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Volume 27 No. 35
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SBJ Unpacks: IOC Cautiously Optimistic For Tokyo 2021

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: The IOC's Thomas Bach says the governing body is on track for next summer's Tokyo Games.

Also:

  • Flyers team up with Kraft Analytics Group
  • NBC golf broadcast team talks U.S. Open return
  • Inside the Drone Racing League's virtual hiring process
  • New poll finds growing political divide on player protests
  • Anheuser-Busch impressed with Twitch viewership for esports tourney
  • Pandit Dasa on work from home strategies

 

BACH SAYS IOC SATISFIED WITH PROGRESS TOWARDS TOKYO

  • Following today’s IOC executive board meeting, Thomas Bach told media that the governing body is satisfied with progress being made toward Tokyo 2021 and Beijing 2022 amid these uncertain times, reports SBJ’s Chris Smith.

  • Bach said the coming weeks will bring “intensive discussions” about potential COVID-19 countermeasures in Tokyo, though he noted that it’s impossible to yet provide any details about what next summer’s Games might look like. “I’m only sure about one thing,” said Bach. “The environment, when it comes to Tokyo, will be different from the environment today. We only do not know in which way.” Bach added that the availability of rapid testing and a potential vaccine could “greatly facilitate the organization of the Games.”

  • Bach also noted that the IOC executive board has approved a series of new safe sport initiatives in response to recent athlete abuse allegations. New programs include an Athlete365 campaign in the run-up to Tokyo 2021 as well as a series of 11 webinars to “facilitate the sharing of best practices and provide access to a group of experts that can provide further support” to Olympic national organizing committees. The webinar series begins next month and will be offered in four languages.

  • The IOC will also create a new Safeguarding Officer in Sports certificate program, which Bach said would be the first of its kind at the international level. Programming for the five-month course will begin in September 2021 and be open to all, though NOCs can apply for scholarships. The program joins other IOC certification courses on sports medicine, nutrition and mental health. 

 

FLYERS TURN TO KRAFT ANALYTICS GROUP TO BUILD OUT DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

  • The Flyers and Kraft Analytics Group (KAGR) have begun working together in recent weeks, reports SBJ's Mark J. Burns. The shop, led by CEO Jessica Gelman, will now support the NHL club’s data warehousing and analytics needs. 

  • When Flyers Chief Business Officer Mike Shane joined the organization last spring, he said it was apparent that the franchise had a lot of work to build out its data infrastructure. Instead of the time-intensive -- and expensive -- task of constructing a custom back-end system, the club decided to partner with KAGR following an extensive RFP process. 

  • Shane: “The sports landscape was changing rapidly pre-COVID. It’s only going to change and evolve further. Having a partner with the infrastructure, knowledge and foresight and not being reactive to our requests but evaluating the industry daily and bringing things to us, that’s going to be really important for us.” 

  • Gelman, an SBJ “Forty Under 40 honoree in 2014, said that over a dozen different areas of emphasis and information will be ingested into the KAGR system, including Flyers’ sponsorship sales, retail, ticketing, food and beverage, parking and marketing, among others. According to Gelman, the chief focus is providing not only a single view of the Flyers customer and those fans who enter Wells Fargo Centerbut also, “providing a single view of the entire business operations.” For example, that includes ensuring the Flyers have the right products in-venue for their customers based on historical sales and an inventory perspective. 

  • More Shane: “All of the data that we’re pulling together and looking at in one smart, combined way and across these different channels ... it’s going to allow us to optimize the experience, enhance the fan experience and ultimately, bring more people through the building.”

 

 

U.S. OPEN AT WINGED FOOT PRESENTS HOME GAME FOR DAN HICKS

  • A delayed U.S. Open returns to Winged Foot Golf Club outside NYC next week, and it marks the return of NBC as rightsholder for the major. It’s also going to be a comfortable return for play-by-play man Dan Hicks, who is a member at Winged Foot. “I knew there were some conversations about doing a one-off U.S. Open at Winged Foot because of Fox' programming responsibilities, but again, it was just chit-chat that I was hearing,” Hicks told SBJ’s David Rumsey. “I wasn't holding out hope.”

  • That all changed during a round of golf with NBC Sports Group President Pete Bevacqua a few weeks before the USGA deal became official. Hicks: “We were kind of off to ourselves, over off this fairway and he said, ‘Can you keep something to yourself for a while?’ … At first he said, ‘I think we're on the goal line of getting the U.S. Open back.’ And I said, ‘Wow, I can't believe it, so that means Winged Foot in September.’ And he says, ‘Yes and no. It means the entire package.’ And I just felt the chills go up and down my body.”

  • Hicks wasn’t the only member of the announcing team that was shocked to learn the news. On-course analyst Roger Maltbie: “You could have pushed me over with a feather when I heard that we had it back.” David Feherty: “I’m trying to remember where I was when I got the text from (NBC Producer) Tommy (Roy). I thought he was drunk texting.” This will be Feherty’s first U.S. Open, and will complete the “grand slam of broadcasting” for the announcer, who has called each of golf’s other three majors.

  • While the NBC team is elated to have the championship back, Hicks does feel for the Fox golf team, especially Mark Loomis, who himself is a lifelong member at Winged Foot, and now misses out on the chance to produce a U.S. Open at his home course. “I get that side of it, but … we have been on the other side too, we have lost it, but not quite in the manner in which this happened,” he said.

 

INSIDE DRONE RACING LEAGUE’S VIRTUAL HIRING PROCESS

  • The Drone Racing League earlier today announced two new executive hires in CMO Anne Marie Gianutsos and Senior VP & Head of Partnership Development Ari Mark, who both walked SBJ’s David Rumsey through their 100% virtual processes.

  • Gianutsos described the uniqueness of vying for a new career position from home: “You're sort of like, putting on your interview clothes and opening your laptop and praying to God … that your kids don't bust into the frame as your delivering your vision.”

  • Mark explained his strategy for the unprecedented happenings: “I tried to be thoughtful about the interview process and ask as many questions and understand as much as I could, not just about the organization but about the people.” He added that his conversations with DRL President Rachel Jacobson were initially centered around her own journey joining the league this spring, before turning toward his own potential as a candidate.

  • In the end, offering advice to a longtime friend and former colleague led to Mark’s eventual hiring. “The process was both short and long because we started conversations back in March, but it probably wasn't until July when we were really having serious conversations about me coming on board and I would say once that happened things moved very quickly,” he said.

 

POLL FINDS GROWING POLITICAL DIVIDE ON PLAYER PROTESTS

  • The political divide over athlete protests "has deepened in the four years" since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

  • The online poll of 1,337 U.S. adults found Democrats and Republicans are "moving further apart on the issue," with more than half (54%) of Americans "wanting professional athletes to be required to stand" during the national anthem. Among self-identified Democrats, 33% agreed that pro athletes "should be required to stand," compared to 43% in 2016. Among Republicans, 81% said that athletes "must stand," compared to 73% in 2016.

  • Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal's Jason L. Reilly writes under the header, "Are You Ready for Some Political Football?" This year the NFL "will penalize itself for past unnecessary roughness against Colin Kaepernick with a social-justice blitz." Reilly: "Football is America’s favorite spectator sport, and the NFL has determined that many fans are tuning in for the political theater, not just the touchdowns. If (RogerGoodell is wrong about that, he’ll find out soon enough."


ANHEUSER-BUSCH PLEASED WITH RESULTS OF TWITCH EVENT

  • Anheuser-Busch says it was impressed with the viewership numbers on its channels for last week's Battle of the Best tournament on Twitch, which was sponsored by the brewer's Bud Light Seltzer brand, SBJ's Adam Stern reports. A-B worked with the Amazon-owned digital platform to set up a 16-streamer event with a host of well-known names playing four different games -- Call of DutyWarzoneHalo 3Golf with Friends and the popular new battle royale title, Fall GuysUltimate Knockout.

  • Twitch and A-B teamed with 160over90Engine Shop and GUT to help execute the program, while Twitch secured talent and promoted the event, among other aspects. The level of gamer star power attracted for the three-day event that ended Friday was stronger than usual for an exhibition set up by a sponsor, underscoring the increasing sophistication A-B has in the gaming space. Bud Light even had DJ Kygo perform a halftime show during the championship.

  • For more, check out the SBJ Esports newsletter.

 

OUTSIDE CONTRIBUTORS: ADAPTING TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT 

  • Tonight's op-ed is from author and urban monk Pandit Dasa, who delivered the keynote speech at this year's SBJ Thought Leaders retreat. He writes under the header, "How to be Mindful and Resilient While Working From Home."

  • "Working from home sounded like a great idea because it cuts out our commute and allows us to work from the comfort of our home, which would ultimately lead to increased productivity. That would have been true if our entire family wasn’t home with us all day, every day. Spouses competing for working spaces while kids and pets demand our attention isn’t making it easy for us to be as productive and focused as we would like. In fact, quite the opposite is taking place. Stress levels and tension with family members is increasing, making it more difficult to remain present with our work and colleagues."

  • To read the full contribution, click here.

 

SPEED READS

  • The NFL has signed Postmates as the league’s on-demand food delivery sponsor, a new category heading into a season where the at-home experience takes on greater importance, writes SBJ's Ben Fischer. Financial terms were not disclosed, and the parties would only describe the deal as “multi-year.” Postmates will also be an official sponsor of tentpole league events such as the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and Draft. The S.F.-based delivery mobile app becomes the NFL’s 37th league sponsor.
  • The betting public has "followed Tom Brady south," per ESPN's David Purdum. More bets have been placed on the Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl "than on any other team at multiple U.S. sportsbooks." At DraftKings, 22% of the total money wagered on winning the Super Bowl is on the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has also "attracted twice as much money" as the defending-champion Chiefs, and "three times as much as any other team." FanDuel's "largest liability, in terms of odds to win the Super Bowl," is also on the Buccaneers. "It's four times the liability of any other team," FanDuel sportsbook director John Sheeran said.

  • Tennis Australia is "holding out hope" of staging January's Australian Open with half as many spectators as normal as the COVID-19 pandemic "plays havoc with Victoria's major events calendar." The sport's governing body is "persisting with plans to stage January's major in Melbourne while operating 'biosecure bubbles' in five cities."

  • The offseason for Call of Duty League has already been a tumultuous one, as 58 players have been released from their contracts -- including teams cutting entire rosters -- as owners engage in what many believe is a leaguewide salary reset, TEO's Kevin Hitt writes. It is a large number considering that there are only 60 "starters" across the entire CDL. Some of the player releases can be attributed to the league shifting from a five-player format back to a four-player format, which is how CDL traditionally was played. But the optics of such a large amount of player releases isn't good from the first-year franchised league.

 

NEWS YOU NEED FROM SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY


SBJ UNPACKS -- THE ROAD AHEAD

 

 

 

--- AXS SPORTS FACILITIES & FRANCHISES & TICKETING SYMPOSIUM ---

Sept. 22-23, 2020

Virtual Program

Announcing the 2020 AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises & Ticketing Symposium agenda.  To view the agenda or to learn more, visit www.SportsFacilitiesandFranchises.com.

 

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