Baseball NFTs are coming from Topps

These trading cards don’t come with any bubble gum.

Baseball cards are going digital.

Each token will use the WAX blockchain to keep a record of the ownership of each card, which can also be sold or traded on a global marketplace. Those who want to start collecting will need to open a free WAX Cloud Wallet.

For those unfamiliar, NFTs are unique digital tokens tied with certain digital assets such as a highlight video, a tweet or a picture. What takes a bit of open-mindedness is understanding that the token acts as a certificate of authenticity for the digital asset, but it doesn’t mean that picture or video is yours as you won’t own the intellectual rights. However, NFTs can be worth big bucks, such as the first-ever tweet going for $2.9 million, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski trading cards going for $1.8 million and even one guy making $85 selling his farts.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS sets impressive ‘Ring time ahead of November debut

The RS is more than 23 seconds quicker around the Nurburgring than the standard Cayman GT4.

What’s hotter than GT4? GT4 RS.

How awesome? Well, ahead of the GT4 RS’ official debut, Porsche took a nearly completed prototype to Germany’s infamous Nurburgring to set a lap time. In the hands of Porsche development driver Jörg Bergmeister, the GT4 RS lapped the ‘Ring in 7 minutes and 9.3 seconds. That’s on the track’s new, longer configuration; the time for the shorter, more familiar ‘Ring setup is 7:04.511. That makes the GT4 RS a full 23.6 seconds quicker than the regular GT4, which is a super impressive feat.

The prototype used for lapping was fitted with a racing seat in order to protect the driver, but was otherwise stock. The GT4 RS ran on ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, which Porsche says will be optionally available on the production car.

It’s unclear exactly when in November we’ll see the GT4 RS, though the Los Angeles Auto Show is one possibility. In any case, we’re pretty darn stoked to get behind the wheel of one of these. After all, if the normal GT4 is already so good, the RS is going to be a total chef’s kiss.

Here’s how to stream live NBA games on ESPN, TNT and more

This holiday, you don’t need cable to watch all of your team’s games from the comfort of your home.

While you absolutely don’t need cable to watch basketball this year, it still might be the easiest and cheapest choice depending on where you live.

Read more: NHL in 2021: How to watch and stream hockey without cable

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during a recent game.

Die-hard sports fans are beholden to regional sports networks, or RSNs, that carry the majority of the games for their local team. These RSNs are usually included in local cable packages, so most cable subscribers never have to worry about gaining access to the broadcasts on these channels: They can simply turn on the TV and watch the game.

Cord-cutting basketball fans have a tougher path. Because of rights agreements, most live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV don’t carry many RSNs. DirecTV Stream is the exception. It has nearly every RSN, particularly the Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports) offered by Sinclair, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan.

Read more: DirecTV Stream review: Expensive, but the best option for streaming NBA and NHL

Ultimately, depending on your location, getting a cable subscription that includes ESPN, TNT and the local RSN might actually be cheaper and easier than streaming — especially if it’s bundled with the home internet you’ll likely be getting anyway.

For NBA fans looking to watch a ton of out-of-market basketball, a subscription to NBA League Pass has a lot to offer. You can get the whole NBA slate for $199 for the season, with commercials and one device, or $249 for the season with in-arena feeds instead of commercials, and the ability to watch on two devices at once. Those interested in following only a single team can buy a Team Pass for $119 for the season.

The key catch here is “out-of-market.” Most fans are in-market, meaning they follow the local team, and unfortunately for them RSNs have broadcast exclusivity in the region that they cover. That means local NBA games are blacked out on NBA League Pass.

If you’re living in Los Angeles, for example, you won’t be able to watch Lakers or Clippers games on NBA League Pass. The same goes for Knicks fans in New York, Bucks fans in Milwaukee and so on. The only way to watch most of those home team games in your home market is to get a service that has the local RSN, namely Spectrum SportsNet, Bally Sports SoCal, MSG Network or Bally Sports Wisconsin.

Services like NBA League Pass use IP addresses to block out games in viewers’ regions — you’ll just get a black screen if you try to watch those games. That’s why League Pass is ideal for those who want to follow one or more of the teams based in cities other than their own, aka out-of-market teams, but for local fans it’s not as useful.

In another twist, the NBA TV network will broadcast 107 games this season that will be considered national for those out-of-market. This means that you will still be able to watch your local team play on your RSN, but viewers around the country will need NBA TV in order to watch the game — it will be blacked out on League Pass.

Luckily, League Pass subscribers have the option of adding NBA TV to their package for an extra $60 a year or $7 a month. This is most likely one of the cheapest ways to get NBA TV for the out-of-market fan.

YouTube TV is the only live TV streaming service that includes NBA TV in its base channel lineup. DirecTV Stream, FuboTV and Sling offer the channel only on higher-priced tiers or in special add-ons; see below for details.

For those determined to watch their local basketball team without a cable or satellite TV subscription, a live TV streaming service is the best bet. While it is pricey, DirecTV Stream is the best option for most people, particularly those where the local games air on Bally Sports networks.

Below is a chart of all of the NBA teams in the US and their corresponding RSNs.

Note: None of the (US-based) services carry the RSN for the Toronto Raptors. Fans looking to watch Fred VanVleet and co. need to use NBA League Pass to get all the games that are not either on your local RSN or on a US national broadcast.

Some key takeaways:

One other note: If you don’t recognize the name of some of these channels, don’t worry. As mentioned, the Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s to rename them.

DirecTV Stream is expensive. It’s the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ABC, TNT and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get any available RSN as well as NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area.

Aside from DirecTV Stream, the odds are long that a live TV streaming service carries the RSN for your local team’s games, which makes the other four services better bets for watching nationally televised games.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 10 RSNs for basketball. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS — which might be a problem for some basketball fans. But you can add NBA TV for an extra $7 a month with the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier, which includes Fubo Extra. Check out which local networks and RSNs it offers here.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers six RSNs for basketball, along with all of the national broadcasts including NBA TV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and carries six RSNs for basketball, along with ESPN, ABC, TBS and TNT, but not NBA TV. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch basketball. You can, however, use Sling to watch some national broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, and both plans offer TBS, but neither of them gives you access to ABC. NBA TV is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan, or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

Tokyo Summer Olympics bars overseas spectators

COVID-19 is to blame, say the organizers. Ticket holders will get their money back.

Originally set for 2020, the games have been delayed by the pandemic.

Originally set to take place from July 24 through Aug. 9, 2020, the Olympics were pushed back a year because of the coronavirus and rescheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics were also delayed and are now set to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021.

The organizers noted Saturday that emerging coronavirus variants continue to raise concern and that the situation with COVID-19 in Japan and elsewhere remains challenging. They also pointed to severe international travel restrictions put in place by countries around the world and said overseas travelers may well be prohibited from entering Japan this summer.

Read more: Fear and COVID in hotel quarantine: What it’s like flying overseas right now

They said they made the decision about international spectators “to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans.” Information on how to get a refund will be made available soon, the organizers added.

“We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games,” they said, “in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world.”

UFC 263 Adesanya vs. Vettori: Start time, how to watch, predictions, full fight card

We’re just hours away from UFC 263.

Nate Diaz returns at UFC 263.

But in terms of mainstream interest, UFC 263 heralds the return of one of the UFC’s biggest drawcards: Nate Diaz.

Nate Diaz is fighting Leon Edwards in a fight where the odds are stacked against him. To begin with, the contest is at Welterweight. Diaz is strongest in the Lightweight division where his reach and size often drowns opponents. Previous fights at Welterweight have involved other opponents who normally fight at Lightweight, like Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. This time he’s fighting a true Welterweight in Leon Edwards, a fighter who has dominated in that weight class. He hasn’t lost in almost six years.

In short, it could be a rough night for Diaz.

The UFC 263 main card starts at 10 p.m ET (7 p.m. PT) but here are all the details…

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 263, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 263 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 263 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

As always, these cards tend to change and evolve. We’ll keep this updated.

Let’s do a couple of quick predictions for a change!

Returning from a failed sojourn at Light Heavyweight, you could assume Adesanya is vulnerable. But the fact is he’s yet to lose at Middleweight and Marvin Vettori presents nothing new for Adesanya.

In addition: Adesanya and Vettori have already fought once before in 2018, which resulted in a split decision victory for Adesanya. It was close but, score cards aside, Adesanya was the clear victor.

Who has improved most since that contest? Adesanya, clearly. His wrestling defence and jiu-jitsu have improved markedly since that fight. This fight will almost certainly stay standing. Expect a similar contest to Adesanya’s last Middleweight defence against Paulo Costa.

Our prediction: Adesanya by TKO.

This fight is another rematch. Figueiredo and Moreno locked horns in a fight that was ruled a draw in December 2020.

That draw was the result of docked points on Figueiredo’s part after a brutal low blow. If not for those docked points, Figueiredo would have won the fight, fairly clearly.

It was a close contest, but I expect this one to be far more decisive in Figueiredo’s favor. His punching power, his size — Figueiredo has been an absolute mauler in his UFC career. This could potentially go the distance (Moreno can really take a shot) but I expect Figueiredo to win.

Our prediction: Figueiredo by decision

People have been quick to write off Nate Diaz in this fight, mainly because he’s not had much success at Welterweight in the past and Leon Edwards is a strong Welterweight.

I expect Edwards to beat Diaz, by mixing up his wrestling, striking and cage work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Diaz took a round or two, particularly since this is a five round fight.

This should be a fun fight.

Our prediction: Edwards by decision

How 5G played a role in the Phoenix Suns’ historic NBA title run

The wireless technology gave the team an edge when it came to crunching the data on its players to find ways for them to improve.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker during the 2021 NBA playoffs.

The new tools helped general manager James Jones and the rest of the coaching staff better evaluate player performance and adapt in real time. Ryan Resh, the Suns’ head of data analytics, credits 5G with “pushing the NBA’s boundaries” regarding how the coaches train and teach their athletes.

The Suns’ use of 5G is an example of one of the many different applications of the wireless technology beyond higher speeds on your phone. The technology, rolling out across the globe, is expected to transform many industries, including sports. Professional and college teams are installing 5G in stadiums and arenas to improve the on-site experience, and apps are emerging that let fans view replays from different angles or feel like they’re a part of the action. Teams are exploring ways to use 5G to improve the performance of the athletes themselves by quickly collecting huge amounts of data — something that isn’t possible with 4G or Wi-Fi.

“5G is allowing us to … take those movements and those analyses and make them so real-time that the process just becomes iterative and seamlessly flows into the working procedure of our coaches and our players,” Resh said in an interview.

While sports teams have been using analytics to improve player performance nearly as long as sports have existed, 5G is emerging as a new way to make that analysis even more effective. The key is the technology’s high speed and low latency. Cameras and sensors can collect data and provide insight in real time, letting coaches instruct their players on the fly or detect injuries before they become bigger problems. For the Suns, the intersection between 5G and athletics made its mark this NBA season.

“The 5G lab keeps the Suns on the cutting edge,” Jones said in a statement. “That cohesion provides our staff with unparalleled opportunities to efficiently unlock each athlete’s fullest potential.”

The need for real-time data is becoming more and more important in sports. Prior to the rollout of 5G and installation of sensors and cameras in arenas, players were used to waiting until the next day to review film highlighting in-game mistakes. While players and coaches still review film after games, the 5G lab offers data within milliseconds — something that once took several minutes to calculate.

“Coaching has been around for thousands of years, where coaches go out there and with their gut, they watch things,” Brian Mecum, vice president of device technology for Verizon, said in an interview. “Well, how about if we trust data, and how about if we flip it and trust what science is telling us by what it can measure?”

While Verizon is building 5G in more than 60 stadiums and arenas, its partnership with the Phoenix Suns is different. No other team working with Verizon uses 5G to help with real-time analytics.

5G helps the Suns coaching staff quickly gather and crunch data from three different tools. With a technology called Noah, the players are able to get real-time feedback, live and automated in-game data, and in-depth post-practice and game analytics. For instance, the practice center’s hoop is equipped with sensors that allow Noah to track the arch consistency, the depth and the left and right trajectory of the ball. Coaches will be able to compare subpar performance against a player’s peak, letting them know instantly what places or situations on a court have the best odds for sinking a shot.

“It gets down to centimeter accuracy, and it also has the ability to look at things in three dimensions [along] the X, the Y and the Z axis,” Verizon’s Mecum said. A player may not be able to tell in real time why their shots aren’t going in without the in-depth arc and angle analysis Noah provides.

“This team took and learned that sometimes players were spending too much time shooting, for example, they were taking too many shots and that was affecting the effectiveness of their shots,” Mecum said.

Adding Noah to the Sun’s practice facility has shown real results for the team. One younger player had a tough time consistently sinking his shots. With Noah and the tracking sensors installed in the rafters above the hoop, the coaching staff was able to show the player where his jump shots typically landed and where his performance was the weakest.

“That was enlightening to him because it allowed him to accept that his mechanics may not be as consistent as he wants them to be, which is not something that you really feel, in real time,” Resh said. “His work did eventually pay off in the playoffs, and he was our best three-point shooter.”

Another analytics source used by the Suns is called ShotTracker. Players and coaches are able to use a sensor-based system that generates shooting analytics stats to teams — and fans — thanks to a sensor placed on the ball. Players must also wear a small tracking device, and there are sensors in the rafters above the rim to pinpoint the location of the shot. Specifically, more than 100 sensors communicate to the coaches in real time what players are doing (or not). This allows both players and coaches to go back and review how many shots were taken and exactly where they were shot.

The final piece of the Suns’ technology expansion relates to lateral movement off the court. With the help of Simi’s motion capture cameras, coaches are able to track players’ abilities both before and after injuries. A returning player may feel they are back to normal, but coaches are able to see in real time if the player is healed or not by comparing the post-injury performance to the player’s baseline. The Suns are using Simi in the weight room to track static movements — but have hopes to one day use Simi to predict how players move on the court.

In the practice facilities, the Suns’ are also using Bertec’s 3D force plates in combination with Simi’s cameras. The Bertec plates, which players stand on, are able to track a player’s gait, jump and balance while Simi captures the movement in real time. Simi shows the coaches, the movement, while the Bertec plates provide data about pressure and other characteristics.

“While Wi-Fi can accomplish that, what 5G does is it makes it so fast [and] the latency is so low, that as soon as a player is done jumping, [the data is] there in front of them,” Resh said

Latency is the response or lag time between sending a signal and receiving one back, and 5G’s shorter latency is how it makes a difference in sports analytics.

“You want to reduce the delay as much as you can to give [people] real-time experiences,” said Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell. “Every little bit helps.”

3G networks had latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds, which is an appreciable fraction of a second. 4G networks, which enabled smartphones and all of the apps we use today, started with latencies of about 100 milliseconds and now are down to a range of about 30 milliseconds to 70 milliseconds. 5G aims to get to 1 millisecond, but it’s currently at about 20 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds, which is faster than the human eye blinks, Verizon’s Mecum said.

Fans are able to view a game from multiple camera angles.

An essential piece of the Suns’ practice facilities and arena is their use of millimeter wave 5G. MmWave is a band of radio airwaves that provides super-high speeds but can only travel short distances and gets blocked by objects like windows and trees. For sporting venues, though, those downsides aren’t an issue. Teams can easily install towers where needed in stadiums and arenas. MmWave’s ability to handle a huge number of devices on one network, at the same time, is ideal for fans during a game.

With the Suns’ stadium app, fans are able to receive feedback similar to what the coaches see while watching the game. The app is available to users with or without 5G phones. Seven different camera angles let fans view replays and real-time stats on the players. The app is available both in the stadium and at home. “You can go back and look at replays, and you’re in control instead of waiting for the jumbotron,” Mecum said.

Suns’ players and coaches are also able to get real-time feedback that lets them make live adjustments. The speeds needed to interpret this data captured during the Suns’ practice is only available over 5G, the coaching staff says. Neither Wi-Fi nor 4G can produce the results as quickly.

For now, the Suns are only using real-time analysis over 5G in the team’s practice facility. The NBA has strict guidelines surrounding what data collection is available in-game and doesn’t allow the kind of analysis the Suns perform in the practice facility.

The Suns aren’t the only ones interested in the numbers. Sports analytics bridges the gap between team stats and interpretation. When teams crunch data, the goal is almost always to figure out where performance fell short. After establishing areas in need of improvement, teams can optimize practice time using the data found from analytics. It’s a big business — the global sports analytics market size is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2019 to $5.2 billion by 2024, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets.

“When you are a professional athlete, standing on your feet just moving around a basketball court is actually considered work,” Resh said. “When you don’t have a ton of time to practice, you have to make your practices as efficient as possible.”

As the intersection between sports and analytics continues to grow, there is a need for 5G and real-time data, said Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin. Many sporting venues are incorporating 5G and mmWave to receive feedback as quickly as possible.

Perhaps the best-known example of sports analytics was captured in the 2011 film Moneyball. The movie, based on the Oakland Athletics baseball team, explained how analysis and statistics alone could lead to victories.

Brad Pitt played then-A’s general manager Billy Beane, who put together a winning team utilizing analytics and minimal funding. He studied sabermetrics, “the objective knowledge about baseball,” to rebuild the team on a low budget. Through studying these analytics, he led his team to a 20-game winning streak, the longest one in franchise history.

While the Suns can use 5G to track performance in the practice arena, the coaches aren’t able to do such analysis in the arena. Instead, Second Spectrum exclusively partners with the NBA, as well as soccer’s Premier League and Major League Soccer, to provide in-game player tracking.

After an initial response, Second Spectrum didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Players, coaches and fans can use Second Spectrum to access years of game history and find game playbacks within seconds. The company uses machine learning and computer vision to form a tracking system. It’s able to collect 3D data live from cameras within the arenas and then generate reports showing player location, player stats and the type of play in progress.

Even though the Suns didn’t come out on top this season, the conversation around what 5G has provided is just beginning.

“That real-time feedback is what we found to be the best method of teaching and learning for our players and for our coaches,” Resh said.

CNET’s Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

Correction, 11:19 a.m. PT: This story initially misstated the Phoenix Suns’ history with the NBA Finals. The team has made it three times, in 1976, 1993 and 2021, losing each time four games to two.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley: Start time, how to watch or stream online, everything to know

The Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley event is live! Here’s what you need to know…

We’re very close now to the fight between Paul and Woodley.

But now Paul faces the former UFC welterweight champion Woodley in a hotly anticipated boxing match. Who wins? It’s a difficult one to pick. Paul has more boxing experience on paper, but Woodley is an ex-champ and, unlike Paul’s previous opponent Ben Askren, Woodley has power in his hands. Most of his most famous wins have come via spectacular knockout.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Mark your calendars for Aug. 29 at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT. The big event will be held in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The fight will air on Showtime pay-per-view, meaning you don’t need to be a regular Showtime subscriber to pay for and watch the fight.

Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza told MMA Fighting on Aug. 2 that the fight will cost viewers $59.99. Not cheap.

“That reflects a couple of things,” Espinoza said of the price. “It’s in the ballpark of where similar fights have been. It is at a point below a lot of other higher priced PPVs, but in particular on this one, I think you’ve got a full boxing card of exciting young fighters. That was the key.”

Showtime’s fight page now is updated with how to buy the fight. Once you pay your $60, you can livestream the fight on a ton of supported devices. You can watch on your computer at Showtime.com, on your mobile phone or tablet, or on your TV and streaming devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th gen and up), Android TV and Xbox One.

You can also order the pay-per-view fight via such providers as Xfinity, Spectrum, Contour, Verizon Fios, Optimum, Vubiquity, DirecTV, U-Verse TV and Dish. Canadians can order it through Rogers, Bell, Shaw, SaskTel, and Telus. It also can be streamed via Sling, Sony’s PlayStation Store, and Fite TV in the U.S. and Canada.

A statement from event organizers says that an exclusive UK broadcast partner will be announced soon. Fox Sports will carry it in Australia and Sky Sports in New Zealand.

There also will be a live audience at the Cleveland arena. Tickets start at $10 and went on sale to the general public on July 22.

Fighters will weigh in at 190 pounds, which is what Paul weighed when he took down Ben Askren in April in a whopping two-minute-long fight. Woodley fought in the UFC at 170 pounds.

Paul stands at 6-foot-1, and Woodley at 5-foot-9. Paul is listed with a 76-inch reach to Woodley’s 74-inch reach.

The fighters will wear 10-ounce gloves and fight in a 20×20 ring, ESPN reports. The fight is scheduled for eight rounds.

Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley aren’t the only ones fighting on the card. Here are all the fights taking place…

The final press conference took place on Thursday and it devolved into a different type of chaos.

Scuffles and shoving matches are normal in boxing, particularly during press conferences, but today’s staredown brought controversy after a member of Jake Paul’s entourage appeared to get into an argument with Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley. Tyron Woodley’s sister appeared to get upset and the situation escalated.

Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley, affectionately referred to as “Mama Woodley” is a well known figure in the MMA community. She’s incredibly well regarded for congratulating and showing respect to her son’s opponents win or lose.

The fact a member of Paul’s entourage has verbally attacked one of the most loved figures in MMA has set a number of fighters off. Including Jake Paul’s last opponent Ben Askren.

Time will tell if this has an impact on the fight itself. Either way, it’s good promotion for the fight overall.

The two fighters have a creepy bet riding on the outcome. If Paul loses, he has to get “I love Tyron Woodley” tattooed on him somewhere, and if Woodley loses, he has to get “I love Jake Paul” as a tattoo. (Both fighters are already tattooed, so one more won’t exactly be a novel concept.)

And, breaking news, it looks as though a tattoo artist is being flown in to the fight to take care of the bet immediately after the fight. Jake Paul confirmed this plan during an interview this week.

Tatu Baby, who once starred in the show Ink Master, is being flown in. She’s already shared some potential designs for the tattoo.

Whoever gets the tattoo, you just know there’ll be plenty of publicity about the actual tattooing itself, not to mention photos of the final embarrassing product. (Smart tattoo artists in the Paul-Woodley circle are probably already thinking about how to eventually cover up or disguise the message.)

The Paul brothers, Logan and Jake, are both YouTubers turned boxers, which seems like an odd career path, but it is what it is. For one thing, they’re young. Jake Paul is 24, and Logan Paul is 26, so they’ve got youth on their side, plus their YouTube cash gives the option to do whatever they want with their free time. And what they want, apparently, is to beat people up and get beat up in return. These fights aren’t always for the record books, but for the bank books. (Logan Paul’s June bout with 44-year-old Mayweather was simply an exhibition.) While Jake Paul has fought three professional bouts, and won them all, his opponents weren’t professional boxers at their prime. Paul beat YouTuber AnEsonGib, former professional basketball player Nate Robinson and retired MMA fighter Ben Askren. (That last one was quick.) And all of the Paul brothers’ fights draw headlines and chatter, and add to their fame and bank balances.

Woodley talked some trash about Jake Paul at the Askren fight, and that led to the planned Paul-Woodley fight.

“Easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley said of the Paul match, according to ESPN. “Basically, they brought me in to take out the trash.”

Jake Paul is the younger of the two Paul brothers, and in addition to his internet videos, he’s known for playing Dirk Mann in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. He began his boxing career in 2018 and has won all three of his professional bouts.

Like his brother, he’s controversial. In July 2020, he made headlines for throwing a giant party in Calabasas, California, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked about the party, he told a reporter for The Daily Beast that COVID-19 was a hoax, then later denied saying it, leading to the reporter posting audio proving Paul did make the hoax comments. In that same interview, Paul also claimed “98% of news is fake” and falsely claimed that “medical professionals” say masks do nothing to protect against the virus.

He doesn’t just make headlines at his own events. Jake Paul’s brother, Logan, fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June, and in May, at a promotional event for the fight, Jake Paul mouthed off at the fighter and snatched Mayweather’s hat. He then started selling black baseball caps with the words “gotcha hat” printed on them.

Woodley, 39, started in MMA back in 2009, became UFC welterweight champion in 2016 and defended his title four times, losing it in 2019.

Like Paul, he has an entertainment career as well. He’s appeared in numerous movies in small roles, and has hosted a podcast and a TMZ web show.

Woodley says this may be his first boxing match, but it won’t be his last.

“At the end of the day, I’m in boxing right now,” he said, according to ESPN. “(Paul’s) my first opponent. This is your first and everybody else’s first chance to watch me box.”

There’s one other big fight on Showtime’s card for the night, plus three smaller ones. Featherweight world champion Amanda Serrano (40-1-1) will take on super bantamweight world champion Yamileth Mercado, who’s 18-2-0.

“Not too many people want to fight me. It’s going to be a great fight,” Serrano said, according to World Boxing News.

Mercado said she began her career at featherweight before going down to bantamweight and is excited to fight in her old weight class again.

“We’re going to leave it all in the ring, and the ladies are going to be stealing the show,” she said, according to the World Boxing News report.

While the Serrano-Mercado fight is being billed as a “co-main event,” there are also three fights on the undercard. Ivan Barancyhk will fight Montana Love, Daniel Dubois will take on Juiseppe Cusumano, and Tommy Fury will fight Anthony Taylor.

Amazon’s NFL Thursday Night Football exclusive now starts in 2022

The technology giant and the NFL are bumping up the start date for their new agreement.

As per the earlier announcement, Amazon will carry 15 Thursday Night Football games as one well as one preseason NFL game. The deal runs through the 2032 NFL season.

Although Amazon has been streaming Thursday Night Football games on its Prime Video platform for the past few seasons, it was doing so in conjunction with a traditional broadcaster like Fox. The NFL’s new deal marked the first time a streaming platform would be the sole home for the games without a traditional TV partner, with Amazon saying Monday that additional production details will be shared “in the coming months.”

Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Main event start time, how to watch or stream online

Logan Paul is facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what might be one of the weirdest boxing matches ever.

These two fight in a matter of hours…

In the US, the PPV starts at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) on Sunday, June 6.
In the UK, the PPV starts at 1 a.m. BST on Monday, June 7.
In Australia, the PPV starts at 10 a.m. AEST on Monday June 7.

The main event will not start until at least 10 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT). That’s 3 a.m. BST in the UK and 12 midday in AEST.

You can watch the final, post weigh-in staredown below.

The easiest way to watch online is via Fanmio.

Those who want to see the fight will need to get pay-per-view access. A ticket to watch the fight comes with a T-shirt and costs $49.99 (£36, AU$64).

Fanmio’s site says that 20 US residents who sign up for Fanmio will also get a video meet-and-greet with the fighters — and the giveaway rules say those winners do not have to buy the fight to enter the drawing.

There are other ways to watch, however.

In the US you can pay Mayweather’s usual partner Showtime $49.99 to watch the fight.

In the UK you can watch via Sky Sports Box Office for a relatively cheap £16.95.

In Australia you can watch via Main Event for AU$49.95, which cheaper than you’ll be paying on Fanmio, but you’ll need access to Foxtel to access Main Event, which makes things trickier. If you don’t already have a Foxtel subscription, best to just go the Fanmio route.

This special exhibition is slated for eight rounds, each three minutes long. Both fighters will wear 12-ounce gloves.

On Saturday night, Logan Paul weighed in at 189.5 pounds and Mayweather at 155. Per his contract, Paul had to weigh in at 190 pounds or less for the fight, otherwise he would have been fined an eye-watering $100,000 for every pound he went overweight. Mayweather had to cap at 160. Mayweather faces a massive size disadvantage. Paul is around 6 foot 2 inches with a 76-inch reach, while Mayweather is around 5 foot 8 inches with a 72-inch reach.

Given the fight is an exhibition, it’s been confirmed there will be no judges. Knockouts are legal and are to the judge’s discretion. If the contest plays out to its conclusion there will be no official judges result, the Florida State Boxing Commission told Sky News.

It’s a pretty lean one, only four fights…

Logan Paul is going to box Floyd Mayweather.

The 26-year-old Ohio native and his brother, Jake, first became famous for their Vine and YouTube videos. Paul then moved to LA and dabbled in all sorts of forms of entertainment, from acting to running a clothing line. He’s not without controversy: In 2018, he was heavily criticized for filming a dead body in a Japanese forest known as a location for suicide and YouTube has yanked ads from his channel for questionable content in the past. But his fans don’t seem to care: His YouTube channel has more than 22 million subscribers.

As for sports, Paul was a high-school athlete, participating in wrestling and football. But his boxing record isn’t exactly long. In 2018, he fought British YouTuber KSI (real name: Olajide William Olatunji) to a majority draw in what was considered an amateur match. In 2019, the two held a rematch that was considered a professional bout, ending in a split decision victory for KSI. So with zero victories to his credit, he’s decided to … take on a famous undefeated boxer. As you do.

Mayweather is the best boxer of his generation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is quite a bit older than Paul, at 44. And he’s much, much more experienced in the ring. He won 15 major world titles in five weight classes, with a 50-0 record in the sport, a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, and three US Golden Gloves championships, among other titles. (Note that he won that Olympic medal when Logan Paul was just a year old.)

So why, then, is the undefeated former champ taking on a YouTuber who’s never won a fight? It’s not about the boxing — the fight won’t count anywhere, it’s an exhibition. Think those two irresistible elements: Money and fame.

“It’s likely that only the promise of another lucrative payday could convince ‘Money’ Mayweather to put on his gloves again, and Paul provides an opponent with major name recognition despite a paucity of boxing experience,” the Washington Post reported. The newspaper noted that for Paul, it’s not about who wins, but about the exposure, which makes him even more famous and opens up more opportunities and future paydays.

That’s the bare essentials, but if you want to catch up on the juicy, possibly manufactured drama in the lead up to the fight… keep reading.

No, that is not a typo. 

Despite the fact Floyd Mayweather is fighting his brother Logan Paul, Jake Paul got into quite the situation with Mayweather, by stealing his baseball cap after a press conference for the Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather fight.

The above Twitter thread shows most of the best footage. Jake Paul and Mayweather had a confrontation, they talked back and forth about a fight between them, Jake Paul snatched up Mayweather’s hat and then… all hell broke loose.

Regardless of whether it was a publicity stunt or not this has stirred up quite an amount of attention on social media.

Everyone is going to make a lot of money.

Part of the appeal of this is it’s hard to know what to expect. The most obvious outcome is Mayweather outboxing Paul and potentially knocking him out. But Mayweather is 44 and he is giving up at least 30 pounds in weight. It’s hard to imagine that Logan Paul will even touch Mayweather given his defensive prowess, but we haven’t seen him fight since the McGregor fight and that was almost four years ago.

Here are some clips of them training.

Floyd seems confident.

“These guys have done a great job fooling the public that they are real fighters,” he said. “I ain’t got to use my A game, my B game, my C game. I can use my Z game. Don’t even gotta hit him hard.”

Sounds ominous.