SBJ/March 19-25, 2012/Opinion

Putting the NBA lockout in context for awards

The announcement of the nominees for our fifth annual Sports Business Awards is a refreshing reminder to me that there are plenty of companies and individuals still innovating and accomplishing great things.

The list comes just a week after we revealed our 2012 Forty Under 40 class and a week before our 2012 Champions, both representing inspirational bookends. But that doesn’t mean we don’t expect criticisms from those who feel snubbed. That’s fair, and we’re happy to discuss.

The Sports Business Awards list includes 77 nominees across 15 categories, with some familiar names along with other new companies and individuals cited for excellence. I want to thank and credit members of the SBJ/SBD editorial staff who met continually over a six-week period to pore through files and research while debating who stood out and why. It’s a difficult task, and now the decision-making moves to a panel of sports industry executives who will decide the winners in 13 of the 15 categories by a private vote.

I want to address how our committees handled the NBA, considering its 161-day lockout that affected the 2011-12 season. While we all acknowledge and respect the fact that the NBA has rebounded very well, the committees couldn’t overlook the fact that the league lost two months out of its season due to labor turmoil. That significantly affected the committees’ view on the League and Team of the Year categories, where the NBA is absent. The committees felt that any league that shut down its game to fans and their business partners couldn’t be honored for “best in class.” We certainly understand the outcome may make the league stronger and better positioned, but we’ll wait to judge that in future years. The committees felt that having a sport and teams that fans invest in taken away ­— even for only two months — was nothing that could be honored.

On the flip side, the NFL and MLB are nominated in the League of the Year category with recognition that no regular-season games were lost during labor negotiations. So that was our line of thinking.

Watch for this year’s winners to be announced on Wednesday, May 23, at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.

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

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