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NEWS REAL

• FIFA has postponed plans to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams for the 2022 event in Qatar. The plan is still being considered for the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. According to FIFA, “(There was not enough) time for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact.” The World Cup is scheduled for Nov. 21-Dec. 18, 2022.

• The NFL and NFL Players Association have unveiled two joint agreements that are intended to “support further resources directed to address pain management and behavioral health.” Full story here.

• The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and social impact education innovator EVERFI, Inc. have oined the students of Santee Elementary School in San Jose to launch The Compassion Project for the 2019-2020 school year, described as a “national nonprofit dedicated to providing compassion education to elementary school students across the U.S.”

• The U.S. Golf Association has aligned with Marvel Entertainment to create exclusive golf education products to “engage junior golfers on the essential elements to learning the game." Scheduled to launch in June at the 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, the collaboration features printed and digital comic books with many of Marvel’s super heroes The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed (while supplies last) at the Junior Experience at the 2019 U.S. Open.

• Major League Lacrosse has signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch to have its Bud Light brand become the official beer partner for the 2019 MLL All-Star Game, being played in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD on July 27. The deal includes “prominent signage on the playing field, fan zone activation and various on-site promotions at several sports bars and retail locations in the Greater Annapolis area leading up to the All-Star Game.”

• Stating that “we are continually seeking opportunities to evolve our product offerings,’ Kohl’s has signed an exclusive long-term alliance with Fanatics, a global leader in licensed sports merchandise with the addition of “hundreds of thousands of items.” Full story here.

• Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, co-founders of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, have launched with The ALS Assn. the 5th anniversary of “Challenge Me” with a “new call to action to reignite the passion and generosity of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads in the summer of 2014.” 

POLL POSITION

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the U.S. in France and seek to defend their FIFA Women’s World Cup crown (July 7-Aug.7).

GOALKEEPERS

Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS
Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS
Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS
Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

KEEPING SCORE

Luka Dončić, Trae Young Head NBA All-Rookie Team
Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young have been unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Dončić and Young both received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 200 points each.  They are joined on the NBA All-Rookie First Team by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (195 points; 95 First Team votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (159 points; 60 First Team votes) and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (156 points; 56 First Team votes).

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team includes LA Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (138 points), Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (132), Clippers guard Landry Shamet (85), New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (77) and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (45).

BUY SELL

Weekend Box Office May 17-19
1. John Wick 3 $57M
2. Avengers: Endgame $29.4M
3. Pokemon Detective Pikachu $24.8M
4. A Dog’s Journey $8M
5. The Hustle $6M
6. The Intruder $4M
7. Long Shot $3.4M
8,. The Sun Is Also A Star $2.6M
9. Poms $2M
10. Uglydolls $1.6M
Source: Box Office Mojo

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COLLEGE

BodyArmor Into NCAA
No. 1 Colleges Since '92
Notre Dame Builds Brand
Cancer Drives Home
Men's Hoops Are 'Toxic'

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Channel Chasers

NFL UK 2019
• Oct. 6 Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 13 Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 27  Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams Wembley Stadium
• Nov. 3 Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Wembley Stadium

NFL Mexico 2019
• Nov. 18 Kansas City  Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Mexico City Estadio Azteca (ESPN Monday Night Football).

Wednesday
Jan242018

LeBron James Pitches Sprite as Baseball Alter Ego Big Taste In New Campaign

By Barry Janoff

January 24, 2018: MLB pitchers and catchers are not scheduled to report for Spring Training until the week of February 12, but don’t tell that to LeBron James, who gets his MLB groove on in a new multi-media campaign from Sprite in which he stars as ace relief pitcher Big Taste.

The effort, "Big Taste Cuts Through,” is intended to show "Sprite's ability to cut through thirst with its cool, crisp, clear, caffeine free taste,” according to the brand.

James, who has been a product endorser since joining the NBA in 2003, has openly talked about being a fan of the New York Yankees.

Here, he gets to channel former Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera (albeit with facial hair closer to Baseball Hall of Fame relief pitcher Rollie Fingers), coming out of the bullpen in a close game to strike out feared hitter Thirst.

“It was fun to do something different and play the role of what felt more like an alter ego in Big Taste,” James said in a statement.

“Sprite is always coming up with creative ways to tell their story that connect with fans, and this time that meant pulling on the stirrups and taking the mound for that big strikeout, which is something you dream about doing as a kid.”

A 60-second spot that anchors the campaign will be supported by Internet and social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hash tag “#WannaSprite.”

Sprite said that we would “continue to see Big Taste over the next few weeks” as the real 2018 MLB season approaches.

Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy New York.

The spot also features Oakland-based rapper Kamaiyah (Interscope Records), who plays James’s catcher, “Ice-Ya.”

Kamaiyah this past summer was part of the Sprite Cold Lyrics Series, featuring limited-edition Sprite packaging that displayed lyrics from six musicians, also including Vince Staples, Lil Yachty, DRAM, Vic Mensa and Kap G.

Each artist was chosen by Sprite “because of their unique perspective and reputation for staying true to themselves.”

According to Dipal Shah, director of integrated marketing content, Sprite, “Bringing a basketball player and hip-hop artist together to cut through thirst unmistakably makes for a lot of fun content.

“For us, it’s always 'Sprite Season,' so we’re excited to kick this campaign off and to share all of the refreshing moments that we’ve captured with Sprite fans over the next couple of months,” said Shah.

The lead spot, which takes place in a nondescript stadium outfitted with Sprite signage and lemon-lime colors, is filled with baseball images integrated with Sprite references.

“If you’re just joining us we have a scorcher of a Sprite commercial here,” a voiceover/game announcer says as the door to the bullpen opens.

We see the back of a player, with Big Thirst and number 12 oz. on his jersey. “He looks a lot like LeBron James,” says the voiceover.

As James faces the batter Thirst (wearing jersey 99-degrees), catcher Ice-Ya/Kamaiyah gives a sign by shaking a glass filled with ice cubes.

James, wearing a Spirite lime-green glove that has been chilled in a freezer and a pair of custom Nike baseball cleats, uses a Sprite can instead of a ball. When he pitches, and the batter swings and misses, the umpire calls, “Sprrrrrrr-ite.”

The crowd cheers and then each of the fans drink a Sprite in unison.

"Continuing the lightheartedness of the ‘Wanna Sprite’ integrated marketing campaign, we wanted to find a fun way to remind consumers of the big taste that a cool, crisp and refreshing Sprite has,” Bobby Oliver, brand director, for Sprite, said in a statement.

“We decided to put LeBron James and Kamaiyah together in a larger-than-life environment that we’re not typically used to seeing them in, and the result is pretty refreshing.”

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