Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome University Hospitals As The Official Medical Sponsor Of The Cleveland Triathlon


We are proud to announce that University Hospitals has recently entered into a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Pacific Sports, LLC, to be the official medical sponsor of the Cleveland Triathlon.

University Hospitals James Voos, MD, Director, Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center is looking forward to the opportunity of becoming more involved with community athletes.  “Our Sports Medicine team at UH is honored to support the dedicated athletes participating in the Cleveland Triathlon,” Dr. Voos said. “We are prepared to serve athletes of all levels before, during and after this exciting event.”

Pacific Sports President Jack Caress noted the new partnership will yield positive experiences for all athletes involved with the event.  “We are excited to work with such an innovative and dynamic brand that is fully engaged in the sport of triathlon,” he said. “University Hospitals commitment to sports medicine will enhance the quality and participant experience for the Cleveland Triathlon. We are also proud to celebrate in 2016 the 150th anniversary of University Hospitals with the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland Triathlon."



ABOUT UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS:
University Hospitals, is the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 28 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of their $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America’s 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties.

The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.

For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pacific Latitudes Newsletter March 2015

Picking up from February Pacific Latitudes Newsletter,

The 1980’s experienced a significant boom in both running and triathlon. The Ironman exploded after the February 1982 event where Julie Moss & Kathleen McCartney had their famous finish that was on Wide World of Sports several times. It changed triathlon forever. I also competed in that one—but way behind both ladies. The biggest challenge for most of us (and we are talking small numbers in 1982, a few hundred) was trying to train in the winter months for a February race. Even in California it was tough, but I met people at the race who had not ridden outside in several months. Needless to say, there were real acclimatization issues from winter to the sun and humidity of Kona. It was quite an experience. Thankfully, the race moved to October after this event making the future training for the race far easier. International (we did not call them Olympic distance in those days, since Olympics was far off in the horizon and the distances then were longer at 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 15k run) and sprint distance and everything in between. Whatever fit the terrain was acceptable.



At IMG we launched the Tri-America Triathlon Series and brought in both Stroh’s and Jeep to sponsor it. It included our Newport Beach Triathlon (still then called the Human Race Triathlon), Memphis in May, Wilkes-Barre, Chicago, Cascade Lakes, Clearwater, Wildflower, and Catalina. It was a true national series and it had great pros and media, especially for the 80’s. After several years the series came to an end, things were beginning to grow and splinter on sponsorship and distances were being more standardized. I still remember a meeting in Bend, Oregon, where Stroh’s (but the way—it was “fire brewed” which even today I am not sure what that means) told us that they were not going to renew their deal. The reason, “our surveys are telling us that triathletes do not drink beer”. Since I knew these folks at Stroh’s and their agency, I thought they were kidding. Nope. I told them this was crazy and part of the reason people did triathlons is so they CAN drink beer. Of course, Stroh’s did not last much longer as a singular brand—perhaps that was why. Still makes me laugh. The series was a great opportunity for me to meet some of the best in the business, several who influenced me personally and professionally—still do.

When someone asks me who were the best race directors in the sport, I have had the same answer for now decades. The three best I knew were (and are) Valerie Silk, Jerry Kowalski, and Peggy Heath. Valerie was the original director of the Ironman, but she was far more than a race director. Her personal touches and warmth made the experience unforgettable. I learned what ohana truly meant in the Hawaiian culture and I still (thankfully kept them) have the Christmas, birthday and personal cards she would send to me. Jerry (a woman, but yes, named Jerry!) directed the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon for many years. She put her heart and soul into the event and made it special from the moment you would arrive. It was a destination that you had to put on your calendar and the quality of the event was top flight and at the highest level in every aspect. Peggy directed Memphis in May, which combined a triathlon in the midst of the Memphis in May Festival each year. Again, first cabin. It brought the charm and hospitality of Memphis to the sport of triathlon in the perfect mix of racing, parties, food and fun and her personality was in every aspect. What these three women did was make me realize how much more triathlon was than just a sport. There is a special personality to triathlon that these ladies brought to their events in a way I am not sure I have seen since, and certainly not with the consistency they showed. They affected a lot of us who worked with them and I still think of them at the top of any list in the history and direction of this sport.

This was a time in triathlon where there was great innovation both in the type of racing and the equipment. The rules for triathlon were still evolving. Virtually all of the races had every participant start at the same time. The biggest races could have over 1000 start on the beach at once. It was a combination of both chaos and at the same time, spectacular. Seeing that many athletes go into the water a once was incredible and the one thing I always liked about it as a participant was that you always knew where you were in the standings of the race. There was never a doubt how far you were behind someone. As a race director, it was good also, because the race itself took far, far less time. If you think about it, an Olympic distance race from start to finish would take perhaps 3.5 hours at the most. Now, a race of the same size with wave starts could take 5+ hours—even more if the race is larger. Drafting was just being seriously addressed. We all knew what “wheel sucking” was, but how to police it or its effects on a race were another matter, (more on this later) and the equipment—this is where triathlon really made its mark. Handlebars, triathlon specific bikes, trisuits, unique goggle styles for swimming, disc and carbon wheels, bike shoes with straps, real bike helmets (not "brain buckets"—that is what they were called) and wetsuits. Homemade stuff and innovations were encouraged.

More on this aspect and the first triathlon pro shop in 1983, in the next issue.

To be continued,

Jack Caress
President & CEO Pacific Sports, LLC

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pacific Sports 35th Anniversary...Continued From January

Picking up from January Pacific Latitudes Newsletter, 

The real opportunity (the proverbial fork in the road) came when I was hired by IMG (International Management Group) in Cleveland in the early 80’s. IMG was at that point a privately held firm led by Mark McCormack and Jay LaFave. Mark was essentially the founder of the sports marketing and agency business. His first client was Arnold Palmer and together they changed sports forever. Mark would travel the world, physically and literally, and Jay ran the place from Cleveland. They were huge in golf and tennis, but by the time I was hired, they were being called to do projects in sports of all types because frankly, no one knew who to call, these guys were rock stars in sports and way ahead of their time. There was no real developed sports industry to speak of and this was the wild west. Very few people considered sports a “business”, it was just fun and passion for most. If you look at the value of sports properties, athlete contracts, prize money, appearance fees, sponsorships, and televised sports from the 1980’s and compare it to now you would see the most incredible increase in valuation perhaps of any industry. It went from mom & pop to one of the most incredible growth industries in the world—and it is definitely not slowing down. 

IMG had landed (as I would find out later, a whole other story) the city of Nice, France, to develop a triathlon and also National City Corporation was interested in putting together a triathlon project in Cleveland. At the time, I was teaching at Chapman University, working on a doctorate, training for Ironman, and owned the first triathlon pro shop (more on that in March) in Irvine, California. I would work in Cleveland during the summer when we were out of school and regularly fly there during the year after my last class on Thursday. I loved it. At IMG I had the opportunity to be involved in not just triathlon, but many of the projects in the Athletics & Fitness division and stuck my hand in on golf, car racing, and endorsement deals. IMG had made its name in golf and tennis in the early years and the exponential growth of both production and rights fees in television. Representing professional athletes in all sports was new and there was very little knowledge on valuation. How much could you sell a sponsorship for to have an athlete wear a company’s sunglasses? How much was an appearance fee to have a top athlete show up at a corporate event? and one of my favorite projects of all time—how do we create a World Golf Ranking? (read Wikipedia, but trust me this is the very, very condensed and varnished version. The details are quite fun). And for a little seasoning, events like “The Skins Game”, “Stars on Ice” were developed and it affected how we looked even at triathlon and individual sports. IMG figured out early to own the events, the broadcast rights, and most important—the athlete contracts.
It created an incredible opportunity to both learn, to be creative, and achieve results. For someone like me from academics with an economics background, it was an incredible environment. I regularly see colleagues of mine from when I was there and we can tell stories and experiences that can always go on for hours. This was also at the time when Mark wrote two books that are classics. The first was “The Terrible Truth About Lawyers” and the other was “What They Still Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School”. Even now these books are relevant and I have given more than a few of these as gifts, especially to attorneys. They were openly discussed while they were being written and the lessons go way beyond sports. Highly recommended. 

In those early 80’s the two big challenges in our sport from a business side were (a) what three sports made up a triathlon?, and (b) how do you spell it? Virtually everyone that was not involved with the sport would spell it T-R-I-A-T-H-A-L-O-N, with the “A” in the word. But I saw much worse including “tryathalon”, “trithlon”, “triathon”, and my personal favorite “tricathalon”. At the time, there was only one city in the U.S. with a major urban triathlon, that being Chicago. We would be the second in Cleveland, and we had far better sponsors. We timed it perfectly with resurgence of Cleveland in the 1980’s as the U.S. location for many Fortune 500 firms and the building of both a new baseball stadium (Jacob’s Field, now Progressive) and first class arena (Gund Arena now Quicken Loans) that brought the Cavs from Richfield to downtown. It was a fun place to be and shocking to my family and friends, I fell in love with the city. I was also fortunate enough to work on the Nice Triathlon and develop the Tri-America Triathlon Series, later to become the Stroh’s/Jeep Tri-America Triathlon Series. 

To be continued in March,

Jack Caress
President & CEO Pacific Sports, LLC