At Harris Sliwoski, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.

In Episode #50, we are joined by Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Sport Management Professor & Director of Sport Management Degree programs at The George Washington University School of Business.

We discuss:

  • Lisa’s career as a scholar of the Olympic Games (attended 19 consecutive Games) and 5 World Cups
  • The crucial and interconnected relationships among athletes, spectators, sponsors, and host countries in producing mega-events
  • Systemic cheating in professional sports
  • Career paths for those interested in sport management and sport marketing
  • NCAA athletes benefiting financially from their name, image, and likeness
  • Covid’s impact on the world of sport, comparing MLS, NFL, and NBA seasons and the impact on the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games
  • Advice for parents with children who are interested in becoming collegiate and professional athletes
  • Listening, and watching recommendations from:

We’ll see you next week for another exciting and informative episode as we discuss market research and market entry into China.

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  0:07 

Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Sliwoski International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort


Jonathan Bench  0:37 

and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important, the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.


Fred Rocafort  1:02 

We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.


Jonathan Bench  1:21 

Today we are joined by Professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti, who has been a professor of sport event and Tourism Management at the George Washington University School of Business for 30 years. Lisa directs the BBA MBA and MS in sport management programs at GW. She also oversees the GW sport, philanthropy and youth sports administrator professional certificates. recognized as an Olympic scholar she has attended 19 consecutive Olympic Games, and five World Cups as a volunteer researcher and consultant. She also teaches for the International Olympic Committee’s executive masters in management of sports organizations. That’s the memos program and serves on the executive board of the women in sports and events. The WISE DC chapter, Lisa co authored the Ultimate Guide to sport marketing, and founded the sports industry, networking and career conference. Her areas of expertise include mega events, sponsorship, entrepreneurship, sport tourism, youth sports, eSports, and economic impact. Lisa, welcome to Harris Sliwoski Global law in business.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  2:25 

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.


Fred Rocafort  2:27 

Lisa, welcome to the podcast, 19 consecutive Olympic Games, that’s pretty impressive. We’d love to hear a little bit more about the games that you’ve you have attended. And also, from your perspective, what makes for a successful Olympiad, if you will, although I know the term Olympia covers that entire time period. But I just wanted to sound fancy there. But basically what what makes for good games, if you had to point at some of the events that were organized as examples of how to properly do this? which ones would you point to?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  3:04 

Well, that’s a good question. But it really depends on who you are, who is your client group that you’re talking about? We have athletes, and for them, the most important part is to make sure that their field of play is the best possible as well as their living conditions and the environment in which they’re competing. For the spectator, it depends on how accessible tickets are, what’s the fanfare, how lively the environment inside the stadium, how easy it is to get in and out of the venues, if you’re a sponsor, it’s you know, how large of audience they have both on television and in person, how well their activations are doing on site. So there’s multiple different stakeholders, and each one has a different perception of successful.


Jonathan Bench  4:04 

So Lisa, from a host country perspective, can you comment on that what makes an Olympic successful for a host country?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  4:12 

Right for host country? You know, they’re looking at brand building, you know, are people seeing these games and saying, Wow, I, I can’t wait to go to Sydney, Australia or to Sochi, Russia, or to, you know, Japan, because of the games. They’re also looking at the economic impact and the economic impact for an Olympic Games does not just happen during those 16 days. There are many people who have to travel starting, you know, seven years out, and there’s a continual flow of business people and those involved in organizing the games coming in and out of that host country. So, you know, Japan did reap many benefits leading up to when they had to cancel or postpone the 2020 games. And now they’re hoping that they’re going to be able to actually host the games and receive the fruits of their labor. So they are, you know, looking at both media exposure as well as economic impact. And also, it’s the long term, as we call it, horizon legacies. So they’re hoping that now with these venues, they’re going to be able to host other major events in those venues, and to also let their citizens participate and utilize those venues.


Jonathan Bench  5:42 

And certainly Japan has gone through a lot of infrastructure improvements that they’re hoping to hoping to cash in on right, I mean, that you you spend the time, building up your venues, updating the venues, building new venues, and then the prospect of not having anyone come to offset all of all of those, you know, that their tourism industry, all the new hotels have been built, that those all those relationships that were built with the idea that there would be you know, like you said, a 16 day pay off initially. And then and then all those legacy events afterwards. So certainly, I feel as I’ve been reading the news, and we’ll talk more about about Japan later, I think, but I do my heart kind of hurts for a country that, you know, where you get geared up to host the Olympics. And then and then something happens. And the question is, can it can it remain or can and not


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  6:27 

know, I think in Tokyo, you know, where there’s going to be changing is that there will not be as many, you know, celebrations outside of the Olympic venues themselves. Initially, they had to, they were going to hold Olympic experiences where you know, jumbotron TVs and everybody could gather and cheer on, even if you’re on the teams, even though you’re not inside the venues. So there’s going to be less what we call activation for spectators, less hospitality. You know, they’re the people who are coming over, they really want them to go to the events and go home for everybody to stay as safe as possible.


Fred Rocafort  7:09 

Lisa, as a soccer fan, I have to ask, other than the difference scale in terms of how many countries are represented? What differences, if any, do you see between World Cups and Olympics, from your point of view? I mean, are there any meaningful differences in terms of what we’ve been talking about, or more or less, would you say the the events are very similar in character.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  7:37 

From a management perspective, the World Cup is extremely easy. You have basically one big event per day in a city. Unlike the Olympic Games, you have 30 events happening at all to the hours many overlapping. So the combination of trying to figure out the flow of, of spectators coming in and out getting the athletes to practices, getting them to their venues on time getting them fed the logistics around a multi sport event, like the Olympic Games, is far greater than that of a World Cup where a city is managing and looking over, you know, one, maybe two, three venues in a city. Now, Qatar is going to be different, because you can drive an hour and a half from one end of Qatar to another. And you’re going to now have you know, I think seven stadiums in that small space. So you’re going to have multiple World Cup matches happening in a small area. And so that will more replicate the Olympic model, then other hosts world cup host cities in the past.


Fred Rocafort  8:59 

Since you brought up the next world cup, and without going into some of the thornier issues that are coming up with regards to that event. But looking at this particular issue that you brought up the fact that you’re talking about a very small country, obviously a very wealthy country that does have the financial ability to undertake an event like this, but still you have probably at some level, there’s going to be issues involving how these venues can be used afterwards. Right? This is not a country that has a major national league, for example, that can that can really make use of that. But also looking at it from that perspective. The fact that you’re you’re condensing what is typically an experience that includes a large country, many cities. Do you think there’s something there that maybe should be taken into account when it comes time to awarding events to countries and without wanting to discriminate against the smaller countries? Could we at least perhaps entertain the thought It might make sense to get a group of smaller countries involved when it comes to this, rather than opting for this model that, at first glance at least seems to be somewhat ineffective in terms of making, making the most out of out of resources.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  10:18 

Right, Qatar is going to have a huge challenge on how to fill those stadiums afterwards. They have plans, but we all know, the population is just not there to utilize such large venues. So close together. You know, Greece had a hard time afterwards that the biggest legacy that Athens has, as an Olympic host, I believe, is that their metro system was built and improved. Before they had terrible congestion. And now they have a new metro system that was fast forwarded due to the Olympic Games, the venues are not being used, but the transportation tremendously benefited the host city. So, you know, every host city gets something out of hosting. and Qatar will, you know, they are looking at it as sport diplomacy, raising a profile trying to bring in more tourists. But in the end, I think they already have tremendous sports facilities over there that are underutilized. And so just how they’re plans on trying to have everybody use them is, is still in the works. Unfortunately, I was recommending that you have temporary ones where you can really reduce the size or even just get rid of the stadium altogether. Because the expense of upkeeping is, is really what’s going to hurt them in the future.


Jonathan Bench  11:53 

Am I mistaken, Lisa, and thinking that there have been Olympic Games in the past that have been spread across more than one country? Or is it always been limited to a single host country?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  12:03 

It’s always been limited to a single host country. I mean, in 1956, they had to have a question outside of Australia, because of the there was a disease going around in horses. But there, it’s always in one city, world cap has been hosted in two countries, Korea and Japan. But other than that, always, these mega events have been held in one country.


Jonathan Bench  12:28 

So it’s hard to talk about international sports and not talk about scandals that tend to plague these sports or these, these different industries from time to time. So let’s focus on on doping allegations I’m always on it’s just the I don’t know, always fascinated by Russia. Okay, so Russia’s systemic doping programs from I can’t remember which Olympics it was, you’ll be able to fill this in for me. I’m just kind of curious, can we can we ever really believe that a games or, you know, a mega sporting event is pulled off without any kind of cheating? Is everybody tainted to some degree or I mean, because, you know, you think about the, the world of cycling and, you know, when athletes taking some kind of custom kind of medication that helps increase their, you know, safely increase their, their heart rate capacity. I mean, there’s all kinds of, I feel like all kinds of gray lines across everywhere, when we’re talking about what medications can be considered illegal and illegal, what kind of you know, someone’s doping, and someone’s not. So can you talk a little bit about kind of the world of the world of professional athletes, and in those scandals that tend to come up from time to time?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  13:35 

There’s a few things that go into doping in sports. One is that, you know, the pressure to continue to improve and, and when, you know, there’s more money involved. So there’s a lot of pressure, there’s prestige, I mean, Russia had that they’re the host, and all hosts always want to win more medals. So they almost do anything possible to win. And if that means, you know, going to far reaches of ways to cheat with doping. That’s what they did in order to win the medals and and show that they’re the best country ever. In in sports, and then it comes to so that there’s the competition that you know, pushes everybody to succeed. You know, we always laugh that the Olympic motto is swifter, higher, stronger altius fortius you know, is that the best motto to have? Because it really does then say okay, how are you going to get there is the means any way you get there is fine. So that’s one thing. The other one is we call it the fox guarding the henhouse. Many sports representatives are the ones that are on like WADA and those organizations that are trying to catch people cheating. So if you have those with a stake in the sport, do they have an invested interest in catching those people cheating, because, you know, looks bad for their sport, right? And, you know, third is medical advancements are faster than the people trying to catch that. And so there’s more money being invested in trying to cheat the system and trying to invent new ways to cheat, then the, the money into enforcement and detection. So, you know, there’s incentives to cheat, it’s hard to catch, you know, and stay on top of the advancements in cheating, and then those that are trying to catch them may not be the right people in place. So there are new organizations that are independent now of sports, athletics has a new independent body, and they feel that that’s going to really help.


Jonathan Bench  16:12 

It reminds me of kind of our general practice of law, right? I mean, you’re talking to a couple of lawyers here. And that’s always the pace of business always outpaces the pace of laws to regulate the business. And so it, it’s a common refrain in all the industries we work in is that, you know, developments happen in the business, people run with it. And then and then the regulators pick it up and say, Well, maybe there’s an issue here, maybe there’s not. And so it does tend to go ahead of that several years. So I’m curious, then this is a moral question or a moral calculation for you. Do you think that with a country like Russia, that temporary honor of winning a great number of medals being a top of, you know, top of the podium, is that? Does that outweigh the scandal that that came later? Do you think that Russia was tarnished more, by having risen up so high and then fallen versus not having achieved any what they might consider greatness at the games?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  17:06 

You know, this is a complicated discussion, because with Russia, there was many things going on. In terms of Sochi, where it was position, some people believe that the Sochi Winter Olympic Games were a decoy for there quickly, soon after invasion into their neighbors, that it was an opportunity to have military forces into that region of the country. I am not a expert in Russia, politics or warfare. So this is just what I’ve heard, there could be other reasons for the build up of Sochi. And hosting the Olympic Games, because it was very ironic how, within two weeks of all the fanfare, and I can tell you being one of them over there, the media was so skeptical at first, by the end of the Olympic Games, those games were great. I really felt everything ran smoothly from a spectator perspective. They were fun, they always had music going. It was, you know, beautiful. And everybody’s opinion, were wow, this is great. And then two weeks later, boom, they started the war with their neighbors, so you know, they got a lot of buzz for a while, and I’m not sure. You know, what people, you know, thinking. But for them, it was a success.


Fred Rocafort  18:48 

That’s interesting. I know, one or two, at least one I there might there might be more than one person who, who actually went to the World Cup in Russia. And they, they had very good things to say about the experience when you were when you were talking about that aspect of the games and at Sochi, it reminded me of that. I remember prior to the World Cup, I wonder, you know, because frankly, when people go to Russia regularly, you know, for for during during regular times, you know, experiences are mixed, let’s just say so it was actually kind of surprising. Everything I heard from journalists from fans from friends of mine who actually went to the World Cup was very positive so so clearly when they want to they can they can put on a put on a good show.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  19:35 

My experience with World Cup in Russia was also tremendous. My my students and I, you know, we had an enjoyable time. It was a beautiful country. And, you know, we always had to remind the students is what they’re seeing reality. And, you know, it’s easy to put on a show for a month. Without knowing what’s going on behind closed doors, or behind the scenes, so but from a spectators perspective, everything was was perfect. And it ran very well.


Fred Rocafort  20:12 

They even managed to make sure the Americans wouldn’t be there competing. The Russians had a perfect, perfect world cup as far as they are concerned. Now, I wonder, you know, how much how much of a role did they play in the refereeing and those games in our region now, just kidding… maybe not? Let’s um, gonna take a step back and also looks slightly in a different direction. Let’s turn to the topic of sport marketing. as Jonathan mentioned in the intro, you wrote a book on the subject. So let’s let’s just consider some some basic questions. What what exactly is it? What exactly is sport sports marketing? I’m sure that like I like everything else. There’s what people might think at first glance, that it involves, might be a little bit different in in practice for people out there who might be interested in this as a as an industry or a career, what what are some of the opportunities that are out there for for people who might want to work in sports marketing.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  21:13 

There’s two definitions of sports marketing. So there’s the marketing of the athletes, the teams, the leagues, the competitions, the venues, and then there’s marketing through sport. So there’s marketing of Nike, through athletes, there is marketing of, you know, Bose headsets through the NFL. And so there’s really two paths you can go of, you know, actually marketing and selling tickets or selling sponsorships. Or you could be on a brand side of where you’re utilizing the sport property to market your product. So how many more hamburgers can you sell through a sponsorship of the Washington Capitals? You know, how many more shoes can you buy by endorsing Michael Jordan? You know, these are the type of things two different paths that you can get careers in. And so now, sports marketing is heavily reliant on social media, becoming a content specialist, can you create good content, including graphics, make it engaging, make it fun, making it worthy of people to come and follow your content? Because it’s all about revenue? Now I start my classes, how do you spell sport? And it’s, you know, M O N E Y Why? Because without money, you can’t pay the players. So you know how we talk in class about sports marketing? How are you generating that revenue? And again, it’s through tickets, sponsorship, broadcast bytes, how are you getting more people to watch? Now with TV ratings going down, that doesn’t really provide a clear picture. Because we know Gen Z, they’re not watching linear TV, they’re watching on streaming, they’re watching more highlights. So we need to study and focus on how to best calculate and measure the true fan base that sports has. We do know Gen Z In surveys, they say they’re less likely to be super fans, avid fans, because they have so many different things that they’re interested in. So all the studies indicate that Gen Z are less avid fans, and that they’re consuming completely different than any generation before them. So the real challenge for sports executives right now is to how to, you know, reach and engage those younger people to ensure that we have a strong fan base continuing on. I know from my son, like he won’t sit and watch a full length in the entire game. Even if he is sitting, he’s doing something else on his phone. So trying to capture and knowing their habits of dual screens or three screens at once is important, but we need to still count them for our sponsors. Because, you know, otherwise, you just say Oh, TV ratings are down. But that’s not really the true picture. And in fact, Disney just spent 20 about 25% more on their rights for the NFL. So obviously they understand that A lot more than just linear TV rights or TV ratings that should be counted.


Jonathan Bench  25:08 

So Lisa, where are the lawyers in all of this? Every industry has lawyers involved, and certainly the world of sports marketing, you know, agents contracts, there have to be lawyers everywhere made probably more than people want, which is typically the case. So if there are any listeners who happen to be lawyers who happen to be very interested in in the world of sports marketing, where can they fit in when they want to be engaged with this industry?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  25:32 

One of the major challenges right now is over IP. So you have so many different platforms that people can consume sport, who has those rights? And even on social media, you know, an athlete posts something is that their rights? You know, how can they commercialize around whatever they’re posting, if it’s on somebody else’s platform, you know, just even thinking of slicing and dicing media rights now over so many different platforms. So a lot of attorneys are in there understanding, you know, IP, and who, who gets what, in these contracts. There’s also sports betting is big, and has a lot of attorneys looking at that, not only from the perception of the legislation that’s happening in different states, but then in, you know, vetting and ensuring the integrity of betting in different states. You know, sponsorship contracts are getting more and more complicated. There’s always going to be standardized language. But brands that are entering the sponsorship, they all have in House Counsel or use out House Counsel, to to look at contracts, you know, the Olympic contract is 600 pages long. So there’s a lot of people looking at those contracts, you know, and and with, with COVID, and with everything else, there’s more and more clauses that are adding to these these contracts. The other thing is sport nonprofits. There’s many organizations using sport for social good. And that’s another whole area that lawyers are involved with setting up these nonprofits or making sure that they’re following proper procedures.


Jonathan Bench  27:35 

And I think just in the last year, didn’t wouldn’t a court rule that the NCAA athletes now can derive income from their images, the use of their images, which they hadn’t been able to do before?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  27:47 

Yes, that’s a burgeoning area. However, it hasn’t gone into effect yet on a national level, the NC double A postponed their vote. California, Florida, there’s a few states where that legislation supposed to go into effect in July. NCAA is still concerned because you don’t want two states to allow athletes to have the right to convert, you know, to benefit on their commercial entity name, image and likeness. Because Britt for recruiting purposes, you know, if those athletes, they’re going to go to schools in California or go to schools in Florida, if they feel like they can prosper financially, more so than going to say Penn State where that legislation hasn’t been enacted yet. So the NCAA is trying to do a umbrella amendment saying that athletes can benefit from name image likeness, but there’s a situation with the Department of Justice that says there’s an antitrust issue with it. So there’s a whole area of law around name image and likeness and even if all schools go with, you know, athletes allowed name image likeness, they can carve out certain categories like cannabis do, do they want all their athletes going around and marketing cannabis? Do they want all their athletes going around marketing alcohol or cigarettes or some other products that are not representative of the university if that athlete is representing the university as well as themselves? Another issue is what happens if the school has a major contract with Nike? Can that athlete go and sign with Adidas and then there’s a conflict of interest there. So there’s a whole number of issues around name image and likeness legislation.


Jonathan Bench  29:49 

So let’s turn now to COVID because we know that COVID certainly has affected everyone. But how has it been dealt with in in the world of sports are there certain Sports industries that have done a better job in preserving their fan base and connecting with them than others. Even even with the truncated seasons that we’ve seen lately,


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  30:09 

There’s certain sports that are more impacted than others, for example, will, you know MLS, they depend heavily on ticket sells for revenue. So without having fans in the stands, their revenue basis is completely dissolved, whereas the NFL depends more heavily on television. And so for them, the NFL hasn’t been hit that hard, and they were able to figure out a way to continue to play. But if they hadn’t been able to figure out a way to play, they would be in dire straits right now. And it’s the same thing with the NBA, they knew they had to go in a bubble and play a certain number of games, because in the contract, it said that if they didn’t play X number of games, then the broadcast money could be returned. So I, you know, when Black Lives Matter happened, and they started boycotting games, the NBA was like, Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to make somehow to make up those games, because they had, we’re just making the minimum number of broadcast games.


Fred Rocafort  31:21 

It’s been really interesting to see how the different leagues have have adapted when I first heard that the European leagues at least right, they were they were looking at playing games without a live audience at first, you know, I was very skeptical because I always associate empty stadiums with penalties that are imposed on teams, right for fan violence or whatever. And, you know, these games are, there’s usually that negative coverage that accompanies the games and really tends to detract from what happens on the on the field. But in practice, it’s been, the experience has been better than I than I expected. Although, I have to, I have to say, I think the the fact that some of the broadcaster’s are piping in fake crowd sounds and the fact that they’re creating these visual effects so that it is so that it looks as if the stadium is full, I do think it has an impact at first I was I was skeptical and thought it would be better not to have that. But there have been a couple of games that I’ve watched, where they didn’t have any of that. And in some cases, that the audio wasn’t good enough so that you’re getting too much of the audio from the field and the sidelines, which I would have thought before all this started, that would be a good thing to be hearing what players are saying and what the coaches are screaming at them. Not quite, there’s been a lot of things that that I’ve discovered that have surprised me, but but overall, you know, at least as far as the European leagues go, I’m glad that they are pushing through, and I’m glad that they figured out a happy medium, you know, I certainly have benefited from, from their games as a way of keeping sane during during the pandemic.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  33:00 

I actually had the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. And so I took students down and we volunteered, but we’re actually inside the stadium during game day. And you know, the way that they had, you know, I think it was 30,000 people pay the $100 to have their face, blown up and put on a lollipop stick and put in all the seats. And it really did add to the atmosphere. just seen on TV. I know people said, Oh, my gosh, it was packed. I’m like, no 30,000 of those people were fake. And, you know, as I said, people were following the COVID rules for the first half of the game. I think as alcohol started streaming more, you know, more people were taking in alcohol, coupled with the fact that they knew that their home team was going to win. They kind of forgot about COVID for a little bit. And so all the protocols went out of the window for the second half a little bit.


Fred Rocafort  34:01 

Well, I’m sitting in Florida right now. And I can tell you that COVID awareness isn’t great, even when the alcohol is flowing. So yeah, I can I can see how, you know, I can see how things have some of the discipline withered away, right as the as the game went on. And sure enough, as you know, it was an interesting situation, right to have the hometown team playing right. I guess it made it particularly challenging for for the organizers.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  34:27 

And moving forward,  it really depends on the municipality, which which the team is in because here in the Washington DC area, we’re very strict about not letting anybody go anywhere. And so it’s going to be more difficult for say DC united to have fans come in then say Florida, right. And but, but however, even though on paper, when you ask people a survey, you’re like, yeah, I’ll go back to the state. Um, many teams that have opened their stadiums, for fans to come back have had trouble selling tickets. And, you know, some people said, Well, maybe it’s the way it’s configured because they usually can only do like two or four tickets at a time, you know, you just can’t go up and by five or go up and buy eight tickets, because they’ve had to set it out in the stadium a certain way. Others say that maybe it’s just not worth the hassle of having to wear a mask the whole time, or time and follow different procedures. But, you know, I think, for the most part, people are like, you know, I’ll pass I can watch it at home. The question is, when this does come to an end, or people feel more comfortable having the vaccine, will they come back? I am still bullish that they will people like people, the majority, and they are going to want to go back to their fandom and cheer with other people versus staying at home. And it’s just not the same experience.


Fred Rocafort  36:09 

And I think there will be a certain pent up desire to go and experience sporting events in person just like with a lot of other things, right. I mean, if you talk to people, some people miss going to the movies, some people miss going to church, some people miss travel. And I think that I would imagine that that there would be there will be some sort of, of spike, right as people are able to, to go do it. I mean, I know that I for one certainly have that feeling of wanting to go back when it’s when it’s safe. I I figured you know, as soon as you look back at the last year, and all of the things that you thought you would do and you didn’t do i mean that that’s certainly on my own list, that experience of going to the game and then just just being there and experiencing, experiencing it live. And speaking of that, I’m going to have to check myself here because there are many, many things that I would want to talk about, obviously a topic that’s dear to my heart. But let’s focus on one issue. We’ve already touched on this a little bit. But let’s hone in a little bit on on Tokyo and the Olympics, what’s going to happen you you already told us a little bit about what’s going to happen in terms of things that they’re not going to be doing things that they’re going to have to modify. But overall, you know, what’s going to be the resulting product, if you will.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  37:26 

the IOC has issued these playbooks for each of these different client groups. And there’s always going to be disappointment no matter what you do during the COVID time, but they’re trying to make it the best possible. And remember, the Olympics are normally a made for TV event. And there’s 100,000 spectators 80% of which are locals anyway, nationals of the host country. Many people think there’s more internationals, but 80% of tickets sold or always to the host country. So right now the plan is that athletes would come in the quarantine time has yet to be determined. But they would need to take tests before come in take tests be quarantined outside of the Olympic Village. So we here for a short time and then come in to the Olympic Village five days before their competition, and then they would need to leave the Olympic Village 48 hours afterwards. So with that means that many athletes won’t be there for opening ceremony, they cannot stay and just keep partying for the whole two weeks after they get done. So you know, it’s not going to be the same experience. But they’re going to be able to compete and for the majority of athletes, that’s what they’re there for. They’re there to show their you know, excellence at the games. And in terms of the spectators, they will have limited fans. The majority will be from Japan. I think each National Olympic Committee will be able to perhaps bring some of their highest donors. That’s what I’m thinking, as well as you know, their sponsors and some family and friends of athletes. I think they’re going to discourage as many just Olympic fans that have no connection to stay home and watch it on TV. So that’s what is happening. I’m right now. Japan, if you want to go to Japan, you can go to Japan, you can travel there, so I’m not sure if they’re going to put in any restrictions leading up to the games that will make it more difficult for somebody just to enter Japan. As I said before the spa All their activations have really minimized if not completely ceased. Because the, you know, corporations, big corporations have, you know, their staff are not back yet in offices, they have very strict policies on traveling. So if the executives of these big camp corporations cannot go to the games, it doesn’t look like they’re going to be hosting many people, maybe they’ll have some local domestic type of activities, but even then, the challenge of doing it in a safe way is is always an issue.


Jonathan Bench  40:41 

So Lisa, let’s talk for a minute about the world of sports. This is a an even farther, you know, 30,000 foot view of what’s happening within the United States. And maybe this is happening around the world as well. But I remember a time in the past, when I was your student, you discussed that the US was becoming a one sport environment for children and teenagers who wanted to become professional athletes. Can you talk a little more about what that means? what it means for kind of their, their training regimes, and whether you think it’s good for the world of sports that we are forcing kids into these one track sports, when they might be good at two sports, and maybe it’s better for their than physically to be cross training, rather than just doing one sport at a time.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  41:22 

Right? Similar to what I said about why people start doping, right? Is there such high intensity on winning and being competitive and getting that highest, you know, college scholarship, that, you know, kids are starting younger, and we’ve professionalized youth sports, we’ve made it so that, you know, it used to be all run by volunteers. Now, by the time kids are in fourth grade, you know, they they’re anywhere between 10 and 12 years old, they start getting on these travel teams that they have paid coaches. And then once you get on a travel team, those coaches if they’re paid, they don’t want you to miss they want you to play soccer, falls winter in, you know, spring, they don’t want you to go off and play lacrosse in spring, they don’t want you to go off and play baseball, they want you to stay with them, keep paying them. And you know, the parents get convinced into this whole system, as well as like, Oh, yeah, my son has to play your son or daughter has to play this sport year round in order to get that college scholarship. In fact, you know, many times there’s, there’s studies out there that show a multi sport athlete ends up being better prepared, less injuries, they’re using different muscle sets, they’re using different body parts. And so they’re still active, they’re still doing high hand coordination. They’re still, you know, learning defense on offense. But it’s not as taxing on the individual, the body. You know, we’ve seen the statistics about these young kids and getting the Tommy john surgery, just you know, even before high school just because they’re so worn out of, you know, throwing pitches, overuse injuries. And this is what happens in specialization. So there’s many people now trying to do like different campaigns that says, Don’t retire kids, I’m not sure if you saw the Dick’s Sporting Goods ads and Aspen Institute and ESPN, they all came together that said, you know, don’t retire kid, because we have so many youth that are burned out by the time they get to high school, they’re like, I don’t like this anymore. It’s no fun. I’m, you know, my coaches yelling at me all the time. I’m having to travel every weekend, you know, I can’t be a kid, I just can’t go play. I’m like this professional. At this youth level, that doesn’t really make a difference in the end, except for the very few that get college scholarships. And the fact is, those college scholarships in swimming, and baseball and tennis are so few and they’re not full rides. And parents are often spending more on paying those coaches and spending hotel room nights and all of that. That doesn’t even equal out in the end.


Jonathan Bench  44:29 

So how does this specialization compared to what happens in countries where it’s a the government is more involved in hand picking those athletes from early ages and putting them into, you know, into schools or specialized training regimens for that particular sport so that they can, for instance, become the number one, you know, World Cup, World Cup dominating team.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  44:52 

Yeah, that’s not where we are. It’s more than parents. I see that. It’s usually parents that get Their children involving a sport. And then they get sold on continuing down a path. And, you know, they convince you that your son or daughter needs to go on to the next level. Even in my own experience, we really thought my son would be better off staying at, you know, a more recreational level. But other people on his team wanted to move up. And my son like the other players, right, so we got convinced to go and the coach ended up just being really bad. And, but we we stayed. And to this day, I’m still shaking my head, because sure enough freshman year in high school, my son said, I’m done with soccer, I can’t play it anymore. And we’re convinced it was because of that coach that we paid. Because we weren’t strong enough to say, Nope, let’s get out. You know, it was a peer network, all of our friends, all their kids were in it, so why not keep going? My advice to other people is, you know, your kid, are they having fun? Yes, they’re having fun with their friends. But do they need to be in that environment? Would they be better off playing different sports, and then seeing their friends outside of that? But I mean, I can tell you from a parent’s perspective, oftentimes parents use it as their social outlet. You know, I’m having withdrawals right now my son’s, you know, a senior Well, with COVID, everything stopped. So now we don’t get to see the parents of our kids teammates. And we don’t get to, you know, have that camaraderie, our social network. So parents often use their kids for the social network too.


Fred Rocafort  46:52 

Lisa, it’s been a it’s been a fascinating conversation, there’s a lot more that we could we could cover, certainly, I have a lot of follow up questions. And I guess we’ll, we’ll we’ll need to, to schedule another time to talk a little bit more about these these issues. But before, before we let you go, we’d like to ask you for any recommendations that you might have. For us and our listeners.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  47:15 

Yes, for anyone interested in getting involved in the sport industry, there’s three things I always say you need is one is education, you need to be aware of the terms the background, the landscape, the understanding of how money is made, what how money is distributed, who the stakeholders are. So that’s the education part of it, then there’s the experience, you need to get those, you know, internships, you need to get that hands on experience, to volunteering, game day night staff, you know, even if you have a day job, you can always get some experience working events. And then the final one is the networking. It’s still a lot about who you know, and there’s, you know, 1000s of people 1000 people applying for jobs. And to get in, you need the knowledge, the experience, and then a little help to get your resume seen, or at least written well enough that it will get passed through the machines, the the AI that’s out there now. So understanding all of that, really, really helps. There’s that another area that we haven’t talked yet about is eSports. Many people aren’t sure if that’s a real sport or not. But there are jobs in that area now. And it’s very similar to traditional sports. So you have sponsors, you have a team, you have to take care of them, you have a schedule, you have their nutrition and their workout. So every job that’s in a traditional sports team, and league is now replicated in eSports. For recommendations I’ll just summarize is that I encourage you to look at a formal education program, whether it’s we offer a short term online certificate program, or a full degree, try to get as much experience as you can. And that’s also why many people join a formal education program because they can help you get in. And then also build your network by listening to podcast and get involved in conferences like the same conference.


Fred Rocafort  49:32 

Are there any podcasts in particular that you’d you’d recommend?


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  49:36 

Well, Front office sports, sportico, sports Business Journal, those are all really good resources for you to keep up with what’s happening in the industry. The clubhouse is a new and a trending social media platform, where you can go in and listen to a lot of sports people talk about what’s happening in the industry you know, there’s there’s just so many different options now for people to learn and engage in the sports industry.


Fred Rocafort  50:11 

Thank you, Jonathan, anything you’d like to recommend this week?


Jonathan Bench  50:14 

I have two recommendations this week. The first is an article in the Nikkei Asian review and you know that I’ve access Chris called Nikkei Asia now, I like to keep up with it because they they do a very good rundown of, of Asia generally. But because Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. It’s It’s especially with 2020 now 2021 Olympics. I like I like getting my Olympics coverage from Nikkei as well. So there’s a recent article from the new Olympics chief who says that the games, they’re still planning on having spectators at the games as much as they can. So if you’re interested in keeping pace with what’s going on there, Nikkei has great coverage of the upcoming Olympics. The second recommendation I have is for the the white powder snow in Park City, Utah. So I went snowboarding this past weekend with a friend of mine. And I have spent a lot of time in Utah but I have never gone skiing or snowboarding. And I’m not a skier or snowboarder, so this was my first foray. And he took me on a couple of blues in that on a black diamond or two and so I have plenty of bumps and bruises. Two days later, but I heartily recommend the the powder in Utah they recommend it or they call it as the best snow on earth right and so they’re trying to host the another Winter Olympics coming up I think around 2030. So if you happen to be interested in in that or even just trying, you know, trying a new sport, I’ll be 40 this year. So you’re trying a new sport at this agent in your life, I recommend to taking some risks and, and weathering some bumps and bruises for for the new experience. Oh, Fred, what about you?


Fred Rocafort  51:52 

Yeah, so I’d like to recommend a movie that I saw last night. It’s one of these choices you make on Netflix. That seems like one thing when you select it and then turns out to be something completely different. This this particular movie is called the Death of Stalin and I was expecting some heavy historic drama. As it turns out, it’s a comedy dark humor obviously but the end result was was pretty interesting. They do a pretty good job of explaining what happened when when when Stalin died, which was a very obviously very momentous event really shaped the direction that the Soviet Union took going forward. But they managed to do it in a in a different format. And it’s it’s legitimately funny, they have some really good actors. I mean, some some real real talent. Steve Buscemi, Michael Pailin, the guy from Arrested Development, the name escapes me right now. But so something they have some some real real heavyweights there. But at the same time, the story is true to to the historical narrative, it achieves the that rare feat of being both historically informative, and and funny. For anyone who has any interest in Russian Soviet world history and wants to use this as a jumping off point to maybe probe the issues more deeply, this guy would recommend it. And just to give you an idea of how well they they do this, as I was watching I was you know, as Lisa was saying, you know, I’m not exactly in the you know, a member of the of the current generation, but still do suffer a little bit from that inability to focus on one screen at a time. So I was doing a little bit of research. If anyone knows anything about Stalin in that historical period, the head of the KGB, actually, I don’t even know if it’s formerly the head of the KGB. But let’s just say the guy who was in charge of his of security, this guy called lower nt beriah really bad piece of work. And one of the things that I read online was that I mean, he in addition to all the other atrocities that he committed, he was a sexual predator. And one of the hallmarks of his actions was that he would give his victims or he would have his assistance, give his victims flowers, and that was supposed to represent some form of consent, their acceptance of the flowers, and in this movie, they actually, there’s there’s a couple of points where they where they pick up on that, and then they incorporated into the script. So whoever whoever came up with the script really paid a lot of attention to, to the historical details, as I was able to confirm through through Wikipedia and other infallible sources, so no death of Stalin. That’s, that’s my recommendation. And with that, Lisa, thank you so much for coming on. Really enjoyed this conversation. Great to have a conversation about sports. I think this might be the first time that we really focus on on sports related topics on the podcast and that’s, that’s great.


Lisa Delpy Neirotti  55:03 

Thank you. It was great to be here and let me know if I can help with anything else.


Jonathan Bench  55:10 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, we look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Sliwoski with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmitt. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.


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