SBJ/December 10-16, 2012/Most Influential

50 Most Influential: 2-10


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2
ROGER
GOODELL

Commissioner

NFL

CHANGE FROM 2011: +2

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Goodell’s influence over the landscape of sports. In season or out of season, the NFL commissioner sets the tone almost invariably for what will dominate the sports news cycle, whether replacement referees, player safety or the length of the season, to name only a few major headlines.


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BUD
SELIG

Commissioner

Major League Baseball

CHANGE FROM 2011: -1

Selig’s late-career ascendancy continues to accelerate with a 2012 that featured another season of record revenue and improved attendance, lucrative new national TV contracts, a highly successful expansion of the playoff format and a two-year contract extension. Twenty years into the job, critics still attack his deliberate style, but the results speak for themselves.


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4
DAVID
STERN

Commissioner

NBA

CHANGE FROM 2011: +2

Stern plans to retire in February 2014 after 30 years at the helm, but until then he will continue to lead the NBA through one of its healthiest periods in history as the league posts record revenue and ratings. In a classic sign of his power, NBA owners swiftly and unanimously approved his hand-picked replacement, Adam Silver.


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5
PHIL
ANSCHUTZ

Founder & Owner

AEG

CHANGE FROM 2011: NOT RANKED

TIM
LEIWEKE

President & CEO

AEG

CHANGE FROM 2011: +6

Normally, this list features only AEG’s indefatigable Leiweke, but that changed after the surprising news in September that Anschutz was putting his sports and entertainment giant in play. Anschutz will be calling the shots on easily the biggest transaction of 2013, and that decision will influence the future of so much in sports — from the NFL in Los Angeles and additional development of L.A. Live, to its stronghold in soccer and the dozens of buildings around the world that AEG either owns or operates. Any deal — whether sold as one or broken up — also will affect the future of Leiweke and what he has so impressively built.


shana wittenwyler


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6
Eric
Shanks

Co-President

Fox Sports Media Group

Randy
Freer

Co-President

Fox Sports Media Group

CHANGE FROM 2011: -1

When it comes to buying sports rights, no media company has been as aggressive as Fox Sports in the past year. Under the leadership of Freer and Shanks, Fox has secured long-term rights to Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the Big 12, in addition to buying a stake in YES Network. Those rights should help in 2013, when Fox unveils its new national allsports cable channel.


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7
Robert
Kraft

Founder, Chairman & CEO

The Kraft Group

CHANGE FROM 2011: +1

With the departure of Dan Rooney for Ireland as U.S. ambassador, Kraft has quickly assumed the mantle of most influential NFL owner. Whether it was sealing the deal in ending the NFL lockout, perennially fielding a Super Bowl-caliber team or getting out front and saying the NFL would have a franchise in London, Kraft is always front and center in the important matters of the day in America’s top sport.


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8
Mark
Walter

Chairman, Los Angeles Dodgers

Founder & CEO, Guggenheim Partners

CHANGE FROM 2011: NEWCOMER

The Dodgers, thanks to Walter and his partners’ historic purchase in May, have redefined the sports market. Phil Anschutz cited their $2.15 billion price as the impetus for putting AEG on the market, and with the fractious bankruptcy saga over and unprecedented TV riches on the cusp of arriving, the Dodgers under Guggenheim Baseball Management are poised to become baseball’s top-spending team.


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9
Sean
McManus

Chairman

CBS Sports

CHANGE FROM 2011: +4

Now that Dick Ebersol and David Hill have left their posts at NBC and Fox, McManus is the last of the traditional broadcast sports executives. His influence comes through the massive deals he cuts, of course. But it’s his deep relationships in the business that really are influential. It’s no surprise that CBS has the longest relationships with its properties compared with other networks.


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10
David
Levy

President of Sales, Distribution and Sports

Turner Broadcasting

CHANGE FROM 2011: +2

Levy’s influence extends beyond the deals that he cuts, which this year included $325 million per year for a Major League Baseball package and $175 million for Bleacher Report. His influence comes from the fact that he has taken a leadership position in every sports media conversation, from rights deals to digital developments, including a rollout of TV Everywhere around the NCAA basketball tournament.

Most Influential: 11 through 20

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