SBD/Issue 31/Sports Industrialists

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  • NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps Featured On CBS' "Undercover Boss"

    Phelps Takes Part In
    CBS' "Undercover Boss"

    CBS' "Undercover Boss" last night featured NASCAR CMO & Senior VP STEVE PHELPS going undercover as Kevin, a "lucky competition-winning race fan with an all-access pass." Phelps said he was asked by NASCAR Chair & CEO BRIAN FRANCE and President MIKE HELTON to go undercover because they are "clearly too visible to be able to do that." Helton told Phelps, "I think it'd also be good experience for you as our CMO to get an inside look with some of the race teams' behind-the-scenes elements." Phelps said, "I'm hoping that working undercover with the people that make this sport run will give me new insights on how to help this sport grow and get back to record levels." Phelps' first stop while undercover was Hendrick Motorsports' shop in Concord, N.C., where he worked out with NASCAR driver MARK MARTIN's pit crew and then served as a tire carrier during the team's practice ahead of a race at Daytona. After struggling in a few attempts to get a tire on the race car, Phelps said, "It was an incredible experience to do what these guys do. But this is hard." Rear tire changer DION WILLIAMS trained Phelps and said "Kevin" would be "the waterboy" for his performance. Phelps next traveled to Daytona Int'l Speedway, where he vowed to stay in an RV in the infield the "way the average NASCAR fan would" in order to "gain the full fan experience." Phelps worked in facility operations at the track, seeking to get a sense of "what happens to prep for a race." He painted over the finish line and painted over signs around the track. Phelps then worked a concession stand wearing a NASCAR hat and Coca-Cola apron, selling food and soda. After the concession stand, Phelps worked on NASCAR driver DAVID REUTIMANN's No. 00 Sprint Cup team with tire specialist Scott Swift. Swift told Phelps, "The sport's more commercial and corporate-driven now than it is family-oriented, and it's kind of hard to get family into the racetrack." Phelps told the camera, "Hearing Scott talking about the commercialization of the sport, it really dawned on me that that's exactly what I do. ... It's a two-edged sword. The commercialism pays for all the jobs that you see here and there are tens of thousands of jobs that are part of NASCAR. So it's a tough one."

    Phelps Says Williams Will Be Charter
    Member Of An Industry Council

    THE AFTERMATH: The employees with whom Phelps worked all traveled to NASCAR HQs, where he met with each of them individually. Phelps told Williams he is a "tremendous ambassador" for NASCAR. He said he plans to start an Industry Council, and Williams is going to be its charter member. Phelps told Swift that he would send him and his family to the race of his choice, "all-expenses paid." He also vowed to "provide tickets to every member" of Reutimann's pit crew "so they can bring their families to a race in 2011." Later, Phelps told the camera, "What I'll take from this week is knowing that I was able to affect some people's lives in a positive way, and that's something that I feel very fortunate to have done. What I found working with these people is that we truly have the best fans in the world and some of those best fans in the world are the ones that work right here at NASCAR" ("Undercover Boss," CBS, 10/24).

    GREAT OPPORTUNITY: Phelps said while he is "not an in-front-of-the-camera kind of guy," he knew the show "would be a great way to expose our sport to millions." Phelps: "It's a great show, and it's not one of the gotcha shows. It's a feel-good show. We thought our sport would resonate with their viewers." Phelps added, "I did the best job I could to represent my sport, my family and myself" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/24).

    CO-STARRING ROLE: In Charlotte, Theoden Janes noted Hendrick Motorsports' Williams was "featured in a memorable supporting role" during last night's episode. Williams is "one of the best rear tire carriers in the business -- and one of a small but growing number of African-Americans working in NASCAR." Phelps said that Williams "was 'absolutely' one of the most memorable people he came into contact with that week" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/23).

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  • Executive Transactions

    New England Sports Ventures on Saturday announced the appointment of Vice Chair DAVID GINSBERG and investor MICHAEL GORDON to the board of EPL club Liverpool. The appointments come on the heels of CHRISTIAN PURSLOW stepping down as Liverpool Managing Dir, though he reportedly will "stay on in a non-executive role as a special advisor to the club" (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 10/24).

    EXECS: Mississippi State Univ. has hired BO HEMPHILL as Senior Associate AD for Development (MSU)....The Bowling Proprietors' Association of America has hired Brunswick Bowling VP/Marketing K. BART BURGER as VP/Business Development (BPAA)....The D'Backs named Brewers Assistant Scouting Dir RAY MONTGOMERY Amateur Scouting Dir. Montgomery will replace TOM ALLISON, who "was dismissed" by new D'Backs GM KEVIN TOWERS (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/22)....The Double-A Southern League Birmingham Barons have hired Minor League Baseball Senior VP/Business Operations JOHN COOK as Dir of Sales (MiLB)....The Int'l Sports Heritage Museum has named Babe Ruth Museum Exec Dir MIKE GIBBONS President. Gibbons will maintain his position with the Babe Ruth Museum (THE DAILY).

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  • Names In The News

    In Raleigh, Andrew Curliss reported documents released Friday "after weeks of requests" indicated that "three people associated with agents or financial advisors provided benefits" to Univ. of North Carolina football players. Agent-related benefits were provided by CHRIS HAWKINS, a former UNC football player who is "considered a 'runner' for agents or advisers," TODD STEWART, who is believed to be from DC, and Rosenhaus Sports Dir of Marketing & Client Services MICHAEL KATZ. Rosenhaus Sports President DREW ROSENHAUS said, "At no time did my employee provide any benefits to any college player" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/23).

    Arum Finding Ways To Cope After
    Death Of His Son Last Month

    DEALING WITH TRAGEDY: In L.A., T.J. Simers profiled Top Rank Chair BOB ARUM, whose son, JOHN, died in a mountain-climbing accident in September. Arum knew "right away" what it meant when told his son was missing, saying, "He's dead." Arum said of coping with his son's death, "Work takes your mind off of it, but every four or five hours there's a flashback. But at least for four or five hours you're occupied." He added, "When I think of John now I do so in the present tense. It keeps him alive. That's the important thing to keep him alive in my mind. We had some pictures of him blown up and I have them in my office at home. It comforts me to look at them. I find I can even have conversations with him" (L.A. TIMES, 10/24).

    UNDER INVESTIGATION: In DC, Cindy Boren reports although the findings of an autopsy have not been released, “preliminary reports indicate” swimmer Fran Crippen, 26, died of a heart attack near the end of the 10-kilometer race off the shore of the United Arab Emirates over the weekend. Maddy Crippen, the sister of the former Univ. of Virginia star, said her brother had voiced concerns about safety. She said this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," "My goal is to talk to everyone who was there and to hear exactly who was there and what safety measures were there." A "high water temperature could also have contributed to his death, with several swimmers complaining of dehydration and disorientation" (, 10/25). U.S. Swimming Federation authorities “expect to receive the body” of the swimmer Monday (, 10/25).

    PLAYING HARDBALL: ABC's "World News" last night examined how many athletes are leaving the field of play and "are battling in the political arena." Former NBAers CHRIS DUDLEY, DAVE BING, KEVIN JOHNSON and SHAWN BRADLEY, along with former NFLers HEATH SHULER and JON RUNYAN, are all either running for or already elected to public office. Dudley: "It is the idea of the role of leadership and being in the spotlight and working with a team." ABC's John Berman noted, "They also come with a huge built-in advantage." Oregon State Univ. Prof. BILL LUNCH: "Name recognition is very valuable. Not enough to win, but it's enough to get a good head start" ("World News," ABC, 10/24).

    NICE GESTURE: NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN Friday, "soon after" handing Canucks C RICK RYPIEN a six-game suspension for grabbing Wild fan JAMES ENGQUIST, called Engquist and "offered him dinner and some tickets." Engquist recalled Bettman saying, "Sorry about the events, and players should never ever put their hands on a fan." Engquist was "appreciative of Bettman's gesture," but he was "disappointed by the length of Rypien's suspension" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/24). Engquist Friday said that he "had yet to hear from the Canucks or Rypien" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).

    Woodfork Could Move
    From MLB To NFL

    NAMES: Filmmaker MICHAEL MANN talked to the FINANCIAL TIMES about his new project, "Luck," a 10-hour series for HBO "set in the murky world" of L.A. horseracing. Mann's "ability to crank up the tension" is evident in a preview of "Luck," as the viewer is "thrown into the middle of a horserace at the Santa Anita track, horses panting, hooves pounding the dirt." The series is due to air in late '11 or early '12 (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/23)....In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes of former D’Backs Assistant GM Peter Woodfork: “The Harvard-educated Woodfork may have some NFL options after resigning in Arizona once Kevin Towers took over as GM. Woodfork, who had a year remaining on his contract, could join the Miami Dolphins . … There’s even word that Woodfork could join the NFL office” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24)....The Spurs have pledged $50,000 in support of a $515M bond issue for the San Antonio Independent School District (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/25)....RAFAEL NADAL and ROGER FEDERER will play charity tennis matches in Federer's native Switzerland on Dec. 21 and Nadal's native Spain on Dec. 22 (AP, 10/22)....NCAA President MARK EMMERT attended Saturday's Purdue-Ohio State college football game "as the guest" of OSU AD GENE SMITH. Emmert said that it was his "first football game at OSU" (Willoughby NEWS-HERALD, 10/24)....The Univ. of Minnesota has hired Parker Exec Search to help find a new football coach (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25)....Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE and Bruins GM PETER CHIARELLI prior to Thursday's Maple Leafs-Bruins game at TD Garden are expected to "pick up arms and head out for some early a.m. pheasant hunting." Burke's son, Flyers scout PATRICK BURKE, is "expected to join the hunt" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/25)....Yankees RF NICK SWISHER and actress JOANNA GARCIA plan to wed on Dec. 11 at The Breakers in Palm Beach (, 10/22).

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