It’s In The Game

February 23, 2024 It’s In The Game

By: Carlos Alvarez

Happy Friday

You made it, team. A massive weekend watch-list brings us one step closer to spring with basketball, hockey and soccer in bunches over the next 72 hours. Bracket season is coming fast.

Today’s weekend primer is short and sweet with one main feature before a heavy dose of highlights. It’s college sports’ full-circle moment with NIL (name, image and likeness), and it has a lot to do with… video games?

Letter Rip!



NIL\’s Full-Circle Moment

Image via @EASportsCollege Twitter

EA Sports Offers College Football Players $600 to Opt-In for New Video Game

A decade later… It all started with Ed O’Bannon and the name, image and likeness (NIL) lawsuit to rule them all in 2009. That antitrust shockwave rocked a generation of college athletics (and video gamers) and sparked a decade of unprecedented changes. Now, the return of the iconic college football video game is drawing hype, and the details are beginning to emerge. News broke yesterday that EA Sports is offering college football players $600 to be featured in the new EA College Football 25. There are roughly 11,000 players across 134 FBS teams. And while EA (Electronic Arts) has plenty of details to sort through (and get right), it’s a full-circle moment for NIL. Let\’s discuss.

How Video Games Paved the Way

Almost every Millenial sports fan can remember playing college sports video games back in the early 2000s and 2010s. You could kill a few hours after class playing with friends in your college dorm room or grinding through a season with your favorite college team. I remember it well. It was a simpler time. I also remember writing a college paper on the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit in 2009. Little did I know how the next 15 years would transpire.

The Lawsuit That Changed Everything

O\’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, sued the NCAA, EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company for using his name, image and likeness, without his permission or compensation, in the college basketball video game produced by EA Sports. As the lead plaintiff, O’Bannon flipped the NCAA upside down and became the face of a generational shift in how businesses and universities can classify and utilize student-athletes. In 2014, five years later, a federal court ruled in O’Bannon’s favor, causing an overhaul in antitrust laws for the three organizations involved. EA Sports stopped producing its NCAA College Basketball video game in 2009. And NCAA College Football 2014 was the last rendition of the football game ever released. The latter\’s long-awaited return has been set for Summer 2024 with an official reveal in May.

Opting In (Or Out) of an Epic Comeback

While the release details are still murky, the game’s cult following is certainly excited to see news and info about EA’s developers making progress. A $600 check isn’t much for a Division I football player, but seeing yourself in a video game? Priceless… Maybe. There appears to be a lot of interest among most players, but plenty of the top stars in the sport are expected to opt-out. EA will have to fill opted-out players with generic avatars and fake names, making the game slightly less desirable, but rules are rules. Coaches will also be presented with the option to be part of the game. It appears this is just step one in a long list of safety measures as we get closer to the epic release. EA also announced that it will block gamers from modifying the game, so modders can’t include or add players who didn\’t opt in.

Whether you’re a gamer or not, expect to see more news surrounding this iconic relaunch in the months ahead. A decade without a college football video game has left a void among enthusiasts, and there\’s a nostalgia factor for many college football fans in their 30s and 40s (myself included). It’s on its way back, and that’s a full-circle moment after the last decade of the NIL whirlwind. Cue the crowd noise…

EA Sports College Football 25 Teaser Trailer (Released Last Week)

Read More

Forbes: EA Sports to Give College Football Players $600 to Appear in New Game

ESPN: NIL, Realignment & Everything to Know About the New EA Sports College Football Game

AP News: EA Sports CFB25 to Block Gamers From Manually Adding Players Who Reject NIL Opt-In



Triple-Double vs. Everybody

Photo: Dylan Buell / Getty Images

Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic Becomes 4th Player in NBA History With Triple-Double Against Every Team

More history for the two-time MVP! Nuggets’ star and reigning NBA champ Nikola Jokic secured another piece of history on Thursday night as the NBA restarts for the post-All-Star break stretch run. Jokic tallied 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists on perfect 10-for-10 shooting in a win over the Wizards (130-110). That made him the fourth player in NBA history with a triple-double against every opponent in the NBA. Only LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Maurice Stokes reside on that list. Jokic now has 120 career triple-doubles at the age of 29, which places him fourth all-time. The Joker has registered a triple-double in almost 20 percent of the games he’s played through nine seasons. He’s on pace to be the all-time triple-double leader (200+) if he plays beyond age 36, or at least until Luka Doncic catches up. For now, it’s another \’nugget\’ of history for Jokic.

NBA All-Time Triple-Doubles List

1. Russell Westbrook (198)

2. Oscar Robertson (181)

3. Magic Johnson (138)

4. Nikola Jokic (120)

5. LeBron James (110)

Rest of the Top-10: 6. Jason Kidd (107), 7. Wilt Chamberlain (78), 8. James Harden (75), 9. Luka Doncic (66), 10. Larry Bird (59)

Watch: Nikola Jokic (21-19-15) Completes Triple-Double Against All 31 NBA Opponents

Fun Fact: Domantas Sabonis (Kings) actually leads the NBA in triple-doubles this season (18). It was Jokic’s 16th of the year.

NBA Highlights

Knicks def. 76ers (110-96)

Pacers def. Pistons (129-113)

Magic def. Cavaliers (116-109)

Raptors def. Nets (121-93)

Celtics def. Bulls (129-112)

Pelicans def. Rockets (127-105)

Thunder def. Clippers (129-107)

Hornets def. Jazz (115-107)

Kings def. Spurs (127-122)

Warriors def. Lakers (128-110)

*Steph Curry Drops 32 in West Coast Battle

Mavericks def. Suns (123-113)

*Luka Doncic (41) & Kyrie Irving (29) Combine for 70




Flames def. Bruins (3-2, OT)

*Nazem Kadri Nets OT Winner

Hurricanes def. Panthers (1-0)

*Sebastian Aho Scores Late Winner

Blues def. Islanders (4-0)

*Pavel Buchnevich Tallies Hat Trick

Red Wings def. Avalanche (2-1, OT)

*Patrick Kane Nets OT Winner

Maple Leafs def. Golden Knights (7-3)

*Auston Matthews Scores 52nd Goal

Rangers def. Devils (5-1)

*Lafreniere Nets 2, NYR Win 9th Straight

NCAA Basketball

M: #3 Purdue def. Rutgers (96-68)

M: #21 Wash. State def. #4 Arizona (77-74)

W: #1 S. Carolina def. Alabama (72-44)

*Coach Dawn Staley Wins 600th Game

W: #14 Indiana def. #4 Iowa (86-69)

*Caitlin Clark Held to 4 Points in 2nd Half

W: N. Carolina def. #6 NC State (80-70)

W: #12 UCLA def. #18 Utah (82-52)



Projecting Starting QBs in 2024

The NFL quarterback carousel figures to have several interesting potential twists this offseason, and it starts at the top with the Chicago Bears and the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Fields. Wilson. Cousins. Who starts where in 2024? (Sporting News)

Playoff Miss Meter: Lakers or Warriors?

Two of the NBA\’s marquee franchises are in real danger of missing the 2024 playoffs. Right now, L.A.\’s in ninth place in the standings. Golden State is in 10th. If the season ended today, they\’d face each other in an elimination game. (Bleacher Report)

MLS Jersey Power Rankings

Remember the  MLS days of plain white shirts with a crest and sponsor? Thankfully, those days are gone as the league is delivering us some surefire heat now. Brush up on the bold designs of MLS jerseys before this weekend’s season kickoff. (ESPN)





The Weekend Must-Watch List


Cavaliers at 76ers (Fri. 7:30 pm, ESPN)

Bucks at Timberwolves (Fri. 10:00 pm, ESPN)

Celtics at Knicks (Sat. 8:30 pm, ABC)

Bucks at 76ers (Sun. 1:00 pm, ABC)

Lakers at Suns (Sun. 3:00 pm, ABC)
Nuggets at Warriors (Sun. 7:00 pm, ESPN)
Kings at Clippers (Sun. 9:30 pm, ESPN)

Full NBA Schedule


Mape Leafs at Avalanche (Sat. 7:00 pm, NHLN)
Bruins at Canucks (Sat. 7:00 pm, ESPN+)

Stars at Hurricanes (Sat. 8:00 pm, ESPN+)

Flames at Oilers (Sat. 10:00 pm, ESPN+)

Lightning at Devils (Sun. 1:00 pm, TNT)

Flyers at Penguins (Sun. 3:30 pm, TNT)

Full NHL Schedule


Gold Cup: USWNT vs. Argentina (Fri. 10:15 pm, Par+)

EPL: Chelsea vs. Liverpool (Sun. 10:00 am, ESPN+)

MLS: LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders (Sat. 4:30 pm, FOX)

MLS: LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami (Sun. 8:30 pm, AppleTV)

Full MLS Opening Weekend Schedule

NCAA College Basketball

M: #2 Houston at #11 Baylor (Sat. Noon, CBS)
M: #8 Duke at Wake Forest (Sat. 2:00 pm, ESPN)

M: #10 N. Carolina at Virginia (Sat. 4:00 pm, ESPN)

M: #13 Alabama at #17 Kentucky (Sat. 4:00 pm, CBS)
M: Texas at #9 Kansas (Sat. 6:00 pm, ESPN)

M: Villanova at #1 UConn (Sat. 8:00 pm, FOX)

W: #11 Colorado at #7 USC (Fri. 10:00 pm, PAC12)

W: #13 LSU at Tennessee (Sun. Noon, ESPN)

*All Times ET