Benefactors help fund USA Wrestling

August 10, 2016

The NY Times reports on the big paydays that U.S. Olympic wrestlers might attain if they are able to reach the medal stand in Rio.  This is due to wealthy donors supplementing the income of amateur wrestlers.

Notably, Jordan Burroughs could earn $500,000 if he strikes gold once again in Rio.  Burroughs earned a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London.

The bonuses are courtesy of former wrestlers that went on to successful and lucrative careers.  They are helping fund the athletes due to their passion for the sport.

The article names Mike Novogratz and David Barry as the major donors helping Team USA.  They established a fund which helps wrestlers train for the and keep their dreams of the Olympics alive.   The article states that the fund has dispersed $1.225 million to both male and female amateur wrestlers.

The US Olympic Committee pays $25K to gold medalists, $15K for silver and $10K for bronze.   The extra cash from the fund would help the athletes as most do not receive healthy sponsorships as some swimmers, track athletes or gymnasts may receive.

Burroughs received a $250,000 bonus for his win in 2012.  Burroughs paid off his house and paid for his wedding with the money.  He has been offered double if he wins again in Rio.

Payout Perspective:

This is a nice story considering that most Olympic sports will not have a professional future.  Thus, the extra money given by Novogratz and Barry are great for the athletes.  Not only does it keep athletes like Burroughs in the sport (instead of gravitating to MMA or pro wrestling), it promotes the sport as more Americans will see the success of it.

ESPN to provide coverage at Wrestlemania

March 30, 2016

ESPN will be airing “SportsCenter” live from Wrestlemania this Sunday taking place at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.  It will also feature live cut-ins throughout the day.

The move is a “specific content play” as the network attempts to appeal to ESPN viewers that also are WWE fans.  The network had been featuring WWE in segments which now lead up to Sunday’s WrestleMania.  This past Monday, ESPN anchor, and former WWE announcer, Jonathan Coachman made a guest appearance on Monday Night Raw to promote the event.

This past January, ESPN also featured Lucha Underground stars to promote its return to the El Rey Network.  Last year it aired from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where Summerslam took place.

(H/t via Sports Business Daily)

Payout Perspective:

The coverage is good for the WWE and promotes its network.  It reflects the fact that ESPN is attempting to broaden its reach.  While pro wrestling is considered “sports entertainment” and not purely sports, ESPN will be giving it the coverage like any other sport.  It’s clear that it is a ratings-grab which the WWE does not mind at all.

The Wrestling Post – 01.25.14

January 25, 2014

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  In this edition we talk about WWE stock and an actual WWE Hall of Fame.

WWE stock hits 52 week high

On a day in which the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell nearly 2 %, the WWE stock hit a 52 week high and was up slightly at the close of trading on Friday.  WWE stock was as high as $21.05 and fell off slightly to $20.84.  Even at a company high, it is still listed as “Buy” by several research firms. Its current market cap is at 1.57B.

Payout Take:  Remember when you could have bought WWE stock for $12?  The positive press from the WWE’s upcoming network has helped raise the company profile.  But the stock gains may be attributed to the upcoming rights fee deal that will likely happen by the end of February.

NBCU sweetens deal with WWE Hall of Fame

Speaking of the WWE rights fee deal, NBCUniversal, seeking to retain the WWE is offering the company a Hall of Fame at its Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.  According to the New York Post, the Hall of Fame is part of a “final pitch” to Vince McMahon as its exclusive negotiating period ends February 1.

Payout Take:  The WWE rights fee deal will be something to watch next month.  While a Hall of Fame is nice, it will not substitute for the monetary value the WWE seeks for its signature franchises (i.e., Raw and Smackdown).

Wrestling saved from Olympic extinction

September 8, 2013

The Sports Business Daily (subscription required) reports that Greco Roman Wrestling will return to the 2020 Olympics.  The vote Sunday brought relief to a combat sports community that rallied around the effort to save the sport from virtual extinction.

Wrestling received a first round majority of International Olympic Community (IOC) votes (49) beating out baseball/softball (24) and squash (22).  Despite winning the IOC by a fair margin, the sport’s representatives were grilled with questions ranging from corruption to gender equality.  Concerns about wrestling’s governance and the perception that its rules were difficult to understand were reasons why the sport was initially dismissed from the Olympics earlier this year.

When news that it would be dropped from the Olympics came down earlier this year, many MMA fighters with wrestling backgrounds rallied behind efforts to save it.  For its part, organizers proposed changes to the sport including adding two women’s weight classes.

Payout Perspective:

The effort to save wrestling from being dropped from the Olympics shows how individuals with a common cause can affect change.  Yes that is altruistic to think but the social media effort to save the sport and the many fighters that rallied for support showed how much the sport meant to each.  Moreover, amateur youth programs have a better chance of surviving allowing the next generation of wrestlers the opportunity to dream of the chance to compete in the Olympics…or Octagon.

Olympic Wrestling Makes Final 3

May 31, 2013

SB Nation’s Luke Thomas reported via twitter that Olympic Wrestling was selected by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board as one of three sports that may be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.  Baseball/Softball and Squash were the other two.

In September, the full 100 member IOC will vote on which sport to include in the 2020 games. The announcement on Wednesday brought cheers from the members of Olympic Wrestling supporters in attendance.

Payout Perspective:

The “Save Wrestling” movement was touted by many MMA fighters and received support from the UFC.  Former Olympic Gold Medalist and current pro-wrestler Kurt Angle picked up the cause as well.  The movement to save wrestling was picked up via many platforms including social media.  Still, its not certain whether all of the lobbying will help the efforts.  We will see if the efforts to “modernize” the sport will appeal to the IOC and help get it back into the Olympics.

Wrestling considers makeover

May 15, 2013

MMA Junkie (via USA Today) reports that Olympic Wrestling will be undergoing an “MMA Makeover” in an attempt to reinsert the sport in the Olympics.

One of the major proposed changes is to do away with the traditional wrestling singlet in exchange for MMA-type fight shorts and a tight microfiber t-shirt or just going without a shirt.  In addition, the sport’s leaders are contemplating staged weigh-ins, walkout music, lighting and video screen replays.

The Chairman for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling has met with Dana White and Bjorn Rebney about the presentation of the sport.  The goal is to make the sport more marketable and appealing.

Payout Perspective:

The proponents of preserving Olympic Wrestling are pulling out all the stops to return the sport to the Olympics.  While rebranding and repackaging the sport to make it aesthetically pleasing will help, it still faces challenges with the essence of the sport.  Frankly, its not an easy sport to understand if you were to just tune in.  Educating the casual viewer of the sport is essential.  Its also interesting to note that the showmanship and flash that is sometimes criticized as “poor sportsmanship” appear to be things that could help the sport become attractive to a wider audience.

Wrestling eliminated from the Olympics

February 12, 2013

Yahoo! Sports reports that the International Olympic Committee has cut wrestling from the Summer Olympics.  Wrestling will be removed from the 2020 Olympics as an effort to “streamline” the games.

Wrestling, and not the modern pentathlon, will be removed from the 25 core sports.  The move occurred via secret ballot amongst IOC leaders.

Via the Associated Press via Yahoo!:

The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

Wrestling, along with baseball, softball, karate and five other sports will now have to apply for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics.

Payout Perspective:

While the move does not directly affect the world of MMA, it’s easy to see that the sport has roots in amateur wrestling.  One can think of the many successful fighters coming out of an amateur wrestling program.  Without wrestling in the Olympics, many individuals may not take up the sport as competing in the Olympics is one of the main goals in an amateur wrestler’s career.  For the sport of MMA, this could mean fewer individuals with a great background in wrestling.  This could mean that more MMA gyms teach the sport to aspiring fighters.