Other Sports




Podcast Intro


NBA newest Virtual Reality Developments and wearable technology


Golden 1 Center in Sacramento paying dividends in Community


NFL and Colin Kaepernick Meeting 


San Francisco 49ers teaming up with police to curb gun violence 


Microsoft charity partnerships with NFL players


Chris Long charity campaign 


Amazon's Thursday Night Football Streaming Success so far 


EPL Media Rights leading to heavy spending on their content 


Atlanta United hosting the MLS All-Star Game 


MLS Expansion Efforts in Charlotte 


NYCFC opening 10 new soccer fields across the city 


FIFA's use of virtual assistant referees 


World Cup Cost increases for Russia 


World Series Viewership Increase 


World Series Games Pace of Play


Tampa Bay Rays working on funding for their new stadium 


Garmin Impact Bat Swing Sensor


Mets and Phillies adding Augmented Reality features to their stadiums next season


MLB Partnership with EVERFI


Interview with Jon Chapman of EVERFI


Tease for Next Week


1. This year’s World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers got off
to a strong start from an overnight ratings perspective. According to SportsBusiness
Journal, Game 1 on Fox drew a 10.2 rating as the Dodgers won 3-1. That figure is lower
than last year’s 12.6 that the Indians and Cubs drew, but “was the best for a World
Series opener since Phillies-Yankees in 2009.” Despite a cry that games have been taking
too long, Game 1 was the shortest World Series game in a quarter century. Game 2
followed up with 16.0 million viewers on Fox, with the Astros pulling out a 7-6 win in 11
innings. That number is down compared to last year, but up 13% from two years ago.
Subsequent games have been packed with drama and action as the series seems likely
to go the distance. Viewership numbers for the most recent games have not yet been
released, but numbers are expected to be strong across two of America’s biggest
markets due to the intensity and star power featured in the contests.

2. With the World Series now well underway, MLB baseball has revealed its postseason
viewership numbers leading up to the championship round. According to
SportsBusiness Journal, playoff games across ESPN, TBS, FS1, Fox and MLB Network
averaged 4.8 million viewers – representing the league’s “best pre-Fall Classic figure
since 2011 (4.9 million).” The 4.8 million average is up 13% from the 4.24 million viewers
that last year’s postseason averaged. One of the biggest jumps from last year is NL
viewership on TBS, which has seen a 46% increase from last year. FS1 has been the big
winner thus far, as it had the honor of broadcasting the ALCS Game 7 matchup between
the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. That game alone averaged 9.9 million
viewers, “marking the net’s most-viewed telecast on record.” The 9.9 million average
tops last year’s 9.7 million that tuned in to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago
Cubs in Game 6 last year. MLB has to be happy with this news, especially considering
the NFL’s struggle to keep its viewership numbers up relative to past years.

3. Colin Kaepernick is set to attend a meeting between NFL players and owners, where
the two sides plan to talk about the ongoing social activism and protest issues.
According to Yahoo Sports, multiple players across the league have voiced their desire
to get him in their meetings with team owners and league officials, noting that “he is an
important voice in their effort.” This now marks the second time “he has been invited”
by members of the players’ coalition to attend a league meeting, after he declined the
first offer. League officials have been open to the idea of the former NFLer joining their
discussions, though it remains unclear what his exact contribution will be since he is not
on a team. Kaepernick recently filed a grievance against the NFL for “allegedly
conspiring to freeze him out of a job.” Protesting the national anthem all began with
Kaepernick, so it will be interesting to see what – if anything – comes out of his
inclusion in the meeting.

4. The San Francisco 49ers are teaming up with multiple police unions in an attempt to
“ease national police-community acrimony.” According to the San Jose Mercury News,
the current on-field protests by players have since “extended far beyond the field,”
prompting the 49ers to work with police unions all across the Pacific Northwest. The
team and police unions from San Jose, Oakland, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Sacramento,
Long Beach and Portland “plan to solicit participation from other NFL teams and police
unions.” One of the key areas of focus in this new partnership is gun control, specifically
to outlaw bump stocks, which the shooter in Las Vegas used to boost the killing power
of his rifles. “We’re all very interested in progress, and it’s very clear that protesting has
brought ample vision, and the opportunity for people to speak loudly,” said 49ers CEO
Jed York. This partnership could spur a movement across the league of teams working
with police unions in their respective markets. This is a great step in the right direction
for the NFL.

5. This week marks the national debut of episode three of "The Power of Sports," a
monthly program jointly produced by FOX Sports Southwest, Horrow Sports Ventures,
Oklahoma City-based foundation Fields & Futures, and Group One Thousand One. This
month, after successful forays into Oklahoma City and Indianapolis looking at public-
private partnership ventures, we journey to South Florida with MLB Hall of Famer Cal
Ripkin Jr. as he relives his first professional game at Miami Stadium as a Miami Oriole
and tour community baseball facilities being developed by his namesake cause Ripken
Baseball. We also hear about the good work his father Cal Ripken Sr. is doing with Team
Cops and Kids, and go inside Up2Us, which is training everyday coaches to work with
vulnerable youth. Check local FOX Sports networks listings to be a part of this truly
remarkable journey.

6. The Tampa Bay Rays finally have a site picked out to build a new stadium on, but
funding remains up in the air. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the proposed site in
the Channel District-Ybor City area presents developers with an opportunity to “build an
urban ballpark with, perhaps, waterfront views and access.” Plans and funding for the
14-acre site have yet to be determined. It still remains uncertain how much the new
ballpark will cost the Rays, but it is expected to run between $500-650 million. That cost
is the cost of the stadium alone, not including the millions it will take to acquire the
land, build roads and parking lots, reroute sewer lines in the area and add “new exit
ramps off highways or new stops on transit lines.” Sources close to the franchise note
that it is unlikely that “ownership will offer to pay” for a new ballpark outright. St.
Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman offered to build a new ballpark at a redeveloped
Tropicana Field, though the team seems intent on moving elsewhere.

7. Just a year after opening, the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento has already begun to pay
dividends in the community. According to the Sacramento Kings, the team’s new $1
billion arena is one of the world’s most technologically advanced and sustainable,
making it a staple in the city. Since 2015, “downtown property sales have totaled nearly
$885 million,” when construction first began on the Golden 1 Center, while 11
downtown properties worth nearly $360 million were sold in the past year alone. In
2017, the facility was ranked as one of the top 15 venues in the United States and in the
top 40 worldwide in ticket sales, “attracting over 1.6 million attendees who spent more
than $71.5 million in downtown Sacramento.” Going forward, the Kings want to build on
of this momentum to spur more positive economic growth in the city. In just a few short
months, the Downtown Commons development will be opening, which is expected to
be busy even on non-event nights. Already a staple in the community, the Golden 1
Center continues to drive economic impact in Sacramento. Look for other cities to use
this as a case to build their own state-of- the-art facilities.

8. Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will host the 2018 MLS All-Star game. According to
the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, expansion side Atlanta United FC’s success, coupled
with the city’s affection for soccer, has resulted in announcement that the city, team,
and stadium will be hosting the event in the coming year. “I don’t think we have to
worry about selling out the stadium for the All-Star game,” commented Atlanta United
Owner Arthur Blank. On top of the 2018 MLS All-Star game, the brand-new Mercedes-
Benz Stadium is also slated to host the 2018 College Football Playoff, 2019 Super Bowl
and 2020 Final Four. In this instance, Atlanta was one of four cities in consideration to
win the bid. Up to 30 Atlanta United employees “went to Chicago to observe the
different facets” of this year’s all-star game at Soldier Field, where the MLS squad faced
off against Real Madrid. This marks yet another mega sporting event that Mercedes-
Benz Stadium in Atlanta has been awarded. The city and venue will use this as a tune-
up for the CFP, Super Bowl and Final Four.

9. Detroit professional sports franchises are teaming up in an attempt to bring more
marquee events to the city. According to the Detroit Free Press, executives from the
city’s four pro sports teams – Red Wings, Pistons, Lions, and Tigers – have formed a new
partnership, the Detroit Sports Organizing Corporation, which will “identify, bid, plan
and produce major sporting events in Detroit.” Some of the events that the city hopes
to attract in the coming years include the NFL Draft and NBA and NHL All-Star Games.
Little Caesars Arena just opened in the heart of the city and the DSOC sees the venue as
a selling point in winning bids. “The cities that have been really successful in hosting
those events on a regular basis have a group like this that is permanently in place so that
when an opportunity comes up we’re not starting from scratch,” said Lions President
Rod Wood. Detroit now joins the likes of Indianapolis, Atlanta and Phoenix as cities
with permanent organizing committees, the latter of which are notorious for hosting
some of the country’s biggest sporting events.

10. Charlotte is out of the running to land an MLS expansion club – at least in this round.
According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the city’s first round efforts were confirmed
to be “dead” by the lead investor for a local team. The city planned on building a soccer-
specific stadium for a new team, one of the main criteria for cities hopeful of landing an
expansion bid, that would cost $175 million, but “the combination of upcoming
elections and a competing bid by Nashville dashed any remaining hopes.” The city and
county government disagreed on how the stadium was going to be funded, with some
supporting the use of tourism tax while others dissented. SMI President & CEO Marcus
Smith leads MLS4CLT and had even “committed to pay” the $150 million fee to acquire
a team if Charlotte’s bid succeeded, but it will not get to the point where that is
necessary. With numerous cities vying to land an MLS expansion team, a soccer-
specific stadium is a must. Funding always presents an issue though, especially for
smaller markets.

11. Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long is doing more than just playing football
this season, he is making a massive impact in communities around the country.
According to SportsBusiness Journal, Long made a splash when he announced his plan
to donating his first six game checks to fund academic scholarships in his hometown of
Charlottesville, Virginia. Long is now expanding his charitable efforts by donating his
final 10 game checks of the season “to organizations committed to balancing education
inequity.” His new campaign – Pledge 10 For Tomorrow – is geared toward the three
markets he has played in throughout his career: St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia.
Using social media as his platform to get fans involved, the campaign has already raised
around $200,000 in just over a week. “We’re all trying to improve our communities and
our country,” said Long. “I think everybody would agree equality is a goal, and a great
gateway to that is an education and educational opportunities, educational equity.” A
great example of a player using their status as a professional athlete to spur change in
communities across the country.

12. As Amazon and Facebook continue their push to stream live sporting events around
the world, a potential bid to land the English Premier League’s media rights is
expected to cost more than $13 billion. According to the London Times, if either of the
two web-based companies wanted to “stand any chance of winning live rights” to the
EPL, they would have to pay at least $13.1 billion. The preeminent soccer league’s media
rights have been hyper-inflated due to “aggressive competition between BT Sport and
Sky” in the United Kingdom. Amazon currently owns the media rights to stream the
NFL’s Thursday Night Football games via its Prime subscription model, though it
attracted a mere 370,000 viewers for the first game streamed, “compared with 14.6
million on conventional TV, and was hit by glitches.” Sky and BT are working out a deal
to pay less for the EPL’s media rights, since sport “now accounts for two-thirds of
spending on content but only 8% of viewing.” Amazon and Facebook both have the
capital necessary to make a competitive bid here, it just depends if either company is
willing to justify such a move.

13. After a few years of unparalleled growth, Under Armour’s sales are beginning to
waver. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore-based sportswear company
is now considering “exiting some of its smaller sports categories as it works to stem
declining sales.” Among those categories under consideration for exit are outdoor gear,
fishing, and most-notably tennis, among others. Star British tennis player Andy Murray
is currently represented by Under Armour, but his endorsement deal is not expected to
be impacted by any potential move. Just this past year, Under Armour “recorded its first
losses as a public company,” while its shares hit a record low when the “retailer
reported second-quarter earnings in August.” The company’s revenue growth is
expected to slow from 11-12% growth down to 9-11% growth. One of the main reasons
for these results is the resurgence of Adidas, specifically in America. Now that Under
Armour’s growth has plateaued, the long term arms race between them, Nike and
Adidas to only continue to heat up going forward.

14. With the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is now less than a year away, significant plans
are still being made for the event. According to the London Independent, FIFA
President Gianni Infantino want VAR technology in place for all tournament matches.
VAR technology was used during the Confederations Cup in Russia this past summer,
with positive results coming out of the trial. One of the biggest fears in the sport is that
a major tournament or game would ultimately be decided by a refereeing error – hence
the need for VAR. “We need it. Every championship needs it,” said Infantino. “That’s
being shown in leagues like Portugal and Italy at the moment.” Meanwhile in Russia, the
AP reported that hosting the World Cup will cost the country “$600 million more than
previously planned,” bringing the total cost up to $11.7 billion. Hidden and rising costs
are commonplace for countries tasked with hosting the World Cup and Olympics,
despite continual efforts to buck this trend.

15. Merely months ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea,
ticket sales continue to lag. According to the Wall Street Journal, safety concerns about
neighboring North Korea plague the event – a primary reason for the weak sales.
Organizers noted that only “about 30% of the tickets they targeted to sell worldwide,
and less than 20% of the batch earmarked for South Koreans” have been purchased thus
far. South Korean and IOC officials are adamant that the February Games will be “safe
and secure,” but that reassurance appears to be doing little to convince people to make
the trip to Asia. The “sluggish ticket sales raise questions about the IOC’s strategy of
holding three consecutive Games in Asia to capture interest there, though the next two
Games” – Tokyo in summer 2020 and Beijing in winter 2022 – will at least be in “larger
population centers.” A recent front-page story on the Wall Street Journal, titled “The
Winter Olympics Are Close, and So Is North Korea,” did little to calm any nerves about
PyeongChang’s proximity to the DMZ (40 miles).



  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.