Other Sports



with Jamie Swimmer, Ron Socash & Tanner Simkins


  1. A return to the World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers – their first Fall Classic appearance in 29 years – will likely "erase years of red ink." According to the New York Post, the Dodgers "might be close to break-even” thanks to the increased number of MLB Postseason home games. The team had an Opening Day payroll of $242.2 million -- which increased to $265 million due to in-season trades. The Dodgers "posted an operating loss" of $20.5 million last year after an operating loss of $73.2 million in 2015. The team’s financial picture is "expected to improve next season -- with expected payroll cuts." And within a few seasons, the team "projects" making more than $50 million annually. The Dodgers’ World Series opponents, the Houston Astros, advanced to their second World Series in franchise history on Saturday with a shutout win over the Yankees in ALCS Game 7, a victory that, according to the Houston Chronicle, "lifted up a city that will long be recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.” But don’t expect the massive economic impact from the World Series that Super Bowl host cities experience: in multiple studies, sports economists peg the impact per World Series home game at around $6.8 million, a far cry from the $300+ million a Super Bowl brings in.
  2. In Northern California, Sonoma Raceway is ready to re-open in the wake of area wildfires. As firefighters appear to have devastating fires contained in Wine Country, Sonoma Raceway is ready to re-open. The track closed for more than a week after fires broke out in Sonoma and Napa Counties. The fires burned the hillside around the course, but raceway VP/Communications & Marketing Diana Brennan noted that structures came through unscathed, and fortunately so did the staff, none of whom lost their homes. The track will conduct a test day on Monday, with the first race to follow this weekend. Last week, Sonoma Raceway opened its 50-acre campgrounds as a stop-through shelter, offering three meals a day for evacuees. Brennan said at the peak, there were around 75 RVs and campers on the adjacent grounds. “This valley (Sonoma) and the community are amazing on a good day,” she noted, “and, it turns out, even better on a bad day. It’s a long haul, but we need to be a part of the restoration process.” From hurricane relief to wildfire shelter, this is just the latest example of American pro sports stepping up to aid disaster relief in 2017.


  1. After a meeting between NFL union representatives and players, no changes have been made regarding rules on protesting the National Anthem. According to the New York Times, athletes will still be allowed to kneel or sit during the anthem in coming weeks without penalty. The NFL has flirted with the idea of changing the rules to require players to stand for the playing of the anthem, but no consensus has been reached. After the meeting, the NFL “did promise to help support some of the causes targeted by the protesting players, including reform of the criminal justice system.” Fans across the country have voiced their objections to the anthem protests, saying that they feel players are being “disrespectful to the flag and the military.” One of the chief critics of this movement has been President Trump. “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country,” he tweeted. The NFL and its players' association continue to show unity and resolve in the face of political forces attempting to cast them as dividers, not unifiers. Moving forward, hopefully cooler heads will prevail, and the league can identify more ways to affect positive social change.


  1. The 2018 NFL Draft is heading to Dallas. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the event, scheduled for April 26-28, will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Philadelphia held last year’s draft and Chicago hosted the two preceding events. The NFL Draft has become more than just an isolated event – it is now a weekend-long celebration that goes beyond just picking players. Cowboys Executive Vice President & Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson tweeted that she is “so excited” to have won the rights to host the event. In terms of logistics at AT&T Stadium, the NFL plans to utilize the field, stands, and outdoor plazas, “where the NFL Draft Experience festival would take place.” The Cowboys’ state-of-the-art practice facility, The Star at Frisco, will be used in some capacity as well. It’s clear the NFL Draft has cemented itself as a must-attend event and solidified the league’s quest to capture sports fans’ attention year-round.


  1. The NBA season is underway, and a new report from Wasserman notes that jersey patch sponsorships are worth an average of $9.3 million across the league. According to SportsBusiness Journal, more than half of NBA teams signed jersey patch sponsors ahead of the new season, giving them additional revenue sources. The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors lead the way with an NBA-best deal worth $20 million annually with Japanese tech company Rakuten. The $9.3 million marker is “slightly up from projections,” which were initially forecast at $9.0 million annually. The NBA jersey sponsorships are the first for any of the four major sports leagues in the U.S., so selling the “high-priced inventory was proven no easy task given it had never been done” before. The league gave teams an “18-month runway to sell the patches.” Look for the NHL to be the next domino to fall in the uniform patch revenue hunt – the league will test the scheme at hockey’s World Cup next December.


  1. Nike was sent scrambling just a day into its tenure as the official jersey provider of the NBA after LeBron James’ jersey ripped down the middle on national TV. According to ESPN.com, Nike executives are “extensively reviewing” why James’ jersey split down the back middle on opening night. The James incident marked the second time a Nike NBA jersey was torn during a game; in a preseason game again the Timberwolves, Lakers guard Tyler Ennis’s jersey ripped between the 1 and 0 on his No. 10 uniform. Nike took over as the official outfitter of the NBA from Adidas after signing an eight-year, $1 billion deal with the league. The Oregon-based sportswear company is debating whether or not it is at fault for the recent rips. While “Nike makes the materials and provides blank uniforms to the squads, it is often the team’s responsibility to find a vendor to custom-stitch the names and numbers on the official jerseys.” If Nike is smart, it will avoid the blame game, solve the problem, move on, and sell thousands of NBA replica jerseys to satisfied fans.


  1. Not news to anyone, but LeBron James is the NBA’s most marketable player. According to a survey of sports business executives and reported by SportsBusiness Daily, James finished “comfortably ahead” of Stephen Curry for the top spot. King James received 38 of the possible 49 first-place votes, while also appearing on 98% of the ballots. Rounding out the top five are Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. Four members of the Warriors cracked the top 10 – more than any other team – while rookie Lonzo Ball finished tied for 10th with Draymond Green. The survey was distributed to marketing/branding executives, agencies, sports business professors, and basketball media across the country. “…When you have the NBA Finals and all the exposure of the last few years for the Warriors and Cavs, it’s hard not to have a list dominated by those teams’ players,” commented Bruin Sports Capital Partner David Abrutyn. As the NBA season gets underway for real, it will be interesting to see which new brand stars emerge over the next eight months.


  1. The Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is now on par with other state-of-the-art arenas across the NBA. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the facility’s $140 million facelift actually saw the total capacity reduced by 400 to 18,798, but the added features give it some flare. Extra windows were placed throughout the concourse, “making Target Center look bigger, even while staying in its same smallish footprint in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.” A new beer garden that overlooks the court was added, along with the new Lexus Club and a second arena entrance. The team’s new locker room is noted to be “spacious and clean, with a circular design that creates more open room.” “This place has actually some life in it,” noted forward Shabazz Muhammad. The Timberwolves have high expectations on the court this year, with the additions of Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson from Chicago.


  1. The San Antonio Stars are officially set to become Las Vegas’s newest professional sports franchise. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the WNBA team has been purchased by MGM Resorts and will start playing in Las Vegas beginning with the 2018 season. The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors were quick to approve the relocation, as this transition “has been in the works for several months.” One of the biggest questions leading up to the move was where the team will play its home games; the Mandalay Bay Events Center has been chosen as the team’s arena. “Mandalay Bay is a smaller, more intimate arena with about 12,000 seats,” said MGM Resorts Chief Experience & Marketing Officer Lilian Tomovich. “We feel it’s the absolute right size arena for the fans to have that intimate experience to come watch basketball.” While unrelated, it’s also terrific that Mandalay Bay, currently associated with terror and tragedy, has something much more positive and uplifting in its near future. It’s good for the resort, and for the city.


  1. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is toying with the idea of raising the city’s amusement tax on large concerts. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, if implemented, the new plan would “eliminate the 5% tax and charge a 9% tax on tickets for venues with a capacity of 1,500 people.” Small venues and concert halls would welcome this change, while larger ones – like the United Center and Wrigley Field – could expect to lose concerts due to the high tax rate. In a statement released by the United Center, venue management noted that “the plan would be the highest amusement tax for fans attending sports and concerts in the United States.” The Cubs issued a similar statement. “World class entertainers like Billy Joel and Lady Gaga who perform at Wrigley Field have their choice of venues and the new proposal puts Chicago venues at a disadvantage,” noted Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green. As soon as Chicago loses a major concert tour stop to Milwaukee, Indianapolis, or Ann Arbor due to its high amusement tax, look for Mayor Emanuel to negotiate offsetting tax credits or incentives with Wrigley, the United Center, and the like.


  1. The NHL expects facial recognition software to be implemented in arenas within the next two years. According to TSN.ca, the NHL and some of its 31 teams are now “fielding pitches from companies offering to install high-definition cameras and facial recognition software,” hoping to have the technology adopted in the near future. One of the reasons for this push is that professional sports leagues across the world have come to terms with the fact that they are targets for terrorists. The conversations around facial recognition software are part of league-wide security reviews that could potentially help limit “the league’s financial exposure if terrorists targeted an NHL game.” “They’re looking to keep out the really bad guy and the technology has improved dramatically in the past few years,” said FaceFirst CEO Peter Trepp, whose firm sells this type of software. “We can identify someone literally as they walk through the door.” While some fans might decry the lack of privacy that would accompany putting the software systems into place, in this day and age can we really afford to dismiss them?


  1. The Las Vegas Knights are looking to provide fans with an unparalleled in-game experience. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the NHL expansion club is trying out different entertainment aspects in its first season. The team plays its games at the brand new, state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena right off The Strip and is trying to use its location as a selling point for fans. “We are making adjustments with every game,” said Golden Knights VP/Events & Entertainment Jonny Greco. “We listened to what people like and what they don’t like.” One way the team has shown its willingness to try new tactics is when it chose its mascot. Instead of a “Golden Knight,” the team chose a Gila monster, an animal indigenous to the region. The Golden Knights are on their Vegas honeymoon at present, and currently sitting in second place in the NHL Western Conference. If they continue to win, it looks like this marriage will be a lasting one.


  1. The Columbus Crew could be leaving town for Austin, Texas, as soon as 2019. According to SI.com, Owner Anthony Precourt recently announced that he would move the Ohio-based MLS franchise if a soccer stadium in downtown Columbus is not finalized within the next year. If prompted to move to Austin, the Crew would be forced to play in a “temporary facility in 2019 and 2020” before making the move into a soccer-specific stadium the year later. Mapfre Stadium, where the Crew currently play, became MLS’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium when it was built in 1999, but its amenities are now “far behind those of recently-built stadiums in the MLS.” Precourt bought the team in 2013 and has since rejected numerous offers from other suitors to purchase 100% or 50% of the team. If they move to Austin, the Crew would most likely play home games at the University of Texas in the interim – a move that could help them build a lasting millennial fan base.


  1. U.S. soccer great Landon Donovan is contemplating running for U.S. Soccer President. According to SI.com, Donovan has been approached by “a number of respected figures in American soccer” to run for the position, citing his qualifications to better handle the soccer aspects of that job than current President Sunil Gulati. Gulati is expected to run for his fourth term, though the USSF presidential campaign seems up for grabs following the USMNT’s failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The election is set for February, and the American soccer governing body is concerned about Gulati “continuing to control decisions on the technical side – including hiring head coaches.” Donovan does lack experience in governing roles, however, which could pose a potential problem for his candidacy. One big difference between Gulati and Donovan is that the former tended to prioritize money, whereas Donovan is expected to prioritize youth reform and quality.


  1. Political debates regarding Catalonia’s split from Spain have stalled media rights conversations for La Liga. According to Reuters, La Liga President Javier Tebas commented that the proposed secession has “held up negotiations” regarding the league’s international TV rights deals. The situation in Catalonia has been controversial in Spain, but the split could have severe consequences on La Liga, considering Barcelona is within the region. “La Liga would lose about 20% of its income if Real Madrid or Barcelona left,” said Tebas. “We’re talking about a problem that could have a huge impact on our competition, even though I don’t think [Catalonia splitting from Spain] will occur.” The TV rights are not only being sold in Spain and throughout the European Union, but in India, Singapore, Turkey, and beyond. Talks regarding new La Liga deals are being delayed a few weeks until a final political decision has been reached – the situation became more serious over the weekend, after Madrid announced drastic measures to stop the region from breaking away, and close to half a million people took to the streets in protest.




Five Top Tech


  1. MLB’s American League Championship Series was one of the first of its kind in terms of technology. Over 100 microphones were used during the ALCS to capture every sound, along with a high number of cameras. Further, MLB is increasing those numbers for the World Series. As a result, fans will have an unprecedented amount of access to player reactions and emotions after each play. FOX Sports Senior Vice President of Field and Technical Operations Michael Davies noted in a press release: “We will have eight Super Slow Motion and Hypermotion Cameras, including the FOX Phantom Cameras, at either side of the plate to capture at-bats and close plays at a blistering 1,500 frames per second. Quite simply, it’s more Motion Cameras in play than at any other baseball game on any network this season.” For MLB, this is a great way to capitalize on some of the biggest moments the World Series has to offer. Having players “mic’d up” has been a part of sports technology for the last decade, but now MLB has placed microphones along with high-speed cameras right on the field, to fans’ advantage and delight.
  2. Even though they failed to reach the World Series this year, the New York Yankees are moving forward in the esports arena. The team has entered into an investment partnership with Vision ESports, and will also invest in three other esports companies. The move is the latest example of professional sports franchises recognizing the legitimacy of esports and striking while the proverbial iron is hot. Yankees Co-Chairperson and Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner told Fortune, “The New York Yankees are thrilled to partner with Vision Esports and its diverse portfolio of esports companies. Guided by an impressively skilled and sports-savvy leadership team, Vision Esports is transcending the industry with a bold, innovative approach to their business, and we are excited to enter into this dynamic arena as their partner.” The Yankees continue to push the envelope of their global brand in new ways. By investing in esports, they also open the door for the industry to tap into the massive New York market. The impact of an open door into NYC could pay enormous dividends for the entire esports image and brand.
  3. FIFA will implement Video Assistant Referees in an effort to better aid on-field referees in making crucial calls during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The technology was used during the most recent Confederations Cup, and now FIFA is reaching out to technology companies in order to better prepare for the World Cup. A FIFA press release described their search for outside help: “It became clear how important it is to make correct decisions regarding the possible offside position of a player in one of the reviewable situations particularly when a goal is scored. Calibrated offside lines are requested to offer support in decision-making. FIFA calls for providers to offer a solution for a calibrated virtual offside line that will be made available to the VAR in order to assist with decision-making for possible offside positions.” If FIFA is able to increase its use of technology in the largest soccer tournament in the world, we could see VAR use expand faster than expected. With more teams and leagues in Europe seeing how the integrity of each game changes for the better, the quality of professional soccer globally could increase.
  4. The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft are partnering to create a technology facility near Lambeau Field. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the facility, called “Titletown Tech,” is a tech accelerator created in an effort to boost the growth of startup companies and revitalize the local economy and beyond. The project is a significant financial commitment for the team, as they committed $5 million for the next five years to fund Titletown Tech. Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy had this to say about the Microsoft partnership: “Titletown has gained a tremendously impactful partner in Microsoft. Economic development is the key to our region’s future, and Microsoft, with its array of tools and expertise, will help grow new businesses as well as assist our existing companies to use technology to realize greater success.” The Packers are looking to boost their brand through this investment in technology along with aiding their fan base’s local economy. As a publicly-owned entity, the Packers famously have a very close relationship with their fans. As a result, this sort of investment perfectly fits their image and will only help them in the long run.
  5. Kevin Durant grows his tech investment portfolio with his most recent support of autonomous drone startup Skydio. Skydio is believed to be one of the 30 or more tech investments Durant has made over his playing career. That number is not expected to decrease. Skydio describes their drone product as such: “At Skydio our fundamental goal is to deliver the power and magic of flying cameras without the complexity. Current drones are cool gadgets for enthusiasts but still a curiosity to mainstream consumers. Our belief is that advanced onboard computer vision and artificial intelligence, combined with world-class hardware product design, will yield a breakthrough that makes drones a trusted part of our daily lives.” Durant is no stranger to the tech industry. A marquee NBA player who heavily invests in tech startups, Durant has always shown a willingness to try his hand at new ventures. Durant, Stephen Curry, and Andre Iguodala are notable NBA players that invest in tech companies, and not coincidentally they all play for the Bay Area Golden State Warriors. It’s inspiring to see pro athletes invest in ventures that represent the markets in which they play.




Power of Sports 5


  1. Eagles DE Chris Long to donate year’s salary to education equality efforts. This week, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long announced that he will donate the remainder of his salary this year to help improve educational equality. Long had already donated his first six game checks from this season to provide scholarships for students in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, over the next ten weeks, each game check will go towards launching the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign. The Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign aims to encourage people to make donations to help improve equal education opportunities. The foundation has selected four organizations that focus on making education easily accessible for underprivileged youth while providing the support and resources they need to help them develop a strong social identity. The four selected organizations are located in the three cities in which Long has spent time during his NFL career: St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia. Each foundation will receive donations throughout the season, and the organization that raises the most money by the end of the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.
  2. Premier League players pledge a share of their earnings toward Common Goal Foundation. Premier League footballers Charlie Daniels and Alfie Mawson have pledged a share of their earnings towards Juan Mata’s Common Goal charity, becoming the first English players to do so. Mata, the star midfielder for Manchester United, believes that the support from Daniels and Mawson will help the foundation take a step forward in its international growth, and could help the foundation attract support from athletes around the world. Common Goal was started by Mata less than three months ago, with the goal of uniting the football community behind a shared commitment to give back. The idea is that each player will pledge a minimum of 1% of their annual salary to a collective fund. From there, the money will be distributed to various football charities around the world that provide underprivileged children with the opportunity to play and learn the game. To date, 12 players from various European clubs have committed to participate with Common Goal.
  3. NCAA schools scheduling exhibition games to raise money for hurricane victims. Several major college basketball programs have added exhibition games to their schedule in an attempt to raise money for the victims of the recent hurricanes that impacted Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean. The University of Oklahoma will host a charity scrimmage against UT Arlington on October 28 before their homecoming football game against Texas Tech. The basketball game will be free to attend and will have open seating, but fans will be encouraged to make a donation. All money raised at the game will go towards the United Way Harvey Relief Fund. Mississippi State University will also host a charity basketball game against the University of Nebraska next weekend. The game will be held on Sunday, October 22 at the Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi. Admission to the game will be free, but the schools will be partnering with the American Red Cross to collect monetary donations at the gates. All of the money collected will go towards helping the victims of Hurricane Irma throughout Florida and the Caribbean islands.
  4. Saudi Arabia appoints first female head of sports. Last week, Saudi Arabia appointed the country’s first-ever female president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports. Princess Reema bint Bandar was named the head of the organization, which manages sports and sports-related activities for both men and women throughout the country after she led the effort to license female-only gyms and sports clubs in her previous role with the national General Sports Authority. In a country where women are not allowed to exercise or participate in sports with men, the hope is that the new appointment will create more opportunities for women to exercise and will help them gain access to proper health and wellness facilities. According to a recent study done by the country, only 13% of the population exercises weekly. The hope is that by changing the way people view fitness, the country will be able to raise this number to 40% by the year 2030.
  5. U.S. women’s hockey team given Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. On Wednesday night, the U.S. women’s national hockey team received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. The team was presented with the award at the Salute to Women in Sports event in New York City, an annual event hosted by the Women's Sports Foundation. The players were given the award for their courage and leadership both on and off the ice. Earlier this year, the team announced it would boycott the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship. The boycott was promoted as a way to advocate for equality in their sport. Just two weeks after the boycott was announced, the dispute was successfully resolved and the team was able to participate in the IIHF World Championship, in which they emerged victorious after beating Canada 3-2 in overtime during the championship game. Now ranked number one in the world, the U.S women are training for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games, where the team hopes to medal for the sixth time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.



  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.