🌊 Ivy League Cartel

Mexico says no to US corn? Raining worms in China, and the rise of HBO

March 9 is a big day for firsts in history: First artificial teeth patent (1822), first mailbox patent (1858), and Barbie's debut (1959). The easiest way to guess someone's age is by asking them which of those inventions they appreciate the most...

On a more serious note, welcome to all of our new subscribers! The growth of our community of non-partisan news connoisseurs brings us more joy than anything (including artificial teeth). Once you go Roca, you won't go back to Big News.

In today's edition:

  • Mexico says no to US corn?

  • Raining worms in China

  • The rise of HBO

🔑 Key Stories

Trade War, Mexico Version?

A Mexican ban on some US corn imports could start a trade war between Mexico and the US

  • Last month, Mexico announced a ban on importing genetically modified corn for human consumption. Corn is the key ingredient in tortillas, Mexico’s staple

  • The US is Mexico’s largest supplier of corn, much of which is genetically modified, and the US has said the policy could cost American businesses up to $5B

  • Under a US-Mexico trade deal – the USMCA – most trade happens without tariffs. Mexico says it is enacting the ban to protect its biodiversity, though; the US has demanded talks over it

Dig Deeper

  • The US says Mexico's policy “is not grounded in science” and restricts Americans’ "full and fair access" to Mexico’s market. If no conclusion is reached, it may react with tariffs, which could spark a trade war

Athletes Sue Ivy League

A group of athletes sued the Ivy League, alleging it coordinates to avoid providing athletic scholarships

  • The Ivy League is a group of 8 prestigious US universities. Most D1 schools – which all Ivy schools are – offer athletic scholarships

  • Not the Ivy League, though: Its schools have long agreed to only provide need-based scholarships to athletes, rather than purely athletic ones

  • On Tuesday, one current and one former basketball player from Brown University, an Ivy, sued all 8 universities over that policy, claiming their coordination is anti-competitive and harms athletes

Dig Deeper

  • “The Ivy League Agreement has direct anticompetitive effects, raising the net price of education that Ivy League Athletes pay and suppressing compensation for the athletic services they provide to the [universities],” the lawsuit said. The director of the Ivy League said in a statement that the Ivy League is built on a “foundational principle” that student-athletes should be “representative of the wider student body”

US Denies Djokovic

The US government blocked Novak Djokovic from competing in an upcoming US tournament

  • Djokovic, 35, is the world’s #1-ranked tennis player. He isn’t vaccinated against Covid, though. In the past, the US and Australia have barred him from entry, preventing him from playing in the US and Australian Opens – 2 of tennis' 4 biggest tournaments

  • Djokovic was scheduled to play in the Miami Open later this month, but the US still requires that all foreign visitors be vaccinated. Djokovic lobbied the government and applied for special permission to enter the country, but those requests were denied

  • In response, Djokovic announced he’d withdrawn from the tournament

Dig Deeper

  • Florida’s 2 Republican senators jointly wrote a letter asking President Biden to allow Djokovic to be admitted. Florida governor Ron DeSantis also wrote, "It's time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want - let him play." The Biden administration hasn’t commented on the situation

Boy Meets Congress

Ben Savage, the star of “Boy Meets World,” said he will run for the House of Representatives

  • “Boy Meets World” was a ‘90s sitcom about Savage’s character navigating life, family, and relationships that aired from 1993 to 2000

  • Savage, who has a political science degree from Stanford, unsuccessfully ran for West Hollywood City Council last year. Now, he says he is running for Representative Adam Schiff’s seat. Schiff announced his intent to run for the senate

  • 3 other Democrats are currently running against Savage for the open seat

Dig Deeper

  • Savage said in an Instagram post that he intends to “restore faith in government by offering reasonable, innovative and compassionate solutions to our country’s most pressing issues.” His campaign website lists his priorities as improving public safety, increasing access to affordable housing, and protecting unions

Which platform delivered millions to investors in 2022?

Together with Masterworks

Last November, Paul Allen’s historic art collection shattered the record for largest sale in auction history

  • The fact that the blue-chip art market is still setting records amid major drawdowns in financial markets and macroeconomic turmoil highlights why it can be such a strong diversifier

  • In fact, the high-end art market also remained resilient through downturns like the dot-com bubble and Great Financial Crisis in 2008

    Dig Deeper

    • So far, all 11 of Masterworks’ sales have been profitable, the last 3 realizing 10.4%, 35%, and 13.9% net returns respectively. Offerings can sell out in just minutes due to high demand, but RocaNews readers can now skip the waitlist with the referral link below:

    See important Reg A disclosures at https://www.masterworks.com/about/disclaimer.

    🍿 Popcorn


    • Leaving him Boeheim: Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim will not be returning to coach the Syracuse Orange next year after a 47-year run

    • Yeezy come, *not* Yeezy go: Adidas is still unsure about what it will do with the $1B+ worth of Kanye West's Yeezy shoes in its inventory. It has ruled out burning them

    • Shooting foul: Retired NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp has been arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting near Seattle 


    • It's raining worms, hallelujah! Beijing residents were told to use umbrellas to protect themselves from raining worms. Worms were seen covering cars and sidewalks

    • "$50 on a chair under the ring": WWE is reportedly in talks to legalize betting on scripted matches. Wrestlers won't know if they'll win until hours before their match

    • Dear mother of Odin: Scandinavian scientists have discovered the oldest known reference to the Norse god Odin on a gold coin in western Denmark

    👇 What do you think?

    Today's Poll

    Would you rather:

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    Today's Question:

    What is your go-to sweet treat?

    Reply to this email with your answers!

    See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

    🌯 Roca Wrap

    Media executive Charles Dolan wanted a TV network that offered uncut and commercial-free sports and movies.?

    So in 1972, he launched “Home Box Office”: A subscription-driven, commercial-free TV network.

    HBO launched with an investment from Time, Inc., which later merged into Time Warner. Its opening broadcast was a live NHL game to 365 paying subscribers.

    Early HBO showed sports and movies, including recent releases, without commercial breaks or edits for profanity, nudity, or violence. To access it, subscribers had to pay their cable provider $6 a month, of which HBO kept $3.50.

    In 1975, HBO became the first TV channel to replace its cable system, which used ground-based wires or hand-delivered videotapes, with satellites. It debuted that by broadcasting the “Thrilla in Manila” heavyweight championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

    HBO brought boxing to prime at the same time famous names like Mike Tyson, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler were on the rise. The sport and network grew together, and HBO – aided by its successful push into satellite – boomed. To capitalize on the growth, HBO launched Cinemax in 1980 as a cheaper add-on service for prospective HBO customers.

    In January 1983, HBO premiered its original scripted content with the satirical news series Not Necessarily the News. The show helped blaze the way for future comedic news shows, including the Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and the Colbert Report. HBO released its first original movie – The Terry Fox Story – later that year.  

    HBO’s success scared its rivals, and 3 major studios – Paramount, Warner, and MCA – partnered with media conglomerate Viacom to launch competing pay-television services, Showtime and The Movie Channel. But HBO’s popularity continued to rise. By 1985 it had 14.6M subscribers.

    Both HBO and Viacom, though, struggled to gain sufficient viewership of their respective comedy channels (The Comedy Channel and HA!), so they merged them to create Comedy Central. Comedy Central would go on to produce South Park, Chappelle’s Show, and many more of the most popular comedy shows.

    HBO expanded its original programming in the 1990s. In 1997 it earned 90 Emmy nominations – the first time a cable network received more than any broadcast network. In 1999 HBO launched The Sopranos, which told the story of mob boss Tony Soprano and his family. The show won 21 Emmy Awards and became regarded as one of the network’s pioneering shows. In 2002 it debuted The Wire, which would also become regarded as one of the best television shows ever.

    HBO had also experimented with another kind of original content – the miniseries. It had released 7 of them by 2000, although none struck gold. But then in 2001 it released Band of Brothers. The Tom Hanks- and Steven Spielberg-produced World War 2 show would be considered one of the best war series ever. It paved the way for HBO's future miniseries, including The Pacific and Chernobyl.

    But the network’s greatest success may not have debuted until 2011. That was Game of Thrones, which ran until 2019 and whose finale was the most-watched HBO episode ever. The show’s final season averaged 44M viewers per episode, comparable to more than 1 in 10 Americans.

    In 2023, HBO’s most-watched service is HBO Max, its online streaming service. With 74M subscribers, HBO Max trails Netflix, Disney+, and Prime. However it’s the model HBO created decades ago – getting consumers to pay monthly for high-quality, commercial-free original content – that those companies rely on today.

    If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

    🌊 Roca Clubhouse

    Yesterday's Poll:

    I tend to think more…

    Creatively: 28%

    Analytically: 72%

    Yesterday's Question:

    In honor of International Women's Day, who is a woman who inspires you?

    Jen from DC: “My mom! She always encourages me to follow my dreams, just like she did. She bought a one-way plane ticket to Asia in her early 30s to pursue her own dream, met a National Geographic photographer there who offered her a job, and then had the most incredible career documenting people and cultures from all over the world. During my childhood, she always encouraged me to pursue whatever I was interested in -- whether that was taking the family to Lancaster during my Amish phase, or special-ordering astronaut food during my space phase. Now we try to travel together as much as we can. She's also Roca's number one fan!! “

    Steven from California: “I had a College math professor who is a total inspiration. Professor Warecki went to college at OSU around the 1970s. She had teachers, counselors, and administrators at the school flat out refuse to teach or help her, cause she was a women and she "didn't belong in a math program." The fact that she felt such severe adversity and STILL got her PhD in Mathematics, at OSU is amazing.”

    Conley from Boston: “My mother is my biggest inspiration. A single mother who made every sacrifice possible to give me and my brother the best possible life. A hard working, intuitive, protector, who values family over everything. And a reader of ROCA. I love you Mom!”

    🧠 Final Thoughts

    Hope you all enjoyed today’s newsletter. Now that it’s out, we’re going to spend the day watching HBO. If you don’t get an email tomorrow, it’s because we’re neck-deep in season 2 of Deadwood.

    –Max and Max