Some Seriously Good Sports Marketing

I don’t eat that many Whoppers, but I’m loving what Burger King did here. Good quick video on a very clever marketing strategy.

Nike Air(plane?)

Some very interesting stuff in today’s edition of Joe Pompliano’s Huddle Up newsletter, which features two very futuristic Nike Projects. The first is a climate-controlled “smart chair,” which I expect is something we’ll see sooner than later:

The chair contains hundreds of biometric sensors and thermal transducers which keep an athletes “active” muscles at an optimal temperature to re-enter the game – think hamstrings, quads, etc.

Along with keeping certain muscles warm, the biometric sensors and thermal transducers have the ability to cool down an athletes central nervous system by transferring cool air throughout certain parts of their body.

The chair works with integrated identity sensors (think RFID Chips in clothing) to provide in-game analytics around an athletes hydration, heart rate, and more.

Analytics will be transferred to team representatives in real-time to help determine the optimal time for game re-entry and injury prevention opportunities.

Whoa.

The second project is more pie-in-the-sky:

Nike recently released a potential plane design they did in collaboration with Portland-based design firm Teague.

Like the chair, the plane would be outfitted with all sorts of elements to minimize the effects of air travel on the athlete’s body. Pretty cool concept, although I don’t expect Beaverton to trade in Air Maxes for Airplanes anytime son.

Big 10 Football is Coming Back

From Sportico:

Big Ten football is back after conference presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to resume  play the weekend of October 23.

And why? The conference says it is because of better access to faster testing. But pressure from fans, parents, lawsuits, and politicians also had to factor in. But of course, there’s really only one reason: money. Which only serves as a reminder that the majority of laborers in college sport remain uncompensated.

It will be interesting to see if the PAC 12 follows suit or holds firm to the cancelled season. With the brutality of the ongoing fires throughout the west, I can see how officials could tie the resumption of football to a narrative of giving local fans hope.

Bizarre, But Not Surprising: Hacking Tee Times

No, I don’t mean “hacking” as in the way I struggle along the golf course, but actual hacking:

The Singapore Island Country Club dialed 999 after declaring that its online golf session booking system had been “compromised” thanks to “millions” of online booking attempts daily, according to Channel News Asia.

Tech-savvy golfers, it appeared, were using scripts to book popular timeslots for themselves and their mates rather than filling in online forms manually whenever new slots were released.

More on this amusing tale here, via the Register.

Pandemic Accelerant Watch: College Football Becomes a Partisan Battleground

As I’ve previously written about (here and here), I predicted that one of the effects of the pandemic on the sports world would be the increasing partisan politicization of the formerly “neutral” US sports scene.

With the Big 10 football season cancelled, we’re now seeing some of this acceleration at play: Republican lawmakers are calling on the conference to go forward with a season, while Democrats are pointing to the lack of football as evidence that Republican leadership failed the country with a weak response to COVID. Nice piece summarizing the goings on from Axios with lots of good links.

Gambling on College Sports

In a pretty historic deal, the University of Colorado has signed the first sponsorship agreement with the sportsbook PointsBet. From Front Office Sports:

The partnership includes support for the school’s Scripps Leadership and Career Development Program and will “emphasize and create awareness around responsible gaming and sports betting education,” according to a release, which could be an attempt to ease the negative perception of gambling coming to college sports. 

Colorado’s announcement also stresses that the deal comes at a time when college athletic departments nationwide are slashing budgets due to shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and will provide a welcome boost.

Even as US pro sports have steadily began to embrace gambling (after decades of pretending it didn’t exist and simultaneously reaping the benefits), the NCAA has a puritanical stance against betting. Much like the pro sports world, this move is the beginning of a thaw, of acknowledging and legitimizing a massive sports betting market that quietly props up spectator sports across the country. For those who worry about corruption and moral decay, I simply point to (most of) the rest of the world, which has long enjoyed legal sports betting without turning in a circle of Dante’s Inferno.

US Threatening to Pull Funding From WADA

Interesting and somewhat unexpected story from Reuters, detailing the American threat to pull out of the World Anti-Doping Agency. This is big: under current rules, this would effectively bar American athletes from Olympic competition, along with most major international competition.

But why?

It’s not totally clear what’s driving the move. From the article:

A report by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), presented to the U.S. Congress in June and seen by Reuters, was highly critical of WADA demanding that it implement immediate reforms. The report also suggested that the U.S. withhold funding unless it was given greater representation on WADA boards and committees and “a proportionate voice in decision-making.” The U.S. is the largest single contributor to WADA, paying over $2.7 million into the 2020 budget of $37.4 million, half of which comes from the IOC.

Does the federal government really care about stringent anti-doping? Eh, not really. There are likely one of two things going on, or a combination of the two. First, this could be a move by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to gain greater power in global anti-doping. Second, this could be a small, soft-power rebuke of the very weak treatment Russia has received from global bodies for their state-sponsored doping programs. I’d say it’s more of the former than the latter, although they are intertwined.

Will US athletes actually be barred from international competition?

No. They won’t be.