Welcome back to the final "Sports & Entertainment Spotlight" of 2021 (cue the fireworks, standing ovations, Champagne-popping, etc.)!  If there's one thing I have learned about New Year's Eve in my 30-something trips around the sun, it's that the pomp and circumstance (I feel like that would be a great name for a hip-hop duo) never quite live up to the hype. Sure, watching the ball drop in Times Square sounds great in theory until you realize you're standing around in the cold for hours on end, without a restroom in sight, while listening to mediocre lip-synched performances (that's to say nothing of the additional challenges from the pandemic). For a truly enjoyable evening, low expectations are the name of the game. So, it is in that vein that I write this entry.  Were you hoping for a countdown of the top sports and entertainment law stories of 2021? I hope not! Perhaps some sort of retrospective of notable events? Not going to happen! An Auld Lang Syne-themed post along the same lines as last week's "Jingle Bells" rendition? Surely you jest! No, my friends, this year I will keep it low-key and leave you with gratitude for your readership in 2021 and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

With extra creative juices stored up for 2022, maybe I'll try something a little more ambitious for next NYE. Whatever it is, at least I'll know that I will have set the bar low…

Endorsement Deals, Sponsorships & Investments

How Hong Kong Boy Band Mirror Led a Canto-Pop Revival in 2021 and Used Their Fame to Endorse Brands from Gucci to Cartier and Burberry
December 26, 2021 via Asia Newsday
Canto-pop boy band Mirror can reflect on 2021 as a year of success. The group rose to fame in 2018 after its 12 members competed in ViuTV's reality talent show Good Night Show – King Maker.

Teampaper Announces Revolutionary Team-Based NIL Project With CFP and Bowl-Bound Football Players
December 23, 2021 via MENAFN - Top Stories
VC-backed creator company is teaming up with Cincinnati, Alabama, Oklahoma and other top schools to make NIL more stable and sustainable for NCAA athletes.

Inside Tiktok Star Addison Rae's Multimillion-Dollar Business, From a Rich Netflix Deal to Her Item Beauty Joint Venture
December 22, 2021 via Business Insider Italy
In just two years, Addison Rae has gone from TikTok star to mainstream celebrity. She's capitalized on that with a beauty line, Netflix and Spotify deals and a slew of endorsements.

International College Athletes Studying in the U.S. Will Miss Out on Lucrative Endorsement Deals
December 24, 2021 via Fortune
UConn forward Dorka Juhasz, like many of her teammates, was excited when she heard college athletes would be allowed to make money through celebrity endorsements and other means. The problem? Juhasz, who is from Hungary, is among the more than 12 percent of college athletes in the United States from a foreign country — including more than 3,000 Division I athletes — the vast majority of whom are at school on F-1 student visas, according to the NCAA.

Athletes That Got Major Deals in 2021
December 28, 2021 via Nairametrics
2021 has seen more sports stars attract more sponsorships as brands look to leverage on their popularity to reach and target even more fans, as sports tries to return to full-scale.

Sports

How John Madden Became the ‘Larger-Than-Life' Face of a Gaming Empire
December 29, 2021 via NY Times (subscription may be required)
Madden, who died Tuesday, December 28, helped bring to life a series of football video games that has generated $7 billion in revenue since 1988.

Stricter Canadian Rules Complicate NHL Push Through Pandemic
December 28, 2021 via Fox News - Latest News
Sixteen months after choosing Canada as the safest place to complete its season, the NHL now faces a series of hurdles north of the border that complicate its bid to power through the pandemic all over again.

NBA Shortens Isolation Period for Players Who Test Positive for COVID
December 28, 2021 via Bloomberg – News (subscription may be required)
NBA players who test positive for COVID-19 now have a quicker path to return to play, after the league completed a significant update to its health and safety protocols on Monday, December 27.

NCAA Clears Way for Rutgers to Replace A&M in Gator Bowl
December 23, 2021 via Bloomberg – News (subscription may be required)
Rutgers will replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest after an NCAA committee decided Thursday, December 23, to adhere to an existing policy for making teams with 5-7 records bowl eligible.

Music Biz

Unions and Musicians Poised to Settle Royalty Lawsuit for $8 Million
December 28, 2021 via Lawyers and Settlements
On November 8, the District Court for the Central District of California gave preliminary approval to a proposal that will end a 2018 lawsuit between studio musicians and their unions.

Brit Beat: the Top 10 U.K. Music Industry Stories of 2021, From Adele's Comeback to Streaming Battles and Brexit Woes
December 22, 2021 via Register Citizen
It's been another tumultuous year for the U.K. music business. Some issues were hangovers from 2020 – the seemingly endless COVID crisis and the related ongoing live-sector meltdown – but there were also plenty of new angles to get to grips with.

When 'The Boss' is Worth $500 Million, it's Time for Stars to Sell Their Back Catalogs
December 22, 2021 via GPB News
Bruce Springsteen's entire back catalog – including songwriting and recordings – reportedly cost Sony Music Group north of $500 million.

Film & TV

ESPN Has $400 Million in College Football Playoff Ads at Risk From COVID
December 28, 2021 via Bloomberg – News (subscription may be required)
The spike in COVID-19 cases imperils as much as $400 million in college football playoff advertising for Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN sports network because of the growing risk games may be canceled, Bloomberg Intelligence estimated in a note Tuesday, December 28.

Barstool Sports Planning for Unique Coverage of Arizona Bowl
December 27, 2021 via Sports Business Journal
For the first time in over 40 years, a major college football bowl game will not air on traditional television and instead will go direct to consumers, and free, via digital, social media and the Internet.

Polish President Vetoes Media Law Slammed by Us
December 27, 2021 via International Business Times - Top Stories
Following pressure from the EU and US, Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoed a media ownership law that critics said was aimed at silencing the US-owned news channel TVN24.

New ESPN+ Deal Benefits NAU Directly Through Recruiting, Other Areas
December 24, 2021 via AZ Daily Sun News
With the move to ESPN+, the Big Sky Conference has the ability to showcase its games across the nation. By broadening the scope of viewership and exposure, the conference can cast a wider net in recruiting high school players to come play for Big Sky schools.

Sky Studios Strikes Documentary Deal With Dorothy St. Pictures
December 23, 2021 via Hollywood Reporter
The British banner has been behind films such as the Bruce Lee doc 'Be Water' while the company's director/producer Becky Read produced 'Three Identical Strangers'. Sky Studios, the production arm of Comcast 's European pay-TV giant Sky, has inked a development deal with U.K.-based banner Dorothy St. Pictures.

Sony Pictures and Zee Close to Forming a Powerful Merged Company
December 22, 2021 via The Drum
In what could be a major defining development, two of the leading Indian content players – Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited (SPN) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) – have signed an agreement to merge, which would help them better compete with the world's largest streaming players.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

MetaBirkins Creator Says He Received a Cease & Desist from Hermès, Claims Fair Use
December 28, 2021 via The Fashion Law (subscription may be required)
Hermès appears to have made good on its claims about NFTs that were marketed as MetaBirkins without its authorization. Creator Mason Rothschild revealed in an open letter to Hermès that he posted on his Instagram account on December 22 that he received a cease-and-desist letter from the French luxury goods brand.

Stan Lee Fans Alert! You Can Now Purchase 'Chakra the Invincible' NFT Collection
December 28, 2021 via Business Today
There is good news for Stan Lee fans, they can now purchase NFTs inspired by the legend's first international superhero creations – Chakra the Invincible.

Ozzy Osbourne Announces First NFT Collection, 'Cryptobatz'
December 27, 2021 via Blabbermouth
Ozzy Osbourne has announced his first foray into the crypto industry with the launch of Cryptobatz, a collection of 9,666 NFTs. The collection is a nod to his infamous bat-biting incident.

Sacramento Kings to Sell NFTs Tied to Real-World Rewards
December 23, 2021 via Sportico – Business (subscription may be required)
The Sacramento Kings are set to launch their latest NFT offering, as NBA teams continue to experiment with blockchain products.

Inside Melania Trump's Year Since Leaving the White House as Ex-First Lady Launches NFTs of Her Eyes
December 23, 2021 via The US Sun
Since Donald Trump left the White House in early 2021, his wife Melania Trump has been conspicuously absent from the public eye. But behind the scenes, the former First Lady has been working on projects including charity fundraising, and signs indicate her husband's potential presidential run may bring her back into the spotlight.

Steph Curry Released $333 NFT Sneakers You Can ‘Wear' in the Metaverse and They're Already Sold Out
December 22, 2021 via Fortune
National Basketball Association player and recent crypto convert Stephen Curry released a collection of 2,974 NFTs featuring digital replicas of the shoes he wore when he when he broke the 3-point scoring record this month, allowing owners to show them off across three different metaverses.

Martha Stewart Now Has Her Own Christmas NFTs
December 22, 2021 via Mashed
Renowned chef Martha Stewart took a leap of faith earlier this year and announced the launch of her first NFTs, according to PR Newswire. The chef has now announced new NFTs for the holiday season.

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