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🎾Naomi Osaka’s skincare brand Kinlò signs five athletes to NIL deals

August 17, 2022

The GIST: August is hard court and back-to-school season, and Naomi Osaka is taking notes. On Monday, the tennis star’s skincare brand Kinlò inked five athletes to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals for its #GlowOutside campaign, becoming the latest company to enter the innovative NIL space with a values-based approach.

The details: Kinlò campaign ambassadors, including UNC basketball’s Deja Kelly and UCLA soccer’s Reilyn Turner, will undertake an educational campaign about year-round SPF usage for melanin-rich skin. The student-athletes will demonstrate how to use Kinlò products for preventative suncare.

The context: Osaka is practicing her stated aims as an athlete-turned-businesswoman. She launched boutique sports agency EVOLVE in May to help athletes focus on building their brands and use their “platforms to drive meaningful business.”

  • Though EVOLVE is already adding athletes to its roster, it is unclear if the agency helped Kinlò book its new campaign ambassadors.

Zooming out: Kinlò joins a growing list of brands using their NIL dollars to tap into the commercial value of BIPOC athletes. Jordan Brand and Adidas, for example, both struck high-profile deals with Historically Black Colleges and Universities this year.

  • The agreements don’t just benefit these student-athletes. Millennial and Gen Z consumers want companies to be authentic in their business practices. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again — inclusivity always wins.

UEFA projects six-fold increase in commercial value of women's soccer by 2033

August 17, 2022

The GIST: After last month’s very successful Women’s Euro, UEFA (European soccer’s governing body) is making the business case for the women’s game. It published a groundbreaking report on women’s soccer’s off-field potential yesterday, projecting a six-fold increase in commercial value by 2033. Good times never seemed so good.

The details: UEFA projected women’s soccer’s future value using four categories — audience engagement, commercial revenue, sporting opportunities and the sport’s image. According to the report, the sport’s overall commercial value could hit $698 million in the next decade, up from last year’s $118 million.

  • Club-level sponsorship is also destined to reap the benefits. It’s projected to rise six-fold to $300 million within 10 years, while matchday revenue is expected to hit $137 million by 2033, 12x last year’s number.
  • Plus, media deals will be huge for women’s soccer organizations. UEFA projected a 7x media revenue increase from $36 million to $260 million by 2033.

The audience: The European fan base could grow to 328 million by 2033, as the women’s game has the unique ability to attract soccer newcomers — UEFA said almost one in three of its European fans are green to the sport.

  • Fans of the women’s game are also incredibly engaged. They’re 1.7x more likely than fans of other sports to follow along on social media and streaming services (particularly in the absence of mainstream media coverage) and 1.8x more likely to watch highlights.
  • There are perks for brands, too. Fifty-four percent of women’s soccer fans are more likely to purchase a product or service from a sponsor, compared to just 29% of men’s soccer fans.

Zooming out: UEFA’s report signals its commitment to women’s soccer after it turned the men’s game into one of sports’ most profitable ecosystems. The health of the men's game relies on successful club teams and year-round competitions, making it no surprise that UEFA identified women’s club soccer as the biggest area of growth.

  • The model could translate to the U.S. and beyond. The USWNT may be America’s hottest soccer ticket at the moment, but the team’s constant success should be the hook for long-term investment in the NWSL. We love a long range goal.

🎾Upsets galore at Western & Southern Open

August 17, 2022
Upsets galore at Western & Southern Open
Upsets galore at Western & Southern Open

The GIST: While the countdown to this month’s US Open (the final major of the season and likely the last of Serena Williams’ career) is on, the stars are serving up some upsets at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio. Somebody call Drake.

Women’s: In last night’s rare blockbuster Round of 64 matchup, defending US Open champ No. 10 Emma Raducanu reigned supreme, taking down Serena in straight sets — Williams’ second early exit since announcing her plans for retirement earlier this month.

  • The 40-year-old gave teen sensation Raducanu a run for her money in the first set (6-4) but struggled to keep up in the second, falling 6-0. *sniffs*
  • Some other top contenders were also stunningly eliminated in the first round, with fan-favorite Naomi Osaka, No. 11 Coco Gauff and last year’s US Open runner-up No. 13 Leylah Fernandez bounced in straight sets. You hate to see it.

Men’s: Meanwhile, things are just heating up in the men’s draw. After receiving a bye in the first round, No. 2 Rafael Nadal joins the party today as he takes on Borna Coric in the Round of 32. Elsewhere, defending US Open champ and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev is already through to the Round of 16 after taking down Botic van de Zandschulp last night.

  • Our Canadians are still in contention, too. No. 7 Félix Auger-Aliassime goes up against Alex de Minaur today at 11 a.m. ET while Denis Shapovalov faces Tommy Paul around 1 p.m. ET. Allez!
  • As for Novak Djokovic? He’s a no-show due to the tourney’s vaccine mandate but could still be in contention to play at the US Open as the States continue to roll back COVID-19 restrictions. Not this sh!t again.
Daily Sports

🎮Denny's, Complexity Gaming partner to promote gender equity in virtual sports

August 15, 2022

The GIST: Denny’s is grabbing the gaming controller. On Friday, the restaurant chain announced a partnership with Complexity Gaming — the Dallas Cowboys’ esports team — to promote gender equity in virtual sports. The move is also an attempt to couple the most important meal of the day with every brand’s favorite demographic, Gen Z.

The details: The parties have enlisted women gamers for four sponsored Twitch feeds in August and September. Denny’s will do “pancake drops” during streams, awarding viewers with prizes like delivery, discounts and merch.

  • This isn’t Complexity Gaming’s first values-based partnership. The franchise teamed up with Miller Lite in March to elevate BIPOC voices in esports. Rounding out the menu, one deal at a time.

The context: Denny’s is joining a larger push to create a more inclusive gaming space. EA Sports is adding women’s club teams to September’s FIFA 23 game and Xbox recently teamed up with the WNBA’s NY Liberty for a gaming-inspired court.

  • An inclusive approach is reflective of the space’s demographics — women comprised 36% of esports viewers in the U.S. at the end of 2020, up from 23% at the beginning of the year.

Zooming out: The breakfast chain is listening to younger consumers who want brands to champion equality. Plus, the generation has (mostly) swapped IRL sports for gaming: Kids aged 12 to 17 now prefer to spend time alone or online than with friends or family, and only 23% of Gen Z call themselves avid sports fans. Talk about a Grand Slam strategy.

  • And Denny’s is hardly alone. The NFL, for example, is also trying to recruit the next generation of fans through video games — the league counts content with influencer Ninja as part of its outreach.

Price for newest NWSL expansion team could reach up to $50 million

August 15, 2022

The GIST: The price tag for the NWSL’s 14th club is steadily increasing. According to a recent report, the league could collect as much as $50 million for its newest expansion team, significantly more than the $5 million fee the Kansas City Current paid in 2020. Traveling at the speed of light.

The details: A long list of prospective buyers (mostly MLS ownership groups) are driving the demand, as they are reportedly impressed by the NWSL’s increased professionalism, investment back into the league and the opportunity to double in-stadium inventory.

  • Now, the NWSL is narrowing the search criteria to three key categories — quality of the ownership group, facilities and geographic market. Ready those pitches.

The trend: Valuations for existing NWSL clubs are up, too. In April 2021, brand new club Angel City FC was worth an NWSL record $100 million. The LA team is valued at around 10x its sponsorship revenue — it’s expected to rake in $10 million from partnerships this year.

  • A pair of NWSL originals are also posting increased valuations. Michele Kang purchased a majority stake in the Washington Spirit when it was valued at $35 million in February, and NJ/NY Gotham FC is reportedly worth $40 million.
  • For context, team valuation in younger leagues relies on potential ROI, unlike more established counterparts. MLS clubs value themselves at approximately 12.2x revenue, much higher than the NFL (7.6x) and MLB (6.7x).

The fee: Over in the WNBA, at least a $15 million expansion fee will apply for its next team, though commissioner Cathy Engelbert called that figure “low.” Entering the WNBA or NWSL is much more affordable than MLS, however — newcomer Charlotte FC paid $325 million in 2019.

Zooming out: The NWSL continues to make a case for being one of sports’ hottest properties and the timing couldn’t be better. With less than a year until the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the expansion race in full swing, women’s soccer fever should hit 200 degrees in no time.