Category Archives: Major Sports

NBC Sports Boston, Strat-O-Matic Team Up For ‘What-If Wednesdays’ Simulated Content

Greater Boston has been the home of championships in each of the major sports in recent years, and nowhere are the fans of their local teams more fervent. Whether it’s the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics or Bruins, “what if” scenarios—like, imagining if Tom Brady had remained as New England’s quarterback in 2020—have long been the subject of sports debates.

NBC Sports Boston, through a partnership with Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, will try to answer some of those questions by recreating and simulating great moments, games and seasons with a twist, during its “What If Wednesdays” program. The program will air every Wednesday as part of the NBC Sports Boston’s primetime lineup, Early Edition and Boston Sports Tonight. The content will also be available on www.NBCSportsBoston.com and on social platforms @NBCSBoston.

Today, audiences can watch a scenario in which Brady remained as quarterback as the 2020 Patriots played out their schedule. Was the record better? Did they make the playoffs with the all-time great at the helm at age 43? Using data and research provided by Strat-O-Matic, NBC Sports Boston will create content that answers interesting “What If” questions like this one on the past, present and future in Boston sports.

“The possibilities are endless with what we can simulate working with NBC Sports Boston,” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic President. “The city’s rich tradition of sports and lively banter discussing their favorite teams and the wide breadth of coverage on the network makes it an ideal partnership.”

“We’re pleased to work with Strat-O-Matic to simulate many of the questions that local sports fans have had about our sports leagues and key players,” said Kevin Miller, VP of Content Creation and Strategy, NBC Sports Boston. “We are excited for our audiences to check out our new content where we’ll discuss how different results, trades and game results could’ve changed sports history as we know it.”

While MLB paused at the beginning of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Strat-O-Matic simulated the season as it would have been played, with results published daily by dozens of media outlets. Strat-O-Matic also posted results of the shortened 60-game schedule and playoff seasons.

WAVE.TV Partners With FanDuel

WAVE.tv has recently announced a sports betting partnership with FanDuel Group. This partnership includes the creation of in-depth sports betting content, WAVE.tv launching a betting-focused media brand, as well as marketing and content integrations between the companies. The partnership officially kicked off in conjunction with Super Bowl LV.

Through the deal, WAVE.tv will create engaging sports betting content across major social platforms, leveraging an audience acquisition strategy inclusive of branded content, personality-driven segments, and much more. The partnership formally launched in conjunction with Super Bowl LV.

“FanDuel is absurdly fan-focused at its core, and with the reemergence of live sports in 2021, we have an opportunity to grow our business like never before,” said Adam Kaplan, General Manager and Vice President, Sports Content at FanDuel. “WAVE.tv has unprecedented reach and engagement across fandoms. For a company like FanDuel, that has something for everyone across its offerings, there couldn’t be a better fit.” 

“FanDuel is a perfect partner for WAVE.tv because so many of our fans are avid sports bettors and have come to admire FanDuel as a leader in the space with a willingness to innovate ahead of trends in digital media consumption,” said Faraz Fatemi, Head of Corporate Development at WAVE.tv. “With state legalization ramping up, the 2021 sports season just getting underway, and audience betting interest at an all-time high, the timing couldn’t be better to get started.” 

With nearly 75 million followers and a global reach of over 400 million sports fans monthly across a portfolio of 24 media brands, WAVE.tv will drive mass engagement and user acquisition for FanDuel’s business via this partnership.

WAVE.tv has leveraged relationships with over 110 sports leagues and rights holders around the world to cover both traditional and non-traditional sports including basketball, soccer, football, baseball, combat, extreme sports, amateur athletics, fitness/weightlifting, and eSports.

In July, WAVE.tv announced its Series A funding round, a $32M investment to, among other efforts, expand its roster of media brands onto new platforms and launch new media brands in categories of fandom. WAVE.tv expects to go out to market for Series B fundraise this spring.

Snoop Dogg, Futura, Ron English Among Artists In ‘Project70’ Series Throughout 2021, Launching Today

On the heels of its overwhelmingly successful Project 2020, Topps today unveiled the first cards in Project70, a new series which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the first Topps baseball set in a comprehensive program featuring 51 premier artists and designers from around the world each creating 20 cards of their own player and card year design choice. The set commemorates both the initial year of 1951 and the 70 years that it has produced baseball cards, with three new issues daily, each available for 70 hours. Similar to its Topps NOW and Project 2020 products, Topps will print only the number of each card ordered in that time frame.

The set features premium, thick trading cards encased in a protective plastic case, as well as several premium offerings. Each day’s new pieces are available at http://www.topps.com/project70.

The creators selected to participate comprise a diverse group that includes the likes of rap musician Snoop Dogg, graffiti artist Futura, pop artist Ron English, jeweler Ben Baller, painter Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, comic and album artist Alex Pardee, sneaker artist The Shoe Surgeon, designer Sophia Chang and many more. Nineteen of the 20 artists from Project 2020, including Baller, Chang, Gregory Siff, Fucci, Mister Cartoon and others return for Project70.

In contrast to Project 2020, in which artists were assigned specific player cards to interpret, Project70 allows each creator to choose any player and card design from the last seven decades.

“Project70 is one of our most ambitious sets ever, celebrating 70 years of Topps baseball cards in a contemporary way,” said Jeff Heckman, Global Director of Ecommerce. “Giving these creators the freedom to select the players and designs they want to interpret as they see fit means we will have very different cards from these uniquely and diversely talented individuals.

“We can’t wait to see what their fertile minds will produce, and we know that collectors and baseball fans share that anticipation,” Heckman added.

In addition to the base units, Topps is randomly inserting a limited number of rainbow foil parallel cards, numbered to 70, plus a foil numbered 1/1 Gold Frame for each card, into print runs. Collectors who purchase all 20 cards from an artist will also receive a gold-stamped bonus print featuring all 20 Project70 cards from that artist.

The artists contributing to Project70 include:

Action Bronson, musician, New York
Alex Pardee, comics/apparel, Los Angeles
*Andrew Thiele, art/design, New York
*Ben Baller, jeweler, Los Angeles
*Blake Jamieson, pop art/portraits, New York
Blue the Great, painting, Los Angeles
Bobby Hundreds, illustrator/writer/photographer, Los Angeles
Brittney Palmer, model/artist, Los Angeles
CES, graffiti, Bronx, New York
Chinatown Market, streetwear, Los Angeles
Chuck Styles, fine art, Philadelphia
Claw Money, public art, New York
Distortedd, illustrations, Philadelphia
DJ Skee, artist/TV host, Los Angeles
*Don C, streetwear, Chicago
*Efdot, murals, New York
*Ermsy, cartoons, UK and Paris
*Fucci, pop painting, Montreal and Toronto
FUTURA, graffiti, New York
Greg “Craola” Simkins, surrealism, Los Angeles
*Gregory Siff, painting, Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Infinite Archives, contemporary art, fashion
*Jacob Rochester, pop art, Los Angeles
Jeff Staple, graphic and fashion designer, New York
*JK5, tattoo, Brooklyn
Jonas Never, murals, Los Angeles
*Joshua Vides, stencils, Los Angeles
*Keith Shore, creative design, Philadelphia
*King Saladeen, murals, Philadelphia
Lauren Taylor, mixed media, Vancouver
Matt McCormick, multimedia, Los Angeles
*Matt Taylor, poster design, U.K.
Mikael B, graffiti, impressions, Copenhagen
Mimsbandz, wristband art, Los Angeles
*Mister Cartoon, tattoos, Los Angeles
Morning Breath, graphics, apparel, San Francisco, New York
*Naturel, murals, Washington D.C.
New York Nico, filmmaker, New York
*Oldmanalan, streetwear, Sacramento
POSE, pop artist, Chicago
Quiccs, toy design, Manila
Risk, sculpture, graffiti, Los Angeles
Ron English, pop art, filmmaker, Jersey City, N.J.
Sean Wotherspoon, streetwear, Richmond, Va.
The Shoe Surgeon, streetwear, Los Angeles
Snoop Dogg, rap musician, Los Angeles
SoleFly, streetwear, Miami
*Sophia Chang, design, New York
Toy Tokyo, pop art/toys, New York
*Tyson Beck, logo art, Adelaide, Australia
UNDEFEATED

La Vida Baseball Launches “The Year of 21” Multi-Platform Experience Dedicated To Roberto Clemente

La Vida Baseball, the leading multi-language Latino baseball lifestyle media company, today announced the launch of “The Year of 21,” a multi-platform content initiative created to inform, engage and educate fans worldwide about the life, the impact and the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

In collaboration with a range of media platforms, content creators and unique voices, “The Year of 21” will elevate the living legacy of Clemente’s humanitarian worldview, cultural impact and athletic brilliance through an unprecedented year-spanning reflection of history, current-day vitality and impact well into the future. The season-long celebration launches in April.

“For baseball fans, Roberto Clemente and his number ‘21’ are truly iconic, and the spirit of his legacy is more relevant than ever right now,” La Vida Baseball Managing Director Jesse Menendez said. “2021 is the right moment to elevate and celebrate everything Clemente stands for. Using the entire “The Year of 21” to elevate his legacy is something La Vida Baseball, its platforms, its partners and its community are built to execute better than anyone.”

“On behalf of the Clemente family, we’re excited to be partnered with La Vida Baseball for ‘The Year of 21,’ Roberto Clemente, Jr. said. “We’ve had a great relationship with La Vida Baseball since they launched years ago and they are the right partner to continue our father’s legacy and build upon the growing positive movement of what the number 21 signifies through stories that involve fans, celebrities and generations around the world.”

La Vida Baseball has been acquiring exclusive content assets, securing commitments – headlined by full support of the Clemente Family – and conducting more than 100 in-depth interviews with current and former MLB players, fellow Hall of Famers, star-struck celebrity fans, Clemente family members and others to power the project.

“The Year of 21” programming lineup will include a signature documentary series, a lineup of incredible short-form films, all-star roundtables, a Mi Clemente video series, a dynamic podcast series, energizing live events, memorable regional tie-ins, limited-edition merchandise collaborations and exclusive collectibles, with even more programming elements to be released at key moments during The Year of 21. Additional media, content and sponsorship partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

The La Vida Baseball network was launched in 2017 by TeamWorks Media, the award-winning content studio, and has since become the hub of coverage and community of the Latino influence within baseball, its lifestyle, its players and its fans. La Vida Baseball has created more than a dozen content franchises featuring more than 200 current and former MLB players, baseball media and celebrity super-fans, including “Being Guillen,” featuring the family of longtime MLB star player and manager Ozzie Guillen; “Polvoro, Voz y Diamante,” a rollicking weekly Spanish-language show; the “La Vida Baseball Live” studio show; and wildly popular Instagram Stories and viral moments curated by on-air talent Jennifer Mercedes and Julie Alexandria, widely shared by MLB players and fans.

”In this time of such upheaval and social consciousness both in and out of the athletic world, there may be no more important figure to honor and recognize than Roberto Clemente, and we are excited to be able to work with the Clemente family and a growing list of partners to bring his entire story, as well as those of who he has impacted, and continues to impact to life,” TeamWorks Media CEO Jay Sharman said. “In all our work, we have seen the reverence and respect athletes from all walks of life, and especially Latino athletes, have for Roberto, and we feel that ‘The Year of 21’ will expand the celebration and appreciation of Roberto Clemente to an even wider, cross-generation audience.”

Clemente, the Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and one of the most inspiring athletes in modern history. Clemente’s charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, especially his work in his native Puerto Rico with young people, was what he may be best remembered for. On December 31, 1972, he lost his life in a plane crash at the age of 38 while attempting to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The following season, the Pirates retired his uniform number 21, and MLB renamed its annual Commissioner’s Award in his honor; now known as the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” His impact went well beyond his 3,000 hits and a myriad of other marks in and around baseball and the city of Pittsburgh. His trailblazing work for causes and in uniting peoples of different backgrounds across the Americas is even bigger, than his athletic impact.

Social media no longer social for UK soccer clubs as the BGC steps in

It’s difficult to imagine a more vanilla gambling industry than that which some want to create in the U.K. As the country emerges from Brexit and struggles to stand on its own two feet, it doesn’t seem to be too concerned with shutting off potential wellsprings of revenue. Most notably, there appears to be an overzealous push by certain individuals in positions of power to hobble the gaming industry, with new restrictions, regulations, prohibitions and more constantly being introduced. Some authority figures must lay awake at night trying to think of how else they can go after gambling. In the latest move, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has implemented new rules for soccer clubs that essentially prevent them from using social media platforms to discuss sports gambling.

SBC News reports that several soccer teams have acknowledged receipt of a letter from the BGC that describes a new code of conduct. In it, the clubs aren’t to use their official social media accounts to promote gambling offers or sports gambling operators. The new code will become effective as of March 1 and will prohibit the use of calls to action or gambling website links in organic tweets from the clubs, and will also prohibit the clubs from displaying any type of direct bonus or gambling odds in organic tweets. The only exception to that is if the club can guarantee the campaign won’t be seen by anyone under the age of 18 – something that is impossible unless social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter become more socially responsible.

The BGC’s move was reportedly prompted by concerns that some social media users with gambling problems might feel “distressed” if they were to see gambling info while perusing their social media feeds. If that’s the case, then perhaps any type of advertising that displays junk food should be dismissed, as well, since it would undoubtedly distress those with weight issues. Or, perhaps no Valentine’s Day advertising should be allowed, as it might distress those who are suffering from a break-up.

The latest code of conduct follows initiatives introduced last year that were designed to reduce gambling exposure. Gaming operators “voluntarily” began suspending TV and radio ads as a result of the COVID-19 and, at the insistence of the BGC, provided alterations to their advertising programs in order to target marketing efforts away from those under 18 years of age. The new implementation is an extension of that, and likely not the last, and BGC Chair Brigid Simmonds asserts, “Football clubs are an important part of the sporting fabric of this country, followed by millions of all ages on social media. Our members rightly have a zero tolerance approach to gambling by under-18s, so as an industry we are understandably concerned that children may be exposed to betting adverts on social media platforms. Our new guidelines make clear the standards expected of football clubs when they post gambling promotions on social media, and I look forward to them being put into practice as soon as possible.”

UFC 258 odds: Usman set to battle Burns

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

Now that the NFL season is officially finished, the UFC will help to fill the sports betting void on most weekends and there’s a terrific card at UFC 258 on Saturday night from the organization’s APEX facility in Las Vegas headlined by a welterweight title fight between champion Kamara Usman and Gilbert Burns. The main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view, meaning this bout should start around midnight.

The 33-year-old Usman (17-1) was born in Nigeria but his family moved to the United States when he was eight years old and Usman now fights out of Florida. The UFC ranks him as the No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter but there are more than a few MMA fans who think Usman, a former collegiate wrestling All-American, should be No. 1.

“The Nigerian Nightmare” lost his second professional fight to Jose Caceres in May 2013 by first-round submission in the Championship Fighting Alliance but hasn’t lost since. Usman won the welterweight belt at UFC 235 with a unanimous decision over Tyron Woodley, who was around a -215 betting favorite.

English soccer club partners with a cryptocurrency sportsbook

While many people still reject the idea of digital currency, more indications arrive every day that the fiat alternative will soon take its rightful place alongside other currency options. Cryptocurrency is the logical next step in money, especially in a world where more and more activity goes digital, and there continues to be more interest in crypto as a means of payment. The latest example comes by way of the UK’s Premier League, where Southampton FC has tapped into its existing relationship with a crypto sportsbook to expand its operations.

Southampton has signed on with Sportsbet.io, which is owned by the Coingaming Group, to offer a new VIP alternative for fans of the team. The sportsbook provides several unique, crypto-based sports gambling solutions and, going forward, the soccer club will have access to those options. Team fans will be able to become more involved in crypto and take advantage of Sportsbet.io’s virtual reality technology to “recreate the magic of matchday, at home.”

Coingaming Group founder Tim Heath explains, “We think cryptocurrency has a big future in football and we’re right behind it. Alongside fan experiences like this, we’ve just seen the first Bitcoin transfer take place where a footballer was purchased using cryptocurrency and signed for DUX Internacional de Madrid, and earlier this year NFL pro footballer Russell Okung said he’s getting his salary in Bitcoin. We’re likely to see more of the same – from clubs finding new ways to engage with fans on a match day to the way business is done at the top of the game.”

Southampton fans and influencers will also be given an unspecified “Bitcoin value” that can be used by the recipients to create their own VIP experiences, including options such as front-row seats at practices or stadium tours with players. The new initiative began to be explored late last year and Southampton hopes to be able to include additional perks as 2021 unfolds. The club’s chief commercial officer, David Thomas, adds, “As a club our digital approach has always looked to redefine the content status-quo and we were excited at the shared values between ourselves and the Sportsbet.io team. The work that is currently ongoing is a pleasure to be involved with and we want to ensure as many of our fans are experiencing that St Mary’s nostalgia as possible. We cannot wait for the full return of our fans but in the meantime, Sportsbet.io [has] found an innovative way to ensure our club and fans can stay connected.”

American 7s Football League Enlists SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory

Entering its 7th hard-hitting season, The American 7s Football League (A7FL®), pioneering no-helmets, no-pads, full contact tackle football, continues to make significant strides on the national stage with the announcement of its appointment of sports industry experts SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory to explore new opportunities for the league’s media rights.

“The A7FL has built a huge grassroots following of football fans across the country,” remarked A7FL Co-Founder and CEO Sener Korkusuz, “As the league expands in 2021 to Florida and Southern California, we want to build on the cutting edge distribution partnerships we have to showcase our unique brand of football and our star athletes to an even wider audience.” Last season, the A7FL was available on Facebook Watch, Twitch, Eleven Sports (satellite and cable) and via WAVE.tv with widely distributed video clips from ESPN’s SportsCenter, Barstool Sports and many other outlets.

“As the major sports leagues look to reach Millennial and Gen-Z fans, the A7FL has consistently captured 18 to 34 year-olds as its core audience.”, said SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory President Dan Bravato, “We think there is a great deal of potential for this property and are excited to be working with them on distribution.”

The two organizations will work together to search for media distribution partners across the global sports landscape. SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory will see their media division lead the project. The team will bring their network and extensive experience to the A7FL in shaping their media strategy and lead conversations in the marketplace.

The league’s signature 7-on-7 format features players competing without helmets and pads, maintaining the exciting and hard-hitting elements of American football while demonstrating amazing athleticism. “It’s the way many of us learned to play in our backyards,” says David Isaacs, UFC® Co-Founder and A7FL Advisory Board Chair David Isaacs. “Removing the equipment actually makes the game safer but also takes the action to another level with great games and tremendous highlights from players looking to get their shot.”

The upcoming 2021 season will feature 2020 Champion the Patterson U looking to defend its title against a recently expanded league, with 4 divisions and a total of 32 teams across 4 states (California, Florida, Maryland, and New Jersey). Play starts on April 11, 2021, with the regular season and playoffs culminating in the National Championship slated for Sunday July 18.

UEFA Champions League may be getting a Swiss makeover

The UEFA Champions League might be getting a Swiss makeover. UEFA reportedly met with some European stakeholders last Friday to discuss the Champions League, as well as the Europa League and the Conference League. The question at hand is whether the distribution of games is currently equitable to all teams and, if everyone agrees that it isn’t, the “Swiss” system could be introduced beginning in 2024.

SBC News, citing the PA news agency, reports that UEFA may be considering getting rid of the existing round-robin format for teams, which results in some qualifying teams having extra room on the schedule. If approved, the new format would include 225 games, instead of the 125 found now, and would also increase the number of teams in the group stages from 32 to 36. The top eight teams would then automatically qualify for the last 16, and the following 16 would battle it out for the final eight spots in the competition.

An extra spot would be given to the French league, with the remaining places to be distributed using UEFA’s “coefficient” ranking system, as well as historic performances. Provided all of these attributes are applied, there could potentially be six clubs involved in the Champions League, something that has become a polarizing topic of discussion. Former UEFA President and current European Leagues President Lars-Christer Olsson supports the idea, asserting, “I think it could be possible to squeeze another four dates into the calendar if we can see what kind of effect it is having on national team matches and other things, but it’s too early to say now, it needs to be part of our negotiations.”

The global soccer industry is undergoing a transformation and it’s going to be difficult to prevent it from continuing. That doesn’t stop some from trying, though, and FIFA has been critical about any moves that would change the paradigm. When Premier League and La Liga teams started talking about joining a new super league last year, FIFA was happy and told players this past January that they would be banned from participating in the World Cup if they chose to play in any new competition.

Super Bowl LV crowns a champ after lopsided game

Super Bowl LV is now in the books and, with it, a number of firsts. The Big Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered an amazing matchup that had football fans and gamblers pacing with anticipation, but definitely did not go the way most people expected. With the NFL season having survived COVID-19, it’s now time to look ahead and try to get ready for a new era of football that will see much greater sports gambling.

The Chiefs were viewed as the favorites to win, but were only given three points by oddsmakers. That should have indicated a tight competition and a battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the league, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. However, what looks good on paper doesn’t always work when put into play, and Brady and the Bucs had no problem rolling over Mahomes and the Chiefs, completely controlling the game on both offense and defense. 

The Chiefs only managed to score a field goal in each of the first three quarters as Mahomes was repeatedly forced out of the pocket and made to scramble. However, he showed why he deserved to be in the Super Bowl, handling the pressure like a long-time veteran. Despite continued problems, Mahomes still managed to put up more passing yards than Brady, throwing for 243 yards against his rival’s 201.

It wasn’t good enough, though. The Bucs, the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium, dominated from start to finish. Brady became the first quarterback to pick up seven Super Bowl titles and the first to win a fifth MVP award (the only player with five) as he led his Bucs to their first Super Bowl win since the 2002 season. It was also the first Super Bowl in which the NFL had seen the presence of a female referee, with Sarah Thomas on the field as the down judge. In a couple more firsts for the NFL, Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust became the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl title – Javadifar as the Bucs’ assistant strength and conditioning coach and Locust is the team’s defensive line assistant. 

Entain Partners with UNLV on Women’s Innovation Igniter Program

Unsplash/Marcus Spiske

Entain plc (“Entain”:ENT.L) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) today announced a new, groundbreaking partnership to launch the Women’s Innovation Igniter. The first-of-its-kind academic, technology, innovation and mentoring program is designed to provide UNLV undergraduate and graduate women with a pathway toward successful careers in the sports betting, gaming, and technology industries. 

Entain is the global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator which jointly owns, with MGM Resorts International, BetMGM in the United States.  Entain leads the betting and gaming industry through its industry leading proprietary technology that also provides the engine for the roll-out of BetMGM.

Through the Women’s Innovation Igniter initiative, Entain and UNLV will recruit, mentor, support and introduce talented women to the industry and design more inclusive working environments in historically male-dominated fields. 

The program will be housed at the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, a unique innovation building featuring a state-of-the-art laboratory with an esports arena, virtual reality studio and more.  The curriculum will include practical, hands-on experiences, internships, and mentoring from top executives in the industry, as well as providing the support and resources needed to bring innovations and designs to life.

In partnership with Entain and UNLV, The Women’s Innovation Igniter project will be led by Jan Jones Blackhurst, Chief Executive in Residence, International Gaming Institute and Robert Rippee, Ph.D., Executive Director, Innovation Hub. The program is set to launch in August 2021 with about 20 women in the initial class.

“Entain is the ideal partner to help us bring this groundbreaking program to life,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst. “As a leader in online sports betting and gaming, Entain will help us showcase the myriad of opportunities available in these professional fields, further develop our curriculum, and help women see career pathways in a technology led industry where they are not always well-represented.”

Last month, Entain named Jette Nygaard-Andersen its CEO, marking her out as one of the highest profile female executives in the sports betting industry. Teaming up with UNLV on The Women’s Innovation Igniter gives Entain the opportunity to continue to set precedents in the sports betting, gaming, and technology industries, and help ensure commercial success with talented women in key roles.

“We are honored to be a part of such an inspiring and pioneering program with UNLV,” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen. “Women can face many obstacles in getting traction in careers that are often or traditionally male dominated.  This program will encourage women to aspire for careers they previously may not have considered, and it provides the hands-on experience they need to make the sports betting, gaming, and technology industries more inclusive.”

Entain intends to open an office at The Harry Reid Research and Technology Park with employees that will include engineers as well as software and gaming developers.  Entain will seek opportunities to mentor, as well as create internships and jobs for some of these young women following the program, not just at Entain, but also with other leading companies throughout the industry.

UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park was unveiled in 2020 and provides students the resources and skills needed to accelerate the introduction of new concepts into the gaming and hospitality market, and spur creativity and entrepreneurship overall.

Super Bowl 55 scoring & defensive props preview

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

Weather could be a factor for Super Bowl 55 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday evening from Tampa as some rain is in the forecast. Could that affect the kickers? Raymond James Stadium is an open-air facility.

The over/under for longest field goal in Super Bowl 55 is 47.5 yards, with the under a -130 favorite. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker is one of the league’s best as he was 25-for-27 on field goals during the regular season with a long of 58, while in the playoffs he is 4-for-5 with a long of 50. Tampa Bay’s Ryan Succop has a minor advantage kicking in his own stadium and knowing the winds, etc. He was 28-for-31 on field goals during the regular season with a long of 50 and is 8-for-8 in the playoffs (Bucs have played one more game than the Chiefs) with a long of 46.

When Kansas City won in Tampa 27-24 on Nov. 29, weather was no factor. Butker was 2-for-2 with a long field goal of 29 yards and Succop was 1-for-1 with a long of only 26. The over/under for shortest make in the Super Bowl is 27.5 yards, which would mean a team kicking a field goal from around the 10. The total field goals made prop is over/under 3.5, with the under a slight -135 favorite.

Westgate’s top prop picks for Super Bowl LV

The good news is that Super Bowl LV is now just four days away. The bad news is that Super Bowl LV is now just four days away. The NFL season has flown by and, while MLB, the NHL and the NBA are going to help keep professional sports action running, more football fans should try to petition their respective lawmakers to require a year-round NFL league. In the meantime, we will have to settle for what we can get, and the Big Game this weekend has plenty of action ready for fans, as well as gamblers. A look at some of the leading prop bets available at the Westgate SuperBook show what everyone thinks about this contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

To ease into things, the coin toss is leaning slightly toward tails. Many people believe that the results of the coin toss are split evenly at 50/50; however, this isn’t the case, so there is definitely some entertainment value available. Mathematician Persi Diaconis showed that the odds were 51/49, with the advantage given to the side that was facing up when the coin was flipped. This hasn’t been the case with the Super Bowl coin toss, though. The Super Bowl coin, made of silver and gold, features the Super Bowl logo on one side (heads) and the teams’ logos on the other (tails). Out of the past 27 games, tails has won 17 times, even though heads was facing up.

Westgate has a line up for whether either team will score points in the first six and a half minutes of the game. While both the Chiefs and the Bucs have extremely strong offenses, this one might be a “no” based, in part, by another trend found with Brady. The quarterback, before heading to Tampa Bay prior to the current season, was scoreless in all but one of his Super Bowl appearances in the first quarter.

The Bucs could be the first to score a penalty in the game. Tampa Bay’s defense is going to try hard from their first set of plays to stop Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and this could lead to an error, possibly pass interference, early in the game. Hill is also getting an Over/Under of 4.5 yards on his first rushing attempt and averaged 9.5 yards per carry this season, per NFL.com. Both teams are going to be on edge as the Big Game gets underway, and early penalties on both sides are likely.

Professional Fighters League unveils featherweight and lightweight rosters for 2021 season debut on April 23

Lance Palmer, Bubba Jenkins headline Featherweight roster; Anthony Pettis, Natan Schulte star in Lightweight roster.

NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2021) –The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league in the world, today announced its featherweight and lightweight rosters for the 2021 regular season, which begins April 23 on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ in primetime. The 2021 season will kick off with a pair of two-time champions looking to three-peat while new challengers have been brought in to make this year the most competitive yet.

Lance Palmer and Natan Schulte have authored back-to-back undefeated seasons in the ultra-competitive featherweight and lightweight divisions. They will have a host of new challengers as the PFL returns for 2021. Palmer’s wrestling nemesis Bubba Jenkins, highly regarded Brit Brendan Loughnane, undefeated Jason Soares and Korean star Jo Sungbin are some of the new blood who will be looking to pluck the title from the only featherweight champion the PFL has ever known. Russian knockout artist Movlid Khaybulaev, Brazilian Sheymon Moraes and top prospect Tyler Diamond round out the stacked division.

Lightweight has been the sole domain of Schulte. The Brazilian has been up to the task since day one, but 2021 will be a new year with a new set of challenges, the biggest coming in the form of one of MMA’s greatest. Former UFC champion and superstar Anthony Pettis will make his organizational debut on April 23 with every intention of ending Schulte’s reign atop the division. He will be joined by 2020 boxing sensation Clay Collard, Canadian Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Johnny Case – who fought Schulte to a draw in 2018.

Strat-O-Matic Expands Partnership With Negro League Baseball Museum

As Black History Month begins, Strat-O-Matic (www.strat-o-matic.com), the leader in sports simulation games now celebrating its Diamond Anniversary, is proud to announce the renewal and expansion of its partnership with the Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM) and President Bob Kendrick. Strat-O-Matic continues to augment its selection of popular Negro League baseball roster sets, with 10% of all sales donated to the Kansas City, Mo., based museum.

Strat-O-Matic has the most robust and highly researched Negro League simulation products, now boasting more than 25 individual seasons rosters dating back to 1908, plus Stars and legendary Diamond Gems rosters. Three new rosters, 1918, 1928 and 1943, will be released on February 19 along with the rest of SOM’s current baseball card and digital sets.

“In our 60th Anniversary year, we couldn’t be more excited about extending our partnership with the Negro League Baseball Museum and we’re especially grateful to Bob Kendrick for his support and friendship,” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic President. “We look forward to celebrating the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues throughout 2021,”

“Strat-O-Matic has been a great partner in helping further the Museum’s mission of preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America,” said Kendrick. “Members and fans often talk about what it would be like to see these players in action, and Strat-O-Matic continues to be a great way to realistically relive their performances.”

Strat-O-Matic released its first comprehensive Negro League products in 2001 with more than 100 players in the Negro League Stars set.

MLB season just weeks away as players tell owners no deal on delay

MLB team owners had hoped the start of the new season could be pushed back as the world still grapples with COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic forced last season to be delayed just as Opening Day was about to be held, and there have been concerns that, with the virus still running wild, a similar situation could arise this year. However, MLB players, through the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), have told the owners to dig in and figure out what they need to do to protect everyone, refusing to approve any delay to the new season. 

The MLBPA has formally rejected the owners’ request for a longer break in the baseball action that had asked to push the start of spring training out to March 22 and Opening Day to April 29. With the response now given, the MLB season is only a couple of weeks away, with spring training to begin as planned on February 17 and Opening Day to be held on its expected date, April 1. Perhaps if the owners had been more willing to offer monetary incentives to players, they would have been willing to accept a deal. 

The players union explained in a statement about the upcoming schedule that everyone felt as though the owners were trying to back them into a corner. The teams were trying to shorten the season while requiring players to take the field for more doubleheaders, and were also trying to force players to accept certain collective bargaining agreement conditions the MLBPA had already refused. A statement by the union added, “Although Player salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions, or cancellation of the season. The MLBPA Executive Board and Player leadership reviewed and discussed the owners’ proposal throughout the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberations is that Players will not accept MLB’s proposal, will instead continue preparations for an on-time start to the 2021 season, and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct its Clubs to prepare for an on-time start.”

MLB team owners were reluctant to agree to the layout and tried to present a counterproposal, which was also rejected. As a result, the league has resigned itself to the fact that the players won this round (another victory for players), and said in an announcement, “In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the Championship Season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols.”

Marquee matchups on Tuesday NBA odds slate

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

No question that the marquee matchup around the NBA on Tuesday (February 2) is at 7:30 p.m. ET and nationally televised by TNT when the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Brooklyn Nets in a potential NBA Finals preview. The Clippers are the second favorites to come out of the Western Conference and have the best record in the NBA as of this writing, and the Nets are the Eastern Conference favorites.

Assuming they all play, and that’s never a sure thing in these COVID days, five of the best 15 or so players in the league will share the same court in the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and Nets’ Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Leonard and George missed two games last week in the COVID protocols but returned Friday. They are two of the most ferocious defenders in the NBA and it will be terrific basketball watching them try and slow down Durant and Harden (not so much Irving as he’s a point guard and won’t be guarded much by the bigger but slower Leonard and George).

NBRPA, Swoopes And Flexion Therapeutics Announce Partnership To Raise Awareness Of Zilretta

Unsplash/Marcus Spiske

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) and Flexion Therapeutics Inc. today announced a new partnership to raise awareness of osteoarthritis-related knee pain and present ZILRETTA (triamcinolone acetonide extended-release injectable suspension) as an effective treatment option. The educational program tipped off with a virtual event featuring Sheryl Swoopes, basketball Hall of Famer and ZILRETTA patient, discussing how osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee has impacted her life and how ZILRETTA has helped with pain management. Swoopes is the first athlete from the WNBA to participate in the awareness program. The partnership with Swoopes complements Flexion’s relationship with ZILRETTA Athlete Ambassadors, NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and 1980 USA hockey team captain and gold medal winner Mike Eruzione.

“We are excited to partner with the NBRPA to raise awareness of knee OA and ZILRETTA, and we are truly honored to be working with Sheryl, a world-class athlete who continues to exemplify greatness well after the height of her career,” said Michael Clayman, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Flexion. “As one of the most exceptional women athletes of all time, a hall of famer, and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Sheryl knows about pushing the limits physically, and we are very pleased that she has finally found the much-needed relief from her OA knee pain with ZILRETTA.”

Swoopes, the first player to be signed in the WNBA, is a three-time WNBA MVP and was named one of the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. She won three Olympic gold medals and is one of 10 women’s basketball players to have won an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA Championship and a WNBA title. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and is an active leader in the NBRPA.

“The best partnerships are all about authenticity, and we found out through a survey of our membership that knee pain ranked among retired players’ top ailments following their careers,” said Scott Rochelle, NBRPA’s Executive Director. “There is no better, more engaged advocate for those suffering OA knee pain and no stronger advocate to speak to the benefits of ZILRETTA than Sheryl. We look forward to growing this relationship in the coming months to be one of our most inclusive and informative to date.”

Swoopes added, “I fully understand the way OA knee pain can impact your life in every aspect, not just physically but mentally. To be able to tell my story and share the results of what can be done with treatment with my colleagues, friends, former players and family is very important. This partnership will not only help many of the athletes who have played in the NBA and WNBA, but it will serve to raise awareness for thousands who may be suffering in silence.”

Swoopes was treated by Rabah Qadir, M.D., a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon at the Woodlands Sports Medicine Center and Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery at Memorial Hermann Woodlands Medical Center in the Houston area. Dr. Qadir said, “While Sheryl has enjoyed the career of an elite athlete, unfortunately, her experience with OA knee pain is far from unique. Knee injuries, especially cartilage and meniscus injuries, are common for basketball players and can lead to OA over time. After evaluating Sheryl and understanding her desire to stay active with a non-surgical treatment plan, ZILRETTA was an obvious choice to offer Sheryl the extended pain relief she needed.”

More information on how to find a treating physician can be found at https://www.getthez.com or by calling 888-600-GETZ (4389).

The NBRPA represents over 1,000 former NBA and WNBA players, making it the largest agency of its kind in basketball. This has allowed for direct access to players for opportunities to educate other members and their treating physicians.

NBA championship odds: Lakers still favorites

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

With the 2020-21 NBA regular season shortened to 72 games – and some teams may not get all 72 in with around two dozen postponed so far – we are at the quarter-pole for the vast majority of clubs.

Fans may have been treated to an NBA Finals preview Wednesday  when the Los Angeles Lakers took their 10-0 road record to the Philadelphia 76ers, who entered with a 9-0 record when having their preferred starting lineup of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Danny Green all available. Those guys all were Wednesday and the Sixers upset the Lakers 107-106 on buzzer-beater by Harris.

Philadelphia has the best record in the Eastern Conference but is only +1600 to win its first NBA title since 1983. The Sixers when healthy are excellent, but they have been below-average on the road and terrible overall when Embiid, a top MVP candidate, is out of the lineup. It will be important for the Sixers to get home-court advantage in the East, even if there will be no fans allowed in the playoffs (by then, they might be allowed).

Lakers, Sixers highlight Wednesday NBA odds slate

Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

A potential NBA Finals preview featuring four All-Stars (if they all play) highlights an extremely busy Wednesday schedule around the NBA this week as the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Philadelphia 76ers with a 7:30 p.m. ET tip and nationally televised by ESPN.

This might be a particularly emotional game for the Lakers because the last time they visited Philadelphia was on January 25, 2020. Los Angeles lost the game 108-91, but LeBron James passed Philly-born and former Lakers legend Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the game. The next morning in Los Angeles, Bryant, his daughter and a handful of others were killed in a helicopter accident.

Basketball-wise, it’s a terrific matchup between LeBron, Anthony Davis and the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. While the Lakers are +110 favorites to come out of the West again on the NBA betting futures, the 76ers are +550 third favorites in the East behind the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Expect the Lakers to be set as short favorites on the road for the game on the NBA odds. Philly is 6-4 ATS in its past 10 as a home regular-season dog.