07/13/18: The USOC has a new CEO

Good morning. It’s Friday July 13, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The United States Olympic Committee named Sarah Hirshland as its 12th chief executive officer. Hirshland comes to the org after serving as chief commercial officer for the United States Golf Association.
“The USOC is at a critical time in its history and requires an energetic, creative and inspiring leader who is capable of building on past success while making sure that the athletes we serve are protected, supported and empowered in every possible way,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. “I’m thrilled that Sarah has accepted the position and thankful to the diverse slate of candidates who participated in our process to hire the very best person for this important responsibility. I’d also like to acknowledge Susanne Lyons for her superb leadership of the USOC for the last several months, while ensuring that America’s athletes continue to receive the support they need during our period of transition.”
In her current role, Hirshland is responsible for the USGA’s global media and content distribution, corporate partnerships, merchandise and licensing, marketing, communications, community outreach and Golfer Handicap Information Network. She takes over as CEO from Lyons, who has served as acting CEO since February 2018. Lyons succeeded Scott Blackmun, who had held the position since January 2010.
Wednesday’s FIFA World Cup Semifinal featuring a Croatia upset over England delivered 5,504,000 viewers to the FOX broadcast network and set an all-time FIFA World Cup Semifinal streaming record, according to the company. The match was up  61% from the Spain/Germany match in the corresponding 2010 window and ran nearly even with Netherlands/Argentina in 2014. Meanwhile, the match set a FOX Sports record for best authenticated streamed event ever, and led FOX Sports to its best single day of the tournament, with 2,000,000 unique streamers consuming the match, up 8% over the previous high.
FOX Sports’ presentation of the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday will be chronicled through the lenses of 100,000 cameras and thousands of fans across the country, according to the company. FOX Sports Films and Major League Baseball will partner to document the night in a new way when 100,000 Cameras: MLB All-Star Game debuts on July 28 at 7p on FS1, rught after the Cubs/Cardinals game. Fan-generated video from MLB All-Star Week will be used tell the story of the midsummer classic from e”very conceivable angle, illustrating how baseball connects people and communities at the ballpark and across the country” and also features additional FOX Sports camera angles and content not seen in FOX‘s live broadcast of the game, The hour documentary marks the fifth installment in the two-time Sports Emmy-winning franchise.
While The 2018 ESPYS will air live on Wednesday at 8p on ABC, pre-show coverage will begin at 5p on ESPN2 and continue on ESPN starting at 6 p. The 5p The ESPYS Live on the Red Carpet will see Laura Rutledge, Katie Nolan, Peter Rosenberg and Cassidy Hubbarth reporting from the red carpet, as well as Jemele Hill and Kelley Carter reporting from the Undefeated Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. The 6p edition of SportsCenter with Sage Steele, Kevin Negandhi, and Cassidy Hubbarth will run live from the red carpet, joined by Hannah Storm and special guest Chris Berman. At 7p, ESPN’s The ESPYS Live on the Red Carpet fetured Hannah Storm, Cassidy Hubbarth and Maria Taylor from the red carpet. Chris Berman will join to interview NFL legends Dan Marino and John Elway. Additionally, The Red Carpet Show Live on Twitter presented by Moët & Chandon will feature hosts Peter Rosenberg, Dianna Russini and Clinton Yates at 7p.
NFL Network will carry 15 live preseason games this year, in addition to running the entire slate of 65 preseason games in 2018. The live preseason schedule kicks off Aug. 9 at 7p with top NFL Draft pick Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns facing the second overall pick Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. The next day will feature the preseason debut of the third overall pick Sam Darnold when the New York Jets host the Atlanta Falcons.
ESPN announced that college basketball analysts Fran Fraschilla, Seth Greenberg and Dan Dakich will headline the commentator team for The Basketball Tournament this year. The fifth annual TBT event tips off this weekend, July 13-15, with regional events in Richmond, Va. (South) and Los Angeles (West) to be streamed live on ESPN3. The semifinals and Championship will be played Aug. 2-3 in Baltimore, to be televised live on ESPN. Other named will include Bob Rathbun, Tom Hart, Robbie Hummel. Tracy Murray, Dan Bonner, Matt Martucci, Tim Welsh and Jen Hale.
MLB on TBS serves up a rematch of last year’s American League Division Series, with the Yankees taking on the Indians on Sunday at 1p. Brian Anderson (play-by-play) will be joined by analyst Ron Darling to call the game. Following the MLB All-Star break, that channel will feature the Cardinals/Cubs on July 22 at 2p. Ernie Johnson and Darling will provide commentary for the telecast.
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Mitsubishi Motors signed on to serve as title sponsor for the next two years for the annual college football postseason game that will now be known as the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl. The 27th edition of the game will be played this year on Dec. 15 at 12:30p on ABC. “We are extremely enthused about this partnership and how it can help build brand awareness for Mitsubishi Motors and our exciting vehicle lineup, including our all-new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV,” said Francine Harsini, Chief Marketing Officer, Mitsubishi Motors North America. “This collaboration allows us to provide our customers and fans with fun experiences, connecting with them in a unique way.” This marks the first time Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) has been a title
Major League Baseball and The Topps Company extended their exclusive global partnership for MLB-licensed trading cards through 2025. “Baseball and trading cards go hand-in-hand, eliciting memories of the legends of our game and showcasing the stars of today and tomorrow,” said Noah Garden, MLB Executive Vice President, Commerce. “Topps vibrantly remains a part of the baseball lexicon that conjures images so many of us have cherished.  They have re-invigorated the trading card business with innovative products such as Topps NOW®, which offers our fans the opportunity to memorialize great moments throughout the season.  It’s with great pleasure that we continue this long-term partnership.”
Meanwhile, MLB indefinitely suspended its Papa Slam promotion with Papa John’s pizza, according to Yahoo, after company founder John Schnatter admitted to and apologized for using the N-word during a May training session. Schnatter announced his resignation as the company’s chairman late Wednesday night.
Speaking of baseball, Minor League Baseball and The Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation are partnering for a second year to spread awareness about domestic violence and help end its destructive cycle. Beginning today and continuing through July 23, nearly 100 Minor League Baseball teams across the country will include Safe At Home’s educational messaging in their gameday programming to educate fans about the lifelong, traumatizing impact that domestic violence has on youth victims.
The Pac-12 and Unifi announced a long-term partnership that will see Unifi serve as the Founding Sustainability Partner of Pac-12 Team Green and as a sponsor of the Pac-12 Sustainability Conference. As part of the partnership, Unifi will provide grant funding to all 12 of the Conference’s member institutions to support sustainability initiatives and increase recycling efforts; work with the Pac-12 and Pac-12 Networks on creating custom content and media assets. The new Pac-12 Team Green initiative is a “first-of-its-kind” collegiate athletics conference sustainability platform set to promote all greening efforts taking place on and around Pac-12 campuses. 
Soap & Glory inked a deal to become the first-ever exclusive beauty sponsor for all 2018 Tough Mudder North America Challenge events. The sponsorship kicks off this July, with activations at 21 Tough Mudder event days across the United States with the beauty brand taking over the Rinse Stations & Changing Tents and transforming them into tropical pink oases. Soap & Glory will also unveil a reimagined version of Tough Mudder’s muddiest obstacle, Kiss of Mud.
Paris Saint-Germain and Renault signed an official partnership for the next three seasons. The companies will now develop large-scale, global advertising and promotional campaigns and include a digital focus.
Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment and Loyola University Maryland Athletics announced a long-term agreement under which VWSE will serve as the athletic department’s exclusive multimedia rights partner and sales agent for its corporate sponsorship program. VWSE Collegiate Services will manage and sell local broadcast and digital media assets. Additionally, the team will sell and execute corporate partnerships for multimedia resources, including the Greyhounds’ in-venue signage, marketing, promotional rights to athletic marks and in-venue hospitality packages.
A new report from comScore unleashed a study on how digital marketing channels can influence linear sports tune-in, with analysis of mobile and desktop YouTube campaigns for more than ten live sports events. Per their research of YouTube campaign data, households exposed to a video ad campaign within six hours of a game had a 26% higher likelihood of tuning-in. In addition, households that saw four or more ads prior to the event were 37% more likely to tune-in than those who saw just one ad. Meanwhile, households that conducted a sports-related search within 24 hours of the event start time watched on average two-and-a-half times more of a game than non-searching households.
Octi, an augmented video company leveraging machine learning and computer vision announced that it has entered into a strategic investment and partnership with the NFL Players Association via its athlete-driven accelerator, the OneTeamCollective. The partnership will enable fans to create videos where they interact with NFL player avatars. Octi will create and commercially distribute avatars for more than 2,000 active NFL players. Octi also announced a seed round of $7.5M with participation from Shasta Ventures, I2BF Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, Day One Ventures, Human Ventures, Live Nation, and AB InBev.
Valve is making IEM Katowice the host of its 14th CS:GO Major in 2019 where the top 24 teams from around the world will compete across a three week span starting Feb. 14 with a prize pool of $1 million on the line in addition to the IEM World Championship. The Championship Stage kicks off on Feb. 28 and runs through March 3.  “IEM Katowice has grown to become one of the most iconic esports tournaments in the world,” said Michal Blicharz, Vice President of Pro Gaming at ESL. “I expect that coupling the heritage of IEM with the gravity of a Valve Major Championship will elevate the tournament to what will be the most incredible IEM event in history.”
Blizzard is dealing up another round of The Hearthstone Global Games, with teams competing and representing as a nation.  The tournament will stream on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel every week with the company lining up casters Simon “Sottle” Welch, Alex “Raven” Baugley, Neil “Lorinda” Bond, Dan Falcone, Dan Gaskin, and Darroch Brown to call the action. Overall, 48 teams will compete in this year’s edition with each team sporting four players with play beginning July 17. This year’s format will now see all countries competing in one Swiss bracket, playing six rounds and going against teams with the same record after a first set of random pairings. The top sixteen will then advance to a double elimination group bracket.
The British Esports Association unveiled plans for its first full competitive gaming Championships for schools, colleges and alternative provision schools, unlocking a partnership with Twitch Student to grow the British Esports Championships and “help give students support and opportunities. The British Esports Championships is for students aged 12-19, with each school or college allowed to enter teams for three different games with the first confirmed game being 5v5 League of Legends. Play begins on Oct. 10 and will run for two seasons, the first consisting of eight weeks of fixtures with breaks for half term and the second running in the New Year. The first six weeks will feature a Swiss tournament format, with Playoffs taking place during the remaining weeks.
Eight of the top Street Fighter V players in the world face off in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational 2018 Playoffs tonight on TBS at 11p. ELEAGUE analysts Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott, Stephen “Sajam” Lyon, Reepal “Rip” Parbhoo and Zhi “Zhieeep” Liang Chew will join host Malik Forte and reporter Michele Morrow for complete championship coverage from ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta.
Gfinity named sports and media executive Graham Wallace to the Board of Directors and to the newly created role of Global Chief Operating Officer with immediate effect. Graham will work alongside recently appointed Executive Chairman, Garry Cook, with responsibility for managing Gfinity’s global business operations as the Company focuses on delivery of its strategy and growth targets.

Three-time Olympic medalist in bobsled, Elana Meyers Taylor was named as the next preside as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Meyers Taylor, who won her second Olympic silver medal this past February in PyeongChang, will begin her one-year term in January 2019, succeeding Grete Eliassen.

France/Croatia for the World Cup at 11a on Sunday on FOX and Telemundo.
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ON THIS DAY in 1966: Cleveland Browns’ running back Jim Brown retires at age 29 to pursue an acting career.
In the Know: In which sci-fi comedy film did Jim Brown portray former world champion boxer Byron Williams? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What is the height of the grass on the courts at Wimbledon during the annual tournament?  Answer: 8mm. Kudos: Jim Bono-NBC Sports & Olympics/NY; Rich Boland-Oath/NY; Mike Wexler-Moroch/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
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