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Robust H1 performance with strategic focus on broader customer appeal delivering record level of activesLaunch of Entain CEE and acquisition of SuperSport in Croatia

Entain plc (LSE: ENT), the global sports-betting, gaming and interactive entertainment group, today reports its Interim Results for the six-month period ended 30 June 2022 (“H1”).

Strategic progress

  • Group’s strategic focus on a broader recreational customer base delivering record level of actives, up 57% versus H1 2019, and higher quality earnings
  • Greater customer engagement driven by innovative new products and enriched experiences
  • Further geographic expansion with five transactions this year to date consistent with our strategy of expanding into regulated markets
    • Creation of Entain CEE and acquisition of SuperSport announced separately today, provides a strategic springboard to unlock the clear expansion opportunity in Central and Eastern Europe (“CEE”)
    • Acquisition in June of BetCity in the Netherlands to deliver growth in the newly regulated Dutch market
    • Completion of Avid Gaming (Canada), Klondaika (Latvia) and Totolotek (Poland) transactions
  • Ongoing ESG leadership and further progress made across our Sustainability Charter
  • Expansion of Advanced Responsibility & Care (“ARCTM “) player protection trials into international markets
  • Founding partner of Global Gaming Alliance (“GGA”), awarded GamCare’s Advanced Safer Gambling Standard, and received numerous awards for safer gambling, including from S&P, SBC & EGR
  • Pitching-In Volunteer Hub for the UK Trident Leagues launched to connect volunteers and local clubs
  • Appointment of Rahul Welde as an independent Non-Executive Director

Financial highlights

  • Robust Group performance during H1, reflecting the diversified business model and underlying momentum of the online business
  • Total Group net gaming revenue (“NGR”) growth of 18% (+18%cc2)
  • Online NGR down 7% (-7%cc2) reflecting strong prior year comparators driven by Covid lockdowns, temporary closure in the Netherlands, affordability measures in the UK and customers responding to the economic backdrop
    • Excluding the Netherlands, NGR was down -3%cc2
    • Strong underlying momentum with H1 Online NGR 3yr CAGR up 13%cc2
  • Retail perfomance ahead of expectations with a more interactive digital experience across gaming machines and betting terminals driving greater customer engagement
  • BetMGM continues to perform strongly and is on track to deliver FY22 NGR of over $1.3bn
  • H1 NGR of $608m, 65% ahead of 2021
  • Established number two operator with 23%7 market share where BetMGM operates (excluding New York)
  • Consistent leading iGaming operator with 30%7 market share
  • Reiterate expectation to reach positive EBITDA during 2023,8
  • Group EBITDA4,5 up 17% at £471m
  • Group profit after tax from continuing operations £28m, down £63m
  • FY 2022 Group EBITDA4,5,9 expected to be in the range of £925m to £975m, in line with current consensus10
  • New progressive dividend policy announced:
  • Full year payment of £100m split evenly between Interim and Full Year
  • Interim dividend of 8.5p per share

Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, commented:

“We continue to make excellent progress on our strategic priorities, with momentum in our business remaining strong as a result of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.  I am delighted that more customers are choosing to play with us as we focus on providing them with even better products, engaging content and exciting experiences.  This has resulted in our highest ever level of actives in H1, up 57% versus the same period two years ago.  Not only is this approach great for our customers, but it also provides us with a broader, more recreational customer base that will support more sustainable long-term revenues.

Underpinned by the Entain platform, we continue to expand our growth opportunities, and have already announced five transactions so far this year.  This includes today’s announcement of an innovative growth strategy for Central and Eastern Europe, starting with the acquisition of SuperSport in Croatia.  In the US, BetMGM goes from strength to strength and continues to demonstrate its market leadership with a 23%7 market share.

We continue to lead our industry on responsibility and sustainability as we deliver further progress on our Sustainability Charter.  ARC™ continues to be rolled out into international markets and our efforts have been recognised in the UK and internationally with awards from GamCare, S&P, SBC as well as our inclusion in the Global Sustainability Yearbook 2022.

As ever, I would like to thank each and every one of our talented colleagues around the world for their hard work and dedication in helping deliver these results. We have established a meaningful runway for sustainable and high-quality growth.  While we remain vigilant to the consumer backdrop, our geographic and product diversity provides resilience which, together with our proven ability to drive superior returns, gives us confidence that we will continue to deliver benefits for our stakeholders.”

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.

USA Swimming Partners with RealResponse

USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States, today announced their alignment with RealResponse, the award-winning safe and secure feedback, monitoring and anonymous reporting platform. Starting September 1, 2022, USA Swimming members can submit anonymously or on the record through simple text messaging at 888-270-SWIM (7946). To enhance the ability of USA Swimming to gather facts while still protecting the identity of anonymous reporters, select USA Swimming staff will be able to respond through the platform for appropriate follow up. This includes the recent hiring of two additional Safe Sport staff members who will focus on responding to reports.

This summer, the RealResponse platform was made available to USA Swimming’s National and Junior National Teams as they traveled overseas for competitions. It will now be released to the rest of the organization on September 1 to track, monitor and proactively address reports.

“We are excited to provide this valuable new resource for our USA Swimming members,” said Liz Hahn, Program Director for Safe Sport at USA Swimming. “Our utilization of this platform will allow all members to easily report from their phones, while still remaining anonymous – if they wish. In addition to continuing to provide anonymous reporting, this tool will allow USA Swimming to gather additional facts to effectively permit staff to follow up on all reports.”

RealResponse allows individuals to report with ease through text messaging. Additionally, all current reporting mechanisms, such as email, phone and the online reporting form, will continue to be available here.

“USA Swimming has always had athlete and member well-being at the top of their priorities, and our partnership will give all involved the ability to further promote the well-being of USA Swimming members,” said David Chadwick, Founder and CEO of RealResponse. “Not only will RealResponse provide for timely, critical reporting, but USA Swimming will be able to watch for trends in health and wellness aspects of its athletes, from mental health to out of competition concerns.”

USA Swimming will continue to protect the identity of reporters, and will serve its members through resources such as the Whistleblower and Anti-Retaliation Policy.

For more information on USA Swimming’s Safe Sport efforts, please visit https://www.usaswimming.org/safe-sport.

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.

SGPN Candidate For SBC’s Sports Media Company of Year

Sports Gambling Podcast Network (SGPN), the leading independent sports wagering analysis/prognostication content provider offering free user content, is among eight companies selected by SBC Awards 2022 as candidates for Sports Media Company of the Year. The announcement of the winner will take place Thursday as the third annual SBC Sports & Betting Conference Summit North America trade show culminates at Pier 60 in Manhattan, New York City.

SGPN’s competition in the category includes some of the most prominent and well-heeled companies in the sports media space, including American Affiliate, Better Collective, Catena North America, MediaTroopers, NBC Sports Next. Playmaker Capital, The Game Day and XLMedia. Almost all are backed by capital resources in the billions or tens of millions of dollars. By contrast, SGPN co-founders Sean Green and Ryan Kramer launched 10 years ago in Green’s one-car garage, taking advantage of new technology to push out their content inexpensively and begin building a following.

In 2017, Green won $200,000 in a DraftKings Fantasy Competition and SGPN used the money to turn the corner as a profitable, sustainable business. With the repeal of the Professional Sports and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that following year, SGPN was well positioned to seize the moment and grow the enterprise that now includes 60 contributors and 23 different podcasts providing analysis and selections on 18 wagerable sports plus special events. SGPN is headquartered at a state-of-the-art studio in Los Angeles.

Other companies that are shortlisted in various categories at the SBC Awards North America 2022 include: Circa Resort & Casino, DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn Interactive, PointsBet, BetMGM, Resorts Digital Gaming and Rush Street Interactive. Awards will be presented in 27 categories as the highlight of the summit finale in front of 600-plus industry executives following two days of events, symposiums and networking sessions at Meadowlands Exposition Centre in Northern New Jersey.

“This is as big as it gets in our industry,” said Green, a Philadelphia-area native. “We are going up against some of the biggest brands in the space. We started with personal seed money and have continued to grow through traditional channels. Our candidacy for Sports Media Company of the Year is a testament to all the hard work everyone at SGPN has put in over the last 10 years to deliver a high-quality experience for our followers.”

“This is a great way to celebrate our 10th anniversary,” added Kramer, who hails from the North Jersey community of Scotch Plains. “We believed we could package sports wagering information in an insightful and entertaining way and it has caught on. It’s awesome to see our efforts being recognized.”

“With such strong competition among the Awards entrants, just making it on to the shortlists is a real mark of quality, so it will be fascinating to learn who our expert judges select as the big winners on the night,” said Rasmus Sojmark, Founder and CEO of SBC.

The SBC Awards North America Awards is the culmination of a week of events at the SBC Summit North America, the biggest conference and trade show for the sports betting and iGaming industries in the US and Canada. The awards recognize the achievements of operators, affiliates and suppliers from all the major disciplines including payments, marketing, platform providers and data.

Ready® Earns Full Distribution at Walmart; Ready® Bars Set for National Launch

Ready® (@ready_nutrition), one of the fastest growing sports nutrition companies in America with co-owners Aaron Donald and Giannis Antetokounmpo, continues to rapidly expand its national distribution with the June 24th launch of its Ready® Protein Bars in over 4,400 Walmart locations nationwide.

After less than a year in approximately 25% of Walmart stores, America’s largest grocery retailer notified Ready® it had earned full distribution with its performance that includes all 50 states.

Ready® Bars can be found in Walmart’s Cereal and Snack Aisle, packaged in convenient, 5-Count Boxes. Flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Vanilla Swirl and Chocolate Chip. The all-natural, Project Verified Non-GMO Bars feature 15 grams of protein and seven grams of fiber and are gluten free.

Ready® Bars aren’t the only Ready® products sold in Walmart stores. The retailer also carries the brand’s Ready® Sports Drink flavors in select stores across 20 states.

“We’re excited that our Ready® Bars resonated so quickly with Walmart shoppers and our sales performance earned the opportunity for full distribution.” said Ready® founder and CEO, Pat Cavanaugh. “We look forward to introducing our brand and bars to millions of Walmart shoppers looking for a healthier, better-for-you, science-based snack bar.”

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

Celebrity Competitors Jay Cutler, Brett Young, Jeff Mauro, Jarrett Payton, Zach Miller and Deepti Vempati Try Their Hands At Cornhole

The American Cornhole League (ACL) is excited to announce that former NFL star Quaterback Jay Cutler, country music superstar Brett Young, Food Network Star & Sandwich King Jeff Mauro, former NFL Running Back and current media personality Jarrett Payton, former NFL Tight End and budding country artist Zach Miller and TV personality Deepti Vempati will be competing alongside ACL pro partners in the final SuperHole III prelim hosted in Chicago for a chance to contend in the SuperHole III Championship in August. The final prelim is being hosted at the 2022 ACL Final Chase from July 1st-4th at the Wintrust Sports Complex (5499 W. 65th St., Bedford Park, IL 60638), the last of four National tournaments of the year for ACL Pro Players with over $70,000 in prizes on the line. The Superhole III prelim finals will be airing live on ESPN2 on Friday, July 1st at 10:00pm EDT, with the teams, pro singles, and pro doubles airing on ESPN2 throughout the weekend.

The team pairings are as follows:

  • Jay Cutler – ACL Pro Jay Rubin (currently tied for 27th in points on the season)
  • Brett Young – ACL Pro Cheyenne Renner (currently tied for 27th in points on the season)
  • Zach Miller – ACL Pro Steven Bernacet (currently 32nd in points on the season)
  • Jeff Mauro – ACL Pro Eddie Grinderslev (currently tied for 23rd in points on the season)
  • Deepti Vempati – ACL Pro Kyle Malone (currently tied for 15th in points on the season)
  • Jarrett Payton – ACL Pro Dave Sutton (currently tied for 89th in points on the season)

What started out as an annual ACL Pro/Celebrity event played the Friday before the Big Game – the two previous SuperHole events have featured well known football stars Doug Flutie, Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, Rashad Jennings, Mac Jones and Devonta Smith – has evolved into a multi-event cornhole “SuperHole” series consisting of 6 different prelims throughout the year. The series will culminate with the SuperHole III Championship that will be hosted alongside the ACL World Championships this August from the ACL Headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The first prelim was held in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay on February 11th, with former NFL Running Back Terry Kirby beating out poker icon Phil Hellmuth, CBS’ S.W.A.T. star David Lim, and Pawn Stars’ favorite Austin “Chumlee” Russell for a chance to compete in the championship. The second was hosted in Atlantic City at the Showboat, where Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino took down former NFL receiver and winner of season 16 of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” Dale Moss, star NFL lineman Dion Dawkins, and fitness influencer Callie Bundy. The third was held in Salt Lake City, where actor and fitness influencer Joseph Baena bested former NFL star turned actor Vernon Davis, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Lisa Barlow, and NFL linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The fourth was hosted in CBS’ S.W.A.T. star Shamar Moore’s literal backyard, nicknamed “Airmail City” which he has transformed into a cornhole oasis, where Moore took down UFC legend Chuck Lidell, TV host Michelle Phelps, and NFL pro Greg Gaines to secure his spot in the finals.

The 6 prelims that the ACL is hosting will determine the finalists for the championship, which will feature a total of 8 celebrity / ACL pro doubles teams. The celebrities will also be able to donate a share of $100,000 to their charity of choice based on where they finish at the championship. At last year’s SuperHole II Doug Flutie, alongside his ACL Pro partner Matt Guy, took home the title and is invited to return to compete as the defending champion at the SuperHole III Championship. In addition, ESPN’s Marty Smith and ACL Pro Ryan Smith will receive invitations as defending celebrity team champions at last year’s ACL World Championships.

The American Cornhole League is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS / CBS Sports, as well as a television deal with NBC Sports through USA Cornhole. The league has over 150,000 players worldwide and counting. The ACL’s strong sponsor support includes Johnsonville along with Bush’s, Bacardi Spiced, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Discount Tire and AllCornhole.com, amongst others.

“I’m looking forward to seeing who is able to secure the final spot in the Superhole III Championship – we’ve had some great competition so far,” said Stacey Moore, Founder of American Cornhole League. “It’s going to be a tough field come August!”

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.

New Zealand’s Tucker Brothers Collide In Major League Rugby Final In New Jersey Saturday

The season-long quest for the Major League Rugby (MLR) shield culminates this weekend, as Rugby New York battles the Seattle Seawolves in the Championship Final. The winner will be decided Saturday, June 25, 2022, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

New Zealand-born Brothers Brad Tucker, who plays for Seattle, and William Tucker of Rugby New York, will collide for family bragging rights, along with the championship.

Three locals will showcase their talents for Rugby NY: Connor Buckley hails from Rockaway Beach (Queens), John Powers is a product of  Rockaway Park; and Nick Civetta from Scarsdale, NY in Westchester.

Brad Tucker

Dallen Stanford and Mike Petri will serve as commentators for the nationally-televised match on FOX at 12pm EST.

The Seawolves defeated the Houston Sabercats last Saturday to secure the Western Conference, after strong offensive showings from both sides. Meanwhile, Rugby New York upset the New England Free Jacks on Sunday in a tight match to claim the competitive Eastern Conference.

“As Major League Rugby wraps up an action-packed fifth season, we are excited to see Rugby NY and the Seattle Seawolves battle it out this weekend at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey,” said MLR Commissioner George Killebrew.

“It’s been a tough road for these players to get here. They’ve taken – and handed out – some punishment over the course of 16 games in the 18-week season. Each player on these teams proved they deserved to be here, and it will be an absolute honor to watch these elite athletes do what they love on Saturday.”

Tickets for the MLR Championship are to the public on MLR’s official website and Ticketmaster, and the S. Marcus Callowa Communit Impact Award recipient will be recognized at halftime.

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.

Colorado Mammoth Edges Buffalo Bandits, 10-8, To Win NLL Cup

Zed Williams scored four goals, Chris Wardle added five assists and Dillon Ward recorded 55 saves in net as the visiting Colorado Mammoth took the decisive Game 3 of the National Lacrosse League Finals, 10-8, to claim the NLL Cup in front of a sellout crowd of 19,070 at KeyBank Arena and nationwide television audiences in the U.S and Canada on ESPNU, ESPN+ and TSN on Saturday night. For his efforts, Ward was named NLL Finals MVP.

With the triumph, Colorado claims its third NLL title, winning the series, two games to one; the franchise also won NLL championships in 1987 (when located in Baltimore) and 2006.

Colorado took the lead for good in the second quarter, erasing a 3-2 deficit with five goals in the period by five different scorers (Brett McIntyre, Sam Firth, Dylan Kinnear, Tyson Gibson and Anthony Joaquin) for a 7-5 halftime advantage. After Buffalo tied the game on a power play tally by Chris Cloutier for the only marker of the third period and a goal by Connor Fields in the first 30 seconds of the fourth, consecutive goals by Williams and Wardle re-established the two-goal lead for Colorado. Williams tossed in an empty-netter with 26 seconds left before Kyle Buchanan’s blast with seven ticks remaining provided the final margin.

Buffalo, the overall No. 1 seed at 14-4 during the regular season, got three goals from Buchanan and three assists from Josh Byrne. Matt Vinc made 29 saves in defeat.

With the announced sellout crowd, the overall attendance for the Finals totals a cumulative record of 42,246. The three game Finals average of 14,475 is second only to 16,393 for the 2019 Finals between Calgary and Buffalo, and surpasses the average 14,052 from the two game Finals in 2016 between Saskatchewan and Buffalo.

Colorado, which finished 10-8 in the regular season, qualified for the NLL Playoffs as the No. 3 West seed. They proceeded to win at No. 2 West Calgary in the first round, upended the top West seed San Diego, 2-1 in the best-of-three West Conference Finals, then after dropping the first game of the NLL Finals won the last two to take the crown.

The decisive third game marked the third time since 2014 that the NLL Finals have gone the distance, and the first time that two U.S. based clubs met in the Finals since 2013 (Rochester d. Washington, 11-10 in a single-game Finals).

For the latest scores and developments in the National Lacrosse League, please visit: NLL.com and find the NLL on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Technology Dominates at the Barclays Center

by Noah Zaret, special to The Daily Payoff

On June 14, I had the opportunity to attend the SportiConference Converge, organized by Sportico at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Having been to the Barclays Center a handful of times for sporting events as well as concerts, I was excited to see the venue in a different light.

Throughout the day, there were many discussions led by industry professionals who have experiences in a variety of areas in the sports business industry. Topics included: “Future Fans: Enhancing the Engagement of new audiences”, “What’s Possible?: The intersection of Technology & Fan Engagement”, “State of the Industry: Marketing & Advertising amongst Giants and Economic Uncertainty”, “Risk and Rewards: A behind the scenes look at the acceleration of Sports Betting”, “Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0: The Future Sports Platforms”, “Generating Higher Fan Engagement”, and “How Brooklyn Built the Metaverse”. All of these discussions had their own twist to them. I sincerely believe that I left the conference with a greater knowledge base and understanding of the current issues affecting the sports industry than I had prior to attending.

There were many takeaways and information that I learned from attending the conference. One of the main topics was enhancing the engagement of new and future audiences in sport. TikTok has become more than just a platform for lip sync and dancing, as it is now being used to advance the fan experience in sports and highlights. In the minds of content creators, one has to put themselves in the seat of the users and ask themselves what does the user want to see? Publishers are now partnering with content creators to plan, create and deliver the best content possible. Due to the fact that TikTok contains an untapped audience, the ability to take risks and experiment with content is prevalent amongst content creators. This was extremely beneficial during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Archive content was very popular during the pandemic without live sports and has carried over post pandemic. For example, say it is an athlete’s birthday, content creators will work with publishers to post his/her career highlights and/or famous clips. TikTok will continue to provide content in a variety of ways that will enhance the engagement of current and future audiences.

The impact that technology has on fan engagement has increased significantly as of late. The New York Liberty was the first WNBA team to release their own NFT. Not only does this educate fans about digital assets, but it also has the opportunity to draw in more fans, especially women. Just like TikTok is enhancing the mobile experience, Seatgeek is a company that is using technology to enhance the fan experience for those attending live events. Paula Segal, head of consumer product for SeatGeek, mentioned that Covid accelerated the switch to digital tickets and that tickets are now more than just a barcode. They can be used for mobile food ordering, buying merchandise and persuading fans to bet on the sport event itself. These examples are part of a movement to use technology to enhance the in-game experience instead of focusing solely on technology being used outside the arena or stadium.

The growing acceleration of sports betting and the marketing and advertising amongst the giants in the industry was another topic that caught my attention. Sports betting companies are using other forms of media such as TV and radio to market and promote their product beyond basic advertising. Content creation such as gambling shows are done to help promote gambling companies and their respective sports books. CBS and ESPN are examples of sports channels that are broadcasting betting shows, an interactive approach to the promotion of sports betting. Sportsbooks are trying to differentiate themselves from competitors in the industry and gain competitive advantage by gaining loyal customers and keeping them engaged on their platform. Sports betters typically tend to choose their preferred sportsbook depending upon ease of use. Customers have the ability to switch sportsbooks at any time, so if they do not like one they can easily switch to another. In order for gambling companies to limit this from happening, they are attempting to innovate their sportsbooks to make them stand out and appear different to the average user. I believe that this is just the beginning for the sports betting industry, as there are endless opportunities for success in the future.

Lastly, the future of sport platforms and generating higher fan engagement was a popular topic of discussion. I learned that not only can fan engagement exist in the real world, but in a virtual environment as well. As said by Scott Lawin, CEO of Candy Digital, “sports is the gateway drug into NFT’s & Crypto”. As more teams and leagues are getting involved with digital assets, casual fans can begin to get an understanding of how they work. As there are more fans that are educated on this matter, the engagement will continue to improve over time. Lawin also mentioned that in three to five years, he expects purchasing consumer products, sporting event tickets and concert tickets will require an NFT attached to it. As this is my first “real world” exposure to NFT’s and Crypto, I am seeing how the emergence of NFT’s are at the center of the future of promotion. I plan on further educating myself on NFT’s, Crypto, Blockchain and the Metaverse, as I know they are and will continue to be pivotal components in the sports industry.

Overall, the SportiConference Converge was a great opportunity as I became more educated on the relevant topics in the industry today. I was also able to meet and converse with a variety of interesting and experienced professionals. Sportico should be commended for organizing such a successful event.