The BIG3, the three-on-three basketball league that begins where the NBA ends, will be releasing Forever Experience Action Tokens (FEATs) on June 10. The inaugural cryptocurrency will give buyers perks and exclusive access to the league for as long as the BIG3 is in business.
The NFTs will drop at Mint.Big3.com with a total of 375 Gold editions available per BIG3 team at $4,500 apiece. Once the league sells 375 per team, it will drop 100-200 more for a final total of 975 editions for each of the BIG3’S 12 teams.
The league claims that once all FEATs are sold, they will never be available again, no matter how long the league operates.
Buyers have the option to pick which teams and communities they are joining, as the tokens will contain BIG3 footage, interviews and IP. The league’s announcement piggybacks on the recent sale of Fire-Tier NFTS worth $25,000—some of which were sold to Snoop Dogg, DeGods and Bill Lee, co-founder of Craft Ventures. Purchasers of FEATs will automatically be part of a lottery to receive Fire-Tiers, which will grant them a championship ring if their team wins the BIG3 title, plus Zoom calls with league founders and/or players.
“FEATS are the new wave,’’ BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz said in a statement. “Access and utility are changing the NFT landscape and ushering the next frontier of what value blockchain technology can deliver.’’
The BIG3’s fifth season is scheduled to open June 18th after the NBA Finals and will have games televised by CBS and Paramount+.
Australia’s National Rugby League has deemed its trials of Sportable’s sensor-embedded ball a success after testing the ball during its preseason. The league will now consider using it as the game ball for its 2023 season to assist with speeding up video replay reviews, as the ball’s sensor can help quickly determine if a pass travels forward or not.
“The initial trials were positive,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said Monday according to news.com.au. “If we can convince the players, the clubs and the general public that it is credible and it will eliminate some of these debates around whether passes are forward, then that would be a good outcome, so we’ll continue to pursue it. No one will notice any difference and of course we wouldn’t introduce new technology midway through a season.”
Sportable’s smart ball contains an RFID chip and was developed in collaboration with Rugby equipment brand Gilbert. Australian Super Rugby and English Premiership Rugby have already used the ball during competitions, with the ball-tracking data shown during match broadcasts on BT Sport.
WIN Reality, maker of a virtual reality hitting product, plans to spend about $1 million on TV ads to appear during MLB games on TBS, ESPN, Fox and Fox Sports 1 this season, according to Broadcasting+Cable. Some of the commercials star retired MLB pitcher CC Sabathia and his son Carsten Sabathia, a high school baseball standout committed to Georgia Tech.
Several WIN Reality ads, including those with the Sabathia duo, aired May 29 on ESPN2 during Sunday Night Baseball between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. The company raised $45 million earlier this month and reportedly plans to also air ads on regional sports networks, and place signage inside MLB ballparks, starting with Coors Field in Colorado, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Globe Life Field in Texas.
“We have this unique dynamic where we have parents who buy the product for their kids. So we are marketing to both. We want kids to be excited about it, but we also want parents to understand the value and see what this could do for their kids,” WIN Reality president Brenden Windle told Broadcasting+Cable.
Cardinals’ slugger Paul Goldschmidt is among the most notable big-leaguers to train with WIN Reality, which is used by more than 20 MLB organizations and 100 NCAA baseball and softball teams. Hitters wear a Meta Quest VR headset to use WIN Reality and affix the Quest controller to their bat. The WIN Reality app lets hitters take swings against its digital library of more than 7,000 MLB pitchers.
WIN Reality’s executive chairman is Dan O’Dowd, the former general manager of the Colorado Rockies who now works as an MLB Network analyst. MLB launched an app in 2020 to let MLB.TV subscribers stream live games in virtual reality via Meta Quest headsets.
MLB had another weekend of filth, as least according to the pitching analyst Rob Friedman.
Friedman—the software executive who turned his twitter site @PitchingNinja into must-see viewing—posted his latest weekend wrap-up Monday that included Detroit’s Alex Lange striking out the Yankee’s Joey Gallo with a two-seamer that had “22 inches of run.’’
Alex Lange, Ridiculous 98mph Front Door Two Seamer. 😲
22 inches of run. pic.twitter.com/q5cmVwaiMe
Friedman’s calculations, metrics and pitching overlays have led him to become a pitching analyst for Peacock TV, MLB and ESPN. His other twitter sites —@flatgroundapp (for pitchers) and @fflatgroundbats (for hitters) —are popular destinations for burgeoning players to post their highlights and receive training tips. Both FlatGround sites are also followed by NCAA coaches and recruiting coordinators.
Jhoan Duran, 103mph Fastball and 90mph Curveball, Overlay.
LOL. Good luck. pic.twitter.com/lYVDSgvEOY
His post about Lange had garnered over 232,000 views and counting as of Monday, and his overlay of Minnesota pitcher Jhoan Duran’s 103 mph fastball with a 90 mph curveball amassed a little over 135,000 views.
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has bought an artificial intelligence-based pitching machine that analyzes MLB ball-tracking data to replicate the delivery and pitches of any pitcher inputted into its system. The machine can be used pre-game but MLB prohibits its use during games, according to The New York Post.
“[The machine] will be the pitcher, so if we draw up Clayton Kershaw we will be facing Kershaw, his windup and everything and his pitches,” Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez told The Post before Thursday’s game against the Dodgers.
The Post did not specify the name of the machine, only that it was purchased from Canada. Toronto-based Trajekt Sports is a startup that makes an intelligent pitching machine. The company is working with seven MLB clubs this season, and its website notably includes a testimonial from the Mets’ director of hitting Hugh Quattlebaum. Other testimonials on Traject’s website are from the Toronto Blue Jays and a coach from Duke University’s baseball team.
TOCA Football, a tech-infused soccer company, is now the largest operator of indoor soccer facilities in North America following a strategic partnership with Blue Sky Sports Center.
Founded by former US men’s national team and English Premier League player Eddie Lewis, TOCA Football implements patented technology—such as its Touch Trainer and Smart Targets—that integrate with a mobile app for data collection and player feedback. Lewis has said he hopes TOCA can do for soccer what batting cages and pitching machines have done for baseball.
Blue Sky operates four venues in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex; TOCA already opened a center in Mansfield, Texas, and is planning to build TOCA Social, a soccer entertainment and dining location, in the Dallas Design District in 2023. The first TOCA Social opened at The O2 in London. TOCA, which has raised $105 million, intends to acquire 20 more soccer centers in the US by the end of 2022.
Its board of directors includes US women’s national team legend Abby Wambach, former TopGolf CEO Erik Anderson, Lululemon president Celeste Burgoyne and former NFL head of consumer marketing Julie Haddon.
Major League Baseball, intentionally or not piggybacking on the rabid interest in the NFL Scouting Combine, will be televising its own draft combine this month from San Diego’s Petco Park.
Baseball’s second annual combine will feature the top 300 draft-eligible players as selected by USA Baseball and Major League teams and will be broadcast on MLB Network on June 16 and 17. The event—which runs from June 14th through June 20th—will include infield and outfield showcases, strength and skill assessments and games for high school age draft candidates. Medical examinations are also a significant element, as teams search for potential arm injuries among prospects.
Outstanding performances will also be featured on MLB’s social media platforms, while players will have access to personal branding training, real-time content and custom video they can share on their own via Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and other outlets.
The on-field staff will include former players such as Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, nine-time Gold Glove winner Eric Davis and former big league managers Jerry Manual, Bo Porter and Mike Scioscia.
Last year’s inaugural combine in Cary, North Carolina maxed out at 150 total players, a total that has doubled this year. The 2022 MLB draft will be held July 17th through 19th and will last 20 rounds. There will also be compensatory rounds and a competitive balance round on the draft’s opening night.
LaLiga Tech, the technology arm of Spain’s top soccer league, is launching a new startup competition focused on fan engagement innovations. The competition is being held in partnership with SportBoost, an accelerator founded by former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Online applications will be accepted through July 15. Startups are preferably developing products relating to the capture or analysis of fan data, user/consumer personalization, interactivity on OTT streaming or TV platforms, social media, gaming and NFTs. Selected startups will participate in workshops led by LaLiga Tech and SportBoost program managers, with some then moving onto testing their products in a pilot program with LaLiga and its clubs.
Finalists will also be considered for long-term relationships and funding from LaLiga and SportBoost. LaLiga Tech was formed in 2014, and it offers an artificial intelligence monitoring software used by rights holders around the world to detect illegal streaming of live sporting events.
Virtual reality fitness program FitXR has added world champion boxer Nicola Adams as its newest trainer. Adams is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, WBO world champion and noted LGBTQ+ advocate, whose first boxing fitness class launched in honor of Pride Month.
FitXR, which is available on the Meta Quest 2, was founded in 2016 by Sam Cole and Sameer Baroova and has grown to include a new workout released daily. It offers three virtual workout studios for boxing, dance and HITT. The programs are gamified and multi-player. Adams’ first class is called Boxing Gold, and she will release additional sessions for training, warming up and cooling down on a monthly basis.
Rob Shaw, Meta’s director of North American sports partnerships, mentioned at SportTechie’s State of The Industry conference that there is high VR usage for working out and predicted VR will “revolutionize fitness.” Meta has responded by developing headsets that are more sweat-proof and controllers with better grips.
Performance data company Whoop is a launching a new enterprise offering for teams, organizations and companies. Whoop Unite includes a dashboard of aggregated data to help leaders make policy changes to improve the wellbeing of all athletes or workers.
Whoop Unite has already been adopted by about 200 customers, including the University of Miami football team, which worked with MaxOne’s Own It coaching system. The Hurricanes improved sleep quantity by 27% and heart rate variability by 20% while reducing illness-related absences by 14%.
Individual data is only visible to employers with the users’ consent; otherwise, only anonymized data is available for setting team- and company-wide goals and making changes. Among the research partners studying sleep and stress across wide populations are the US Army, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Penn State University.
The Chicago Cubs will launch web3 fan engagement experiences at Wrigley Field with Valence, a Web3 software startup funded by Cubs co-owner and chairman Tom Ricketts. The activations include the launch of an SMS-based wallet to store digital fan experiences, which can be redeemed for in-ballpark perks.
The Cubs and Valence have set up a mobile web site for fans to enter their phone number to activate their SMS wallet. As part of the new initiatives, fans will receive a text message asking them to send a selfie to the Cubs that allows them to earn a coupon for a free meal at Wrigley Field. If their selfie is selected to appear on the jumbotron at Wrigley Field, the fan will be sent personalized fan experiences.
Other rewards fans can receive through their SMS wallet include store discounts, free drinks and seat upgrades. As part of MLB’s existing partnership with Candy Digital, all 30 MLB clubs can offer NFT promotional giveaways to two games this season, such as the Minnesota Twins’ upcoming plan to host “Byron Buxton NFT Night” on June 10.