Sports leagues, teams, and events, as well as athletes, have become active players in the CBD industry, with many of their efforts focused on pain management. In fact, athletes and sports licensors account for 19.2% of IP partnership deals done in 2019 and 2020 in the cannabis space, second only to musicians, who have been responsible for 20.6% of deals over the period. This is according to research Raugust Communications conducted in September; the data includes cannabis partnerships related to both CBD and THC and can be viewed here.
Partnerships in the CBD space are often strictly promotional, taking the form of brand ambassadorships or sponsorships. But some are licensing deals (or company investments) that produce new lines of branded supplements, drinks, and/or topical products such as tinctures, lotions, and creams (all THC-free). No matter the specifics, agreements such as these demonstrate the mainstreaming of CBD for sports recovery and pain relief.
Some examples of CBD-sports alliances announced since April 2020:
- In separate deals, former NBA player Magic Johnson and NHL athlete Seth Jones paired with Uncle Bud’s Hemp & CBD as brand ambassadors to promote the company’s range of products, which are sold at Kohls, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath & Beyond, the Vitamin Shoppe, and online, as beneficial for pain relief and general wellness. Johnson’s relationship with the firm includes a financial investment.
- The San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League partnered with NanoCraft CBD as its Official CBD Partner. The company specializes in the sports, health, and fitness market and also has deals with a variety of athletes. Pro golfer Pat Perez, who had used NanoCraft’s products to alleviate his elbow tendinitis, recently teamed with the brand for social media posts, the use of company branded merchandise, and additional promotional initiatives. Other athletes involved with the company include pro surfers Eli Olson and Mason Ho, kickboxer Tiffany Von Soest, and more.
- Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre paired with CBD specialist Green Eagle, signing on as a brand ambassador. Green Eagle offers topical creams and sprays, among other CBD items.
- United Soccer paired with Functional Remedies’ Synchronicity full-spectrum hemp oil brand in a four-year sponsorship deal negotiated by Premier Partnerships. As part of the agreement, the brand will generate awareness on stadium signage and USL’s social media channels, website, and apps.
- Jay Glazer, a Fox sports commentator, sportswriter, and mixed martial arts trainer to NFL players, became a founding partner of Champions + Legends, a hemp and CBD supplements start-up, along with athletes including former NFLer James Harrison, strongman and actor Thor Bjornsson, weightlifter and CrossFit athlete Sara Sigmundsdottir, and rock climber Adam Ondra.
- The Premiere Lacrosse League named Mendi its Official CBD Partner for the PLL Championship Series in summer 2020. The brand counts several of the league’s players, among athletes in other sports, on its roster of brand ambassadors.
- Boxer Roy Jones Jr. launched Left Hook CBD with The Emerald Corp., a maker of CBD products enhanced with botanical supplements. The line debuted with a joint rub containing arnica oil and turmeric, a lotion with frankincense and lavender, a sleep tincture with melatonin, and a tincture with spirulina.
Other sports-CBD team-ups include Tony Hawk and his Birdhouse Skateboards brand with 1933 Industries’ Canna Hemp X label, Mike Tyson’s Tyson Ranch brand with Vapor DNA, arena soccer team the New Mexico Runners with Outwest 505 Distributing and Elev8 Brands, former NFL player Franco Harris with DouleuRx CBD, golfer Bubba Watson and UFC champion Daniel Cormier with cbdMD, tennis player John Isner with DEFY, and golfer Michael Thompson with Cativa CBD, among many more. (See our last post on this subject, published in February 2020, for additional examples.)