❤️ Happy Valentine's Day! Love you guys a lot.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The Alliance of American Football made its debut this past weekend and produced some very solid ratings. But we're not here to talk about ratings — we're here to talk about the business model.
Why ratings don't matter: Americans love football and shiny new toys. So it's not at all shocking that 2.1 million people tuned in to see what the AAF is all about.
Why the business model matters: The AAF is not a football league; it's a tech company. Does it sound a little corny to say that? Yes, but I promise I'm not just reading from some Fyre Festival-esque pitch deck — it's the truth.
The big picture: Sports leagues have traditionally made money by selling a product: sports. But thanks to advancements in technology and changes in media consumption, new revenue streams have presented themselves.
The bottom line: The AAF's plan is to do what MLB Advanced Media did, but with data (which is hot now) instead of streaming technology (which was hot then).
From Mike: NBA stars are walking businesses. Need proof? Just look at the numbers above. In total, the top 10 earners in the NBA will earn $540 million from salaries and endorsement money in 2019.
Best part: Turns out, the company is headquartered on the third floor of a 100-year-old church in Philadelphia — right above a gymnasium that doubles as a day care center, the New York Times reports.
"Walking through it to come in and out, sometimes you're going through 3-year-olds tossing balls. I worked for AOL for a long time where we had a badge to scan at the front door ... It's a lot different from that."— Mike Kania, 38, one of Sports Reference's first employees (via NYT)
How it all began: In 2000, University of Iowa doctoral student Sean Forman started Baseball-Reference.com as a hobby, building the site using the CD-ROM that came with the printed Total Baseball encyclopedias.
"I think that both myself and most of the congregation would not realize what kind of powerhouse Sports Reference is. I don't really know a lot about numbers or computers, but one billion is a lot."— Pastor Cheryl Pyrch
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
It's not everyday that a former Super Bowl MVP gets traded, but here we are. The Baltimore Ravens are reportedly sending Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos for a mid-round pick in this year's draft.
Why for Denver: The Broncos have been playing blindfolded darts with their quarterbacks this decade just hoping something sticks. Might as well swing for the fences with a trade, right? Even if it's merely a short-term solution.
Why for Baltimore: "The Ravens have to be thrilled to get a mid-round pick for Flacco, who was out of their plans and likely to be released," writes ESPN's Bill Barnwell.
Before you go: Please observe every quarterback Broncos GM John Elway has signed since Peyton Manning fell into his lap in 2011.
A chaotic style has this high school team topping 100 points — and driving opponents crazy (Washington Post)
Which sport's All-Star Game is the most ridiculous? (FiveThirtyEight)
The 2018-19 disrespectful dunk index (The Ringer)
The global esports market is expected to surpass $1 billion this year — a 27% increase from last year — thanks to the explosive growth of brand sponsorships and media rights, according to the latest forecast from esports data company Newzoo.
Dick Button going through his gold medal winning routine at the 1952 Winter Olympics. Photo: Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images
67 years ago today, the 1952 Winter Olympics opened in Oslo, Norway — the birthplace of modern day skiing.
Memorable performance: American figure skater Richard "Dick" Button earned his second consecutive Olympic title by landing the first triple jump in international competition.
Watch: Since he landed the jump in the dead of night, the press had Button do it again in the morning for the cameras.
Bandy — which is basically 11-on-11 ice hockey played on a rink the size of a soccer field, using a ball instead of a puck — was a "demonstration sport" in Oslo. Learn how to play.
Photo: Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour
Event: Tiger Woods is set to make his second start of the year at the Genesis Open, an event he hosts at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Full preview.
Question: How will Tiger fare in Round 1 today? (Vote by Tiger's 3:22 pm ET tee time to be eligible for a prize)
📊 Yesterday's results: 54.2% of participants correctly predicted that Tottenham would beat Borussia Dortmund.
Kendall "Bandy enthusiast" Baker
Trivia answer: Creighton's Doug McDermott (currently plays for the Indiana Pacers)