30 Aug

Want To Bring Soccer Practice Home For Your Kids? Now There Is An App For That…

By: Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

How can you get kids more active? A major youth soccer platform and a disruptive new app may have a way. Bring practice home, just like you would homework, or if you are an active parent, your spin class.

The company is Super Soccer Stars, run by longtime sports business pro Adam Geisler, and the recently launched platform is called Famer, run by another sports marketing veteran, Rich Abend. The idea is to take Super Soccer Stars massive data base of engaged kids (over 100,000 in 25 markets including the largest pool of kids in the New York area), most of whom are 10 years and younger, and give them a way to train and get feedback, if they miss a practice and are at home wanting to catch up, just like they would with homework.

Think Peloton for youth sports.

“We need to connect with our young people on any device and at any time possible, and by partnering with Famer, we will provide a mobile curriculum which supplements our classes to further engage our young Soccer Stars and their parents through our digital content. ” Geisler, who has helped rebuild businesses like Everlast, said this week in a release.  ”Famer’s digital platform will become a core part of the Super Soccer Stars training curriculum going forward to enable our young athletes to tap into their full potential on and off the field.”

Using propriety technology designed in Israel,  Famer’s mobile app allows Super Soccer Stars’ coaches to share videos and instructions on how to perform Super Soccer Stars’ skills & drills at home, as well as assign weekly workouts and provide progress reports to athletes and parents. Super Soccer Stars customers will be able to use the app to digitally extend its age-specific skills and drills training program to the parent and the athlete as a supplemental interactive program at home.

In short, it literally puts practice in the hands of the parents and the kids, gets them up and out and makes sure they are not missing out on drills, and getting feedback, just because schedules don’t fit one or two days.

“Consumers are used to be receiving on-demand access to communities from fitness classes to continuing education programs, but youth sports training has been missing that opportunity until now.  Famer provides that content for the first time, and there is no better partner to launch this than Super Soccer Stars with its proven curriculum, incredible teaching, and tremendous coaches,” added Abend, who has spent part of his career crafting brand strategy with Horizon Media. “Our Famer Play product allows for better communication and provides a mobile and digital extension between Super Soccer Stars’ teachings and its parents, which leads to more fun and better participation for all.“

The best part is that if you are a parent, you have a better understanding of what is being done, and it can help take you off the sidelines and help your child stay active and engaged, without being overly involved. Famer’s plan will start with youth soccer and then can expand out to other sports in the coming months, after this test project gets going after Labor Day.

In an age where we worry about how the devices we use are keeping kids less active, Famer and Super Soccer Stars may have found a way to marry best of both worlds.

More to come, one to watch, and to use.

28 Aug

National Lacrosse League Names Former NHL Executive Jessica Berman Deputy Commissioner and EVP of Business Affairs

by: Tanner Simkins

Berman Becomes Highest Ranking Woman in Men’s Professional Sports Leagues

The National Lacrosse League (NLL), the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world, today announced that Jessica Berman has been named Deputy Commissioner and EVP of Business Affairs. Berman joins the NLL from the National Hockey League, where she has spent the last 13 years, most recently as Vice President, Community Development, Culture & Growth. She becomes the first woman to hold the title of Deputy Commissioner at any professional sports league in North America.Berman will oversee all of the league’s legal affairs and transactions, manage team services, and assist the Commissioner with the NLL’s overall growth strategy.

“It takes the brightest and best to build great leagues and teams and, we are very proud to welcome one of the brightest, best and most progressive minds in sports business to the National Lacrosse League,” Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said. “Her wide-ranging background fits exactly with the growth trajectory we are on, and her addition to our veteran team is a perfect cultural fit and win for the league, our member clubs and for the sport of lacrosse.”

“Jessica Berman has been an invaluable member of the NHL league office for more than 13 years,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “As a colleague it is easy to recognize that she is whip-smart, enthusiastic and collaborative and we wish her all the best as she takes on this new role.”

“I would like to thank both Nick for this opportunity and Gary and the NHL for putting me in a position where I can help make a difference both with the NLL and the sport of lacrosse,” Berman said. “Lacrosse is constantly mentioned as ‘fast growing,’ and I am looking forward to helping accelerate that pace, especially given all the work that has gone into helping the NLL expand and increase market share under Nick’s tenure.”

Berman was  Vice President, Community Development, Culture and Growth at the National Hockey League, as well as  Executive Director of the NHL Foundation. In that role she participated in the design and execution of the League’s strategic corporate social responsibility goals, initiatives, policies and programs in the areas of importance to the League, the NHL Clubs, the NHL’s business partners and the hockey community generally, with a particular focus on ensuring the initiatives are properly aligned with the League’s overall objectives and strategy. Prior to that position, she was Vice President & Deputy General Counsel for the NHL. She was a member of the collective bargaining team for the 2012 NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, which involved crafting the League’s labor strategy, negotiating with the NHLPA  to draft the agreement, as well as analyzing the impact of the proposed changes. Prior to working for the NHL, Jessica was an Associate in the Labor & Employment Department at Proskauer Rose LLP. At Proskauer, she represented employers in collective bargaining, mediations, arbitrations and litigations.

Jessica graduated from Fordham University School of Law where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Sports Law Forum and an Associate Editor of the Urban Law Journal. She graduated from the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology with an undergraduate degree in Sports Management and Communications with distinction. She was a 2014 member of Sports Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” class, and in 2015 she was presented with the Burke Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Board of Directors of the Burke Medical Research Institute and Burke Rehabilitation Hospital for her commitment to helping people with brain injuries.

The NLL is North America’s largest and most premier professional lacrosse league, ranking third in average attendance for pro indoor sports, with 13 teams in key markets across North America. The NLL experienced substantial growth last season with nearly a million total ticket sales, a 28-percent increase from 2017-18, and 60 percent of ticket sales were from people who never played lacrosse. Digital viewership also rose significantly through Turner and B/R Live, showing substantial increases in total unit sales (up 151 percent from last year), average unique viewers (+27 percent) and average minute audiences (+14 percent). Sponsorship revenues are projected at a 29-percent increase from 2018 to 2019. With the addition of Berman, the NLL will continue to focus on increasing its North American footprint through her strategic leadership.

26 Aug

10 To Watch : Mayor’s Edition 82619

RICK HORROW’S TOP 10 SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 26 : MAYOR’S EDITION with Jacob Aere

  1. The XFL unveiled the names and logos for the eight teams that will make up the rebooted league’s first season when it begins play next February. The eight teams will be the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, L.A. Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, Seattle Dragons, Tampa Bay Vipers, and DC Defenders. The names and logos of the eight XFL teams “make clear” what league Founder Vince McMahon has “emphasized from the beginning: Version 2.0 will be a lot less gimmicky and a lot more conservative than the original model,” according to the Washington Times. DC Defenders President Erik Moses said, “With Vince McMahon’s vision and genius in marketing, and the resources he has graciously provided us, if we can’t get spring football to work, then it doesn’t work.” On Saturday, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the pro football world when he abruptly announced his retirement from football at age 29. XFL Commissioner and Sport Business Handbook contributor Oliver Luck is the father of the NFL standout and Stanford grad. Don’t be surprised to see Andrew Luck joining the XFL in some business capacity.
  2. Ahead of the U.S. Open, Naomi Osaka has signed new marketing deals with BodyArmor, performance recovery brand Hyperice, and headphone company Muzik. Osaka “received equity stakes in all three emerging companies,“ according to Forbes. Muzik on Friday released a new headphone designed by Osaka that marks the "first celebrity signature line for the company.” She will “receive royalties on the product, in addition to her equity stake.” Meanwhile, Hyperice last week “launched marketing campaigns in Japan and the U.S. featuring Osaka as part of a multi-year deal.” Osaka is “expected to be one of the faces” of the 2020 Tokyo Games due to her Japanese heritage, and Hyperice is “already mapping out marketing plans around the Games.” Despite the new additions to her growing portfolio, no company is as “important to Osaka’s brand and bank account as Nike.” The apparel giant has unveiled a “collaboration with Japanese designer brand Sacai for an 11-piece collection,” and Osaka will have her "own Nike logo and athleisure line starting in 2020.” Osaka also told Forbes that she is working on a project with LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter.
  3. Sunday saw the FedEx Cup season come to a conclusion when the Tour Championship crowned Rory McIlroy, who earned $15 million for the win. Mike McCarley, NBC Sports Group President, Golf, talked to Cynopsis Sports about the playoffs and the year ahead. On measuring success: “The PGA Tour’s playoff system is now 12 years old and the true success of the new schedule and format should be measured over the next decade or more.” On the Playoffs: “Several years ago, we met with the Tour, East Lake Golf Club, and several sponsors: FedEx, Coke, and Southern Co. and discussed how to build this championship into what we all believed it could be. Out of that meeting, came our focus on expanding this week.” On golf’s schedule shift: “All of the changes to the golf schedule [were] designed to have the Playoffs culminate before football season. The fall becomes a showcase for the sport’s global nature with events worldwide with PGA Tour and LPGA’s swings in Asia, as well as marquee team events with the U.S. women looking to defend the Solheim Cup and the Tiger Woods captained U.S. team defending the Presidents Cup in Australia.” 
  4. Super Bowl LIV to cost Miami-Dade municipalities nearly $20 million. Super Bowl LIV will cost three of Miami-Dade County’s largest municipal governments nearly $20 million over time, as local governments have “spent or plan to commit” more than $15 million in “cash contributions to the host committee, security bills, municipal fee waivers and partial payments for parks improvements,” according to the Miami Herald. The “costs of football fields and lighting improvements to Miami’s waterfront are being split between the NFL and government agencies.” However, Miami-Dade County will pay another $4 million to the Dolphins for “attracting the game.” Miami’s Downtown Development Authority “plans to cover half of the $600,000 price tag for permanent LED lighting on the Baywalk” to accompany the “Super Bowl Live” attraction, while the NFL has “agreed to pay the other half.” The bulk of Miami Beach’s expenses associated with the game “are coming in the form of fee waivers” totaling $1.2 million. The city also is putting $350,000 toward a new $1 million football field for Rick’s alma mater Miami Beach Senior High School, an expense to be “split with the league and school district.”
  5. MLS formally announces St. Louis as home to the league’s 28th team. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, members of the St. Louis ownership group, and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson last Tuesday shared in the announcement that the club is expected to begin play in 2022, according to SoccerAmerica. From a business standpoint, this is "really, really good for the city,” as it is “essentially a major corporation moving to downtown.” The St. Louis expansion franchise is the first in the league to have female majority ownership. The team will play in a new stadium in St. Louis’ Downtown West district that will feature 22,500 seats, each of which will be within 120 feet of the pitch and have a translucent canopy that will provide cover for fans. MLS currently has 24 teams, including rookie FC Cincinnati. David Beckham’s Inter Miami and a new Nashville club will kick off next year, with Austin FC set to open in 2021, before the St. Louis club make its debut.
  6. This bowl naming deal is no flake. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes brand will be the “title sponsor of the newly-named Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” with the multiyear partnership “marked by Tony the Tiger being the first mascot to lend his name to a college football bowl game,” according to the El Paso Times. The sponsorship agreement between the Sun Bowl Association and Frosted Flakes was “brokered by Denver-based Impression Sports & Entertainment.” Tony the Tiger is “returning the Sun Bowl to its inaugural mission – helping kids play sports – something that hasn’t been a focus since the birth of the Sun Bowl.” The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl in 2019 will “align with Tony’s ‘Mission Tiger’ initiative, raising awareness and funds for at-risk middle school sports programs through a multiyear partnership with nonprofit DonorsChoose.orgSI.com opined that the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl is “easily the greatest bowl name and sponsorship deal since the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl” 2014-2016. My take? It’s Grrrreat!
  7. The World Surf League helps the coral reef crisis. In another act of environmentalism, WSL has joined Glowing Glowing Gone, a global campaign advocating for greater funding and action for coral reef conversation by highlighting the global danger signaled by fluorescing corals. According to gcmag, the collaboration features a complete takeover of the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o presented by Hurley event branding to incorporate the exact colors of fluorescing corals. The glowing coral phenomenon, called fluorescing, is one of the most visual indicators of the climate crisis and the existential threat to entire ecosystems such as coral reefs as the color change means the coral are trying to protect themselves from heating waters. Until recently, the phenomenon has gone largely unnoticed. WSL gives back to its event locations and is even offsetting the carbon footprint of the entire Tahitian event, including air travel, while supporting Coral Gardeners, a youth-led non-profit organization that is actively restoring coral reefs in the area. 
  8. Women’s esports get a boost from NBA 2K League. According to Polygon, the NBA 2K League held a development camp specifically for women last week, specifically to increase the number of women players in an esports series. The camp began August 20 at the NBA 2K League Studio in Queens and brought 15 of the top women competing in NBA 2K to play against and learn from players and coaches in the current NBA 2K League season. The NBA 2K League currently has only one woman among its 21 teams: Chiquita “Chiquitae126” Evans of Warriors Gaming Squad, the esports affiliate of the Golden State Warriors. Although Evans’ selection in the NBA 2K League draft this year earned her a nomination for “Best Esports Moment” at this year’s ESPY awards, there is a need to diversify the NBA 2K League and organizers are headed in the right direction. 
  9. Golf in Boise raising millions for local charities. According to CBS Idaho News, the Albertsons Boise Open raised a record $1.5 million for charity on its first night alone and had five more days to grow that total. Through the Tyson Foods TICKETS Fore CHARITY program, 100% of tournament ticket sales are given directly to Boise area charities. Some players who’ve come through Boise on their way to the PGA Tour include Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Xander Schauffele, and Gary Woodland. As a testament to the event’s golf prowess, this year alone, 29 of the 50 PGA Tour events were won by players who played at the Albertsons Boise Open in the past. The event has provided over $25 million in charity since the inaugural Albertsons Boise Open in 1990 and has a chance to expand its record for the most ever raised in a year.
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jordan Bell aims to erase MS. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the first annual Jordan Bell celebrity basketball game benefiting the Race to Erase MS was held at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of California State University Long Beach. The game featured such other NBA stars as Karl Anthony Towns, Lonzo Ball, and JaVale McGee. All proceeds from the game were donated to the Center Without Walls program, a coalition of leading multiple sclerosis researchers from the country’s top universities who are collaborating to find a cure and treatments for the disease. It’s a cause that is very personal for Bell, as his girlfriend was diagnosed with the disease last November. The event is sure to grow with time, and Bell’s personal tie to the cause should enable its message and impact to grow even larger.