Journalists’ Roundtable: Super Bowl LII, Phoenix Open, Pro-Teams

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In the sports edition of Journalists’ Roundtable, sports analysts discuss Super Bowl LII, Waste Management Phoenix Open, Steve Wilks as the Cardinals’ new coach and other Arizona pro-teams.

Super Bowl LII

New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles face off in the Super Bowl this year. The Patriots will be led by quarterback Tom Brady as he aims to grab a sixth ring with coach Bill Belichick. The Eagles will try to win their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history with backup quarterback Nick Foles.

“The Patriots sort of cemented their dynasty,” Professor of Practice at ASU’s Cronkite School Paola Boivin says. “This may put them on top of everybody if they win another win. The amount of these come-from-behind victories, Brady looking younger than he looked 15 years ago [may get them the win].”

Director of Cronkite News Phoenix Sports Bureau Brett Kurland says the Brady-Belichick dynamic is one of the most fascinating stories going into the game. Mike Sunnucks with the Phoenix Business Journal agrees, saying everyone will be asking after the game whether or not the duo will go separate ways.

Brady may be nothing new to see at a Super Bowl, with this being his eighth one, but Foles is seeing it all for the first time. Starting quarterback Carson Wentz was originally paving the way to Super Bowl stardom for the Eagles until he was hurt, and Foles had to take over. Kurland mentions no one was expecting much from the former UofA quarterback until he started to turn heads when the post-season began.

Despite Foles being more than enough to have stories written on him, the Patriots will still be in the spotlight going into the game. Sunnucks admits the media hasn’t paid much attention to the Eagles or their underdog fan base, but it’s because everyone is wondering who will be playing and if the quarterback and coach are quarreling as rumors suggest.

Boivin predicts there will be more scoring by New England than people are thinking. It will help make it an entertaining game because Boivin mentions people love watching teams score. However, what will save either team from losing will be based on who has a better defense.

Waste Management Phoenix Open

The Waste Management Phoenix Open takes place on Feb. 1-4 at TPC Scottsdale. The event attracts thousands, both young and old. The 16th hole alone will attract a crowd of around 16,000. That’s larger than most basketball arenas. The Open shows no evidence that the sport is actually suffering.

“The gold tournament is able to let its hair down,” Boivin says. “Fans do a good job of making it a party. A lot of people don’t go for the golf tournament, they go for the socializing.”

Not only is the golf tournament a sporting event and a sociable get-together, it’s a one-of-a-kind business opportunity. Businesses rent suites and boxes to invite their customers. It’s an ideal networking spot, as well.

“This is not only the biggest business networking event here, but probably the biggest on the west coast now,” Sunnucks says. “They attract younger kids, ASU kids… This appeals to, I think, millennials. Millennials go out there and have fun. Millennials aren’t joining country clubs, aren’t playing golf because of the expense, because of the time, because of the snobbiness that turns some people off.”

As some of the legendary golfers retired, they were slow to be replaced by other household names. This is another factor that is hurting the sport, Sunnucks says. At the moment, Sunnucks says Ricky Fowler has been doing the best with attracting a younger fan base and making a name for himself.

Steve Wilks and the Cardinals

New coach, no quarterback. What’s the team’s next plan of action?

“Very few times we see teams without a really good quarterback succeed,” Boivin says. “You have to have one, and it’s a real concern for the Cardinals. They need to address this problem, and they need to address it soon.”

Depending on who the quarterback will be may decide whether or not Larry Fitzgerald will come back, Kurland says.

Arizona Diamondbacks

It’s been a quiet off-season, Kurland says. J.D. Martinez, who was unarguably a huge help in getting the team to the post-season,  still has not signed to a team. D-backs fans are wary about being hopeful that he stays.

“I think they seem like an organization that far more has its act together than it has in the past,” Boivin says. “I mean as far as doing the right things with their money, having a general manager who seems to understand.”

Arizona Coyotes

Biovin points out that the Coyotes have been a little irrelevant lately being in the shadow of other pro-teams. They’ve been in a rebuilding mode as they try to piece together a long-term plan. Despite being low in popularity, Kurland doesn’t expect hockey to lose a presence in the Valley.

“Hockey has seen a lot of growth in the Valley beyond the Coyotes,” Kurland says. “ASU going Division 1. Youth hockey growth in Arizona is outpacing national growth.”

Sunnucks says since Phoenix is a bandwagon town, the Coyotes will need to make it to the playoffs in order to gain a real fan base again.

Paola Boivin: Professor of Practice, ASU Cronkite School
Brett Kurland: Director, Cronkite News Phoenix Sports Bureau
Mike Sunnucks: Phoenix Business Journal

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