SBJ/December 12-18, 2011/Most Influential

50 Most Influential: 2-10

2
BUD
SELIG

Commissioner

Major League Baseball

CHANGE FROM 2010: +2

While much of the sports industry grappled with labor and player safety woes, Selig quietly enjoyed one of the most productive seasons in his 19-year tenure as MLB commissioner, garnering a new collective-bargaining agreement, increases in attendance, revenue and World Series ratings, and even an unexpected settlement with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.



3
GEORGE
BODENHEIMER

President

ESPN

CHANGE FROM 2010: -1

JOHN
SKIPPER

Executive Vice President, Content

ESPN

CHANGE FROM 2010: +19

Bodenheimer shocked the sports world last month when he announced that he would step down at the end of the year, handing over ESPN’s reins to Skipper. Given ESPN’s size and influence in every part of the industry, the move instantly puts Skipper at or near the top of any list like this.

4
ROGER
GOODELL

Commissioner

NFL

CHANGE FROM 2010: -3

Goodell helped ensure labor peace for the next decade in the NFL and has presided over the almost unimaginable continued growth in the popularity of America’s favorite sport. The labor process at times drained him, but the owners got a far bigger share of revenue, as well as the end of judicial oversight and an unheard-of 10-year term. But the battle was ugly at times, and the NFL’s year also got off to a difficult start with a logistical nightmare of a Super Bowl in Texas.





5
DAVID
HILL

Chairman

Fox Sports Media Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: +15

RANDY
FREER

Co-President & COO

Fox Sports Media Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: +15

ERIC
SHANKS

Co-President & COO

Fox Sports Media Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: NEWCOMER

Fox’s year started out with the most-watched television show ever: Super Bowl XLV, which had 111 million viewers. And things got better from there. Fox signed a bevy of long-term college deals, including with the Big 12, Pac-12 and the Big Ten Championship Game. But its biggest splash may have been with the UFC, which it brought to broadcast television for the first time.

6
DAVID
STERN

Commissioner

NBA

CHANGE FROM 2010: -3

The dean of the Big Four league commissioners was tested throughout the NBA’s recent labor battle. The result of the deal is a significant player payroll cut that favors the owners, but the league still was dark for several weeks and will see its regular season reduced by 16 games. Stern didn’t fare very well publicly during the ugly battle, either.

7
JACQUES
ROGGE

President

International Olympic Committee

CHANGE FROM 2010: +9

Coming into his last Olympics as IOC president, Rogge can look back on his decade of leadership with pride. He created the Youth Olympic Games, added new sports like golf and free skiing to the Games, and secured the financial future of the IOC with NBC’s $4.4 billion rights deal.

8
ROBERT
KRAFT

Founder, Chairman & CEO

The Kraft Group

CHANGE FROM 2010: +1

Kraft’s summer of sorrow, losing his beloved wife, Myra, also may have seen his greatest accomplishment. The picture of Colts center Jeff Saturday hugging Kraft, a key member of the NFL’s negotiating committee, on the day the new collective-bargaining agreement was announced showed the world who may have been most responsible for saving the NFL season.

9
GARY
BETTMAN

Commissioner

NHL

CHANGE FROM 2010: +2

Bettman had reason to smile in 2011, as the NHL earned just shy of $3 billion in revenue, posted its best TV ratings for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and closed a 10-year, $1.9 billion TV deal with NBC. The commissioner even strengthened his tenuous relationship with Canadian fans by allowing the struggling Atlanta Thrashers to move to Winnipeg. He must now address similar situations in Phoenix, Florida and New Jersey.

10
JERRY
JONES

Owner

Dallas Cowboys

CHANGE FROM 2010: NO CHANGE

The first Super Bowl at the Cowboys’ new home may have not gone as planned, but that’s hardly slowed Jones. Whether on the labor committee that negotiated the new NFL collective-bargaining agreement or on the high-profile broadcast committee negotiating the wave of mega TV deals, Jones has a say in the NFL’s most critical decisions.

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