THE DAILY PRESENTS FIRST INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR AWARD
Published December 18, 1995
As we said in September when we opened nominations for SPORTS INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR, our aim is to recognize one executive each year as the person who best embodies THE DAILY's vision of the sports industry -- namely, sports as entertainment, sports as a distinct industry, and sports as a global business. Ours is a post-modern view of sports recognizing its reach and impact beyond the playing field. This year one nominee stood far above the rest -- not because of his title, position, or profile, but because no other executive better personifies the total vision of THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY. That nominee and our selection for the 1995 SPORTS INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR is DAVID STERN. RATIONALE: Since he was unanimously elected the NBA's 4th commissioner in '84, David Stern has worked tirelessly to build the league into a global entertainment powerhouse. In turn, he has had a strong hand in reshaping the sports industry and contributing to its growth and maturation over the last decade. David Stern understands the post-modern view of sports because, in large part, he created it. During 1995, David Stern and his team maintained the league's partnership with its players -- masterfully handling the owners' lockout and negotiations with the NBPA; protecting labor peace into the 21st Century; and, continuing the NBA's unmatched distinction as the only major sports league in North America never to lose a game to a work stoppage or labor dispute. This is quite an achievement in a year when keeping the peace with labor, and even among management, has become a major challenge. Under Stern's leadership, the NBA continued to grow and flourish this year with expansion into Toronto and Vancouver; the signing of international TV deals with Channel 4 in England, TV Asahi in Japan, and TV Azteca in Mexico; the opening of new league offices in London, Mexico City, and Miami; renewed corporate partnerships with AT&T, Nestle, and IBM; a new sponsorship deal with American Express; the opening of new, state-of-the-art arenas in Portland, Seattle, and Boston; strong support and backing for the USA Women's team; the launch of one of the best sports sites on the World Wide Web; a new collective bargaining agreement for referees; a record-breaking $3B in global merchandise sales; and, increased overall attendance for '94-95, increased ratings for the '95 Finals, and even increased cable ratings for the start of '95-96 season. This is just a partial list of the league's accomplishments this year, but the theme and thread should be obvious: NBA basketball as a hot property and sports as a dynamic, global entertainment business. To us, David Stern is the gold standard for sports industrialists. FOR THE FUTURE: In terms of setting a precedent for future SPORTS INDUSTRIALISTS OF THE YEAR, it is not that nominees and recipients will have to be like David Stern in terms of position or stature -- although they can -- but they should come from a comparable school of thought in terms of outlook and vision. THANK YOU: We at THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY would like to thank our many clients who took the time to nominate their peers and colleagues for this year's award. We encourage you, and all of our subscribers, to participate again in 1996 (THE DAILY).