SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Opinion

How, why we created ‘Game Changers’

One of the most consistent criticisms of our editorial products over the years has been the emphasis on white men. Simply put, we have been taken to task many times for the lack of gender and ethnic diversity within our pages, especially within our annual lists, the Most Influential in Sports and the Forty Under 40. My response has been consistent: It’s very unfortunate, but until there are more concerted efforts to increase the roles, responsibilities and sheer numbers of diverse executives in the sports industry, the predominantly white male makeup of our pages will likely continue.

That said, we recognize that there are great stories of all kinds of successful executives to be told. It’s our hope that this week’s inaugural list of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business,” will shed light on the careers, accomplishments and perspectives of some women who are taking the lead across all areas of the sports industry.

The hope is that highlighting the talents of these worthy executives and finding out what makes them tick could help develop professional relationships or personal outreach; maybe mentors will be sought or future CEOs will be shaped.

I know many will ask, “Why do they have to do a list of women? Why can’t women just be a part of their regular coverage and lists?” It’s a fair question. I would argue that women already are a part of our “regular lists,” it’s just that there are not enough of them. The women who have already appeared on our Forty Under 40 lists were not considered for inclusion in the inaugural Game Changers. That explains the absence of Heidi Ueberroth, Jennifer Storms, Kathy Carter, Rita Benson LeBlanc and many others. We felt our readers know those women and are familiar with their success. Instead, we hope these new names and new accomplishments will shine the light on another generation of talent and leadership.

We started this project before the summer, when Assistant Managing Editor Mark Mensheha began compiling a massive list of names to be considered. Taking that initial list of more than 600, we began paring it down — looking for representation across certain segments of the industry. People were considered because of their influential voice or deal making, their ability to make a mark on the sports business or the fan experience, their willingness to innovate, their stomach for entrepreneurialism or the compelling nature of their personal journey. This list is not a “best of”; it’s simply a way to tell the stories of women who are having success, serving as leaders or just kicking ass in a largely male-dominated industry.

Special thanks to all those who gave us suggestions and feedback; your contributions to this inaugural feature were greatly appreciated. In addition, kudos to two people behind the scenes: Mark Mensheha, who ran point on this project for months; and Susanne Corrado, who brought her vision and design talents to bear to create a dynamic and eye-popping feature.

Our goal is to offer compelling stories of women in sports every year going forward, but the first one is always special. Please let us know what you think. We welcome your thoughts and ideas on what we can do better — and most importantly, suggestions on future Game Changers.

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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