SBD/November 10, 2010/People And Pop CulturePrint All
Tennis player ROGER FEDERER yesterday said that he "had sought a detailed explanation" from TED FORSTMANN after a lawsuit charged that the IMG Chair & CEO "increased a bet on the 2007 French Open final after consulting with Federer," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. Agate Printing has sued Forstmann for "fraud, interference with contract and breach of contract," and Federer said that he "contacted Forstmann for clarification after learning of the lawsuit." Agate Printing Owner Jim Agate contends that he "served as a conduit for hundreds of bets totaling millions of dollars that Forstmann placed on sporting events," including the '07 French Open final between Federer and RAFAEL NADAL. Federer, whose agent, TONY GODSICK, works for IMG, said, "I reached out and told him I want to know everything about it, how this came about. And he’s been, you know, nice enough obviously to tell me from his side and has been very open in the press already. So that’s OK. He’s not my agent. Tony is my guy, but still, it’s a firm that does a lot in sports, so it’s just something that for me is important to know what is going on from their side, too." He added, "That names get thrown around, that you can’t help sometimes. That’s just the way it is. So from that side, for me it was crazy news to hear that, but obviously, it’s not a good thing when IMG or Ted Forstmann is involved in it." Forstmann has admitted to "betting on Federer to win the 2007 final and of gambling on sports in general." But he has "rejected the claims in the lawsuit, questioned Jim Agate’s credibility and denied receiving inside information from Federer" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/10).
Boxer MANNY PACQUIAO is the "first Asian sports star to cross into the mainstream in the United States," according to Gareth Davies of the London TELEGRAPH. Pacquiao's appearance on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday was a "mark of the pulling power of the Filipino icon on the US television market." Pacquiao also appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" this month, and HBO "sees him as a shoe-in for 24/7 documentaries for all of his" PPV fights. In addition, Pacquiao is the "cover story on the American Airlines in-flight magazine in November," and he has been "in demand from sports franchises." The Chargers, MLB Giants and Dodgers have "called on him this year to make appearances" at their stadiums. Top Rank spokesperson FRED STERNBURG said, "I've never seen anything like it. He really is the first Asian sports star to cross over into the American mainstream." However, sources close to Pacquiao indicated that "politics is pulling him away from prize-fighting." Pacquiao is a member of the Philippines House of Representatives, and trainer FREDDIE ROACH "fears that Pacquiao could be very near the end of his boxing career." Roach said Pacquiao during training for Saturday's fight against ANTONIO MARGARITO told him that he "misses his job -- and he meant as a politician in Congress." Roach: "This could be his last fight. I've had anxiety attacks worrying about his focus for this fight" (London TELEGRAPH, 11/9).
THE NEXT STEP: In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes Roach "bemoaned Pacquiao's decision to interrupt training for the Margarito bout to meet with Philippines President BENIGNO AQUINO III." Roach: "I honestly wondered if he'd come back to me the next day." Pacquiao explained that the meeting was "crucial in his attempt to push his hospital construction bill." But Pugmire writes he is "clearly moving toward a new life." Pacquiao said that he "wants to be his country's vice president in 2016, and if that happens, a 2022 president run is a slam dunk." Pacquiao: "I want to be a champion of public service." Roach said, "You do anything too long, as he's done with boxing, it gets old. He wants to be president one day. The only way to do that is to be a good congressman" (L.A. TIMES, 11/10).
As improbable as it was for TONY HAWK to land a 900 at the X Games in '99, his greatest feat may be converting such unprecedented athletic achievement into sustainable business success. He walked away from his professional skateboarding career at 31 and created Tony Hawk Inc., a multimillion-dollar international company that earned him $12M in '08. The linchpin of that success has been his successful video game series, which continues with the recently released "Tony Hawk: Shred." He chronicles his entrepreneurial success in a new book, "How Did I Get Here? The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO." SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Tripp Mickle spoke with him last week about his evolution as a CEO.
Q: Tony Hawk Inc. employs about 25 people now. How involved are you day-to-day in the operation, and what do you typically do?
Hawk: I'm mostly thinking up projects and ideas and skating.
Q: How does skating factor into the job?
Hawk: Being out there and walking the walk and still understanding what's happening and being in the mix is important. If I remove myself from that element, I feel like I would be out of touch with so much of the other aspects. For me, it's my creative outlet, so I have to get out there and do it.
Q: Other skateboarders have launched their own businesses on the side, but not everyone has enjoyed the longevity you have. What differentiated you in the business realm from others?
Hawk: I was able to branch out into different areas that others didn't consider or didn't want to branch out to. I always thought that there was more to skateboarding than the general public saw and I wanted to promote that as best I could. A lot of people didn't want that attention drawn to skating.
Q: What's an example of that?
Hawk: When I first got on the radar with something mainstream, I did a tour with ESPN where we went to various skateparks and did exhibitions and we filmed it for a TV show. A lot of people thought that was way too mainstream for skateboarding, but I was really happy to bring the crowds out, do a live show and present it to a television audience. I thought it showcased skateboarding well.
Q: Where do brands go wrong when they try to market to an action sports audience?
Hawk: They try to use clichéd buzz words and graphics and layouts without consulting people who really skate. That mistake is made less now because people are more savvy, but eight to 10 years ago, big-name advertising agencies would throw whatever they thought skating was about on big billboards.
Q: When people ask you for business advice, what do you tell them?
Hawk: I tell them to follow their passion and learn everything they can about every single aspect of what they want to do, and to approach challenges as learning opportunities as opposed to stumbling blocks.
Q: What do you feel like you've had to learn that wasn't part of your skill set when you started your businesses?
Hawk: I learned that to grow a business takes more money. It's not like if you have a successful product, you just rake in the money. If you want to have a successful business, you have to put up more risk and invest more capital. That was something I never paid attention to before.
Q: The exclusive relationship Tony Hawk Inc. has at Kohl's is somewhat unusual. Did you catch grief for that because it was a mainstream, national retailer?
Hawk: To be honest, we get more compliments than anything because there were so many parents who wanted to buy their kids that type of clothing but couldn't afford it. We made it at an affordable price there. The decision was Quiksilver's, which has a license to Huck clothing. They struck the deal. Initially, when they told me about it, I had a concern about quality control and marketing. There was about a year of a learning process where I had to teach the guys at Kohl's about how to represent skateboarding authentically.
Q: The gaming world is where you made your name, and that world is changing. Tony Hawk game sales have dipped. How much does that concern you?
Hawk: The market is so splintered. It used to be like blockbuster movies where there were just a handful of big titles and those were the ones you were drawn to. Now, it's not even like that any more. The fact that we were able to create a skateboarding genre in gaming, I'm really proud of that, and the fact that there are a lot of different games to choose from, I'm proud of that.
Q: The Boom Boom Huck Jam, the event enterprise you created, is no longer around. Was the event business harder than the other enterprises you undertook?
Hawk: It's not that it was harder. It was just really challenging when the economy took a downturn because we couldn't find a title sponsor. I always said that the ticket price of Huck Jam can't be too expensive. We needed sponsorship money to offset the cost and the last major sponsor we had was T-Mobile. After that, it was really, really difficult for anyone to pony up the kind of sponsorship money that could justify us keeping ticket sales affordable. It wasn't that it was hard. The timing was just bad.
Q: Do you think you'll start another tour when sponsorship dollars return?
Hawk: Sure. I still have all the ramps. I'm ready to go. Any time someone is ready to write a check, we'll hit the road.
Basketball HOFer MAGIC JOHNSON, who last month sold his 4.5% stake in the Lakers, yesterday said that a "new ownership opportunity is not imminent." Johnson said he is "just exploring, listening." Johnson: "Nothing is going to happen, if I decide anything is going to happen, until after the first of the year." Johnson "has been linked to potential ownership groups in both the NFL and the NBA," but he insisted "nothing ranks higher, either league." Johnson: "I want to definitely be a part of the NFL because I love the game, so, if it comes back to L.A., I want to be a part of it. Now, the NBA, I'm a basketball player. I'm a basketball man. That's a natural thing for me. So, is it something right now? No. Is it something with possibilities? Of course" (ESPNLA.com, 11/9).
KID'S GAME: In Louisville, Eric Crawford notes Scout.com national men's basketball recruiting analyst EVAN DANIELS, 25, this year has "taken over one of the nation's major online recruiting publications, including its reporting and ranking efforts." Daniels: "If I told you I ever thought I'd be in a position like this, I'd be lying. Honestly, I had no idea anything like this was possible. I was just doing this because I liked to be around basketball." Crawford noted Daniels' "real passion was getting out on the road and watching the endless series of AAU games," and through that, he met ESPN.com senior basketball recruiting analyst DAVE TELEP, who "professionalized the role of recruiting analyst." Daniels like Telep has "started his own scouting service for college coaches," and "already he has 60 clients" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/10).
HONORS & RECOGNITIONS: N.Y. Daily News Yankees beat writer MARK FEINSAND yesterday was named Chair of the N.Y. chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/10). Meanwhile, late Yankees Chair GEORGE STEINBRENNER and official scorer BILL SHANNON yesterday were announced as the recipients of the N.Y. BBWAA chapter's Joan Payson Award for community service and William J. Slocum-Jack Lang Award for Long and Meritorious Service, respectively. The awards "will be presented at the annual New York BBWAA dinner on Jan. 22" (AP, 11/9)....Former NHL Panthers G JOHN VANBIESBROUCK was inducted into the Broward County (Fla.) Sports HOF last night (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/10).
NAMES: MSG has "settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit accusing it of continuing to serve alcohol to" CARLOS ZELAYA, who "was then in a crash on the Pulaski Skyway that killed a toddler and left the boy's mother with massive brain trauma." The amount of the settlement "was not disclosed but is estimated to be about" $8M (NJ.com, 11/9)....Canadian Conservatives are "courting" outgoing CFL Montreal Alouettes President LARRY SMITH "to run in a Montreal riding in the hope of snapping a long cycle of futility" in the city. A Tory riding association said that it has approached Smith, a former CFL Commissioner, "about running for the party" (CP, 11/9)....Vikings Owner ZYGI WILF and his wife, AUDREY, served as Exec Producers for the recently released movie "DOUCHEBAG." Wilf is a "cousin of the film's producer, JONATHAN SCHWARTZ, and financed much of the movie" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/10)....The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation yesterday awarded $425,000 in new grants to 16 local nonprofit organizations (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/10)….A new St. Louis-based men’s golf and lifestyle magazine, “Avid,” will debut next Wednesday at a launch party featuring golfer STEVE ELKINGTON. The cover story of the premier issue features golfer and model ANNA RAWSON (STLTODAY.com, 11/9).
IN MEMORY: Former IMG spokesperson LINDA DOZORETZ died yesterday in L.A. of cancer at the age of 62. Her longtime clients included MARTINA NAVRATILOVA (VARIETY.com, 11/9).