By TERRY LYONS
BOSTON – This week, the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center at The Seaport played host to ICE North America, the first major sports gambling convention ever staged by Clarion Gaming on the grounds of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was very well organized and well attended, with a high influx of European gaming experts, industry analysts and casino operators on board.
The agenda included just about everything you could imagine on sports gaming (from age and geo-tracking software developers to slot machine operators to Fantasy sports game builders to League, team and State Lottery executives). In general, it was fantastic and the recommendation for anyone touching upon the industry as it evolves in the USA is to keep an eye out for Clarion Gaming’s next foray to the USA.
Speaking of “evolving,” that was the topic of discussion for a panel I moderated on Tuesday afternoon, specifically, “Evolving Sports Sponsorships – What a Deal Could Look Like.” … The subject was quite broad and we sought opinions from some of the industries’ most forward thinkers who are doing their best to stay ahead of the trends in the space, including Monument’s Randy Boe, the Commissioner of the AFL, Lalia Mintas, Chairwoman of the Strategic Advisory Board for BetWorks along with Keith Wachtel – the Chief Business Officer of the NHL and Scott Warfield, the MD of Gaming for NASCAR. All fantastic panelists who provided a gathering of about 50 execs with insights from their experience garnered from their specific sport or area of expertise. … There’s been a ton written on the conference, but one quote by Draft Kings CEO Jason Robins stood out and it came from an early morning session on May 14th. Robins made a plea for the industry to “come together and work together” for the common good. He had noted the fact various sports gambling or fantasy products in each State require providers to present different experiences, via different “wallets” in mobile apps, and more or less require the consumer to “start from scratch” every time they might simply cross from the likes of Pennsylvania to New Jersey or New Jersey to Delaware and so on and so on. That is frustrating to the consumer and not a typical business model for most industries. Could you imagine having to fill out all new info, load credit card info into a computer so you could use your Debit Card if you ate lunch at a McDonald’s on the NJ Turnpike and then did the same in Maryland the next day?
Similarly, as a mobile and app consumer, could you imagine having to load in a new app, fill-out all the information, credit card details, license, other background every time you needed a Lyft or Uber ride in a different State? … No! … If you fly from New York to New Orleans, when you land, you can pull-out your mobile phone and just access Uber for a ride. … Robins seeks a similar experience for consumers who might travel to the various States that offer sports gambling. He’s right. … In general, Robins was once a young, disrupting up-start, hotshot, Biz Dev guy, fighting for his career/life against rival Fan Duel for Daily Fantasy Sports relevancy, and is now a mature CEO of a $1.5B company at the epicenter of Sports Gambling in the United States who sees sports gambling as quite mainstream and less disruptive. … Picture the differences between non-drinkers, wine drinkers, beer drinkers, cocktail drinkers and those who choose to chug shots of Tequila. Each of those can exist in a restaurant without having any interaction with the others. Each can choose what they want or decline a drink at anytime. … Those who choose to gamble on sports can do so “for fun,” or for “an experience,” which – if the leagues and teams are creative enough – can be experiences “money can’t buy.” Some can choose season-long fantasy or DFS, some can bet in a traditional way (Win/Loss, Over/Under, Spread/Money Line) and others can play more exotic prop bets, teasers, parlays and other evolving offerings, like “In-Game” gambling. Certainly, “In-Game” is the tequila-shot of sports gambling but that can be fun and interesting. Robins is at the center of all of it, and is hoping the Leagues/Teams, Fed/States, Operators and Fans/Gamblers can all work out the differences – sooner than later. … Smartest thing uttered at the conference? “Alexa, give me $250 bucks on the Patriots.” Oh my!
HERE NOW THE NOTES: New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman received something special to add to his collection of three Super Bowl rings. A college diploma. Thirteen years after he entered Kent State with a year of community college under his belt, Edelman was back in Ohio on Saturday, walking in the graduation ceremony and later posing for photos with his proud parents. Edelman shared on Instagram earlier in the week that he had earned his degree and would put on the cap and gown. … Name the greatest Baseball Movies! Parade Magazine (Yes, it still exists and is in that Sunday newspaper of yours somewhere with the FSIs (free-standing inserts), named its seven top Baseball Motion Pictures. They are:
- The Pride of the Yankees (1942 – Gary Cooper)
- The Bad News Bears (1976 – Walter Matthau)
- The Natural (1984 – Robert Redford)
- Bull Durham (1988 – Kevin Costner)
- A League of their Own (1992 – Geena Davis)
- The Sandlot (1993 – no leading man/woman named)
- Moneyball (2011 – Brad Pitt)
I can’t say I have any major beef with the list, although any list of great baseball movies, to me, must include Field of Dreams and my two all-time favorites which Parade did not list. I will include them but broaden the topic to address the “best” sports motion pictures of my lifetime. You can feel free to Tweet any additions-subtractions-alternations.
Here’s my view on the Greatest Sports Motion Pictures of All-Time:
- Seabiscuit (2003 – Tobey Maguire/Jeff Bridges/Chris Cooper/Elizabeth Banks/GaryStevens/William H. Macy) – (Academy Award Nomination for Best Picture and others, adapted screenplay and cinematography).
- Rocky – (1976 – the entire field of work, not just any one film; The 1976 original garnered 10 Academy Award nomination, including Best Picture for 1977).
- Bull Durham (1988 – Kevin Costner)
- Caddyshack (1980 – Rodney Danderfield/Chevy Chase/Bill Murray)
- Angels in the Outfield (1951 – Paul Douglas/Janet Leigh)
- It Happens Every Spring (1949 – Ray Milland/Paul Douglas/Jean Peters)
- Secretariat (2010 – Diane Lane)
- Field of Dreams – (1989 – Kevin Costner; others)
- Slapshot (1977 – Paul Newman; others)
- Hoop Dreams (1994 – William Gates/Arthur Agee – by Steve James)
- The Big Lebowski (1998 – Jeff Bridges/John Goodman; others)
- He Got Game (1998 – Spike Lee/Denzel Washington/Ray Allen)
There were many sequels and remakes of some of these films, as well as many “Also-Rans” for my list. In fact, there are too many “Also Rans” to mention. As with all lists of this nature, I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow, and you might see the likes of “Miracle” make it to the Top 10. … Speaking of Seabiscuit, by the way, Brooks Koepka is to golf what Seabiscuit was to thoroughbred horse racing. … The late, great comedian Robin Williams might’ve been reincarnated and has joined souls with Maureen Madill, a commentator for this week’s PGA Championship on Sirius XM Radio. I challenge any listener not to think of Mrs. Doubtfire – one of Williams’ all-time classic roles – every single time Ms. Madill opens her mic. … Love you Poppet!
Two recent pro and college coaching searches were messy but in each case, a damn good coach was hired. In Los Angeles, the job was Tyronn Lue’s to have but negotiations fell apart and the Lakers switched directions and settled on Frank Vogel for the job. Vogel, a tremendous coach who had NBA stints with Indiana (2011-16) and Orlando (2016-18) along with his work as an assistant with b both the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. … In New York, the tabloids had a field day criticizing and then suggesting the next coach to be considered for St. John’s University, but AD Mike Cragg made an “out of the box of NYC or Duke” hire in Mike Anderson, the former Arkansas coach who was let go earlier this year. Anderson is building the program in a new and different image than what Hall of Famer Chris Mullin had in mind. Anderson is gradually hiring his assistants (most recent was a local NYC man Van Macon) while signing up a few players, including 5-9 PG Johnathan McGriff and 6-9 bruiser JUCO transfer Damien Sears. … After the debacle of the Johnnie’s misfiring on hires like Bobby Hurley (Arizona State and a NJ guy) and Tim Cluess (Iona), the most hardened New York college basketball fans are encouraged by Anderson’s work thus far. The tough BIG EAST awaits. … Meanwhile, Mullin (who parted ways amicably with the Johnnies), hinted to Newsday columnist Steve Popper that it was more likely for the St. John’s all-time great to seek work in the NBA, rather than another college job. … All eyes of sports fans and golfers have been on Bethpage Black for the PGA Championship this week. The public course is located in Farmingdale, NY (Long Island) where the British camped out when they invaded Long Island/New York as they sent some 20-40,000 troops to fight the Revolutionary War. … A stones throw from the five terrific public golf courses was the Grumman plant where the “LEM” … aka Lunar Module … was built for the Apollo space program. After the near-disaster of Apollo 13, when the LEM as used to power the Command Module back to earth because a technical oxygen tank problem forced NASA to scrap the mission, the hard-working Grumman staff was honored after the astronauts returned safely to earth in April, 1970 – the third lunar landing mission. The “funny-looking” LEM was one of the modern engineering marvels of all time, as it used newly engineered light-weight material and incredible navigation software. … Given the proximity, Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert and the NASA flight control great Gene Kranz might’ve tucked in a round at Bethpage back in ’70, but probably would have played the Red or Blue!
NBA basketball all-time greats and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird will be co-recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia. TNT will televise the third annual NBA Awards live on Monday, June 24 at 9 p.m. ET from Barker Hangar in Los Angeles. … The two previous recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award were Bill Russell (2017) and Oscar Robertson (2018) and with that in mind, you might think Elgin Baylor, Julius Dr. J” Erving or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might be in line for the award before Earvin and Larry. … What can you say about Albert Pujols? He keeps on keepin’ on. Earlier this week, a two home runs and a single outing gave LA Angels star Pujols 3,110 career hits, tying him with Dave Winfield for 22nd place on the all-time list. … The Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1951 season ended in heartbreak, but Jackie Robinson‘s home uniform from that year fetched some $500,000 at auction last weekend. … Overall, the auction price was down as the most recent sale of a Robinson jersey is nowhere near the top dollar that his rookie uni garnered in the past. That rookie jersey from Jackie’s 1947 season sold for $2.6 million in April 2018. … This week, however, the auction website goldinauctions.com showed a listing for Robinson’s game-used home jersey from the ’51 season with 16 bids that concluded with a $553,500 sale. The bidding started at $150,000, with a portion of the winning bid going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. … The most important news announcement this week was the appointment of a new Commissioner for the WNBA. … Accomplished accounting executive Cathy Engelbert was appointed to the new position Wednesday and, in fact, is the league’s first Commissioner. Previous heads of the WNBA were titled as Presidents, including Val Ackerman – the current Commish of the BIG EAST and lock for first ballot Hall of Famer. Ackerman’s tenure ran (1997-2005), while Donna Orender (2005-10), Laurel Richie (2011-15) and Lisa Borders (2016-2018) each held the job as WNBA President. … Englebert, currently CEO of Deloitte and the first woman to lead a “Big Four” professional services firm in the United States, will join the WNBA on July 17 and report to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, once her four-year term as head of Deloitte (US) concludes. The WNBA’s 23rd season tips off on May 24. … A smart move by the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA was announced this week. They signed the very first ticketing support partnership of its kind with Bernie Mullin‘s The Aspire Group. … The “Next-Practice” sales training concept will help the WNBA team develop benchmarks for sales and will include the customized Performance Analytics Report for the Dream this season. Note to Ms. Englebert: Check it out and deploy Aspire Group’s consultants, staff and tactics for all WNBA teams to help increase ticket sales league-wide.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” The reference salutes the great Dick Young, of course, but the obvious Rodney Dangerfield connection connotes the style and humor I’ll be seeking to provide as Spring turns to Summer. We’ll see where we stand on Labor Day before I try to break any ground that Jimmy Cannon or Young walked upon.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the attempt and it will become worthy of a Sunday Morning read and share. I’ll welcome the feedback by connecting “While We’re Young Ideas” with Digital Sports Desk(@DigSportsDesk) and (@WhileYoungIdeas). Please follow those two Twitter accounts, along with @terrylyons