Other Sports



with Jamie Swimmer, Ron Socash & Tanner Simkins


  1. In the wake of NFL player actions, player protests will be something to watch this NBA season. The 2018 regular season tips off this Tuesday, with a marquee double bill featuring the Cavaliers vs. the Celtics and the Warriors vs. the Rockets. According to NBC Sports Bay Area, Warriors star Stephen Curry was among the first athletes to openly speak out against President Trump, and he is now “walking a sociopolitical path.” The face of Under Armour and Infiniti, Curry is aware of the balance he needs to strike between voicing his personal opinion on controversial issues and representing his sponsors. For the global icon, “principles are at stake and he has more than a few,” which people point to as the reason he is so willing to alienate a segment of the market. “I’m well aware that, in this world, there’s no way you can please everybody and there’s no reason that you should want to,” said Curry. “I’m very comfortable understanding that, and not letting that affect my view or stance.” The NBA already has a National Anthem policy in place, so while it’s unlikely we’ll see any NBA players kneeling courtside during the anthem, expect player statements to be made via many other platforms.
  2. The NFL may also soon issue a rule requiring all players to stand for the National Anthem. According to the Wall Street Journal, this development comes in the wake of President Donald Trump condemning players who have protested the anthem before games this season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently sent out a memo stating that he believes “all players should stand for the anthem,” and that the league will “suggest other ways it could support social-justice issues that players want to champion.” In response, many NFL players have said that they would boycott if they were not allowed to protest. The current NFL game operations manual says “players ‘should’ stand” during the playing of the anthem, though it could soon change to “players ‘must’ stand.” While player protests during the National Anthem will be a "major topic of conversation" at Tuesday's NFL owners meetings, no "sweeping game-day changes are expected," according to sources. But in a sign of how pervasive the movement has become, the act of players taking a knee has now “crossed the Atlantic,” as Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin’s players and coaches knelt before their game on Saturday in a call for “tolerance and responsibility.”


  1. With the new NBA season tipping off this week, more teams have announced their decision not to stay at Trump hotels this year. According to the Washington Post, 11 of the 12 teams that have stayed at Trump SoHo since it opened in 2010 have since made new arrangements when they play in New York. This summer, the Raptors, Rockets, Kings, and Wizards all decided to stop giving the Trump hotel their business. Additionally, another NBA team “quit staying” at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, “and at least three NHL teams and one MLB club have stopped frequenting Trump hotels in the same time.” Some teams cited travel logistics, not politics, as their motivation for deciding to go elsewhere, though others were not shy of voicing their political dissent. “He continually offends people, and so people don’t want to stay at his hotel,” said Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. “It’s pretty simple.” Luxury properties abound in NBA cities, so it’s a fairly easy decision for team travel coordinators to look elsewhere and avoid the issue altogether.
  2. As college football nears the midpoint of its 2017 season and basketball beckons, IMG College and Learfield have announced their “definitive agreement” to merge. The leading collegiate marketing companies will create a combined entity that will be owned by IMG and Atairos, the investment firm that bought Learfield for more than $1.2 billion in 2016, and will be led by Learfield CEO Greg Brown. The new entity will be headquartered in Plano, Texas. While terms of the deal have not been disclosed, analysts have estimated that the deal could be worth more than $2.5 billion. In a joint statement, IMG and Learfield cited numerous merger benefits, including "enhanced services, more consistent promotions, technological innovation, and greater economic opportunities" for the company’s university and brand clients. Learfield oversees athletic multimedia and sponsorship rights for over 130 U.S. colleges and universities, and has acquired complementary services, including stadium concessions and hospitality services, ticket sales, and online streaming capabilities. Meanwhile IMG College represents nearly 90 universities and conferences, as well as trademark licensing and consumer rights products for over 200 schools, conferences, and bowl games. The two companies’ combined portfolio includes more than 70% of DI schools, and over 80% of Power Five conference members.


  1. After a shocking loss against Trinidad & Tobago, the United States Men’s National Team has failed to quality for the 2018 World Cup. According to the New York Times, this marks the first time the USMNT has failed to qualify after a string of seven straight appearances in the tournament. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati declined to comment whether or not “wholesale changes” would be made in the wake of the loss, though head coach Bruce Arena resigned mere days after the defeat. “You don’t make wholesale changes based on the ball being two inches wide or two inches in. We’ll look at everything,” said Gulati. “But we’ve got a lot of pieces in place that we think are very good and have been coming along.” The U.S. only needed to tie the game to book its ticket to Russia, but it could not even manage that.


  1. With the USMNT failing to reach the World Cup, Fox Sports’ revenue and ratings are expected to take a severe hit next summer. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Fox is paying between $450-500 million for the rights to broadcast the next three World Cups in the U.S., but this summer’s tournament in Russia is likely to draw poor ratings without the U.S. competing in it. The network was expecting large viewership across the country, and it has already built a two-story broadcasting complex at Moscow’s Red Square with multiple sets, a main anchor desk, and an interview room. Fox is planning on broadcasting 350 hours of World Cup programming during the tournament, though viewership for that content is now expected to fall way below original expectations when the USMNT was assumed to qualify. At stake are millions of dollars in potential lost revenue not only for Fox Sports (which may be out upwards of $20 million according to some reports), but for USMNT business partners, sports travel packagers, merchandisers, and the like.


  1. Dallas Cowboys outspoken owner Jerry Jones’ recent comments to players about potentially benching them for disrespecting the American flag stemmed from him wanting to “play the bad guy.” According to ESPN.com, Jones attempted to divert the attention and media coverage from his players onto himself in order to protect them. Many Cowboys players were initially frustrated regarding Jones’ comments, as they thought Jones “had turned against them.” Instead, he reportedly wanted to “ensure that players saw the bigger picture regarding the business side of the situation, including concerns over TV rating and sponsors.” Cowboys Kicker Dan Bailey confirmed that there have been numerous calls between players and the NFLPA regarding the situation. Ever a proactive leader, Jones has since addressed the team multiple times to clear up any confusion and give players the chance to openly air their concerns.


  1. With MLB playoffs in full swing, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is using a postseason push to grow his endorsement portfolio. According to Forbes, Gregorius’ strong, infectious personality, coupled with his on-field performance, has helped him land new deals with Wix.com, Delta, Banana Republic, Stance, and Planters. He already had sponsorship deals in place with Nike, Mizuno, and Louisville Slugger, but those paled in comparison to what he has now. His newly estimated off-field income is expected to be “north of $500,000.” Gregorius is a catch for potential endorsers; he “speaks four languages and has a growing social media presence in which he celebrates Yankees wins on Twitter with emojis representing different Yankees stars.” Sponsors have also leveraged the geographic advantage that he plays in New York, and accordingly Gregorius has made multiple live appearances around the city on behalf of his endorsers.


  1. With the Dodgers and Astros now leading their conference series 2-0 respectively against the Cubs and the Yankees, MLB broadcast partners are salivating at the idea that regardless of the NLCS and ALCS outcomes, teams hailing from the U.S.’ four biggest media markets – and all with compelling storylines – will contest the 2018 World Series. In the ALCS, we’re watching the Yankees, a team with one of the biggest fan bases and brand recognition in the world, battle the resurgent Houston Astros, a team playing not only for their place in modern baseball history but representing a community still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. And in Los Angeles, the NLCS is pitting the world champion Chicago Cubs against the ever-popular Dodgers, who last won the Series 29 years ago. Through the end of the regular season, the Dodgers “sold more than 3.7 million tickets," according to the Los Angeles Times. That means the club has "led the majors in attendance in each of the five full years under Guggenheim Baseball ownership, selling between 3.7 million and 3.8 million tickets each year.” The Dodgers have also made the playoffs all five seasons under Guggenheim's ownership, a significant milestone.


  1. Rate of play has been a big cause of concern for MLB over the past few seasons, and this year’s playoffs have only reiterated that issue. According to the Washington Post, the Chicago Cubs’ 9-8 win over the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS lasted over four and a half hours, making it the “longest nine-inning game in playoff history.” The increase in game time can be attributed to a few major reasons, primarily longer commercial times in the playoffs coupled with replay review, more pitching changes and mound visits, and the tendency for “max-effort pitches to take longer and longer between pitches.” MLB has been trying to address rate of play throughout the regular season, but come playoff time, the play tends to be more meticulous and slow down. Thus far, the average time of playoff games has been three hours and thirty-six minutes. While MLB is focused on this issue, more needs to be done – especially if the league hopes to continue to attract its next generation of fans, not exactly known for their long attention spans.


  1. New Houston Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta has made it clear that he wants his team to be a contender. Fertitta spoke to the Houston Chronicle about his goal of making the Rockets more like the Lakers and Celtics, two teams that “win championships every decade.” The new point man in Houston paid more for the team than “anyone ever had for a North American sports franchise.” Fertitta will not take over basketball decision-making upon his Toyota Center arrival, but he will be heavily involved in free-agent recruiting. Instead of working out of his arena corner office, he will work out of his headquarters at The Post Oak in downtown Houston. “I don’t want to win three in a row and not win any for the next 20, 25 years,” said Fertitta. “I want to be a competitive team every year. We’re going to make good decisions, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win.” Attitude is great, but cementing a crack front office staff will contribute to more championships.
  2. The Australian Open is looking to increase the economic impact of the annual Grand Slam event to produce $389.5 million per year within the next five years. According to the Herald Sun, a 15-day music festival will accompany the action on the court, headlined by a fundraiser for motor neuron disease research the day before the 2018 tournament starts. This coming year, a record $3.1 million will be awarded to singles winners – part of a world-best $42.8 million tournament prize pool. The 2017 Australian Open brought in around $217 million in positive economic impact, up from 2014’s marker of $192 million. Tournament Director Craig Tiley noted that he hopes to break this $389.5 million threshold (A$500 million) within five years “as the tournament expands in size, crowd figures and international appeal. “We’ve in essence become a music festival at the same time, and then of course there is food,” said Tiley. Whether tennis, golf, soccer, or basketball, engaging fans on many levels is critical to modern-day sports event financial success.


  1. With college basketball practices officially underway across the country, the universities of Kansas and Missouri are making plans to scrimmage each other in a renewed “Border War.” According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, the two schools have not played against each other in basketball since 2012 – Missouri’s last year in the Big 12 before switching to the SEC – despite sharing a state border. The scrimmage will be played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, with the “funds from ticket sales going to hurricane relief.” In accordance with NCAA rules, Division I teams are allowed to play two exhibition games per season against non-Division I opponents, so if the game is to take place, the universities “would need the permission of the NCAA – be it in the form of a waiver or something similar.” Missouri hosted an exhibition game in 2011 to raise money for relief efforts following the Joplin tornados, and while the proposed Sprint Center event won’t have as immediate a beneficiary, it should be able to raise tens of thousands of dollars in relief funds.


  1. Las Vegas might soon land another professional sports franchise. According to the AP, the WNBA Stars “are in negotiations to be sold and relocated,” with a move from San Antonio to Las Vegas likely happening. Las Vegas is currently home to the Golden Knights – the recent NHL expansion team – and will soon welcome the NFL’s Raiders when they move from Oakland. Despite having a talented core of players in San Antonio, the Stars finished last place in the WNBA this past season. The team originally moved to Texas from Utah back in 2003, so this would be the franchise’s second change of location in its existence. One of the biggest questions regarding the relocation is where the team will play; possible venues include T-Mobile Arena, the MGM Grand Garden, the Thomas & Mack Center, and Orleans Arena. The Stars are currently owned and operated by Spurs Sports & Entertainment. If current enthusiasm for the Golden Knights is any indication, Las Vegas is shaping up to be quite the sports town, even outside the confines of its ever-popular sports books.


  1. UCF’s football stadium is in dire need of a patch up. According to the Orlando Sentinel, a recent engineering report indicated that the university’s football stadium needs extensive repairs that could total up to $14 million. Spectrum Stadium was found to have rust and corrosion around it, with some “immediate life safety concerns” due to the structural integrity of the venue. Long term plans are currently being weighed by the university, though it did note that the worst problems have already been fixed. The 45,000-seat venue on the main campus was found to have corrosion that affects more than 80,000 square feet across the stadium. The engineering report further indicated that the facility “has become so rusted that an overhaul could cost about a quarter of the stadium’s $54 million price tag.” The extent of the repair job will depend on how much the school spends on it and “whether the stadium life extends another 10 years of 20 years.” All too frequently, when schools and communities budget for sports facilities construction projects, they underestimate the funds needed for adequate maintenance over time. This is only the most recent example of that oversight.



Top Five Tech

  1. Football is doing all it can to combat public concern over CTE. According to the Chicago Tribune, football equipment company Riddell is making custom helmets to best fit players from all age groups. The helmets will look to improve both player vision and head protection with new “precision-fit” technology. The new and improved helmets could lead to an increase in perceived public perception of how safe football can actually become. Rutgers equipment manager Stephen Hale remarked, “You eliminate that lag, so to speak, when a player moves his head. You don’t have the helmet playing catch up, which is what they believe to be a large contributing factor to concussions right now. It’s pretty ground-breaking stuff.” If these new helmets are successful in helping protect players in a better way, we could see an increase in the number of youth football players. If the number of players increases after a decrease in the last few years, the future of football could be saved. Riddell is playing a big part in youth, high school, college, and even NFL football.


  1. LA Clippers fans have a new way of making sure that the ticket they are buying is exactly what they want. Using a piece of technology called FanSight by AXS, fans can now see a 360 degree view of what their seat will look like in the arena. Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations for the Clippers, told Business Insider, “The Clippers are focused on enhancing our fan experience and purchasing a ticket is one of the first touchpoints a fan may have with our brand. AXS will provide fans with the most accurate view from a seat for a Clippers game, with a promise to bring to life an NBA game the way no other team — or ticket platform — in the league does.” If the technology is successful, we will likely see a change in the way consumers buy their tickets online. If ticket distributors such as StubHub and Ticketmaster are able to adopt the same type of technology, consumers will have a much more personalized experience buying their tickets.
  2. NBA League Pass can now be viewed in a new and exciting way. Through NextVR, fans and consumers alike can watch every NBA game through Virtual Reality headsets that put you directly in the arena. NextVR CEO David Cole had this to say about the VR advancement: “Following a groundbreaking first season of NBA games in VR, we will introduce new product features, including real-time graphics floating like holograms within the field-of-play, deliver sharper images, and introduce more VR devices to fans. We are continuing to advance the realism and fidelity of our NBA broadcasts and these new features will deliver the most immersive live basketball experience to date.” With the advent of VR, fans see the game as if they are placed directly in the stadium. While the headsets and computers to run the applications are expensive, hardcore sport and tech fans have seemed willing to pay the price. With so many NBA games available to watch, it makes sense for many fans to make the investment and experience a whole new sports viewing environment.


  1. Analytics continue to play a bigger role in not only sports decision-making, but also the fan experience. Sportradar, a technology company that specializes in both player tracking and data collection, has just acquired Mocap Analytics. Mocap is another analytics-based firm out of Palo Alto, California that has made a lot of headway in player tracking. Sportradar Director of Communications Alex Inglot said this in a statement: “Mocap’s pedigree with the Golden State Warriors and in the performance analysis domain is really what underpins the credibility of what they’re bringing to us. When you’re good enough for the Golden State Warriors’ analytics team, you’re good enough to provide fans what they’re looking for, that eureka insight that cuts through all the noise and cuts through all the speculation and gets you to the root of why what happened just happened.” With this new collaboration, we see that investments in technology are smart investments. The more data and technology available to both teams and fans, the better off the sports world is to make future decisions. 
  2. Near-Life sporting event updates on social media sites are quickly becoming more popular. Wildmoka is a company that partners with media and broadcast companies to upload game clips online right after they happen. For fans that don’t have access to the game, the clips and information can come as a godsend. Cristian Livadiotti, co-founder at Wildmoka, described the current digital market to SportTechie: “Today’s digital video consumers use their mobile devices for video and may watch highlights more often than a full show or sports match. This is why speed is critical. If you are unable to almost automatically deliver highlights from breaking news or sports events, you risk your content never being seen.  Even worse, loyalty of viewers on digital will instantly shift towards competitors who deliver content faster.” Near-life digital media is a change to a landscape that is so used to live sports being king. With Wildmoka’s use of social media as well, we can see an entirely new landscape shaping up in which fans can watch games and events. 




Power of Sports Five

  1. Iconic female athletes share the secrets of survival on #DayoftheGirl. In honor of the United Nations’ International #DayoftheGirl on October 11, two extraordinary female athletes, Diana Nyad, motivational speaker, author, and renowned long-distance swimmer, and Norma Bastidas, a survivor of sexual violence and Guinness World Record breaker for the longest triathlon, shared their top tips for athletes of all shapes, ages, and sizes at this week’s Visionary Women salon in Los Angeles. Nyad and Bastidas spoke in Los Angeles as part of the nonprofit group Visionary Women’s salon series designed to provide a forum for issues that affect women and girls. So far, the organization has donated more than $300,000 to causes that support women, such as the Sundance Institute Women’s Initiative and Communities in Schools, and has set a goal of $1 million for 2018.
  2. October’s Football People weeks focus on tackling discrimination in 50 countries. Some of football’s biggest names will join a movement of over one million people to join the Football People weeks, the biggest social change campaign in European sport, to stand together against discrimination and for inclusion. During the fortnight, around 2,000 activities will take place across 50 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, driving social inclusion and education. Fare Executive Director Piara Powar said: “The Football People weeks is an important period for European football bringing together people who watch, play or run the sport and supporting inclusion and diversity while challenging intolerance and discrimination. This is a big and growing movement, our target is to reach 100,000 people directly taking part in activities. We encourage grassroots organizations to join the campaign and get involved with their own activities.” Football governing bodies including UEFA are backing the campaign, which sits alongside their own #EqualGame initiative, highlighting the importance of leadership in the fight for social equality.
  3. New organization, Football Zajedno, promotes equality through sport in the Balkans. The fairplay Initiative (Austria), and the Football Associations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro have started the joint project Football Zajedno in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Football Zajedno aims to promote equality and non-discrimination. The organization will use the popularity of football as a medium for intercultural dialogue, the promotion of human rights and social inclusion. A focus is on the empowerment of disadvantaged groups and enhancing the equal participation of girls and women in and through football from the Western Balkans region.
  4. San Francisco Giants receive award for work with youth. Last month, the San Francisco Giants were selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award for their innovative and influential approaches to using sports to improve the culture of health in their communities. Approaches include: using baseball as a forum to encourage education, health and violence prevention; utilizing physical activity and sports to provide comfort, hope and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction; and using baseball as a vehicle to unite divided communities. The Giants were honored in the category of professional sports team community relations department or foundation, giving MLB its latest such representative in the 13-year history of the award, and the first since it was renamed in 2015. The Giants Community Fund supports Junior Giants leagues throughout Northern California, Nevada, and Oregon, and provides assistance to targeted community initiatives in the areas of education, health, and violence prevention. It is a free, non-competitive, co-ed baseball program that served more than 400 cities and 25,000 children this summer and offers youth a chance to learn the basics of baseball, while also discovering the importance of essential life skills. “Sports and sports teams have a unique power to galvanize communities and to serve as a gathering point, in good times and in times that aren’t so good, as well,” said Sue Petersen, Giants Community Fund executive director.
  5. PeacePlayers South Africa hosts their first ever Girls Basketball Festival. The festival took place at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Westville Campus in South Africa, with over 120 young girls from schools all over KwaZulu-Natal participating. The festival theme was “Celebrating Women in Sport,” and each participating area school fielded an all-female basketball team to play in the fundraising tournament. By taking part in this tournament, member schools joined the “Gear 4 Our Girls” campaign to collect gear that they no longer use, such as sneakers, sports bras, shorts, T-shirts, and other playing gear. Event organizers said in a statement “empowering our young girls and our female coaches through this fundraiser is paramount. A percentage of the funds will also go towards paying female coaches stipends and supporting future tournaments. This [festival and tournament] was a great testament to the power of PeacePlayers work in South Africa to bring youth together; through their teamwork and dedication to support one another, working to develop future [female] leaders.”



  1. In March Madness’ biggest upset ever, 16-seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County shocked the nation in its lopsided 74-54 win over No. 1 Virginia. UMBC became the first 16-seed to beat a No. 1. In other Cinderella stories, 11th-seeded Loyola upset third-seeded Tennessee 63-62 Saturday night and on Sunday, seventh-seeded Texas A&M stunned No. 2 North Carolina, the tournament's reigning champ. While UMBC lost to Kansas State in Sunday’s Round of 32, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski was "thrilled about the attention the school is receiving from around the country." Hrabowski told the Baltimore Sun, "People began to Google us and to see the academic achievements… from a potential employer like Amazon to other university presidents to elected officials." UMBC's official athletics Twitter account "had about 5,400 followers" before Friday's game against UVA and now is up to over 92,000. Meanwhile, because a 16-seed knocked off a 1-seed, Little Caesars is offering a free lunch combo to all comers on Monday, April 2, National Championship day. During March Madness, apparently there is such a thing as a free lunch.

  2. If your bracket is busted, you’re in good company. The 21st ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge collected 17.3 million completed brackets, the second-most ever behind only last year’s explosion of 18.8 million, which surpassed the previous mark set in 2016 by nearly 6 million, according to the network. At the peak period of entries shortly before the start of Thursday’s first round games, fans registered 33,472 brackets per minute. ESPN also set new all-time records for fan sign-ups and completed brackets on a tip-off Thursday. On Wednesday, ESPN set a new all-time record for completed Tournament Challenge brackets in a single day, with more than 5 million. At the end of ESPN’s Tournament Challenge Marathon on Tuesday, ESPN had collected more than 8.2 million brackets, as well as two of the top six sign-up days in the 21-year history of the game. While the network had not announced how many of those eight million brackets were busted as of late Sunday night, with massive upsets over the weekend including Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Michigan State, you can bet it is the majority.


  1. The Pac-12 task force has revealed its recommendations to reshape college basketball, most notably stating that the NCAA should end its one-and-done rule. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the task force was created in the wake of the ongoing FBI scandal that has shaken up college basketball this season. The task force stated that changes should be made to the recruiting process and championed the adoption of college baseball rules, where players either turn pro right out of high school or commit to staying in college for at least three years. These recommendations will only be implemented with the support of the NBA and the NBAPA, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has supported the need for change in wake of the scandal. One of the biggest current problems with the notion of paying players is AAU basketball and its impact on recruiting. The task force “recommends to start making recruits, and their families, aware of the rules early in high school” while removing the AAU system entirely. Dispensing with the AAU system also includes the side benefit of giving the shoe companies that fund the tournaments a lot less sway over basketball and its players.


  1. University administrators are beginning to voice their opinions on the current state of college basketball and the NCAA. According to SportsBusiness Journal, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, NCAA President Mark Emmert, and Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir joined NCAA.com’s Andy Katz for an interview regarding the ongoing FBI scandal that has ripped through college basketball. “To hear this type of thing going on in the game itself gives us pause and concern, and we want to, hopefully, eradicate it as quickly as possible,” said Muir after hearing news of the FBI’s involvement. Emmert’s comments were more directed toward player marketing and how student-athletes can make a name for themselves: “If you’re a college basketball player with professional aspirations, whether it’s in basketball or just whatever your profession is going to be, I can’t think of a better marketing device than playing in the NCAA tournament.” The panel agreed unanimously that it would be “pure chaos” if players were allowed to sign individual endorsement deals. With so much support at the top levels of the NCAA and the NBA it is clear – major changes are likely coming to college basketball during the off season.

  2. Tiger Woods is once again showing his value to the PGA Tour and its partners. NBC drew a 5.1 overnight rating for the final round of the Valspar Championship, which saw Woods finish one shot behind winner Paul Casey. That number is up 183% from a 1.8 rating for the final round last year, and marks the best overnight rating for any regular PGA Tour event or major, excluding the Masters, since the 2015 PGA Championship. The 200 brands that aligned themselves with the Valspar telecasts generated 1.3 billion TV impressions in U.S. households – nearly 1 billion more than the 275 brands that advertised during the 2017 event on NBC and Golf Channel, according to data from iSpot.tv. Meanwhile, ticket sales for this weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, in which Woods competed for the first time since 2013, "were up" more than 50% from 2017 according to the Orlando Sentinel. Woods tied for fifth place, eight shots behind winner Rory McIlroy; tournament COO Marci Doyle said was likely "the largest event in the 53-year-history of our tournament." With Tiger ascendant and McIlroy netting his first PGA Tour win since 2016, the countdown to The Masters officially begins.

  3. Quarterback Kirk Cousins’ new deal with the Minnesota Vikings has the potential to revolutionize the way NFL teams negotiate player contracts. According to the Washington Times, the three-year, $84 million deal is fully guaranteed, marking a huge break from the traditional way executives have negotiated contracts with players over the years. Normally, “teams routinely pull the plug early on players and contracts deemed cost-ineffective,” which will not be the case for Cousins in Minnesota. News of the deal sent shockwaves through the league, with many players commenting on the change. “Now we need more players to bet on themselves until fully guaranteed contracts are the norm and not the exception,” tweeted Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. Critics of the deal say that guaranteeing contracts will “diminish” the game, meaning that players will not have the same incentive to earn their paychecks as they do now.


  1. With the Dallas Cowboys set to host the NFL Draft in April, plans for events at AT&T Stadium have been announced by the team. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the draft will be held from April 26-28 in the NFL Draft Theater, which will be built on the stadium’s field. More than 250,000 fans have already registered for a chance to win free seated tickets inside the space at AT&T Stadium. Last year’s NFL Draft weekend in Philadelphia was considered a massive success, and also marked the first Draft to be held outdoors, but the 250,000 registered fans “represents a 50% increase over last year” at this point. A State Fair-like setting is expected to be set up to complement the Draft itself, with the Cowboys offering “a cornucopia of attractions outside of the stadium that they hope will keep fans occupied throughout the three days.” While “everything is bigger in Texas,” the 2018 Draft also continues the NFL’s ever-growing ambitions to make the sport a year-round appointment event and provide entertainment to everyone in the family.


  1. MLB has created a new two-day FoodFest in New York that will feature food items from all 30 major league ballparks. The first-ever MLB FoodFest will be held April 21-22 near New York’s Bryant Park, with each club selecting one concession item to represent the franchise. The event will also feature interactive exhibits and art celebrating baseball’s ties to popular concession items such as hot dogs, and incorporate MLB sponsors Nathan’s and Coca-Cola. Among the more notable club items featured will be the D-backs’ churro dog -- a churro inside of a donut topped with frozen yogurt, chocolate sauce, caramel and whipped cream -- the Astros’ chicken waffle cone that features popcorn chicken and mashed potatoes inside of a waffle cone, and the Royals’ brisket nachos. Tickets will be priced at $25 for food only, providing samples of all 30 club items, and $40 for food and beer. Development of the MLB FoodFest was led by the league’s internal marketing and social team with logistical assistance from New York-based agency MKG. The FoodFest sold out in just two days, and is already proving so popular that MLB is taking names for a waiting list for future locations.

  2. Acting USOC CEO Susanna Lyons told the IOC that three American cities are interested in hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics. According to SportsBusiness Daily, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Reno/Tahoe, respectively are the three parties that have expressed a desire to be included in talks going forward. While none of the cities was noted to have an interest in hosting the 2026 Winter Games, which has a bid deadline of March 31, the IOC is considering awarding both the 2026 and 2030 Olympics simultaneously – similar to what the international governing body did this past Fall when it awarded the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics to Paris and Los Angeles at the same time. The Salt Lake City bid group did note that the city could be ready in 2026 “if called upon,” but 2030 remains the preferred cycle to host. Meanwhile, the Utah bid leaders “don’t believe Colorado can produce top-flight Olympic facilities for anywhere close to the cost of what Salt Lake City can provide.” Another factor in Salt Lake’s bid may be the recent relocation of Mitt Romney to the state – Romney served as the savior CEO of the 2002 Games held there.


  1. Former NFL COO Tod Leiweke is expected to join the Oak View Group in Seattle as a top executive to help bring an NHL expansion franchise to the Pacific Northwest. According to the Seattle Times, KeyArena is currently being renovated by OVG in Seattle with the hope of landing both an NHL and NBA team in the coming years, though neither has been announced by the respective leagues. An NHL team would likely begin play in October 2020, but a decision is not expected on that until a league Board of Governors meeting in June. Leiweke served as CEO of the Seattle Seahawks from 2003-2010, “doubling their season-ticket base” and advancing them to their first-ever Super Bowl following the 2005 season, so he has prior success in the region with professional sports teams. As noted by a city sportswriter, “He is quite simply the most successful sports executive Seattle has ever known.” If anyone can successfully bring at least one of these pro sports back to Seattle it’s the brothers Leiweke – Tod and his brother and OVG founder Tim, long the AEG CEO.


  1. The Canadian government has officially announced its support for the joint North American World Cup bid for 2026. According to the Toronto Sun, the bid from the United States, Mexico, and Canada faces opposition only from Morocco, yet the North African country’s bid is “making a late charge” to win the elusive bid. Canada’s official support is a last push to “coax the FIFA Congress away from selecting Morocco.” “It’s good for our athletes, it’s good for our communities, our economy, our reputation as an international sport leader,” said Canadian Minister of Sport Kristy Duncan. The competitor’s bid proposes a more compact tournament, with stadiums and venues within driving distance from each other, as opposed to the North American bid that would require flying between almost all potential host cities. The Moroccan bid is also being viewed as more favorable for viewership in the European market due to the time zones it encompasses – the European region clearly drives the majority of TV revenue for FIFA.     


  1. In the wake of some of the NBA’s biggest stars acknowledging personal struggles with mental health, the NBA and NBAPA have decided to create an independent mental wellness program. According to NBA.com, the two entities are on the precipice of naming a Director of Mental Health & Wellness, a new role that will be jointly funded by the league and the union. Most recently, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love have publicly stated that they were dealing with mental health issues while playing this season, prompting the league to take official steps to help. The new program, which is the result of almost a “year of discussions” between the two sides, “will allow players to seek treatment and counseling outside of the framework of their individual teams.” The mental outreach program will extend beyond the NBA, as it will also be part of the Junior NBA World Championships in Orlando in August. Player health and safety is a key tenet of all pro sports leagues, including mental health. It’s great to see the NBA and its players association take this important step.


  1. MLS and Liga MX have officially announced the first stage of a strategic partnership between the two North American soccer leagues. According to Pro Soccer USA, MLS and Liga MX clubs will begin competing in the Campeones Cup, the first competition solely between U.S. and Mexican soccer clubs since SuperLiga ended following the 2010 season. “The Campeones Cup is only the first step,” said Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla. “It’s a big step, as [MLS Commissioner Don Garber] said it’s going to be the Super Bowl of soccer in North America…We’re going to work with minor, we’re going to work with best practices …and we’re sure we’re going to have better football for great fans we have in the U.S. and in Mexico and in Canada.” The new partnership also has the aim of going beyond the sport, with hopes that the cup between the two nations will help ease any cultural divides that have arisen in the current political climate. Once again the healing power of sport should prevail, both on the pitch of the Campeones Cup matches and outside of it.


  1. As MLS continues to grow in size and popularity across North America, some of the league’s longstanding clubs have started to lag behind. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, MLS Commissioner Don Garber is not worried about the viability of Philadelphia as an MLS city going forward, despite lagging attendance numbers over the past years. “It’s a huge market,” said Garber. “It’s an influential market. We continue to have great faith in the club, its ownership and the market.” Since 2010, the Union’s attendance has declined steadily year over year, going from an average of 19,254 in 2010 to only 16,812 in 2017. As part of the club’s Talen Energy Stadium lease, “if after 10 years the team’s attendance is in the bottom 25% of MLS, the team can pay the county $10 million and leave the venue.” The team has insisted that this will not happen, but the club is running out of time to turn around its downward attendance trend. The team’s success in attracting fans now further impacts the city’s bottom line – expect to see the Philly government lending a subtle marketing hand.


  1. The 2018 World Cup in Russia this summer will not be attended by the British royal family or any government ministers from the United Kingdom. According to ESPN.com, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the absence in wake of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal. Moscow has refused to explain how the domestically-made nerve agent was used on a former Russian spy and his daughter, prompting U.K. politicians to directly address the country and its leadership. If Russian involvement in the poisoning is in fact proven, “it will be very difficult to imagine that U.K. representation at the World Cup will go ahead in the normal way…” The England national team remains a lock for this summer’s tournament, but should tensions escalate between the two countries, it will remain to be seen if further boycott action is taken by the British. This marks the latest example of how politics have had a direct influence on sport, as seen last month with North Korea’s positive inclusion at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea.



Tech Top 5

  1. Turner and Intel deliver March Madness in virtual reality. Through the NCAA March Madness Live VR, Turner Sports this year is selling live virtual reality access to games throughout the NCAA tournament for $2.99 a pop. The app, which was developed in partnership with CBS Sports and the NCAA and built on Intel’s True VR technology, is offering VR games from the first and second rounds as well as the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and National Championship – 21 games in all. When accessing the games through the VR system, users can either pick a camera angle to watch a game or opt for “fully produced” coverage that involves multiple cameras and sounds from the arena. During the first and second rounds, audio included game commentary from the telecasts across TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV. In addition to the VR games, the NCAA March Madness Live VR provides interactive bracket updates, full length game replays, highlights, and video-on-demand. Turner’s offering this year expands on the initial multiyear deal it signed last year with Intel, CBS, and the NCAA.

  2. Arlington to build America’s largest esports stadium. Arlington already has the largest local monopoly on professional sports with Globe Life Park, AT&T Stadium, and the University of Texas at Arlington's Maverick Stadium. Arlington officials last week announced a plan to build the largest esports complex in America, a $10 million, 100,000-square-foot facility called Esports Stadium Arlington that would transform the Arlington Convention Center into a space dedicated to housing competitive gaming bouts. "Being on the forefront of new ideas and setting trends is in our DNA and part of who we are as the American Dream City," Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said in a statement. "Esports Stadium Arlington will further cement our city's status as a national and international tourist destination." The project will be a joint venture of the city, sports architecture firm Populous, and Esports Venues LLC. The entertainment marketing firm NGAGE Esports will manage the new facility once construction is complete. Esports Venues will have a 10-year lease, with a 10-year renewal option, with the city. The city plans to recoup the money it will spend through lease payments, event revenues, and naming rights.

  3. Kevin Durant adds Suzy to tech portfolio. Kevin Durant is increasing his portfolio of tech investments beyond sports and health. In November, The Durant Firm invested in promoting startup Suzy as half of a bigger $5 million funding spherical for Suzy’s parent firm, Crowdtap, led by enterprise capital agency The Foundry Group. Suzy CEO Matt Britton informed The New York Enterprise Journal that the addition of Durant and associate Wealthy Kleiman is part of the company’s efforts to hunt likeminded companions and buyers who provide “a differentiated perspective on the enterprise panorama.” Crowdtap was previously within the enterprise of influencer advertising. At SXSW, the company shifted its focus by rebranding to Suzy. Now, as an alternative to selling its relationship with creators, it is specializing in synthetic intelligence that lets manufacturers construct surveys that may gain tens of millions of shoppers in seconds. Earlier this year, The Durant Firm invested in Yoshi, an app that delivers on-demand fuel and oil modifications for parked automobiles. Durant’s investments come as more Warriors players use their proximity to Silicon Valley to position themselves as tech influencers.

  4. Warriors partner with SyncThink to monitor concussions. The Warriors became the first pro sports team to work with Palo Alto-based SyncThink, producers of a virtual reality headset that uses eye-tracking technology. The SyncThink headset provides real time objective data on how a subject’s brain is functioning. The Warriors and SyncThink will use that data to determine if any of their players have concussion symptoms. Unlike the NFL, NBA teams do not monitor concussions on a near daily basis. But a handful of NBA players have suffered concussions in recent years, including Warriors guard Klay Thompson in the 2015 NBA playoffs. In 2011, the NBA passed a concussion protocol that required players to pass a series of tests symptom-free before returning to the court, including stationary bike, light jogging, running, jumping and agility drills, team drills with limited contact, and returning to the court without limitations. “We have a lot of really great return-to-play protocols and I think the NBA has done a terrific job in being overly safe,” Warriors assistant general manager Kirk Lacob said.

  5. New Jersey will implement replay for high school football. New Jersey high school football will experiment with voluntary video replay review in the 2018 season, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Wednesday. Officials will be able to access replays using Hudl Sideline, an application that syncs live game film across devices, such as tablets or smartphones used by players and coaches, to review game tape and potentially reverse calls made on the field. Coaches frequently use the replay software to gain a competitive advantage during games. Replays are available on devices about four seconds after the whistle, quick enough to run a no-huddle offense and still see instant replays. NFL and college teams can use tablets to view still photographs but not live video. Previously, teams printed out photos for in-game scouting. State football officials will determine the policies to govern the review process by the end of the month, said Jack Dubois, the state’s associate athletic director.

Power of Sports 5


  1. Rickie Fowler wears Arnold Palmer tribute shoes. Although he didn’t pull off a win there this year, Rickie Fowler honored the life and legacy of Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill by wearing specially-designed PUMA AP Ignite Hi-Tops and a limited edition Arnie’s Army hat during play. Fowler has always been a huge fan of Palmer, and last year during the API he raised over $25,000 for charity. This year, Rickie is trying out something similar with shoes and hat with Palmer’s famous umbrella logo. "I feel privileged to have known Arnie and be able to call him a friend," Fowler said. "I wanted to do something to celebrate what he did on the course, and more importantly, how he used his platform to benefit others through his Foundation!" The shoes were created for Puma Golf by Dominic Chambrone, known as "The Shoe Surgeon." Puma is also giving one lucky golfer the chance to own the same shoes Fowler has in his possession. Currently up for auction on eBay, the second pair of Palmer-inspired spikes come signed by Fowler, with all proceeds from the auction going to support the Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation.

  2. Former MLB manager Tony La Russa hosts “Dinner of Champions” in Phoenix. Founded in 1993 after he saved a stray cat during a game at the Oakland Coliseum, La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) works to keep pets out of harm’s way in public pounds. The organization has also partnered with veterans and people with traumatic brain injuries to come together with service-related issues to create a happy and healthy lifestyle. “We have a great cause, and in this case, it’s bringing our dogs together with veterans who have PTSD,” La Russa said. Steak 44 in Phoenix hosted the gathering, and among the athletes in attendance were Hall of Famers Jim Thome, George Brett, and Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks. A’s relief pitcher Liam Hendriks was also present, and he felt particularly strong about the cause at hand. Hendriks has six pets: three teacup Chihuahuas and three cats, including his “newest acquisition,” a displaced cat from Hurricane Irma. With roots in the Bay Area with the Athletics, La Russa underwrote a 37,700 square foot ARF shelter in Walnut Creek in 2003, and Hendriks has helped him with local events in recent years.

  3. Oklahoma City Thunder help fight hunger. Last week, the entire Oklahoma City Thunder organization spent the afternoon at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma packing meals for the second annual Thunder Day of Service. The full roster from the Thunder and Blue, as well as staff members, packed meals, packaged dry goods, and filled boxes with food to go to Oklahomans facing food insecurity. In total, the Thunder organization packaged 12,144 pounds of food, which will feed approximately 10,120 Oklahomans. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, a member of the Feeding America network of Food Banks, is the largest hunger-relief charity in the state, providing enough food to feed more than 136,000 hungry Oklahomans every week, 37% of whom are children. In 2017, the Regional Food Bank distributed 52 million pounds of food through a network of 1,300 community-based partner agencies, charitable feeding programs, and schools throughout 53 central and western Oklahoma counties.

  4. MLB stars bartend for charity. Billy Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Dee Gordon were among ballplayers slinging drinks at the eighth annual Celebrity Bartender Night in Scottsdale to benefit Amyloidosis Support Groups and Cruz's Boomstick23 Foundation. They gathered to support Erica Brooks, whose firm Issues Concerning Athletes finds temporary housing for many Major Leaguers who spend February and March in Arizona, and whose father passed away from the rare disease amyloidosis. "It means a lot to me, it means a lot to Erica and her family," said Hamilton, who has been attending since at least 2014. Amyloidosis is an incurable disease in which an abnormal protein builds up in a person's organs. "I do housing for them, but this is where I get rewarded," Brooks said. Cruz added additional weight to this year's event by involving his Boomstick 23 Foundation, which focuses on youth sports and education. "Where we're coming from, we know the importance of giving back," said Cruz. "I learned it from my dad. Any cause that I can help, especially stuff like this, I'm glad to do it."

  5. Former NFL players help nonprofit. On April 7, members of the NFL Alumni group will host a clay shooting fundraiser for Champions for Champions. The Champions for Champions nonprofit offers activities for children and adults with special needs. Former Miami Dolphins Running Back Don Nottingham, Super Bowl VIII Champion in 1973, partnered with local resident Marisa Rodriguez, who has battled the effects of cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “Some people said I would never walk on my own, but I proved them wrong,” said Rodriguez. She has overcome the need to use a walker or a cane, which she had used from age 3 until her early teens. Rodriguez was one of several members of Champions for Champions of Ocala who gathered, along with Nottingham, for the group’s most recent Friday “Dance Like a Champion” session. The nonprofit Champions for Champions aims to “actively enhance the quality of life” for adults and children with “intellectual, physical or developmental disability,” such as autism and Downs syndrome, according to the group’s commitment statement. Champions for Champions formed in 2016 and now includes about 40 members and their families.

U.S. men's hockey pulls out win after entering 3rd period tied

U.S. men's hockey pulls out win after entering 3rd period tied

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Ryan Donato scored two power-play goals and Troy Terry dominated with his speed as college players led the United States to an important 2-1 victory over Slovakia on Friday at the Olympics.

Donato, who plays for his father Ted at Harvard, delivered the kind of offense USA Hockey wanted when it picked four NCAA players for its no-NHL Olympic roster. Donato, Terry and American Hockey League scoring star Chris Bourque were all additions to the U.S. after the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November, during which the U.S. struggled to score, particularly against Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco.

Laco was on top of his game, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Only this time, the Americans' young skill that coach Tony Granato hoped would bring energy and spark the team came through.

Goalie Ryan Zapolski made 21 saves for his first Olympic victory, which is crucial considering only the top four of 12 teams avoid the qualification round Monday. With the regulation win, the U.S. vaults to the top of Group B with four points. Slovakia was second with three, followed by Slovenia and Russia.

The U.S. faces Russia in each team's final preliminary-round game Saturday night.

The Americans didn't have a shot on net until six-plus minutes into the game when defenseman Noah Welch finally got the puck to Laco.

All it took to get the U.S. offense going was a Slovakia penalty that gave Terry and Donato some room to operate. Terry sped through the offensive zone and took two Slovakia defenders with him, dropping the puck to a wide-open Donato for his first power-play goal of the game to put the U.S. up 1-0 at 7:10.

Just 25 seconds later, Andrej Kudrna scored on a tip of a Tomas Surovy shot that slipped under Zapolski's right arm for a tying goal the 31-year-old goalie probably wants back.

Bobby Butler had a semi-breakaway late in the first and Laco got his blocker on it. A couple of second-period power plays yielded offensive-zone time but not a goal, and a borderline goalie interference penalty on Boston University's Jordan Greenway made penalty killers work hard to keep it tied.

After a too many men on the ice call on Slovakia, Bourque, another son of a former NHL player, fed Donato, who spun around in front and went five-hole on Laco to score the game-winning goal with 17:09 left.