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No Messi is a Problem

The National Basketball Association (NBA) created new standards to deliver their star power on court as much as possible. As the strategy of "managing load" across an 82-game season became more popular, the NBA was dealing with fans being denied seeing their favorite players in certain games, regardless of health. The players may not even travel to away games because they prioritize recovery at home. 

The NBA has implemented rules to increase the chances of having their biggest stars on the court when fans buy their tickets.

1. No more than one star player is unavailable for the same game.

2. Teams must ensure that star players are available for national TV and in-season tournament games.

3. Teams must maintain a balance between the number of one-game absences for a star player in home games and road games -- with a preference for those absences to happen in home game.

4. Teams must refrain from any long-term shutdown -- or near shutdown -- when a star player stops participating in games or plays in a materially reduced role in circumstances affecting the integrity of the game.

5. Teams must ensure that healthy players resting for a game are present and visible to fans.

Let's turn our attention to Inter Miami and the Messi Maximization Preseason Tour. Inter Miami CF picked up their first win of the preseason in Hong Kong defeating an HK All Star side 4-1. The win was far overshadowed by the fact that Messi and Louis Suarez did not play in the match. The fan reaction in Hong Kong was as you might expect. Chants of REFUND bellowed around the stadium. David Beckham, the Inter Miami owner, was booed. The Miami manager was forced to apologize in the media. 

There is a fine line between being a fan of the TEAM or of a PLAYER. Clearly there were not many Inter Miami FC fans in Hong Kong, rather a stadium full of fans who purchased tickets for a once in a lifetime chance to see Leo Messi play in person. Miami is now dealing with a negative media cycle.

This is a great lesson. People are fans of Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club, Real Madrid C.F., and FC Bayern München. They can showcase young players, the next generation of stars, while on tour in the preseason. Inter Miami, a team that did not make the very accessible Major League Soccer playoffs, cannot rely on Club loyalty yet. They are only in this spotlight and have this opportunity because their #10 is arguably one of the best to have ever played the game.

Sports Business Classes - - You are the front office staff of Inter Miami. How would you organize this preseason tour to maximize the Messi effect? What could you "steal" from the new NBA rules to help guide your strategy? What 'rules' could you put into play to set expectations for players, staff, fans? Are there any big lessons you can pull from this tour that you can apply to other sports or businesses?

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