Category Archives: Major Sports

Athletes First Partners to Represent Edmonton Oilers For Jersey Patch Sales

Athletes First Partners (A1 Partners) todayannounced that they have been retained by the Edmonton Oilers to handle the exclusive sale of the Oilers’ jersey patch, further expanding A1P’s growing offerings for brand partnerships. The Oilers resurgence—highlighted by last season’s trip to the Western Conference Finals, as well as their wildly passionate fan base, massive social and broadcast outreach and engagement, and return to their original iconic jersey colors of the dynasty years—is making their jersey patch one of the most unique and invaluable brand opportunities for the 2022-23 season.

“There are few North American clubs that have the deep history, including the glorious past of five Stanley Cup championships, the vibrant social media presence of today, and the young stars of tomorrow like the Oilers do. We know this opportunity will resonate for brands looking for that deep engagement, not just in the Pacific Northwest but across all of North America,” said Jim O’Connell, President Athletes First Partners. “We also know how important timing is in our business, and we are pleased to see the club continuing to drastically increase their reach as an organization, further than ever before.”

“Athletes First Partners showed us an innovative approach that we felt was different than others, and we are looking forward to seeing how they tailor all aspects of our history, brand, culture, city and fan base to find the perfect partner for our patch opportunity,” said Stew MacDonald, Chief Revenue Officer, OEG Sports and Entertainment. “As we return to our original NHL jersey colours with a rich history, including five Stanley Cup championships, this is a truly unique opportunity for a top North American brand to be part of many more historic moments in royal blue and orange starting this fall.”

Led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers advanced to the Western Conference finals last season, their latest and most crucial step in returning to the Wayne Gretzky-led glory years of the 1980’s. Off the ice, the Oilers have built an unprecedented social media following, leading all NHL clubs in social engagement and content consumption with 32 million impressions weekly throughout the season. The Oilers have also amassed the second largest national broadcast audience and third largest regional broadcast audience across the NHL. Those numbers are only expected to rise as the iconic club continues its much anticipated upward rise this fall.

To date, seven NHL clubs have secured jersey patch deals for the coming season.

Ready® Signs Steelers Quarterback Kenny Pickett

Ready®, one of the fastest growing sports nutrition brands in America with co-owners Aaron Donald and Giannis Antetokounmpo, today announced the signing of NFL first round draft pick and Pittsburgh Steeler rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett as a Ready® athlete.

Pickett was already quite familiar with Ready® having used its products while at Pitt, so the partnership was a logical extension. “Kenny already knew the fueling and recovery benefits of our products from his own experience. We really focus on our mentality and mission; and it became obvious he was a great fit to be a member of the Ready® Team,” said company founder and CEO Pat Cavanaugh.

Pickett will only promote products he uses during training, its Sports Drink and a few other select Ready® products in his various online and non-digital platforms. He joins NFL world champion Aaron Donald, NBA star and global basketball icon Giannis Antetokounmpo, and top rated American female tennis player Jessica Pegula as Ready® brand champions and ambassadors.

Pickett was the 2022 first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers after a stellar senior season when he was a Heisman Trophy finalist, first team All-American, and voted ACC Football Player and co-Athlete of the Year while leading Pitt to an ACC Championship.

“Kenny is a great example of continuing to work hard and remembering it’s not where you start it’s where you finish, which is a pillar of the Ready® mentality that defines our brand,” said Cavanaugh. “Throughout his career and breakout senior season, he continued to get better and better achieving one goal after the next. He’s just getting started.”

“I’m excited to be part of the Ready® Team especially since I’ve experienced the benefits of the products when I was at Pitt,” said Pickett. “The more Pat and I spoke about the brand and their mission to inspire athletes to take more pride in their effort than their talent; that attitude and mentality resonated with me and how I approach my football career.”

Telemundo Rolls Out The Future Is Futbol, A Comprehensive Report On The State Of Soccer

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises today released a timely report titled The Future Is Fútbol to define and characterize the fundamental shift in the importance of soccer in mainstream American sports and the role Latinos are playing in this economic, cultural and media phenomenon. The Future Is Fútbol report draws on primary and secondary research and data collection, including quantitative surveys and an innovative neuroscience study among bilingual Hispanics. To view the full report please click here.

Fútbol has an estimated 5 billion fans around the world and 85 million adult followers in the U.S. Gallup estimates that soccer has seen a significant increase in popularity, with a gain of 52% more fans from 2012 to 2019, compared to 27% growth in basketball and 8% growth in baseball during this period. Fueled by its growing popularity among young people and women in particular, as well as Latinos overall, the sport is benefiting from the tailwinds of growth driven by the FIFA World Cup 2022TM – kicking off in November in Qatar – and the tournament’s arrival in the U.S. in 2026.

“Fútbol is the sport of America’s future. Soccer is growing in the U.S. and Hispanics are clearly leading the way,” said Monica Gil, Chief Administrative and Marketing Officer, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “Every four years, the FIFA World Cup TM brings Latinos and non-Latinos together with a spirit and intensity that no other sporting event in the world can match. There is no more authentic way to experience the World Cup than in Spanish. For companies and brands seeking real cultural connection and a space to engage Latinos, soccer and the FIFA World Cup TM are the place to be, this fall and for years to come.”

According to the report, the World Cup is considered more important among Hispanic World Cup viewers than any other sporting event, including the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Olympic Games, or the NBA Finals. FIFA reported that the 2018 FIFA World CupTM reached over half the global population with 3.57 billion viewers. In 2018, the World Cup had its greatest 32-day performance in Spanish-language media history, with a commanding total U.S. audience reach of 37 million.

The Future Is Fútbolfurther highlights the power of soccer as a multibillion-dollar business with profits of $40 billion in 2019, twice the worldwide revenue for American football. Fans follow players and teams year-round as celebrities and representatives of national origin and sources of local pride. U.S. soccer fans spend 7% more than the average American sports fan on team sports clothing, tickets, sports equipment, and memorabilia. In 2021, soccer matches were available almost every day, with only six days without a match on broadcast TV, a phenomenon that offers brands, retailers and advertisers alike an advantage like no other sports property.

Other key themes highlighted in The Future Is Fútbol include:

  • Latinos Fueling Growth – Latinos have driven shifts in the U.S. population over the last decade. As their influence grows, so does soccer’s popularity. Hispanics and other diverse fans bring with them a love for soccer that has been part of their story for generations, shaped by history and now representing the next breakthrough in mainstream American sports.
    • Among U.S. Latinos ages 16 and older, almost three-quarters (73%) say they are soccer fans, and three times more Hispanics call themselves Superfans (22%) compared to non-Hispanics (7%).
    • More than half (53%) of Latinos ages 16 and older and nearly 1 out of 3 non-Latinos (29%) say they plan to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022.
    • Latinos rank both soccer (57%) and American football (59%) well above basketball (45%) and baseball (40%).
  • Fútbol is Everything” Culture
  • 61% of Hispanic World Cup viewers are fútbol Enthusiasts, regular fans or superfans, who say that if their team won the World Cup, their euphoria would be unmatched, an experience more exciting than getting their dream job or getting married.
  • Over half (57%) of Hispanic Enthusiasts say they have reshuffled their priorities to watch an important game, including skipping family or friend events, taken off work, spent money they did not have or traveled miles to watch an important match.
  • The FIFA World Cup TM is as big as a holiday. Soccer gatherings are momentous among Latino Enthusiasts who rank the event second only to Christmas, more significant than Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
  • Biggest Multi-Platform Sporting Event –The ability of fans to watch and engage on any screen has a monumental impact on the growing FIFA World Cup TM fandom. Soccer media coverage and content have increased exponentially to meet the demand for more high-quality live, virtual and social fan experiences 24/7.
    • The FIFA World Cup 2022TM is expected to be the world’s biggest multi-platform sports event ever. The incremental viewership from live streaming helped make the 2018 FIFA World CupTM the biggest multi-platform sports event in Spanish-language history.
    • 67% of Hispanic viewers plan to watch the World Cup on broadcast TV, and 42% plan to stream the matches.
    • Television is the preferred device for Hispanics to watch the World Cup (90%), followed by smartphone (34%) and computer (17%).
  • The Power of Spanish – For most Hispanic fans, Spanish is the language and culture of fútbol. Viewers describe Spanish-language soccer commentators as excellent storytellers, utterly poetic and animated about what is happening on the field.
    • Over half (56%) of U.S. Hispanic World Cup viewers prefer watching the FIFA World CupTM in Spanish.
    • Even 1 out of 5 English-dominant Hispanic World Cup viewers prefer to watch in Spanish.
    • Spanish is not exclusive to Hispanics because 17% of non-Latino tournament viewers said they would watch some of the matches in Spanish as well, an increase of 12% over 2018.
    • According to a brain neuroscience study conducted among U.S. bilingual Hispanics, watching a World Cup match with Spanish commentary generated 15% greater likeability, keeping fans glued to their screens longer than watching the identical match in English.
      • Key game moments, like the iconic goal call by the Spanish commentator, prompted an average of 37% greater emotional intensity compared to English, making the “highs” higher and the “lows” lower.
      • The effects of Spanish game commentary also transferred to advertising. In the study, the identical ad, when played in Spanish had 19% higher likeability and 49% greater emotional intensity vs. English.
  • Latinas Are Watching and Bringing Their Kids Hispanic women are an untapped opportunity among soccer viewers.
  • Four in ten (41%) U.S. Latinas say they are likely to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022TM.
  • 76% of Hispanic mom tournament viewers encourage their kids to follow the World Cup and professional fútbol.
  • Hispanic females are passionate fans and together comprised 17 million Spanish-network FIFA World CupTM viewers in 2018, making the tournament the most-watched Latina sporting event in Spanish-language history.
  • Among the World Cup audience, a fifth (21%) of Latinas call themselves Superfans, which is far greater than both non-Hispanic males (10%) and non-Hispanic females (8%).
  • And Latino viewing is a family affair, with 70% of Latino parent event viewers saying it’s important to watch the FIFA World CupTM in Spanish with their kids.
  • First-Choice Sport of Young People in the U.S. Soccer has become the fastest-growing major team sport among all high school students and is the most popular among Hispanic high schoolers.
    • High school soccer participation increased 32% from 2002 to 2019, far more than the average growth of basketball (-6%), American football (-2%), baseball (6%), or ice hockey (7%).
    • Soccer is egalitarian, considering that high school girls play almost as much as boys, with participation growing 31% for girls versus 33% for boys from 2002 to 2019. There were 394,105 high school girls who played soccer in 2019, a figure not far behind the 459,077 high school boys who played.
    • Soccer is currently the most popular team sport among 40% of Hispanic high school students who say they played or were planning to play the sport in 2020, compared to 21% of all high school students.

Global and inclusive, growing across women and youth, fútbol is poised to redefine the American sports landscape. After years of wins, both large and small, fútbol is coming of age at the moment when millions of Latinos and fútbol fans of all backgrounds stand ready to watch, engage and lead the way.

Telemundo Deportes is the exclusive Spanish-language home of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ taking place in Qatar this Fall, starting Nov. 20. The network is prepared to deliver the most ambitious coverage in Spanish-language history with all 64 matches live, including all four games on Thanksgiving Day. Peacock will stream all the Spanish-language World Cup matches live, and will feature pre-game and post-game coverage, as well as special programming with extended interviews and highlights.

Topps NOW Timmy Trumpet Card Celebrates Diaz Save

With the Mets holding onto a narrow 2-1 lead over the Dodgers on Wednesday night at CitiField, Timmy Trumpet took the field to welcome closer Edwin Diaz into the game. Trumpet played a live rendition of his song “Narco,” Diaz’s intro song all season.

Now through Friday at 2 p.m. ET, fans can get a Topps NOW card commemorating the occasion. The card, depicting Trumpet’s live performance, is available here. Only the number of cards ordered by Friday at 2 p.m. ET will be printed.

NY Regulator Expects To Clear 2022 Sports Betting Targets

Since launching Jan. 8, New York sportsbooks have already handled more than $9.7 billion on sports wagers statewide, a figure that cements the Empire State as the nation’s capital of sports betting. Online wagering has already generated more than $368 million for New York state tax coffers, an astounding figure considering that only four states across the nation have eclipsed the $100 million threshold since the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA in May 2018.

The explosion of sports betting leaves New York State Gaming Commission Executive Director Rob Williams optimistic that the state could generate $500 million in tax revenue from online sports wagering in the first year of the market. For context, when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed course on sports betting in 2021, his administration projected that the state would not clear that figure until Fiscal Year 2026, at the earliest. The numbers are astounding when you consider that more than two other dozen states have generated around $1.31 billion in combined tax revenue from legal sports wagering since May 2018.

“We’re very pleased with the overall success of the mobile sports wagering industry in New York. We are very cognizant that we’ve reached those great numbers without going through a football season,” Williams told Sports Handle last week on the sidelines of the Racing and Gaming Conference at Saratoga.

The nation’s capital for sports betting

From the outset, there were clear indications that New York appeared poised to shatter national records, based on the sheer volume of activity in certain sports-crazed neighborhoods of Manhattan. New Yorkers placed more than 300,000 wagers over the first hour of legal sports betting in the Empire State, and a total of 17.2 million over the first weekend on Jan. 8-9, according to Vancouver-based geolocation provider GeoComply. For the Super Bowl, New York activity represented a whopping 25% of the company’s U.S. sports betting traffic, ranking first.

Consequently, there are strong indications that New York will surpass $2.3 billion in handle for the upcoming NFL season. Of the seven states that provide a breakdown for revenues by sport, wagering on the NFL last year represented about 18-20% of their overall handle, according to Sports Handle internal research. The figure jumped to 27.6% in Mississippi for retail sports wagers (the state only accepts online sports bets inside casino properties). One outlier is Nevada, where NFL wagers represent about 37% of the state’s overall handle on a historical basis, according to the UNLV Center For Gaming Research. Last year, NFL wagering represented 33.4% of the handle statewide.

New York launched online sports betting one day before the final Sunday of the 2021-22 NFL regular season.

When you toss in betting on college football, New York appears on track to clear $500 million in tax revenue. As a point of comparison, Colorado handled more than $158 million in college football wagers in 2021, on top of the $689.1 million state sportsbooks handled on the NFL. Although the Colorado figures contain wagers in several offseason months, the bulk of wagering occurred in the four months during the season. The population in New York outranks Colorado by a factor of 3.4x.

“There’s no doubt that as we go through this upcoming fall football season with both college and professional football that we will exceed the initial revenue numbers that we were aiming for,” Williams said. “It has been a wonderful success without what everyone concedes is the most important season to benefit sports wagering, so we’re very bullish on the market.”

At a hold of 8%, New York sportsbooks could generate more than $180 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from the NFL alone. Given the explosion of single-game parlays, it stands to reason that the hold this fall could be considerably higher. For those attempting to forecast the NFL hold in New York, trends on the hold from parlays in Illinois might be instructive:

Betting Innovation Centre launches Opta BetBuilder Plus for the World Cup

Stats Perform and Sporting Solutions’ new Betting Innovation Centre announced its first B2B product set, Opta BetBuilder Plus, that will quickly unlock the true potential of player props and same-game betting for every operator and bettor.

Initially built for football and ready to integrate today, Opta BetBuilder Plus is the only major betbuilder product to utilise Stats Perform’s renowned Opta player statistics and enables sportsbooks of all sizes to offer thrilling experiences for the 2022 World Cup and many competitions beyond.

The product fills key gaps that have held back the growth of football betting by connecting sharp pricing with contextual front-end Opta stats, in-play as well as pre-game, delivered in multiple formats including singles, pre-combined multis, a betbuilder API and hosted betbuilder UI.

Opta BetBuilder Plus features unique Opta-powered markets, like player shots on target and goalkeeper saves, which are available for a broad range of global football competitions. The service has also been built from the ground-up to be fast and simple to launch, particularly for hundreds of operators with an existing Sporting Solutions or Stats Perform integration.

“Opta BetBuilder Plus creates dream experiences for bettors and operators and will set a benchmark for the future of betbuilder products. It perfectly combines the best of Sporting Solutions and Stats Perform: elite modeling and trading expertise, uniquely deep player data, product expertise and the world-renowned Opta brand,” said Shane Gannon, SVP Betting at Stats Perform.

CEO of Sporting Solutions, Andy Wright, said: “Since announcing the Betting Innovation Centre, operators have been asking for player proposition prices like shots to be available at scale in betbuilders and same-game products, in-play as well as pre-game, to make football betting more entertaining for their users.

“They also want their traders to have genuine confidence in the player proposition pricing, so they can keep more markets open longer, for more games, and be creative with their boosts and promotions. That’s a large part of the unique value we’re bringing.”

Added Gannon, “Operators want their customers to be able to quickly find and place the right bet, to track it and have stats to help them make a cash-out decision, for all the big leagues but also their local hero players and teams.

“Our Opta BetBuilder Plus product set enables all of this, via a very fast integration. It is perfect for any operator wanting to unlock the true potential of football betting and means every operator can quickly offer trusted, unbeatable football betting experiences,” he said.

EBET’s Sports Betting Brand BetTarget Secures Ring Sponsorship of Saturday’s Bare Knuckle Fighting

Touted as the biggest combat sporting event this summer, EBET’s brand BetTarget will gain brand exposure leading up to and throughout the live action. The event will be distributed in over 60 countries and is expected to be broadcast to 133 million homes. The event is also expecting over 300,000 live PPV viewers and a rebroadcast viewership of 25 million.

EBET’s BetTarget offers the latest odds and live betting on all major sports and events with more than 3,000 live events per month and thousands of additional pre-event markets.

“Bare Knuckle fighting is rapidly becoming one of the most popular combat sports in the world. And with 91% of the fan base above the age of 21, this event is a great fit for our sports wagering brand, BetTarget,” commented Mark Thorne, Chief Marketing Officer of EBET. “We look forward to exposing our brand to the massive audience this fight card will engage.” 

Telemundo Deportes Introduces Expanded FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Commentary Team

Telemundo Deportes, the exclusive Spanish-language home of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, announces an expanded lineup of experts joining its commentary team as it kicks off the 100-day countdown to the start of the tournament this fall, airing live exclusively in Spanish on Telemundo, Universo and Peacock.

“This is a year that will be a total game-changer for the biggest sporting event in the world, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone by introducing and welcoming an impressive roster of legendary figures joining us in Qatar in 100 days,” said Ray Warren, President of Telemundo Deportes.

Former Mexican national team head coach Miguel “Piojo” Herrera, Real Madrid and Spanish national team legend Fernando Hierro, World Cup champions Mauro Silva of Brazil and Claudio Borghi of Argentina, and 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlán of Uruguay are some of the iconic soccer personalities joining Telemundo Deportes to provide an “on-the-pitch” perspective and expert analysis.

Telemundo Deportes assembled an unprecedented lineup of experts to enhance the coverage and broaden the scope of the World Cup commentary team’s technical expertise, experience and diversity with voices that represent many of the countries participating in the World Cup that are most relevant to Hispanic audiences.

“This is our most ambitious World Cup presentation yet with the largest onsite presence the network has ever had, and we’re proud to have a world-class team of experts and on-air talent at the helm of our coverage,” said Eli Velazquez, Executive Vice President of Sports Content, Telemundo Deportes. “This group reflects our commitment to deliver deeper coverage, unique perspectives, relevant storylines, and more excitement than ever before.”

The roster combines diverse soccer legends and experts who bring unique experiences from all facets of the game to complement Telemundo Deportes’ renowned award-winning commentary team. Coverage will be anchored by soccer Hall of Famer, six-time Emmy award-winner and chief commentator Andres Cantor alongside Emmy-award winning sports journalist Miguel Gurwitz, Telemundo’s Emmy-nominated sports and entertainment host Ana Jurka, Premier League host Carlota Vizmanos and Mexican soccer icon Carlos Hermosillo as the official hosts, leading the pre- and post-game analysis from Telemundo’s presentation studio located at the center of the cultural Souq Waqif Marketplace.

Telemundo Deportes’ production will feature the largest onsite footprint ever with in-venue presence at all 64 games and dedicated commentary teams calling the games from within the stadium. The experts join Telemundo Deportes announce teams to serve as analysts and join the announce teams for relevant matches. Former Mexican National Team and Chivas player Manuel Sol will join Cantor as lead analyst; network play-by-play veteran Copán Álvarez, two-time Emmy award nominee Sammy Sadovnik and accomplished Spanish-language sports broadcaster Jorge Calvo will provide play-by-play alongside experienced sports analyst Eduardo Biscayart, who has four World Cups and nine Champions League finals under his belt.

Telemundo Deportes is the exclusive Spanish-language home of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM taking place in Qatar this fall. The network is prepared to deliver the most ambitious coverage in Spanish-language history with all 64 matches live, including all four games on Thanksgiving Day. Peacock will provide live coverage of all matches live and a dedicated 24/7 channel with exclusive content.

Biographical highlights of Telemundo Deportes’ lineup of experts for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ coverage below. Visual assets such as images and videos here or at https://publicity.gettyimages.com/telemundo/Qatar2022.

AMELIA VALVERDE

Costa Rica

Coach

As the current head coach of the Costa Rica Women’s National Team, Valverde will bring her expertise to Telemundo Deportes for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. She has previously contributed as game and studio analyst for the Tokyo Olympics women soccer coverage and expert commentator for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France.

CARLOS TENORIO

Ecuador

Forward

Former Ecuadorian player represented his nation in two FIFA World Cups. Tenorio’s club career began with LDU Quito and later joined Saudi Arabian Al-Nassr FC for one season, scoring 15 goals in 16 appearances. From 2003 to 2009, Tenorio played in Qatar for Al Sadd, winning three Qatar Stars League titles, before moving to Al-Nasr SC in the United Arab Emirates and later returning to South America and finishing his career with the Ecuadorian club Atlético Saquisilí.

CLAUDIO BORGHI

Chile-Argentina

Midfielder

World Cup champion played alongside Maradona when Argentina won the 1986 FIFA World Cup™. The Argentine-Chilean manager and former attacking midfielder returns to Telemundo Deportes after serving as guest analyst in Russia.

DIEGO FORLÁN

Uruguay

Forward

Regarded as one of the greatest Uruguayan players of all time, Forlán has participated in three FIFA World Cups, including the 2010 tournament where Uruguay came in fourth place, and he received the Golden Ball as the best player. Through his career he also played for some of Europe’s top clubs including Manchester United, Villarreal, Atletico de Madrid, and Inter Milan. He returns to Telemundo Deportes after serving as analyst for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

FERNANDO HIERRO

Spain

Center Back & Defensive Midfielder

Decorated Spanish player regarded as one of the best defenders in the history of the Real Madrid. Hierro won La Liga five times and the Champions League in three occasions. Representing his National Team, he played in three FIFA World Cups and was a member of the FIFA All-Star World Cup Team in Korea/Japan 2002. As a coach, he managed the Spain National Team during 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia™.

HORACIO ELIZONDO

Argentina

Referee

Former international football referee who’s best known for being the first ever to officiate both the opening and Final Match in a World Cup (2006). Elizondo has analyzed calls for Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and will rejoin our team in Qatar.

JAIME HERRERA GARDUÑO

Mexico

Referee

With a five-year career in Mexico’s First Division, Jaime Herrera Garduño is recognized for being the first Mexican referee to officiate in the Major League Soccer. During his 19-year career he officiated international tournaments such as Copa Libertadores among others. He retired in 2016 and will join Telemundo Deportes for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.

MAURO SILVA

Brazil

Defensive Midfielder

World Cup champion and standout figure of Deportivo de La Coruña. Silva won La Liga title once, Copa del Rey twice and the Supercopa de España on three occasions with the Galician team. He represented Brazil in the nation’s victorious 1994 World Cup where he played in all of Brazil´s seven matches.

MAXI RODRÍGUEZ

Argentina

Midfielder

Former Argentine footballer nicknamed “La Fiera” left his mark in Spain playing for Espanyol and Atlético Madrid for the bulk of his career, spent two years with Liverpool in England, and returned to Newell’s Old Boys where he began and ended his career. Rodríguez represented his country in three World Cups, finishing second in 2014. One of his career highlights occurred in Germany 2006 when he scored the goal that eliminated Mexico during the extra time of the Round of 16 match played in Leipzig.

MIGUEL “PIOJO” HERRERA

Mexico

Midfielder

Former Mexican player, and current manager for Liga MX club Tigres UANL. “El Piojo” is best known for his coaching career with Club America, where he won his first title at the 2013 Clausura Tournament, and with the Mexican National team when he led “El Tri” to a playoff victory over New Zealand securing the last qualifying spot and final ticket for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.

NATALIA ASTRAIN

USA

Coach

Recently appointed new head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team, Astrain returns to Telemundo Deportes for 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ after her contribution as soccer analyst for the Tokyo Olympics women soccer coverage. She is a well-respected and experienced soccer coach previously serving as an assistant coach with NWSL Kansas City after a long run in Spain with FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, and the Spanish Federation.

ÓSCAR “CONEJO” PÉREZ:

Mexico

Goalkeeper

Goalkeeping legend nicknamed “El Conejo” is considered one of the best in Mexican history. While representing Mexican teams Cruz Azul and Pachuca, Pérez achieved three CONCACAF Champions League titles, two Mexican leagues and one Mexican Cup. He represented his country in 55 matches including three World Cups. Additionally, he won three CONCACAF Gold Cup titles along with the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.

SEBASTIÁN ABREU “EL LOCO”

Uruguay

Forward

Commonly known as “El Loco” for his unpredictable shows of skill and technique, Abreu is a former Uruguayan player who gave “La Celeste” a ticket to the 2010 World Cup semifinal scoring a “Panenka style” penalty in the controversial victory over Ghana. He´s also recognized for his record of playing in 32 teams from 11 different countries.

TAB RAMOS

USA

Midfielder

Former American soccer player returns to Telemundo Deportes after serving as analyst for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Over his thirteen-year professional career he played as a midfielder in Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Ramos participated in three FIFA World Cups with the USMNT. He was inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

For Soccer Ventures And BODYARMOR Sports Drink Announce Local Minneapolis Soccer Initiative

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), an independent media and experiences company focused on the growth and long-term development of American soccer and BODYARMOR Sports Drink, today announced a new grassroots community initiative in Minneapolis, MN ahead of the upcoming 2022 Major League Soccer All-Star Game.

In partnership with local soccer organization, Sol of the Cities, FSV and BODYARMOR will host a free, one-day soccer event designed to provide access and opportunity to the sport of soccer in the Minneapolis community at Ninth Street Soccer + Coffee (801 9th St SE) on Tuesday, August 9th. The local event will include free youth soccer clinics taught by local Academy coaches, coaching development workshops, and will feature well-known professional soccer players and influencers, Rodney Wallace, Wil Trapp, Sarah Fuller, Cobi Jones, MoAliFC and Calen Carr competing in a 3v3 tournament, hosted by former US Men’s National Team Player Heath Pearce.

“With many barriers limiting access to soccer for underserved communities, we’re thrilled to join forces with BODYARMOR,” said Mario Wimberly of Sol of the Cities. “Our mission at Sol of the Cities is to unite the Minneapolis community through soccer and provide a player-centric environment for athletes and coaches of all levels and ages. This event will embody that spirit while providing a fun and collaborative experience around a massive event for our city.”

The new initiative with FSV and Sol of the Cities helps to create a meaningful connection for BODYARMOR with the Minneapolis community – site of the 2022 MLS All-Star Game – and builds upon its existing foundation with the larger soccer community. BODYARMOR has been Official Sports Drink of Major League Soccer since 2019.

BODYARMOR COMMUNITY EVENT ITINERARY
The Location:
Ninth Street Soccer + Coffee
801 9th St SE Minneapolis, MN 55424
IG – https://www.instagram.com/ninthstreetmpls
URL – https://www.ninthstreetmpls.com

FIRST TOUCH YOUTH CLINIC
Free clinic for eighty underserved boys and girls in partnership with the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA, Sol of the Cities, and Black Star. These two clinics will be an hour long and taught by local Academy coaches, (Minnesota Youth Soccer Association Coaches), (Augsburg University Men’s Soccer team), and feature MLS talent while welcoming all levels of soccer players as part of BODYARMOR’s initiative to providing access to local youth community groups. All participants will receive a shirt, a ball, and two tickets to MLS Skills Challenge.
Clinic 1: ages 7-9, Clinic 2: ages 10-12

BODYARMOR COACHES CLINIC
Free soccer coaching clinic program for up to 30 local coaches featuring US Soccer-licensed coaches (from Minnesota Youth Soccer Association) that provides soccer coaches, non-soccer coaches, and community leaders grassroots coaching education. The event will feature surprise appearances from MLS players. Additionally, BODYARMOR will connect these coaches with on-going educational opportunities after the event through US Soccer Foundation, so they can continue developing their practice as they become meaningful coaches within their communities. All participants will receive a shirt, a branded notebook, and two tickets to MLS Skills Challenge.

COMMUNITY CUP TOURNAMENT
An eight team, 3v3 round robin tournament featuring teams from local brands, local soccer organizations, micro influencers, media personalities, and former MLS players with live music, entertainment, live commentary, and a party-like atmosphere around the matches hyped by an emcee. Content will be captured by attendees and released on their personal channels and curated into a socially-optimized recap video.

cover image Credit: Omar Ram

Fantasy Guru Ryan Kramer To Draft 24 Teams In 24 Hours Tuesday To Launch 2022 Season

Ryan Kramer of the Sports Gambling Podcast Network (SGPN), America’s leading free content Fantasy Football expert, will conduct a marathon, 24-teams-in-24-hours draft live on multiple video platforms for the second consecutive year in another unprecedented offering to NFL fans gearing up for the 2022 season. 

The live stream event, “Draft Day 2.0,” is set to begin at noon PT/3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 9, from the Sports Gambling Podcast Network’s Los Angeles studio.  It will continue until noon PT/3 pm ET Wednesday and be available on You Tube at https://sg.pn/watchdraftday

The co-host of the prominent Sports Gambling Podcast, Kramer, broke new ground one year ago with his unique offering for Fantasy Football fanatics who can join any time within the day-long window to get his expertise and actual selections plus insights, strategy, entertainment and tips with detailed rationale. 

The initiative will also be a platform to raise money via GoFundMe for the medical bills of an SGPN friend and colleague injured earlier this year in a motorcycle accident. Darryl, 31, from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was riding home from work when he was cut off by a box truck, resulting in the loss of his right leg (above the knee) and multiple other injuries, some permanent.  The accident happened four days before he was to marry his fiancé.  The couple is now putting their lives back together and they appreciate the support of the Sports Gambling Podcast Network community and the Draft Day 2.0 fundraising efforts.  In addition to the GoFundMe opportunityall Draft Day 2.0 merchandise profits will be directed to pay the ongoing medical expenses.  Branded apparel is available in the SGPN Merch Store and further information on Darryl’s story can be found here. 

The format will be “Best Ball Draft” on Underdog Fantasy and Kramer will be joined by multiple guests and SGPN contributors while constructing 24 separate and distinct teams over the full day span, providing viewers with the player selections that he believes will pile up points for the millions of Fantasy participants looking forward to the 2022 season. 

“Fortunately, the analytics research is done so I can focus now on news coming out of the camps to sharpen my views and deliver the well-reasoned selections that people need to get an edge in their drafting,” stated Kramer, a three-time Top 20 Fantasy Football Players Championship Main Event finisher.  “It’s a bit of an audacious undertaking, but the growing phenomenon of Fantasy Football deserves this level of commitment and our SGPN audiences always respond.” 

With over 25 years’ experience in the Fantasy Football space, Kramer has put together over 1,000 teams while overseeing 50 leagues and originating 10 more. The content will include hourly raffles and giveaways plus prop-style contests accessible in the SGPN App and live audience interaction, all free in line with the Sports Gambling Podcast Network’s wagering picks and analysis on all popular sports available at www.sportsgamblingpodcast.com.    

Kramer will be drafting full teams, consecutively, for the full 24 hours with each cycle expected to take slightly less than one hour. He will intersperse the player selections with traditional wagering commentary on the upcoming NFL season plus analytics drawn from his background as a computer engineer and the myriad skills that have enabled his elite fantasy football accomplishments. 

Viewers should expect Kramer to be bullish on Najee Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the running back position based on volume touches in a run-oriented offense led by Mitch Trubisky.  He is high on Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Drake London and new Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota as affordable, point-scoring options.  Look for Kramer to stay away from aging Dallas Cowboys running back Zeke Elliott. 

“Draft Day 2.0” will also be live on SGPN’s Facebook and Twitter.  

FanDuel Names Andrew Sneyd To The Position Of Executive Vice President Of Marketing

FanDuel Group, the premier online gaming company in North America, has promoted Andrew Sneyd to Executive Vice President of Marketing.

As the Executive Vice President of Marketing at FanDuel Group, Sneyd will oversee thecore marketing functions across the company’s full portfolio of brands within sports betting, daily fantasy sports, casino, advance-deposit wagering, retail, and free-to-play. Formerly the Senior Vice President of Brand, Sneyd will now steward growth marketing, media, customer engagement, and marketing operations, in addition to brand and product marketing strategy, creative, customer insight, press relations and partnership activation. During his tenure as Senior Vice President of Brand, Sneyd has championed the marketing engine to harness creativity for impact, advancing FanDuel’s position as America’s #1 Sportsbook and extending the lead over competition.   

“Since his arrival at FanDuel, Andrew has elevated our creative efforts and continued our explosive growth,” said Mike Raffensperger, Chief Commercial Officer for FanDuel Group. “His acumen for brand marketing has separated us from the field and under his leadership, I expect that we will continue to make moments matter more for our customers.” 

Sneyd brings more than 20 years of global marketing experience, specifically in the Fortune 100 consumer packaged goods and technology sector. Prior to joining FanDuel, he served as Vice President, Brand Marketing & Strategy at Priceline. Before joining Priceline in 2017, Andrew held multiple marketing leadership roles at Anheuser Busch InBev, where he led the creation of award-winning Super Bowl creative advertising for Budweiser.

Brett Frood Named Commissioner of National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League (@NLL), the top professional indoor lacrosse league in North America, today named Brett Frood as Commissioner. Frood joins the NLL from Stewart-Haas Racing, where he has served as President of the NASCAR team since its inception in 2008, leading all business initiatives for the championship-winning organization co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart and industrialist Gene Haas. Frood, who will begin his new role on September 1, becomes just the fifth Commissioner for the NLL since its relaunch in 1997. CAA Executive Search assisted the NLL Board of Governors in the search process.

“Brett Frood has known success at every turn of his career, from playing lacrosse at a championship level at Brown to building out one of the most successful properties in sports at Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Matt Hutchings, COO and EVP at Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owner of the NLL Champion Colorado Mammoth, speaking as Chairman of the NLL Board of Governors. “That combination is both unique and perfect to lead the National Lacrosse League in the accelerated growth period that we are currently in and will now continue and expand under his leadership.”

“I am humbled and energized to be able to work alongside a group of motivated and sophisticated owners and organizations to continue to cultivate the best product in professional sports,” Frood explained. “The NLL provides such a unique opportunity to marry my professional and personal passions and grow enterprise value amongst all its constituents.”

“We conducted a thorough search process and spent time with an extremely deep pool of candidates from multiple areas of our industry,” said Erik Baker, Board member of New York Riptide owner GF Sports and Entertainment, and Jamie Dawick, owner of the Toronto Rock, co-chairs of the search committee of the NLL Board of Governors. “Brett is everything we were looking for. He brings an amazing track record of business success, a passion and deep understanding of lacrosse and a clear vision of where we want to go as a league. He will be the perfect leader for the NLL and a welcome difference maker in taking the sport of lacrosse to the next level.”

A native of Elbridge, N.Y., Frood played lacrosse at his undergraduate alma mater, Brown University, where he was a multi-year starter, team captain, Final Four member, and two-time Ivy League Champion at Attack/Midfield for the Bears. He also led the team in scoring his senior season.

Frood joined Stewart, the championship-winning INDYCAR and NASCAR driver, 18 years ago after graduating from Harvard Business School to manage and expand all of Stewart’s business interests, including, but not limited to, Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Tony Stewart Racing, The Tony Stewart Foundation, the introduction of Tony Stewart’s Original food line, the All-Star Circuit of Champions, and the 2021 launch of Superstar Racing Experience, a primetime racing series airing on CBS.

As President of Stewart-Haas Racing, Frood managed all aspects of the racing and commercial operations of the $100M+ enterprise that won two NASCAR Cup Series championships (2011 and 2014) and a NASCAR Xfinity Series title (2018) while totaling more than 90 victories. During his tenure at Stewart-Haas Racing, Frood led an organization with 350 employees and negotiated over $600 million in corporate partnerships. He also represented Stewart-Haas Racing on the Race Team Alliance, an organization consisting of all NASCAR Cup Series teams with the goal of promoting, marketing and expanding commercial opportunities of the teams and drivers as well as working with NASCAR in the collective growth of the industry.

Prior to business school, Frood worked in equity capital markets on Wall Street and pursued entrepreneurial interests in Europe before enrolling at Harvard Business School. During his time at business school, he was the Co-President of the Business of Sports Club and a marketing intern for the New York City Olympic Organizing Committee, which attempted to bring the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to New York, in 2003.

Brett has continued his involvement in lacrosse, where he has been a youth lacrosse coach since 2010, while also coaching the Cannon School Varsity team, the 2022 NCISAA Division I State Champion in North Carolina. He is also the Head Coach and College Recruiting Director for the Carolina Miner’s 2024 Boys Elite Team.

Frood was a 2012 Forty Under 40 honoree by The Sports Business Journal, and currently lives in Davidson, N.C., with his wife Robin, and their children, Cole, Quinn and Charlotte.

Art by DJ Skee, Gregory Siff Features All-Stars In New Limited Topps Set

DJ Skee and Gregory Siff, whose amazing artwork has graced numerous Topps baseball cards, take to the canvas again for the limited 2022 MLB All-Star Game set, available now through Thursday at 2 p.m. ET at https://www.topps.com/cards-collectibles/online-brands/2022-mlb-all-star-game.html.

The collection, limited to 2,500, includes rare and new foil parallels numbered to /499 and down, using eye-popping rainbow foil, cracked ice foil and lava foil technology.

Featuring four of MLB’s biggest stars seen through the eyes Skee and Siff, the Topps 2022 MLB All-Star Art Collection includes American League All-Stars Mike Trout and Aaron Judge and National League All-Stars Mookie Betts and Pete Alonso in the four player checklist of this limited edition release.

cover images: Aaron Judge by Gregory Siff, Mookie Betts by DJ Skee

For Soccer Ventures Announces 2022 Plans for Black Star To Extend Impact in Black Soccer Communities

For Soccer Ventures (FSV), an independent media and experiences company focused on the growth and long-term development of American soccer, today announced the calendar of events for Black Star. Launched in 2021 in Detroit and Los Angeles, the program is committed to celebrating the diversity of Black soccer culture, increasing access to the sport, and providing coaching and player development pathways, on and off the field. Black Star’s successful launch in 2021 allowed the program to reach many players, coaches, and families, while providing free soccer programming. A deepened and expanded presence is needed to continue supporting Black soccer communities to drive sustainable impact on a national level. In addition to soccer programming, Black Star strives to build community through content, storytelling, experiences, and capsule collections.

Starting in July, Black Star will host on-field soccer programming and pop-up events alongside local Black-owned businesses in Washington, D.C., Detroit, Los Angeles, and Houston. This year’s soccer programs will include youth clinics, U.S. Soccer Coaching Clinics and Talent ID Workshops, an HBCU Soccer ID Camp, and elite showcase ID programs in which players will have the opportunity to be evaluated for collegiate and professional soccer opportunities. Committed to growing the game across genders, Black Star’s first event in Washington, D.C. on July 23-24, 2022 will include a Girls Elite Showcase, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX. D.C. partner organizations include: U.S. Soccer, D.C. United, the Washington Spirit, DC SCORES, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and D.C. Cup. In addition, Black Star will focus on supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), teaming up with HBCU Soccer ID Camps in Houston to provide college soccer recruiting opportunities for players.

As part of the announcement, adidas, Paramount+, Buzzer, and Boyd Parker Sports Group’s HBCU Soccer ID Camps were revealed as official athletic apparel, media, corporate, and soccer partners, respectively.

“Black Star is grateful to have adidas, Buzzer, and Boyd Parker Sports Group’s HBCU Soccer ID Camps as partners. In addition, we are really excited to announce Paramount+ as Black Star’s partner in Washington, D.C., Houston, Detroit, and Los Angeles to help us in our important work of both growing the game and inspiring the next generation of youth and coaches in these communities.” – Patrick Rose, Director, Black Star

“We are proud to partner with Black Star as they continue the important work of promoting access and inclusion within the Black soccer community. At adidas, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives and our Black Star partnership brings this ethos to life.” – Skate Noftsinger, Director, Sports Marketing Soccer North America at adidas

“Since day one, Buzzer, Strive and Black Star have been committed to leveling the playing field for the Black community. For Soccer Ventures’ plans for 2022 will increase access to the game of soccer on and off-the-field for HBCU students, women and youth. We are excited and proud to expand our partnership with the Black Star and know that we will continue to see great moments and long-term impact as a result.” – Dexter Mason, Head of Social Impact & DEI Strategy at Buzzer

The calendar for 2022 Black Star includes:
· Washington, D.C: July 23-24, 2022
· Detroit: September 24-25, 2022
· Los Angeles: November 12-13, 2022
· Houston: November 19-20, 2022

“The Black community has been foundational to the grassroots growth of soccer in the U.S., but until very recently, Black culture has been mostly excluded from domestic soccer culture. We’re excited to continue the work that we started in 2021 to partner with and support existing Black soccer programs through development and educational pathways, content and storytelling, and experiences that build community,” – Patrick Rose, Director, Black Star.

For registration and more information please visit www.blackstarsoccer.com and follow Black Star social media channels on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

Heritage Auctions Proudly Presents the Greatest Muhammad Ali Collection Ever to Step in the Ring

Troy Kinunen didn’t set out to assemble one of the world’s greatest Muhammad Ali collections; far from it. He was once solely a baseball fan, a former Little Leaguer who idolized Ruth, Mantle, Cobb, Gehrig. He coveted their keepsakes, their cards and signatures. But even decades ago, their treasures were out of reach, too expensive for a young man beginning his journey as a collector.

When Kinunen attended a New York sports memorabilia convention in 1988 and bought his first Ali piece – a poster from his Nov. 14, 1966, fight with Cleveland Williams at Houston’s Astrodome – he picked it up only because it was one of the few items he could afford.

“It was colorful, it was cardboard, it was kind of small, and I thought I could display it,” says Kinunen, president and CEO of MEARS Authentications. “And a kind of light bulb went on at that very moment.”

He would spend the next three decades amassing more than 1,600 items tied to the legend of Cassius Clay and Muhammad Ali. Things Ali wore and signed during (and often after) his most memorable, immortal and infamous fights –robes, gloves, trunks, even mouthpieces (including the one from The Rumble in the Jungle!) over which he uttered those infinitely quoted taunts and jeers. Every single poster, save for one, displayed in the venues in which those 61 bouts took place. Every ticket and every pass to every bout. And every photo he could find, among them some of the earliest taken of the kid from Kentucky named Cassius.

Here, too, are the seemingly impossible to obtain keepsakes Ali accrued during his sojourn from Golden Gloves great to The Greatest, among them the elaborately embroidered prayer cap gifted to him before 1975’s Thrilla in Manila and the red robe worn before his first fight with Joe Frazier in 1971.

Kinunen’s entire Ali collection is now available to the public for the first time, as this historic assemblage serves as the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ July 21-23 Summer Sports Catalog Auction.

“Quite simply, it is the most comprehensive Muhammad Ali collection ever to come to auction,” says Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “What Troy has done here is tell Ali’s life story with treasures that were present for every bout and every brag and every historic highlight in between. It’s one of the most extraordinary collections we have ever been honored to offer.”

Kinunen will be the first to admit: When he bought that first poster, he knew little about Ali outside of his appearance in ABC’s Wide World of Sports opening sequence and what he’d read in grade-school primers. But in time that flicker grew into an all-consuming flame, beginning with Kinunen’s run-ins with Ali at conventions, where he saw The Champ, slowed by age and Parkinson’s, still interact with fans just as he had decades earlier – posing for photos, sparring and shuffling with the wide-eyed and the awestruck, teasing and taunting everyone like they were Howard Cosell with a mic.

“The lightning bolt hit me, and I was fully dedicated to collecting him,” Kinunen says. “I had never seen anything like that. It was so inspirational, so special, to witness it.”

Soon after Kinunen began taking out classified ads in Louisville, Ken., seeking keepsakes Ali might have given to hometown folks who knew the young Cassius Clay. The result was a goldmine of treasures offered by old friends and acquaintances to whom Ali had given the robe off his back or the gloves off his hands.

RealResponse Enters Professional Baseball With Major League Baseball Agreement

RealResponse, (@RealResponseHQ), the award-winning safe and secure feedback, monitoring, and anonymous reporting platform for athletic teams and organizations, today announced its expansion into professional baseball, as Major League Baseball has begun to implement the RealResponse Anonymous Texting system for reports of player, staff, or employee misconduct.

RealResponse will provide an additional platform to help MLB track and proactively respond to misconduct issues, including the use of PED’s, sports betting, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other potential violations of baseball’s conduct rules and policies for players, staff, and employees.

“With Major League Baseball’s implementation of our services, they expand the ability for individuals to report misconduct issues in medium that they may feel more comfortable in, while remaining safe and anonymous,” said David Chadwick, CEO and Founder of RealResponse. “It will really help augment the great work MLB has already been doing in this space and, most importantly, it can help not only identify but potentially prevent potential issues before they arise. We look forward to learning and assisting in any way we can to help MLB.”

MLB’s Department of Investigations will leverage RealResponse’s Anonymous Texting platform to receive and respond to messages with the Anonymous Texter, which will enable the individual to remain anonymous as long as they would like while they can continue to provide information and assist with investigations.

“The addition of RealResponse to our existing reporting channels will provide another option to encourage the reporting of misconduct, by ensuring that people have a variety of pathways to make a report, so they can use the method that they are most comfortable with,” said Moira Weinberg, MLB’s Senior Vice President, Investigations & Deputy General Counsel. “The platform is another safe and confidential option for people to speak up and helps us continue to take a proactive approach addressing potential misconduct issues.”

cover image: credit Pixabay

First Winner-Take-All $250,000 OBL Finals Headed to The Dollar Loan Center in Las Vegas July 15-16

Ones Basketball League (OBL) — the first-ever elite competition that celebrates the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet and created by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady — today announced that The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada, will host the first-ever OBL Finals on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16.

A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public for the event at https://bit.ly/OBL-LV. Friday’s event will start at 3 p.m. PDT, with the Championship Finals starting on Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Our proof-of-concept season for the OBL has played out better than we had planned, and The Dollar Loan Center is the perfect stage for us to crown our king,” said McGrady. “OBL talent is top notch, the competition is intense, and the atmosphere for our first-ever finals will be second to none with $250,000 cash on the OBL throne waiting for the winner.”
“Dreams are coming true inside the OBL and Tracy’s vision for change has been spot on,” said Jeffrey Pollack, OBL strategic advisor. “Over the last eight weeks we’ve started to demonstrate that our game has soul, our competition matters, and our events are electric. The gifted and gutsy athletes of the OBL deserve a world-class stage for our championship and that’s what we will create at The Dollar Loan Center.“

“There are few basketball legends and entrepreneurs more astute than Tracy McGrady, and we are proud to welcome his team to our new state-of-the-art arena in Henderson for the OBL’s inaugural championship,” said Kerry Bubolz, CEO of the Foley Entertainment Group, which operates The Dollar Loan Center. “In a city all about action, this promises to be the summer’s most intense event.”

The 22 qualifiers for the OBL Finals are coming to Las Vegas from Regional Championships in Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the DMV, and Los Angeles. The field was culled from over 200 entrants, including many of the best one-on-one athletes in the world with decades of professional and elite college experience. The winner of each OBL Regional took home a $10,000 cash prize, joining the second and third place finishers plus four “wild cards” with invitations to the OBL Finals. In addition to the $250,000 cash prize, the winner in the head-to-head single elimination OBL Finals will be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”

The qualifiers are: Grant Anderson, Chicago (Chicago 3rd); George Beamon, Roslyn, N.Y. (Los Angeles 1st); Isaiah Brown, Queens, N.Y. (New York 1st); Yoshi Craig, Chicago (Chicago 2nd); Darien Davis, Coram, N.Y. (New York 3rd); Randy Gill, Los Angeles and Laurel, Md. (Los Angeles 3rd); Marcus Hall, Denver and Houston (Los Angeles 2nd); Antonio Hester, Miami (Atlanta 2nd); Terry Hosley, Baltimore (DMV, wild card); John Jordan, Houston (Houston 1st); Matt Kiatipis, Newmarket, Ontario (Houston 2nd); Kevin Kuteyi, Lanham, Md. (DMV 1st); Eugene Lawrence, Brooklyn, N.Y. (New York, wild card); Zach Radz, Troy, N.Y. (New York 2nd); Glen Rice Jr., Marietta, Ga. (Atlanta 1st); Ridge Shipley, Carrolton, Texas (Houston, wild card); Mario Smith, Kalamazoo, Mich. (Chicago 1st); Chris Staples, Saginaw, Mich (L.A., wild card); Myron Taylor, Killeen, Texas (Houston, 3rd); Tiras Wade, Tampa (Atlanta 3rd); Andrew Washington, Washington, D.C. (DMV 2nd); and Donte Wright, Jackson, S.C. (DMV 3rd).

OBL media partners include SHOWTIME Sports, SLAM Media, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle Productions.

Follow Ones Basketball League at https://www.oblhoops.com/.

cover image: Overall OBL No. 1 Seed Isaiah Brown (#11) and NYC #2 qualifier Zach Radz

Topps, Shaq Collaborate On New Art Card Set

Call him Diesel, call him Superman, call him Dr. Shaq – but with these Topps x Shaquille O’Neal artist cards – you can call him yours! These beautiful art trading cards are a must-have for anyone who collects Shaq – created specifically by artists Chuck Styles and Naturel for this special collaboration!

In addition to the standard cards, there are artist proofs and on-card autographs of each of the six designs.

They are available through Friday, June 24, at 1 p.m. ET, after which time no more will be printed. Fans can review and purchase at https://www.topps.com/cards-collectibles/online-brands/collaborations/topps-x-shaq.html.

Ones Basketball League Crowns L.A. Regional Champion at Pauley Pavilion, Awards $10,000 First Prize

Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA is home to more than a few basketball champions. Add one more to the historic venue’s title total as the Ones Basketball League (OBL) — the first-ever elite competition that celebrates the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet and created by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady — crowned its sixth and final 2022 Regional Champion in front of enthusiastic crowds on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 32 national-level basketball players squared off in spirited action, and it was George Beamon (Roslyn, N.Y.), Marcus Hall (Denver) and Randy Gill (Los Angeles) who took the top three places in a weekend filled with close contests. The trio now qualify along with the other OBL Regional winners for the first-ever OBL Finals in Las Vegas next month.

Beamon came into the day as the No. 8 seed, needing to win four games including the 8 vs. 9 play-in to win the title and the $10,000 first prize that accompanied the championship. After edging Austin Armstead (Los Angeles) in the play-in and then dispatching No. 1 seed Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Las Vegas) and fifth-seeded Chris “Everybody Hates Chris” Staples (Woodland Hills, Calif.), the Manhattan College product won the championship by taking out the sixth-seeded Hall, 10-4, burying a two-pointer to secure the win in which his five straight points after trailing 1-0 put the New Yorker ahead to stay.

“I’m just blessed with the opportunity, and so humbled to be able to showcase my talent,” said Beamon, who came in from New York to compete in the OBL Los Angeles Regional when scheduling conflicts kept from participating in the New York Regional held in Brooklyn last month. “Cali love always and shout out to my family back home in New York who always has my back.”

Hall, a University of Colorado graduate who now splits his time between homes in his native Houston and Denver, seeded sixth entering Sunday’s play, advanced to the OBL Finals with wins over No. 3 Julius Bilbrew (Inglewood, Calif.) and a thrilling 9-7 win over Gill in the semifinals.

In the third place game for the final Las Vegas spot, 44-year-old Randy “White Chocolate” Gill, originally a Laurel, Md., native who played his collegiate ball near home at Bowie State, outlasted Staples, 9-6. Gill, who won MTV’s “Who’s Got Game” reality competition in 2003, showed superior jump shooting skill and guile in advancing to Las Vegas.

“Pauley Pavilion is a storied and classic basketball venue and we are excited and honored to have showcased our amazing OBL players in such a historic location,” said McGrady. “The competition rose to championship level with incredible games all weekend.”

The Los Angeles Regional follows successful events in Houston (April 30-May 1), Atlanta (May 7-8), Chicago (May 21-22), New York (May 28-29) and the DMV (June 4-5). Now that first-ever OBL Regional competition is complete, OBL will soon announce the field for next month’s two-day OBL Finals in Las Vegas (dates and venue TBA). The winner of each of the six Regionals earned a $10,000 cash prize along with an invitation to the Finals, which will also include four “Commissioner’s Choice” wild cards for a 22-player field competing for a chance to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”

OBL media partners include SHOWTIME Sports, SLAM Media, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle Productions. Follow Ones Basketball League at https://www.oblhoops.com/ and on Twitter and Instagram.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment and KPMG LLP Debut ‘KPMG Ignition – DC’ at Capital One Arena

Today, Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) and KPMG LLP announced the opening of a transformed, existing arena suite as the newest KPMG Ignition Center, located at MSE’s Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. The renovated suite is equipped with the latest technology and will serve as a meeting place for KPMG and its clients to collaborate and solve business problems together, 365-days-a-year, at any time of the day, regardless of the evening game scheduling of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NBA’s Washington Wizards or other live concert or event. When a game, concert or event is hosted in the arena, KPMG will also be able to offer traditional live-event hospitality to their clients as part of an innovative customer experience. 

“When KPMG and the senior executives at Monumental Sports came together on this idea, I thought it was brilliant,’” said Ted Leonsis, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “Taking a suite normally used to host clients to watch Capitals and Wizards games and innovate within it – bringing customers into an environment that’s unexpected and creating a destination to engage people to think differently – is such a big idea. This reinforces the notion that arenas play a central part in the business community’s ecosystem — and that we are now creating a new real estate category of shared workspace— turning suites normally used a few hours per game day into workspace, all day and year-round. I believe the shared space will be seen as a very economical investment given the dual benefits of suite usage for entertaining at games and then office space for meetings, working and demo centers for the benefit of customers. This reimagining of suite space is another innovation our team is bringing to our community of business partners. So, I congratulate the leaders at KPMG for being a first mover and an exemplar in finding new uses for the convening operation we have built, and I’m sure others will soon join them.”

Seeking to address a business need for KPMG to engage in-person with its clients in an innovative and unique setting and MSE’s pursuit of developing additional daypart uses for an otherwise dormant arena, KPMG and MSE senior leaders collaborated to reimagine the existing suite as a hub which capitalizes on the pioneering culture of both organizations. Capital One Arena is filled with premium space that can now be used not only to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for entertaining, but also creates new opportunities for professional service use of the arena during the day. Whereas arena or stadium suites are typically used by sponsors for event-based, social gatherings during sports games and concerts, KPMG Ignition – DC, located within Capital One Arena, represents the most experiential Ignition Center yet.

This 28-person mega-suite can be transformed to meet clients’ needs. From its walls to its furniture, the suite’s modular and movable functionality creates a unique room design for each business session.

The suite is fully equipped with cutting edge technology. The central video wall displays stories and demonstrations to facilitate discussions. Interactive screen displays are scattered throughout the room, along with high-resolution monitors on the ceiling and at the entryway that showcase relevant visuals during meetings. Plus, video streaming enables people to join sessions from anywhere in the world.

KPMG Ignition Centers have assisted a myriad of businesses across multiple industries by curating experiences using a combination of talent, environment, assets, and methods tailored to help their clients reframe complex problems into future opportunities, and drive value from innovation. And driving value from innovation is a core value which Monumental Sports & Entertainment infuses throughout its platform of professional sports teams, venues, and direct-to-consumer media enterprises. 

“This is the first partnership of its kind – an innovation space in a sports and entertainment facility – and a forward-thinking blueprint for arena suites of the future. Innovation can happen anywhere, anytime. KPMG Ignition – DC will provide an opportunity to engage with clients in a collaborative environment outside of their traditional office spaces to lean into disruption and uncover opportunities to create value,” Tim Gillis, KPMG Washington DC area Office Managing Partner, said. “The KPMG brand is synonymous with disruptive transformation and innovation. This partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment is a representation of how we are transforming our own business and how we bring that same approach – and our ever-evolving capabilities – to help organizations in the DC area do the same.” 

With KPMG Ignition – DC, located within a 900-square-feet suite on the second level concourse at Capital One Arena, the two organizations will combine a high-energy atmosphere, unique, immersive fan experiences, and extraordinary hospitality to create a one-of-a-kind environment that sparks creativity and the next big ideas in both established and emerging industries. 

Washington, D.C. is a global destination for business and tech investment and Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s teams, venues and other managed properties serve as convening platforms for the world’s most innovative thought leaders. Capital One Arena hosts over 220+ events per year, ranging from professional to collegiate sports, major music and entertainment acts and in-demand family shows, appealing to multiple audiences on any given day of the week.