With a focus on esports, sports betting, media and social responsibility, SeventySix Capital cofounder Wayne Kimmel, who will serve as chairman of Sports Advisory, said he sought out sports industry pro Dan Bravato to lead the sports consulting group’s team of experts. Bravato previously worked with brands like Dan Gilbert’s Family of Companies and soccer giant Manchester City in addition to his own agency, Pitch 15 Sports Group.
Kimmel believes that organizations that have recently touted support for social justice organizations like Black Lives Matter need to go beyond the surface in extending their support — and that his firm can help make a difference.
In response to recent social unrest, athletes such as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving have questioned how the NBA could better fight systemic racism. With the vast reach athletes have on social media, Kimmel said their “social capital” is a tool that SeventySix Capital can tap into.
“Kyrie has unbelievable social capital,” Wayne told Technical.ly. “The idea is to help advise athletes and teams and figure out a way to work together [in order] to have a larger impact on what’s happening right now. It goes back to the mission and philosophy of what we have. It’s all about wanting to work with passionate, smart, nice people who want to change the world. We have this opportunity now to really extend that message out and hopefully make this world a better place.”
Bravato said the creation of the Sports Advisory venture comes at a critical juncture for esports, sports betting, media and social responsibility.
“I see a paradigm shift in all four areas,” he said. “Sports betting was very taboo. You would never talk about that 10 years ago. In esports, Twitch numbers are insane. The way future generations consume content is radically different. My grandparents would ask if I read the newspaper. I had SportsCenter while my parents had the evening news. Now, kids have Twitch and that folds into media work. There’s an evolution in how people consume.”
The North American esports market is expected to generate more than $250 million in revenue in 2020, with global esports ventures generating more than $1 billion. (Consider the recent growth of Northern Liberties-based esports company Nerd Street Gamers.) With COVID-19 relegating more people to their homes, Twitch broke viewership records in the second quarter of 2020 when it logged more than 3 billion hours of viewership.
Bravato believes that while many athletes may have been expected to only talk about sports and remain apolitical, they need more support than ever to speak out against society’s ills.
“It’s not ‘shut up and dribble‘ anymore,” he said. “These [athletes] have a voice and vision and need to activate that.”
In November 2019, SeventySix Capital’s Sports Innovation Conference featured a day of panels on innovation and saw six startup founders from around the U.S. pitch their sportstech concepts to a panel that featured former Philadelphia Phillies star Ryan Howard and basketball Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson.
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-