👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,569 words (6 minutes).
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Teamworks, an athlete engagement platform that grew up in the college sports space and has since expanded to the professional ranks, announced yesterday that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Delta-v Capital.
How it works: There are so many moving parts within an elite sports organization: coaches, athletes, trainers, strength staff, nutritionists, marketers, sales teams, etc.
The backdrop: Like the aforementioned Slack and G-Suite, plus other tools like Zoom, the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated Teamworks' core value proposition: how do sports organizations communicate when they're not in a building together?
What to watch: With the name, image and likeness (NIL) debate heating up, Teamworks is well-positioned to be the facilitator of deals between brands and college athletes once those are able to happen, all while allowing athletic departments to monitor activity and prove compliance.
Yes, but: As the NIL landscape takes shape, Teamworks will likely face stiff competition from competitors looking to help college athletes earn money, and leaning too heavily into that side of things could pull the company away from its core mission of helping organizations communicate.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The Tokyo Olympics postponement means nearly $200 million in media rights fees that the International Olympic Committee was set to distribute to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee likely won't arrive until next August, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
Why it matters: While this certainly puts a financial strain on the USOPC, it also illuminates the larger issue of how the committee distributes its funds, with athletes occupying the bottom of a trickle-down system that leaves many of them destitute even in the best of times.
What they're saying: In a 2018 segment of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," snowboarder Jonathan Cheever, who competed in Pyeongchang, said that the little help he got from the USOPC — a $1,500 stipend, plus health insurance — only covered a fraction of his costs.
The big picture: The USOPC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, making it one of the few national Olympic committees that doesn't receive government funding. Hence why this $200 million cash crunch could hit American athletes particularly hard.
The bottom line: We love the Olympics because they give us all a chance to come together every 2–4 years and get the patriotic warm-and-fuzzies. But behind the scenes, the USOPC's financial distribution model causes undue strain on Olympic hopefuls — and those purse strings just got even tighter.
878 nationally televised sporting events have been canceled or suspended due to COVID-19, according to data from Variety Intelligence Platform.
Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images
Ever since the SARS outbreak in 2003, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts Wimbledon, has reportedly been paying $2 million annually for pandemic insurance (so $34 million over 17 years).
Why it matters: That insurance policy will pay out roughly $141 million following this year's cancellation, which is far less than what the tournament would have generated (~$300 million, per estimates), but should help the club weather any short-term financial difficulties.
The big picture: Some other events like the 2020 British Open also had pandemic insurance (hence why it was canceled in order to collect the premium), while other events did not (hence why they've been more inclined to postpone).
Go deeper: Pandemic insurance? The Open and Wimbledon have it, but most sports businesses don't (Action Network)
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
⚽️ Germany prepares for soccer's return (Tariq Panja, NYT)
"While other European soccer leagues are engulfed in uncertainty and damaging pay disputes between clubs and player unions, in Germany there is order and a cleareyed strategy to restart its league ... with plans for spectator-free games starting in early May."
⚾️ One man, one million baseball cards (Kevin Kaduk, Midway Minute)
"The official meter on OneMillionCubs.com currently reads 427,285. Which means that Beau Thompson is 572,715 pieces of cardboard away ... from his goal of collecting one million Cubs baseball cards."
🥊 The unfortunate truth about young fighter contracts (The Athletic)
"Why am I writing this? I believe there are certain areas of boxing that need to be given oxygen. Because boxing isn't like football, where most stuff is out in the open. Where you can find 100 football lawyers, agents and communications people who will tell you how football works."
39 years ago today, Dodgers rookie Fernando Valenzuela made his first Major League start — an Opening Day, shutout victory over the Astros.
Why it matters: His performance that day kicked off one of the most impressive starts to a career in MLB history, and as one of the few Mexican big leaguers at the time — in Los Angeles, no less — he sparked a fervor in the community and nation still known lovingly as "Fernandomania."
"I think Fernando created more new baseball fans than any other player in baseball history. People from Mexico, from other Latin American countries like Ecuador, where I'm from, we didn't have many baseball idols. And here comes this 19-year-old kid, a little bit chubby, long hair, Indian features, couldn't speak a word of English. And it was like … wow."— Jaime Jarrín, Spanish language voice of the Dodgers, per The Athletic
By the numbers:
🎬 Watch ... 30 for 30: Fernando Nation (ESPN+)
Jeff writes: ESPN3 recently aired the 2020 Platform Tennis World Championships live from a backyard in Wilton, Connecticut.
Star-studded finals: Given the hastily thrown together nature of this tournament, it wasn't truly a "World Championship."
📽 Watch: Get a quick tutorial in platform tennis (YouTube)
Eight of the top 50 players on the all-time NBA scoring list are active, led of course by LeBron James (third; 34,087).
Answer at the bottom.
What's your fondest sports memory? Maybe it's a moment you shared with a friend or relative. Maybe you witnessed history. Maybe you finally saw your team win the big game. Could be anything!
Thanks for all the submissions so far! We'll start sharing your stories on Monday.
Kendall "Miss u LeBron" Baker
Trivia answer: Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge