Other Sports

3.1.19 Rick Horrow sits down with XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck

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USA TODAY Sports

3.1.19 Rick Horrow sits down with XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

Listen to the full podcast here.

- While Cactus and Grapefruit League games intensify, baseball sees its most significant participation gains since 2014. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of people who played baseball in the U.S. “surged 21%” from 2014 to 2018, with nearly 15.9 million participants. Most of the gain has come from casual players who play baseball 1-12 times a year. The ranks of those “dabblers grew 53%, or by nearly 2.3 million people” since 2014. The growth of “more frequent baseball players was a modest 5% over four years.” However, those numbers are better than in most other amateur sports. Tackle football participation “dropped 3.4% in the past five years,” and hockey and soccer saw respective one-year drops of 3.8% and 4.3% in 2018. MLB credits the growth in part to a “program it launched” in 2015, Play Ball, that “holds programs across the nation.” Last year, MLB and USA Baseball also “started a program for schools to introduce the game to kindergarten through fourth-grade students in gym classes.” Drop offs in other sports are clearly baseball’s gain, and MLB is smart to partner with USA Baseball, Ripken Baseball, and other organizations teaching personal growth and leadership skills alongside baseball fundamentals.

--And the Oscar for best ad sales goes to…the Internet. Disney-ABC TV Group’s ad sales team confirmed it “sold off the last available unit” for ads during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, and thirty-second spots were fetching $2.1-2.2 million, according to AdAge. But the big ad winner this year is digital. Spending on such digital channels as desktop, mobile, search, and social media is expected to pass traditional media formats in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer, while spending on non-digital TV, radio, print, and billboards is projected to drop. Digital ad revenue was $26.2 billion in the third quarter of 2018, up 22% versus the year prior, according to a report from PwC U.S. It is highly likely that when the Nielsen ratings come in for this year’s Academy Awards telecast they’ll be down from years past – just like every other appointment viewing mega event including the Super Bowl. But it’s a safe assumption that mobile and social numbers for the global event will leap higher than Spike Lee into Samuel Jackson’s arms following his first ever Oscar win.

--Investor Kyrie Irving stars in Beyond Meat campaign. Vegan food maker Beyond Meat has already gotten plenty of attention from athletes minding what they put in their finely-tuned bodies. According to Hashtag Sports, Beyond Meat put one of its new investors, Kyrie Irving, in the center of its new paid media push as the company, which has raised $122 million so far, gears up to go public. More and more NBA players are embracing a plant-based lifestyle that increasingly cuts red meat out of the picture. Irving isn’t the only athlete interested in the venture; other new investors include a variety of retired and current sports stars including Shaquille O'Neill, Chris Paul, DeAndre Hopkins, Victor Oladipo, Lindsey Vonn, DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Shaun White, and Luke Walton. Many athletes have sought to raise their performance by changing their diets. Now, they are literally putting their money where their mouths are as they financially back Beyond Meat.

Josh Norman's older brother Marrio, makes final Washington Valor opening day AFL roster

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NBC Sports Washington

Josh Norman's older brother Marrio, makes final Washington Valor opening day AFL roster

With days to go until they open the 2019 AFL season, the Washington Valor finalized its opening day roster and Josh Norman's older brother, Marrio made the cut, the team announced Monday.

Norman came over from the Albany Empire, where he was second in the league in tackles with 68.5. He had his best game of the season last against the Valor, in which he racked up 10 solo tackles and two interceptions - one of which he returned for a touchdown.

“Marrio Norman is a proven, impact defensive back and plays a style of football that fits what we want to do on the defensive end of the ball,” Valor head coach Benji McDowell said in a statement last month. “Marrio provides an immediate upgrade to a position that saw a lot of injuries for us last season. We’re excited to have him here.”

Along with Norman, the Valor added defensive lineman Leon Mackey, who is in his third season in the AFL after spending 2014 and 2016 with the Arizona Rattlers.

Quarterback and ArenaBowl XXXI Most Valuable Player Arvell Nelson, defensive lineman James Atoe, who has appeared in 17 games over the last two seasons and offensive lineman Anthony Parker, who started all nine games last season and was named First Team All Arena in 2017 all return to the Valor this season. While wideout Dezmon Epps, defensive lineman Malik Forrester, defensive back Jadar Johnson and offensive lineman Kasimili Uitalia will see their first action in the AFL this season for the Valor.

The Valor open the 2019 season on the road against the Baltimore Brigade on April 26.

MORE AFL NEWS:

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

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USA TODAY Sports

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

 

  • Heads up! This year, Minor League Baseball fans might notice new digital screens and displays at their favorite stadiums. Together with ISM Connect, over 25 MiLB teams will be adding new smart displays to their ballparks. But beyond delivering unique stories and creative ads to fans during each game, these displays are also equipped with smart cameras to measure audience engagement. These smart cameras will help keep ads and content fresh. The cameras record anonymous interactions – how long someone watches the screen or their age range – not individual images of specific people. By measuring foot traffic and engagement, MiLB teams and ad sponsors can better understand who their fans are, what resonates with them, and how they’re experiencing each game. The result is a better, more engaging experience for fans, and a better way for teams and partners to learn how to best serve their loyal audience.
  • The Boston Marathon passes $200 million in economic impact, and welcomes seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to its field. This year’s Boston Marathon, held Monday April 15 and carried on NBCSports Network, will be the 123rd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, starting in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch against the Orioles this year. Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors. Here’s a bit of trivia: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade, and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • La Liga, Spanish soccer’s top-flight league, has been named the eighth biggest brand domestically, according to a report by valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. The report places La Liga above major Spanish brands such as the insurance provider Mapfre and telecommunications company Movistar. Using its brand strength score metric, a figure based on calculations regarding emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability, Brand Finance gave La Liga a score of 80.7 out of 100. Fashion retailer Zara topped the Brand Finance list overall, with the likes of Santander and Iberdrola also featuring inside its top ten. The new 2019 report marks the first time a sports league has appeared in Brand Finance’s top ten, highlighting the continued growth of La Liga. Brand Finance values the league body at $548 million. Based on monetary value along it occupies 50th place on the list, a considerable drop. However, taking into account the value of participating league clubs – which includes the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – La Liga’s overall value jumps to $4.5 billion, which would place it sixth on that list.