Friday Grab Bag: Super Bowl prop bets, anyone?

Sure you have purchased a square or two in the office pool and made a friendly wager on the outcome of the game, but that is scratching the surface. Did you know you can bet on how long the National Anthem will be or if the singer will wear gloves? Will the game go overtime?

A look at which are good and bad can be found in a number of places but I liked the ones published in SportsOnEarth and one that was in Football Outsiders as they give some context to what you should and should not do.

Is the Super Bowl a boon on the local economy?
Every year we see a number of time-honored myths rolled out about the Super Bowl. Top day for avocado consumption. No. Top day for spousal abuse. No. That it is a financial boon to the host city/area. Maybe no as well.

A piece in the New York Times points out that since past predictions of prosperity by the NFL were destroyed once the methodology was public the same might be true now. The current estimate, between $550 million and $600 was determined in secret, they will not say who did it or how they arrived at that number. However advertisers are flooding the host city so that they can be seen prior to the event so maybe they know something they are just not telling us.

Winter Olympics broadcast schedule
In case you actually can watch the games from the comfort of your sofa or a cozy corner pub here is a complete viewers’ guide to the events, when they will be broadcast. It should be noted by figure skating fans that the first events take place prior to the opening ceremony.

For a breakdown on what will be interesting as well as the challenges that the broadcaster NBC could face look over to Sports Illustrated and a piece by Richard Deitsch. Will the network let possible bad news from the surrounding area taint its broadcasts?

Why no respect for American soccer players?
With the World Cup now looming on the sports horizon ESPNFC did a piece on why it seems that European based leagues do not value American players and why increasingly that feeling is being reciprocated.

The nice thing about the piece is that it does not jump to a conclusion but points out how different development systems, short earning window and other factors all play in the decisions that players make in where they want to play.

Another black eye for Sochi?
The upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia has received a series of bad news with intolerance, corruption and potential terrorism issues rising to the forefront. Now a recent piece from ABC shows that there could be another piece of bad news on the horizon.

They are saying that one of the key figures in helping Russia win the games over Austria and South Korea was a man named Gafur Rakhimov. The trouble with Rakhimov is that he is considered by U.S. authorities to be one of the top four or five people in the heroin trade and is under indictment in Uzbekistan.

Ruckus Scores Wi-Fi Deal for Soccer Stadiums in Brazil — But Will Wi-Fi be Missing in Action at Brazil’s 2014 World Cup?

The curious wording of a press release out today is making us wonder: Will in-stadium Wi-Fi be missing in action during the soccer World Cup next year in Brazil?

The thing that got us asking this question is the release today of news from Wi-Fi gear vendor Ruckus Wireless, which trumpets a deal for more than 360 Ruckus wireless access points, to be deployed in two of Brazil’s biggest soccer stadiums. But the release doesn’t mention the World Cup at all, and there is no date given for when the equipment may be installed.

While our guess (we are waiting for word back from Ruckus) is that there is some World Cup wireless rights deal that precludes supplying vendors like Ruckus from using the term “World Cup” in any announcements, the press release got us looking to see if any of the other stadiums that will be used in the month-long tourney already have or have plans to get Wi-Fi before the soccer starts. So far, we haven’t been able to find anything concrete that spells out whether or not Wi-Fi will be available at any of the 12 venues across Brazil. Our short history in covering this market tells us that if there isn’t a press release saying that Wi-Fi will be available, you can bet that it probably won’t be.

For the sake of the thousands of futbol fans who will no doubt be traveling to Brazil for the matches, we hope we’re wrong. But the best info we have found in a limited bit of Internet searching are a few articles from ZDNet’s Brazil Contributing Editor Angelica Mari. For the most part, the information seems to come from hopeful press releases, like this one about a plan for Sao Paulo to invest $22 million in a free Wi-Fi project, something Mari notes has been promised and not delivered many times before. In July Mari reported that the World Cup said it would have free Wi-Fi at all matches, but again, there were no specifics about deployments and her cautionary line, “But the actual ability of mobile providers to deliver is questionable,” should probably be taken as a pretty good warning that not all is well when it comes to Wi-Fi at the games.

For Ruckus, the deal to put wireless access points into two of Brazil’s biggest stadiums — the 71,000-seat National Stadium, also known as Estádio Nacional de Brasília, and Arena Octávio Mangabeira (also known as Arena Fonte Nova, depending on who you ask), a 50,433-seat facility in the city of Salvador — is another international win, and proof that Ruckus gear is passing the test when it comes to dense public facilities. But whether the gear be active in time for World Cup action is still unknown. UPDATE: Ruckus has confirmed that the gear is scheduled to be working by next June. Apparently we were also correct in assuming there is a rights deal that precludes the use of the term “World Cup” in any such announcements.

Unlike the London Olympics, which were amazingly the most un-wired games in history, the 2014 World Cup is looking like it might be a bit of a communications nightmare, given that local citizens like Mari routinely note that the country’s cellular infrastructure and services leave much to be desired.

Another possible scenario is that the Ruckus deal is just part of a bigger deal, where Ruckus would be one of several providers to the consortium of Latin America telecom providers (Claro, Oi, Telefónica, and TIM) who are in charge of World Cup communications. That might explain why a Ruckus release didn’t say World Cup, or mention other stadiums. Word on the street is that press announcements for World Cup infrastructure are being kept tight to the vest, so maybe we’ll hear more soon.