CES 2019 Athlete Recap

What Athletes Are Learning Through Tech At CES

I had the pleasure of attending CES this year. CES is the consumer electronics show that is the largest convention in Las Vegas. Every year hundreds of thousands of individuals in the tech space from AI to Virtual Reality to Automation to Health Care to Sports catch up and share the latest and greatest trends in those particular fields. I had the pleasure of attending on behalf of NEXT PLAY and participating at The Player’s Impact Beyond The Game Summit.

Athletes on tour at CES

Athletes on tour at CES

I was not only able to go on private tours and meet some of the leaders in the tech space I was also fortunate enough to lead a workshop and judge a pitch competition. Although the CES was a bit overwhelming with the amount of traffic there, it was a great opportunity to learn, grow, and network.

Athletes are more and more invested in tech. Whether it’s investing capital or sharing expertise. It was great to see so many current and former athletes involved in this space. It’s important, specifically as it pertains to sports, fitness, data, and everything else involving sports tech, that athletes are involved in the decision making process. My only hope is that we continue to grow the trend of athletes getting more involved in tech. Truth be told it doesn’t only have to be involved in investing. Here are some of the major things I learned during CES:



Add value or gain value

In whatever capacity you decide to join a company or team make sure you are doing one of those two things, if not, you are wasting yours time and their time. It makes no sense to get into a situation if you can’t provide or obtain value. As an athlete particularly there will be a lot of deals that come your way but not all those opportunities will allow you to either add value or gain value. It’s important to analyze the situation before you jump into 

What’s your value add

Not only understanding your value add to a specific proposition but being able to contextualize it and pitch yourself. Don’t sell yourself or your capabilities short. It doesn’t matter if you are the star player or the bench warmer, there are only so many athletes that make it to the NCAA even less make it to elite professional level, use that to your advantage when negotiating 

The Most Dangerous person in the world is an athlete that knows he can compete in another arena

 Ryan Nece said this and I completely agree. Professional athletes have all the capabilities to succeed in whatever arena they choose. The problem is that there are only so many professional athletes that realize there are other arenas to compete in. Think about all the qualities that make you excel in your sport and see how easy the transfer to other sectors in business and life.


What type of business you’re in requires a different sort of capital

 Not every business needs Venture Capital to succeed maybe you need a bank loan maybe your approach is the self-finance route. We are now in a time, where raising money is almost the standard practice but it’s important to know what type of business you’re in and what exactly you need to help your business make money and or scale. If you are making revenue right off the bat, your approach may be different from a company that has a large user base but isn’t seeing profit yet.


You don’t have to invest capital 

Dave Meltzer put it in layman’s terms. You are an expert and you can get into companies without investing capital. I thought that was very interesting. That even though athletes have the capital in most cases to invest, we can do a lot more than just be a source of capital or “dumb money”. Many times companies and founders will say “we want you to have skin in the game” Meltzer says that take that with a grain of salt. Our expertise should be more than enough to get on an advisory board. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you can negotiate but his line of thinking was great to consider.


 Inspiration can come from anywhere in sports

Jason Fox, former NFL player who founded his music social sharing app Earbuds literally thought of his idea during warms up while looking at Cam Newton warming up with his headphones…just like innovators think of their ideas out of nowhere the same can happen with athletes. Fox knew nothing about coding but he knew he had a great idea and found people that could help him accomplish what he needed to accomplish. If he didn’t think he could achieve it he would have just had a great idea but he went about getting the job done..Fox ended up winning the pitch completion with a great presentation and by all accounts a great product.

You have a unique story

There is a reason why athletes and military veterans have an exceptional acceptance rate when it comes to attending grad school. You have a unique story. The key is being able to craft your story and unlocking the things that make you so special. During dinner two entrepreneurs, one graduated from Wharton business school, the other Harvard business school both worth well over millions of dollars told me and other fellow athletes that we would be locks if we applied to business school granted we get decent GMAT scores. This just goes to show, that athletes should never pigeonhole themselves into what they are capable of doing.