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Bulls of the week
It was a bull market at the box office for Gran Turismo, the auto-racing movie based on the video game series by Polyphony Digital and the true story of teenager Jann Mardenborough, a boffo Gran Turismo gamer who went from playing the screen on PlayStation to navigating the real world of pro racing.
It made US$8.5 million in its first Friday last week, becoming the hottest ticket in cinemas last week on the strength of US$21.3 million in domestic sales and US$58.3 million worldwide.
It was also a good week for Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Atlanta Braves.
Acuna became the first player in Major League Baseball history to record 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in the same year, getting to that threshold on the strength of a grand slam homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In what may very well be a preview of the National League Championship Series, Acuna won the individual showdown between him and Mookie Betts, arguably the two prohibitive favourites to win MVP in the NL.
The Braves go into the weekend at 88-45 and 8-2 in their last 10. That of course puts a smile on the face of Canadian-born general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who is looking for an encore to his team’s 2021 World Series title.
His former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, are 2 1/2 games out going into the weekend, needing to feast on the three worst teams in baseball — the Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals — to find their way back to a wild-card position.
On that note, the expanded wild-card format means that only the Royals and the A’s are officially eliminated with one month to go in the 162-game regular season.
The real scoreboard watching is focused on the nine teams that are in position or within three games of the final wild-card berths. Yet that watching is considerably more than it would be without the wild cards and it should keep those nine markets engaged through most of September.
Yet there was no more bullish sport business storyline this week than the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ women’s volleyball team’s large format stadium attendance record set Wednesday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
The ‘Huskers drew 92,003 fans to a game and concert event, a new high-water mark for women’s sports worldwide. It was another big moment for women in sports less than two weeks after the FIFA Women’s World Cup was won by Spain before record crowds in Australia and New Zealand.
Bears of the week
That Cup win should be the only thing people in Spain are talking about in these last days of summer. Beating England 1-0 is an historic achievement by the Spanish women.
Instead, it has been overshadowed by the stubbornness, petulance and selfishness of Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales. His conduct in the winning match continues to be the biggest sport business soap opera in Europe and it’s certainly no chef’s kiss.
Equally disconcerting — albeit in a very different way — is the departure of John Herdman from the Canadian men’s team to Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.
To have that kind of parting three years out from the chance to co-host the 2026 Cup is not the kind of storyline that suggests things are where they should be internally at Canada Soccer.
Marketing communications executive and sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht — a co-founder of what was TEAM 1040/TSN 1040 in Vancouver — provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.
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