Sportsmasnhip

CalPERS unfunded pension deficit approaches $1 trillion. Who is counting?

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California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) lost around 2% of its funds in 2015/16. The fund assumed an aggressive 7.5% return. Dr. Joe Nation of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research thinks unfunded liabilities have surged to $150bn from $93bn in the last two years. He suggested the use of a more realistic 4% rate of return last year. At that rate, CalPERS had a market based unfunded liability of $412bn (or the equivalent of 2 years’ worth of California state revenue). At present Nation now thinks the number is just shy of $1 trillion using a 3.25% discount rate. He expects that the 2017 data for CalPERS will be out in a week or so which should give some interesting perspective as to how much deeper the pension hole is for Californian public servants.

N.B. California collects $232bn in state taxes annually in a $2.3 trillion economy (around the size of Italy).

 

The power of last place at Invictus

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Here is a picture of Dutch Invictus athlete, Alina Zoet. She was in the Women’s Heavy Weightlifting today. She finished stone cold last. However she got the biggest cheers and dragged out what is so important at Invictus. She had to bench press 50kg.  She failed first go. When she failed the second time she burst into tears as a failure. Distraught wasn’t even close to capturing her emotions. The packed crowd applauded her none-the-less. She was giving her best

Third attempt. Bundle of nerves. Crowd going absolutely bonkers in support.  Then silence as she prepared her last attempt. The bar comes down.  Her left side was letting her down again. The crowd goes completely apeshit as she battled with the bar. Two whites and one red light. Alina has done it! While the Aussie lifters cleared the podium for medals everyone in that hall knew the biggest winner had been the last place. But a personal best and tears of being unconquered. An emotional moment.

We got to congratulate her afterwards and she was overwhelmed with tears of joy. It was powerful.

As a general observation just wandering around the games, the sheer number of prosthetic limbs boggles the mind. Yet those who have them aren’t moaning about all the garbage that clogs our social media feeds on how hard we think we have it. We’ve got it easy.

Deepest respect for those who serve.

Ana Carrasco – first woman to win a motorcycle world championship

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21yo Spanish rider Ana Carrasco has become the first woman to win a world championship in motorcycle racing. She won the World Supersport 300s crown. If there was ever a better display of rising to a challenge in a sport dominated by males, this was it!

CM wrote in January about her first ever race win last year on equal machines with the boys. Shows that grit, determination and skill can make the difference without this recent desire to throw handicaps to even it out. Great job indeed to win on identical bikes. CM remembers seeing her in 2015 on the RBA Racing Moto3 bike in Motegi. Impressive.

We shouldn’t forget the performance of Michele Mouton who finished runner up in the 1982 World Rally Championship against an all male field with zero free kicks? She won four races in the season. Call it raw talent. She didn’t require complex formulas and spreadsheets to give her a handicap. She won on her own merits. Isn’t that the thrill of competition?

Will financial planners bring out a Naomi Osaka ETF?

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Japanese investors can get star-struck with investments. In 2015, popular pop-idol band AKB-48 saw the stocks of companies it was sponsored by surge 136% relative to the market. Aggregate sales of those companies surged 46% and 30% over the following two years. Such is the ‘hayari‘ (boom) culture in Japan. Corporates know this.

Since the US Open win by tennis star Naomi Osaka, sponsors are lining up to sign her. Prior to the win, Nissin Foods, WOWOW & Yonex were already sponsors. Nissan has just signed her. Since the win, the Topix has risen a tad over 6% while Nissan, Nissan & WOWOW have risen 7.5% in aggregate. Yonex has jumped 12.2% Early days to be sure, but the likelihood is that if she is sponsored by some smaller less liquid stock names these stocks could well fly.

Forget fancy models and esoteric investment strategies. Find whatever Osaka will be sponsored by in Japan and outperform through popularity over underlying earnings performance.

Any financial firm that launched a Naomi Osaka basket would likely see massive inflows and be able to charge higher fees on the back of it. Will the marketing departments wake up?

Tennis code violations – who is worse?

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Some argue that the 2018 US Open was biased against female players. In the singles men played 3,176 games in the recent tournament. Or 1.538x more than the 2,065 games played by the women. Yet the stats show men suffered 86 code violations vs 22 for the women or 3.91x. So on balance men 2.54x more likely to suffer a code violation than women on a per game basis. Is it the blokes are just more ill-tempered? If we use the 1.538x ratio of more games played, the boys get penalized (over the last 20 years of grand slam violations);

4.2x more for racket abuse

1.6x more for audible obscenity

2.8x more for unsportsmanlike conduct

2.5x more for verbal abuse

1.2x more for visible obscenity

1.5x more for time wasting

The girls get penalized more than boys in the follwing ways.

60% more for coaching

10% more for ball abuse

Although trying to compare ‘bias’ in tennis with respect to code violations is kind of irrelevant. Certain players ‘blow up’ more than others. McEnroe got many more warnings than Bjorn Borg.

Just for the record, at the US Open Djokovic had to play 136 games for his $3.8mn vs Osaka’s 86. So for each game Osaka earned $44,186 vs Djokovic’s $27,941. Maybe this is why he made his comments about men deserving to be paid more? If we look at the runner ups, del Potro won $17,961 per game vs Serena Williams’ $26,428. So Serena’s. 2nd place earned her almost as much as Djokovic win.

Naturally a better judge is not games played but viewership. The Serena Williams/Naomi Osaka final drew 3.1mn viewers on ESPN, more than the 2.07mn that watch Djokovic/del Potro the next day. If women get 1.5x the audience of the men in the final could one argue the men need to play 1.5x longer to earn the same? Arguably Serena was fighting to match Margaret Court’s record which was part of the boost.

To be honest women’s tennis can be more entertaining to watch in so far as frequent sustained rallies. Men’s tennis can often be a blast fest of aces and blistering returns of serve.

It is likely that Osaka will attract higher than average audiences going forward. Perhaps she is entitled to claim higher prize money than the men based on the extra attention she brings to the sport?

If we look at golf, Tiger Woods used to be paid $300,000 just for attending a tournament regardless of how poorly he finished. If Naomi Osaka helps click the turnstiles surely she deserves a cut of the gate?

Those bloody racist Aussies

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Aussies. We love backing underdogs and relish in self-deprecating humour. Being put down in Australian culture is generally regarded as a compliment. Yet when we see bad behaviour, Aussies generally have no issues calling it as they see it.

We care little if we offend those perpetrating crimes. Take our national cricket team where several members were caught cheating in Sth Africa. The backlash was immense. We’d rather lose than cheat as a nation although it maybe the only solution left to wrest back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks after 16 years…..

Of course the satire of Mark Knight’s cartoon about Serena Williams’ temper tantrum got the activists riled up over supposed racist overtones. How quickly CBS made reference to a “white” cartoonist. If he’d been black and drawn the identical cartoon, would that have made it better? Why no complaints at all the other caricatures of Williams? That’s right – not a peep.

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That’s how the victim industry operates – find a narrative and then build concocted evidence to support it. Certain people might owe Knight a debt of gratitude.

Take this example. Author Leslie Honore   gladly used the viral nature of the cartoon to overtly plug her own book. This technically dilutes the nature of supposedly being 100% for the sisterhood in Serena’s corner, does it not? Makes for a great marketing tool though!! Surprised the author didn’t offer a free set of steak knives if bought within 20 minutes. True colours indeed.

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As for Aussies being racist, what will be evident when Naomi Osaka walks on court at the Australian Open in Round 1 is that everyone will cheer her. Not to apologise for the cartoon’s supposed misportrayal of her looks nor to make up for the appalling crowd display in New York but to honour a true bonafide sportswoman. We love everything about her. How could we not?

In all of the controversy surrounding the US Open final Naomi Osaka has oozed class with her sweet, bubbly but calm demeanor. Instead of apparatchiks demanding an open apology to Serena for sexism, equality and racism not once did any of them think to mention Osaka’s restraint or authenticity throughout the “me, me, me” nature of the saga. It was all about the champ! Williams’ prior tantrums were conveniently forgotten. Don’t forget Serena openly threatened Umpire Ramos that the thief would never be allowed again on ‘her court!’ So in that vein, Osaka was not an equal. She was privileged to stand across the net from the Queen.

Sure the racquet smasher with a coach who openly admitted he cheated is worthy of an apology. We should be proud to have the morals of such a role model drummed into kids. If little Johnny or Veronica don’t throw tantrums while representing their school we should put them straight in front of the counselor to work out why they haven’t been triggered. Don’t even start with the 9-yo brat refusing to stand for the Australian national anthem. Thanks Kaep!

If we judge the 23 grand slams and 10s of millions every year in endorsements and prize money for Serena , the global tennis apparatus has done a dismal job trying to beat her into submission if that is truly the claim. She’s got away with murder with her antics for years.

Throughout all Nike must have minted her name over the years as all these racists lined up to buy her clothes. Surprised the loonies haven’t called for cultural appropriation of white kids who wear Serena branded tennis clothing.

Maybe the lesson for Williams here is that playing against someone almost half her age that can blast 200km/h serves can teach her a thing or two about being a truly great champ in all aspects.

Poor old Naomi Osaka must be thinking the woman she once idolized is nothing like the person on the TV she thought she knew. Don’t worry Naomi, we wouldn’t want you to change anything about you!

Even if you don’t end up breaking all the records what better advocate for the game of tennis to have you as a global ambassador than a dummy spitting, venomous prima donna failing to cope with being dethroned. May there be many more kids who aspire to your level of maturity.

As an Aussie, CM speaks on behalf of many here who would openly say “we love you”. You can’t get here soon enough!

The tale of two interviews – Osaka wins 6-0, 6-0

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Such is the weakness in today’s journalism that Serena Williams’ post match interview played to her being a victim, not a bully in her loss to Naomi Osaka. What were they worried about? If they didn’t treat the multiple grand slam winner nicely they’d lose access in the future?

She played like a brat – smashed rackets, denied using her coach, wailed at the umpire and then suggested “sexism”, “women’s rights” and “women’s equality”! Seriously? Why would Osaka feel the need to apologize for winning had Serena not stirred up the crowd to boo her? Poor old Osaka’s rights didn’t matter to Williams.

Naomi Osaka blew Serena off the court with superior tennis skills. She didn’t whine once. She deserved it. How disgusting for Osaka to be booed. What on earth would possess any fans to do it?

If only Americans could have seen Osaka’s interview on Japanese TV late last night. She was like the girl next door. Not pretentious or gloating. She was so dazed by what she had done that she repeatedly answered in English when questions in Japanese were lobbed at her. It wasn’t deliberate or calculating in the slightest. If anything she gave one word answers for the most part. Yet she oozed warmth and class.

Osaka deserves every endorsement she gets because she is exactly the type of demeanor lacking in professional sports these days.

Serena can play victim all she likes. There must be plenty who feel for the hardship at all the millions she has won over her career. Sexism and women’s equality? Does she forget blasting a lineswoman and female umpires in the past? What about Osaka? One journalist asked Williams did her motherly instincts kick in to comfort Naomi Osaka? Were you watching the same game?

Osaka embodies the best parts of what modern sports should look like. Authentic to a fault. She  can only make one smile at her sweet personality and ‘dizzy’ approach at speaking arrangements. No pretentious pieces to her puzzle at all. No heavily scripted media trained praise of her sponsors.

Serena on the other hand represents the type of sportsperson that lacks grace. Talk about role models for children. Yet the way to win these days in sport seems to be to driven by  controversy. Nike must be proud. Perhaps the sporting goods brand’s next ad can replace Kaepernick with Serena:“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing your opponent