Carlos Silva is the CEO of the World Team Tennis, a mixed-gender professional tennis league that has been in existence for 45 years. Billie Jean King and many others have been there from the beginning and the WTT now has some of the world’s best competing each year. Carlos and I catch up the creating a season in the COVID-19 landscape, how they are coming back, when, where, the fans in attendance, new protocols and changes we will see. We also touch on treating people well, and working with good people and how that ties into social justice, humanity and a core belief of the organization and Billie Jean King who has been there from day one. The league begins July 12 and runs through August 2 with the finals on CBS. For more information check out www.wtt.com.
Steve Baldwin is the Owner of the Washington Spirit and we discuss the NWSL being the first professional team sports league in the United States to come back to play with the Challenge Cup beginning June 27. Yes! It’s a wide ranging conversation spanning from how they landed on a tournament format/location and how he has dealt with the past 10 weeks to the unfortunate loss of education/physical activity for our youth and the power of his personal relationships. He speaks fondly of being a Soccer Dad and how that experience has carried a lot of weight into how he approaches work and life now. We also dig into why he became an owner and who has helped him in his desire to evolve the team and league in a positive manner. Everyone is wishing Steve, the Spirit and the NWSL much success as the first team sport back in action. And personally speaking, I cannot wait to being on the sidelines again (soon) as a Soccer Dad.
Excited to share a conversation we held titled: “The Role of Sports During a Disaster.” I enjoyed moderating the panel of experts including NFL Alumni and multi-media personality (NFL Network, Uninterrupted) Andrew Hawkins, Mastercard SVP Global Sponsorship Michael Robichaud, Center for Disaster Philanthropy CEO Patty McIlreavy, and SC30 Inc. (Stephen Curry) President Bryant Barr. The panelists each brought a wealth of knowledge and unique perspectives to the conversation, leading to a lively and informative discussion covering a wide range of topics including donating money vs. asking others to give, meaningful messaging and timing, role versus responsibility and learned behaviors, choosing philanthropic partners and how COVID-19 is impacting brands, sports rights holders and athletes decisions now and in the future.
Rich Greenfield is a Partner at LightShed, a respected tech/media/telecom analyst and media futurist. We have a thought provoking discussion around the changing habits of personal content consumption, viewing surprises over the past six weeks, who is best positioned for the future and who isn’t and individual shifts in behavior. We explore many topics including sports media rights and new on-demand products to TikTok and Netflix. The recent statistics he shares around gaming increases may be expected but they also beg the question: how fast will these new learned behaviors disrupt what we know today. Rich poses a number of questions and challenges for the entire marketplace to ponder and solve. He is also a valuable twitter follow @RichLightShed for news and opinion.
Clay leads the National Fitness Foundation, the only Congressionally-chartered non-profit in the United States focused on youth sports and fitness. This is an eye-opening conversation about the public health crisis we have today regarding youth activity and sports. The discussion includes the current problem around obesity, healthcare costs and youth inactivity, the lack of funding for the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (an in-school physical education curriculum that helps tens of millions of kids daily) which will go away in September, the 400+ youth sports coalition that is asking Congress for a COVID-19 relief fund and potential solutions. The time for action is now.
Katie Davison is SVP, Digital Strategy and Business at Minor League Baseball, an organization in charge of 14 leagues and 160 ball clubs. The conversation jumps from the need to storytell and better understand the fan, to goat yoga at the park, and other brands she admires in the space. They stream nearly 6,700 live games a year and as you will hear, they are investing in new technologies and content ideas to evolve with the future fan.
Thank you for checking in on The Bond. We are taking a hiatus for the moment and actually focusing all efforts on Athletes for Relief – an initiative led by 100+ of the world’s greatest athletes trying to drive money for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Participating already include Stephen Curry, Jack Nicklaus, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Shaun White, Tony Hawk, Aly Raisman, Elena Delle Donne, Mark Cuban, Rory McIlroy and many more. Here is Jack Nicklaus’ message to the community. Thanks for joining in, sharing and donating if you can. The Bond podcast will be back shortly.
Seth Freeman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Buffalo Wild Wings and as you will hear in his voice, he is passionate about the brand, and more importantly, the customer experience for every single person that touches it. We dig into a few of their customer profiles – namely Sean and Frank – who they are, what they consume and how they are engaging with them. Outside of the obvious March Madness and football viewers, we talk about Live Action TV and the unexpected fan groups that are coming inside including The Bachelor fans. We also riff on gaming and streaming in venue, localizing the experience and being a physical brand in a digital world.
Delane Parnell is Founder and CEO of PlayVS, the official platform and league for high school esports. An entrepreneur from his teen years, Delane shares the marketplace gap and customer demand that led to his esports thirst. From creating, owning and selling a team to PlayVS, he is all-in and continues to study the fan and customer journey. It’s critical to his personal and business success. We also examine what has worked so well, and move quickly, plus areas of the business he wished he could put some extra fuel on.
Chad Millman is the Chief Content Officer for The Action Network, a media company providing premium analysis as well as real-time betting data. Chad and I have known each other for nearly 20 years dating back to me pitching Chad on writing Mike Vick stories during his rookie season. We have a great discussion on The Bond about what sports will surprise you in their audience interest and betting handle, Chad’s inspirations and role models in content, how to turn users into subscribers, what hasn’t worked at The Action Network and his three unexpected sports he expects to gain in betting popularity shortly. The space is still in its infancy with only eleven states having legalized sports betting (and only four allowing mobile capability). I simply love that he has a placeholder on his weekly calendar titled: “NJ Betting Field Trip”, and he gets to call that work!