12/06/17: The IOC continued to hold Russia accountable for its doping sanctions by blocking participation in the Winter Games

Good morning. It’s Wednesday December 6, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The IOC dropped the hammer on Russia’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, citing “systematic manipulation” of anti-doping rules to ban the Russian presence at the event, with officials not allowed to attend the event, the Russian flag excluded from display, and Russian athletes who are given permission to attend only competing under a neutral flag.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said, per the AP. “The IOC EB [executive board], after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency].”

Meanwhile, the latest reports on Walt Disney Co.’s potential acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. have new elements that would alter the sports landscape, with FOX’s RSNs now believed to be part of the deal, according to CNBC, which reports that a deal for Disney to buy Fox’s movie studio and television production assets could be wrapped up for more than $60 billion as early as next week. Fox owns and operates about 20 RSNs across the country, including the New York-based YES Network.
NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner will join NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico in the broadcast booth for a pair of NFL telecasts produced by NBC Sports later this month. Dec. 16 will see Warner pair up with Tirico for the Bears/Lions matchup on NFL Network, as well as the NBC Christmas Specialbetween the Steelers/Texans, which will also be televised by NFL Network and streamed live on Amazon Prime Video, among other digital platforms.
ESPN’s coverage of Monday Night Football this week saw the Steelers’ win average 10/9 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen, to help ESPN win the night among all networks in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos. On ESPN, Steelers/Bengals averaged a 6.7 US household rating and 10.8 million viewers.
In college football news, CBS Sports is touting that – for the ninth consecutive year – the SEC on CBS finished as the highest-rated overall regular-season college football package on any network with coverage averaging a 3.0/7, according to Nielsen national ratings and averaging 5.0 million viewers.
ESPN, however, counters that its Saturday Night Football slate on ABC wrapped up as the most-watched college football franchise among all networks in any time slot for the second consecutive year, averaging 5,834,000 fans per game (total live audience). On cable, ESPN saw its Saturday prime-time series rise 19% year over year.
MLB Network detailed plans to cover the 2017 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando next week with insiders Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci set to report live across MLB Network’s more than 35 hours of on-site programming. MLB Network’s coverage will also feature the Modern Baseball Era election results announcement from the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday during MLB Tonight at 6p.
FOX Sports announced that blow-by-blow announcer Brendan Fitzgerald makes his FS1 debut with analyst and UFC lightweight contender Paul Felder to call UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Orgega live on Saturday. Laura Sanko adds reports and interviews fighters on-site. Victor Davila and Brandon Moreno have the call in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Meanwhile, making her hosting debut on the FOX Sports desk in the Los Angeles studio will be Megan Olivi, who joins analysts Rashad Evans and Kenny Florian.
Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network announced plans to present the18th Annual Outdoor Sportsman Awards. Fans are invited to cast their vote for the Fan Favorite categories, which has been expanded to include multiple categories: Fan Favorite Comedy, Fan Favorite Conservation and Fan Favorite Bowhunting, to name a few. The voting period runs now through December 31, 2017. The winner for each category will be announced on the OSA Website on January 8, 2018.
Awards Event: March 14th in NYC
At a time when it is more important than ever to shine a light on the incredible accomplishments of women in every field, we are proud to honor these digital trailblazers. They may be just out of college. Or they may be inventors, tech wizards, or senior-level execs who have helped clear a path in what is still a relatively young industry . Past honorees have been digital-savvy innovators from a wide range of companies ( view past honorees here ).


Audit, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton LLP and the PGA TOUR locked in a five-year partnership that will see the brand serve as a Proud Partner of THE PLAYERS Championship; and a second as an Official Marketing Partner of the PGA TOUR. In addition, Grant Thornton has signed a separate partnership with professional golfer Rickie Fowler. The partnerships with the PGA TOUR and THE PLAYERS will provide Grant Thornton with premier positioning during THE PLAYERS telecast on the Golf Channel and NBC – alongside Morgan Stanley and Optum, as the three exclusive Proud Partners.


CBS Sports Digital picked up the National Lacrosse League, streaming live and on-demand NLL games on the subscription OTT service SportsLive, including regular-season and playoff games. “We are thrilled to continue to build upon our historic broadcasting partnerships with the addition of CBS Sports Digital. The future of sports is an ever-changing digital viewing experience, and bringing in a world class organization and platform like CBS Sports Digital is truly exciting for our fans,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “Last season we witnessed the additions of some major broadcasting partners and as a result more viewers are tuning in to NLL TV than ever before.”
Twitter released its slate of top lists from the 2017 year. Here are a few to browse…
Top Tweeted sports handles (Global): The Twitter usernames that appeared most frequently in Tweets, including replies and Retweets.
  • @NFL
  • @ManUtd
  • @WWE
  • @BleacherReport
  • @Realmadrid
  • @NBA
  • @Cristiano
  • @Arsenal
  • @KingJames
  • @ChelseaFC

Top Tweeted athlete handles (Global): The Twitter usernames that appeared most frequently in Tweets, including replies and Retweets.
  • @Cristiano
  • @KingJames
  • @Neymarjr
  • @Kaepernick7
  • @TheNotoriousMMA
Top Tweeted team handles (Global): The Twitter usernames that appeared most frequently in Tweets, including replies and Retweets
  • @ManUtd
  • @Realmadrid
  • @Arsenal
  • @ChelseaFC
  • @Cavs

NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue took to Reddit to announce the NBA 2K League Qualifier, described as the first step for potential players to try out for the league. The first stage of qualifying for the NBA 2K League will run from Jan. 1-31, and mandates that players need to win 50 games in NBA 2K18’s Pro-Am mode and complete an online application by Jan. 31. Players can compete as a walk-on, part of a team or a combination.  Players who meet these requirements in January can be invited to the next round of tryouts in February, after which, the best players will be selected for the draft that will take place in March.  Each of the 17 teams participating in the inaugural season will draft five players who will live in-market during the season, which tips off in May 2018.

David Shoemaker will step down from his role as the CEO of NBA China following the 2017-18 NBA season. He has been in his current role since June 2011 and will continue to lead NBA China through the season and will play an active role in the recruitment of his successor. “Under David’s leadership, our game and business in China have seen unprecedented popularity and growth,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  “We are grateful for David’s contributions during his tenure as CEO and are fortunate that he’ll be with us through the season to assist with the transition.”
Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions recruited Don Callis and Scott D’Amore to join the company as Executive Vice President, reporting to Ed Nordholm, President of the company. The trio will form a 3-member Executive Committee with overall responsibility for developing the creative direction for the Company and managing the execution of the Company’s business plan. Callis has built a critically acclaimed 15-year career in the wrestling business as a performer, color commentator and writer for WWF, ECW and TNA. D’Amore has held positions that include performer, trainer, promoter, writer and producer.
Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter is running for president of the US Soccer Federation. Carter has taken leave of her post at SUM, according to reports, and will be one of eight candidates for the position. The election will be held in February.
STATS announced the hiring of Troy Anderson as the Chief of Product and Technology Officer. In the role, Anderson will oversee product management and development, managing the current product set as well as upcoming portfolio offerings to the company’s clients including the world’s top technology and media companies, and dozens of world championship teams and leagues across the sports industry.

Blackhawks/Capitals on NBCSN at 8p.
Getting Maximum Impact from Experiential Marketing
Cynopsis Webinar: Tuesday Jan. 30 at 1:30pm ET
The more millennials turn away from traditional advertising, the smarter it is for marketers to create experiential events that create powerful connections with consumers. Our panel will focus on how to use social most effectively, the latest metrics for measuring success, and more. Among the speakers are Scott Lachut, President, Research & Strategy for  PSFK  and Damon Haley, Head of Sports Marketing for  Troika .

ON THIS DAY in 1973: The NL votes to relocate the San Diego Padres to Washington, D.C. (later changed).
In the Know: Which country won the most total medals in the previous Winter Olympics in 2014? (Email Chris-Sports@Cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Seahawks retired #80 to honor what player? Answer: Steve Largent. Kudos: Jonathan Lipson-Active International/NY; Dev Sethi-Complex Networks/NY; Rick Ramage-United Talent Agency/NY; Chris Long-DraftKings/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Willy Gibson -WTG Consulting/Columbus; James Stuart-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Wayne “World B.” Otto-Pro-Am Sports/ Boone; John Ward-Tennis.com/Chicago; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/KTXA/Dallas; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David  Hauptman/Denver; Jack Neumann-University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter Alumni Development/Calgary; Michael Jaquet-Major League Rugby/Park City; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria
Later – Chris
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