The Players’ Lounge Adds New Universities to Their NFT Platform – SportTechie

The Players’ Lounge Adds Several New Universities to Their NFT Platform

By Tom Friend

The Players’ Lounge, an NFT and NIL-centric platform created by four former University of Georgia football players, is spreading across the Southeastern Conference.

Designed to financially support collegiate athletes by connecting them with former players, companies and fanbases, the Players’ Lounge announced Friday that it has new deals with student-athletes from Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Clemson. Both Texas—which received a commitment from Peyton Manning’s nephew Arch Manning this past week—and Oklahoma are expected to join the SEC in 2025, while Clemson is a member of the ACC.

The Web 3.0-based platform debuted the day before January’s Georgia-Alabama National Championship game when NFTs featuring Bulldogs players such as linebacker Nakobe Dean, quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, tight end Brock Bowers and running back Zamir Wright went public. Entitled DGD Mafia for Digitally Generated Dogs, the tokens sold out in less than four hours at a cost of $199 apiece.

Founded by former Georgia players Aaron Murray, Keith Marshall and brothers Ty and Trent Frix, The Players’ Lounge allows fans to purchase subscriptions that unlock access to NFTs, message boards and invitations to special events. On July 23rd, The Players’ Lounge is staging a fan-experience day at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta whereas as many as 60 athletes from the platform’s nine schools are expected to attend.

Study Finds Wearable Neck Sensor Could Predict Concussion Risk in Contact Sports

By Tom Friend

Sensor-laden neck wearables may be more efficient at measuring and predicting concussions in contact sports, according to a new study published Thursday in Scientific Reports.

Without naming a specific brand of wearable, the research conducted by Michigan State professor Sepúlveda Alancastro and a doctoral student Henry Dsouza determined that neck devices which produced electrical energy when physically impacted or pressurized were able to more precisely quantify injuries such as whiplash on test dummies.

The study involved placing a patch sensor containing a film layer of thermoplastic material on the back of a dummy’s neck. Accelerator-based sensors and a gyroscope were also implanted in the dummy’s head. To simulate impact, the researchers lifted the dummy to a height of 24 inches and let go. On ground impact, an electrical signal was then able to measure the acceleration and velocity of the sudden head or neck movement, two critical ways concussions can be predicted.

In touting the study, the Scientific Reports article claimed that most concussion-predictive devices are placed in the helmet and can give false readings. However, a Q30 Innovations device known as the Q-Collar has been available in the U.S. market since September of 2021 after receiving FDA approval earlier that year for aiding “in the protection of the brain from the effects associated with repetitive sub-concussive head impacts.’’

The Q-Collar is designed to lightly compress the jugular veins to increase blood volume in the brain and limit unfettered movement around the skull. Studies showed that the Q-Collar did not prevent concussions, but did reduce impact.

According to Scientific Reports, almost 4 million concussions are reported annually from sports and recreational play and that the number is probably measurably higher considering 50% of concussions may go unreported.

Milwaukee Brewers Launch GameOn Chatbot on Facebook Messenger, Fans Can Get Team Updates

By Andrew Cohen

The Milwaukee Brewers launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, becoming the first MLB team to partner with GameOn Technology to offer its AI chat application to fans. Fans on the Brewers Facebook Messenger page can send messages to receive automated text responses such as live game updates, scores, highlight videos and player specific information.

Other media content hosted on the Brewers’ Facebook Messenger page include the team’s new podcast, YouTube videos and blog posts. In 2019, GameOn signed deals with the NBA, NHL and PGA Tour to make Facebook chatbots for all three leagues. The company also built chat platforms for teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and USL club Miami FC.

GameOn raised $10.5 million in March 2020. The company’s investors include NBA star Andre Iguodala and Hall of Famer Gary Payton, NFL legend Joe Montana and Silver Lake co-founder Jim Davidson.

NBA Draft Top Picks Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jaden Hardy Talk Performance Tech with SportTechie

By Andrew Cohen

Ahead of Thursday’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center, SportTechie spoke with projected top picks Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jaden Hardy at a Philips Norelco partnership event held at the Smokey Vale barbershop in Brooklyn, NY to launch the company’s Team OneBladeThe prospects highlighted Catapult’s wearable devices and a playbook learning software from Virtual Repetitions as some of the performance technologies they’ve used during training.

Banchero and Holmgren were ultimately selected as this year’s 1-2 overall picks; Banchero went No.1 to the Orlando Magic while Holmgren was selected as the No. 2 pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Holmgren, the former Gonzaga star repped by WME Sports and BDA Sports, signed an NIL deal with online playbook software Virtual Repetitions (VReps). Hardy was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round with the 37th overall pick.

While starring as a freshman at Duke last season, Banchero and his teammates wore Captault’s GPS tracking-device in a pouch under their jerseys during practices and games. Data from the device was reviewed by Duke’s sports science staff for player load management purposes.  

“We were able to see how fast you were running, outputs, stuff like that. After a loss you were able to see, these are our stats from Catapult, and after a win these are our stats and compare,” Banchero said Tuesday. “If a player is tired or playing extended minutes, you’ll be able to see their decline or increase off the Catapult. It definitely gives you a good idea of how the player is performing.” 

Hardy skipped college to play for the NBA G League Ignite team this past season and recalls using a similar tracking wearable. “In practices and games, they used to put a tracker in our shorts to track the distance we were running. One time our trainer told me I ran almost five miles, I was like dang.” 

“There’s an app called VReps I’ve used that’s a pretty cool concept,” the 7-foot-1 Holmgren said. “You input plays onto the app and put on some VR goggles, and it’s almost like you’re playing [NBA] 2K except you’re going over plays.” 

Chet Holmgren, No. 2 Overall Pick in 2022 NBA Draft, Calls for Universal NIL Rules

By Andrew Cohen

July 1 will mark one year since the NCAA enacted its interim NIL policy for student athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness. Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, hopes future college athletes benefit from a more mature NIL landscape that includes a set of national regulations. The seven-foot Holmgren was a college basketball star during his lone season at Gonzaga.

“I think it would definitely be helpful for there to be universal rules,” Homlgren told SportTechie at an event for Philips Norelco, one of his NIL partners. “It was kind of implemented on the fly based on circumstances and there wasn’t really time to put together a universal rule book. But over time I think they will, I think that they can make it even fairer and the same for everybody.”

The NCAA approved its patchwork NIL interim policy last year amid pressure from states that began passing their own NIL legislation. In April, NCAA president Mark Emmert urged collaboration between the NCAA and Congress to create federal NIL regulations rather than the current state-by-state laws that have helped cultivate a pay-for-play model across college athletics.

Holmgren’s NIL portfolio includes deals with brands such as Topps, Bose and Yahoo Sports. He attended Tuesday’s Philips event in Brooklyn alongside the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft Paolo Banchero, a former freshman star at Duke. Banchero shares Yahoo Sports and Phillips as NIL partners, but says student athletes rarely chat with each other about the finances behind NIL deals.

“I wouldn’t say we shared the amounts we were getting, we kept it private to ourselves out of respect,” Banchero said. “If a guy got a deal, we were always the first to congratulate each other.”

Banchero made history earlier this year when he became the first active college player featured as a playable character in the NBA 2K video game series.

“I can’t even put into words, it was surreal for me,” Banchero said of his NBA 2K22 appearance. “I played 2K daily since I was like nine years old, so I’ve been a huge fan of the game my whole life. To see myself in the game before I even got to the NBA, I couldn’t even believe it. To play with myself and see my face on there with my jersey and everything, that was crazy.” No. 2 overall pick

UEFA to Launch Metaverse Gaming League Ahead of Women’s Euro 2022

By Tom Friend

UEFA, trying to create buzz around the upcoming Women’s Euro 2022, will launch the Metaverse Gaming League this Friday to be streamed weekly on Twitch and YouTube.

Hoping to inspire more youth to play soccer, UEFA’s roll-out of the Metaverse Gaming League will allow users to square off against each other in the “Road to UEFA Women’s EURO” Roblox game. The well-known YouTuber Ruby Games will be a featured participant in the esport event, which will see players vie for a prize pool of 500,000 Robux, the equivalent of $5,000.

The endeavor creates the metaverse’s first live esports league. Roblox reportedly attracts over 50 million users daily, over half of which are children under 12 and 56% of which are male. The Road to UEFA Women’s EURO game will include a skills challenge and a YouTube educational video series to be shared in school throughout Europe via UEFA’s “Football in Schools” program.

Cristiano Ronaldo Signs NFT Deal With Cryptocurrency Exchange Binance

By Andrew Cohen

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has signed a multi-year NFT deal with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume. Ronaldo will release multiple NFTs collections per year on Binance with the first dropping later this year.

Ronaldo’s NFTs will be sold exclusively on Binance, which was founded in China but is now legally headquartered in the Cayman Islands, which is a regulatory tax haven for many crypto and blockchain-related companies. Binance also sponsored this year’s Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.

For Manchester City’s Ronaldo, his new NFT deal comes during a brutal crypto market that has seen cryptocurrency companies announce more than 1,700 layoffs so far this month, according to Business Insider. Cryptocurrency exchange FTX recently pulled out of its talks to become the jersey patch sponsor of MLB’s Los Angeles Angels, according to the New York Post.

Rapsodo, Used by MLB, Launches Monitor to Measure Both Hitting and Pitching Data

By Tom Friend

Rapsodo, a preeminent baseball analytics tracker used by every MLB team and a majority of elite amateur programs, has launched a streamlined all-in-one portable device that can measure both pitching and hitting metrics in real time.

Previously, Rapsodo had only developed separate pitching and batting monitors, which could make it difficult to precisely correlate the tracking analytics. But the new Rapsodo Pro 3.0 has what is being marketed as “Live-On-Live’’ data-collecting, meaning pitchers and hitters can receive synchronized metrics to find out what pitches vex certain batters and vice versa.

The device utilizes multi-camera and radar technology that better quantifies ball-flight data and has a 75% faster processing time. For hitters, the Pro 3.0 measures such novel analytics as a ball’s contact point (height of plate, side of plate, depth of plate), strike zone information (side at plate, height at plate), play outcome (base hit or not) and spin rates (total spin, top spin, side spin, gyro spin, true spin, spin efficiency and spin axis).

For pitchers, the new metrics from the Pro 3.0 include release extension, velocity when a ball reaches the plate and plate spin (total spin, top spin, side spin, gyro spin, spin axis). The device is also built for all weather and lighting conditions. It also offers both wireless and direct hardware connections, allowing it to be deployed seamlessly outdoors, indoors and in batting cages. 

Odell Beckham Jr., Courtside Ventures, Others Invest in Kasheesh to Split Online Payments

By Andrew Cohen

NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. has invested in digital payments splitting platform Kasheesh, which has announced $5.5 million in funding. Private equity firms Courtside Ventures, Tribe Capital and Anthemis also invested in Kasheesh, as well as former Stanford baseball pitcher turned entrepreneur Sahil Bloom.

Kasheesh lets consumers split online payments across a combination of credit, debit and gift cards — with the idea being that it prevents shoppers from maxing out one of their cards. Beckham’s investment in the online payment startup comes after he signed a deal with Cash App last November to convert his salary from the Los Angeles Rams into Bitcoin. He has also made previous investments in the investment app Titan, at-home climbing workout machine CLMBR, and is an Oura Ring ambassador.

Since its closed launch, Kasheesh has brokered more than $11 million in user transactions and purchases. The platform is currently only available to consumers in the U.S.

Division Street Is Launching NFTs for University of Oregon Female Student-Athletes in Honor of Title IX Anniversary

By Tom Friend

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Phil Knight’s sport venture company Division Street is launching NFTs that will celebrate and benefit female student-athletes from the University of Oregon.

Labeled as “Visions of Flight,” the NFTs were designed by the innovative artist Lili Tae in concert with 12 University of Oregon women athletes, including the influential 6-foot-7 basketball player Sedona Prince who has been outspoken about athletic equality.   

Knight’s Division Street—through its “Ducks of a Feather” platform—has placed a priority on Web3 and NFTs while trying to create opportunities for University of Oregon athletes. The concept of the “Visions of Flight” series is to ensure that female athletes at the school can artistically express their voices. The collection goes on sale on June 30, and 75% of the revenue will be equally shared by the participating athletes.

Also inspired by the activism of New York Liberty and former Ducks basketball star Sabrina Ionescu, Division Street and the digital artist Tae created personalized NFTs for Prince, Briana Chacon (golf), Jadyn Mays (track and field), Harper McClain (cross country), Terra McGowan (softball), Blessyn McMorris (acrobatics and tumbling), Allison Mulville (tennis), Gloria Mutiri (volleyball), Brooke Nunerviller (beach volleyball), Te-Hina Paopao (basketball), Croix Soto (soccer) and Alyssa Wright (lacrosse). 

Related: More on NFTs will be covered at SportTechie’s upcoming Horizon Summit, July 12-13.

Ligue De Football Professionnel Will Use Dalet Flex to Produce Video Highlights

By Tom Friend

Dalet, a Parisian technology and media provider, will manage video highlights for the country’s governing body for soccer, Ligue de Football Professionnel. 

Leveraging its cloud-native logistics platform Data Flex, the company will create and distribute highlights for the two premier football leagues in France—Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT—which includes 44 professional teams.  

Data Flex’s technology includes the automated ingestion, preparation and release of the football footage, which will allow the Ligue de Football Professionnel to seamlessly post highlights from more than 100 teams to YouTube and Dailymotion. The in-depth video will also be available on the governing body’s website through a premium subscription.

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