Election Day 2020 is still almost a full year away, but expect more athletes — some with Boston or New England roots such as Jayson Tatum of the Celtics — to lend their interest and fame to the “When We All Vote” initiative to spark voter registration and turnout efforts around the United States.
“When We All Vote” is a bipartisan nonprofit organization launched last year by former First Lady Michelle Obama and six other co-chairs, including NBA star Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
US soccer star Megan Rapinoe also joined the co-chair ranks — a list that includes Tom Hanks, Janelle Monae, Faith Hill, and Lin-Manuel Miranda — this month.
The organization has compiled a lengthy list of ambassadors from the sports world who will lend their time to promoting lifelong voting habits.
“Sports is a good focus for us,” said Crystal Carson, communications director for When We All Vote. “Mrs. Obama has always looked at athletics and sports as a cornerstone of culture, knowing that a lot of people look at and participate in sports.
“Part of our goal is to really change the culture around voting, which means people not just thinking of it as an afterthought or even as a belief but really integrating it into their lives, starting early and throughout. With culture having such a huge tie to sports, athletes are perfect to really help spread and engage that message.”
Besides Tatum, athletes on the list with local ties include WNBA players Carolyn Swords, of Boston College and Lincoln-Sudbury High School, and Gabby Williams, plus hockey player Hilary Knight, formerly with the Boston Blades and Boston Pride.
Other athletes on the ambassador list include soccer players Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, basketball players Sue Bird, Candace Parker, and Harrison Barnes, and figure skaters Adam Rippon and Alex and Maia Shibutani.
Dates for rallies and speaking engagements will be announced later this year, with the bulk of activities slated for the buildup to voter registration deadlines and next November’s election.
For more information, visit whenweallvote.org.
Jeff Hammerbacher, a data scientist and Harvard graduate who crossed paths with Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill at the University of Michigan, has donated $50,000 to the fund Hill and his wife established in memory of their late son, who died six years ago from a genetic disorder. Hill, a Milton native, and his wife Caitlin launched their “Field of Genes” campaign last February with a $575,000 donation to the fund, which is run out of Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. Hammerbacher’s research focus is genetics. See fieldofgenes.org for more information . . . In comments at the groundbreaking ceremony for the MGM Music Hall behind Fenway Park, MGM Resorts International CEO and Connecticut native Jim Murren expressed how pleased he is with the company’s partnership with the Red Sox. Murren, who described MGM’s goal as “we try to entertain the human race,” said the company is proud of its Springfield casino and that “we want to continue to grow, and grow we will.”
76ers are all in
The Philadelphia 76ers became the first NBA team to strike a sponsorship deal with a mobile sports book, FOX Bet. Sports betting is legal in Pennsylvania. The NBA has struck its own deals with MGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel in the sports betting realm . . . Gillette is diving into eSports sponsorship, announcing recently that it is using its brand in “embedded broadcast segments, on-stream commercials and live on-air promotions” at the EA Sports FIFA Global Series. The series is ongoing now in Bucharest and will last for nine months, with $3 million in prize money. “The EA Sports FIFA 20 Global Series is an incredibly powerful esports platform, and to add it to Gillette’s long history in football, sports and esports is a true honor,” said Gary Coombe, CEO of Global Grooming at P&G/Gillette. Expect more esports sponsorship involvement domestically from Gillette with the highly sought-after young demographic.
The XFL, the next stab at a new football league, kicks off in February. According to The Athletic, the league will debut its own football, which is the same size and shape as the NFL standard, but instead of having closely packed raised pebbles on the pigskin, its pebbles are “tiny, interconnected X shapes.” There also are painted “X’s” on each tip of the ball. League headquarters are in Stamford, Conn., across the street from WWE headquarters, founded by Vince McMahon, owner of the XFL . . . Professional athletes are gravitating toward eSports as an investment vehicle. One company, NRG Esports, boasts Alex Rodriguez, Shaquille O’Neal, Marshawn Lynch, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins as investors/advisers. Also: Rodriguez’s fiancee, Jennifer Lopez.