Friday, July 27, 2007

The Darkest Week in Sports

Friday mornings at work are good times for a few thoughts on the sports world. A lot has happened in the last week and I can't even begin to formulate drawn-out treatises on everything. I hope that this will suffice.

  • My week started on Monday (most weeks do) with my reading of Scott Fowler's editorial column in the Charlotte Observer. Fowler mailed in a Bonds column that probably took him about 10 seconds to write and five seconds to proofread. At this point in the week, I was pepped, energized and ready to kick some butt. Why should Fowler take the easy way when it's summer, he has nothing else to do, and there are so many more insightful ways of broaching Barry Bonds other than "he's a cheating jerk, damn him." I sent Fowler an email calling him out on this, and he replied generously. I felt good about being a proactive journalist with a nuanced viewpoint who could seemingly handle all of these controversial sports issues. But that was just Monday.
  • In the next three days, several more witnesses came to the public testifying about Barry Bonds' steroid use. Michael Vick didn't even publicly denounce charges of dogfighting as the NFL's biggest superstar was dragged into court by the feds. The always stoic NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the public about reports saying that former NBA ref Tim Donaghy gambled on games that he was officiating and had ties to the mob. Stern was broken and defeated...a public that had always joked about refs cheating their teams out of games took a collective gulp. A Tour de France event that I had been convinced had seen its worst hour became even darker as pre-race favorite Alexandre Vinokourov was kicked off for a banned blood transfusion. On Wednesday, the Tour started awkwardly as an amateurish protest by several members of the peloton was proceeded by a Basque terrorist bomb exploding in the woods near the course and ended with Tour leader Michael Rasmussen literally being grabbed from his bike as he finished the race and told that he was gone...four days before the championship would have been his. Oh and did I mention that another NFL player was arrested for pointing a gun at a girl outside a strip club?
  • Even if we didn't have these events to show us explicitly, it is obvious that sports are the medium through which our culture now expresses itself and propels itself through time. Issues of race are played out as supporters of PETA fight with supporters of due process outside a courtroom in Virginia. It's not a stereotype when a numerical count of the adamant Vick supporters were 95% black and the adamant Vick haters were 90% white. Issues of innocence, guilt, cheating, gambling, punishing, forgiving, cheering and hating are all being wrestled with in an emotional vat that is eternally churning. Other generations have had wars, politics, business, music, literature (all previously separated entities) test them and teach them about themselves. Now all of those things have been thrown into the vat of sports, the once innocent games that we played and watched growing up.
  • And this was all before Thursday afternoon at 3pm when we learned that 56-year old Skip Prosser, head coach of the Wake Forest men's basketball team, had collapsed and died on an innocent jog on Wake Forest's campus. Prosser was known to many for his energetic coaching style and love of life. He loved his job as an educator and a mentor and he was extremely influential in so many people's lives. Prosser's untimely death marked the blackest exclamation point on the worst week of sports in the history of this country. I am not usually one to mourn for things that can seem so distantly attached, but this morning I cannot help but feel really sad for all that we have gone through.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

USA basketball comes home with silver

For many Americans who woke up and absent-mindedly scrolled through's Men's Basketball page on Monday morning, one of the headlines on the right probably didn't seem all that surprising.

"Team USA settles for silver in U19 championships."

A quick click on the link reveals a painfully brief article that summed up the entire championship game in two words: free throws.

If you weren't careful, you might just assume that is just another one of those international humiliations where the "street-balling" kids from the U.S. again showed the need for an emphasis on team work and fundamentals in international play.

It's true that the U.S. did shoot only 45.8% from the line, missing numerous free throws in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before losing to Serbia in the championship game by five, 74-69. It's also true that the U.S. committed 19 turnovers and only shot 28% from beyond the three-point arc.

But this U.S. team cannot be judged by the same criticism that has landed recent Team USAs in such hot water. Collected from high schools, colleges and universities from around the country, these teenagers battled for a week and a half over in Serbia and selfish and undisciplined would not be two adjectives to describe them.

In fact, when you realize that this entire U.S. squad only met each other less than a month ago, it is remarkable that they came within five points of a world championship. Many players on European squads come up through the ranks in basketball academies and often play with each other extensively before they compete on the national team.

Players from France had been playing in the national system since they were 14 years old, and yet the United States was able to dispatch the Frenchies in the semifinals behind a double-double from North Carolina's Deon Thompson. A late three-pointer from Davidson's Stephen Curry sent the U.S. into the championship game despite the Americans having trailed for most of the contest.

As soon as the buzzer sounded, the Americans rushed the court in jubilation and celebrated their come-from-behind victory. While they certainly wanted to win it all from the very beginning, this team was not playing "not-to-lose." They enjoyed every minute of the process and a win was just as exciting for them as it was for any other team in the tournament.

That's how it's going to be like from now on. The U.S. will have to lower themselves and get into the mud to compete against everyone else. They can no longer jump over or run around the rest of the world. Sometimes they'll win nailbiters and they deserve to be happy. Sometimes they'll lose big, and they need to be mad. Sometimes they are going to miss free throws and three-pointers, but every great team goes cold sometimes. At least this group is a team, and that's an important first step.

Monday, July 23, 2007

France: Sporting jewel struggles to retain shine

by Will Bryan
Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal
Published July 23, 2007

The Tour de France again this year is drawing an international spotlight to the French landscape, the country’s local traditions and its sporting culture. Spectators from around the world are lining the nation’s roads this month to watch the competition across its 23 days and 2,200 miles.

They’re also watching a race drawing an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. While doping allegations have swirled around the Tour and its competitors for years, the events of this past year have left a significant mark on the race and its sport.

Only a week after the event’s organizers last month decided to strip 1996 champion Bjarne Riis of his title after his admission of doping, event and team sponsor T-Mobile decided to move its reported $1.3 million investment away from advertising with Germany’s national TV coverage of the event and toward that country’s national antidoping agency instead.

Before this year’s race, competitors were asked to sign an antidoping charter. It was a move aimed, in part, at increasing public confidence in the event’s competition and its competitors.

Meanwhile, last year’s champion, Floyd Landis, continues to fight doping charges against him, having been found guilty of drug use four days after winning last year’s yellow jersey.

Landis’ victory came after Lance Armstrong’s run of seven consecutive Tour wins from 1999 to 2005. U.S. television viewership of the race grew along with Armstrong’s title count, culminating with an average of 607,250 viewers for race coverage on OLN (now Versus) in 2005.

By comparison, last year’s OLN coverage averaged 287,000 viewers.

Versus President Gavin Harvey said the increased scrutiny of this year’s Tour won’t affect the network’s coverage of the race.

“We don’t intend to do anything different this time around,” Harvey said. “Our job is to cover the most grueling and intense sporting event on the planet. We don’t need to editorialize about the doping issues.”

Harvey added that a strong showing by the U.S.-based Discovery Channel team could help ratings. In addition, he said, no advertisers have withdrawn from the network’s coverage of the event citing doping concerns.

“Like all networks hoping for good ratings, we know that what ends up happening in the race will ultimately affect how interested Americans are,” Harvey said. “But I will say that it seems like Americans are far less appalled by the doping issues than Europeans are. Maybe they are happy that the Tour is actually doing something about the problem.”

The Tour is arguably France’s most visible sporting event, but cycling is not the only sport that captures the nation’s attention. The French national soccer team won the FIFA World Cup title in 1998, when it also served as the event’s host. The team advanced to the finals of the 2006 competition before losing to Italy, a match remembered by most for Zinedine Zidane’s headbutting of a Italian player.

In tennis, last month marked the conclusion of the 2007 French Open, an event whose international history dates to 1925. France’s Amelie Mauresmo, a former world No. 1, ranks No. 6 worldwide, and Marion Bartoli ranks No. 11 after her upset run to the Wimbledon finals earlier this month.

In addition, basketball’s presence in the country continues to grow, fueled by both domestic efforts and NBA influences.

Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs competed in Paris last year as part of the NBA Europe Live Tour exhibition. Parker is one of seven NBA players from France who played in the league last season, and five of those seven competed on playoff teams.

France’s team in last year’s FIBA World Championship included NBA players Boris Diaw, Johan Petro and Mickael Pietrus.

“The main catalyst for the growth of French basketball has come from the exposure of the French national team,” said Matthieu Van Veen, NBA senior director of international television and media. “When you have stars like Tony Parker and Boris Diaw [of the Phoenix Suns] come back to compete successfully in their home country, people become more excited about the sport.”

The French Basketball Federation manages the sport domestically. Its oversight spans from amateur leagues that enroll players as young as 16 years old to the country’s pro and national teams.

Monday, July 16, 2007

America is fighting back

Americans like to be good at things. In fact, they like to be the best…in the whole world…of all time. In this hot summer of 2007, two separate on-going events are once again illustrating an American desire to not be overtaken, outclassed or outbid.

This afternoon the United States U-19 team will face Lithuania in the second round of the World Championship games being played in Novi Sad, Serbia. The U.S. team has been led so far by the outstanding scoring of KSU’s Michael Beasley (15.0 ppg) and Davidson’s Stephen Curry (13.7). Arkansas’ Patrick Beverley has stepped up big with 9.0 ppg and 5.0 boards per contest. Although the team doesn’t feature some of the country’s best under-19 players (I’m sure you’ve heard of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant), this team has outshined its competition so far with a new generation of college basketball players. A generation that is finally seeming to understand what it takes to win.

Although the media can often seem whiny and moralistic when they go off on tangents about the selfishness and lack of team talent exhibited in American basketball, it seems that their recent cries are beginning to be met with reform.

In the past several years, teams like George Mason have made national headlines for beating powerhouses like Connecticut, North Carolina and Michigan State with team chemistry and athletic fundamentals.

This summer, shoe-sponsored basketball camps have decided to put skills back in the title, and back in the regimen. As Fran Fraschilla points out, coaching staffs around the country are realizing that success in the multi-million dollar industry of college basketball really does revolve around a particular diet of fundamental skill sets and team basketball that thrives off of court awareness. Most recently, a committee made the penultimate cuts for the U.S. national team set to represent the country in the Pan-American games. That team has already created buzz for consisting of several great team players from schools that don’t boast the same types of basketball budgets as the Floridas and UNCs of the world.

This week, the basketball community in America will put its trust in a young group of basketball players who have spent the last month learning a little bit more about why the U.S. has been embarrassed in recent national competitions. They have learned that free throws can win games and defensive stops are just as important as game-winning three-pointers. They will have the opportunity to bring home a World Championship that the United States has not laid hands on for 16 years. They will be the litmus test for whether basketball in the United States really can overcome itself and reclaim its spot at the top of the world stage.


Halfway across the world in Los Angeles, CA, another group of Americans have put themselves out on a limb in hopes of a different sea-change of attitudes and realities. LA Galaxy president Alexi Lalas and the Galaxy’s owning group, AEG, are in the final stages of the “Star of David” experiment. Six months ago, Lalas and AEG CEO Tim Leiweke decided that they would take advantage of MLS’ new designated player rule (two players on each MLS team could be exempted from the team’s overall salary cap) by signing international soccer star David Beckham to a deal worth over $250 million. Beckham arrived in the U.S. last week and is slated to play his first game with the Galaxy on Saturday in a friendly against British club Chelsea.

Amidst all the hype of Beckham’s arrival in America has been the constant question of whether he will single-handedly revolutionize the world’s biggest sport in the world’s biggest sporting country. Initially, my own answer to that question was very simple: No, America must have a home-grown soccer phenom lead them to a World Cup title. It has to start there.

However, in the past few days, I have remarked at the overwhelming power of branding in this country. Although we don’t always like to admit it, we know that the power of the brand can often have equalled or even more power than the influence of effort and performance in the creation of sports popularity. While I certainly believe that exciting play and successful results have significant influence on today’s sporting culture, branding can never be overlooked.

Most of the arguments regarding soccer’s cultural failings in America revolve around frail assertions that Americans don’t like the pace of the game and they can’t wrap themselves around a competition where so few points are scored. Heck, the ever-insightful Tom Sorenson blames soccer’s failure on its lack of accessibility to America’s ever-growing gambling and fantasy sports industries.

However, I believe that one of the most crucial aspects of successful sports in America is experience. When you think about the biggest sports of our day, each is linked to an experience and a brand that you can buy into. Whether that is eating Jake Delhomme’s Bojangles chicken at a tailgate at 10am outside BofA stadium wearing your Panthers hat, jersey and #1 finger, or packing into a sweltering room with 9,000 other Blue fans to cheer on the Duke Blue Devils in one of the world’s most famous basketball venues, the experience helps to create the culture, and branding has helped to intensify the experience.

When we look at the American sports market, each one of the major sports has a wide gamut of institutional support that bolsters the experience even when the gameplay isn’t delivering dramatic moments. Brands like Lebron James, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, and Alex Rodriguez have provided faces and stories that consolidate support and excitement to their respective sports even when ratings suffer and the games do not create drama. ESPN, league offices and the internet have been central in providing accessible content and coverage that keeps the fan/consumer involved with the life of the sport.

Although we’d like to believe that there are inherent characteristics about the popular American sports that make them rightfully popular, I argue that most of it isn’t always about the popular will. In fact, the decisions of a few very important men and the accomplishments of a few very talented athletes have been crucial to the development of the current American sports landscape. A few rich guys out in California decided that they were going to take a leap with soccer. Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal's Tripp Mickle reports that American fans of the Galaxy have contributed nearly $10 million in ticket purchases for the 2007 season. Investors have poured in nearly $26 million in the last half-year alone to an MLS team that has sat in the middle of the standings for seasons. The institutional foundation of the soccer brand in America has grown. That is indisputable fact. I also believe that growth is the first step towards the cultural revolution. It doesn't guarantee it, but it is necessary for it.

Soccer might not become the NFL by next year. David Beckham might not “revolutionize” sport by himself. Stephen Curry and the U-19 national team might not win international gold or completely change the way that basketball is played in America. But this summer, a handful of Americans have admitted that the rest of the world is ahead of us and we need to catch up.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Wildcat Latest

It has been a busy and exciting few weeks for Wildcat fans. Here is a recap of some of the important news items to keep an eye on:

Davidson rounds out schedule

The Wildcat coaching staff officially announced their planned participation in the 2007 John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, CA. Davidson will take on the UCLA Bruins on December 8. UCLA is coming off back-to-back Final Four appearances and most preseason experts see them going for three in a row with the addition of big man Kevin Love and the return of the speedy Darren Collison.

UCLA will round out an already tough non-conference schedule that includes pre-season championship favorite UNC, a Top 15 Duke Blue Devil team, an improved N.C. State squad coming off of an ACC championship game appearance, a game at rival UNC-Charlotte where the Wildcats have never won, a return game at Western Michigan and an ESPN BracketBuster game in February. Davidson will not face one D-I non-conference opponent in the friendly confines of Belk Arena.

In other scheduling notes, the Southern Conference has moved its tournament up one day as the championship game will now be held on a Monday night (March 10). That day will be the first day back to classes for Davidson students completing their spring break. The move was made to increase TV ratings and in-city attendance for a tournament that will now largely be played on the weekend.

National Representation

Both Stephen Curry and Max Paulhus Gosselin were recently selected to represent their countries in International play this summer. Curry joins the USA U19 team competing in the world championships in Novi Sad, Serbia. Curry made an impact early on as he scored 16 points in a win over China's senior team that included recent draft pick Yi Jianlian. The U.S. went on to win in the Global Games played in the U.S. and are currently competing in Novi Sad. Curry scored 9 points in USA's blowout win over Mali on the first day of competition (July 12).

Paulhus Gosselin was selected to Canada's national development team which will compete in the FISU games from August 7th to 18th in Bangkok, Thailand. He is currently working out in Davidson with several other teammates.

Gignac Takes Over

The Davidson athletic department recently completed their search for a new Sports Information Director, hiring Marc Gignac from Canisius College. Gignac spent six years as Director of Athletic Communications at Canisius. A Jesuit school in western New York, the Griffins compete in the MAAC.

Gignac has several ties to the Charlotte area as he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and took his first job with the AAA Charlotte Knights. Gignac will be responsible for Davidson's new athletic website set to launch in the Fall of 2007. He will also be integral in launching the Wildcats' new media distribution plan which tentatively includes having every Wildcat home game televised live on Davidson's website with archived games available for purchase.

Gignac will replace the departed Rick Bender who has taken a job in Birmingham, AL. Bender has been a Wildcat institution for the last 17 years: first as a Wildcat baseball player, then a baseball assistant coach, and finally as an employee in the Sports Information office.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Player Profiles: #30 Stephen Curry

SoCon Freshman of the Year, Mid-Major Freshman of the Year, SoCon Tournament MVP, NCAA record for three-pointers as a freshman, member of the U19 USA National team, averaged 21.9 pts/gm (second in the country for freshmen behind Kevin Durant), set a new school record with 117 three-pointers.

When talking about Stephen Curry, it is sometimes easier to let the titles and designations say it all. After all, stats and awards are supposed to summarize the overall story about an athlete, right?

In his first game in Belk Arena, Stephen Curry helped lead Davidson to a double digit victory over Illinois-Chicago. He shot 11-19 from the field, including 3-6 from three, and finished with a game-high 27 points. As we were walking out of the gym afterwards, I overheard a conversation between a Davidson student and one of Stephen's friends from high school. She was saying about how poorly Stephen had played in that game:

"I mean Stephen missed four shots in a row at one point."

I immediately knew that Curry was a new kind of superstar for Davidson. We've had three-point shooters...we've had sons of famous basketball Dads...but not since the days of Mike Maloy, Dick Snyder and Fred Hetzel has Davidson had such a superstar.

In the last year, Stephen Curry not only transformed Davidson's record book and all-time standings, he also set the stage for a transformational struggle for Davidson to transcend the Southern Conference and become a basketball brand on the national stage.

With pre-season approximations already placing the Wildcats in the Top 25 and at-large in the 2008 NCAA tournament, it seems like that struggle is going pretty well.

Before last season's Appalachian State-Davidson game, I asked one athletic department official why the Mecklenburg community had finally seemed to embrace the Wildcats (the 5,580 in attendance made it the highest attended conference game in Belk Arena history). The Wildcats had gone undefeated in their conference before and had been highly successful against major programs in recent years. Why did everyone care about Davidson all of a sudden?

"It isn't really about the win-loss thing...or even about the quality of the opponent. People are showing up this year because they are playing exciting basketball. Curry plays differently than stars in the past. Period."

Whether it's his distinctive quick release, dazzling moves around the basket, his scoring proficiency, fun-loving persona, or local legendary status, Curry has become the face of Davidson basketball for the next three years.

The most interesting part of the entire Stephen Curry story is not necessarily what he has done on his own, but how he has affected everyone else around him. The Davidson coaching staff has always made its impression by coaching unselfish, fundamental basketball. McKillop created a system to which all of his players voluntarily submitted. However, in this past year, McKillop's theme wasn't just about responsibility and the narrow path...this year he added in freedom. Curry earned a unique freedom that few McKillop-taught players have ever enjoyed.

For players like Thomas Sander and Jason Richards, this was supposed to be a challenging year. They were expected to take roles of leadership behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera. But Curry came along and the media wanted to ask them about Steph. Although some speculated that the freshman's stardom would alienate his teammates, Sander and Richards used their captain status to keep the team together. They built Steph up, but knew when to jokingly take him out (ie. missed dunk in SoCon championship). They too walked the line between freedom and responsibility, a line that had not explicitly existed before the arrival of #30.

Finally, Stephen embodied the athlete superstar on Davidson's campus. Far from having the movie-star status of a Tyler Hansbrough at UNC, Curry was largely respected and treated like just another student. But during basketball season, there was a distinct excitement that followed him around. He was the reason that students started coming to basketball games in droves. He has made all of us turn our attention to the national basketball media and their love of little Davidson.

The verdict is still out on whether Curry will become the best player in Davidson's history. We don't know whether the Wildcats will enjoy the national status of Gonzaga by the year 2010. It remains to be seen whether Davidson can break the decades-old drought of winning in the NCAA tournament. But, whenever Stephen Curry pulls on the jersey of the red and black, there will always be hope and expectation.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Player Profiles: #35 Dan Nelms

Dan Nelms is one of Davidson's most unknown and unheralded players. Standing at 6'9", he is currently the tallest player on the Wildcats' roster. But last year, Nelms only averaged 3.3 minutes and 0.8 points a game. With Steve Rossiter taking up most of the foul-protection minutes for the frontcourt, Nelms was limited strictly to end-of-game action when the score wasn't close.

Although Nelms didn't have many opportunities to put his talents on display during live game action, he definitely showed some slivers of what Davidson fans can come to expect out of their frontcourt in the next few years.

Firstly, Nelms is an excellent three-point shooter. Of his 18 shot attempts last season, five of them were three-pointers. Nelms has been able to consistently make three-point baskets while playing for the scout team in practice. What remains to be seen is whether the new NCAA three-point distance will affect the forward whose touch always seems to just barely get the ball over the front rim.

Secondly, Nelms showed that he has the ability to elevate over most forwards in the Southern Conference. The rising sophomore always seemed to outjump his opponents as he battled for loose balls at ground floor + 7.5 feet. Nelms' height and length will be a physical advantage that the Davidson frontcourt has not enjoyed for a few years.

However, without any forward graduating from last year's squad, it is questionable as to whether Nelms will get substantially more playing time in his sophomore campaign. While physical attributes will continue to be his strength, Nelms will need to develop more court awareness and confidence, things that will only come from more playing time in the primetime.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Davidson Basketball Camp

For the last three years, I have worked Bob McKillop's Davidson basketball camp. Each year that I come back, I hear the same inspirational stories, hang out with the same high school and college coaches from around the country, and even coach the same kids (or at least their younger brothers or cousins).

While its family reunion aura might feel a bit stuffy to some outsiders, there is a general quality about Davidson basketball camp that is as unique as the college, its students, its athletic department and its national reputation.

This camp takes kids from ages 9 to 18 and teaches them everything from a triple threat position to strategies of offensive movement to lessons about selfhood and community. When Coach McKillop opens the camp by proclaiming that he looks forward to learning from everyone as much as he looks forward to teaching, I actually believe him. Why? Because of the immense training that I have received from groups of kids over three years when I am supposed to be the one doing the training.

I've watched as kids who lack the ability to get the ball in the basket have sought out help on every other part of their game: dribbling, passing, rebounding...knowing that one day they will be strong enough to shoot and they better work on everything else in the meantime.

I've watched as a generation that has largely abandoned the role model/hero system of learning and goal-setting sits around after camp to watch Davidson players run up and down the court. They come in the next morning and try to defend like Max, or pass like Jason or shoot like Steph. They are inspired for life by guys who are just playing a game.

I've listened every day as Coach McKillop tells the same stories about his own life: his "take-out man" experience in 76ers training camp, the time Michael Bree didn't listen in the huddle and WCU's Kevin Martin won the game, all of the little things that Davidson does to stay focused as a team (pennies, links, tennis balls). McKillop has told inspirational stories about former players like Bill Wennington and Matt Dougherty. He has called out players in attendance like Jason Richards, Boris Meno and John Falconi. Ultimately, he has opened himself and his world to a bunch of young boys that have heeded the metaphors of challenge, self-confidence, endurance and righteousness.

As a sports writer in a world where headline news consists of the fact that A-Rod's wife had an obscenity printed on her shirt, it can often be hard to justify how my job does any good for anyone else. The drive of the journalist has always been to create word pictures and significance out of the emotion and emotionless of our lives. For Coach McKillop, his drive is to take a game...a game about which he knows every single little detail and potentiality...and make it important.

If something is going to connect all of us here on earth, let it be basketball instead of Paris Hilton. Let it be basketball instead of insincere cynicism. Let it be basketball...says Coach McKillop. For every single camper and coach at last week's camp: we agree.

Here are some of the juicy highlights of camp for you Kool-Aid drinkers:

-Rumors about the final games on the schedule point to excellent teams in BCS conferences. Davidson will either have an atrocious record heading into conference play, or be ranked in the Top 20.

-Stephen Curry made an excellent showing at several pickup games before heading out to attend Kobe Bryant's Skills Camp. He is now playing on the U.S. U-19 national team.

-While walking around campus, Aaron Bond was consistently flagged down by students thinking he was Jason Morton. The incoming freshman plays with the same confidence that Morton did, although decision-making is still very poor. When Bond starts making the right decisions about when to pass and shoot, he could be extremely dangerous, even as a freshman.

-The Davidson athletic administration was out in full force promoting Davidson basketball through constantly running videos that played whenever parents were in the area. With season ticket forms and 06/07 media guides floating around everywhere, there surely wasn't a single parent not tempted to invest in the 07/08 product.