SBD/1/Sports Industrialists

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  • NAMES IN THE NEWS

         Lawyers for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have asked a judge to dismiss
    a $150M libel lawsuit by RANDALL "TEX" COBB.  The lawsuit
    concerns a '92 article contending that one of Cobb's fights was
    fixed (AP/PHILA. INQUIRER, 12/1)....According to sources,
    Columbia Pictures is putting together a movie script about the
    life of MUHAMMAD ALI (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/1).... "MUGGSY" BOGUES
    will be featured tonight on CBS' "Eye to Eye" with Connie Chung
    (Baltimore SUN, 12/1)....Nike and Reebok "are fighting over" UTA
    PIPPIG, a German marathoner, "aspiring physician and potentially
    hot marketing ticket."  Last month, Reebok announced that it had
    lured Pippig from Adidas.  But last week, Nike hired Reebok's
    track and field chief MARK BOSSARDET, and "expects to land
    Pippig."  Pippig's agent, Kim McDonald, meets with Nike next
    week.  McDonald: "Probably the only bigger track shoe contract
    was CARL LEWIS" (USA TODAY, 12/1).....BIG 12 officials will begin
    a national search for a conference commissioner (AP/N.Y. TIMES,
    11/29).
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, Nike, Reebok, Sports Illustrated, People and Pop Culture, Time Warner, Viacom, Washington Nationals
  • NIKE SPORTS MANAGEMENT: ON THE CUTTING EDGE

         Terdema Ussery, President of Nike Sports Management, has
    been with the group since its inception in August 1993.  He came
    to Nike from the Continental Basketball Association, where he
    served as the first African-American commissioner of any
    professional sports league.  Ussery spoke with THE SPORTS
    BUSINESS DAILY yesterday on the mission of Nike Sports Management
    and its plans for the future.  Excerpts of our conversation
    follow in two parts today and tomorrow:
         THE DAILY:  What is Nike Sports Management and what is your
    mission?
         USSERY:  It is really the brainchild of our Chairman Phil
    Knight, and the objective was to form a management group at Nike
    that would be intimately involved in the careers of the athletes
    that are endorsers here.  The goal is be involved in every aspect
    of their career -- except for the area of team contract
    negotiations.
         THE DAILY:  What type of athlete do you look for? Is there a
    particular persona that fits the Nike image?
         USSERY: By definition, everybody in professional sports is a
    great athlete, so we are obviously looking for a lot more than
    that.  We look for athletes who have a passion, a characteristic,
    a personality that distinguishes them from the crowd.  We look
    for somebody who can really bust through, and we've done a pretty
    good job of attracting athletes like that, including Deion
    Sanders, Ken Griffey, Bo Jackson, Scottie Pippen and Alonzo
    Mourning.
         THE DAILY: What new avenues for sponsorship and endorsements
    are you pursuing?
         USSERY:  We are pursing all the traditional avenues of
    endorsement revenue.  But, we are also very cognizant of
    interactive media and all of the excitement and energy that is
    being applied in that area right now -- and this is one place in
    which we are looking for non-traditional opportunities.  We just
    did a real nice deal with Digital Pictures to produce a state-of-
    the-art CD-ROM video game called Slam City with Scottie Pippen.
    We are involved with companies that are on the cutting edge of
    some of that technology, and are trying to create as many
    opportunities as we can for our clients.
         THE DAILY: What trends do you see emerging in player
    representation?
         USSERY: There will continue to be some reservation out there
    about kind of blindly wrapping a brand around an athlete -- in
    light of all that has happened in the past couple of years, in
    terms of some athletes getting into trouble.  Brands are looking
    for new ways to communicate with their consumers. I still think
    that sports is going to be an integral part of that -- but the
    traditional formula may have seen its best day.  Part of our
    objective is to try and come up with creative concepts and ideas
    that we can take to brands that involve sports and involve our
    clients, but perhaps without using the traditional formula of a
    brand wrapping itself around a single individual athlete.
         THE DAILY: Would Nike Sports Management package a few of its
    athletes together?
         USSERY:  Yes, that is an idea.  It obviously minimizes the
    risk a little bit if a brand is aligning itself with several
    athletes and perhaps speaking more to sports and the passion of a
    particular sport -- as opposed to the passion of a particular
    athlete.  That is certainly one way of getting the message of
    sport across to the consumer, but doing it in a way, again, that
    minimizes the risk to the brand.
         THE DAILY: In terms of the current work stoppages, what
    challenges are there for sponsors and for agencies that represent
    athletes?
         USSERY: Well, it is a tricky time in baseball and hockey. We
    don't do that much right now with the NHL, although we hope to be
    doing some things in the future with hockey players.  But
    certainly in baseball we have Mike Mussina, Ken Griffey, some of
    the key guys.  It is not that sponsors are not going to do deals
    with people in baseball, it is just that there is no sense of
    urgency in getting deals done.  Everyone is in kind of a wait-
    and-see mode -- except for Ken Griffey.  To be honest, he is
    someone who has kind of transcended the sport of baseball and we
    are actively in negotiations with several different companies --
    even as we speak -- to do things with Ken once baseball does get
    back on track.  But by and large, what we are finding out is that
    people have kind of a wait-and-see attitude.  They want to make
    sure there is going to be baseball in the spring.
         THE DAILY: Have you noticed greater opportunities for
    football and basketball athletes at all in the current
    environment?
         USSERY:  Yes and no.  There has been an upswing in interest,
    believe it or not, in basketball.  The reason I say "believe it
    or not" is you wonder how much more popular that sport will get -
    - it just keeps going and the interest keeps growing.  Whether or
    not that can be tied directly to a work stoppage in baseball and
    hockey I really can't say.  My suspicion would be probably not,
    in the sense that the brands that want to do something with a
    baseball player, for example, probably made a decision that the
    demographics in baseball align nicely with the consumer they are
    trying to reach -- and there is not necessarily the same
    demographic working in the other major league sports.  I don't
    think there is a direct one-on-one correlation between one sport
    not playing and an increase in interest by a brand in another
    sport, but I think there is a little bit of that.
         TOMORROW:  The international appeal of the NBA, life after
    Michael, and what's ahead for Nike Sports Management.
    

    Print | Tags: NBA, NHL, Nike, People and Pop Culture
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