Lakers superstar LeBron James is partnering with Calm app, which is already valued at over $1 … [+]
Sports in the information age has changed in many ways. Players have more ways to prepare for and analyze their games and worldwide fan bases can watch their team play, whether they live across the street from the arena or halfway around the world.
One of the biggest advantages of this 24/7 news cycle, where anyone can be a de facto media outlet, is the free flow of information. From the athlete’s perspective, this is a plus when a great play is made on the court or field but it can have the opposite effect when a miscue or poor play occurs. With information traveling so fast, the player’s embarrassment can be shared across the world often before they can even come off the court.
One of the world’s best basketball players is looking to reduce these negative consequences by promoting a sound mind when so much of the focus is on the physical demands of playing a sport. To that end, future Hall of Famer and current Los Angeles Laker forward, LeBron James, has partnered with meditation and sleep app Calm to shine on a light on mental fitness and the important role it plays in a successful athletic career, especially when a player has passed their prime and may need to rely on tools other than their athletic abilities. James will produce original audio content on the platform and take a leading marketing role in promoting the app on television, billboards and other avenues that can take advantage of his enormous worldwide reach.
“As an athlete, there’s a lot of focus on physical fitness. This partnership with Calm is all about mental fitness. It’s something I’ve always prioritized, and it’s just as important to my game, my career, and my life than anything I can do physically,” said LeBron James in an official release. “The ability to focus and calibrate everything going on inside your mind is a skill that can be strengthened over time, and Calm helps me do that. Through this partnership, I’m also excited to share that important tool with the youth in my Foundation and across the country.”
James’ “Train Your Mind,” series will feature 10-minute segments that focus specifically on mental fitness, managing one’s emotions and maintaining a mental equilibrium. It will also focus on sleep, which James has, rather famously, made a key component of his routine. Five episodes were released on the app earlier this month and Calm members can expect more sleep-related content as the app ramps up production with James in 2020.
Last year when Calm observed that many users were using the app to fall asleep the company launched its “Sleep Stories” series. Listeners can choose from a variety of “stories”, from fiction to the reading of Brexit legal documents. The series has become a huge success, as TechCrunch reported earlier this year when the company announced its $27 million funding round. There have been 150 million listens, over 2 million paid subscribers and over 50 million downloads.
The partnership with James will allow Calm to expand its self-help content library to include stretching routines and other forms of personal relaxation that include original relaxing music.
“In his tireless work as a philanthropist, LeBron has supported and inspired youth to achieve their full potential,” said Alex Tew, Calm co-founder, and co-CEO. “This partnership extends that mission, by offering the tools of mental fitness to youth organizations across the country. As LeBron has experienced in his own life, a young mind can be powerfully shaped if introduced to mental wellness.”
While James brings an added dimension to any business, Calm is no lean startup. The company became the first unicorn in the mental health industry this past February when it raised $88 million based on a $1 billion company valuation. Calm was founded in 2012 by Tew and Michael Acton-Smith.
As James continues to play at an MVP-level in his 17th NBA season, he looks for additional edges on the court as his physical tools inevitably diminish. With Calm, he believes he will be able to share what he’s learned with his worldwide fan base. James is also a consummate entrepreneur and will be able to monetize his wisdom in this area.
“It (Calm app) calmed my mind throughout the stressful times of playing the game of basketball, at the stressful times of being a parent, at the stressful times of being just a human in a stressful world that we all deal with on a day-to-day basis,’’ said James, who added that this will allow him “to be able to empower athletes once again, to give them an opportunity to be able to tap into something that sometimes athletes don’t know that we have.’’