Anyone who has ever played pick-up basketball at some point in their lives would be interested in this. There is something called The Basketball Tournament, and it is something every person reading and listening to this podcast can contribute to. I spoke with CEO Jonathan Mugar about TBT, and its new partnership with ESPN.
Conceived by Mugar as the ultimate opportunity for fans, athletes and social media mavens to create teams and then participate in a high-stakes, professionally run and organized sporting event, The Basketball Tournament is a winner-take-all single elimination open competition for players 18 years of age or older. In its first season, The Basketball Tournament drew over 100 potential team entries from around the country with 32 teams ultimately making the field. Participants ranged from professional players and recent college talent to local legends and pickup basketball stars. An overwhelming success in its launch year, the event is doubling in size in 2015.
The Basketball Tournament (TBT), the single-elimination, winner-take-all, open-application tournament launched in 2014, today announced a television deal with ESPN for 2015, which will see the tournament spread nationally and the field expand to 96 teams. Opening rounds begin July 10-12 at regional sites in Los Angeles and Atlanta and continue July 17-19 in Chicago and Philadelphia. Play continues on Thursday, July 23, when defending champion Notre Dame Fighting Alumni meet the lower seeded Chicago entrant in the opening game of the Super 17 live from Chicago and televised on ESPNU. Play continues the following day on Friday, July 24, from Chicago, with the Round of 16, which TBT will live stream. ESPNU will then carry all four Quarterfinal games on Saturday July 25, marathon coverage, live from Chicago. Whoever makes it out of Chicago will then travel to New York City for the semifinals on Saturday, August 1, carried live on ESPN. The next day, Sunday, August 2, the two finalists will play in the winner-take-all, $1 Million Championship Game, at 3pm ET on ESPN. In 2015, up to 96 teams plus defending champion Notre Dame Fighting Alumni will play for a grand prize of $1 Million, doubling last year’s prize of $500,000.
Entry into TBT is free, with an application period that runs from April 1st through June 1st . The only way for Teams to qualify is to organize themselves and recruit votes via TheTournament.com. To be considered for entry, teams must consist of a General Manager (GM), at least seven players, and have 100+ votes. GMs will create team profiles on TheTournament.com in hopes of garnering enough votes to get an automatic bid to the tournament by the June 1st application deadline. Applicants must be 18 or older.
Fans who have registered on TheTournament.com will vote for their favorite teams, and 18 teams per region will be selected solely based on how many fan votes they are able to recruit online. TBT will invite six additional teams to play in each region based on creativity and talent. Additionally, for the first time anywhere, the winning team’s fan group will share 5% ($50,000) of the overall prize.
Philadelphia University and Boston University played host to the first tournament in June of 2014.In the championship game, the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni (led by former All BIG EAST players Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, Russell Carter) defeated tournament favorite Team Barstool (led by Ross Burns, Dave Portnoy, Dan Katz and several players with NBA experience, including Los Angeles Clipper Dahntay Jones), 72-68, to win the event and the $500,000. The Notre Dame Fighting Alumni will be back to defend their title in 2015.