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Beyond the Scoreboard: USWNT, FIFA and MLS All-Star in summer of soccer

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: USWNT, FIFA and MLS All-Star in summer of soccer

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

  • Major League Soccer will host a new MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by Target at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on July 30. The first-time event takes place during the MLS All-Star break, allowing fans to watch on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS App and streamed live in English, Spanish, and French across the digital platforms of all five MLS domestic media partners – ESPN, FOX, and Univision in the U.S., TSN and TVA Sports in Canada – as well as in more than 170 countries around the world through MLS’ international media partners. Points in each of the competitive skills will be earned based on accuracy, as well as style and include: touch and volley; shooting; and passing. The 2019 MLS All-Star Game Presented by Target will take place in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31 at Orlando City Stadium, which holds close to 26,000 fans. The festivities join the city’s rich tradition of hosting mega events, including two annual college football bowl games, PGA Tour tourneys, and the annual Pop Warner Super Bowl and cheer national championships.
  • FIFA is ready to move into the world of gaming. According to SportsPro, EA Sports’ officially-licensed FIFA series has a thriving online community and a strong governing body to deliver a credible route into esports. EA Sports’ officially-licensed FIFA series began in 1993 and has become among the most successful franchises of any kind. It has sold over 280 million copies to date across every major format. Now, over a million players have been known to be competing online simultaneously at peak times with the FIFA Ultimate Team mode at the center of that online experience. By 2017, the game was making $800 million a year, and between unit sales and in-game purchases, FIFA 18 made EA $3 billion worldwide in its first year of release. Although most esports leagues focus on online battle arena games and first-person shooters, FIFA is now consolidating its esports strategy around a concept they are calling eFootball. After the first ever FIFA eNations Cup in April, look for a FIFA esports league to be formally introduced soon.
  • The U.S. women’s national team beat the Netherlands on Sunday to defend their title as reigning World Cup champions. When they get back home, they’ve got a different battle awaiting – their legal fight for equal pay and treatment. In March, the 28 members of the 2015 World Cup-winning team – including current national team stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd – filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination in their treatment versus how the governing body treats the men’s team. “The U.S. women’s soccer team does not need to be the best in the world in order to earn equal pay. The point of non-discrimination law is that employees doing similar work should be paid equally,” Columbia Law School’s Suzanne B. Goldberg told ABC News. The lawsuit also cites the denial of “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; and equal promotion of their games.” Added Goldberg, “In this instance, where the women’s team is outplaying the men’s team, there is an argument that they should be paid more than their male counterparts,“ she said. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson confirmed that the women’s team and the federation tentatively agreed to mediation after the World Cup.

Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST

  1. SportsBusiness Journal lauds corporate social responsibility. Amidst a recent roundup of sports CSR initiatives, SportsBusiness Journal noted that the first project on which educational platform developer EverFi collaborated with a sports property was “a financial literacy program that regional bank BBVA offered for use by elementary school students in a handful of NBA markets, including Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix.” When Houston hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2013, league sponsor BBVA arranged for Rockets star James Harden to appear at a participating school. “While it’s cool to have a BBVA banker come into the classroom, it’s even cooler if James Harden shows up,” said Jon Chapman, co-founder and president of global partnerships for EverFi, which has developed online educational modules on topics ranging from financial literacy to STEM to anti-bullying, branded for presentation by teams, leagues, and sponsors. After Houston, EverFi developed educational modules for the NHL and NHLPA around science, technology, engineering and math; for the NFL and the United Way around character development and African American history; for MLB focusing on learning loss during summer vacation; and with MLS around anti-bullying. We look forward to celebrating a Sport Business Handbook event with EverFi at their Washington, DC headquarters on October 2
  2. The National Lacrosse League announces details for the 2019-2020 season, which include divisional realignment, playoff format and schedule type after the addition of two expansion teams and new market Halifax. The league will feature 13 teams in the upcoming season after fielding 11 last year. To accommodate the addition of expansion teams, the New York Riptide, Rochester Knighthawks, and new market Halifax Thunderbirds, as well as maintaining an eye towards continued expansion, the NLL will shift to a three-division format in 2019-2020. “The league has had unprecedented expansion over the last three years. With two more teams coming in this year along with a new market in Halifax, we felt the need to reexamine conference alignments, schedule and playoff formats to prepare for future expansion. We also wanted to create exciting rivalries for the fans, the best travel scenarios for teams and players and competitive match-ups for our 13 franchises,“ said NLL Commissioner and Sport Business Handbook contributor Nick Sakiewicz. Along with unprecedented expansion, the NLL is clearly looking at unprecedented success.
  3. Cal Ripken, Jr.’s celebrity golf tournament draws in legendary athletes across major U.S. sports leagues. According to the Patriot News, the event, featuring such legends as Julius Erving, Lawrence Taylor, Ozzie Smith, and Jim McMahon, was held to benefit the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The inaugural golf outing was held in 2011, and since then, the event has raised several million dollars for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The principal goals of the foundation are to utilize baseball- and softball-themed programs in an effort to build character and teach life lessons to underprivileged children. Founded in 2001, the Foundation has served kids in all 50 states and in other countries such as Canada and Nicaragua. With over 20 Hall of Famers across the NFL and MLB, the event has an impressive amount of star power to help draw attention to giving back to those less privileged through baseball and softball.

Beyond the Scoreboard: HBO teaming up with Belichick and Saban

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: HBO teaming up with Belichick and Saban

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

  • From an agency perspective, the NFL is moving in the right direction. Rick recently sat down with Arnold Wright, Executive Vice President and co-head of consulting for Octagon. Wright brings NFL team, league, and player deals to life for sponsors including Castrol, Delta, Bank of America, and others. “The league is obviously an incredible platform that leaps up year to year in terms of ratings and engagement,” Wright said. “The on field action is also as good as it’s ever been.” From a global perspective, Wright says, “The international piece in particular has been great for the league. You continue to see key markets like the UK, Mexico, and even Brazil growing internationally. It’s bringing other brands into the NFL ecosystem from a partner and promotional perspective.” As for the NFL’s 100th season platform, Wright says, “The league has done a lot of really great work in terms of positioning themselves, celebrating the history of the league from a player and a fan perspective. They have demonstrated a real savviness around their marketing and their connectivity to fans. The league several years ago probably would not have demonstrated that level of flexibility in terms of their marketing and what you could do with their platforms. But that’s certainly changed.”
    • YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI will make their professional boxing debut. Last year, the two online sensations faced each other in an exhibition fight that generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys on YouTube. Now they will fight each other again – this time, in an official professional fight at in Logan’s hometown of Los Angeles at Staples Center on November 9. According to ESPN, the event will be a six-round cruiserweight fight streamed on DAZN and is sure to pack the house after last year’s sold out 57-57 majority draw that happened at Manchester Arena in KSI’s hometown of Manchester, England. They are both now professional boxers, have passed their required medical exams, and will meet at a launch news conference in Los Angeles on September 14, with another news conference to be scheduled in the United Kingdom. KSI and Paul have more than 40 million YouTube subscribers between them and should bring tons of new fans to the sport of boxing, while the sport’s traditional enthusiasts can relish undercard events that will feature an assortment of more established fighters in the boxing world.
    • HBO Sports and NFL Films are teaming on Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching, a feature-length film about the four-decade friendship between football coaches Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. According to Cynopsis Sports, the pair grant unprecedented camera access to their annual coaching retreat, where they share conversation about their interwoven history, admiration, coaching philosophies, and more. “Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have become the modern versions of Vince Lombardi and John Wooden – symbols of success not just in sports but in life,” said Ross Ketover, Chief Executive of NFL Films. “Their lessons on leadership are an inspiration; not just for those of us who love football but for anyone who wants to thrive at whatever passion they pursue.” The film is slated air in December on HBO. Belichick and Saban have both started their 2019 campaigns off with a bang, as Alabama handily won its first two games and the Patriots obliterated the Steelers 33-3 on Sunday night.