Sports

Winners and losers in the business of sport

Opinion: NFL once again shows it’s dominance with the massive draw of the draft.

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Bulls of the Week

Nowhere on my sport business bingo card did it suggest that former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would be the American sports media personality of the week, but here we are; watching the six-time Super Bowl champion bask in the afterglow of the overwhelmingly positive acclaim he has received for his performance on the NFL Draft Day show hosted by Pat McAfee on Thursday.

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As a dour NFL coach decked out in his trademark grayscale Belichick hoodies, he rarely seemed interested in his obligatory media conferences, let alone insightful, precise and forthcoming the way he was in his ESPN debut.

Yet that is the multiplier effect of the NFL Draft. It seems to make anything and everything larger than life. As the culmination of three months of largely blasé speculation among media pundits and fans alike, the draft has owned primetime for each and every one of the 15 years it has been broadcast in the evenings.

This year, its opening round is projected to draw a viewership of north of 12 million in the U.S. and more than 275,000 in person at this year’s mission control in Detroit.

And that’s all to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell read names off a list.

No awe-inspiring runs. No spectacular catches. Not even a dramatic 55-yard-plus field goal. Just names off a list. In the U.S., the announcement of those names eclipses the NBA’s five-million-plus average national audience per game for the Denver Nuggets’ first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, and the million-viewer audiences on both sides of the border for the opening round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs this week.

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Bears of the Week

A .500 win percentage isn’t going to cut it for the Toronto Blue Jays, but here we are after Jon Schneider’s much-vaunted offence couldn’t score more than 10 runs in losing three of four games this week in Kansas City.

Things won’t get any easier for the 13-13 Jays against Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend, nor over the summer in an American League East led by the 16-8 Baltimore Orioles and the 17-9 New York Yankees.

The good news is that Toronto has 136 games left and is just four games off the mark in their division. Their pitching has been solid and you have to think the bats will heat up at some point.

Having said that, the bad news is that Rogers is counting on a summer of contention to help move the turnstiles at the Rogers Centre. That’s always the business imperative, of course.

Yet the expectations are higher than ever this spring with the venue fresh off its much-anticipated, two year, $400 million renovation that was a job very well done.

Even critics of the old SkyDome acknowledge that the revamp makes the 35-year-old stadium one of the better venues in MLB, especially in terms of the meeting places that are magnets for younger fans.

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So far, however, the big bats expected to draw paying customers have been largely silent, most notably Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And that gets people wondering whether they’ll miss their window all together.

Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders 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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