SBD/Issue 24/Sports Industrialists

What I Like.... With Liberty Sports Group's Mark Shuken

Shuken Would Like To See A
Shot Clock Between Pitches
In our continuing series, SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal asks top sports personalities for their thoughts, ideas, aspirations and likes. Today, Liberty Sports Group President & CEO MARK SHUKEN.

What I like in an insight: The more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn.

An influential person in my career: TOD LEIWEKE, an early career mentor and current friend and business partner. He's an expert in leadership and management with ethics and principles to which I aspire.

An out-of-the-box idea: Add a shot clock between MLB pitches. If the pitcher fails to throw in time, it's a called ball. If the batter fails to step in, it's a called strike. It would connect with kids' current attention span.

A timeless idea: "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."

A business deal: Any business deal that doesn't feel like a business deal.

A sports facility: Special Olympics Washington Summer Games, at Fort Lewis Army and McChord Air Force Bases (all-volunteer, serving 2,500 athletes).

A sports event: Same as above.

A strategy: Make every partnership a real one, with long-term benefits to both parties involved.

A hire: Each of my current direct reports. All were hand-picked and are excellent. They make our RSNs who and what we are.

Shuken Says BMW Is A "Connotation Of Class"
A brand
: BMW. Connotation of class, personal connection to the product, and excellent quality. We'd all like our brands to reflect those values.

A trend: The (hopefully steady) decline of e-mail and texting as a conversation method, rather than what they should be: a way to disseminate information from one person to multiple points of contact.

An innovation: Mobile devices that have phone, calendar, contacts, email and Web access. They've changed the way we do business with flexibility in location and agility in timing.

A pro league or team business initiative: Microphones on coaches, players and (NASCAR) drivers. MLS, NASCAR and others have paved the way; hopefully the traditional leagues and unions will catch up.

A story that bears watching: New distribution platforms for live sporting events, and our ability to work within the economics of our business and the customer's demands for these platforms.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: I'm still working on it, but it has to do with straightening out my golf swing.

A fantasy job: I'm lucky enough to have one.

What I like about my job: Leading a team of great people is the most fulfilling. The process of creating long-term agreements with team, league, university and distribution partners is the most dynamic and interesting.

Sports: The visceral, emotional element of competition.

Sports business: The fact that an entire economy has been built around -- and can support -- the energy, excitement and captivation of sports competition.

Sports media: I like media elements that are held accountable for what they portray. Regional sports networks, for example, are driven by their partnerships and must be accountable to them; other forms of sports media do not have that level of scrutiny or informational/business credibility.

Shuken Believes Pitch Location Tracers Attract
Young, Engaged Audience To Baseball
Sports technology
: Super slo-mo, interactive sports channels, such as some of DirecTV's offerings, innovative camera angles, and baseball pitch location tracers, for example, continue to bring the sport to the young and engaged audience that is the future of our business.

Competing: The fact that the participants' benefit really comes from the competition itself, not the win/loss outcome.

The future (or direction) of sports business: That we are -- though a little slowly for my taste -- acknowledging what young fans want from their sports icons and the sports business.

Sports fans: Passion, emotion and connection that they bring in enjoying our products.

What I would like to change: Unethical -- and downright damaging -- negotiation and communication in the sports business arena.

Change in what I do: I'd like to be more patient and a better listener.

See: The traditionalists' view being more open to the changing landscape of sports and society.

See more of in sports: A deeper connection between athletes and fans, assuming a mutual respect in the ways we do that.

See more of in sports business: Long-term partnerships trumping short-term leverage.

See less of in sports: Grade school kids being forced to pick one sport rather than enjoying being young and all the opportunities that entails.

See less of in sports business: The pricing of sports experiences that eliminate the fan and only favor the corporate seatholder.

See different: A college football championship series.

Shuken Could Do Without Fights In Hockey
: Hockey fights. I know I'm in the minority here, but I just think it makes the sport look silly, with referees and players standing around watching two guys fight. They're amazing athletes and great competitors; the argument that fighting is a "healthy release" just doesn't compute for me. And I wouldn't let my kids do it. Would you?

What I don't like in general: Arrogance and a lack of character and ethics in business and in life.

Pet peeve: Pronouncing the word nuclear by stating it as "nucular." That's why it's called a pet peeve, I guess (you asked), but what's so hard about pronouncing "nuclear?"

In sports: Penalty kicks resolving soccer matches.

In business: The belief that one must be loud and obnoxious to express strength and confidence.

About sports fans: Taunting and vulgarity. Heckling has gone from fun and funny to ruining sports experiences for families.

What I like in people: Those that keep their commitments and walk the talk.

Shuken Calls Himself An Avid AC/DC Fan
That would surprise those who know me
: I am an avid AC/DC fan.

Above all else: Simple. Honesty and integrity.

About myself: Simple. Honesty and integrity.

Heroes: My parents and my wife. And I am proud of my three kids every single day.

Players: KASEY KELLER, the U.S. soccer goalkeeper, because he's as good a man as he is a player.

Teams: The Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Utah Jazz stand out as examples of organizations with great personal ethics as well as strong business principles, but we only work with partners that share our values.

City: San Diego. Lived there in college and never should've left.

Possession: My BMW M3. Makes grocery store runs fun.

Memento: The 1994 World Cup Final ticket stub. My dad and I fulfilled a lifelong dream there together.

Time of year (because): Summer. If you live in Seattle, as I do, there's no need to explain.

Music: Rock 'n roll for fun, reggae for peace of mind.

Books: Biographies, mysteries and management/leadership books.

Magazines: The Economist, The Week, US News, Time and Sports Illustrated are my weekly reading. I spend a lot of time on airplanes.

Web sites: I still like reading newspapers and magazines, so Web sites are case-by-case learning for me. My Yahoo's the basic home page.

Gadgets: I am BlackBerry-dependent, sadly, but working on it. Love Slingbox, as a traveler, and every golf-related aid known to man.

Chores: I like the ones I just finished.

Hobbies: Golf, soccer, music, good food and great wine.

Trips: Mexican beaches are our favorite getaway.

Movies: Comedies and action/suspense.

"Flight Of The Conchords" Among
Shuken's Favorite TV Shows
: Live sports; DVR for "Flight of the Conchords," "Entourage," "Mad Men," "The Closer," "CSI," "House" and "Bones."

Concerts: I love the fact that AC/DC, Aerosmith, Def Leppard and the type are either back or still here. Love the '70s and '80s rockers.

Artist: Cult sensation STEPHEN ASHBROOK is incredible -- check him out.

Food: Rich French food with full red wine. And a nap.

Dessert: Yes, please.

Drink: Red wine, but Drambuie is a well-kept secret treat.

Vacation spots: Mexican beaches, ski resorts, the Pacific Coast.

Cars: My 2003 M3, until my wife lets me upgrade.

Singer: Stephen Ashbrook, ROB HALFORD.

Quote: A favorite from an old friend, JEFF KROLIK: "Remember that everyone's the star of their own movie." It's funny but true, and actually helps understand perspective in relationships, negotiation, insecurity and ego.

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