SBJ/October 24 - 30, 2005/Other News

Examining sports’ interaction with the world

The Sports & Social Responsibility Executive Forum, presented by Street & Smith’s Sports Group’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, was held Oct. 18 and 19 in New York City. At the inaugural forum, executives from across the industry discussed sports and the many roles it plays in society. For more from the event, Faces and Places.

Panel: Violence On and Off the Playing Field: The Role of Upper Sports Management in Preventing and Addressing Bad Behavior

Moderator: Jimmy Roberts, reporter, NBC Sports

Panelists: Debbie Yow, athletic director, University of Maryland; Barry Mano, founder and president, National Association of Sports Officials; Dr. Edward Cornwell, director, John’s Hopkins Adult Trauma Service; and Ron Klempner, attorney, National Basketball Players Association

University of Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow addresses violence and sports.
Yow: “The first thing we have to do is establish a culture. The second thing we have to do is enforce that culture. And the third thing we have to do is respond with integrity. … To really enforce that culture, we have to put framework around it.”

Mano: “When this association started in 1980 this issue of bad behavior in sports was not even on the radar screen. Today, roughly 25 to 30 percent of our time is being spent on this issue.”

Cornwell noted the NBA’s stringent punishment plan against fighting has done well in curbing on-court violence: “They have essentially stopped … [fighting]. The NBA has done a good job stopping violence with that rule [that players who leave the bench are punished]. The NHL could do it tomorrow if they wanted to and they choose not to.”

Roberts: “Alcohol is so deeply entrenched in the sports culture and, quite frankly, a lot of it is because of the large sponsorship presence that it brings to the game.”

Panel: Diversity in Sports Business: Progress or Promises?

Co-moderators: Sue Rodin, president, Stars and Strategies; and Abraham Madkour, executive editor, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily.

Panelists: Richard Lapchick, director, sports business management, University of Central Florida; Donna Lopiano, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation; Karlyn Lothery, chief diversity officer, USTA; Renee Brown, chief of basketball operations and player relations, WNBA; and Linda Bruno, commissioner, Atlantic 10 Conference

Lopiano, on social change: “Social change is the result either of public embarrassment or somebody going to court. That is how to change the system the fastest. And it is very hard to go to court on employment issues. It is very expensive. It is confrontational. You are assured that you are not going to get another job in the industry. Worse than that, I tell this to women all the time: You go to court and I guarantee you that nine times out of 10 you will win, but you will have to settle out of court. You’ll get money, but you’ll have to sign a confidentiality agreement and then everybody thinks you lost.”

In a keynote presentation, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank talked of his mission in team ownership: “Do we establish ourselves as role models, do we lead as role models, do we become part of this community, create a different kind of environment? My view is that not only do we have a responsibility to give back, we have an opportunity to make a disproportionate difference in the lives of other people and to turn the pedestal … into a platform for positive change.”

On player interest in giving back: “I find that most of our players … want to give back but they don’t know how to give back. They went to college to play football, hopefully they went to college to get grades, they didn’t go to college to understand how to … give back.”
Lapchick, on fielding a call from MLS after giving the league an F in gender diversity last year: “I thought they were going to chastise me and say, ‘What the hell are you doing and why are you badmouthing us?’ Instead their take was, ‘What can we do so this never happens again?’ And they put in place the most extensive hiring package for all positions in Major League Soccer. Women and people of color came into that hiring process and they went from an F to a B in a year. ”

Bruno, on challenges in finding diverse talent: “One of the problems we run into is that we get very talented minorities, particularly minority females, graduating from college who get snapped up by corporate America at a higher level than we can pay them.”

Lothery, on hurdles to practicing hiring diversity: “The resistance that people perceive isn’t so much ‘I don’t want to do it because I’m not on board with it,’ it is that ‘I don’t know what to do.’”

Lopiano, on the same issue: “It is really important to understand that the world is not full of racist and sexist employers. It is full of people who are a little bit lazy and a little afraid of going outside their comfort zone. They hire people who they know, who look like them.”

Panel: Cause Marketing and the Role of Corporate America in Making the Sports Industry More Socially Responsible

Moderator: Terry Lefton, editor-at-large, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal

Panelists: Barbara Paddock, senior vice president, strategic event marketing, JP Morgan Chase; John Lewicki, senior director of alliance marketing, McDonald’s; Vada Manager, director of global issues management, Nike; Sue Tougas, assistant vice president, corporate communications, MassMutual; and John Cordova, group director of sports marketing, Coca-Cola

Lewicki, on bridging sponsorship assets and cause-marketing assets: “Every sponsorship agreement that we are involved in, every partnership that we are involved in, Ronald McDonald House Charities plays a role. Every athlete that we have a relationship with has a role with Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

Manager, on how Nike measures the effectiveness of cause-marketing initiatives: “You really kind of measure it in some ways such as the basics for us: revenues, sales, etc. There really aren’t any real specific metrics. I think we are trying to now begin to quantify certain investments, but it is hard to do that for an investment in girls’ education, for example. You could measure it in terms of how many more girls may go to school, if you’re talking about a place like Bangladesh or Vietnam. These are very difficult places to achieve that. ”

Paddock, on measuring effectiveness of cause-marketing: “We are putting a lot more pressure on the nonprofits for the results and the measurement, particularly in our focus areas, which are community development, education, arts and culture.”

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