SBD/January 6, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Biggest Names In North Texas Sports Gather To Discuss Business

    The National Sports Marketing Network North Texas Chapter yesterday gathered the area's "biggest sports movers and shakers" for a "lively discussion" at American Airlines Center, according to Jeff Caplan of ESPN DALLAS. Mavericks Owner MARK CUBAN, Rangers Managing Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg, Texas Motor Speedway President EDDIE GOSSAGE, Hunt Sports Group Chair CLARK HUNT and North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee President & CEO BILL LIVELY discussed the "economics and growth of sports in Dallas-Fort Worth." Other topics the execs addressed "ranged from selling tickets to social media to broadcast rights." Cuban, whose Mavericks have sold out more than 300 consecutive games, said, "I liked it when the Stars sucked. I liked it when the Cowboys sucked. Life was easy." Greenberg said, "If in this community we can't draw 3 million people, we're just not very good. We think we can do that." For Gossage, selling tickets at TMS has "become more difficult and in no small part to the sports competition in the area." He said, "That giant sucking sound you hear is Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys are sucking up all the money and making things more difficult" (, 1/5). Greenberg said, "This has got to be the sports capital of North America right now. To have a World Series, an NBA All-Star Game and a Super Bowl within a year, it's extraordinary." The NCAA men's basketball Final Four and the Olympics are "on the group's wish list." Mavericks President & CEO TERDEMA USSERY said of the Olympics, "That's the golden goose. We'd love to get that" (, 1/5).

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  • NBA Promotes Granger, Meiseles, Chandler To Exec VP Level

    The NBA has promoted three members of its league front office staff to Exec VP level positions. CHRIS GRANGER has been elevated to Exec VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations from Senior VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations. In addition, DANNY MEISELES has been named Exec VP and Exec Producer of Production, Programming & Broadcasting from Senior VP and Executive Producer. KERRY CHANDLER has been promoted to Exec VP/Human Resources from Senior VP/Human Resources. Granger and Meiseles report to NBA Deputy Commissioner ADAM SILVER; Chandler reports to NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN.

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  • Catching Up With espnW VP Laura Gentile

    Gentile's focus is growing ESPN's female demographic

    As LAURA GENTILE rings in the new year, one of her goals will be for espnW to bolster ESPN's female demographic. The espnW VP has spent the past two years cultivating the new venture, which will fully launch in the spring. Gentile, who also serves as ESPN RISE VP/Digital & Publishing, recently spoke with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan about the launch of the espnW platform and the site's resolutions for '11. 

    What did you do for New Year's? I did the Midnight Run in Central Park.
    Besides espnW, what other women’s sports site do you regularly check? for their array of diverse content in the women’s landscape is a place we look at quite a lot.
    Book you're currently reading: “The Shipping News,” by ANNIE PROULX.
    First sports jersey you ever owned
    : DON MATTINGLY’s No. 23 Yankees jersey.

    Q: What is the next step in the launch of the espnW brand?

    Gentile: It’s continuing to learn and continuing to improve, but really we’re gearing up for basically what we’re calling 2.0, which is essentially where we are evolving the blog into a full-fledged website. That’s still slated for spring of 2011. Essentially what we’re going to be doing between now and the spring is just laying in more and more content. What you’ll see is probably more content focused on the athlete. And when we say athlete, we don’t necessarily mean the pro athlete, we mean the everyday athlete. 

    Q: How long was ESPN considering this venture?

    Gentile: It’s over two years. It dates back into easily the latter days of 2008. It’s two-plus years of thinking this through. I think one thing that might get missed in all the stories about W is that it’s a bigger vision for serving girls and women. So a lot of the work that the espnW team is focused on also has to do with elevating and educating and informing girls within ESPN Rise. And that’s really part of the W strategy. So there is the W brand, but there is also a big commitment in the company to serving girls in a much fuller, richer, complete way through ESPN Rise.

    Q: If we were to talk in January 2012, what would be three accomplishments of espnW in 2011?

    Gentile: One certainly is to have an excellent digital presence. So that probably encompasses all three because when we talk about that, we certainly talk about being a great rich experience where women really want to spend quite a lot of time with us. It would certainly be an excellent mobile experience across smartphones, across apps, across all feature phones. Then the third is continuing to build out our social presence and having a very big presence on Facebook with a dedicated Facebook app and continuing to develop our Twitter voice and a presence on YouTube. So a lot of it is focused around the digital portfolio.

    Q: What do you say to critics who claim the venture is segregating and condescending?

    Gentile: That’s certainly not our goal. Everything that we have set out to do is to be additive for female sports fans and additive for everything that already exists out there. A lot of women -- and we’re hearing this a lot and it’s great news -- feel like they are already served by So that’s fantastic. This is really meant to be a new sort of front door into ESPN for a lot of women, and potentially a new generation of women. So it’s somewhat akin to our local strategy. It’s somewhat akin to Deportes, which is looking at specific audiences and trying to go deeper and trying to serve them more specifically in a more targeted and tailored environment. That’s really what we are trying to do. If there are women who are completely well-served by and they go there everyday and they love it, that’s great.

    Q: From your research, how are female sports fans different consumers than men?

    Gentile: It’s very nuanced. It’s very easy to make generalizations. The number one thing that we have seen as an analogy to what the differences are is Olympic-style coverage. A lot of the women that we spoke to, and we’ve spoken to over 2,000 women in both qualitative research and quantitative research, said that level of storytelling, back story context, rich delving into the athletes and their journeys is very much what they want. And that’s what we endeavor to provide over time at

    Q: Why the lowercase in espnW?

    Gentile: A lot of different considerations were made there. I feel like ultimately it signifies a new take on ESPN and an emphasis on the W.

    Q: What’s a typical day in the office like for you?

    Gentile: It’s pretty invigorating. It runs the gamut of continuing to drive the ESPN Rise business and enhancing our digital strategy on the Rise business, to looking at the Girl magazine that we created within ESPN Rise and ensuring the stories make sense and it’s serving their needs and providing the support and information that they want. And it’s a little bit of Human Resources-type stuff and work chart development and organizational development, and it’s a lot of discussion on the espnW product and what are users saying, what are our surveys telling us, what do the analytics look like and continuing to plan for the future.

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  • Executive Transactions

    Basketball HOFer MAGIC JOHNSON "recently convinced his longtime agent, LON ROSEN, to leave Lagardere Unlimited, and work for him exclusively" as Exec VP of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Rosen: "I didn't leave my previous job because anything was wrong. I left because Magic Johnson Enterprises is a hugely successful company and this is a great opportunity. He's looking for a professional sports franchise. That's not a secret. I've been involved in that already as his agent. He's looking to continue to expand his company and build his brand in a lot of different ways and this is the best way for me to be a part of it" (, 1/5).

    EXECS: Maine-based Shamrock Sports Group has hired former Gillett Evernham Motorsports and IMG exec JIM TUCKER. Tucker joins the agency after stints working on "Rock Band 3" for MTV, motorsports and Churchill Downs at IMG and sales and development at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Shamrock Sports Group is led by former NASCAR and Fenway Sports Group exec BRIAN CORCORAN (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal)....Daytona Int'l Speedway has hired Watkins Glen Int'l Dir of Sales & Business Development RYAN TOLLEY as Dir of Sales, effective Feb. 7. DIS also has promoted ANDREW BOOTH to Senior Manager of Media Relations and JOANN MANTOVANI to Senior Manager of Advertising & Promotions (DIS)....The Univ. of Cincinnati has hired Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe Senior Associate AD DOUG MOSLEY as Associate AD for External & Media Communications (Cincinnati)....Saint Mary's College has hired Univ. of Washington Associate AD for Communications RICHARD KILWIEN as Assistant AD for Communications (Saint Mary's).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

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  • Names In The News

    Morgan Pressel's charity golf tournament has now raised $1.7M over four years

    Golfer MORGAN PRESSEL's charitable foundation yesterday raised $502,000 at the Fourth Annual Morgan & Friends Golf Tournament at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, "for a total of $1.7 million in four years." The proceeds "come from her sponsors and tournament participants." The Morgan Pressel Foundation this year also will "kick off 'Bucks for Birdies,' in which a person contributes money for every birdie by Pressel." Last year, Pressel's foundation purchased a "state-of-the-art, mobile mammography unit to help detect breast cancer while it's still treatable," and Pressel hopes it is the "first MammoVan of many in her personal fight against a disease that claimed her mother" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/6). Meanwhile, Pressel is joining Wasserman Media Group for representation, while golfer STEPHEN AMES "has left IMG to sign" with WMG and reunite with his former agent, CHRIS ARMSTRONG (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/6).

    ORDER IN THE COURT! Golfer DAVID TOMS has been sued by former Stanford Financial Chair ALLEN STANFORD's receiver "for $905,087 in profits Toms earned from certificates of deposit sold by Stanford International Bank, the Antiguan bank prosecutors claim was the center of a $7 billion investment fraud." RALPH JANVEY, Stanford's court-appointed receiver, "has sued hundreds of other Stanford investors who, like Toms, are considered net winners, in that they received more proceeds than they originally invested" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/5)....A grand jury has “declined to indict” former Spurs PA announcer MIKE LAVENDER, who “garnered attention last year as one of the first to be charged under Texas’ 2008 online harassment law.” Lavender acknowledged to authorities that he opened a Twitter account and "began making accusations that a local television reporter was having an affair with a married man” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/6).

    NAMES: Lakers F LAMAR ODOM yesterday said that he "felt the need to ask permission" from coach PHIL JACKSON and GM MITCH KUPCHAK before agreeing to star in a new weekly reality TV show for E! alongside his wife, KHLOE KARDASHIAN. The show "begins shooting this month" (L.A. TIMES, 1/6)....Texas Christian Univ. will celebrate the football team's Rose Bowl victory "with a public gathering Jan. 16 on campus." The public is "invited to the free event," taking place at 4:00pm CT at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/5)....Baseball HOFer CAL RIPKEN JR. last night presented Capitals LW ALEX OVECHKIN with the inaugural “Advocate for Youth Award” during a fundraising event at the Park Hyatt Washington (THE DAILY)....Patriots QB TOM BRADY has “once again” made GQ’s annual list of the "world’s best-dressed men" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/6).

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