Inside Track

SportsTech Monthly Roundup 19: Dancing Robots, Black Cats, and Glowing Tech

Last month, we were pondering what sweater to wear on our way to pumpkin latte town. Now, we’re hours away from unleashing our kids in search of cavities, and having an odd weariness when it comes to black cats (more on that in a moment). It’s also the perfect time to mention one of our alum startups, Safety Skin, created a reflective spread meant for keeping cyclists and runners safe and seen at night—a great product to keep kids and adults safe while trick-or-treating (more on them in a moment, too).

In celebration of the spooktacular holiday, we’d like to point out a few momentous sports moments that happened on Halloween including:

🏈 The first Monday Night Football game ever played (1988)

🐎 A horse jockey that won nine races in a single day (1987)

🏀 The Milwaukee Bucks won their first game ever (1968)

🏃🏼‍♀️ The first women’s track and field association was formed (1921)

Now to the cat. It wasn’t exactly on Halloween, but a few short days later on November 4, 2019, during Monday Night Football, a black cat appeared on the turf at MetLife Stadium, where it scampered about along the end zone, much to the amusement of fans and announcers.

In the pantheon of black cat sports lore, one stands out: September 9, 1969, when a black cat appeared in front of the Chicago Cubs’ dugout in a game against the Mets. Immediately following the game, the Cubs went into a historic tailspin while the Mets went on a World Series run.

🖥 Startup Showcase 🖥

Earlier this month, we kicked off our first-annual Startup Showcase. We’re pretty excited that one of our startups fits into our Halloween narrative with their sports tech. Make sure to follow Safety Skin CEO and Founder, John F. Kulbis, on our Instagram and Facebook Stories and, of course, check out this article.

👏 SportsTech Partners in the News 👏

🚴🏼‍♀️ USA Cycling Partners with Eon Media | Via: USA Cycling 

USA Cycling is proud to announce a partnership with Eon Media to use Eon’s new AI-based brand recognition technology at its events. The technology was used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and earlier this year at the USA Pro Championships and Mountain Bike National Championship events. USA Cycling and Eon Media first started working together as a part of the Comcast NBC Universal SportsTech accelerator program.

🚀 Lift Labs Demo Day 

Experience the energy and excitement as we celebrate the achievements of the 11 companies in the 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Tune in on Thursday, November 4 at 1 PM EST to get a behind-the-scenes look and hear final pitches from the 11 startups that participated in the accelerator program: Register to attend here.

🎮 Comcast Spectacor Unveils New G4 HQ | Via: Esports Insider

Comcast Spectacor and architecture firm Populous have officially unveiled a new studio and office space for digital and television gaming network G4. Located in Burbank, California, G4 is expected to play a leading role in the network’s return to television in November 2021. The 67,000 square-foot facility will feature workplace environments and broadcast production capabilities, as well as esports training and gaming spaces.

 🏆 Bubba Wallace’s Historic Win at Talladega | Via: The Guardian

When Bubba Wallace was awarded his first Cup race from his pit box, he called it “a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.” But, likely, posterity will remember it by a different name: the perfect storm. Now here Wallace was, not just the first Black Nascar driver to claim a checkered flag since Wendell Scott’s 1963 triumph in Jacksonville, but a Cup race winner for the first time in a car part-owned by Nascar rookie Michael Jordan.

📚 Sports Tech Stories We’re Reading 📚

 💍 Bucks’ Championship Ring Features Two Firsts | Via: Yahoo! Sports

The city of Milwaukee waited 50 years for a Bucks’ title and the rings to commemorate the championship featured two things never seen before: An ability to turn into a wearable necklace, and an engraved QR code that plays highlights from the championship season.

 ⚽️ How Beloved Soccer Show Struck Premier Gold | Via: The Athletic 

“Ted Lasso” struck a licensing agreement with the Premier League worth over $680K allowing usage of archived footage, team kits, and even a league trophy. Speaking of “Ted Lasso,” you have to watch this story about how they filmed stadium scenes with no audience. It is movie magic and tech at its finest.

💰 Fanatics, an NFT Platform Worth $1.5 Billion | Via: CNBC

Sports e-commerce company Fanatics secured another funding round for one of its ventures on Thursday, as the firm wants to align more revenue outside of merchandising. Fanatics’ nonfungible token company Candy Digital lured $100 million in a Series A round and is now valued at $1.5 billion. Investors include SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, Insight Partners and Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

 🏟 Spectators Possible at Beijing Games | Via: The Stadium Business 

Organizers of next year’s winter Olympics in Beijing have revealed that fans may be permitted to attend test events in the lead-up to the Games. Test events for the Games will begin late October, with speed skating, skeleton, figure skating, curling, ice hockey, and skiing among the sports set to be contested. The winter Olympics are scheduled to run from February 4-20, with the Paralympics to follow from March 4-13. Last week, it was confirmed that only fans from Mainland China would be permitted to attend the Games.

In college football’s latest iteration of fan engagement, the University of Missouri yanked something out of the 22nd Century this month — subtly dropping a robot K-9 into its Oct. 2nd halftime show vs. Tennessee — and the reverberations are still being felt worldwide.

“On that gameday, just one primary Twitter post from our college of engineering drew 1.8 million views,’’ says Missouri College of Engineering associate teaching professor Dale Musser, failing to mention that an anchor at ESPN United Kingdom showed highlights of Spot and then hollered, “Put it in for Messi.’’

Now, partake in the candy (not the cavities), enjoy all the fall sports, and watch out for those black cats in your path. We’ll see you back here at the end of November.

— The SportsTech Team

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