Monday, May 25, 2020

Garber Memo about leaks... leaks

The Athletic has been reporting on a steady stream of COVID-19 MLS items in great detail over the last few weeks. From plans to play a tournament (and how) in Orlando to negotiations with the MLSPA - it's all there.

Well, as it turns out, MLS is not directly providing that information like they normally do to get attention. All this information has been leaking out to the press without the authorization of the league and Don Garber appears livid about it.

Last Friday Garber sent a memo (which itself leaked to The Athletic) out to the league that threatened termination and fines up to $1 million dollars for anyone leaking information. Later in the memo it states that Garber has hired an investigative firm to figure out who is leaking information.

Two of the writers at the Athletic have very close ties with MLS. One of them even worked and wrote for My hunch is that they don't have to go asking for this information, close friends that are likely irritated with plans in Orlando, as well as the proposed and current wages cuts, are passing it along.


Garber added that the leaks could “severely imperil the future of our League.” 

As soon as it became clear that this pandemic lockdown was going to last longer than a couple weeks, I came to the conclusion that MLS was likely going to be in some financial trouble. Gameday revenues are the lifeblood of the league as TV deals still have yet to be more than a small fraction of what others get.

Garber's fury at the leaks is a sign that MLS was likely working out something with ESPN and Disney independent of what the NBA is working on (they want the same thing in Orlando). Not so much a competition, but I think MLS was trying to have a more achievable plan than the NBA. Interestingly, the NBA released a very similar plan within a day of the MLS leak.

With large organizations, the top decisionmakers often don't get the details on their desk until it's polished. They are too busy or don't give two shits what underlings are working on. Now that all the information is out there, everyone at ESPN has a chance to evaluate it and give their two cents (ie. kill it) before it has been completely hashed out. This MLS idea in particular looks far from a finished product.

A basic way to imagine the impact is to think of it as a superhero movie that has a lot of leaks. Or the recent video game leak with the Last of Us 2. In my own career, I've had multiple projects torpedoed before all the kinks were worked out. This happens often with ideas that appear abstract to non-stakeholders.

Once it's out there, EVERYONE will poke holes it in and or steal it. Intellectual property should be guarded well.

It wasn't here with MLS, and they will be paying a huge price.

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