Thursday, August 28, 2014

Milyse Lampkin

The San Antonio girls basketball community has lost one of the classiest, most respected leaders in the GBB community. Sam Houston coach Milyse Lampkin, has reportedly passed away. 

Coach Lampkin helped guide hundreds of young women while coaching high school and club basketball over the years. Coach Lampkin, with grace and style, was a true role model, always offering an encouraging word to those in need of positive reinforcement.

Rest in Peace, Coach Lampkin.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How "sponsorship" works!

McDonalds is in the business of what? The vast majority of people will say the obvious, hamburgers. Fast food, happy meals, chicken nuggets, etc. Wise investors realize that McDonalds sells franchises that sell hamburgers in order to conduct its true business, real estate acquisitions. McDonalds is a one of the world's richest real estate companies. While individuals can "own" a McDonald's  by being approved for a franchise, the real estate under every McDonalds in the country is owned by the McDonalds corporation. Owning commercial property on the corners of pretty much every well populated city in the country is masterful! Not burgers but land. This brilliant and misunderstood business concept repeats itself in grassroots girls basketball.

The club I co-founded was  "sponsored"  by a shoe company last year.  Here is how most "sponsorships" work in girls basketball. A club becomes good enough to earn free shoe company product ranging between $2000-$8000. In some cases, some well performing clubs can get $10,000-$15,00 in product. Unlike the boys side of the game, where free product and money can reach six figures, girls programs do not get actual financial sponsorship from shoe companies. Being that girls basketball is not an affluent sport, any free product given to girls to help celebrate the girls game is a good thing. The negativity surrounding the "sponsorships" comes through the misleading perceptions spewed by "sponsored" teams and parents.  Mind you, I was one and in full disclosure, chose not to continue to be one PARTLY  because...... I can count!

Sponsored teams are required to attend a particular number of events. Let's do some math. Lets say Team Blue is "sponsored" by a shoe entity for $6000 in product. With major discount in shoes, uniforms, bags etc., we will assume they can outfit four teams of 10 players with the $6000 in product. Hamburgers right? But further inspection shows that the "sponsored"  team now must attend 2-3  required events. Now, please take two of the four teams and buy plane tickets for the 20 players at a discounted price of $300 a ticket, a total of....$6000. Cool, a break even right? No! The two teams still have not paid tournament registration fees, hotels, car rental, food , and gas. Assuming that 20 girls will share 5 rooms at $100 a day for 6-9 days is an easy $3000-$4500, just for hotels. Add tournament fees and the other expenses and Team Blue is easily  $10,000 in the RED! As you can see, "sponsored" does not mean free.

Are girls shoe sponsors selling hamburgers or are they in the real estate game? The answer should be obvious. Team Blue outfits 4 teams with "free" product. However, the club director sells his/her additional 5 teams shoes and uniforms. A "sponsored" discount allows Team Blue to buy a shoe and uniform combo for $120 instead of the $240 retail price. Team Blue goes to the affiliated 5 teams, or 50 players, and sells them the combo of uniform and shoes for a $150, a $30 markup, yet still a 33% discount from the retail costs. A win win. The kids needed shoes and uniforms anyway, they received them cheaper than retail and are part of a "sponsored" club and all the prestige that come with it. It's a win for Team Blue since now they have offset the previously mentioned $10,000 debt by $1500, now only down $8,500. If they can duplicate this to bring that down even further, great, if not,  that's a pretty expensive trophy or title to be chasing.

Shoe companies are doing a terrific thing by "sponsoring" girls basketball clubs. Girls basketball is hardly a lucrative market in terms of brand enhancement, unfortunately. I truly hope this changes. Shoe brand enhancements to the bottom line comes with the Derrick Rose's, Lebron James' and Steph Curry's. "Sponsored" teams are the franchise owners selling real estate, in the form of product  for shoe companies. That is what the business is all about. Elite, Best, Circuits, National Championships etc, all are the chicken nuggets and hamburgers of the true business, selling product.  For this reason,  a lot of "sponsored" franchise owners sell elitist proclamations in order to enhance their personal club brands. They know that they better keep  slanging those happy meals( acquiring the best players) because the land under their businesses ain't theirs!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Big Game Big Name Hunting!

Spring 2007 and the TV was on all night. ESPN would typically replay SportsCenter throughout the night and I would awaken with stats and game scores seemingly memorized. Sleeping with the TV on has been a longtime habit, albeit one that does not lend itself to peaceful sleep. This particular night, or better yet, early morning, I awoke to some interesting noises.  I initially heard them in that state between sleep and being awake. "Oh my GOD, Oh my GOD, Oh my.......GOD! ", exclaimed a woman, repeatedly! The exhilarating calls of a woman in the middle of the night awakened me and I immediately began to wonder what the heck was on TV. Did I mistakenly fall asleep with the TV on HBO or Cinemax or some channel that broadcasted steamy programming at night? This woman was excited, thoroughly interrupting my sleep! My eyes opened and adjusted to the screen to find what extreme pleasure engulfed this lady; she killed a dear. ESPN showed a hunting program in which the exhilarated woman killed her first Buck(I  quickly learned what a Buck is after moving to Texas). Confusion couldn't describe my thoughts as I listened to this woman go on about the "greatest feeling in the world" as she spoke about.....killing a dear (wordplay intended)! Really?! A dear or Buck or any animal being killed makes you act like this? This is ecstasy for you? I soon learned when watching hunting shows, the response of this woman was not an isolated one. Grown men speak of the same joy when taking down "Big Game". Sure enough, 10 years into girls club basketball, many club coaches and directors behave the same about winning the "Big Game" or in some cases ,"Big Name".

They are easy to spot, the Big Game hunters of girls basketball. They prominently display the trophies and or tournaments they have won on websites, t-shirts or better yet, in their homes. Rarely will you find personal trophies of their youth on display, trophies that indicated their athletic prowess, achievements or successes. Like the Big Game hunters using rifles to take down unsuspecting  animals, the Big Game hunters of girls basketball  are usually well off financially. They can "buy" the best players and claim to be great coaches and leaders while attaining victory in the process. Like the animal killers renting land leases to shoot animals for sport, their money and the connections that derive from their money,  are the weapons that allows them to claim be "experts". Interestingly, many of these Big Gamers celebrate their trophies more that they celebrate the young women who earned free educations in the pursuit of the famed hardware.

The Big Game hunters of girls basketball can also be called the Big Name hunters. Here is how it works. You train a kid from youth. She was awkward, unsure of herself and big for her age. You taught her the game. You showed her parents that an education can be paid for using the great game of basketball. You dug in your pocket to help cover the inevitable shortfalls in tournament fees, uniform costs, food and gas money, etc. Unlike the deep pockets of soccer and volley ball parents, "elite" basketball is typically not the place where the very affluent play. Then it happens. Once the kid becomes a potential asset, the Big Name club director comes in to the kid's parents to say they you are not sufficient anymore. You and your guidance is now "holding the kid back", if she truly wants to be the best. They promise her parents that she would be an All-American if she joined them. She would be able to attend any college, if she played for them. She would play against the best competition with them. Big Game, Big Name, Big Thangs! For sure! If the parents do not bite on the Big Bait, they will go to you, the club coach that raised something from nothing and offer you the same. Of course when you join the Big Name, you will eventually realize what you have done is "lose" the kid you worked so hard for, worked so hard to help. They will fold your club into their Big Name club and in the process, you lose your identity, developmental philosophy and eventually the young star(s) that you have groomed since the beginning of her playing career. 

Here is some insight into the mindset of some Big Game hunters. A few years ago, I spoke with a high school coach who had recently traveled to Africa to hunt Big Game. This coach was somewhat meek and coached with a new age parental style of rule by consensus. Knowing the timidness of the coach, I was surprised to learn that this coach traveled to a different continent to kill exotic animals as a hobby. When I inquired as to why Africa and what animal(s) met their end during the visit, the coach gave me an interesting reply. The coach went on to say that he/she was doing a service to the animals of Africa because if not for ORGANIZED HUNTERS, poachers would indiscriminately kill the animals of the land. Wow! That's sort of the same logic that some Big Game club hunters use when they are hunting for players in the their quest for fresh trophies to mount on their walls. Apparently the people of the land are nothing more than poachers, not qualified hunters, according to some the Big Game people. People of the land (true grassroots developers/coaches) and Young Bucks beware.......