Morning Consult Sports: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review


  • The NBA was consumed by fallout from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet backing anti-Chinese government protests in Hong Kong. Eleven of the league’s 13 Chinese partners responded by ending or suspending their cooperation, despite an apology from Morey and an NBA statement that apologized for any offense caused.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association, led by Hall of Famer and former Rocket Yao Ming, suspended its ties with the Houston team.  And sneakers and merchandise for the Rockets — who are the most popular NBA team in China — were also pulled from the shelves of several Nike Inc. stores in major Chinese cities amid the backlash.
  • Tencent Holdings Limited, which has a $1.5 billion contract with the league as a streaming partner, announced it would not broadcast Rockets games, and state-run CCTV declined to carry two preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets that were held in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The NBA also canceled media availability and other promotional events that were scheduled around those games.
  • The NBA’s initial response to the Morey tweet drew bipartisan scorn from members of Congress, who accused the league of siding with profit over democratic principles. Commissioner Adam Silver later emphasized the league’s support for “freedom of expression” and defended Morey.


  • Nike shuttered its Oregon Project after the training group’s founder and coach, Alberto Salazar, received a four-year ban for alleged doping violations. In a memo, Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said the Oregon Project had become “a distraction for many of the athletes” and added that the company will help them find new training arrangements. 

TV and streaming

  • Short-form video platform Quibi announced an agreement with ESPN to carry a daily sports highlight show on the platform for its scheduled April launch. As part of the deal, Quibi will pay ESPN to create the show, and the network — which views the partnership as part of its overall mobile strategy — will then retain ownership and license it back to Quibi.
  • ESPN announced it is partnering with Samsung Electronics Co. to bring 4K resolution to the airwaves for select regular-season college football games this season. ESPN said it will feature six “Game of the Week” contests on 4K, as well as providing a feed of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 13.
  • Before last Sunday’s NFL games kicked off, Fox Corp. struck a new deal with Dish Network Corp. to end a blackout that started Sept. 26 and caused the Oct. 3 Thursday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks to be pulled from NFL Network. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the deal includes retransmission for Fox TV stations, in addition to distribution on the company’s suite of cable networks.


  • Conservatives in Georgia rebuked the Atlanta Braves’ decision to try and curb fans’ use of the team’s trademark “Tomahawk Chop” following criticism by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation. The backlash — which included angry comments from veteran political operative Nick Ayers, commentator Erick Erickson and Austin Chambers, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee — came after the Braves surrendered 10 runs during the first inning en route to elimination from the playoffs. 


  • After suffering a 33-7 home loss to the New England Patriots, the winless Washington Redskins fired coach Jay Gruden. Gruden, who was replaced on an interim basis by offensive line coach Bill Callahan, ended his six-year tenure in D.C. with a 35-49-1 record and one playoff appearance. 
  • The NFL upheld its season-long ban on Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who had appealed the strictest suspension for any on-field penalty in league history following a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Burfict, 28, who has been disciplined by the league for unnecessary roughness before, was set to make $1.8 million in salary and bonuses this year and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
  • Fox Sports announced the hiring of former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to serve as an analyst across all of the network’s NFL programming. During his debut on the network’s Thursday Night Football pregame show, he left the door open to returning to the Pats this season. 


  • The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced changes to its Rule 40 guidelines that will allow its athletes to thank their personal sponsor, accept public congratulations from those companies and allow those brands to run generic ads during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Some restrictions are still in place for the partnerships: According to a USOPC document, athletes must register their personal sponsors with the governing body and those sponsors must agree to a “personal sponsor commitment” that hinges the agreements on abiding by terms designed to prevent guerilla-style marketing.


  • Attorneys for the U.S. national women’s team players suing the U.S. Soccer Federation over gender discrimination countered a claim that the case has no merit since four of those players earned more than the highest-paid men’s team player over the past few years. In a filing, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the women’s team played more and won more games than the men, and that each of the four players listed — Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who all earned between $1.1 million- $1.2 million — would have earned at least $2.5 million if they had achieved their results under the men’s team’s compensation guidelines. 

What’s Ahead

  • MLB playoffs continue today with the Houston Astros hosting the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. The Washington Nationals will host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series tomorrow.
  • The Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers close out the NBA’s international tour in Vancouver on Thursday.
  • MLS playoffs begin Saturday.
  • Regular-season NBA play tips off Oct. 22.
  • The FIFA council is meeting Oct. 26-27.
  • NBC Sports’ Premier League Fan Fest is coming to Austin, Texas, on Oct. 26-27.
  • Formula 1 will hold a fan festival in Hollywood on Oct. 30, featuring drivers Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

2019 Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium
DPAA Video Everywhere Summit
2019 Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium
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