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Pop Warner to build gaming offerings in Rival deal

BY BEN FISCHER , Sports Business Journal, 9.2.2021

Pop Warner Little Scholars has struck a deal with gaming competition software maker Rival to build an esports component to the youth football, cheer and dance nonprofit, a bid to diversify and pandemic-proof its offerings to participants, fundraisers and sponsors. Rival, which has a similar deal with the Seahawks, will become the tech platform of all gaming programming across Pop Warner. It expects to launch an esports tournament in conjunction with the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida in December. Also, regional groups and members will be able to create their own competitions on Rivals, which they hope might carry some appeal to sponsors and donors. Pop Warner has about 300,000 members.

“We’re creating another community asset for them for when they can’t be on the field,” said Rival CRO Paul Brewer. “They’re playing video games anyway, and this is a way of addressing that.” Pop Warner Exec Dir Jon Butler called esports a “natural complement” to their traditional focus, and said Rival will create new ways of strengthening team bonds, encouraging local competition and raising money. Despite the virtual bolt-on, he said Pop Warner will still encourage a balance of physical activity, academics and socializing.

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