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Martinez, Johnson, Gregory-O’Connell to be Honored at 44th Annual Thurman Munson Awards March 14

Two hard-hitting World Series champions and a Bronx basketball trailblazer enshrined in three Halls of Fame will be honored by AHRC New York City Foundation when they are presented with Thurman Munson Awards at the 44th annual benefit on Thursday night, March 14 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers (23rd Street at West Side Highway) in New York City: Four-time New York Yankees World Series champion first baseman Tino Martinez (1996, 1998-2000), 1986 Mets World Series champion third baseman Howard Johnson and Fordham University women’s hoops pioneer and New York City Basketball Hall of Famer Anne Gregory-O’Connell will each receive “Thurmans” as members of the “Class of 2024.”

The Munson Awards are presented to individuals for on-field excellence, and the betterment of sports and community. The AHRC NYC benefit has helped to keep the memory of the legendary Yankees catcher and captain Thurman Munson alive since his tragic passing 44 years ago, while raising more than $21 million for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives.

Robert Scheinman, Principal, J.T. Magen & Company, Inc., will receive the M. Anthony Fisher Humanitarian Award.

Thurman’s widow Diana Munson is an honorary chair who has supported AHRC NYC and its fund-raising efforts through the Thurman Munson Awards for four decades.

The 2024 benefit will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of AHRC NYC.

The Master of Ceremonies will be FOX 5 lead sports anchor and Sports Extra host Tina Cervasio.

Special guests expected to attend include Football Giants Super Bowl champions Harry Carson, Ottis Anderson, Chris Canty and Karl Nelson; Yankees World Series Champion Jeff Nelson; four-time Islanders Stanley Cup Champions Butch Goring and John Tonelli, former Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa, NY/NJ Gotham FC soccer midfielder McCall Zerboni, SiriusXM Radio host Ed Randall and New York radio/television personality Sweeny Murti of MLB.com, with others to be announced.

Martinez, whose plaque installed in the Stadium’s Monument Park underline his Yankees legacy, was an integral member of four Bombers World Championship teams in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. During a 16-year major league career, Tino knocked in 1,271 runs on the strength of 1,925 hits and 339 home runs. The two-time All-Star had more than 100 RBI in six different seasons and led the American League in homeruns (44) and RBI (141) in 1997.

His two most memorable World Series home runs were a Grand Slam in Game 1 in 1998 to give the Yankees the lead and the win against the Padres; and then in 2001 against the Diamondbacks. With the Yankees down to their last out, Martinez launched a game-tying, ninth inning home run in Game 4 and the Yankees went on to win in the 10th.

Like Thurman, Martinez starred in the Cape Cod League early in his career (1986), and last summer returned to serve as an assistant coach for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Tampa native was a standout in college at the University of Tampa as a three-time All-American.

Johnson was a Tigers product who debuted in 1982 and was a member of Detroit’s 1984 championship team. He was traded to the Mets following that season and two years later went on to win his second World Series in 1986. With the Mets, Hojo was a two-time All-Star and led the National League in both home runs (38) and RBI (117) in 1991. Johnson still ranks third on the Mets’ all-time list for homers (192), RBI (629), doubles, and stolen bases (202).

Inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame earlier this year, Hojo is a three-time member of the “30-30 Club” (1987, 1989 and 1991) all in New York, and set the record for most home runs (36) by a switch hitter in 1987.

During his 14-year career, Johnson drove in 760 runs totaling 1,229 hits, 228 home runs and 231 stolen bases.

Gregory-O’Connell scored 2,548 points and pulled down 1,999 rebounds during a storied Fordham career from 1976-80. She is enshrined in the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame as the first female inductee in 1986, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame (2017) and the Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame (2023). In 2023, in a celebration of Title IX’s 50th Anniversary, she was recognized for her contributions in spearheading the growth of women’s sports as an Atlantic 10 “Trailblazer’ by the conference for “paving the way for thousands of girls and women to participate in and be successful in sports and life.” Anne’s number is the only number of a women’s player retired by her alma mater (2009), and #55 hangs from the rafters at the Rose Hill Gymnasium on the Fordham campus.

The women’s basketball pioneer is a New York product from The Bronx, New York. A stone’s throw from Yankee Stadium, Anne Gregory was a dominant force on the Fordham University women’s basketball team from 1976-80, long before women’s basketball took off as part of mainstream sports. The rebounds total stood as a record in women’s basketball until 2009. Anne graduated cum laude from Fordham with a degree in sociology in 1980.

She was one of seven children who grew up in the Parkchester section of the Bronx and is a product of Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, New York. She played professionally briefly in France following her Fordham career.

Anne’s late husband was the beloved Hall of Fame college basketball writer Jim O’Connell, whom she met as a Fordham student when “Oc” was the university’s Sports Information Director.

Always giving young people direction during 36 years in Catholic School education, Anne’s post-basketball career included 20 years as guidance counselor at Holy Trinity High School, 12 years at Aquinas High School, and two years at Cardinal Spellman; Anne began that career at a physical education teacher and basketball coach at St. Helena Commercial High School.

The list of previous Thurman Munson Award recipients reads like a “Who’s Who” of sports stars including: Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Yogi Berra, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, David Wright, Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, Julius Erving, Jim Brown, Harry Carson, Aly Raisman, Nancy Lieberman, Theresa Weatherspoon, and Mark Messier, just to name a few.

Founded 75 years ago, AHRC New York City is a family governed organization that is fiercely committed to achieving equity for people who are neurodiverse in New York City. With over 5,000 staff, reflecting the demographics of our city, we offer an unsurpassed array of services to more than 15,000 people and their families annually in the five boroughs. The organization is part of a social justice movement grounded in our common humanity. AHRC NYC is fully accredited by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and is a recognized leader in the field. We are committed to promoting the highest levels of excellence and innovation in all of its programs and services.

Nick Dunlap Signs With GSE Worldwide to Manage Golf Career

GSE Worldwide and Nick Dunlap are proud to announce that Dunlap has signed with GSE to manage his professional golf career, effective immediately. Dunlap recently made the decision to go pro on the heels of his thrilling win at the American Express, the first win by an amateur on the PGA TOUR in more than three decades since Phil Mickelson won the 1991 Northern Telecom Championship. He was also the youngest amateur to win an event since 1910. Dunlap’s victory gave him full membership status on the PGA TOUR through the 2026 season, allowing him to compete at every event on the tour.

Dunlap is just the second golfer in history to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur championships, after Tiger Woods. He was also ranked as the number one junior golfer in the class of 2022, before committing to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide golf team.

“Going pro was a tremendously difficult decision to make on a number of levels, but once I decided to move forward signing with GSE was a much easier choice,” said Nick Dunlap. “I’m excited to join the GSE family and am confident that they’ll help me capably navigate my career both on and off the course.”

“Watching Nick learn and grow as a player has been amazing – while we all knew he would go pro one day, I don’t think that many realized how quickly it would arrive and how fast he has advanced his game,” added Kevin Canning, Senior Vice President of Golf Management, GSE Worldwide. “We’re proud to be a part of his team as he transitions to the professional level and look forward to helping him build his brand off of the course.”

Strat-O-Matic Opening Day At Glen Head, N.Y. Headquarters A Big Hit For Fans

They began lining up at 2 a.m. At least that’s the reported time that the first guest appeared at Strat-O-Matic Headquarters on Railroad Avenue, in the shadow of the Glen Head Long Island Rail Road stop. The first of what grew to more than 200 hearty souls braved near-freezing temperatures Friday in order to be among those to get ahold of the new baseball season cards fresh out of the warehouse.

In what has become an annual tradition, gamers from across the country – and sometimes other parts of the world – gather outside the blue-gray offices, not only to pick up the new season game and other items, but to meet friends old and new who share a love for the game that has been such an important part of their lives.

By all accounts, Bret Sypniewski traveled the farthest, getting into his customized white cargo van and traversing the country all the way from Las Vegas, where he took orders of his own for upwards of 30 games from friends and competitors at the various tournaments that he’s participated in regularly since retirement.

“It took me about 10 days, I took the scenic route,” said the affable Sypniewski, who has played the game for more than 35 years, a time frame that seemed to match many of the Opening Day participants. “I enjoy the tournaments, playing face to face, getting to interact with people while we play.”

Sypniewski made the Strat-O-Matic visit the fulcrum of a trip that included stops in Lubbock, Texas, for some hiking and a Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball game, another in Lexington, Kentucky, for a UK game and various other activities. His diverse interests match the variety of Strat-O-Matic baseball seasons that he enjoys playing.

“I enjoy playing the 1911-1930 teams, but I’m picking up the new season and 1984,” he added. “I like the old time stuff, I learn a lot about the players.”

Another highlight for Opening Day attendees is meeting the Strat-O-Matic founder and creator, Hal Richman, who enjoys hearing fans talk about the decades of enjoyment that the game has brought them.

Strat-O-Matic Chief Content Officer John Garcia presided over the Opening Day ceremonies, which included the induction of three members into the Strat-O-Matic Hall of Fame, including former major leaguer and noted SOM enthusiast Keith Hernandez, longtime game tester Larry Foster and Strat-O-Matic Forum editor Dan Patterson.

Garcia and CEO Adam Richman also raffled off some unique items, including test cards from last year’s 1933-1983 All-Star baseball set, a game autographed by Hal Richman, a subscription to the pending release of Baseball Max, currently in beta, and more.

National Lacrosse League Expands League-Wide Activationfor Award-Winning ‘Every Child Matters’ Initiative

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) today announced the return and expansion of its “Every Child Matters” initiative. The multi-faceted platform brings awareness to the forcible placement of Indigenous children in residential and boarding schools by the Canadian and United States governments from the 19th century to as recently as 1996. This year’s campaign will begin this coming weekend and will run through March 10th.

Now in its third year, all 15 NLL teams will participate in the campaign, including specially designed helmet decals supporting “Every Child Matters” worn by all players for the remainder of the season.

“Our continued work with Indigenous athletes and communities is a major priority for the National Lacrosse League, and the ‘Every Child Matters’ education process and activations are key components of that platform,” said NLL Commissioner Brett Frood. “This program presents an opportunity to facilitate meaningful conversations about the atrocities perpetrated by the residential and boarding school systems, continue the journey toward reconciliation, and honor survivors and their families.”

The “Every Child Matters” initiative is a part of the NLL’s ever-growing participation and awareness programs tied to Indigenous culture, which is at the core of the League’s values and the history of the sport of lacrosse. The work includes educational programs for athletes, coaches, staff, and fans, land acknowledgment ceremonies, and charitable and social responsibility programs to strengthen and enhance the ties between League stakeholders and the Indigenous community.

The NLL will also produce audio and video messaging for broadcasts on TSN and ESPN, and additional content will be incorporated into NLL.com, the League’s social channels, and in-venue game presentations.

Fans will be able to purchase cotton shirts through the league’s online stores, NLLShop.com and NLLStore.ca. For every shirt sold, the NLL will donate to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) in Canada and The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) in the United States.

DWF is inspired by the tragic story of an Indigenous boy, Chanie Wenjack, and the commitment of a modern-day folk singer, Gord Downie. The organization seeks to enhance the well-being of Indigenous peoples through heightened awareness, education, and a reconciliation among all Canadians. NABS is leading the movement for truth, justice, and healing in the U.S. Its work is focused on research, education, and healing, and is currently advocating for legislation in Congress to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Boarding School policies (H.R. 7227).

There were 523 Indigenous boarding schools operating in the U.S. and 130 Indigenous residential schools in Canada, and 13 NLL teams play within a couple hours of one or more of these sites. To learn more about these schools and their locations, please visit https://boardingschoolhealing.org/digitalmap/

The League will continue to use an “Every Child Matters” logo designed by Justin Gilbert of Kuvua Designs. Gilbert was selected due to his work in support of Indigenous organizations and his connection to the cause, being born and raised on the Southern Ute Reservation. The logo contains the silhouette of an Indigenous child wearing a ribbon shirt and holding a traditional wooden lacrosse stick. The text “Every Child Matters” appears next to the image with a heart and feather.

Kitman Labs and Fulham FC Expand Data & Analytics Accord

Kitman Labs, the global enterprise SaaS platform providing the only single, centralized operating system for performance intelligence in Sports, today agreed to expand its relationship with English Premier League side, Fulham FC, to include medical and performance data.  The Club will be utilizing the Performance Medicine, Performance Optimization and Coaching & Development Solutions – combining medical, performance and talent development data into a single, interactive data and analytics system to unlock player performance outcomes and inform talent development strategy.

Kitman Labs and the Premier League announced the launch of the Football Intelligence Platform for all Academies last month.  By deploying the Intelligence Platform across the Men’s First Team and Women’s Teams (First + U18’s), Fulham will now unify all data and analytics in a singular operating system for the entire organization.  This integrated, “whole club solution” will serve to drive cross-departmental collaboration, eliminate data and information silos, and provide internal stakeholders with a complete, unified view of each athlete for the purposes of unlocking performance potential and expanding player pathways.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Fulham FC – one of the most accomplished and storied football clubs in the English Premier League – helping to bring innovation to how medical and performance data and analytics are being leveraged across the entire organization to inform strategy and decision-making with objective, analytics-based insights,” said Stephen Smith, CEO and Founder of Kitman Labs.  

“The traditional approach to simply collecting medical and performance data will no longer suffice.  We needed a single system that combines diverse sets of data across the organization. One that ensures accuracy of information, allows the information to be shared and utilized in real time, and supports planning and player health and development with actionable insights” said Chris Hanson, Head of Medical, Fulham FC. 

“Our recent transition to the Kitman Labs Intelligence Platform has allowed us to continue to improve and manage the processes relating to the capture, cleaning, enrichment, and analysis of our football related data. It’s continued to support our evolving commitments to interrogating data, interpreting results, and creating data-led insights and stories.

We have been able to combine data sets from multiple disciplines and data streams to calculate, measure and evaluate impact for the purpose of player development. Furthermore, the platform has supported key stakeholders from across the ecology of the club to reason, reflect and strategise as a consequence of these data-led insights. 

As a pilot club, these processes have been well supported through a comprehensive deployment. The ongoing and iterative support structures have flexed and been reflective of our own cares, concerns and strategies to ensure a collaborative approach to moving to our new data management system” said Tom Hounsell, Academy Insights Manager, PDP Coach.

Kitman Labs has an established track record of working with top teams and leagues across a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, rugby, and American football. The company’s technology has been used by some of the world’s most elite soccer organizations, including Bayer LeverkusenChelsea FCLiverpool FC and Sporting Lisbon.  Kitman Labs recently announced the launch and deployment of The Football Intelligence Platform across all Premier League Academies.

This launch follows other recent business strategy moves Kitman Labs has undertaken including two strategic acquisitions of The Sports Office and Presagia Sports. The combined companies represent the industry’s largest network of elite and youth organizations (2000+), creating the industry’s largest dataset of talent, performance, and medical data for all stages of the athlete lifecycle.

SPORTIME Pickleball Announces 2nd, 3rd Locations in N.Y. and N.J. as Part of Broad Expansion Plan

Sportime Pickleball announced today it has signed two leases in prime locations: Westbury, Long Island and Wayne, New Jersey. SPORTIME Pickleball Westbury (575 Merrick Ave.) will open in the fall of 2024 and SPORTIME Pickleball Wayne (Willowbrook Plaza) has a planned opening in the spring of 2025. These are SPORTIME’S second and third announced dedicated pickleball club locations, which will be the two largest and most comprehensive facilities in their markets, joining an 11 court facility under construction in Armonk, NY.

“We are excited to announce our newest SPORTIME Pickleball locations in Westbury and Wayne, with more great locations coming soon,” said Claude Okin, President & CEO of SPORTIME. “For the ever growing masses of pickleball lovers in the Tri-State area, and for those who will no doubt be joining those legions in the months and years to come, SPORTIME Pickleball locations will provide the highest quality indoor pickleball facilities and programs, consistent with the SPORTIME brand. We are proud to have been a racket sports leader in our region since 1994”.

The 50,000 square foot SPORTIME Pickleball location in Wayne, NJ will include 20 indoor courts and is located in the busiest shopping district in the State, with 16 million visitors each year. This will be the largest indoor pickleball facility in New Jersey and will feature a stadium court, food and beverages and event spaces. In addition to a high volume of daily play and instruction, it is expected to be a major destination site for local and national pickleball tournaments, as well as for large-format group and corporate events.

SPORTIME Pickleball Westbury will feature 13 dedicated indoor pickleball courts and will be the largest indoor pickleball facility in New York State. Its proximity to the Meadowbrook Parkway and The Roosevelt Field mall, along with thousands of other businesses and densely populated residential areas, make it an ideal pickleball hub for Nassau County.

Daren Hornig, SPORTIME’s partner in their pickleball venture, is leading the company’s real estate expansion efforts. “These two locations, along with our first location in Armonk, the numerous additional locations we are currently negotiating, and those to follow, will enable SPORTIME Pickleball to be the leader in this space in the Tri State area. While aggressively lining up sites, we are also being very selective, in that all of our locations will be accessible and will allow us to build out high quality, regulation playing spaces, including high ceilings and full court dimensions,” said Hornig.

SPORTIME Pickleball’s 3 signed leases represent over 110,000 square feet and will boast 45 indoor courts. The company is actively negotiating agreements throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City, as well as in prime locations in New Jersey and Connecticut.

For more information, email [email protected].

NCAA Champion And WNBA Draftee, Alexis Morris Signs With The Harlem Globetrotters

The world famous Harlem Globetrotters, synonymous with basketball excellence and global entertainment, today announced the signing of former Louisiana State University (LSU) star and WNBA draftee, Alexis Morris to the Harlem Globetrotters, it was announced today by Keith Dawkins, President of Harlem Globetrotters and Herschend Entertainment Studios. Morris becomes the seventh current woman to join the organization, the most in the organization’s storied history, as they will celebrate their centennial in 2026.

“The Harlem Globetrotters have a storied history of signing some of the world’s most accomplished and coveted talent; Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, “Curley” Neal, Lou Dunbar, Lynette Woodard and now, Alexis Morris,” said Dawkins. “As the global basketball landscape continues to evolve the Globetrotters are well positioned to offer unparalleled opportunities for professional basketball players looking to develop, and showcase, their amazing skills, make a positive impact in the community, while also benefitting from the plethora of business opportunities that our brand has to offer them. It’s an opportunity unlike any in sports. Signing Alexis reflects our commitment to pursuing the best ballers from around the world.”

Morris, who has begun her Harlem Globetrotters training and will be joining the domestic arm of the 2024 Tour, will take to the court for the first time as a Harlem Globetrotter on Friday, February 9, 2024 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball and The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Her extensive and rigorous schedule will also include stops at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY, on Sunday, February 18 and Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NY, on Saturday, February 24.

Morris, known for her exceptional ball-handling and court vision, will take the court with her self-titled moniker, Alexis ‘The Show’ Morris alongside her elite teammates. The Texas native was selected in the second round of the 2023 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun and is currently a free agent.  She returned to North America after starting the current season in Turkey with Ilkem Yapi Tarsus of the Turkish women’s Super League. Alexis is believed to be the first athlete to join the Harlem Globetrotters while also entertaining elite professional offers since Connie Hawkins, who played for the team and went on to a Hall of Fame Career with the Phoenix Suns.   
 
“I’m excited to join the Harlem Globetrotters and want to thank the leadership team for giving me an opportunity to grow my personal and professional career while playing the game I love,” said Morris. “There is a lot to learn from my coaches and teammates and I’m excited to highlight the level of basketball and entertainment of the organization. ‘The Show’ is now a part of the growing legacy of Harlem Globetrotters basketball.”

She will join the six women athletes who make up the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals this winter, including Fatima, ‘TNT’ Lister, Cherelle ‘Torch’ George, Arysia ‘Ace’ Porter, Kaylin ‘Sunshine’ West, Eryka ‘Spice’ Sidney, and Kayla Gabor. She also joins. nine other rookies who joined the 2024 World Tour this season. Fans can expect exclusive content of her time with the team through “My Rookie Season” on Harlem Globetrotters Youtube channel.
Morris, a dynamic point guard and a top scorer on LSU’s 2023 National Championship team, brings a stellar blend of skill, athleticism, and showmanship to the iconic Harlem Globetrotters. Her electrifying style of play and passion for the game align with the team’s commitment to delivering unparalleled entertainment to audiences worldwide.

The Harlem Globetrotters’ rich legacy of combining sportsmanship and entertainment, continue to attract top-tier athletes who embrace the joy of basketball. Follow the Harlem Globetrotters on social media for exclusive behind-the-scenes content and more team updates as they travel the world. 

NOVUS Steps Up to Biggest Stage with $100,000 Donation Pledge to The Hope Center in KC, Placing Faith in Kansas City Kicker Harrison Butker

NOVUS and two-time world champion kicker Harrison Butker are built from the same values; faith, family, teamwork and service. NOVUS and the KC kicker announced today they are pledging to make a $100,000 donation to The Hope Center in Kansas City if Harrison Butker makes history and becomes the first kicker ever to win MVP in the big game. 

The Hope Center in Kansas City strives to provide opportunities for sustainable growth and development where children, youth and families can flourish.

NOVUS will also donate football jerseys to all varsity high school football teams in Kansas City and San Francisco if Butker kicks a game-winning field goal in the final minute. With a 90% career field goal success rate, Butker has proven his tenacity in the game’s most pivotal moments, exemplified by his clutch performance in last year’s big game, where he kicked KC to victory with a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.

“NOVUS products are second to none—the attention to detail and unparalleled quality empower me to perform at my peak during every training session,” said Harrison Butker. “Our shared values of faith, hard work, and service make our partnership a natural fit, and I’m proud to be a part of the NOVUS family.”

Headquartered in Albany, New York, NOVUS is a fast-growing apparel brand specializing in high-quality, purpose-driven, custom apparel for athletes, teams, and professionals nationwide. As a mission-based company, NOVUS’ mantra, “Claim Your Crown,” is rooted in living a life of passion, conviction and perseverance.

“We’ve always made our best effort to use our platform to make an impact. Harrison’s passion and conviction to be the best on and off the field inspires us daily and we’re proud to stand with him as he continues to chase greatness,” added Garrett Bernardo, Co-Founder and CEO of NOVUS. “One of the pillars of our company is that we are purpose and value driven, and we want to embody that through supporting the Kansas City community and youth sports in both Kansas City and San Francisco.”

There is no bigger stage in North American sports than this Sunday’s game and NOVUS is ready to raise its game with this pledge to donate $100,000 with the clutch kicking of Harrison Butker as a driving force.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Named ‘The Official Exclusive Beer Partner’ For SlamBall’s 2024 and 2025 Seasons

SlamBall, the fast-paced, gravity-defying sport that combines elements of basketball, football, hockey and acrobatics co-founded by Mike Tollin and Mason Gordon, announced today that Pabst Blue Ribbon has been named “The Official Exclusive Beer Partner” for the worldwide 2024 and 2025 seasons. Pabst Blue Ribbon will become the title sponsor of the SlamBall Summer Series Dunk Contest and will work with SlamBall to build out special year-round consumer activations, with more details to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Pabst Blue Ribbon as our Official and Exclusive Beer Partner,” said Mason Gordon, SlamBall Co-founder. “SlamBall fans will see Pabst Blue Ribbon be featured in SlamBall programming across the ESPN platform, in exciting new social media initiatives and as the title sponsor of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Dunk Contest. As a young, emerging sport we couldn’t be more proud to have a comprehensive multi-year partnership with a brand that will be celebrating its 180th year.”

“SlamBall brings the energy, excitement, and disruption to sports with an attitude and independent spirit that parallels the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand through its 180 years,” said Josh Feingold – Senior Director of Marketing Partnerships of Pabst. “We only scratched the surface last season and are thrilled to be partnered with SlamBall moving forward.”

Dates and details for SlamBall: Series 7, which will be held this summer, as well as potential domestic and international touring events for early and mid 2024, are currently being finalized.

SlamBall returned last summer to rave reviews and record responses across every measurement tool. The numbers included massive social engagement which bested virtually any other live sports property during the period, solid numbers in its time slots on ESPN, quality attendance numbers and the attention of a global media audience. During the time period of the build up and relaunch of SlamBall, no other active professional sports league, whether a startup or established league, came close in engagement or growth across Twitter and Instagram, even during a MUCH shorter run and season than the others.

SlamBall’s return last May became official when a new Series A round of funding of $11 million was announced. Led by IA Sports Ventures and Eberg Capital, both of which are co-owners of the Miami Marlins, among other investments. Others include: David Blitzer and David Adelman, both of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; Fanatics founder Michael Rubin; VC investor Gary Vaynerchuk; NBA player Blake Griffin; Sacramento Kings investor Kevin Nagle; Lloyd Danzig of Sharp Alpha; Legends Growth Enterprises; Red Games CEO Brian Lovell; attorney Jesse Sharf, Accelerate Sports; and VC investor Eric Manlunas.

Fanatics Partners with Hurricanes for North Carolina Market Access

Fanatics Betting and Gaming, a subsidiary of Fanatics Holdings Inc., a global digital sports platform, will enter into a long-term partnership agreement with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes to become the team’s Official Sports Betting Partner and secure market access for its online sports betting platform, Fanatics Sportsbook, pending licensing and regulatory approvals. 

“The Hurricanes are thrilled to welcome Fanatics as our Official Sports Betting Partner,” said Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell. “Fanatics Sportsbook will bring a user-friendly experience for North Carolinians to wager on sports responsibly, and we’re proud to partner with them on this endeavor.”

With the launch of regulated online sports wagering in North Carolina scheduled for March 2024, the partnership gives Fanatics Sportsbook access to the North Carolina market for mobile sports betting, as well as, the opportunity to put a retail sportsbook at PNC Arena. The partnership also includes marketing assets such as in-arena signage, broadcast integrations, PNC Arena activations for hockey fans, and many other opportunities for Hurricanes fans and ticket holders to engage with Fanatics Sportsbook.   

“We are excited to have the Carolina Hurricanes as our market access partner in North Carolina,” said Ari Borod, Chief Business Officer, Fanatics Betting and Gaming. “We are working with one of the most talented professional sports organizations that knows how to grow a sports business by putting a competitive product out on the ice. We look forward to partnering with the organization to bring sports fans in North Carolina a sports betting product that meets the expectations of such a passionate fanbase.”   

The Fanatics Sportsbook officially launched in August 2023 and is currently available in ten states. The Fanatics Sportsbook makes being a fan easy with fast signup, easy betting, transparent withdrawals, live streaming, industry leading search functionality, the ability to earn FanCash on bets and a curated Discover page with the sports and bets that matter most to a customer.  Fanatics Betting and Gaming and the Carolina Hurricanes believe that responsible gaming is a core tenet and a part of each organization’s DNA. Online customers will have access to Responsible Gaming tools to manage their time and money.   

To download images and videos of the Fanatics Sportsbook, visit the Fanatics Media Center and for more news and information, follow us on the Fanatics Sportsbook social channels on X @FanaticsBook_PB and on Instagram @FanaticsBook_PB.   

Serial Entrepreneur Cole Rubin Launches ‘Seat Club’ Subscription-Based Ticketing Platform

Sports industry veteran and serial entrepreneur Cole Rubin today announced the formal launch of “Seat Club,” a new marketplace designed to help consumers avoid all hidden fees and markups when purchasing tickets for live events at the lowest possible price. The marketplace, which sells tickets to its members at its cost without any markups or fees, officially launched this week and can be found at https://seatclub.com/.

“The biggest complaint consumers have in the event space are the fees and markups. Fees and markups make the ticket buying process frustrating and more expensive than necessary, so we built Seat Club as the pathway to solve these problems,” Rubin said.

“We have spent a great deal of time talking to fans and event producers, and can now deliver this unique value proposition, where our members know they are getting the best pricing, and will save countless hours comparing ticket prices online. The price you see listed on our platform is the price you pay, with no fees added on later in the checkout process. There are no hidden markups, unlike other platforms who claim they don’t charge fees, but bake profits into the listed cost of tickets. Seat Club’s pricing may be as much as 35% less than competitors for the same exact tickets, which is significant, especially on high profile events. We believe in transparency, and our sole source of revenue comes from our membership fee.”

Seat Club’s $99/year membership includes:
-Access to the same ticket inventory as the top secondary sites

  • No fees or markups, members buy tickets AT OUR COST
  • There is no cap of the number of tickets that can be purchased. Subscribers are entitled to unlimited ticket purchases annually.
  • Fan Protect Guarantee on tickets purchased (24/7 support staff)

Rubin is a twenty-year business veteran, with multiple successful private equity exits, and a well-respected leader in the consumer technology and ticket event space. He was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dynasty Sports & Entertainment, dedicated to helping content holders automate the ingestion, pricing, distribution, and fulfillment of tickets to live events. Under Rubin’s direction, Dynasty grew into one of the largest inventory and technology providers to both primary and secondary market ticketing companies and exchanges, and was responsible for automating the distribution of multiple billions of dollars in ticketing content annually. Rubin exited the business in 2020.

While the initial offering for Seat Club is focused on an easy and efficient user experience for live-event tickets, additional industry changing features will be available in the coming year for members. Seat Club’s core focus is giving members the best and most transparent, cost-effective process when purchasing tickets to live events.

For more information on Seat Club and how it works, visit https://seatclub.com/about.

If You Want To Make A Film About Sport and Its Values, Maybe Call George Clooney

The storytelling George Clooney has done in front of the camera and behind the camera is legendary and too much to list. However one thing should be noted for these readers, the guy loves the storytelling of sports, and that’s why the Christmas Day release of The Boys In The Boat should give a sport that has always been viewed as a bit elitist…rowing…quite a lift.

For those who don’t know, the film follows the story of Daniel James Brown’s bestseller about the road to the 1936 Olympics and how a group of college athletes from the University of Washington shocked the world…and host Nazi Germany…by winning gold in the eight man boat that summer in Berlin. That is the Olympics of Louis Zamperini and Jesse Owens and Mack Robinson and how the USOC kept many Jewish athletes out of the games in deference to the games racist hosts…but it is also one of great triumph at a time when the world was heading down a very dangerous path toward World War II, and the UW rowers were a key part of that mix. There have been many books written about the 1936 Olympics and its heroes, and this film is the latest in a series…”Unbroken” being another…that brings the world today back to that time so well.

But back to Clooney and the value of sports storytelling. The native Ohioan has always seen sports as such a key theme in his work, and as a release from the day to day. In addition to starring in the vintage football film “Leatherheads,” Clooney talked this week about his allegiance to Kentucky basketball (his son is a soph in Lexington), his love of pickup basketball as a release, and the unrequited joy he has for the Olympics in three different stories. Then there are the ties to the Huskies through the film (the film has a big fan in the undefeated UW football team, whose coach loves Daniel James Brown’s book and will have his squad see the movie on December 22nd as part of their prep for their BCS semi-final matchup with the University of Texas, talk about inspiration) as well, all of which lent itself so well to the authenticity of “The Boys In The Boat.”  

So what does “Boys In The Boat,” do for anyone looking for a dose of inspiration this holiday season? Lots. It goes into the mix with those films that aspire, through sport, to teach us life lessons. Think the aforementioned “Unbreakable,” or “Hoosiers,” or “Rudy.” It brings us historic storytelling way beyond a race on a river…think “Chariots of Fire.” It gives us periodic storytelling…think “Seabiscuit.” It ties us to the Olympic ideals in a year when we are heading into Paris 2024 as well, all done because of Clooney’s understanding of the values of sport, both as a fan and as a baller, and in the way the actors (Callum Murray, Joel Edgerton, Jack Mulhern, Luke Slattery and the rest) brought us into attention to detail in their prep and execution of the sport.

“Eight as one,” is the mantra and it applies to success on the screen, on the river, in life, today as much as ever.

“The Boys In The Boat” succeeds on every level for the genre it takes on and for the audience it is trying to reach. There will be clips that will make it into locker rooms and stadia and arenas around the world that will inspire and enthrall athletes far and wide.

It is a well done team effort, led by a director who gets sports.

28th WISE Women Of The Year Awards Luncheon To Honor Four Women At Annual Event

Women in Sports and Events (WISE), the foremost career and leadership development organization for women in the business of sports, will host its 28th WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on March 19, 2024 honoring four recipients of the WISE Women of the Year award. 

The 2024 recipients are: Ayala Deutsch, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, National Basketball Association; Kate Johnson, Director and Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Google; Michele Kajiwara, Senior Vice President, Premium and Events Business, Crypto.com Arena & Peacock Theater; and Renee Chube Washington, Chief Operating Officer, USA Track & Field.   WISE members across North America had the opportunity to nominate women for their accomplishments and significant contributions to the business of sports, and the honorees were selected by the organization’s National Board.

“WISE is thrilled to honor four women who personify what it means to be a leader in our industry,”

said Kathleen Francis, National Board chair and president of WISE. “Ayala Deutsch, Kate Johnson, Michele Kajiwara, and Renee Chube Washington are not only paving the way, but they are also making a way for other women. We look forward to celebrating each of the honorees at our annual luncheon and the great work they do.”

The 2024 WISE Women of the Year honorees:

Ayala Deutsch, EVP and Deputy General Counsel, NBA

Ayala Deutsch is responsible for managing commercial legal affairs and intellectual property matters for the NBA and its affiliated leagues, including the global acquisition, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. She joined the NBA in 1998 and was named to her current position in January 2016, after serving as senior vice president and deputy general counsel and senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel.  A former associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York, Deutsch previously served on the Trademark Public Advisory Committee of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, was an adjunct professor of sports law at Cardozo School of Law and president of the International Trademark Association. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University School of Law where she received her J.D. in 1989.

Kate Johnson, Director and Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Google 

Kate Johnson is responsible for developing and executing Google’s strategic approach to sports and entertainment marketing partnerships across its many business verticals. Prior to joining Google, she served as vice president of global partnership marketing at Visa, where she oversaw the company’s global partnership portfolio, including its partnerships with the IOC, FIFA, the NFL, and other verticals. Johnson began her career in sports marketing at IMG’s Global Consulting Group, where she worked in New York, Vancouver and London, building and executing sponsorship marketing platforms for a variety of clients. Recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Sport by Adweek in both 2022 and 2017, Johnson is also a recipient of the 2017 Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award and the 2017 Leaders Under 40 Award. She serves as an IOC Commission Member for Marketing and Digital Media and is a former professional rower and Olympic medalist. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Johnson is an advisor to the Women’s Sports Foundation, Gatorade Women’s Board, the University of Michigan Sports Management Program, and the Youth Sports Alliance.

Michele Kajiwara, SVP, Premium and Events Business, Crypto.com Arena & Peacock Theater

Michele Kajiwara oversees over 2,400 premier seats and more than 150 private and event suites at Peacock Theater and Crypto.com Arena — home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Both venues are owned and operated by AEG, the largest sports and entertainment company in the world.  She leads a team of premium executives in all areas of sales, service, analytics, database marketing, hospitality and event management, and serves as an executive leader of several AEG employee network groups including AEG’s Women’s Leadership Council, AEG Global Partnerships Inclusion Council, and AEG’s Asian and Pacific Islander employee network group. Kajiwara joined AEG in 2003 and began her career in entertainment with New Regency Productions and then moved to New York to join Chelsea Piers. She holds a BA from the University of Southern California and has served on the board for the Association of Luxury Suite Directors for more than 10 years, including four as president. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including being named to Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers and Variety’s Dealmakers Impact Report. 

Renee Chube Washington, Chief Operating Officer, USA Track & Field

Renee Chube Washington joined USATF in June 2012 and as COO manages the organization’s record $40 million budget and 68-person national staff, as well as working with the CEO to develop and implement corporate strategy and direction. Washington has broad cross-enterprise oversight of all departments. Since being appointed COO, USATF has awarded six U.S. Olympic Team Trials, secured the World Athletics Indoor and Outdoor Championships on U.S. soil for the first time, participated in three Olympic Games and ten World Championships. Prior to USATF, Washington’s career spanned various corporate and government roles including time with Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, CICOA (a private, nonprofit agency advocate for the aged), as a staff attorney in the State of Indiana office of the Attorney General, and in several roles in the U.S. Department of Labor. She was named a 2017 Sports Business Journal Game Changer and a Cynopsis Top Women in Sports in 2019. A graduate of Georgetown University Law and Spelman College, Washington and has dedicated time to various causes including the Junior League of Indianapolis, Wishard Memorial Hospital, the Girl Scouts, American Cancer Society Guild, and numerous educational, cultural and political causes. 

In conjunction with the 28th Annual WISE Awards Luncheon, the WISE/R Symposium will take place on March 18th, the day prior to the luncheon, in New York City.  The WISE/R Symposium is the sports industry’s leading personal and professional development event for women. Built by women, for women, it is the first event of its kind to focus exclusively on the unique hurdles that women encounter in the business of sports.  Additional information about the 28, 2024 Annual WISE Awards Luncheon and the WISE/R Symposium can be found at www.wiseworks.org

RealResponse Partners with a Global Leader providing comprehensive Anti-Doping Programs to Help Protect Athletes and Fair Sport

The International Testing Agency (ITA), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, selected RealResponse’s versatile technology platform to augment and expand the channels it uses to collect suspicious doping information securely and anonymously through REVEAL, its anti-doping reporting tool. With ITA’s focus on delivering comprehensive anti-doping programs and its obligations to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) International Standard for Testing and Investigations, implementing RealResponse’s secure, two-way anonymous platform to obtain anti-doping intelligence helps it achieve its stated mission.

The ITA’s new Proactive Reporting Policy – outlining how potential anti-doping rule violations are reported to and processed by the ITA – reinforces for athletes and athlete support personnel that they have the ability and confidence to come forward because of anonymous and confidential anti-doping reporting methods enabled by RealResponse.

ITA’s Nicholas Raudenski, Head of Intelligence & Investigations, comments, “The ITA’s core mission is to protect athletes and encourage a safe space for proactive reporting. Providing them with the best options to report any suspicions they could have in a confidential or anonymous manner supports this mission. RealResponse’s platform has the ability to reduce reporting barriers by providing multiple communications channels, including text and WhatsApp. And, the fact that we are able to engage in two-way, anonymous dialogue with a person reporting a doping concern supports efficient investigations and our clean sport mission in general.”

Through its secure and confidential reporting channels, RealResponse technology will play a crucial role in protecting athletes who disclose doping information and will help ITA achieve the objectives laid out in its new reporting policy.

“With the Paris Summer Olympics on the horizon, and as our first global client, the International Testing Agency recognizes the value of ensuring that all voices are heard when it comes to preventing doping in sport,” said David Chadwick, Founder and CEO of Real Response. “Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of all athletes and the integrity of competition around the world. By rolling out RealResponse to its stakeholders, the ITA is taking a major step to opening up communications channels that did not exist before and at a critical juncture.”

National Lacrosse League and Marvel Team up to Promote Lacrosse’s Legendary Origin Story

To close out this year’s Native American Heritage Month, the National Lacrosse League unveiled a new, multi-year program with storytelling giant Marvel, focused on honoring and popularizing lacrosse’s Indigenous origin story with game-specific promotions starting in the upcoming 2023-24 NLL season.

The central theme of the collaboration, the history of lacrosse, will be at the core of a custom comic book written by Paul Allor, in close collaboration with the NLL’s Indigenous consultants, drawn by Indigenous creator Shaun Beyale, and a cover by JL Giles.


“With NLL-style sixes lacrosse enjoying heightened global momentum with the IOC’s recent vote to add the sport to the upcoming LA28 Summer Olympic games, the NLL wanted to celebrate lacrosse’s fabled beginnings with our rapidly expanding worldwide fan base,” said Kurt Hunzeker, the NLL’s Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations. “Great stories are the heartbeat of the Marvel Universe, and the NLL is honored to work with Marvel to bring the legend of North America’s original pastime to life.”

The custom comic book will only be available at designated Marvel Super Hero™ themed games every NLL team will host each year of the program. The same core story will be offered in each market, and Marvel will produce variant covers featuring star players from every NLL team that will be given out at their respective games.

The collaboration was facilitated by AthLife, Inc., Marvel’s longtime sports-centric agency of record.

In addition to the comic book premium distribution, each NLL team will wear special edition Marvel Super Hero-inspired jerseys on floor during its designated game. NLL fans can expect more Marvel-themed activations throughout the year.

Each NLL team has designated its Marvel Super Hero theme night for the upcoming 2023-24 season:

  • Albany FireWolves: Saturday, March 2, 2024, 7pm ET, vs. New York
  • Buffalo Bandits: Friday, March 8, 2024, 7:30pm ET, vs. Saskatchewan
  • Calgary Roughnecks: Friday, March 22, 2024, 7pm MT, vs. Albany
  • Colorado Mammoth: Saturday, March 2, 2024, 7pm MT, vs. Saskatchewan
  • Georgia Swarm: Friday, April 19, 2024, 7:30pm ET, vs. Rochester
  • Halifax Thunderbirds: Friday, February 16, 2024, 7:30pm AT, vs. Buffalo
  • Las Vegas Desert Dogs: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 7pm PT, vs. Colorado
  • New York Riptide: Saturday, February 10, 2024, 7:30pm ET, vs. San Diego
  • Panther City Lacrosse Club: Sunday, March 3, 2024, 3pm CT, vs. Rochester
  • Philadelphia Wings: Saturday, March 2, 2024, 1pm ET, vs. Calgary
  • Rochester Knighthawks: Sunday, April 21, 2024, 3pm ET, vs. Philadelphia
  • San Diego Seals: Friday, February 23, 2024, 7pm ET, vs. Georgia
  • Saskatchewan Rush: Saturday, February 24, 2024, 7pm CT, vs. Halifax
  • Toronto Rock: Saturday, March 23, 2024, 7pm ET, vs. Halifax
  • Vancouver Warriors: Saturday, February 10, 2024, 7pm PT, vs. Saskatchewan

The 2023-24 NLL season will commence with NLL Faceoff Weekend tomorrow with a “NLL Game of the Week” doubleheader on TSN in Canada as Saskatchewan travels to Halifax at 7pm ET and Panther City opens up in Vancouver at 10pm ET. ESPN2 will carry the first “NLL Saturday Night Showcase” this weekend with Philadelphia battling New York starting at 7:30pm ET.

National Lacrosse League Opens Friday with NLL Faceoff Weekend: Ten Things to Know

The National Lacrosse League (@NLL), the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world, opens its 37th season with five contests on “NLL Faceoff Weekend” with three games on Friday and two on Saturday.

Coming off a season of record-breaking attendance across the league and interest in the NLL and the sport of lacrosse at an all-time high, the off-season was an exciting one for the NLL, with storylines heightening the anticipation for 2023-24.

Here are 10 things to know about the NLL entering Week 1:

  • Fans can watch three of the five NLL Faceoff Weekend contests on linear broadcasts, beginning with the “NLL Game of the Week on TSN” doubleheader on Friday featuring the Saskatchewan Rush at Halifax Thunderbirds (7 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. AT), with broadcasters Pete Dalliday, Pat Gregoire, and Ashley Docking) followed by Panther City Lacrosse Club at Vancouver Warriors (10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT), with Teddy Jenner, Brad Challoner, and Shantelle Chand).
  • In the “NLL Saturday Night Showcase on ESPN,” the Philadelphia Wings visit the New York Riptide (7:30 p.m. ET). The Albany FireWolves vs. Las Vegas Desert Dogs contest (10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT) will also be seen locally in both markets (My4 in Albany, Fox 5 in Vegas).
  • The Buffalo Bandits, who open play on Dec. 9 at Albany, will be looking to repeat as NLL Champions, a feat that is rare in League history. The Rochester Knighthawks (now the Halifax Thunderbirds) were the last, pulling a threepeat with titles from 2012-14. The only other title defenses in League history were by the Toronto Rock (1999-2000) and (2002-03).
  • The Bandits’ championship last season was their 12th trip to the NLL Finals, the most in League history. The current Halifax Thunderbirds made ten appearances during their time as the original Rochester Knighthawks, and the Rock have made nine NLL Finals appearances.
  • All 135 regular season games and every playoff contest will be streamed live on ESPN+ and TSN+. The full schedule is available at https://www.nll.com/schedule/full-schedule/.
  • TSN will broadcast 20 Game of the Week contests, including at least one at each of the League’s five Canadian-based franchises. The schedule, subject to change, is available here: https://www.nll.com/news/2023-24-nll-game-of-the-week-on-tsn-schedule-announced/
  • In October, the NLL unveiled NLL UnBOXed™, the League’s new continent-wide grassroots campaign designed to bring the League’s fast-paced game to boys and girls in more communities across North America. The League also revealed the cities and branding for the nine non-NLL markets, available at https://www.nll.com/UnBOXed/.
  • The new NLL UnBOXed series will debut with the Toronto Rock and New York Riptide playing at Place Bell in Laval, Québec on Friday, February 16, 2024 in the first regular season game to be held in the province since 2002.
  • In September, the League unveiled new branding, including a refined primary logo, stylized wordmark, and for the first time, a French language “Ligue Nationale de Lacrosse” family of marks.
  • The 2023-24 NLL season will be the first under a new unified standings format and playoff structure which will feature a more balanced schedule across its 15 teams and a single-table, eight-team playoff qualification system that eliminates the geographical conferences.
  • Monday marked the debut of “War on the Floor: A Season with the San Diego Seals” on Prime Video, an all-access series that follows the expansion franchise throughout the 2021-2022 season. Search “War on the Floor” to watch the five episode series.
  • NLL.com’s news bureau has been busy with numerous features every week. The latest series is the “NLL Top 50,” counting down the league’s best at each position. Next up, the forwards. See links to the other positions at the bottom of that article.

Schedule – Week 1 (All Times Eastern)

Friday

  • Saskatchewan Rush at Halifax Thunderbirds, 7 p.m., TSN, TSN+, ESPN+
  • Panther City Lacrosse Club at Vancouver Warriors, 10 p.m., TSN, TSN+, ESPN+
  • Albany FireWolves at Las Vegas Desert Dogs, 10 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+, My4, Fox 5

Saturday

  • Calgary Roughnecks at Rochester Knighthawks, 7 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+
  • Philadelphia Wings at New York Riptide, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN+, TSN+

Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission Partners With Realresponse To Launch Anonymous Integrity Hotline

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission is partnering with RealResponse to launch a statewide program for the public to anonymously report concerning or questionable activities regarding horseracing, casino gaming at racetrack enclosures and sports gaming in Nebraska.

RealResponse is committed to elevating all voices in sports. The RealResponse community includes more than two million athletes, coaches, administrators, and staff, across college and professional sports, governing bodies, and integrity units. Founded in 2015 with its signature customer-centric approach, RealResponse offers real-time, two-way anonymous communications, surveys, compliance support, competitive benchmarks, and metrics. These insights enhance communications between athletes, participants, and their respective organizations. For more information, visit realresponse.com.

“With legalized sports wagering and gambling expanding rapidly from state to state, there is a heightened need to guard against impropriety and to protect those vulnerable to increased criticism and threats,” says David Chadwick, Founder and CEO of RealResponse. “We commend the Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission for ensuring the public and others can share betting-related concerns anonymously and safely through the RealResponse platform.”

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission encourages the public to use this anonymous program to report any concerning or questionable activities related to horseracing, casino gaming at racetrack enclosures and sports gaming activities throughout the state. The implementation of this program is another step towards enhancing best practices to prevent questionable or concerning activity across the industries we regulate.

“The NRGC is excited to be partnering with RealResponse. We are the first state Commission to partner with RealResponse. We hope the public will embrace and utilize this anonymous service to report concerning or questionable practices,” says Tom Sage, Director of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission.

Brandon Steiner’s CollectibleXchange.com Acquires StarStock.com Trading Card Marketplace

CollectibleXchange.com by Brandon Steiner has acquired StarStock.com – a marketplace for sports card collectors to buy, sell, and invest in their favorite sports cards –it was announced today by Steiner and StarStock.com founder Scott Greenberg.

StarStock houses more than 1.3 million sports trading cards including superstars from every sport and league – from Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani to LeBron James and Nikola Jokic to Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.

There’s a card for every budget, with prices ranging from as little as $1 to 10’s of thousands of dollars.

Through today’s technology, StarStock provides a one-of-a-kind user experience, low fees, and rapid speed for every transaction. StarStock stores each individual collection in a centralized vault and issues a digital version of the card inside each person’s StarStock portfolio, allowing users to trade players instantaneously, at scale, and at a substantially lower transaction cost than other markets.

The cards are put into a digital collection stored in a vault, where owners can go into the collection and list for a specific price. Once a card sells, ownership immediately changes hands and the buyer can have the card shipped, or keep it in the vault

“Our goal is to help service collectors with a white glove device. We will help them organize, store (vault), grade and evaluate for collectors to buy and sell cards,” said Steiner.

“Too many card collectors are confused with the market. added Steiner. “StarStock will help them to understand what to do with their cards.”

Steiner, who revolutionized the sports memorabilia and collectibles industry during 32 years as founder of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia, transitioned from that company to transform the industry again with the 2019 launch of CollectibleXchange.com, giving the advantage to the buyers and sellers of collectibles, and for athletes to sell product directly to fans.

CollectibleXchange now has over 150,000 pieces of memorabilia in stock, not to mention collectibles in regularly scheduled auctions. “The ‘BidCx’ platform has really taken off, and now we’ll be adding trading cards to our auction platform,” said Steiner.

In this unique marketplace community, an individual – from the avid collector to athletes to a one-time owner of a piece – to buy and sell at the best price.

The website allows both collectors and athletes to set their own price on one-of-a-kind memorabilia or an entire collection – to sell individually to buyers or at auction. Steiner and his team will authenticate and determine the value of each collectible.

In April 2021, as part of CollectibleXchange.com, Steiner launched Athletedirect.com, with a plethora of champion players and coaches – from New York Rangers Stanley Cup icons Mark Messier and Mike Richter to Football Giants Super Bowl legends Tom Coughlin and Mark Bavaro to women’s basketball greats Sue Bird and Nancy Lieberman to Yankees World Series champs Aaron Boone and Willie Randolph to college coaches Lou Holtz and Jim Boeheim – lining up to team with Steiner.

Fanatics Sportsbook Launches in West Virginia 

Fanatics Betting and Gaming, a subsidiary of Fanatics Holdings Inc, a global digital sports platform, launched the most rewarding online sportsbook in the state of West Virginia.  Sports fans living in and visiting West Virginia will be able to download the Fanatics Sportsbook on iOS and Android and begin their Fanatics experience.  

As part of the launch in West Virginia, Fanatics Betting and Gaming will pilot its new online casino, embedded in the Fanatics Sportsbook app. The newly designed casino product will feature a range of classic and popular casino favorites like roulette, slots and blackjack, along with the new Fanatics Blackjack game, exclusive to Fanatics Sportsbook players.  More online casino games and features will follow in the near future. 

In August 2023, Fanatics Betting and Gaming began acquiring the U.S. Businesses of PointsBet and planning the migration of PointsBet customers to the Fanatics Sportsbook app. In West Virginia only, each customer’s username, password, account balance, rewards points and responsible gaming settings will be automatically migrated to the Fanatics Sportsbook.  If you are a PointsBet customer in West Virginia, the first step is to download the Fanatics Sportsbook on iOS and Android. Then login using the same email address and password used on PointsBet and any open bets and the balance from your PointsBet account will be available in your new Fanatics Sportsbook account.  

The Fanatics Sportsbook offers customers up to 5% back in FanCash on bets and is poised to disrupt the sports betting industry by offering the following exciting new features:  

  • Building a better sportsbook: The Fanatics Sportsbook app was built natively on iOS and Android. The design, speed and quality of the navigation experience rival the sports betting apps in the market today that were not built specifically for iOS and Android.  
  • The most rewarding sportsbook: It’s all thanks to FanCash – The Currency of Sport™.  FanCash, the backbone of the Fanatics loyalty program, can be converted dollar-for-dollar into Bonus Bets and can also be used to purchase your favorite team merchandise at Fanatics.com.
  • Earn 5% FanCash on Same Game Parlay (SGP) bets.
  • Earn 3% FanCash on parlay bets.
  • Earn 1% FanCash on straight bets and odds boosts.
  • From curated to a more personalized experience: Customers know what they want to bet on, and a sportsbook should know it too. Introducing the Fanatics Sportsbook Discover page with marquee games, trending bets, promos and the rewards you want most. In the near future, the Discover page will be personalized to the customer’s favorite teams, sports and markets. 
  • Search: Search easily for the bet you want and bet directly from the results. The Fanatics Sportsbook offers industry-leading search functionality, including a search bar, recent searches, autocomplete, synonym/alias and deep linking to leagues, events and markets.  
  • Live streaming: The Fanatics Sportsbook, in partnership with Genius Sports Limited, was one of the first legal sportsbooks to launch BetVision, a first-of-its-kind live sports betting product that enables customers to place bets while live streaming select professional football games in the sportsbook app. 

The Fanatics Sportsbook is making a profound commitment to the customer with a world-class Help Center, chat experience and knowledgeable agents with 24/7 coverage. Customers will also have access to Responsible Gaming tools to manage their time and money. 

National Lacrosse League Returns to Montréal for its First Regular Season Game in Québec Since 2002

The National Lacrosse League (@NLL), North America’s premier professional lacrosse league, today announced the first-ever NLL UnBOXed™ Series marquee event game scheduled for Friday, February 16, 2024, at 7 p.m. ET in Laval, Québec, outside of Montréal. The League’s newest tentpole showcase features the NLL’s two largest markets as the Toronto Rock and New York Riptide will clash in a pivotal midseason showdown.

Place Bell, home of the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the NHL Montréal Canadiens, will host the 2024 NLL UnBOXed Series, marking the first regular season game in Québec since 2002 when the NLL Montréal Express played its final game at the then-Molson Centre.

Tickets for the 2024 NLL UnBOXed Series will officially go on sale on November 16th at noon ET at evenko.ca.

Today’s announcement follows last week’s unveiling of the NLL’s new multi-national grassroots initiative, NLL UnBOXed, including the launch of its Montréal area-specific programming under the “Castors de Montréal” brand.

“Interest in box lacrosse, from the grassroots to the professional level, continues to skyrocket in Québec, and we are proud to be able to take this next step in bringing the NLL and our elite athletes to Laval and the greater Montréal area,” said NLL Commissioner Brett Frood. “We are thankful to the leadership of the Canadiens, especially France Margaret Bélanger, in working with us to host the game at Place Bell, and to both the Riptide and the Rock for their enthusiasm to move to a neutral site so that we can expand our regular season audience in Montréal for the first time in more than 20 years.”

The NLL UnBOXed Series event platform will also include additional local activations throughout Montréal leading up to the game in Laval, including instructional clinics for young boys and girls, parents, and coaches, and gameday interactive fan experiences at Place Bell. Specific details will be announced at a later date.

“We are delighted to be working with the National Lacrosse League to bring the best in professional box lacrosse to Laval in February,” said Groupe CH president, sports and entertainment, France Margaret Bélanger. “The sport has a deep history in our province, and hosting this game is a great way to honor the past while looking to the future, as we give our fans a chance to see the Rock and Riptide play in an important regular season game at Place Bell.”

The inaugural NLL UnBOXed Series also will feature the first in-game use of the NLL’s new French-language brand identity unveiled this past July, further symbolizing the League’s long-term commitment to growing box lacrosse in Montréal, throughout Québec, and with all Canadians.

For fans outside of the greater Montréal area, the NLL UnBOXed Series game will be the nationally broadcast “NLL Game of the Week on TSN” throughout Canada, with French-language coverage available on RDS. ESPN+ will stream the game in the U.S.

Professional box lacrosse has had two franchises play in Québec in its history: the Montréal Quebecois played in 1974 and 1975 in the original NLL, followed by the Express in 2002. In recent years, Toronto hosted successful preseason games at Centre Bell in Montreal against the Rochester Knighthawks in 2012 and 2014.

The 2023-24 NLL season will commence with NLL Faceoff Weekend the first weekend of December.