Baseball NFTs are coming from Topps

These trading cards don’t come with any bubble gum.

Baseball cards are going digital.

Each token will use the WAX blockchain to keep a record of the ownership of each card, which can also be sold or traded on a global marketplace. Those who want to start collecting will need to open a free WAX Cloud Wallet.

For those unfamiliar, NFTs are unique digital tokens tied with certain digital assets such as a highlight video, a tweet or a picture. What takes a bit of open-mindedness is understanding that the token acts as a certificate of authenticity for the digital asset, but it doesn’t mean that picture or video is yours as you won’t own the intellectual rights. However, NFTs can be worth big bucks, such as the first-ever tweet going for $2.9 million, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski trading cards going for $1.8 million and even one guy making $85 selling his farts.

England vs. Italy at Euro 2020: How to watch, start time, prediction

It’s England vs. Italy for all the marbles. Here’s what you need to know…

Raheem Sterling has been England’s star performer during Euro 2020.

The Euro 2020 final featuring England vs. Italy takes place on July 11 at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT).

In the UK, that means 8 p.m. on July 11.

In Australia, it’ll be an early start at 5 a.m. on July 12.

In the US, ESPN and Univision have the rights to the UEFA European Championships. ESPN is televising 39 matches from the tournament and ESPN 2 is televising seven.

In the UK, you can watch for free on BBC and ITV, providing you have a TV license. Fans in the UK have become increasingly accustomed to having to pay Sky or BT Sport to watch soccer, not so with the UEFA European Championships.

In Australia, your best bet is to subscribe to Optus Sport. Personally, as a person living in Australia, I subscribe to Optus Sport. It not only gives you access to the UEFA European Championships, it gives you full access to the English Premier League, the Champions League and the Europa League. It’s a great, simple service. I love it.

It’s hard to call. Both teams have looked extremely solid all tournament. Italy are the most battle tested. They’ve had a rougher run to the final, having just beat Belgium and Spain — but England have looked extremely solid in defence. They’ve only conceded one goal in the tournament — a direct free kick against Denmark in the semi-final — and they’ve grown into the tournament in leaps and bounds.

According to the odds, England are very slight favourites, but it is razor close.

If you pushed me, I’m picking England, based on how strong their defence has looked. They have a lot of firepower and options on the bench as well, if things are tight. The ability to bring on a Jack Grealish, a Marcus Rashford or a Phil Foden has been a huge strength for England.

Just in case you missed the whole event and you’re coming in late!

The UEFA European Championships is similar to a World Cup, but only European teams can enter it. It’s a tournament where international teams — Italy, France, England, Spain and so forth — compete for a month in a competition that starts out in group stages, but progresses to a knockout phase and, ultimately, a final to decide the best team in Europe.

Like the World Cup it takes place every four years, so the stakes are high.

Belmont Stakes 2021: Post time, TV schedule, how to watch without cable

You don’t need cable to watch the last and longest leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown today on NBC.

The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes takes place on Saturday on NBC.

The Belmont Stakes takes place Saturday, June 5. TV coverage starts at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET) on NBC. Post time is set for 3:47 p.m. PT (6:47 p.m. ET).

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials and offer NBC. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Tokyo Olympics to be held under state of emergency, won’t allow spectators

Rising COVID-19 cases in Japan’s capital have led to a third state of emergency for the city, one that will last throughout the Olympic Games.

The Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“New cases in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area have been rising since June,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was reported as saying in the Japan Times. “Stronger measures have become necessary in those areas, but could be lifted early if we see evidence of the positive impact of the vaccine rollout.”

Tokyo’s COVID-19 cases peaked with the new year, with over 2,392 new cases on Jan. 8. Numbers have fallen since, but they’ve been rising since the middle of June. Tokyo recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on June 15, but July has seen new cases fluctuate between 500 and 920. It’s the third state of emergency the city has endured since the pandemic’s onset, following similar precautions in April and January.

Around 15% of Japan’s 126 million citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A worldwide death toll from the virus had risen to more than 4 million as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In Japan, nearly 15,000 people have died of the virus.

After being postponed more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. They’ll run through to Aug. 8. Though many experts cautioned against holding the games, Japan’s government has pressed on — albeit with increasing restrictions as the games approached.

Officials last month said local fans would be allowed to physically attend the games, but with venues limited to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators max. In March, officials banned overseas spectators from the Olympics.

Grab two pairs of NFL or MLB gloves for just $15 shipped

These logo-emblazoned utility gloves make an excellent (and useful) stocking stuffer.

Before you get too excited, be warned that not every NFL team is represented in the glove sale but 18 are, including the most storied franchises, such as the Packers, Steelers, Patriots, Giants, Cowboys and ‘Niners. You have fewer options for MLB teams: just the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Twins and Indians (who are soon to change their name).

You also can’t pair NFL gloves with MLB gloves, so you’ll have to pick two from the same sport. We haven’t gotten our hands in these gloves yet and so can’t speak to their quality, but they score high marks on Amazon, where the same gloves sell for $13 a pop.

How to rewatch the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics

Missed the opening ceremony? Here’s how to rewatch…

The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony takes place at Japan’s new Olympic Stadium.

NBC rebroadcast the event at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT) Friday, but that’s been and gone. Thankfully, NBC’s Peacock streaming service also has a page for the opening ceremony, noting it will be streamable the day after it airs.

In addition the Opening Ceremony and the replay will also stream in 4K HDR on two services, FuboTV and YouTube TV. See below for details.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics: Watch in 4K HDR with FuboTV, YouTube TV or broadcast

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, but only in 11 major markets. Unless you live in one of those markets, you won’t be able to stream NBC live. Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area. Read our YouTube TV review.

To watch in 4K HDR you’ll need to subscribe to be signed up for the company’s new 4K option that costs an extra $20 per month on top of the $65 regular monthly rate — although there’s a 30-day free trial that’s long enough to last through the entire Olympics. The 4K feed isn’t available in every market however; here’s the full list.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and includes the five NBC channels. Click here to see which local channels you get. Read our FuboTV review.

Unlike YouTube TV, Fubo’s 4K coverage of the Olympics doesn’t cost anything extra. Unfortunately it’s only available in five markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston.

AT&T TV’s basic, $70-a-month package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live. Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. Peacock won’t show the Opening Ceremonies live but you’ll be able to watch the replay on either of the Premium plans. Read our Peacock review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier), and all allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

In the UK the BBC and Eurosport have the rights to the Tokyo Olympics. It was broadcast live on BBC One and available to stream on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website. Now it’s over, you’ll be able to catch up on iPlayer.

Much like in the UK, the Tokyo Olympics is available to watch on free-to-air TV. The opening ceremony will be available to rewatch via the 7plus streaming service.

Want to watch the Olympics via a streaming service from another country, or in another language? Try a VPN to change your IP address. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

King Richard trailer: Will Smith aces as dad of Venus and Serena Williams

The Men in Black star plays Richard Williams, who drew up a 78-page plan for his daughters’ success before they were even born.

Will Smith plays Richard Williams, dad of tennis legends Venus and Serena, in King Richard. Aunjanue Ellis plays their mom, Oracene (far left). Also shown, from left, are Mikayla Bartholomew as Tunde Price, the girls’ half-sister, Saniyya Sidney as Venus, Demi Singleton as Serena, and Daniele Lawson as another half-sister, Isha Price.

In one scene, he tells his daughters that they’re representing “every little Black girl on Earth.” No pressure. But anyone who knows the Williams’ sisters story knows they lived up to it, and then some. Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Venus Williams has won seven, the two have won 14 as a doubles team, and they’re also Olympic gold medalists.

“This world ain’t never had no respect for Richard Williams,” Smith’s character says in one scene. “But they gon’ respect y’all.”

Will Smith, Venus Williams and Serena Williams are among the film’s producers. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton play the Williams sisters. King Richard opens in theaters on Nov. 19, and will be available for streaming on HBO Max’s ad-free platform 31 days.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Stream Canadiens vs. Lightning Game 5 live tonight

If they win, the Lightning will become the NHL Champions for a second straight year. The game streams on NBC and Peacock, no cable required.

Brett Kulak and the Montreal Canadiens (right) hope to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 tonight.

Read more: NBA Finals 2021: How to watch, stream Bucks vs. Suns without cable

The Lightning has the home-ice advantage by virtue of finishing the regular season with a better record than the Canadiens. The series opened in Tampa Bay for the first two games, Games 3 and 4 took place in Montreal and afterward home ice alternates every game. Here’s the full remaining schedule:

*If necessary.

You don’t need cable or satellite TV to watch the action on the ice. The most affordable streaming option is NBC’s Peacock service, which will carry the entire series live. Peacock’s basic tier is free, but to watch the Stanley Cup Finals you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium version starting at $5 per month.

The remainder of the series will also be carried on NBC, which is available on most major live TV streaming services. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries NBC in your area.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the games on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. You need one of the Premium plans to watch the Stanley Cup Finals games live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier. Read our Peacock review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue package includes NBC, but NBC is available in only a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate adds FIFA 21, completing the sports gamer’s dream

If you want to play a sports game on your Xbox, Game Pass is increasingly looking like the way to go.

FIFA 21 is hitting Game Pass Ultimate on Thursday.

FIFA 21, which is part of EA Play, which Microsoft bundled into its Game Pass Ultimate service last year, will follow the lead of titles like Madden 21 and MLB The Show 21 with versions available for the Xbox One as well as next-gen optimized editions for those with an Xbox Series X or Series S.

The inclusion of a next-gen version of FIFA 21 is a nice win for owners of Microsoft’s latest consoles, something not all publishers have done. 2K’s NBA 2K21, for example, has made the Xbox One version of its basketball game available as part of Game Pass but not the next-gen upgrade. Instead, those looking for that edition will still need to buy their own copy (currently $40 at a host of retailers after being $70 at launch).

And while the addition of more major titles is always welcome, to be truly perfect Microsoft still has work to do in adding games closer to their release dates. The company was surprisingly able to get Sony’s MLB The Show on its service in time for its launch in April, but FIFA’s arrival comes seven months after the title was first made available last October.

It makes sense that publishers will want to keep titles available for purchase at launch to get money from diehard fans, using services like Game Pass as a way to boost the tail end of a life cycle and hold interest until the next iteration. The good news for sports gamers who aren’t in a rush to play the latest season, however, is that Game Pass is increasingly becoming a better option for getting all the action.