the company. But you know I think thank God in many ways like, you know, it's but I, I, you know, took about another month or two to get my affairs in order.

    00;13;27;17 - 00;13;38;15
    James Giglio
    And I got enough courage and took the leap. I quit my job and incorporated literally the end of April and launched in May 2012.

    00;13;38;17 - 00;13;40;09
    Mark Conrad
    Was it just you that started?

    00;13;40;09 - 00;13;43;05
    James Giglio
    It was just me. That's right. Yeah.

    00;13;43;08 - 00;14;08;02
    Mark Conrad
    That is very interesting from an entrepreneurial theory point of view. So you started it. And then how do you create the kiosks? How do you create the hardware [James Giglio: Yeah.] to sell to the many teams that you have sold to. And in a few minutes, I'll talk about 1 or 2 of the, interactive activities you have. But from the evolution of this.

    00;14;08;02 - 00;14;18;06
    Mark Conrad
    So you're there alone, said, okay, you call you you are, it's you yourself. And that's it. That's and and you're not a software engineer.

    00;14;18;09 - 00;14;37;29
    James Giglio
    I'm not a software engineer. I barely knew how to plug in a computer. I didn't know operating systems, but I had a lot of friends, and I and I knew a lot of people that that did. And, you know, I, you know, worked with people in the past that that could help or at least thought I could help.

    00;14;37;29 - 00;14;57;00
    James Giglio
    And I had friends and what I call believers. Right. And so and by the way, this is a shameless plug. And I, my, my marketing director would yell at me if I didn't mention this, but all of this can be read in my book called Beyond the Jumbotron, where you can purchase this on Amazon or any North American book retailer.

    00;14;57;00 - 00;14;58;09
    James Giglio
    So, I just wanted to.

    00;14;58;09 - 00;15;01;11
    Mark Conrad
    And I was going to announce that. Yeah. Okay.

    00;15;01;11 - 00;15;01;21
    James Giglio
    Sorry.

    00;15;01;21 - 00;15;29;13
    Mark Conrad
    Beyond the Jumbotron: Creating Fan Experiences Through Immersive Technology. It is a fascinating book, a short read. it is, you know, full of, codes there. You know, obviously point your phone to get more, into, it even has a feel of something interactive as well. So I'm just curious on the book, the book Jumbotron. What kind of readers are you trying to reach?

    00;15;29;15 - 00;15;35;06
    James Giglio
    Well [...] you know, the inspiration for the book. Well, actually, let me let me finish this.

    00;15;35;07 - 00;15;35;12
    Mark Conrad
    Okay.

    00;15;35;14 - 00;15;57;11
    James Giglio
    First question. I don't want to, you know, jump over that, just just because, you know, it should be said and I want to give credit to where, where it's due with all the people that had helped. And so, you know, I had friends and, you know, previous partners that, you know, we worked tirelessly just researching and finding fabricators and ordering television screens and computers.

    00;15;57;11 - 00;16;44;19
    James Giglio
    And, you know, we were working, you know, overnight figuring out how we were going to make television screens into touch screens and hot gluing things together. And, you know, figuring out operating systems. And I had learned so much within that three months of prototyping, building out at kiosks that I went from literally 0 to 1, that old adage and, and building out this kiosk and finding a fabricator in Chicago, ordering screens from, California and getting computer parts from our fine friends and, you know, and B&H in New York City on Ninth Avenue there, that's my favorite electronic store.

    00;16;44;19 - 00;17;14;00
    James Giglio
    And, you know, just working out of a photography studio in Philadelphia and, you know, just making it out of sheer will and, you know, meanwhile, trying to sell concepts to professional teams and sports league in which, you know, we were able to successfully do with the NBA. And that very prototype was our first proof of concept that we sold to the NBA for our first engagement.

    00;17;14;00 - 00;17;40;29
    James Giglio
    And, and, that's really where what launched our business, where I, I kind of joke that I Forest Gumped my way into the NBA league office where, Mark Tatum took my call and he's now the assistant commissioner of the league. At that time, he was the executive global marketing manager. And I pitched him, you know, essentially, you know, a few concepts of what our interactive kiosk could do.

    00;17;40;29 - 00;17;59;27
    James Giglio
    And at that time, you know, this was well before Snapchat. And, you know, we called our kiosk the Morphing Station with the idea that we were going to create these face filters. And, you know, we can engage in fans and and create all these photo augmented reality experiences. And he had no idea what the heck I was talking about.

    00;17;59;27 - 00;18;18;01
    James Giglio
    And he goes, but this sounds interesting. Why don't you talk to my event team? And I spoke to the event team and they said, yeah, this sounds this is sounds great. We put on an all star weekend that we call Jam Session. We take over the city. The next Jam Session is in February over President's Weekend in Houston.

    00;18;18;03 - 00;18;35;17
    James Giglio
    This is, February 2013. You know, what we can do is if you come up with a concept, you know, we can give you floor space. And, you know, it's a big convention center. You know, we're there all weekend. And this way you can show off your prototype. And if it goes well, you know, we'll give you the showcase.

    00;18;35;17 - 00;18;49;14
    James Giglio
    And, you know, we're not going to pay you for it, but we'll give you tickets to the All-Star Game. You want to go to see the dunk contest. You want to see, you know, 3-point contest. You know that's what we can do for you. And so we came up with this concept of creating digital bobbleheads of fans.

    00;18;49;14 - 00;19;09;25
    James Giglio
    Right. So you could go up to this kiosk, choose your custom figurine if you know you're East or West Conference and choose fun hairstyles and then using face filters, you know, convert you into a digital bobblehead that you could share to social and you receive an email and all of that. And again this was pre Snapchat. No one knew what face filters were.

    00;19;09;25 - 00;19;42;09
    James Giglio
    And so we went down to Houston and good on the NBA, they put us right next to the autograph stage. And so we had every NBA legend walk by our kiosk. And the line queue was, you know, 100 deep the entire weekend. And you know, I give a lot of credit to our now managing director, Billy Bellotti. He was, you know, his main goal for that weekend in, in, in Houston was to get every area team and sponsor in front of our kiosk.

    00;19;42;09 - 00;19;59;00
    James Giglio
    And we pitched and pitched and pitch, and we literally walked home with a six figure contract with the NBA league banking sponsor, who at the time was BBVA Compass. And then we worked, with all of their Houston sports teams throughout the rest of the year.

    00;19;59;03 - 00;20;07;25
    Mark Conrad
    And hard work, guts and a vision and and [James Giglio: with a little stupidity] and since then.

    00;20;07;27 - 00;20;43;14
    Mark Conrad
    Well, not in the long run, because at this point you have a number of teams, that, you, provide services for. And I wanted to give a couple of examples of the interactive activities you do, you know, for listeners out there. And one was that struck me was the USAA Quarterback Qualification Challenge. [James: Sure.] And in this game, users have 45 seconds to throw footballs at three targets that correspond to their on screen character moving from one end zone to the other.

    00;20;43;17 - 00;20;55;14
    Mark Conrad
    A leaderboard displays the fastest times. So in such a interactive activity, what fans are you looking for to participate in this kind of activity?

    00;20;55;14 - 00;21;16;10
    James Giglio
    Yeah, yeah, it's a great question. And so we're fortunate enough each year that we get to work, with USAA and their agency 160over90 to activate, not only at the Army-Navy game each year, which is usually in this obviously in December. It's a great year and activation for us. It's in the middle of December.

    00;21;16;10 - 00;21;45;21
    James Giglio
    So it's a great year or a great end of year activation. And kind of wraps up the the year for us. And it's it's a great camaraderie. It's obviously the Army-Navy game. So yeah, there's a lot of sense of camaraderie and pride and in all of that. And so working with a financial brand, is really interesting and compelling for us because I think from a brand perspective and immersive technology, you know, you don't necessarily put those two together.

    00;21;45;23 - 00;22;01;15
    James Giglio
    Right? But we we say this all the time, and we were just had another financial company that we were talking to yesterday. And they're like, you know, we're we're kind of a stale brand. And you know, we're insurance and CDs and investments. And, you know, I don't know how you know, we're not fun and exciting for sports fan.

    00;22;01;15 - 00;22;26;03
    James Giglio
    I said, no, you are. But this is where we we really create value because we can weave your brand and your messaging to make it make sense for this type of engagement. And so what this immersive technology and creative technology allows is that's where that communication piece comes into play. Because, you know, as you're participating in this this quarterback challenge, it's weaving in and a couple of things.

    00;22;26;03 - 00;22;59;20
    James Giglio
    Obviously, USAA is a very military centric brand. They're exclusively for family members and servicemen in the military. And so, you know, the messaging there is they wanted to have a bit of a military type engagement tying into a football experience. Right. And so a quarterback challenge, implementing target practice and targets was is sort of seamless integration into being hitting the bull's eyes or hitting your goals.

    00;22;59;20 - 00;23;20;09
    James Giglio
    And so when you talk about financial goals, you talk about maybe a shooting range, you weave in football, so you get your target practice. And so what we were able to do is, strategically place on a, I think it was about a 30 yard strip of field we put, I don't want to say mannequins, but they were, dummies, player dummies.

    00;23;20;12 - 00;23;45;29
    James Giglio
    We built out impact sensors that, each dummy had on their chest. And so as fans or users threw the footballs, they would hit the sensors. But then we had a big LED board that had the animated players run across the field. So as the balls would hit the sensors on the dummy, the animations on the LED board would come to life, registered your score.

    00;23;45;29 - 00;24;10;01
    James Giglio
    So there was a big crowd awareness and so you would hit your goal, financial goals. You had your target practice and then obviously you were participating in the athletic football event. So it was a it was a nice sort of combination of holistically weaving in all of the brand guidelines, and it made a ton of sense for the event, and fans had a lot of fun participating in it.

    00;24;10;03 - 00;24;19;00
    Mark Conrad
    When you participate in an event like this, in an activity like this, do you have to supply any kind of data information?

    00;24;19;02 - 00;24;47;16
    James Giglio
    Very good question. That's exclusively almost always the case. Yes, absolutely. And you know, something we like to say is, you know, we always focus on the front end fun experience. Undoubtedly. You know, we generally knock that out of the park, but we are competitive advantages. The amount of focus and attention that we put into the user generated content and the data that brands require and should utilize.

    00;24;47;18 - 00;25;13;27
    James Giglio
    So what we do is as lines cue for these activations, we develop a QR mobile registration application. There's a QR sign fans will scan their QR code and have registration. A web based registration form will appear on their phone. So then we start inputting their information. So that's where you can also mill some information that makes sense for the brand.

    00;25;13;27 - 00;25;47;05
    James Giglio
    So if you are a financial brand you can easily ask them, hey, are you a military serviceman? Are you affiliated with Army? Are you affiliated with Navy? And very simple questions. But most importantly, name, email address, phone number, all data that they can store into their CRM for remarketing and sort of promotional items after the activation. So and it's a great time killer because as the fans are waiting, they're not sort of bored, just waiting and getting frustrated, waiting for their turn.

    00;25;47;08 - 00;26;05;26
    James Giglio
    They're just, you know, enrolling in this participation. So it feels natural. You know, we've all been in a theme park where it's like, oh my gosh, I have nothing to do. I'm just in this snake line just waiting to get onto this ride. And so there's ways that you can keep the users engaged. And we can create light games during this mobile experience as well.

    00;26;05;26 - 00;26;33;19
    James Giglio
    And so as they get into the participation of the event, they can also scan that QR code when, they step up to the game where now their information is displayed. Get ready Mark, it is your turn. So there's that vanity play like, oh wow, I'm already queued and like I'm ready to go. So they participate. There's usually a photo or video recording of the user's participation.

    00;26;33;21 - 00;26;48;06
    James Giglio
    So when the email is distributed to them, it's a branded memento in the form of an email or text message that they can share socially, download and send to their friends, or post across social media.

    00;26;48;08 - 00;27;16;01
    Mark Conrad
    And what do you do about children playing some of these games? Maybe not this one, because it's an insurance company for veterans and military personnel, but, you had the 2023 Women's Final Four tournament and then activities there. So was that a broader audience? And if indeed you do cater, or allow those under 18 to play or compete, do you have to, have restrictions on the information they give?

    00;27;16;04 - 00;27;52;06
    James Giglio
    Yeah, it's a it's a very good question. Generally it's not a problem. But there are, you know, UX or user experience concerns or considerations that we have to make, you know, with technology. So obviously when you're using 3D scan or a 3D cameras, when you're using the user's body as the remote control, there's different height requirements. When if we're doing a virtual field goal kicking game, when you have an adult kicking their leg versus a toddler kicking their leg, you know you have to make sure that the tracking systems can align for a wide range of heights and body sizes.

    00;27;52;06 - 00;28;18;15
    James Giglio
    And so that's something that we have to consider when building out the algorithms for the experiences. I will say, when we work with alcohol brands, we do have to age gate some of the experiences. And so we can get creative with the what's called the, UI or user interface, where during that registration piece we have an opt in.

    00;28;18;15 - 00;28;31;03
    James Giglio
    where, are you over 21? If you click no, then, you know, we kind of redirect them into a different participation or a different area so we can avoid any conflict there.

    00;28;31;05 - 00;28;37;29
    Mark Conrad
    how young can a child participant be in some of these, immersive, activities?

    00;28;37;29 - 00;29;04;08
    James Giglio
    Good question. So we ... very young and this past summer and there they'll be continuing this campaign for two more years. But we're working with GoGo squeeZ, you know, so the pouched applesauce brand, they're they're partner with the, Canadian women's soccer team. And so they go on a mobile tour throughout Canada all summer. And it is specifically designed for young kids.

    00;29;04;11 - 00;29;28;28
    James Giglio
    And so it's a virtual penalty, penalty kicking game. And so, it's in a trailer that they bring throughout Canada, and we have a large, digital screen inside that trailer where it's, again, using a 3D camera that we're tracking kids of all ages. And so the strategy there is we have different age groupings. So there's a brand ambassador.

    00;29;28;28 - 00;29;47;02
    James Giglio
    So when a child comes on, we ask the parents, you know, what age grouping they fit in. And so there's a, you know a grouping. So 0 to 3 you know, 4 to 8, you know, 9 above. And then once they click that age grouping the technology can adjust based on the user.

    00;29;47;05 - 00;30;12;04
    Mark Conrad
    And what information has to be disclosed before the person can participate. Because in the example with the USA quarterback qualification, you know, it said name, address, email with children, is not more restrictive. I mean, there are laws that are restricted certainly to those under 14. [James Giglio: Yeah.] from that information. So how do you deal with that particular issue?

    00;30;12;06 - 00;30;34;05
    James Giglio
    Yep. That that experience there is there's absolutely no shared information. There's just general waivers in terms of liability of participation. You agree that, you know, if you slip and fall, you slip and fall in, that, you know, we're not responsible for the unfortunate injury that may happen. Thank God there's never been said injury.

    00;30;34;05 - 00;30;59;23
    James Giglio
    But, yeah, when there's a child focused event, we don't require any data information. And, you know, brands are pretty clear with, understanding that. And they don't look to, to mill that information. And, you know, Coca-Cola is a good example of that. When we ever work with that brand in particular, you know, their marketing strategy in general is mostly we just want to create the experience and, and just own the experience.

    00;30;59;23 - 00;31;13;23
    James Giglio
    It's not about collecting user information. It's just we want to know that, you know, Coca Cola presented this and created this for the event. And, you know, this was the shareable moment that that fans could participate in.

    00;31;13;25 - 00;31;18;14
    Mark Conrad
    So most of your deals are with brands as opposed to teams. Is that correct?

    00;31;18;16 - 00;31;42;16
    James Giglio
    Yes. You know, but that thankfully is is changing. And that's a very good point. And I think that's where the evolution of experiential marketing, as well as the fan experience as a genre, has really shifted back ten years ago. You know, when when we would sell to teams, fan experience really meant concessions and a jumbotron and maybe Wi-Fi.

    00;31;42;16 - 00;32;10;18
    James Giglio
    And so we were really ahead of ourselves in terms of where stadium operations or marketing even considered what fan experience was, where anything that we are producing or were producing was considered a nice to have, where now it's very much considered a must have. And this sponsored activation or experiential marketing is is now a key category within a holistic or integrated marketing platform.

    00;32;10;20 - 00;32;41;12
    James Giglio
    You know, and so I think the demand to create that full day experience or that unique, you can only experience what you're doing here at at our stadium is more important than ever, because the at home viewing experience and all the way, all the other ways that you can consume a game is so good right now. You know, properties are really, really you know, pressured to, to create, a really unique and one of a kind experience by attending the game.

    00;32;41;12 - 00;32;44;00
    James Giglio
    And, and this is one way that they can help.

    00;32;44;03 - 00;33;04;04
    Mark Conrad
    So we are with James Giglio and we're talking about experiential marketing. And he is the author of Beyond the Jumbotron: Creating Fan Experience Through Immersive Technology. So what do you think are some of the areas of potential growth that have been untapped?

    00;33;04;06 - 00;33;40;18
    James Giglio
    So good question. You know, I think as a business, when it comes to this, the stadium business and sponsorship, I, I firmly believe that there's an opportunity for sports sponsorship to, to be disrupted and, and what I mean by that is the sports fan is such a coveted consumer to be marketed to because of who they are and the passion they bring and the loyalty that they can commit to a particular brand.

    00;33;40;26 - 00;34;08;09
    James Giglio
    I mean, fans are fanatical, right? Like that's that's essentially where that word comes from. Right? And so if you're a brand that you can tap in and tie a passion to a particular fan, I think that's that's a really strong loyalty in consumer to market too. But the the business of sponsorship is really one of which that is closed doors.

    00;34;08;09 - 00;34;37;10
    James Giglio
    And, and, and I think from an ownership perspective that the traditional mindset or the traditional business model is, okay, I'm a I'm a I'm a team owner, I have a, I have a group of corporate partnership salespeople. I want to bring in maybe ten new corporate sponsors, and I want to lock them in as long as possible for as much money as possible.

    00;34;37;12 - 00;35;12;07
    James Giglio
    Well, there's only so many brands that can afford that or that can, you know, underwrite that type of contract. And you're boxing out so many different brands that would love to be marketing inside your building or marketing to your fans. And so because of that model, I think there's a host of brands that are really boxed out. And so I think that, you know, through various out-of-home advertising channels and out-of-home advertising networks, there's going to be evolving opportunities, even for companies like myself.

    00;35;12;07 - 00;35;41;29
    James Giglio
    And I think we're embarking on a sort of a pivot for ourselves to kind of create an ad network to allow, you know, these non-endemic brands or noncompetitive sponsorship sponsor brands to enter the stadium business, to market to fans for our gaming devices and a fraction of the investment and term of a traditional sponsorship. So I firmly believe that. Now that could come in many other ways as well.

    00;35;41;29 - 00;36;12;15
    James Giglio
    You know, that could come in incremental marketing dollars, whether, you know, there are TV ads in bathrooms, concession ads, other out of home advertising channels throughout the stadium, interactive kiosks like ours. I just think that there's so many other ways that stadiums can monetize their buildings if they just thought differently on how they sell sponsorship, if they just opened up access to a more broad business model.

    00;36;12;17 - 00;36;38;13
    Mark Conrad
    Or let me posit something else. What about increased carve outs to smaller type of areas for some of the brands? So instead of the official sedan, it's the official, you know, sporty sedan or the official, [James Giglio: yeah, exactly.] quasi truck, you know, whatever it may be or, you know, there. If I tell my students there are four types of bottled water.

    00;36;38;15 - 00;36;38;24
    James Giglio
    Right?

    00;36;38;24 - 00;37;06;25
    Mark Conrad
    And possibly if you carve it out that way, the ride speeds cumulative cumulatively will be more. Yeah, but, they could be cheaper, as well. And so, you know, what's the difference between Cartesian water and, carbonated water? Well, there is a difference. [James Giglio: Yeah.] And so maybe that's a possibility. And maybe with children's items too. And the alternative broadcasting issue, you know, the SpongeBobification of the Super Bowl can be an option as well.

    00;37;06;26 - 00;37;29;13
    James Giglio
    I agree, I absolutely agree. Yeah, yeah. And I hope to see it come. You know, I, I really do. I think that it would, you know, it would bring a lot of value to properties and brands and I, and I think there's a host of local regional brands that, that really deserve access to the properties and to the teams as well.

    00;37;29;13 - 00;37;49;00
    James Giglio
    And, you know, listen, I think loyalty programing is a big miss in the pro sports world too. Like, I mean, you can't get a credit card or fly on an airplane or, you know, get on any transit without any type of loyalty programing. Why is isn't that in part of a sports team? Right. And why isn't that embedded throughout your community?

    00;37;49;00 - 00;38;10;08
    James Giglio
    Like, I live in Philadelphia. It's a major sports city, you know, why isn't there any campaign with any bank that or even with any particular team that you're earning loyalty points by ordering a sandwich from here, a mattress from here, changing your oil from here, and then also buying a ticket to this game and that game. Like, it just doesn't make sense to me.

    00;38;10;08 - 00;38;17;20
    James Giglio
    Like that could be. And then like, you can sell that sponsorship package to be a part of that couponing or that loyalty programing.

    00;38;17;23 - 00;38;41;26
    Mark Conrad
    And at one time there was. There was some attempts, I'd say about 20 years ago because I had one of those cards. [James Giglio: Okay.] And it was disbanded. I’m not going to mention the team and the company, but it was disbanded, and I think it was because at that time, they didn't sell fans what you could do with it, you know, and they were competing with the airlines credit cards, which gave a lot more options

    00;38;41;28 - 00;39;01;26
    Mark Conrad
    [James Giglio: I see.] as well. That's my thought. If anybody out there would want to debate and write me, they can certainly can. But I think, but it's a very good point. We're in a different era and people are using credit cards. You know, much, much more, especially since Covid cash is so rare. So it could very well be an idea to do that.

    00;39;01;26 - 00;39;15;16
    James Giglio
    But, you know, there's been things that have been ahead of its time, right? And what's old is new. And we can talk about the QR codes. I mean, that's that thing tried for 20 years before it got big. And so you can give it, you know, again.

    00;39;15;18 - 00;39;28;28
    Mark Conrad
    So where do you see the technology going in the next five years? You know, we sort of are moving from AR VR distinctions, as you said. So where we see, you know, this immersive technology going, where you see it.

    00;39;29;00 - 00;40;03;11
    James Giglio
    Particularly, I mean, I don't know if this bodes well for me, per se. I mean, I can make the argument both ways, but I think personally, I think, spatial computing is extremely fascinating, and I am very I've been high on, on mixed reality headsets for, for many years. And as the Apple Vision Pro has finally come to market, and knowing that this is going to be the worst iteration of that product that's out there and what it's capable of doing in its current state, it's a very positive forward look as to what's possible.

    00;40;03;11 - 00;40;49;18
    James Giglio
    And so I think, again, from a property perspective or broadcast perspective, it's going to put a lot of pressure again on ownership of creating a better in-game experience or in-stadium experience, because what the capabilities are in spatial computing, in mixed reality is, is really fascinating. And so that is a perfect example of what mixed reality is, is blending that digital and physical world together and, you know, watching, you know, there's an app right now on the Vision Pro and the PGA tour app and, you know, being able to choose any hole on the tournament and expanding it in AR and spinning it and then watching the flight path of each hole and then being

    00;40;49;18 - 00;41;11;21
    James Giglio
    able to analyze it. It's just such a cool and creative way to watch golf and see the statistics and have a news feed and then have broadcast feed all at the same time. And by the way, you can just walk throughout your living room and not disrupt your, you know, your your maneuverability because there is the pass through capability.

    00;41;11;21 - 00;41;36;27
    James Giglio
    And so I believe that technology is going very similar to what the iPhone has done in terms of changing the way we live. I do think mixed reality is going to change the way that we interact with the world when headsets are trimmed down to a more utility eyewear, where it's not going to be these sort of ridiculous snow goggle headsets, and they look like, you know, the glasses that you're wearing now.

    00;41;36;27 - 00;41;55;19
    James Giglio
    And, you know, we're going to be able to, you know, pull up our navigation or map and find details and things. And so I personally, this may be more of a personal perspective, but I just do not see the future not heading that way. And so when it comes to broadcast, you had mentioned, I think that's the way the future is going to go.

    00;41;55;19 - 00;42;23;22
    James Giglio
    And so I think as it relates to where our type of business and where the in-game experience needs to be is the, again, properties are going to be really challenged with. All right, it's no longer the man cave, it's now the man cave and spatial computing. And you know, the luxuries of home. Like we really need to amp up what the in-venue experience is because, you know, it's going to be really cool in five years just to watch five games at once in 3D.

    00;42;23;25 - 00;42;50;10
    Mark Conrad
    Well, would you think of expanding to that sort of, evolving and taking the in-stadium experience and trying to do something by stream or alter it, or work with a team to do some kind of alternate broadcasting techniques with various games interspersed at halftime or, between periods or between innings and say, stick around on this. Hey, you can try to be, you know, your virtual designated hitter.

    00;42;50;12 - 00;42;51;08
    Mark Conrad
    Something along those lines.

    00;42;51;13 - 00;43;05;02
    James Giglio
    We've played around with. You know, you'd mentioned the SpongeBobification, which I love. And, you know, Nickelodeon does a fantastic job. We've toyed around with a couple of concepts, laying AR over live broadcast. So yeah, absolutely.

    00;43;05;05 - 00;43;33;19
    Mark Conrad
    Do you also think of an idea of, specifying broadcast for novices, people that may not be as knowledgeable about the sport? And let's say somebody who's not, born into American football, but maybe English soccer or, you know, from another country and find football difficult to understand, which it can be. So, and maybe, alternate broadcasts with, hey, practice throwing a ball.

    00;43;33;22 - 00;43;36;20
    Mark Conrad
    Yeah, practice doing a kick.

    00;43;36;22 - 00;43;59;23
    James Giglio
    Another good example is, like the Taylor Swift phenomenon. How many new fans did she bring to football that had no idea what the heck was happening on the field? So I think, you know, when you can bring in that, that level of fan base at that volume that has no idea what's happening, but they just want to get that, you know, 15 second clip of her in the, in the, in the, in the suite.

    00;43;59;26 - 00;44;14;24
    James Giglio
    Want to watch the game for that, but then sort of get intrigued with the game but not knowing what a penalty is, not knowing what a first down is that that's a very good point in perspective to get that educational piece. And yeah, yeah, there's a lot of opportunity there.

    00;44;14;26 - 00;44;22;04
    Mark Conrad
    And before we go, I forgot to ask earlier, how many teams do you have any affiliation agreements with?

    00;44;22;07 - 00;44;54;15
    James Giglio
    Well, I, I would say we've had over 60, you know, over the, over the years. And so we've named a team and we've probably have worked with them at some point. And, you know, our our active roster is always evolving. You know, as seasons ends and seasons, start up again. So, yeah, you know, we're we're really excited about, you know, we have some news coming out next week about our ... it'll be the first in-stadium advertising network with our interactive gaming kiosks.

    00;44;54;15 - 00;45;27;14
    James Giglio
    And so we're going to bring that out to the market. And so I think it's it's really going to expand what we talked about with, allowing brands to enter a closed off market and giving properties away to subsidize income and opening up and monetize underutilized areas of their stadiums and generate revenue for their properties and their teams to, to maximize their, their income and, and just open up a new audience of, of, advertisers as well as enhance their, their fan experience with our technology.

    00;45;27;16 - 00;45;39;25
    Mark Conrad
    Now, those of us here or I shouldn't say me, but say young people, students who want to break into this area, what advice would you give them from the technical side or the marketing side?

    00;45;39;27 - 00;46;07;29
    James Giglio
    Well, I think, you know, my my recommendation is, is is going the agency route, frankly. I think working with, sports marketing agencies or experiential marketing agencies, you'll have an opportunity to get a more wide range of domain expertise, if you will. So you'll have the opportunity to get your hands involved in, in live event technology, the marketing.

    00;46;07;29 - 00;46;34;22
    James Giglio
    So look to companies like CAA, 160over90, Wasserman. I think working on the property side will be valuable. When I mean property, the team side. But you know, you'll be not siloed to your roles and responsibilities, but it will be a very refined to you know, that that in, you know, individual organization where you work on an with an agency, you know, you'll have many different brands to work with.

    00;46;34;22 - 00;46;58;05
    James Giglio
    You'll be working within many different events, many different environments. And then you get to work with, a host of different vendors that have a different skill set in their technology. And so, you know, a more and more of these agencies are trying to spin up some technical stack as well. And so I think that would be my recommendation is, you know, take a look at the agency world to kind of really learn,

    00;46;58;05 - 00;47;03;03
    James Giglio
    and, you know, before you really dive into the team or property side.

    00;47;03;05 - 00;47;32;07
    Mark Conrad
    Well, on that note, unfortunately our time has come and we have to come to a close. On behalf of Fordham University, the Gabelli School of Business, and the Sports Business Initiative, thanks to James Giglio for an engaging and informative discussion. You helped to educate this older non-tech guy and I thank you so much for an illuminating time and illuminating interview.

    00;47;32;10 - 00;47;49;06
    Mark Conrad
    And thanks to my producer, Victoria Ilano, for her great work. And thanks to all of you for listening in. For the Sports Business Podcast at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business. I’m Mark Conrad or Prof. C, have a great day.


For More Information

Please contact Professor Mark Conrad, Director, Sports Business Initiative: [email protected] or [email protected]