ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I would assume most, if not all of us remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that took place a couple of years ago.  You can find all kinds of videos on YouTube showing people taking the challenge.  There are videos of celebrities taking the challenge, videos of young children taking the challenge,  and even compilation videos of “ice bucket fails“.  Personally, those fails are my favorites.  It does not matter really what your favorite is because they were all for a great cause.

The premise of the Ice Bucket Challenge was to nominate three people to dump ice water over their heads. They could decline and donate or accept the challenge and take the bucket.  The great part is that many people accepted the challenge and donated, which is the best part about this.  The donations were being made mostly to the ALS association.  Numbers can vary, but I have seen estimates of roughly 100 million dollars being donated during the challenge.  That is a staggering number and surely a great help to the ALS association.

What the association did with the money is very important as well.  It seems that the contributions to various research groups might already be starting to pay off!  A gene was found to be linked to the disease.  That is certainly a step in the right direction.  Every step counts when trying to find a cure for the terrible disease.

 

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How did the Ice Bucket Challenge Begin?  It seems that the challenge was not initially tied to a certain charity.  However, after someone mentioned the charity of choice being the ALS assication it was sent to a few groups pertaining to ALS.  Once it reached Pete Frates and his large group of supporters it really took off and became the phenomenon of the summer.  Sometimes you can feel as if your vote or act will not mean anything or it will go unnoticed,  I think that is normal.  You have to see the big picture and think how much your act combined with millions of other acts can add up to.  No matter what you feel about the challenge, you can not argue that it did not work.  It helped raise plenty of funds and those funds will be used to help find a treatment or cure.

-Victor Mandalawi

After 112 Years Golf is Back at the Olympics…and Nobody is Playing

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

I wrote about the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio just last month on this site talking about the disappointment of the state of Brazil coming into the games next month.  Between the political upheaval, sewage infested water, Zika virus, and everything else, it isn’t set up for a wonderful experience for anyone right now.  In 2009 the Olympic Committee decided to remove a sport like wrestling, but then insert golf.  A multitude of golf course architects submitted detailed proposals for the right to be the person to design an olympic golf venue. Gil Hanse was the designer chosen and has spent years upon years trying to ensure that the top players in the world got to experience an elite golf course as they played for their country trying to earn golf’s first gold medal in over 100 years.  There is only one problem…the top four players in the world have decided to drop out and not go to the olympic games.

In order of their world ranking, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have all decided that they aren’t making the trek to Rio.  This is not only a big blow to golf in the Olympics but to the PGA Tour as well.  The tour has played a compressed schedule moving tournaments around to be able to allow players to represent their countries in these games.  However, when the top four players in the game, coming from three different continents don’t want to play in the Olympics, it doesn’t bode well for the sport.

While deciding not to play when you have the chance to represent your country may make these players look like spoiled brats, I don’t think that is a fair assessment.  Between their on course earnings and endorsements, these four men have enough money to last multiple generations.  You can’t put them in the same category as a sprinter in the 100 meter dash or a 15 year old gymnast.  These players have already made a name for themselves, and don’t want to be subjected to the safety concerns and well as the effects of what the Zika virus could hold, and they are at a point in their lives when they are considering starting a family.  Too much blame is being put toward these golfers saying that they don’t want to wear the colors of their country and would rather take a couple of weeks off.  While they may not directly say it publicly, I can assure you that if the games were in London or Los Angeles, or some other stable place, these four men wouldn’t be dropping out.  While nobody knows what will happen in Rio next month, whether there is political unrest, water issues causing issues, or even the Zika virus, everyone is hoping for the best.  Tons of athletes work their entire lives to get the opportunity to participate in these games and represent their country, and it is a shame that they have to deal with the issues that an olympics in Rio De Janeiro will present.  However, the top golfers in the world, didn’t work and train their entire lives to play in the olympics, they trained to win golf majors.  While they all originally committed to the games, it is short sighted to insinuate that these men are lazy or don’t care about their country.  Unfortunately the current state of Brazil forced them to make a difficult decision that they will have to answer to for years to come.

-Victor Mandalawi

Are Shoe Deals Changing the Landscape of the NBA?

KD9curry shoe

While we celebrated the 240th birthday of our country on Monday this week, news also broke that Kevin Durant decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and sign with the Golden State Warriors.  It was a bit of a shocking announcement as Golden State set a record for regular season wins this past year going 73-9, before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 7th game of the NBA Finals.  It should be noted that Durant’s Thunder team had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals before the Warriors came back to get to the finals after the 7th game.  Durant is widely accepted as one of the top five players in the league, so to switch teams and move to a team that as the back to back Most Valuable Player in Steph Curry seems crazy.  The best team in the NBA just got significantly better, so how does that work?

NBA players make some rather astonishing salaries.  It gets even more crazy this year as the salary cap went up due to the windfall of money from a new television deal.  The Warriors have four of probably be best 20 players in a 30 person league with Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.  Even with an astronomical salary cap, how will the Warriors be able to afford the fair market salaries of these four players?  As an example, Durant has signed a $54.3M deal for two years, with a player option after year one.  That type of money is difficult to comprehend, however it pales in comparison to what Durant is making from Nike.  Durant spurned his home town’s Under Armor brand to stay with Nike in 2014 for $300M with another $50M retirement package.

Durant

Along the same lines, Steph Curry is by far the most popular player in the NBA right now, and has inked a deal with Under Armor where the details weren’t disclosed, but contains a significant amount of stock in the business.  Under Armor has stated that they have sold between $200M -$250M on Curry branded products during the 2015-2016 NBA season.

It brings me to the question, do these shoe deals begin to effect the need of these top ten basketball players to get a max contract?  They make far more money off the court than they do on the court.  It should also be noted that Durant is going from a relatively small market in Oklahoma all the way to Silicon Valley where endorsement and investment options are much more available.

Could Nike have whispered in Durant’s ear that they would fork over a bonus if he went to this new super team?  Are players more concerned about their endorsement deals than their current team?

It is difficult to say, and while we can complain about these mind blowing contracts, the NBA owners aren’t stupid, it is a relatively free market, so these players are getting paid based on the revenue they are bringing to their respective teams.  However, if your actual NBA contract isn’t the most important factor in selecting the team that will employ you, are we heading to a period where these stars all align to form these super teams and make the vast majority of other NBA teams irrelevant circumventing exactly the reason the salary cap was put in place to begin with?  It is difficult to say, but we sure seem to be heading in that direction, which seems nuts, but will be interesting to see how it shakes out.