It’s almost becoming difficult to keep up with all the cannabis news coming out of sports these days. Here are the latest updates, and what they could mean for your bottom line…
Last week, the National Football League announced in a press release that it was partnering with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to create a special committee to determine potential pain management treatments for players.
While the release made no direct mention of cannabis, both the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, and Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that marijuana would be among the “alternative therapies” explored.
That may not be the earth-shattering news a lot of people are hoping for. In fact, USA Today just ran an op-ed on the release, saying: “Don’t hold your breath for quick NFL action to allow medical marijuana.”
And I won’t lie: I’m not expecting quick action in the NFL, either.
But, as exciting as it would be to see a Hail Mary pass to the end zone, we don’t need to expect one in order to be excited about this news.
Football is a game of inches, and making progress in NFL policy has always followed suit.
The very fact that Goodell is freely admitting the league is looking into cannabis as an answer demonstrates the immense strides that have been taken across the board.
And you need only look at a few other professional sports leagues to understand the profound impact cannabis normalization is having on our society.
Leading the Way to League Acceptance
When I wrote to you about growing league acceptance in professional sports back in March, it was difficult to pinpoint just how quickly that acceptance would transfer to concrete relationships between sports.
Retired professional athletes like the NFL’s Joe Montana and Jim McMahon partnering with cannabis companies or the NBA’s Cliff Robinson creating his own brand – that was all the first step.
And it was a massive one. These athletes put their reputations at risk by coming out in support of cannabis in the early stages of normalization. Just as Robinson’s NBA team, they were Trail Blazers.
And now we’re beginning to see the next step, as relationships are built between cannabis companies and active athletes.
An Ultimate Partnership
Last Tuesday, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) announced an exclusive, multiyear, multimillion-dollar, global partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization.
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Where the NFL is merely considering cannabis as one of several options for improved player health, the UFC’s partnership with Aurora is expected to “significantly advance further clinical research on the relationship between [CBD] products and athlete wellness.”
Research will be conducted at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas in order to study the effects of CBD on pain management, inflammation, injury and exercise recovery, and mental health.
As Aurora CEO Terry Booth said, the partnership is intended to create both “a global platform to launch targeted education and awareness campaigns” and “numerous opportunities to accelerate our global CBD business.”
This method of combining health advocacy with brand awareness is a sensible way for relationships between the cannabis industry and a professional sport to begin. The UFC will become safer, and Aurora will be recognized as the brand that made that possible.
As time goes on, though, we’re going to start seeing more direct sponsorships.
In fact, you may have already noticed one this weekend.
The Race Is On
If you happened to be watching the Indy 500 on Sunday, you might have noticed a new sponsor’s name and logo adorning Carlin Racing’s #23 Chevrolet.
Craft 1861 made history by becoming the first cannabis company to sponsor a car in professional racing.
The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company, which provides hemp-derived CBD products geared towards athletes, was only approved for the sponsorship following a lengthy review process by the race’s sanctioning body, IndyCar.
As a result, CBD raced around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway right alongside mobile carriers and home improvement stores.
While Craft 1861’s sponsorship was the first of its kind on Sunday, it will not take long for CBD advertising to move from a novelty to commonplace.
But it’s not always cannabis companies going to sports, as one rugby team is proving.
When Sports Go to Cannabis
The Toronto Wolfpack is diving head first into the “Year of CBD.”
Earlier this month, the Rugby League Football team announced it would be launching a line of CBD products.
The products will be sold under the newly created HowlBrands subsidiary, beginning with the release of the inaugural CBD-infused topical cream Rugby Strength in the coming months.
The team is partnering with International Cannabis and Organic Flower to release the products in both Europe and North America.
I’m not surprised to see this move come out of rugby. As the Wolfpack’s chairman David Argyle will tell you, “Rugby is a gladiatorial sport. You have your fair share of bumps and bruises, and for recovery and inflammatory pain management, CBD products are very, very effective.”
Now that these deals are starting to hit, it’s time that investors stop being surprised by them. These products are our reality, and professional sports will continue to prove that point.
As these deals begin to move the cannabis markets, you need to make sure you don’t get left on the sidelines.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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13 responses to “CBD Continues to Dominate the Sports World”
May 28 2019