Inside Track

Monthly Roundup: Masters of the Fall Sports Universe

Remind us again what sports season we’re in?

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was, say April or something. Watching the Masters from Augusta (sans azaleas) was a bit of a mind-warp. But we still have a number of other sports like college and professional football and perhaps, even the start of college basketball and a handful of weeks to the new season (whoa!) of the NBA.

As Thanksgiving rushes towards us, we’d like to share a story of one of the more interesting sports marketing promotions that still carries on today.

Way back in 1934, George A. Richards, owner of the Detroit Lions, wanted a way to distance himself from the local competition and give fans a chance to root for his football team instead of the more popular Tigers. Richards also owned an NBC affiliate radio station, WJR, and he was able to negotiate what has become one of the long-standing sports traditions — Detroit Lions Thursday Thanksgiving football. Through his work, the games were initially played on more than 94 stations around the country.

Before we jump into our favorite articles from the last few weeks, we wanted to take you on a tour of some of our favorite sports tech webinars. We wrote about these on a recent blog post, but we’ve compiled a few upcoming webinars we think you should attend. Oh, and the USA Cycling webinar with Alise Willoughby is going to be straight 🔥.

💥 Top Stories We’re Reading

New Golf Star Signs Deal with DraftKings | Via: USA TODAY

Ahead of the Masters, Bryson DeChambeau signed an integrated brand, marketing, and content deal. DeChambeau will don the DraftKings logo on his signature cap. “Professional golf has been a key growth sport in both daily fantasy and sports betting, and our collaboration with Bryson DeChambeau is a notable new layer of mainstream brand exposure and fan experience,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in an announcement. “As one of golf’s most promising athletes and the current U.S. Open champion, DraftKings is strategically aligning with winning athletes like Bryson who embody and embolden the competitive fire of our customers.”

DeChambeau’s sponsorship will also include experience-based ways to engage fans, like playing a round of golf with him or receiving lessons. Golf is DraftKings’ fourth most-popular sport for daily fantasy, and the golf sportsbook has grown ten-fold year-over-year, the company said. Excluding NFL games, the 2019 Masters ranked among the top five highest-bet sporting events on the platform. The Million Dollar Athlete | CNBCThe Ringer

My, how far we’ve come when an athlete is so determined to play into their forties, that they’ll put a million dollars into a system and processes to see that come to fruition.

Here are just a sampling of athletes that have spent big money on their body with the hope of building resilience and recovery:

  • Tom Brady’s diet program clocks in at about $16,000 per year.
  • It’s been reported that LeBron James spends $1.5 million to maintain his body every year.

Wow, right? That’s big money but hard to argue if the results are more titles and bigger paydays…

Russell Wilson has hired a full-time performance team tasked with keeping this goal going and has complemented it with high-tech tools and two hyperbaric chambers. Wilson claims he has spent a million dollars each year, for the previous five seasons and uses it primarily for recovery. Despite all the toys and tools and apps and products, he still claims it’s all in your head: “The biggest thing for me is the mental game,” he acknowledges.

The Lessons Learned From First Covid Sports Season | Via: Wall Street Journal

What have we learned? According to reports from the Wall Street Journal:

  • Test, test, test (importance of non-stop testing)
  • Contract trace (Understand how player movement is impacting testing)
  • Act like you’re in a bubble (As seen in the NBA, a bubble atmosphere is good)
  • Biggest risks are away from the field (When players leave their bubble or protected environment, the risks go up)
  • Good plans require: science, psychology, economics (Planning isn’t just simply science, it also requires a balance of economics and psychology, too)

NFL Team Triples Down on Apps, Apps, Apps | Via: Front Office Sports 

Knowing that Levi’s Stadium would be hosting 49ers game sans fans for at least the start of the season, Meghan Ryan, the team’s vice president of digital and social media, understood that the fans’ relationship with them this season would be vastly different. She and her team began exploring creative ways for fans to stay connected through other digital-first outlets like the 49ers Mobile App.

“We were really focused on mobile-first experiences that would drive a greater fan engagement across our app ecosystem,” Ryan said.

One of the ways in which the 49ers have been improving their mobile app capabilities is through the addition of numerous online games. They collaborated with Manscaped, their “official below the waist grooming partner,” on “Field Goal Challenge,” an interactive game within their mobile app.

“Field Goal Challenge” by Manscaped is a game that challenges players to use their fingers to kick field goals within a virtual stadium. Players have 30 seconds to score as many field goals as possible in a lifelike Levi’s Stadium filled with three levels of Manscaped perimeter signage and spectators.

Since launching on October 14, “Field Goal Challenge” has drawn more than 2,000 impressions and 143 users on the 49ers Mobile App, which boasts 125,000 monthly users.

ESPN Structural Changes, Future of Sports Broadcasting in Limbo? | Via: CNBC Radio #SportsBroadcasting

Did technology play a role in the latest wave of layoffs at ESPN? A Quinnipiac professor suggests that may be the case as technology like Zoom have changed the way interviews and film crews are completed. These days, even sports broadcasters are calling live game action from remote locations instead of within the stadiums, with the exception of some high-profile talent like Tony Romo and Jim Nantz. The layoffs also come during a time of great unknown for the role cable products carrying sports subscriptions will march on as league shutdowns and cancelled subscriptions is also partly to blame.

Barstool Sports(Book)?

The Barstool Sportsbook opens this month at Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, the  largest casino in Colorado. Ameristar is operated by Penn National. Barstool Sportsbook App is set to launch in Colorado early 2021. In September, 98% of all CO sports bets were done online. It represents a sea change for the sports gambling industry and even the design and layout of sportsbooks, themselves. Instead of just being a location to place bets and catch the game, they’re becoming increasingly more interactive and established outside of the traditional Las Vegas locations as states legalize gambling.

📸 Photo of the Month | Via: New York Times

There are fewer slices of American property that resonate more deeply with sports fanatics than that of the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Country Club. To get in, you have to be a member (and that in itself is rarefied air), or you have to be lucky to win a lottery to its annual Masters Tournament held in April. That is until this year. The pandemic forced the event to move to a fall tournament. Instead of the blossoming Azaleas and blooming flowers, the Dogwoods and Maples are taking center stage amongst the foliage competing against the stars on the fairways. In addition, there are no crowds and even the gallery grandstands at each hole have been temporarily dismantled, opening up new lines of sight that players have never before seen. On the Wednesday ESPN broadcast, Scott Van Pelt even strayed from the script by proclaiming how amazing the aerial shots of the grounds were that he had never seen before.

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