Sports and Statistics: Partners in Promotion

LOS ANGELES, Jul. 20, 2015 – For promoters of events seeking media coverage, statistics are a friend worth having.

In today’s distracted world of alerts, apps, tweets and snaps, having reference points for your event creates natural drama, storylines and opportunities to be noticed. Take Thiago Pereira, for example.

Thiago Pereira celebrating his 2007 Pan Am Games 200 m Individual Medley gold medal

Don’t recognize the name? You’re not in Toronto for the 2015 Pan American Games, now underway. Pereira (pictured above, from the 2007 Pan Am Games), a veteran Brazilian swimmer, is big news there.

During the five days of swimming competition, he won five medals – three of them gold – to give him a total of 23 Pan American Games medals, the most ever won by a single person. He surpassed the mark of 22 won by Cuban gymnast Erick Lopez from 1991-2003.

Now Pereira is no slouch, having won an Olympic silver in London in 2012 in the 400 m Individual Medley. But he’s also not Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Katie Ledecky or one of the other widely-recognized stars of worldwide swimming,

But his chase – and success – in setting the all-time individual-medals record at the Pan American Games created interest where there would otherwise be none. That’s the value of statistics.

Sports fans of all stripes know this from their own experience. Baseball fans yearn for the next .400 hitter. Basketball fans wonder if anyone will ever surpass Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game scoring record of 100 points. Swimming and track & field fans are glued to the possibilities of world records in any event.

That’s why it’s so important to have the right statistics at hand well before your event to look for angles that can be promoted to news media and spectators. It’s just as crucial to keep good statistics during your event, in order to recognize outstanding performances and raise your event’s profile. And widely overlooked is the need to comb through the results as soon as your event is complete to see where a new promotional opportunity is lurking.

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Perelman, Pioneer was honored to assist the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) as the provider of historical results, multi-medalists, World and Pan American Games records and the first-ever all-time lists of best marks made in the Pan Am Games in swimming and track & field.

We’re delighted to have provided the data foundation on which Pereira was recognized as the biggest medal-winner in the 64-year history of the Pan American Games. His achievement will be one of the stories for which the 2015 Games will be remembered. We’re glad to have played a role in helping him make history.

[Pereira photo credit: Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons.]

(If you’re interested in assistance with your mega-event, go ahead and Contact Us right away!)

The ultimate team banquet . . . for the city of champions!

March 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Los Angeles 

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 16, 2015 – Imagine having a city-wide Little League banquet, but with some of the best players in the world … from all sports!

That’s essentially what the Los Angeles Sports Council hosts annually with its unique “Los Angeles Sports Awards” program. The 10th edition was held last night at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel before more than 600 attendees.

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It’s much more than a good time with some star athletes. It’s the major fund-raiser of the year for the Sports Council, which has brought more than $1 billion in economic impact to the Los Angeles area through major sporting events since its founding in 1988.

The impact comes from the participation of the entire sports community in the area:

  • Area teams including the Angels, Dodgers, Clippers, Lakers, Sparks, Ducks, Kings, Galaxy, UCLA, USC and the other Division I colleges;
  • Area venues and sports-related companies such as AEG, ESPN, Fairplex, the LA84 Foundation, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, Santa Anita Park, Universal Sports Network, and many more;
  • Television coverage of the Sports Awards, which has been enthusiastically shown on the Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket regional networks for many years.

For the 2015 show, which honored the top moments of 2014, the format was changed to showcase the individual award winners:

  • Co-Sportsmen of the Year: Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim);
  • Sportswoman of the Year: Gracie Gold (Olympic bronze medalist in the 2014 Winter Games team figure skating competition, pictured below);
  • Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers);
  • Executive of the Year: Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles Kings);
  • Greatest Moment of the Year: The Kings winning the Stanley Cup, for the second time in three years.

Los Angeles Sportswoman of the Year Gracie Gold

Fox Sports also presented a special High School Sports Awards to Jordan Walker of Santiago High School, who was paralyzed while playing football in November 2013, but continues to make strides toward recovery and living a full life despite the injury.

(Check out the event program here.)

Perelman, Pioneer was privileged to produce and stage-manage the event for the eighth consecutive year. We scripted the show for the presenters and helped coordinate the operation of the live program on stage. It’s one of the best things we do all year.

From the attendees and sponsors, the Sports Council will net more than $100,000 from the evening. Just as importantly, the event helps to promote the Los Angeles brand as one of the most outstanding in sports.

No other city does this, but others should.

(If you’re interested in assistance with your mega-event, go ahead and Contact Us right away!)

Track and Field sags as athletes gather to fight . . . for pennies

October 10, 2012 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Track & Field 

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10, 2012 – It’s election season in the United States, and more than a few voters aren’t sure whom to believe: Democrats, Republicans, corporations, unions, Super-PACs, not-so-super PACs and on and on.

Same for track & field, even in the afterglow of an outstanding Olympic Games in London. Consider the concerns of IAAF Council Member and Athletics Kenya chair Isaiah Kiplagat in a September story from the Chinese news agency Xinhua:

November’s IAAF Council Meeting set for Barcelona, Spain could provide a watershed for some of the competitions whose death knell has been sounded including the World Cross Country Championships that are now biennial.

Speaking on the proposed reforms in Nairobi on Tuesday, IAAF Council Member and Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat also affirmed his nation that has excelled in some of the events under review was concerned about the future of the country’s distance runners.

“Events like World Half Marathon, World Cross Country, the Continental Cup (formerly World Cup) and World Youth championships are getting no bidders and are almost dying.”

“Television is also becoming a problem since they do not want to cover some events because they are not attractive and they do not get sponsors,” Kiplagat said.

“We are trying to ask the IOC to include the World Cross as part of the Winter Olympics but logistically it is difficult to get 24 competitors from each nation participating accommodated.”

“At the moment, we are discussing at IAAF which events can be sustained and those that cannot and plans are underway to contract a strong marketing company that will advice on which events to be scrapped and retained,” the Council Member stressed. …

“It is a worry but continents are being encouraged to have their own cross country series. If there is no cross country, then there will be no track since every athlete who wants to be a (distance) champion must go through cross country.”

But the IAAF, at least its Secretary General, doesn’t see the situation as all that dire:

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) general secretary Essar Gabriel has admitted that athletics can take measures to improve its standing in the global marketplace, but has knocked back suggestions the sport needs a major repackaging.

Gabriel’s comments come after top Nike executive Charlie Denson last month said the company would seek to play a “large part” in an athletics series modelled on cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL). With the London Olympics now over, attention has again turned to how athletics can maintain the interest levels generated by the exploits of stars such as Usain Bolt and Mo Farah in between Games. Following its launch in 2008, the IPL has become one of the world’s leading sports brands and has propelled the Twenty20 format of cricket into the mainstream consciousness of sports fans. Denson, who serves as president of the Nike brand, said athletics may attract more media and sponsor interest in non-Olympic years if it “repackaged” itself in a similar manner to the IPL.

However, Gabriel has maintained that the viewing figures generated by the IAAF’s elite events demonstrate that the organisation’s strategy is working. “First of all we have to look at the numbers,” he told SportBusiness International. “The World Championships in Athletics, the jewel in our crown, they attracted above five billion TV viewers in Daegu (2011), which could be argued was not in the most attractive time zone. In Berlin (2009) we were around eight billion and these are figures that are constantly delivered on a biennial basis and place the World Championships as the third biggest event in terms of live television audience, after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.” . . .

He added: “Can we do better in terms of the Diamond League? Yes we can, but by the same token the Diamond League can also be classed today as a success. When we look at the audience figures and talk with IMG, the agency who’s selling those rights, we are above what we expected when we first formed the Diamond League. Sometimes I hear people compare the Diamond League with the Golden League, or even before that the Golden Four, and the cumulative audience figures for the Diamond League is much higher than the Golden League. So in terms of perception, this is something that really has to be taken into account. The second thing to say is that the one-day meetings today cover the entire globe, which was not the case with the Golden League. We have now spread across all the continents so overall we can always do better, and will continue to look into that, but I think that what is in place already is a strong calendar of one-day meetings, plus World Championship events to blend well with the Olympics.”

In the meantime, Khadevis Robinson, the four-time U.S. 800 m champion and president of the Track and Field Athletes Association spoke to Christopher Kelsall of Athletics Illustrated about its efforts on behalf of professional track & field athletes worldwide:

Well, the TFAA has been in the works for a while. The one thing that made us really start to make a push was Rule 40. We really felt that the sport was not moving forward in a positive way where everyone wins. . . .

The controversial [Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter] prohibits Olympians from mentioning or promoting any sponsor during the Olympic Games unless that sponsor is an official Olympic sponsor. The rule has roots in the idea that Olympians ought to be amateur athletes -, which is a concept that ended in 1992. No one wants to go back to an Olympics that exclude professional athletes. It is one thing to regulate the visibility of brands on athletes while they are competing, but to extend regulations to what an athlete posts on his or her personal social networking site is not fair. . . .

The plight of the professional USA track and Field athlete is similar to the plight of athletes from other countries. The challenges that are faced are the challenges of making a sustainable income. The challenge of finding and maintaining quality sponsors. The challenge of having adequate health and medical benefits. The challenge of putting away for retirement.

This is madness. While soccer, rugby and cricket move ahead, track athletes fiddle around on the margins, worrying about tweeting their sponsor’s names during a competition that happens once every four years.

If I were, say, Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross, Nick Symmonds, Reese Hoffa and Ashton Eaton, I would be on a plane to New York to meet with George Bodenheimer, John Skipper and Norby Williamson of ABC Sports/ESPN, Sean McManus and David Berson at CBS Sports, and Mark Lazarus, Jon Litner and Jon Miller of NBC Sports, then to Los Angeles to meet with David Hill, Ed Goren and Eric Shanks of FOX Sports.

The goal would be to sell one of the over-the-air networks as the home of a new, weekly track & field series (with strong prize money) that would replace the National Football League on Sunday afternoons from the week after the Super Bowl in mid-February through at least the July 4th/Independence Day weekend.

Once college football concludes in the second week in January and the NFL wraps up in early February, the over-the-air networks are left with a mish-mash of basketball, hockey, golf, horse racing, auto racing and early-season baseball that meanders through the months until the rhythm of football begins again. None of these sports span the entire football off-season the way track & field does, and the opportunity to attract female fans – given the dominant U.S. women’s team – is perhaps better than in any other sport.

Moreover, the opportunity for the network to recoup some or all of its investment through syndication to foreign countries – especially Europe – is great. Consider that a 1 p.m. Eastern time meet would begin at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. in Great Britain and on the continent, in prime time.

The meet schedule – all outdoors, or a combination of indoor and outdoor meets – can be arranged to maintain fan interest; there are lots of scenarios for this and they can be worked out with the right broadcast partner. The networks have large staffs of sales executives who can package broadcast and event sponsorships and there are dozens of would-be meet promoters who would jump at the chance to promote the meets. To showcase just some of the possibilities, consider these concepts, which I whipped up as just one set of options.

For American athletes, unquestionably the world’s outstanding track nation, the goal should be to stop fighting over pennies and bring the sport into prime time. But you can’t do that if you’re worried about whether you are going to be able to tweet about it or not.

(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at

Guest opinion: “Jamaica: The Sprinters Paradise”

August 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Olympic Games, Track & Field 

LOS ANGELES, August 21, 2012 – This space is usually reserved for my own take on current events, but here is a unique and interesting guest paper offered by Professor Trevor Hall.

Hall, a dual U.S.-Jamaican citizen, earned his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins, and has taught African and world history and Portuguese culture at universities in the U.S., the Caribbean and Africa. Pac-10 track veterans may remember him from his triple-jumping days at Arizona State, where he earned All-American honors for his sixth-place finish at the 1975 NCAA Championships.

His paper, (attached here) entitled “Jamaica: The Sprinters Paradise” was completed just prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and provides a fascinating insight into Jamaica’s emergence into the world track & field scene after 2005, but only in the sprints. As he notes in his conclusion:

In the past, Jamaican sprinters accepted athletic scholarships to American universities, where some succeeded but most became burned out. But with the end of the Cold War, the birth of professional track and field, and a scientific, almost fool-proof drug-testing protocol of the IAAF and WADA–since 2004, Jamaican sprinters began to stay at home. Instead of going to American universities and running as amateurs, Jamaican athletes remain at home where they attend university, run, and make money as professionals. In Jamaica sprinters never experience cold, and do not run cross-country—they only sprint.

Hall has further comments, based on his own observations and experience, on doping, under-the-table payments of amateur and collegiate athletes, the Jamaican high-school training system and a lot more. His opinions, as expressed in the paper, are – of course – his alone and I make no comment on them other than to provide this forum for their expression. Hall can be contacted at

(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at

OG 2012 Track & Field: U.S. Olympic track team “bats” .364 in London, up 105 points over 2011 World Championships!

August 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Olympic Games, Track & Field 

LOS ANGELES, August 16, 2012 – There’s no doubt that the 2012 U.S. Olympic track & field team fared better than the 2011 U.S. World Championships team, but there is the question of why?

On the medal table, the American tracksters won 29 in London compared to 25 in Daegu in 2011, and can be explained in part by the fact that 36.4% of the team performed better at the Games than at the U.S. Olympic Trials. In baseball parlance, we’d say the U.S. hit .364 in London, against the Trials marks . . . a whopping 105 points better than the quite-ordinary .259 from Daegu against the U.S. championships. In detail:

• American men performed better at the Games than the Trials 34.5% of the time (19 out of 55 competitors), compared to a miserable 21.3% rate (11.5-54) in Daegu in 2011;

• American women did even better, doing better in London 38.2% of the time (21 out of 55 competitors), a bit better than the 30.8% (16-52) betterment rate of 2011;

• Combined, the U.S. team was better in London 36.4% of the time: 40 out of 110); that’s a .364 “batting average,” much ahead of the .259 (27.5-106) in Daegu.

Looking more closely inside these overall numbers:

Men’s team:
By event group, here’s how the men did from events included in the Olympic Trials meet in Eugene, using marks from the last level of competition competed in at London – preferably the final – but the qualification rounds if not advanced to the final:

• Sprints & Hurdles (5 events): 53.3% of the athletes did better in London than Eugene (8-15);
• Middle Distances (2): 66.7% did better in London (4-6);
• Distances (3): 0.0% did better in London (0-9);
• Walk (1 event in Trials): 100% did better in London (1-1);
• Jumps (4): 36.4% did better in London (4-11);
• Throws (4): 9.1% did better in London (1-11);
• Combined (1): 50.0% did better in London (1-2).

Women’s team:
• Sprints & Hurdles (5 events): 73.3% of the athletes did better in London than Eugene (11-15);
• Middle Distances (2): 16.7% did better in London (1-6);
• Distances (3): 55.6% did better in London (5-9);
• Walk (1 event in Trials): 100% did better in London (1-1);
• Jumps (4): 20.0% did better in London (2-10);
• Throws (4): 9.1% did better in London (1-11);
• Combined (1): 0.0% did better in London (0-3).

Clearly, the sprints and hurdles group was a strength, as well as the men’s middle distance runners, women’s distance runners and decathletes. But both jumps groups were under 37% and the men’s and women’s throws teams combined for a depressing 2-22 performance in London compared with Eugene. Both walkers were good, but were not competitive in terms of medal possibilities.

The full chart, in detail, is here.

It was previously noted that the U.S. championships for 2011 were held nine weeks prior to the Worlds in Daegu, while the U.S. Olympic Trials were only 4 1/2 weeks ahead of the Games. In 2013, the U.S. championships that will select the American team for the World Championships will be in Des Moines, Iowa from 5-8 June, while the IAAF World Championships will be held nine weeks later in Moscow, Russia from 10-18 August.

The case can be made that having the team selection meet as late as possible allows athletes to come to one training peak and then try to hold it, rather than peaking and then re-peaking weeks later. Based on the results of Daegu and London, the empirical evidence from this small sample size indicates that later might be better.

Longtime observers of the sport will remember that the team which seemed to always be the best prepared – physically and chemically – for championships performances, was the East German squad, which usually held its trials just two weeks before, registering its athletes on the last possible date allowed. Might USA Track & Field be willing to try this . . . perhaps with the Junior Championships in 2014, in advance of the first-ever IAAF World Junior Championships to be held in the U.S., in Eugene?

(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at

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