In what we suspect will be the first of many partnerships between CBD products and sports leagues, hemp oil brand Synchronicity inked a 4-year sponsorship deal with the United Soccer League (USL). With the deal, Synchronicity, along with their parent company Functional Remedies, become the first hemp oil sponsor of a U.S. professional sports league.
Josh Keller, SVP of Corporate Development and Partnerships for the USL, said the sponsorship made sense since both the USL and Functional Remedies “are at the forefront of growth in [their] respective industries.”
This partnership is not only pioneering in the space but also takes into consideration the wellness and recovery of our athletes and fans. We look forward to accomplishing great things together and believe the future is very bright.- Josh Keller, USL SVP of Partnerships
The USL has 47 professional clubs in the U.S. and Canada, more than 180 amateur and youth clubs, and its championship and League One are broadcast by ESPN. The partnership will see the products featured on USL stadium signage, social media channels, website, and app network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
It was unclear when fans would begin to see the Synchronicity brand via in-stadium signage or on their favorite team's jersey. The 2020 USL season, which has been shortened due to the COVID-19 health crisis, concludes in early October.
In a related story reported in early July, the Board of Governors of Major League Soccer is "likely" to approve CBD as a new, approved sponsorship category before the end of their 2020 season
First CBD Sponsorship of a U.S. Professional Sports League
The importance of the first of its kind U.S. CBD pro-sports league sponsorship cannot be understated for the cannabis industry. Traditionally, U.S. professional sports leagues, with the possible exception of the NBA, have been predictably slow in their acceptance of CBD, despite mounting evidence of its non-psychoactive, natural health benefits.
By starting with the Division 2 USL, Synchronicity has made a colossal statement to other leagues as to the appropriateness of CBD as a valuable financial partner, especially when considering dwindling sponsorship dollars driven by the current health crisis. It also represents a giant leap forward in potential consumer education through new out-of-home platforms and merchandising.
For their part, Functional Remedies was equally excited about the possibilities of the USL sponsorship.
“Athletes – young and young at heart – are looking for natural and organic remedies and supplements to improve performance, and professional athletes specifically are adopting these types of products into their regimen.This is beyond a sponsorship for us, it’s an opportunity to continue to educate consumers on the incredible benefits of full-spectrum hemp oil and spread the message of wellness through oneness.”- Andre Campbell, CEO, Functional Remedies
CBD and Sports League Sponsorships
CBD is not currently approved by any major U.S. pro sports leagues, although the last year has seen an openness to cannabis and CBD with rule changes by both the NBA and NFL, as well as a growing outspokenness by a number of high profile professional athletes.
Given the devastating financial pressure all leagues are facing due to the COVID-19 health crisis, and a growing acceptance of these products by consumers, look for team owners to think with their wallets not their misperceptions and accept more CBD brand sponsorships in the very near future.
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