Happy hump day. Has your best friend signed up yet?
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
All the major sports leagues are counting on data to usher them into the future, revolutionizing everything from how teams prepare for games to how fans engage with content and, increasingly, place bets.
Driving the news: A 16-person advisory board has been formed by research firm Sports Innovation Lab to answer these questions and produce standards and best practices by the end of the year.
Between the lines: The board is focusing on 2 key areas: privacy and money.
The big picture: Think of athlete data in 2019 like broadcast rights 50 years ago, says Ahmad Nassar, president of the NFL Players Association's licensing and marketing subsidiary.
"Now everybody gets it, but 50 years ago I don't think people understood the [broadcast rights] opportunity — it was all about gate revenue, selling out games, concessions and parking," Nassar told Bloomberg. "Data can follow that same path."
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Above: Down a set and 3-0 in the second, 20-year-old American Frances Tiafoe came back to stun two-time Grand Slam finalist and No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, during day three of the Australian Open.
Below: Japan's Naomi Osaka laughs as a ball kid attempts to catch a moth. Osaka, the No. 4 seed, easily won her match, and the ball kid, unseeded, successfully caught the moth.
While the NHL's current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) isn’t set to expire until after the 2021-22 season, both parties — the league and the players' union — have the right to trigger negotiations next September.
Why it matters: If either side does so, the CBA could then expire following the 2019-2020 campaign, right around the time of the 2020 World Cup of Hockey, which the NHL organizes.
The big picture: The NHL has had 3 lockouts in 25 years ('94-95, '04-05, '12-13), so many observers around the sport are concerned that this nightmarish scenario could come to fruition.
But, but, but: According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, the league and the players' union have engaged in an "unheard of" number of positive conversations recently. "We seem to have two sides genuinely hoping to avoid missing games this time around," he writes (subscription).
"Talking in a substantive and meaningful way this far in advance ... can only be a good thing. It's not something we were able to do last time around for a variety of reasons. Hopefully, the result will be different this time as well."— NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly via The Athletic
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Best game tonight: A sense of panic is mounting in Boston, as the Celtics (25-18) have begun to unravel a little bit amid a 3-game losing streak. A win tonight against the Raptors (33-12), who have won 5 straight, could be just the therapy the C's need. Watch: 8 pm ET, ESPN.
Best thing about shoe laces: Nothing. They stink. That's why Nike designed a new auto-lacing basketball sneaker called the HyperAdapt BB. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum will debut them in tonight's game.
Best team over the last 20-ish games: The Milwaukee Bucks, according to The Ringer's Dan Devine. Best player: James Harden. Best rookie: Luka Doncic. Best reserve: Lou Williams. Best defender: Paul George. Most improved player: Justise Winslow. Most pleasant surprise: the Brooklyn Nets.
Tate Martell (Ohio St. ➡ Miami): The former national player of the year in high school looked poised to replace NFL-bound Dwayne Haskins as the starter … until last year's No. 2 overall recruit Justin Fields transferred in from Georgia earlier this month. 2019 has been good to Miami so far. Real good.
Brandon Wimbush (Notre Dame ➡ UCF): The former Irish starter (12 games in 2017 and the first 3 last season) is joining UCF as a graduate transfer where he'll be eligible to play immediately.
Jalen Hurts (Alabama ➡ ?): Maryland is the heavy betting favorite to land Hurts after hiring Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as head coach in December.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) met in Montreal this week to discuss what to do about Russia's anti-doping lab missing a key deadline, writes Axios' Michael Sykes.
What's happening: In 2015, Russia's drug-testing agency was banned from testing its own athletes after a state-sponsored doping scheme was uncovered.
What's next: WADA can either give Russia a slap on the wrist and allow the country's reinstatement to remain, or it can declare Russia noncompliant — which could result in its athletes being banned from international competition. The saga rages on.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo: Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, has denied allegations that bribes were paid to secure the rights to host the 2020 Olympics.
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47 years ago today, the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl, defeating the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI in New Orleans. Enjoy.
Kendall "Team Tiafoe" Baker