👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,405 (5 minutes)
Retired MLB pitcher Michael Schwimer has put together a team of data analysts and machine learning experts to take on the corrupt tout industry (sellers of sports betting picks).
Driving the news: Schwimer's company, Jambos Picks, has raised $23 million and recently launched its paid subscription service that will provide customers with pick recommendations.
The backdrop: This isn't Schwimer's first foray into the world of analytics.
The big picture: I asked Schwimer how the idea for Jambos Picks came about, and the story he told me illustrates the sports world's evolving relationship with analytics.
"We put together this great group of statisticians from all these different sports — directors of analytics from NBA teams, machine-learning experts — and we initially thought we were going to bring our predictive models to sports teams.
"We thought we could go to the Knicks and say, 'Hey, you're playing the Rockets and you have a 30% chance to win this game, but if you use these lineups and do these things defensively, now you’re at a 41% chance.'
"When all the teams told us to 'prove it,' that's when we looked at the sports betting space and realized it was the perfect place to do that. Because it's a scorecard. So Jambos Picks is really about proving that our model works.
"[Assuming this works], team ownership is a likely next step for us. In fact, in the next few months, we're hoping to close in on an ownership stake in a European soccer team where we'd use the same models to predict outcomes and build a team around that."
The bottom line: If you can best predict the outcome of a game, you, by definition, know more about what it takes to win that game than anybody else.
Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
We're just 2 weeks into the NFL season, and QB injuries have already put a damper on it. Welcome to the year of the backup QB.
The big picture: Looming over this unfortunate start to the season is former Colts QB Andrew Luck, whose shocking retirement in August put a new face on just how debilitating football can be.
Looking ahead: The NFL has gotten off to a great start ratings-wise, but QB injuries could negatively affect a bunch of upcoming primetime games.
The bottom line: Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last season, the Eagles were the only one that didn't keep their starting QB healthy the whole year. It doesn't look like the league will be so lucky this time around.
Penn State AD Anne Saunders "Sandy" Barbour. Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
65 colleges make up the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), and only 4 of those schools have female athletic directors, per NYT.
Why it matters: 47 years after Congress passed Title IX, women make up nearly half of all college athletes. But the fact that just 4 have been put in charge of Power 5 schools is a stark reminder of the disparity that still exists.
"The Power 5 level is the most male dominated part of college athletics because of the money and because of big-time football and basketball, which have traditionally been sort of the male, boys' club things. It's much harder for women to break into these roles because of that."— Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports, per NYT
The big picture: Despite their lack of representation at the top of the college sports pyramid, women are increasingly filling roles outside the Power 5 — and there is a growing sense that a cultural shift is underway.
Go deeper: Spree of female executive hires a hopeful harbinger for a more diverse future (Front Office Sports)
Coming off a 2019 national championship, Virginia men's basketball coach Tony Bennett turned down a $500,000 raise, and instead asked that the money be used to pay his staff more and help the program.
According to ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, the average ticket price sold on their platform for Saturday night's game between No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Notre Dame was $611 (as of Sunday), making it this season's most expensive ticket.
Advertisers spent $96 million on U.S. television commercials during the 2019 Women's World Cup, according to WSJ (subscription). That's more than double the previous estimate.
The Rugby World Cup opens Friday in Tokyo, where 19 countries will attempt to do the improbable and knock off 2-time defending champion New Zealand All Blacks.
Go deeper: Tournament preview (NYT)
The Akron Professionals, the first NFL champions (kind of). Photo: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images
99 years ago today, representatives from 11 pro football clubs met in an automobile showroom in Canton, Ohio and formed the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed the NFL 2 years later.
The backdrop: In 1920, pro football lived in the shadow of the college game and was confined mostly to small Midwestern industrial cities. The clubs present at the meeting:
The big picture: The Massillon Tigers and the Muncie Flyers later withdrew from the league, while the Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles and Detroit Heralds joined, giving the AFPA 13 teams.
Go deeper: The birth of the NFL (History)
The Jets are the first team to play 3 different QBs (Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Luke Falk) in their first 2 games since the 2009 Panthers.
Answer at the bottom.
The Atlanta Braves and U.S. Ski & Snowboard are teaming up to host Visa Big Air, a 2-day competition featuring some of the world's best freeskiers and snowboarders.
The details: 800 tons of snow will be brought in, and a 15-story scaffold jump structure will be installed at SunTrust Park.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Decatur Staleys super fan" Baker
Trivia answer: Jake Delhomme, Josh McCown and Matt Moore