👋 Good morning! Great day to be a sports fan. Great day to be alive.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Like most professional sports leagues, the NFL focuses a ton of effort on finding and developing new revenue streams. But there's one resource that the league has yet to tap: jersey advertisements.
Why it matters: If every NFL team had a sponsorship patch like the ones you see in the NBA, it could net the league at least $220 million annually in added revenue — and that's an extremely conservative estimate.
The backdrop: 10 years ago, the NFL began adding sponsorship patches to practice jerseys, but that's as far as they got.
How it would work: If the NFL went this route, it would almost certainly follow the NBA's lead in allowing teams to negotiate their own sponsorship deals. As for the actual placement of the ads, here's SI's Jonathan Jones:
The bottom line: With the NBA's patch program exceeding all expectations and causing seemingly no reciprocal harm, it raises a pressing question: How much longer will the NFL continue to leave money on the table?
Thanks to an exploding NBA salary cap and a wild NHL postseason that saw many of the league's highest-paid players sent home early, the salary disparity between the two leagues has never been more glaring.
By the numbers: Not a single player left in the Stanley Cup playoffs makes more than San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns' $10 million — a salary that would rank eighth-highest on the Milwaukee Bucks, alone.
More fun facts:
Photo: Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
"While baseball's struggles to attract African-American talent and fans are well documented, the depth of the issue comes into sharper relief for teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, a group of historically black colleges and universities stretching from Maryland to Florida," NYT's Billy Witz writes.
What's happening: "At each of the nine MEAC colleges that compete in baseball, the baseball teams often feature more white and Latino players than African-Americans."
The big picture: "There is a litany of reasons African-Americans have turned away from baseball," writes Witz, "including the decimation of youth programs ... and the sport's ballooning costs — both for equipment and exposure."
The bottom line: African-Americans comprised just 7.8% of opening day MLB roster spots this year, down from a peak of 18.7% in 1981. This isn't just a trend; it's a generational departure.
One year ago today, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had prevented states from creating their own regulations regarding sports betting.
By the numbers: Here's where things stand 365 days later.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
The world stopped in Ann Arbor yesterday morning when beloved basketball coach John Beilein informed Michigan officials that he had accepted a deal to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why it matters: Beilein's 12-year tenure at Michigan was defined by winning consistently, churning out a ton of NBA talent and doing everything the right way.
The backdrop: Beilein, 66, has had quite the coaching journey, working his way up from Newfane High School's JV team, to Erie Community College, to Nazareth College, to Le Moyne College, to Canisius College, to the University of Richmond, to West Virginia, to Michigan and now to the Cavaliers.
Photo: Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News via Getty Images
30 years ago today, Donald Trump's first Tour de Trump cycling race kicked off in Albany, N.Y. The 837-mile race was intended to become North America's version of the Tour de France.
Details: The race's 10 stages sent riders south from Albany to Richmond, Va. and then across to Atlantic City, N.J., where they finished in front of Trump's casino.
🎥 Watch: The 1989 Tour de Trump (unreal video)
Answer at the bottom.
Details: The show is set to be debut on Fox in early 2020 and aims to take "a childhood game to extreme levels, with insane obstacles and incredible athletes."
The backdrop: Tag has seen its fair share of viral moments recently, thanks to World Chase Tag (WCT), the only global league for professional competitive tag.
🏀 NBA: There's a new video of the Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater from behind the Raptors bench and it might be the best angle yet.
🎥 Media: Fox is launching a show with Urban Meyer, Reggie Bush and others to compete with ESPN's "College GameDay." They're also reportedly moving all of their best games up to noon ET to eliminate competition and help them get more of that aforementioned pregame audience. ... Expect lots of early Big Ten and Big 12 games this year.
⚾️ MLB: Shohei Ohtani returned to the Angels lineup on May 7 following offseason Tommy John surgery, and a last night, he hit his first dinger. Here's the video courtesy of @OnlyHomers, a Twitter account that tweets exclusively about homers.
Isaiah Thomas, Jackie MacMullan, David Stern, Jalen Rose and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe at a New York Screening of "Basketball: A Love Story." Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
Legendary NBA writer Jackie MacMullan spoke with The New Yorker's Louisa Thomas in a wide-ranging interview that is an absolute must-read.
Her take on LeBron's season:
"The thing that I admire most about LeBron James is how he empowered players. To me, that will be his legacy, and it's a great one. But, for my thinking, this year, he took that player empowerment and abused it. He opened a grenade, threw it in the locker room and walked out. He literally and figuratively separated himself from the team when things went bad, as if to say, 'This isn't on me.' He showed up for a game with a glass of wine! To my mind, there has to be consequences for that."
"But the media, in general, because he's so difficult to get access to — what people will do to curry favor with him makes me nauseous. ... I was talking to some of my colleagues, and others, too, and more than one of them said, 'I can't afford to leave him off. I need the King.' What has that gotten you? And where are your journalistic sensibilities? This is the biggest thing I worry about with our business. I know people say ESPN is an entertainment company ... but I'm not an entertainment writer. I'm a journalist."
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Tag is underrated" Baker
Trivia answer: Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies