Tonight ESPN hosted a one-hour infomercial for NBA star “King” LeBron James, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he announced to the world his intentions to play for the Miami Heat next year. And given the amount of time and effort spent on this infomercial… I mean, production, James will also undoubtedly figure out a cure for global warming while spending time on the beaches of south Florida.
Now with that out of the way, it got me thinking. How much money did LeBron put into this broadcast, or how much money did ESPN spend to get one hour of Lebron on prime time last night? I’m not going to say that it’s more than USA Rugby probably has in its marketing budget for the next year, but it’s not an insubstantial amount. And that’s the problem for a minor sport, such as rugby is in the United States – we can’t even compete with a LeBron James love-fest infomercial.
Without serious sponsorship revenue coming in to the sport, in addition to a grassroots high school and college outreach program, rugby’s growth in the states will remain far below lacrosse, much less a sport like soccer. What would you like to see rugby in the U.S. do to expand its reach?