March Madness: Sports and tech converges at Shadow League event

March Madness: Sports and tech converges at Shadow League event

Just in time for March Madness, The Shadow League–a multimedia company that covers sports with a unique cultural perspective–introduced its latest slam dunk: Sports Connect, an event series focusing on the convergence of sports, tech, and diversity.

[Related: Serena Williams Is Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year]

Held in New York City on Wednesday, the inaugural event, powered by AT&T, attracted scores of entrepreneurs, marketing execs, and tech professionals to engage in high-powered networking as well as participate in sessions ranging from sports sponsorship and digital technology to brand-building strategies for athletes. TSL CEO Keith Clinkscales says the event serves as a platform to access opportunities: “We must make sure that we have as much participation off the field that we have on the field.”

The game has changed. According to TSL GM Yussuf Khan, fans spent 70 billion minutes on sports through smartphones. Moreover, roughly 70% of NFL fans interact on Twitter. This trend has not been lost on major corporations. For instance, Brandon Ray, regional director for AT&T External Affairs, says the telecom connects with “the Snapchat Generation” by ensuring wireless devices have the best reception at stadiums, working with auto manufacturers to make cars mobile hot spots, and facilitating downloads of apps tied to events such as March Madness. “We don’t want to leave any social media app unturned,” he adds. “We must provide them with snackable content.”

Nubia Murray, vice president of Sports & Entertainment Marketing at JPMorgan Chase, says the financial giant enhances the customer experience through relationships with superstars like Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and tennis phenom Serena Williams, who personally engaged clients after last year’s U.S. Open. Using social media as another touchpoint, Chase announced Curry’s endorsement deal via Twitter and shared snippets of his upcoming commercial on its Instagram account.

Kevin Parker, managing director of Capitol Consulting Group, believes minority firms can identify opportunities through supplier diversity programs with the NFL, NBA, and MLB, which recently held its annual Diversity Business Summit in Phoenix. Certified, tech-savvy minority businesses with solid track records have the best shot to pursue contracts with local teams or develop partnerships to handle special events like the NBA All-Star Game and Super Bowl.

For full coverage on Sports Connect, go to