SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Anniversary Special Issue

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  • Anniversary Special Issue

    People and Stories that Mattered

    We start our celebration of 20 years of covering the sports industry with a look at the people and stories that stood out for us as we reviewed thousands of pages of daily and weekly coverage.

    From the Publisher

    On Second Thought!

    20 ideas that seemed good at the time

    Where Are They Now?

    20 once-prominent execs who disappeared from the sports business landscape

    They Said What ?!?

    20 bold, crazy or off-the-wall statements that might have been better left unsaid

    The Starting 5: An Oral History of SportsBusiness Daily

    How a small group of sports and news junkies launched the industry’s daily must-read

    SportsBusiness Journal — The Starters

    Members of the SBJ startup team talk about the magazine’s early days

    Memorable Moments

    20 compelling images from two decades of coverage

    They Said It!

    The most memorable quotes from 20 years of SBD front pages

    Readers Join the Celebration

    SBD/SBJ Today

    A thank-you to the people who bring you each issue of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily

    On The Cover
    Illustrator Brian Allen took our vague idea about an anniversary cake and turned it into a bold, lively image. Allen created the cover by drawing in Manga Studio and Adobe Photoshop using the Wacom Cintiq, a digital tablet display. His freelance illustration company, Flyland Designs, is based in Bellefonte, Pa.

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  • From the Publisher

    nyone who is familiar with publishing knows that 9 out of 10 startups in the industry fail. The floor in most publishing houses is littered with great ideas that didn’t make it. That reality was certainly in the back of my mind when we set out on the task of launching a new publication to cover the business of sports. You might as well have said in October of 1997, “The business of what?” We were not only starting a new publication, we were giving definition to a whole new category.

    It seems like just yesterday that a small group of us were in a conference room in Charlotte, planning the launch of what would become SportsBusiness Journal. Thanks to Whitney Shaw, our CEO, we had a great idea. But we didn’t have a title. We didn’t know what it was going to look like, exactly what was going to be in it, or how many writers, editors, salespeople, marketers or designers we would need. We didn’t know how we were going to sell it to readers or advertisers. We just knew we had a great concept.

    A few months later we had a name, a tag line — “the weekly voice of sports business” — and a prototype. Enough, we thought, to sponsor the Players Inc. party at Super Bowl XXXII, where John Elway and the Broncos defeated Reggie White and the Packers.

    On that first venture into the marketplace, we didn’t get thrown out of the room. So in the ensuing weeks, we proceeded to invest heavily in setting up news bureaus across the country, a national sales network and a national printing and distribution infrastructure. Hundreds of hours of editorial planning and sales calls on teams, leagues, agencies and service providers led up to our April launch. I’d like to tell you that the industry greeted us enthusiastically and with open arms, but, as you know, the sports industry is a “prove it” environment. The response was, as you might expect, cool, reserved and even, in some quarters, deeply skeptical.

    To win over readers, our approach was blunt and sincere. We simply promised thorough and objective reporting on the industry, with consistent delivery and follow through. Over the course of the summer and fall of 1998, to our great delight, our national distribution file steadily converted to paid subscriptions. The vast majority of all of those early subscribers from 1998 still subscribe today. A few of our very first subscribers include such notables as Phil Anschutz, John Wildhack, Lonn Trost, Mike Tirico, Mike Bass and Jim Schwebel.

    That early success in converting readers to paid subscribers was crucial to our ability to win over advertisers. Our proposition was simple — decision-makers across our industry would become avid and loyal readers of our new publication. We had some very memorable calls in those early days. One that I recall with great fondness even today was when my good friend, the late Mark McCormack, suggested that we offer him complimentary advertising in SBJ to “enhance the prestige of our new magazine.” (I politely declined his kind offer on more than one occasion.)

    And despite that early skepticism, we had a host of solid advertisers in our inaugural issue: Nations Bank (Bank of America), JP Morgan, Chase, Fox, Madison Square Garden, MLB, NBBJ, Heinlein Schrock, NTRA, the Marquee Group and Bear Stearns. (Virtually all of these still advertise with us today, with the exception of the last two, which do not for obvious reasons.)

    As the first couple of years unfolded and we found ourselves on more solid ground, we gradually expanded our offerings to include conferences and events, database products and other new product and market launches that have produced many wonderful memories and firsts for the industry:

    Our first Forty Under 40 awards dinner in the Starlight Roof Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 2000, where we honored Adam Silver, Mark Lazarus, Brian France, Steve Phelps and others. It’s fun to see where these folks are today …

    Many people don’t realize that we actually had a Forty Under 40 class the prior year, in 1999, but without the awards dinner. That year in the pages of SBJ, we honored people including Dan Snyder, Jeff Shell, Jon Litner, Joe Leccese, Susan O’Malley and others.

    Our inaugural World Congress of Sports event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in March of 2002, with Octagon, our title partner. Paul Tagliabue delivered our keynote address that year and our opening “Power Panel” included Bob Tisch, Jerry Colangelo, Ted Leonsis, Howard Schultz and Gavin Maloof.

    Our first “By the Numbers” publication in 2002 included 150 pages of charts, graphs and other data. Over the past 11 years we’ve watched it grow into an incredible interactive database with tens of thousands of listings that make up our Resource Guide LIVE database today.

    Our first Sports Business Awards program in May 2008 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, and the thrill of announcing “Welcome to our inaugural Sports Business Awards program.” The first award was handed out to the Boston Red Sox in the Team of the Year category by Tony Ponturo. (This certainly seems like a timely memory this season!)

    Our first Champions Awards program in 2010 at Dana Point in California, where we recognized industry pioneers: Jim Host, Donna Lopiano, Jerry Colangelo, Neal Pilson, Ron Labinski and Tony Ponturo.

    The relaunch and rebranding of our SBJ and SBD websites in 2011 so that we could more effectively present our news to the industry.

    The launch of Global in 2012 and our entry into the international marketplace in a meaningful way for the first time.

    And our first Game Changers event just a few months ago, where we honored our first three Game Changers classes. Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo delivered the keynote address at an event attended by a who’s who group of women from across our industry.

    That is only a sampling of the many highlights over the past 15 years.

    I’m often asked how our sports business group has affected the sports industry. There’s no question that our coverage over the years has helped add accountability and transparency to the sports industry. And that added transparency has resulted in a far greater focus on performance metrics — ROI, ROO, the spread of “best practices” across the industry that help professionals in every segment deliver a better product or service. As the size of the deals has continually grown over the years, there’s been a far greater emphasis placed on revenue generation than ever before. And the wide use of SBJ and SBD in academia is assuring a more knowledgeable, better trained and better prepared generation of sports business executives for the decades ahead.

    Our conferences and events have brought thousands of people together over the years. They have played an important role in generating lively discussion and debate, in sharing information and strategies, and in conceiving new ideas and getting deals done. They have always served to help move the discussion forward and anticipate where the industry is heading around the next turn.

    But perhaps more important than anything else, our presence in the marketplace over the past decade and a half has led to the creation of a real community that previously didn’t exist. Before the launch of SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily there were dozens of disparate groups all playing in and around sports. Fifteen years ago a marketing vice president in the NFL didn’t think she had much in common with the athletic director at Ohio State, or an architect who designs arenas and stadiums, or a banker who lends money to team owners. Professionals in sports approached their jobs from the perspectives of their own disciplines. Through our ongoing daily and weekly editorial coverage, our Forty Under 40 awards program, our various conferences, our Sports Business Awards and everything else we do, we’ve played an important role in helping these executives realize that they are in the same industry, an industry defined as sports.

    Over the years, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have an extremely talented management team and staff. Everything that we’ve been able to achieve is a result of their creativity and hard work. So — to all of the 74 SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily, Global, Resource Guide LIVE and conference group staffers — a HUGE thank you for all of your dedication and hard work that you bring to the table every day. Of our 74 current staffers, 11 have been with us since the very beginning, and their names have appeared on each and every masthead published: Misty Berry, Martin Bounds, Chris Hixenbaugh, Daniel Kaplan, Bill King, John Lombardo, Mark Mensheha, Liz Mullen, Ross Nethery, Tom Stinson and myself. A special thanks and nod to each of you on our anniversary celebration!

    Because of the work of this talented and dedicated staff, I know the future of our enterprise is as promising as our past has been memorable. We look forward to adding many more highlights to the record of this industry and our Sports Business Group in the years to come.

    Lastly, as we pause in December of 2013 to look back at SBJ’s 15th anniversary and SBD’s 20th, I’d like to thank all of you, our loyal subscribers, advertisers and sponsors who have embraced this franchise over the years. Without your support, the “great idea” Mr. Shaw had so many years ago would be, like many promising ideas in publishing, a mere memory instead of the thriving franchise it is today. We could not be more grateful for your role in helping us accomplish so much.

    Sincerely,












    Richard Weiss
    Publisher
    SportsBusiness Journal/Daily


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  • Anniversary: 20 years in pictures

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES















    FIRST WINTER CLASSIC

    The inaugural NHL Winter Classic changed New Year’s Day for sports fans. Few will forget the scene in 2008, when an NHL-record crowd of 71,217 fans watched the Buffalo Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. Snow fell during a cloudy, cold day, giving the game a grassroots, pond-hockey feel and making for fantastic television of the NHL’s first, regular-season outdoor game in the U.S.

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    WATCHING, CRINGING AT THE REPLACEMENTS

    The NFL, traditionally the gold standard of sports leagues, suffered a rare PR crisis early in its 2012 season when it failed to come to terms with its referees and used replacement refs. The turning point in talks came after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on “Monday Night Football” Sept. 24, 2012, after a controversial and confusing call by the replacement referees resulted in a fourth-quarter touchdown for Seattle. Two days after the game, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association reached an agreement to end the referees lockout that began in June.


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    SOUR END TO ALL-STAR GAME?

    The 2002 MLB All-Star Game in Milwaukee was supposed to be a hometown coronation of sorts for local hero and Brewers owner-turned league Commissioner Bud Selig. But with the teams running out of pitchers, Selig ended the game as a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, prompting boos and days of criticism. The following year MLB began an effort to inject more life into the All-Star Game by awarding the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series, a policy that remains in effect a decade later.


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    THE PASSING OF “THE INTIMIDATOR”


    In the darkest and most unsettling day in NASCAR history, racing icon Dale Earnhardt was killed when his car crashed near the end of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001.  A haunted NASCAR President Mike Helton announced the death of the racing legend at a press conference by stating, “We lost Dale Earnhardt.”


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    NHL SEASON CANCELED

    In a low moment for labor relations in sports over the last 20 years, the NHL canceled its entire 2004-05 season after owners and players failed to reach a labor agreement. Here a locked gate is seen outside the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks, on Feb. 16, 2005.


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    SUPERDOME AND HURRICANE KATRINA

    Devastation hits Louisiana and the sports industry played a critical role in 2005 as the Superdome was used as an emergency temporary shelter for people during Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints were forced to play their first scheduled home game on the road against the New York Giants. The rest of the team’s home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.


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    NO TAPOUT FOR UFC

    Six years before landing its breakthrough deal with Fox, UFC was fighting for its life. Bleeding millions and desperate for exposure, UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta took one last swing, covering $10 million in production costs for “The Ultimate Fighter,” a reality show on Spike. In the season finale, with a $100,000 UFC contract on the line, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar (shown above) slugged it out in a fight so stirring, UFC President Dana White awarded both fighters contracts. Thanks to what White still calls the most important bout in its history, the UFC was on its way to breakneck growth.




    Photo: COURTESY OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS


















    COWBOYS GO IT ALONE


    Few will forget the image when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones marched onto the Giants Stadium field with Nike’s Phil Knight and Nike client Monica Seles at halftime of the opening NFL Monday night game Sept. 4, 1995, to announce the Cowboys’ seven-year sponsorship deal with Nike. It was a blatant and public rebuke of the league’s sponsorship policy, and the NFL and Jones sued each other over the team’s private deals and later settled. But Jones’ overt efforts resulted in major changes to the league’s corporate sponsorship program.


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    ALL EYES ON JANET, JUSTIN

    “Wardrobe malfunction” entered the pop-culture lexicon as Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson’s costume during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The incident led to heavy FCC fines for broadcaster CBS (later dropped on appeal) and, according to founder Jawid Karim, helped spawn the idea for YouTube.











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    A TRAGIC LOSS FOR EBERSOL


    In one of the saddest moments in sports over the last 20 years, a private charter jet carrying Dick Ebersol and two of his sons, Charlie and Teddy, crashed during an attempted takeoff from Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado during Thanksgiving weekend on Nov. 28, 2004. The jet’s captain, flight attendant and Ebersol’s 14-year-old son, Teddy, were killed. Ebersol and his older son, Charlie, along with the first officer, survived. All of the sports industry grieved at Ebersol’s loss, as IMG’s Barry Frank said at the time, “Dick’s one of the giants of this industry and an injury to him or his family affects us all.”

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    THE DECISION


    On July 8, 2010, ESPN aired a live special, “The Decision,” during which celebrated free agent LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and taking “his talents to South Beach” in signing with the Miami Heat. The 75-minute special was a rare case of an athlete scripting out a program with a network. While the show generated strong ratings, both James and ESPN were heavily criticized over the production for manipulating the newsworthy impact of the story.

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    TED DOESN’T JUST TALK

    Turnaround artist Ted Forstmann bought the agency that virtually invented sports marketing, IMG, for $750 million in 2004, dramatically changing its culture and approach before his death in 2011. The company is expected to be sold by the end of the year for more than $2.5 billion.











    Photo by: NEWSCOM
    BRAWL AT THE PALACE

    It was one of the most disturbing scenes in recent pro sports when Indiana Pacers players climbed into the seats behind the scorer’s bench during an ugly altercation in the last minute of their game with the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 19, 2004, at the Palace of Auburn Hills. It marked one of the few times that athletes fought with fans in an arena during a game and resulted in a serious image problem for the NBA. The incident also drew some of the harshest penalties in sports, as nine players on both teams were suspended after the brawl, including Indiana’s Ron Artest, who was suspended for the remainder of the season.



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    A CAPITAL IDEA

    Washington, D.C., officials welcome the Nationals, as the Expos leave Montreal in MLB’s first relocation in 33 years, and bring baseball back to the Capital.


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    BROTHERS IN ARMS


    In an image that came to symbolize the end of the NFL lockout, a grieving New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft leans on Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts at a news conference in Washington, D.C., July 25, 2011. Kraft had lost his wife of 48 years, Myra, just five days earlier and Saturday noted Kraft’s efforts to help resolve the labor dispute while going through such a difficult, personal ordeal. The image marked a new era of NFL labor peace.


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    PINKY PROMISE?


    Three NFL franchises relocated in 1995, just as the league was using “Pledge Allegiance” in its consumer marketing efforts.  Two teams moved out of L.A., but it was Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell who shocked the industry when he  relocated his team to Baltimore.


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    THE HANDOFF


    Over two days in Chicago in 2006, NFL owners, including the Steelers’ Dan Rooney (far left) and the Panthers’ Jerry Richardson (far right), managed the handoff of power from longtime Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (right, with ball) to then COO Roger Goodell.


    Photos by: GETTY IMAGES


















    TRAGEDY AT THE TRACK

    Two weeks after the undefeated Barbaro stormed to a Kentucky Derby win in 2006, he shattered his right hind leg at the Preakness Stakes. People nationwide tracked his progress. Cards, flowers and fruit baskets poured into the veterinary hospital in Pennsylvania. Barbaro survived his surgery, but died eight months later. He was buried at Churchill Downs, becoming the first horse to receive that honor.







    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    LOVE THE LONG BALL

    During the summer of 1998, the nation was captivated by baseball and an exciting home run race between the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. Both men ended up passing Roger Maris’ long-standing record of 61 home runs.











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    HOME, SWEET HOME


    With waning interest in Los Angeles and the promise of a taxpayer-financed stadium in St. Louis, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere packed up her team and moved east in 1995. Though the Rams were welcomed with open arms, the move left the nation’s second-largest media market without a team to call its own. It’s a situation that has yet to be resolved, despite plans by many would-be owners, and the league has watched a generation of L.A. fans grow up without a home team.

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  • On Second Thought!

    BOBCATS SHUTTER C-SET (2005)

    New Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson may have been ahead of his time in starting the regional sports network C-SET for his expansion team, but the move limited his franchise’s exposure when it desperately needed it. The network was available to only 40 percent of local Time Warner Cable customers and posted overall losses of $15 million. Johnson shut down C-SET after just one season.

    FORGET, DON’T REMEMBER, 1836 (2006)
    When the MLS club moved from San Jose, team officials decided a rebrand was in order, and dubbed the team the Houston 1836 to signify the year the city was founded. However, the move angered some Hispanics, because 1836 also was the year Texas gained its independence from Mexico. The team never played under the 1836 moniker, eventually settling on Dynamo.

     “DESPERATE” OPENING (2004)
    ABC rolled out an aggressive “MNF” intro that pushed its sex-fueled hit, “Desperate Housewives,” as actress Nicollette Sheridan attempted to seduce Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. The league fumed. Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney called the lead-in worse than Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime act, and Colts coach Tony Dungy called it “racially offensive.”

     NBA ALL-STAR HITS SIN CITY (2007)
    The NBA’s one-and-done trip to Sin City for All-Star Weekend is one the league may wish to forget. The weekend was marked by massive traffic and discord. Although no players were involved, Las Vegas police made 392 game-related arrests during the four-day event.

     SPALDING’S NEW NBA BALL A MISS (2006)
    Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
    Spalding’s much-hyped synthetic basketball lasted just two months into the 2006-07 NBA season before being shelved for its leather predecessor. The league didn’t consult with players before production and faced leaguewide complaints about handling. Spalding was also forced to offer $100 refunds on its website to fans who had purchased the ball.

     GET YOUR LAP DANCES! (2011)
    Halftime acts at various sporting events run the gamut from entertaining to bizarre. But the National Lacrosse League’s Boston Blazers took a different path with a promotion during an indoor lacrosse game. A game at TD Garden featured scantily clad dancers in a competition to see who could give the team mascot the best lap dance. The team eventually issued an apology.

     THE MAGIC HOUR (1998)
    Magic Johnson’s eight-week run at late night TV in 1998 was a disaster. USA Today’s Robert Bianco wrote that Johnson lacked “the most rudimentary talk-show talents — such as an ability to ask questions and listen to answers without convincing us both were scripted.” The Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker called Johnson “inept, fawning and dull.” Ratings were poor and the show was quickly canceled.

     USOC EYES A NETWORK (2008)
    The U.S. Olympic Committee announced it was ready to launch its own cable TV network dedicated to Olympic sports. But the group didn’t get the necessary support from the International Olympic Committee and TV partner NBC before the announcement, and with pushback from both organizations putting Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics in jeopardy, USOC Chairman Larry Probst pulled the plug.

     GATORADE MISSES ON TIGER (2007)
    It was an agreement Gatorade called its first licensing deal, with Tiger Woods getting a reported $100 million over five years to be the first athlete with his face on the sports drink. The “Gatorade Tiger” sub-brand launched in March 2008 with three flavors, but it never gained traction and the relationship ended shortly after Woods’ personal life became embroiled in scandal.

     “SPIDER-MAN 2” OFF BASE (2004)
    Messing with the purity of the national pastime typically does not go over well with its traditionalist fan base, and that proved especially true in 2004. MLB announced a deal with Columbia Pictures to put a 6-by-6-inch logo of “Spider-Man 2” on first, second and third base during three days of games to promote the heavily hyped movie. But backlash was so swift, MLB quickly altered the promotion and took the logos off the bases.

     MOBILE ESPN GRAND EXPERIMENT (2006)
    ESPN developed its own mobile phone in 2006 through an agreement with Sprint that it subtly dubbed “The greatest invention in the history of the world. Ever.” But ESPN found that being in the hardware business was a challenge. The service did not last a year, with ESPN shutting it down after a $150 million investment. Fewer than six months later, Apple introduced the iPhone.

     NIKE BETS ON DUVAL (2001)
    Nike saw a rising star in David Duval, who had 13 PGA Tour wins before his 30th birthday, and signed him to a lucrative 10-year deal. Duval won the 2001 British Open, which was the first major won by a player using Nike clubs. But the belief that it had golf’s next star faded quickly as Duval disappeared from the pro golf landscape. He has now gone without a tournament win dating to the 2001 season.

    Photo by: AP IMAGES
     DENNIS MILLER HITS “MNF” (2000-02)
    After posting its lowest-rated season in 1999, ABC’s “Monday Night Football” went in a bold direction and hired Miller in an attempt to revive audience numbers. Although it yielded some memorable quotes, Miller’s tenure lasted only two seasons, as he and fellow analyst Dan Fouts never formed chemistry and were replaced by hall of famer John Madden.

     NFL PULLS OUT OF CHINA BOWL (2007)
    It seemed like a solid concept — two marquee NFL teams heading to one of the most populous cities on the planet for a preseason game just one year before that city hosted the 2008 Summer Games. But quicker than the Patriots and Seahawks could say Beijing, the NFL pulled the plug over operational, business and logistical failures. It has never announced another game for the country.

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
     CART U.S. 500 (1996)
    After the split with Tony George’s IndyCar Series, CART decided to stage an alternative to the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing,” but the effort did not last long. The race at Michigan International Speedway ran opposite the Indianapolis 500 just once, in 1996, before being moved to a July date in 1997 where it ran until 1999.

     THE LEGACY OF FOXTRAX (1996)
    David Hill and company at Fox introduced a glowing puck for its coverage of the NHL as a way to help viewers follow the action. But purists, especially in Canada, voiced their displeasure and Fox dropped the effort. Ahead of their time or just the wrong sport to execute it around, the FoxTrax name has survived and adorns on-screen graphics on the network’s MLB and NASCAR telecasts.

     THE NHL’S GUARDIAN PROJECT (2011)
    The NHL partnered with comic book legend Stan Lee for “The Guardian Project” to create a group of superheroes based on NHL teams. What started out as a way to attract young, casual fans never got going before the partnership ended. Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski dubbed the project one of the league’s “most misguided, derided and ridiculed duds.”

     MJ AND GOLF? A DREAM BUSINESS (1995)
    One concept that seemed like a natural was the Michael Jordan Golf Co., formed in late 1993. Combining Jordan’s name, his love of golf and a burgeoning sport, it looked like a winner. But plans for the national instructional centers and retail shops never materialized, and the company was folded into AMF Bowling once that company signed Jordan as an endorser. AMF dissolved its partnership in the golf entity in 2002.

     MASTER P’S ONE SHOT (1999)
    Rapper Master P’s sports agency — No Limit Sports — scored its biggest client in Saints running back Ricky Williams. The rapper-turned-agent then negotiated the playing contract for the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. However, the deal ended up being quite unusual, with Williams to collect only the league minimum each season and having to hit several marks to collect incentive bonuses. It came as no surprise when Williams and Master P parted ways and eventually settled an ugly civil lawsuit.

    Photo by: JIM FLUHARTY
     PASSING ON THE HALL (2010)
    NASCAR was a late comer to establishing its hall of fame, but it went through a rigorous bid process before getting a lucrative deal to put it in Charlotte, home to just about every race shop in NASCAR and a local speedway with three annual race weekends. But like other halls of fame in this information age, it has found drawing an audience — and balancing the books — challenging.

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  • Twenty People and Twenty Stories that Mattered

    Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
    DAVID STERN

    Can you name anyone whose lasting impact on the NBA approaches that of David Stern’s? Stern, who will retire as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1 after 30 years in the job, has built the NBA from a league whose Finals were on tape delay into the powerhouse property that it is today. Arguably, he is the greatest commissioner professional sports has seen, a tough-minded visionary workaholic executive who leaves the NBA during one of its strongest eras. During Stern’s tenure, the league has landed huge TV deals, created a steady rise in international growth, and delivered an increase in team profitability.

    CONCUSSIONS RATTLE AN INDUSTRY

    What former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue dismissed as a “pack journalism” issue in the 1990s morphed into a full-scale crisis for the NFL and, ultimately, a nearly $1 billion settlement this year. Images of former players with health issues, and the early deaths of others, shook the NFL and presented a massive PR problem. Now, concussion concerns have spread to other sports and, perhaps most problematically, have even affected youth participation rates.

    MASSIVE ESCALATION IN SPORTS TV RIGHTS

    When the financials of ESPN’s most recent rights deal for the NFL first started leaking out in 2012, the amount of money involved sounded ridiculous. The Disney-owned network would pay an average of $1.8 billion per year for rights to “Monday Night Football”? Considering that Rupert Murdoch was mocked a little less than two decades earlier for committing an average of $395 million per year for the NFC package that got Fox into the sports game, ESPN’s deal sounded outlandish to most people. But Wall Street yawned, Disney’s stock price rose, and the market for big live sports rights is continuing to see wild increases. There is no indication that it will slow down any time soon.

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    JERRY REINSDORF

    As the owner of two teams in the nation’s third-largest market, Jerry Reinsdorf occupies a rare place in sports. But it isn’t from the owners’ suite at a White Sox or Bulls game that Reinsdorf wields the most influence. It’s from behind his desk, where he dons a headset each day and works the phone for hours. During the last 20 years, Reinsdorf’s influence on MLB has been second only to the commissioner’s on matters large and small, including labor negotiations, the development and direction of MLBAM, the launch of the MLB Network and who gets to buy a team.



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    DON FEHR

    Easily the most powerful union leader in sports during the last 20 years, Don Fehr is the only person to serve as executive director of two major sports unions, first for Major League Baseball players and then for players in the NHL. During his 26 years leading the MLBPA, players maintained unity through two strikes and one lockout, battles that ushered in two decades of labor peace. In leading the NHLPA, Fehr negotiated a 10-year collective-bargaining agreement after an ugly 119-day lockout.


    SOCCER FINALLY BOOMS IN AMERICA

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    You’ve been hearing for a few generations that soccer would eventually make it big in the U.S. But see how the sport has progressed in the last 20 years: Major League Soccer, which didn’t even exist when SBD launched, will have 21 teams in 2015. The U.S. women’s national team has won two World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. In 2014, the men will compete in their seventh consecutive World Cup after going undefeated in their qualifying matches in 2013. Soccer still has a long way to go in the U.S. But one of the best signs of its growth may be this: When something does not go well — a heartbreaking loss for the national teams, a small crowd, a miniscule TV rating — people are noticing.

    THE GROWTH OF THE
    REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORKS


    It wasn’t the first team-owned network — NESN launched nearly two decades earlier — but YES Network’s 2002 launch set a precedent for regional sports networks, showing teams the value of their local media rights. The success of YES essentially gave teams the leverage to extract more money from these rights than ever before. To prevent teams from launching their own RSNs (and to stay in the local business themselves), companies like Comcast and Fox committed increasingly more money for these rights. All these moves resulted in the value from local rights becoming teams’ most reliable revenue source.

    SPORTS ON A GLOBAL SCALE

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    In July 2001, the International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing the 2008 Olympics, marking a new era for sports and opening the world’s most populous nation to sports business. During the ensuing years, English Premier League teams played exhibitions there, the NBA launched NBA China, and Chinese companies began sponsoring U.S. and European leagues and teams. But the IOC’s decision on China extended far beyond that country. It sparked a move into other emerging markets around the world as FIFA awarded the World Cup to South Africa, Brazil and Qatar; the NBA launched a business in India; the ATP added dates in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and the NFL, which had shuttered its European business, returned to London. Beijing 2008 clearly ushered in an era of true global expansion.

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    BUD SELIG

    If any sports executive gained stature and respect during his term as commissioner, it would be Selig. Twenty years ago, he presided over the first canceled World Series in 1994 and saw his reputation in tatters. He was seen as being slow to deal with performance-enhancing drugs, which turned into a public crisis. But through all that, Selig perservered and brought major change to the game.  He’s had unwavering support from ownership, and from his top, talented staff, and he now prepares for his exit as a commissioner whose impact has been as great as anyone in the sport’s history.

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    TIM FINCHEM

    The steady, cerebral Tim Finchem has had a 20-year run as commissioner that’s coincided with the unprecedented global growth of the PGA Tour. From his roots in D.C. politics, Finchem came to the tour well prepared to wear the many hats of the commissioner, and his smart, strategic approach has grown the tour exponentially.




    SHAKING UP THE COLLEGE MAP

    While conference memberships have evolved over the years, the most recent round of realignment, starting with the Big Ten’s signing of Nebraska in 2010, set off a flurry of moves that reset college sports. Conferences were no longer satisfied with a membership that made geographic and competitive sense. It became (gasp!) about the money. The more power schools a conference could grab, the more negotiating leverage it had for TV contracts. College sports became less about tradition and rivalries, and more about expanding the footprint into new markets.

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    PAY IT FORWARD

    When then Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks agreed to pay Alex Rodriguez $252 million over 10 years in December of 2000, it rocked the sports world. Some said Hicks was foolish or crazy, while others said he was a savvy businessman who understood the value a superstar player could have on a franchise, as well as his ability to generate revenue. Owners and leagues fretted that long-term deals with players in excess of $100 million could harm their bottom line, if not their franchise’s financial viability. Salary escalation and the concerns about it were pervasive throughout sports, but while leagues acted to quell salary escalation in collective bargaining, the rise of nine-figure contracts for star players is likely to continue.



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    PAUL TAGLIABUE

    Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue built the NFL from one of the country’s top sports into the unquestioned leader.  Money, TV ratings and popularity hit all-time highs under his leadership, and he forged an effective working relationship with the players union, ensuring labor peace. His legacy has taken a hit, though, since he retired. First, an unpopular labor deal that he helped craft in 2006 so upset the owners that it led to the 132-day lockout in 2011. Now, he’s seen as having not being forceful enough in dealing with early signs of a concussion crisis.

    THE LEAGUES BECOME MEDIA COMPANIES

    NBA TV, in 1999, was the first league-owned channel to launch, and the NFL Network’s 2003 launch furthered the trend that led to similar channels from the NHL and MLB, not to mention a host of college conference channels. NFL Network endured years of cable carriage battles to get to the 72 million homes it is in today, making it the best distributed league-owned network. These networks allowed leagues to take control over their content. They also redefined what it means to be a media company and helped turn the leagues into the most powerful brands in sports media.

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    KEVIN PLANK

    Building a company with $2 billion in annual revenue is one thing. Accomplishing that feat on Nike’s turf is even more impressive. Founded by Plank in 1996, Under Armour has become a touchstone brand in the face of the most fearsome competition, and has showed that even in the most mature categories, innovation can still be a powerful differentiator. Under Armour has built a brand meaningful to its infamously fickle ‘tween and teen core consumer. Plank insists, “We haven’t made our defining product yet.”  All the kids wearing UA gear would be surprised to hear that. No one outside of Beaverton is betting against it.




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    BILL FRANCE JR.

    The stock car racing evangelist took a rural sport and turned it into a major enterprise that made Madison Avenue and all of America take notice. During his 30 years of leadership, France made a host of changes to the sport that made that possible, but perhaps the one most critical to its success came when he, at son Brian’s suggestion, convinced racetracks to pool their television rights and sell them collectively. The deal gave NASCAR consistent TV coverage on Fox, NBC and Turner Sports and generated $400 million a year in TV revenue. He handed the reins to Brian (left, in photo), who has pushed a progressive agenda to maintain the sport’s growth.

    THE SECONDARY TICKET MARKETPLACE

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    There is nothing more essential to the sports business than the sale of a ticket. In 2000, the company now known as StubHub launched as a disrupter, changing that business at its core. StubHub influenced access, opening up the best seats to anyone willing to pay for them. It influenced pricing, creating a transparent market that revealed the laws of supply and demand. It turned street corner scalpers into online commodities traders, teams into wholesalers and season-ticket holders into retailers. In the way the Internet changed commerce, StubHub changed sports commerce, likely forever.

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    PHIL KNIGHT

    The last 20 years have seen Phil Knight take his brand into sports previously unexplored, most notably soccer, golf and cricket, along with a brief and ill-fated foray into hockey. The best-known Nike athlete, Michael Jordan, evolved into a Nike subsidiary brand. For all of Nike’s expansion, Knight remains most closely connected with basketball — so much so that in 2012 he was inducted into that sport’s hall of fame. He also became a trendsetter in the collegiate space by taking his University of Oregon Ducks under his powerful wing.

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    GARY BETTMAN

    Gary Bettman has been NHL commissioner for 20 years, serving as a sometimes controversial leader but also one with great resolve and with support from ownership. During two decades at the helm, Bettman led three lockouts, but has also made the NHL a stronger business, taking the league from 24 to 30 franchises and increasing revenue from $400 million in 1992-93 to $3.3 billion in the 2011-12 season. With labor peace until at least 2020, the 61-year-old Bettman is as enthusiastic about the league, and his job, as ever.

    THE GROWTH OF ESPN’S CULTURAL INFLUENCE

    It’s not accurate to say that ESPN was an afterthought when the Walt Disney Co. paid $19 billion for Capital Cities/ABC in the summer of 1995. But with a broadcast network, movie studio and theme parks as part of the package, ESPN was hardly the prized asset of the deal. Fast forward 18 years, and ESPN unquestionably is the main cog in Disney’s media empire, recently valued at more than $65 billion. Outside of the financials is ESPN’s force as a cultural icon and agenda-setter. ESPN has become so big and so powerful that other broadcasters have launched or acquired sports channels over the years to help them compete.

    THE RISE AND FALL AND RISE OF TIGER

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    From the day in August 1996 when he met the media during his first pro tournament with the “Hello World” line that was the slogan of a Nike campaign, few figures have moved the sports business like Tiger Woods. He won the 1997 Masters in a breakthrough performance, and his list of titles and global influence both grew. But his life took adramatic turn in November 2009 when an onslaught of  claims about infidelity  led him to leave the game for five months to focus on his personal life. When he  returned, he had lost most of his major partners; Nike, not surprisingly, stayed.  While stuck at 14 majors, the Woods rehabilitation seems complete. He will never have the endorsement deals he once did, and he is now a polarizing figure, but he remains one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet.

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    JERRY JONES

    The influence that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones enjoyed from fielding championship teams had begun to fade as SBD and SBJ launched. One playoff win in 18 years dulls the glow of those three Super Bowls early in Jones’ ownership. But his off-the-field influence is enormous, in everything from how the NFL sells sponsorships, to what commercial rights teams enjoy, to how the league approaches TV and labor talks. Throw in the dollars flowing from his stadium, which set a new bar for venues, and perhaps, from the business side, Jones can be forgiven for the on-field struggles.

    THERE’S NO STOPPING FRANCHISE INFLATION

    The Los Angeles Dodgers’ unprecedented price tag of $2.15 billion in 2012 made everyone with a sports franchise stop and think. TV money and new media potential is driving these heady valuations. Teams with far less pedigree also showed massive appreciation. The Jacksonville Jaguars are arguably the NFL’s worst team, located in one of the NFL’s smallest markets, and they play in one of the league’s worst stadiums. Yet, Shahid Khan paid $770 million for the team in 2012. With sports venues increasingly important as anchors for real estate development, the position of sports franchises as asset plays is more firmly established than ever.

    THE STEROID ERA

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    Arguably baseball’s most memorable day of the last 20 years didn’t occur at a ballpark or any MLB office, but rather in a packed U.S. House of Representatives committee room in Washington, D.C. On St. Patrick’s Day of 2005, league Commissioner Bud Selig, then-union head Don Fehr and a parade of star players were brought in front of Congress for nearly 12 hours of grilling on what legislators saw as a slow response to an exploding steroid crisis. Many of the individual vignettes were plenty memorable, including Rafael Palmeiro angrily vowing that he had never used steroids, only to test positive just months later in a career-killing move, and Mark McGwire (standing)  saying he wasn’t there “to talk about the past.” But the fractious hearing helped set in motion an extended series of policy reforms that now position baseball as a global leader in drug testing in sports.

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    DICK EBERSOL

    The best known sports media executive of the last 20 years, Ebersol spent more than two decades fashioning NBC Sports in his image. Ebersol dealt with virtually every top league, creating deep relationships with each commissioner who crossed his path. It was Ebersol’s TV productions that set the bar, particularly with the Olympics, where he pioneered the strategy of telling the stories behind the athletes rather than just showing the competitions. A strong, yet controversial voice at times, Ebersol consistently portrayed the image of an executive with his finger on the pulse of the sports industry.

    THE HIGH COST OF LABOR DISPUTES

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    The Quote of the Day in the first issue of SportsBusiness Daily was Bob Costas saying, “I don’t think that baseball will ever be, in our lifetimes, what it once was.” He was referring to the MLB players strike of 1994 and the subsequent cancellation of the World Series. But Costas’ remark could have been applied to other instances. Just a month later, the NHL shut down for 103 days; in 1998-99, the NBA missed 464 regular-season games; and, the apex of disputes, the NHL canceled an entire season in 2004-05. While labor strife seemed to mark an end of innocence in pro sports, even with these disputes, the fans and the business returned.

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    GEORGE STEINBRENNER

    When SportsBusiness Daily was born in the summer of 1994, George Steinbrenner was little more than a year removed from his second suspension from baseball. By the time he died in 2010, Steinbrenner had led the Yankees to five additional World Series titles and played an influential role in nearly every major industry trend, including new stadium development, the creation of team-owned regional sports networks, the mushrooming of sports licensing and merchandising, and the elevation of concessions operations. The brash, demanding Steinbrenner elevated the Yankees into a dominant global brand.




    REWARDS OF TITLE IX

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    While women’s professional sports are still proving their economic viability, the landscape on which they are working has grown dramatically since Title IX planted the seeds for an explosion in participation in prep and collegiate athletic programs. Just a generation ago, events with the size and impact of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, or with the staying power of the WNBA, did not seem possible. Today, they look like the precursors of a women’s sports scene that will only continue to grow.




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    GEORGE BODENHEIMER

    As ESPN’s president from 1999 to 2011, Bodenheimer oversaw the biggest era of ESPN’s growth, using revenue from the channel’s annual affiliate fee hikes to create the country’s biggest sports media organization. Under Bodenheimer, ESPN became dominant on TV, with the well-respected executive convincing most sports leagues to move many of their biggest games to cable. Bodenheimer, who stepped down at the end of 2011, oversaw a digital business that is the envy of the industry, and his tenure is marked by experimentation and aggressiveness.

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    JIM DELANY

    Outspoken and unyielding, the Big Ten’s leader has set the bar for what the modern-day conference commissioner should be — consensus-builder, media expert, visionary and negotiator. In nearly 25 years at the Big Ten’s helm, Delany has negotiated NCAA and conference TV contracts, overseen expansion, and realigned his conference into the biggest revenue-producing behemoth on the block. His legacy will forever be tied to the Big Ten Network, which launched in 2007 and survived the distribution wars to become a cash cow for the league’s members.

    AT THE FANS’ FINGERTIPS

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    For decades, sports fans did lots of waiting. Waiting for the next day’s newspaper. Waiting for highlights on the 11 p.m. local news. Waiting for the telephone score hotline to update. But the arrival and exponential growth of the Internet, and then mobile technologies and social media behind it, put fans squarely in charge of their sports consumption, in turn transforming the entire industry. Now fans direct their sports experience, getting what they want, when they want it, and where they want it.

    THE STADIUM BUILDING BOOM

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    While Oriole Park at Camden Yards began a new era of facility design, the last 20 years has seen more advancements in the stadium space than virtually any other sports segment.  Overall, a whopping 79 big league venues exist today that did not exist when SBD launched in 1994: 39 new arenas and 40 new stadiums. The total cost of big league construction from 1994 to 2013, including renovations, represents a massive $36 billion. Sports venues have been anchors for surrounding development — see Patriot Place — and become more accessible, technology-driven buildings generating major revenue, such as AT&T Stadium.

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    ROBERT KRAFT

    He bought the New England Patriots in 1994 for a then NFL-record $175 million, and in the last 20 years, Robert Kraft has become one of the most influential voices in sports. His Patriots have been to six Super Bowls, he was a charter member in Major League Soccer and his business operations are creative and successful. But it’s also the way he has positioned himself as a consensus builder and innovator, and his connections at the top levels of entertainment, music and pop culture, that place him among the most dialed-in executives in sports.



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    CHASE CAREY

    News Corp. executive Chase Carey has spent his career using sports to grow his businesses. He put together Fox’s bold bid of $1.58 billion to wrest the NFC package from CBS in 1994 — a deal that essentially created Fox Sports. He used a similar strategy at DirecTV, where he competed against cable by building the satellite company’s reputation as the home of sports. He was directly responsible for the launches of MLB Network and the Big Ten Network, as both channels cut their first affiliate deals with DirecTV. He returned to News Corp. in 2009, and spent the ensuing years driving retransmission fees for Fox and launching Fox Sports 1.

    ONCE SEEMINGLY INVINCIBLE, THE SPORTS ECONOMIC IMMUNE SYSTEM GIVES IN

    Sports once seemed immune to the ups and downs of the economy, but that changed in 2008-09 when the country was hit by the biggest economic downswing since the 1930s. Leagues and teams laid off workers as sponsor dollars got tight or, in cases such as the financial services sector, disappeared entirely. Naming-rights deals also went into the deep freeze with new NFL venues in New Jersey and Arlington, Texas, opening without corporate names. The good times seemed to return with recent TV rights fees, naming-rights deals at new NFL venues, and the record-setting sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. However, the suite and premium seating markets may never recover, and it may be a while before the industry, as a whole, regains its aura of invincibility.

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    ROGER GOODELL

    Roger Goodell was at Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s side as the NFL emerged as America’s biggest sports business. And when Goodell ascended to the top job in 2006, he quickly put his stamp on the game, whether through a tough stance in labor talks, or an emphasis on player health and safety. While not always loved by fans and players for his strong positions, he has guided the league, despite significant hurdles such as the lockout and concussion crisis, to off-the-charts popularity and profitability.

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    MR. FANTASY, PLAY US A VIDEO GAME

    For many sports fans, thinking they’re smarter than the coach or general manager is a core part of the entire experience. Two industries — fantasy sports and sports video gaming — have grown into thriving multibillion-dollar entities allowing fans to exercise those dreams from the comfort of their couch. Fantasy sports slowly but steadily grew from its origins in the 1960s, exploded in the mid-2000s once live online scoring became possible, and now represents a core audience draw for major media companies. Simulation sports video gaming, meanwhile, now represents one of the foremost licensing components for each of the major professional leagues.

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    THE LOST SENSE OF SECURITY

    The bombing at Centennial Park during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996; the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; the two bombs detonated during the Boston Marathon earlier this year — each significantly changed the way that organizations that deal with large crowds view security. Entry lines are slower than they were two decades ago. Bag searches are commonplace. There are restrictions on what you can bring in. Whether you’re waiting to board a jet or going to see the Jets, your life has changed.

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    PHIL ANSCHUTZ

    Phil Anschutz has had a profound impact on teams, facilities and the development of downtown Los Angeles as a sports hub during the last 20 years. He has been the owner of the Los Angeles Kings since 1995. His company, AEG, is a minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Some would say he single-handedly lifted MLS into the U.S. sports scene, as he was a founding investor in 1993, and at one time simultaneously owned six teams. And his development of Staples Center and L.A. Live has changed the face of the nation’s second-largest market.







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    STEVE BORNSTEIN

    In 1990, a 38-year old executive became president of ESPN, and Steve Bornstein¹s legacy with the company during that time is unmatched. He took ESPN from a single cable channel in 1990 to a suite of channels that included ESPN2 and ESPNews. He extended the ESPN brand to radio, online and into pop culture, by launching restaurants and a magazine. He set ESPN up as a legitimate competitor to the broadcast networks. His pioneering efforts continued at the NFL, as he launched the NFL Network and RedZone, and developed a much more robust digital presence. He’s been the league’s rainmaker when it comes to delivering media riches.

    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • Readers Speak Out

    Val Ackerman
    Commissioner / Big East Conference
    Former president of the WNBA


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    “I started reading both publications from the very beginning. The NBA was an early subscriber. My first recollection was of SBD. People were printing out hard copies, and I remember getting the hard copies and reading them on the subway home from work. I was an early follower. It was a great way for people in the business to stay informed, and I still believe it. It was an evening ritual, taking it on the subway on the way home. SBJ was a different kind of read, with more in-depth articles and a wider array of coverage. So a great service, as it provided a different kind of read. “

    Stacey Allaster
    Chairman and CEO / WTA

    “I remember religiously reading the SBD that would arrive by fax every day, and anxiously awaiting the SBJ each week in the mail. It was a must read if you wanted to keep up on the daily news and movements in our industry, and it was certainly a topic of water-cooler conversation at Tennis Canada for the 15 years I worked there, and still is today in my role as chairman and CEO of the WTA. What always stood out for me with both SBJ and SBD was the quality of the reporting. This is what separated it from other trades and what still separates it from other trades in the industry.”

    Wasserman: Lots of things I read in SBD/SBJ led us to take action

    Casey Wasserman
    Founder and CEO / Wasserman Media Group

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    “I remember subscribing to SBD in college. Having grown up in Los Angeles around the entertainment industry, pubs like Variety and Hollywood Reporter defined the industry in many ways. For an industry as big and as public as the business of sports to not have had a publication is really testament to the original plan and your execution. The business of sports became larger and more prevalent, and that elevated everyone, including the publications that cover it. There are lots of things I have read in SBD/SBJ that led us to go take action, including buying the [Los Angeles] Arena Football League team. After I read that the NFL had met with the Arena Football League, that seemed interesting.”

    Gary Bettman
    Commissioner / NHL

    “S ince my brother, [Jeffrey Pollack], was the founder and creator, I was aware of SportsBusiness Daily from its inception. It was an evolutionary, groundbreaking publication. It came at a time which really marked the transition of the business of sports. Our league goes back almost 100 years, but people started focusing on the elements of the business of sport and the elements that go into it relatively recently. As a daily documentation of everything going on in this industry, SportsBusiness Daily was a validation of the growth sports had seen.

    “When SBJ and SBD started the awards and people were really attending those, I thought that was a transformational moment in terms of the credibility that you were capturing sports as business.”

    Scott Blackmun
    President / USOC

    “I started reading SBD in 2002, and have read SBJ since it started. It was great to have one place to go to that you could find out who was going where and saying what in the industry.”


    George Bodenheimer
    Executive Chairman / ESPN

    “At the time, coverage of the business side of sports was really hit-and-miss. I’ll just say SBD and SBJ brought it together in a focused, credible manner. You became the go-to source. I believe that. Your timing was great because the business exploded and we needed a serious comprehensive source to put it all together. And SBD and SBJ were there. You brought the coverage together with two highly credible sources.”

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    Tim Brosnan

    Executive Vice President of Business / Major League Baseball

    “We really operated back then a lot more in a vacuum and had to rely a lot more on loose agency info, hearsay, anecdotal data, things like that. So the Daily and Journal have really helped create a whole industry and put needed information at our fingertips, and it is somewhat hard to overstate the value of that.”

    David Falk
    Founder and CEO / Falk Associates Management Enterprises

    “The SportsBusiness Journal has become the Hollywood Reporter for the sports industry. It is helpful to have some kind of professional publication that you know is reliable in keeping up with what is going on in the industry. “

    George Pyne
    President, Sports & Entertainment IMG Worldwide

    “It seems like I have been reading the SBJ and SBD forever. I can’t even remember when it did not exist. … I first read the SBD via fax. I read them on a regular basis and I think they serve the industry well. “

    Bud Selig
    Commissioner / Major League Baseball

    “Pro sports has gone from a relatively simple business to something now very sophisticated, and the growth has been clearly reflected over the years in The Daily and Journal.”

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    Phil de Picciotto

    President / Octagon Worldwide

    “SBD and SBJ changed the business in making the leading brands, properties and agencies in the business more aware of what they were all doing.”

    Mark Steinberg
    Partner / Excel Sports Management

    “I started reading the magazine before SBD, but I do read SBD every day, and that has been going on for years. Before, you’d just get the main daily, but now you get the Morning Buzz, you get The Daily, you get the afternoon wrap, you get the Global Daily. It’s evolved so much.”

    David Stern
    Commissioner / NBA

    “I have been reading both of the publications from the beginning. I am all in on any coverage of the business of sports, and I have been dating back to when you had to piece it together from other periodicals. My understanding was that I was one of a limited minority that was reading SBD. I wasn’t sure SBJ was going to get traction. SBJ is in sound hands now. They have a number of awards and issues and the like, and have stepped up opportunities for interested sponsors to advertise in the publication.”

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    Skipper: SBD is just essential now

    John Skipper
    President / ESPN

    “SportsBusiness Daily is just essential now. I read The Daily within the first 15 minutes I get it. It’s the source of an unbelievably frequent passing around. ‘Hey, have you seen this?’ ‘What do you think about this?’ ‘Is this true?’ ‘Did you know about this?’ It really works.

    “It’s a big and important industry now.
    SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily have played their role in growing the business and making it important. It also reflects the fact that it is covering an industry that is important and is becoming more important.”

    Steve Phelps
    CMO / NASCAR

    “The publications brought a lot of transparency to the industry. That’s a good thing. Because there wasn’t something like this previously, there wasn’t a home for some of the things now being written about. When you have people who understand your business and what’s happening in your business, it brings a sense of accountability to the business. It is good for the industry that there’s an SBD and SBJ. If it went away tomorrow, something would take its place because there’s a need for it. There’s a demand for what’s being written. It’s our industry’s book. There’s an ownership we all feel. With the conferences, Forty Under 40, we celebrate, as well. But this is where the news of our industry is.”

    Rick Welts
    President and COO / Golden State Warriors

    “I don’t know how we did without the publications. They have come to be the road map for anyone who wants to be successful in the business. Now we have a whole generation of sports marketers who take it for granted, because they weren’t around before [SBJ and SBD] existed. The publications filled an absolute void that we didn’t know existed until we had them.”

    Jim Nash
    Managing Director, Sports Finance and Advisory Group/ Bank of America

    “You are must-have programming. When The Daily launched, it was, ‘OK, what is this?’ But very quickly it was, ‘Wow.’ You wanted to check it out every day to find a nugget of something that might trigger an idea. It was a good aggregator and very efficient, and it would help me generate ideas. I still print mine out every day.”

    Kathy Carter
    President / Soccer United Marketing

    “The publications continue to be an invaluable resource for us. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear about SBJ/SBD, and now, with the international edition, the importance just continues to increase. Our business is better as a result of the information and services they provide.”

    Tom Condon
    Football agent / CAA Sports

    “SBJ pioneered the emphasis on the universe of competitive sports as a profession in and of itself. It has always been a must read for me for its accuracy, its primary-source reporting, and its own reputation for exclusivity in sources and stories. It is a resource that is dependable, is read by decision- and opinion-makers, and is stand-alone in its reputation for those reasons.”

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    Sean McManus

    Chairman / CBS Sports

    “I became aware of SBJ and SBD right when they came into existence and became a faithful and regular reader of both. SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily is the primary source for news and information because it’s accurate, it’s complete and it has writers that are knowledgeable enough that usually their insights are valuable. Since the launches of SBJ and SBD, the sports industry has become much more a part of the business world and society.”

    Peter Ueberroth
    1999 Recipient of SBJ/SBD Lifetime Achievement Award

    “You were and are a place to go for all to see the business of all sports. You brought journalism to the world of sports. You brought economics. Now the public is capable of understanding what’s going on. It’s business but also a service. When people are better informed, the whole world of sports is better off.”

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    Earl Santee

    Senior Principal / Populous

    “SBD was the first publication where the news was at the moment. It wasn’t old news. It happened that day or the day before. It was faxed to us. We printed it and we would pass it around the office to the market leaders and they could read stuff and know collectively what was going on in the sports business.

    “We relied on SBJ and SBD because of the content and information. Sometimes, it would confirm what we already knew. Sometimes, it was information we didn’t know. Sometimes, it was information we knew that wasn’t necessarily true. But it was information, so you’re looking for it.”

    Vince Wladika
    Consultant & Publicist / Formerly with NBC Sports, Fox Sports and Major League Baseball

    Wladika said the arrival of SBD in particular made it impossible to hide a negative story from the rest of the country: “During the early days of The Daily, you had other things like Burrell’s clipping service, but there obviously was no Google and no Twitter. You couldn’t just search out things. So before, if there was a bad story in one market, it often could stay confined to that market, and, as a network, you could sort of contain it. But with The Daily, you couldn’t do that anymore. Everybody now was seeing everything. It completely nationalized the industry.”

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    Pilson: You went well beyond
    sending out a daily fax

    Neal Pilson
    President and Founder / Pilson Communications / member
    of the SBJ/SBD “Champions” Class of 2010

    “Idon’t think there was that magic moment where we said, ‘Aha. They’re going to make it.’ I think it was a gradual process of professional reporting, accurate and timely news and information. Then I watched as you integrated your business into the sports industry. By that, I mean you went well beyond just sending out a daily fax. It was a fax in the early days, then the glossy periodical. You were producing sports conferences of one kind or another. You were seeking advertising support from branches in our industry that I think no one had ever paid attention to before, like arenas or various service companies that, up to this point, many of us weren’t even aware were around. We never realized they were important components of a much larger business.

    “You proved to us that the business was a lot bigger than we even thought it was.”

    Mike Tollin
    Executive Producer / Director, including “Arli$$,” “The Franchise,” “30 for 30,” “Coach Carter”
     

    “There’s five issues a week, so that’s about 250 or 260 a year. And I’d say I’ve read all but 240-plus for 17 years. I don’t miss it. It’s part of my daily routine. I usually save it until the end of the night for the dessert after I’ve read everything else. I’m old school. I still print it out every day and read it. Only when I’m away do I read it via the Internet.”

    Dale Koger
    Sports Group Vice President / General Manager / Turner Construction

    “I have read SBJ for at least 10 years. SBD for probably seven or eight years. When I first started seeing SBJ, it literally became a must-read every week for me. I felt like it gave so much information about the marketplace. Not just about facilities, but the franchises, ownership groups, even players — people who formed the industry. I think it’s unique in that it really does cover the entire spectrum of the sports industry.”

    Brian McIntyre
    Senior Communications Advisor to the Commissioner / NBA

    “I remember reading SBD on the first day it published. It was one of those things you read and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ It was one place to get a roundup on the industry. It impacted every element of our business.”

    Gary Stevenson
    President and Managing Director / MLS Business Ventures

    “Early on, SBD was just aggregated stories, and now you are all reporting and breaking news in SBD or SBJ, and you add insight into stories. That leads to a deeper understanding of the issues, and you add to that a knowledge swap at all your conferences. So you’ve gone from aggregating stories to reporting stories to the ability to swap information with your peers at conferences. It’s a pretty smart plan.”

    Paul Tagliabue
    Former Commissioner / NFL

    “SBD came to my attention first, and probably because I used to get daily briefings from our people on everything. Once SBJ arrived, it showed up as a piece of my daily report. We had a good daily clip service, but SportsBusiness Daily added to the scope of coverage and the quality.”

    Frank Supovitz
    Senior Vice President of Events / NFL

    “SportsBusiness Journal and The Daily became must-reads when the boss began calling shortly after a story broke. If you hadn’t read the story, he or she knew you were not at the top of your game.”
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

    Bob Bowman
    CEO / MLB Advanced Media

    “Back in another time, there were political writers, business writers and sportswriters, and never did the three meet. But what SBJ did, really, was combine elements of all three. And for me, personally, it’s become very important reading. Beyond that, though, it’s sort of like the New Yorker magazine, where I actually like to read it in addition to needing to read it.”

    Photo by: TONY FLOREZ PHOTOGRAPHY
    Joe Leccese

    Chairman / Proskauer

    “We were early subscribers and regular users ever since. The product was different. The layout was very different. The type settings were different. It was all distributed by fax and then it got distributed by email. All of us were reading this thing religiously. I had The Daily in my briefcase every day. Whatever I didn’t get through during the day, I read on the train at night. Every time new associates joined the firm, we said, ‘If you want to work in sports, you need to read this every day.’

    “You have had this progression: The Daily, then SportsBusiness Journal, then the conferences. Forty Under 40 and the conferences were significant innovations in the business. At that point, eight to 10 years into development, when you had all three legs of the tripod, that cemented the permanency of the organization and the business.”


    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • Where are they now: Select SBD/SBJ Editorial Alumni

    WHERE THEY ARE NOW: SELECT SBD/SBJ Editorial Alumni

    Almunus Name Starting Division Starting Job With SBJ/SBD Current Organization Current Title
    David Abrutyn SBD Director of Sales IMG Senior VP & Global Managing Director of Consulting
    Russell Adams SBJ Reporter Wall Street Journal Editor, Markets Desk
    Schuyler Baehman SBD Senior Staff Writer National Hockey League Senior Manager, Communications
    Matt Barrows SBD Staff Writer Sacramento Bee 49ers Beat Writer
    Jim Bentubo SBD Staff Writer Sonic Automotive Social Media Manager
    Steve Cameron SBJ Facilities Reporter Contributing Editor Coliseum Magazine (U.K.)
    William Cooper SBD Staff Writer ESPN WatchESPN Programming Content Associated
    Marcus DiNitto SBD Staff Writer Sporting News Senior Editor
    Mark Feinsand SBD Staff Writer New York Daily News Yankees Beat Writer
    Shelly Finkel SBD Director of Marketing & Client Services On Sale Promos General Manager
    Troy Furr SBD Staff Writer ESPN Director, Finance & Strategy
    Josh Gotthelf SBJ Reporter Dime Magazine Co-Founder & CEO
    Bates Grainger SBD Staff Writer Taylor PR Vice President
    Ethan Green SBD Assistant Editor Freelance Sponsorship Marketing Consultant
    Ben Grossman SBD Staff Writer Twitter Media Head of Global Operations
    Brian Helfrich SBD Staff Writer Summit Coffee Co. Owner & Vice President
    Jeffrey Hochberg SBD Sales AOL / Advertising.com Vice President, Product Sales
    Andy Jasner SBD Assistant Editor Freelance Sports Writer
    Kris Johnson SBD Staff Writer NASCAR Illustrated Associate Editor
    Howard Kamen SBD Staff Writer Gannett Digital Ventures Senior Manager/Content Acquisition & Distribution
    Sean O’Connell SBD Staff Writer Fandango, Washington Post Movie Critic
    Mike Philbrick SBD NBA Daily  Grantland Editor
    Mike Preston SBD Staff Writer Philadelphia 76ers Director of Public Relations
    Alisha Puckett SBD Research Associate ESPN Online Editor
    John Rofé SBJ West Coast Reporter New York Times International Afternoon Business Editor
    Josh Rosen SBD Staff Writer Charlotte Bobcats Director, Communications
    Josh Rosenfeld SBD NBA Daily Editor-in Chief WBGO 88.3 FM Newark Public Radio Customer Service
    Steven Salm SBD Sales The Bicycle Music Company President
    Kent Schacht SBD Staff Writer Mather Economics Digital Services Director
    Sal Schiliro S&S Publisher Retired Recently had 50th year Wedding Anniversary
    Jon Show SBD Staff Writer Show Sports Media Owner/Founder
    Mark Simpson SBD Staff Writer Big South Conference Assistant Commissioner PR
    Welch Suggs SBJ Reporter University of Georgia Associate Professor of Journalism
    Charles Todd SBD Network Coordinator NBC News Chief White House Correspondent
    Scott Warfield SBJ Reporter NASCAR Director, Broadcast and Entertainment Marketing Communications
    Craig Wessel SBJ Director of Marketing Portland Business Journal Publisher

    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • A Big Thank You to the Staff of Today’s SBJ/SBD!

    Members of the staff who are based in Charlotte gathered on the field at Bank of America Stadium last month to take a photo celebrating the SBJ/SBD anniversary.
    Photo by: NANCY PIERCE
    We’ve spent a lot of pages looking at history, but now it’s time to recognize the people doing the hard work every day to bring you each issue of SportsBusiness Journal, Daily and Global. Some of them are pictured in the photo above, taken recently at Bank of America Stadium. The complete staff list is below.























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    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • SportsBusiness Journal starters




    Veteran newsman John Genzale was publisher of the Jacksonville (Fla.) Business Journal, a weekly newspaper owned by American City Business Journals, when the company’s chairman, Ray Shaw, called and asked him to fly to company headquarters in Charlotte the next day. “Whitney has an idea he wants to talk to you about,” said Shaw, referring to company president and now CEO Whitney Shaw. Here’s the rest of the story:

     On getting started: Ray and Whitney laid it out for me, and I took a walk around the block and thought about it. Why I had to think about it, I don’t know. But before I went home, I said yes. That was Sept. 12, 1997, and that was really the first day of SportsBusiness Journal.

    Gathering the team: The biggest challenge was finding the people who could write at a higher level about business. But also people who were journalists at heart, who could learn something right away. I’ve always thought that the best reporters were those who knew very little about their beat at the start, but who wanted to go in and learn.

    We picked a lot of people from ACBJ properties. For the others, we ran ads, we probably used the Internet, we did a lot of word of mouth. We got literally hundreds of résumés, and every cover letter would say, ‘I’ve been a sports writer for X number of years,’ and that almost automatically disqualified them in my mind. The fact of the matter is that we weren’t going to get along with people who knew nothing but sports. We had to keep on telling ourselves, ‘We’re not doing sports. We don’t care whether the Giants won last night. We have to think business.’

    Key to survival: It had to be credible beyond any publication I’ve ever worked on. I worked for a lot of daily papers, and their life and death was their credibility. The reason I felt like we had to be more credible was that we were in a business that we didn’t know, and we were a new publication, and if we looked amateurish, if we looked less than credible from day one, we couldn’t have survived.

    Because we say so: At one meeting, we had the whole editorial staff in one room, and I had said something like, ‘You guys are the experts in the field.’ And they asked me why they were the experts, and I said, ‘Solely because SportsBusiness Journal says you are.’ [Senior Writer] Bill King was the only one who had the guts to come up to me afterwards and say something like, ‘Enough of the bullshit. You can proclaim that I’m an expert, but I’m covering baseball, and I’m no expert on the business side.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but here’s the thing: I don’t think anyone else is covering it, and you’re going to do it eight hours a day for the foreseeable future. So how long do you think it’s going to take you to really know your beat? Within three months, you will be the expert, and I’m saying you are today.’

    After only about three weeks, King came to me and said, ‘You know what? I get it. I’m the only one putting all the time into this, and I already know a lot more about it than most people do.’ He was feeling the expertise. He knew the players. He knew where the money came from and where it went. He knew how it worked.

    First hints of success: In January of 1998, a few months before we launched, Publisher Richard Weiss and I showed up at Sports Summit in New York with a 16-page prototype. Richard got a suite so that we could invite people in and show them the idea and announce that we’re doing this. I remember a Canadian national news company wanted to do an interview with me. Naturally, I said OK, because we were trying to promote our launch. But the interview wasn’t about that. They regarded me as an authority on sports business. This was four months before our first publication, and I thought, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I thought it was going to be an interview on how the idea was great, what was the market like, what’s our potential for the magazine. Right about that time, the NFL was doing a new television contract that doubled the revenue for every team, and The Wall Street Journal wanted to interview me on that. Months before we put out our first publication, people were already talking to us like we were a credible source in the sports industry.

    Biggest reason for success: The most important thing was getting the right team into place. The people we got, it was part luck, part serendipity. It was more luck than any skill. We just put together people who were committed and made the publication what it was just on their sweat and intelligence and guts and willingness to try something new. If there’s anything I want to emphasize, it’s my honor and my pride in working with that group of people.

    Biggest regret: I always wished that it was my idea.

    Genzale lives in Como, Italy. He is a professor at the American University of Rome, is on the faculty at Columbia University in New York and is a professor in the FIFA Master program (Milan).


    Ernie Torres was the copy chief when SportsBusiness Journal was founded in 1998. He was a well-traveled newsman at the time, having worked in Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta and Los Angeles. It was in Philadelphia that he worked with SportsBusiness Journal founding editor John Genzale, and where John decided he would look for the opportunity to work with Ernie again some time. That time came when John started assembling the editorial team for SportsBusiness Journal.

    Ernie was a strong editor who believed in the English language, in clarity and accuracy and communication. He was, as John described it, the backstop of the news team, the final set of eyes that made sure stories were as good as they could be for readers. He loved jazz, movies, good books, good food, and his bride, Sandy.

    I was relaxing at home one winter evening when John called and said that Ernie was in the hospital. He had had a heart attack. Weeks later, he died. He did not live to see the first anniversary of SBJ, let alone the 15th, but one hopes that his commitment to quality journalism and to clear communication are still present.


    — Dewey Knudson was a copy editor for SportsBusiness Journal from its launch in 1998 to 2005. He is now a copy editor for The Virginian-Pilot in Portsmouth, Va.


    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF




    CURRENT JOB: Assistant Managing Editor
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Charlotte
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 31
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: I’d always had a fascination about the merger of sports and business going back to college when the University of Kansas journalism school library received copies of the biweekly Sports Inc. magazine, the first effort to cover our industry. That magazine died around 1989 after only about a year and a half, but I always kept that in the back of my mind as something I’d like to cover if a similar publication ever popped up. Then, in the fall of 1997 while I was working for an ACBJ-owned publication called Winston Cup Scene, Whitney Shaw, who is now CEO of the company, pulled me aside and said, “We’ve got something cooking that I think you might be interested in.” He was right.
    FIRST JOB AT SBJ: Special Reports Editor
    HOW LONG AT SBJ: 16 years
    STORY THAT STANDS OUT: There are so many … the first time we attacked diversity in the industry, the first time we looked at gambling, the two centuries of sports business timeline that we did in 1999. The Beijing Olympics, the rise and fall of Boots del Biaggio, the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. These are just a few of the many that stand out.
    FONDEST MEMORY: Putting together the original staff and getting everything off the ground was so much fun. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but everyone had gone all-in and we knew we were creating something special throughout that first year in 1998. We weren’t certain how many people were seeing it, but we knew we were doing good work.
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN I WASN’T SURE SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : I remember an early phone call with my dad, who devours dozens of newspapers and magazines every week, when he said, “There sure aren’t many ads in this thing.” It’s not like we didn’t know that, but we were so focused on producing a solid product and learning a complex industry that it was easy not to look up and get scared about the actual business prospects of the publication.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN … : The first Forty Under 40 dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in November 2000. Seeing the great Mark McCormack — who, to be honest, hadn’t really given SBJ the time of day when we launched — working the room and very obviously finding value in the level of executive the magazine could attract, that was a real turning point for me. That was kind of our coming-out party.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES AND RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE MAGAZINE: The weekend after our debut issue went to press, downtown Charlotte had a music festival that was literally right outside our office. That became sort of home base for our launch party, or partying. At one point, about half of our Charlotte-based staff, publisher and all, was in a parking deck taking swigs off a bottle of champagne as it got passed around. I remember thinking, boy, if a police officer were to walk by now, we’d have a hard time getting out issue No. 2. Needless to say, in the early days, we went at things hard, both in terms of work and play.
    Past that, the best parts have been so many of the people and so many of the firsts. We’ve developed our own little niche here, and it’s truly been special to be a part of that.


    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF







    CURRENT JOB: Senior Writer
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Charlotte
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 33
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: The rare opportunity to cover the business side of baseball from a national platform, and to be part of a startup.
    HOW LONG AT SBJ:15 years
    STORY THAT STANDS OUT: Too hard to pick one. I’ve gotten to tell the stories of Marvin Miller, Lamar Hunt, Steve Sabol, Bob DuPuy, Ron Labinski, Mark Cuban, Jerry Reinsdorf and Ron Shapiro, among others. I not only learned about them, I learned from them.
    FONDEST MEMORY: My wife had our first issue framed and gave it to me on my birthday that year. I’ll always treasure it.
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN I WASN’T SURE SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : Most startups fail — even the good ones.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN … : People went from asking what SBJ was to saying they’d been subscribers for years. And we’d only been around a few months.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES AND RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE MAGAZINE: I’ll always cherish the firsts. I remember the first news meeting. And clinking glasses with Managing Editor Phil Harper, who hired me, after putting the first issue to bed. I remember disagreeing with our founding editor, John Genzale, on so many things, and yet always going home knowing that he had my back. I remember the excitement of the unknown, and how it brought us all together. I like that so many of us have been together for so long.


    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF




    CURRENT JOB: Assistant Managing Editor
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Matthews, N.C.
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 25
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: It was a chance to combine my interests in sports and in business journalism.
    HOW LONG AT SBJ: Since day one; 15+ years.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE WHEN …: TBD. It’s flattering, humbling and always appreciated to hear others talk positively about our role and what we offer. But internally, those ideas of viability and impact — they’re hard to consider, because the work continues. The goals since day one have been to tell good stories, lend some perspective, and be out front. The industry has gotten bigger and media has become more diverse, so the challenges have become greater, but those goals are the same. Do those things, and the rest will take care of itself.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES: There are 11 people at SBJ now who were also listed in the staff box for Issue No. 1 back in 1998. That says something for the product and for the company, to have that many colleagues still here. … Seeing kids grow up and families develop for staff over the years is as telling as anything about the journey we’ve all had. … Nothing ages you, and brings perspective, like interviewing interns and realizing that when we were starting SBJ, that person now being interviewed was just 7 or 8 years old.


    Photo: COURTESY OF JOHN ROFÉ





    What the hell was I thinking?

    I had been trying to leave my job covering Los Angeles for a San Diego-based daily for years, and all of a sudden I had three offers. The Los Angeles Times wanted me as a copy editor for its news service, the Long Beach Press Telegram needed a night city editor, and Sports Business Journal, or SportsBusiness Journal  —  I don’t think they knew which yet — offered work as a West Coast correspondent.

    Saying no to Long Beach was easy, even though I lived there. I didn’t want to work at night. But was I really going to turn down the Los Angeles Times, then the largest U.S. daily, for a startup covering something I knew as a pastime, not an industry? I remember thinking about jobs I had refused before — researcher for the muckraker Jack Anderson, New York City high school social studies teacher, spokesman for the U.S. Nordic ski team — and wondered whether blowing off the LAT would be another of those paths not taken that I would regret.

    I was torn. When John Genzale, SBJ’s first editor, interviewed me, I told him that he should consider another candidate, a close friend who I told him was every bit the reporter I was. Genzale was puzzled. Did I really want this gig?

    In the end, I did. When I told Mike Kaeser, the man who offered me the job at the Times, that I wouldn’t be accepting, he said, “Well, if the tide ever goes out on that one, let me know.”

    Fifteen years later, it’s the Times that has the less clear path to survival. Its news service died in 2009. Me, I lasted five years at SBJ, which is still going strong.

    No regrets here.


    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN






    CURRENT JOB: SBJ NFL/Finance Reporter
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: New York City
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 29
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: Love of sports and journalism
    HOW LONG AT SBJ: 15 years, since day one
    STORY THAT STANDS OUT: Fraudulent buyer of Minnesota Vikings
    FONDEST MEMORY: Covering the insane buildup to the NFL lockout, and the lockout itself
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN I WASN’T SURE SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : Whether SBJ would survive was a subject of frequent discussion in those early years among reporters and editors, often leading to gallows humor. We often did not get attention, like we weren’t there. Case in point: I broke the story in 2000 on Venus Williams inking a historic $40 million deal with Reebok, far and away the most at that point for a female athlete. It was a story that transcended sports and got into society and culture. We splashed it across the front page. No one followed our story. Two weeks later it was announced and then it was everywhere, even the nightly news. I recall getting an email from Brad Ruskin of Proskauer Rose telling me we needed better PR, which might have been true. But the incident was also reflective of the uncertainty we all had as to whether there was a market for us.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN … : More people started returning my calls a few years in.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES: Few gave us a chance to survive. I remember a story that Mark McCormack told us we should be honored to take IMG advertising, obviously at no cost to IMG. We declined, of course. One of the first meetings I took was with Randy Vataha and Bob Caporale of Game Plan. Something that was said in that meeting always has stood out, that sports is the only business with its own section in the newspaper. Very true. While many do not read newspapers, they read sports websites.









    CURRENT JOB: SBJ Staff Writer
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Winnetka, Ill.
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 36
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: It was a chance to combine my career interests in journalism and sports business to create a new product. It also didn’t hurt that SBJ was moving me back to Chicago, my hometown.
    HOW LONG AT SBJ: From day one, 15 years.
    FONDEST MEMORY: Seeing my byline in the first issue.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE WHEN … : NBA Commissioner David Stern returned my calls.


    Photo: COURTESY OF ANDY BERNSTEIN





    CURRENT JOB: Executive Director, HeadCount.org
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: New York City
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBJ: 27
    WHY I JOINED SBJ: It was an incredible opportunity to get in on the ground floor and write about the most interesting topic in the world.
    JOB AT SBJ: Marketing Editor/Media Editor
    HOW LONG AT SBJ: 8 years
    LEFT SBJ TO: Become vice president of the U.S. market for Kangaroo.TV.
    FONDEST MEMORY: Launching the World Congress of Sports; covering the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
    FAVORITE STORY: In the first couple years, SBJ had legendary boxing writer and TV personality Bert Sugar as a columnist, and he joined us at a couple of our staff meetings in Charlotte. Bert was always in character. A curmudgeon who was shameless and hysterical. We all went to a bar and Bert picked up a gaggle of young women and started introducing them to the male reporters. We had a dinner at [founding editor John] Genzale’s house and Bert led up a game of poker — muttering about his cards, telling stories about sharing a backyard in Westchester with the Clintons and their secret service — and then beat us all. It was sad to hear that Bert passed away last year. Getting to know him just a little was a real treat.
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN I WASN’T SURE SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : We had almost no advertising in the beginning, and everyone thought the SportsBusiness Daily already served the industry sufficiently. Of course, our company ended up acquiring The Daily, and SBJ got a lot more advertising.
    I KNEW SBJ WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN … : Forty Under 40 and getting into the conference business made us more than a magazine and solidified the role we had in the industry. I remember that first Forty Under 40 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York — and how good the production was — and I realized this was going to be around for a long time.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES AND RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE MAGAZINE: It’s amazing how the team has stayed together. I feel really lucky to have been a part of it, and very grateful to everyone I worked with and for. You guys let me be me. Sometimes I can’t believe the latitude you gave me. I think that everyone on the staff was encouraged to find their niche and build from that. [SBJ’s executive editors, first John Genzale and then Abe Madkour], are very different but they had some fundamental things in common — they believed in their staff and cared about us personally as well as professionally. Everyone on the team shared those values.


    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN





    FIRST JOB AT SBJ: National Editor
    CURRENT JOB AT SBJ: Managing Editor
    YEARS AT SBJ: 15

    Joining the startup team for SportsBusiness Journal in early 1998 felt a little like coming full circle in my journalism career.

    The first newspaper stories that I got paid for were reports on high school football games in Hemphill, Texas, in the early ’80s. (That I might have a conflict of interest because I was also playing in those games never occurred to me. Besides, I unfortunately rarely had a need to mention myself in the stories.)

    But after high school I drifted away from covering sports. Instead, it was schools, city council meetings, cops and courts, and, eventually, business. When I hesitated at taking the plunge full time into business coverage, an editor argued to me that covering business was just like covering sports. There are winners and losers, heroes and jerks, grand plans and agonizing defeats. In other words, terrific stories to tell.

    It was all true, and after a while I grew comfortable with the notion that business journalism would be my long-term home. Then along came SportsBusiness Journal. Not only was it a rare chance to help create a publication from scratch, but it offered the chance to combine the world of sports, which brought me into journalism in the first place, with the fun and challenge of covering business.

    The road from then to now has had its share of bumps and curves. We’ve gone from looking for ways to survive as a unknown startup to looking for ways to continue to grow as a maturing publication. We’ve seen dramatic changes in the industry we cover (sports) and the industry that we’re a part of (publishing).

    Along the way, we’ve become an important part of the sports business world and built an impressive body of work.

    In the world of journalism, what more could anyone ask?



    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • The Daily: How It Started and Why It Worked

    Five of the early staffers of SportsBusiness Daily met in New York City earlier this year.  Left to right: David Abrutyn, Jeffrey Pollack, Chuck Todd, Steve Bilafer and Abe Madkour.
    Photo by: MARC BYRAN-BROWN
    THE START…


    Founder Jeffrey Pollack: My idea for The Daily came in 1992. I was doing political consulting work for a firm based in L.A. We did campaigns and crisis management. One of our clients in the early ’90s was one of the four major sports leagues and through working with them, I started to see that sports really was a business. And I hypothesized that it wasn’t just a business, but was really a subset of the entertainment industry. And, as such, there should be a daily trade publication, like Variety, for the sports industry. So I did a little research and saw that one didn’t exist. I started talking to some people in the sports industry and connected with a mentor of mine from politics, Doug Bailey, who was founder of the American Political Network and had been running The Hotline in Washington. Doug invented an entirely new way of thinking about news and packaging it in a daily publication that was not even in print. Before there was a commercial Internet, Doug was distributing The Hotline and other publications electronically.

    On September 12, 1994, a publication was launched out of a townhouse in Falls Church, Va., that focused on the business of sports. From the beginning, it faced long odds from a skeptical audience uncertain if they needed to pay for news they felt they already knew. But it quickly became a hit and the phrase, “Have you see The Daily today?” resonated through the sports industry. Here’s the story of how it was started — by the man behind the idea and the team who helped him put it all together.
    Pollack: So, I am 28 years old, and Doug and I decided in 1993 that we would go and figure this out. People immediately started telling me it would never work, that there wasn’t enough news about the business of sports to fill a daily trade publication. If there was enough news to fill a daily publication, no more than 100 people would ever have an interest in reading it. And, of those 100, no one would ever pay for it. I just believed that was wrong.

    In the spring of ’93, Doug suggested that I meet with Steve Bilafer, who had been working with him at The Hotline.

    Founding editor-in-chief steve Bilafer: I was the No. 2 editor at The Hotline. We had gone through a presidential election and, at the time, I was trying to figure out what my path was. The editor-in-chief at The Hotline wasn’t going anywhere. So I was looking for other opportunities, and Doug said, “Why don’t we talk about this sports idea?” He knew I had an affinity for sports, but, obviously, I didn’t have any experience in sports business. He got me together with Jeffrey, and his idea seemed a natural to me.

    Bilafer: At American Political Network, it was originally about politics, but we had started branching out into other issue areas: health care, environment, education. We had all this news coming in. We started wondering how many different ways we could cut it. Doug was saying, “OK, we’re throwing away a lot of business pages, we’re throwing away a lot of sports pages. How many ways can we cut this model of gathering, digesting, and presenting news to these audiences?” So I knew the sports idea was going to work because we had done it.

    Pollack: Steve was my guy. There was no question. The way The Hotline looked at the world was perfect for the application to sports.

    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    JEFFREY POLLACK

    Co-founder, president and publisher

    CURRENT JOB: Strategy and marketing consultant. I have been working independently for the last 18 months: consulting with David Carlock and the Machete Group; helping a private equity firm identify acquisition opportunities in sports; and also serving as chief strategy officer and advisory board member at AudioNow — an ethnic media company based in Washington, D.C.
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Los Angeles
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBD: 29
    JOB AT SBD: Co-founder, president and publisher
    HOW LONG AT SBD: 4 years
    LEFT SBD TO GO: Consult with the NBA during collective bargaining in 1998.
    FONDEST MEMORY AT SBD: The simplicity of our early days. Cramped quarters on the first floor of 282 N. Washington St. in Falls Church (my office had been a storage closet and was so small only two people could sit at any one time). Pulling stories for publication by physically clipping newspapers and magazines from all over the country each morning (there was no commercial Internet to speak of at the time). Hearing the bell ring every time David Abrutyn and his small team made a sale. And, most importantly, the people who made it all happen: David, Steve Bilafer, Chuck Todd, Glenn McGrath, Sarah Rego, Melissa Smigley, Andrea Ortbals, Steve Salm, April Vara, Jeff Hochberg, Shelly Finkel, and, of course, Abe Madkour, who has carried the torch forward for the last 16 years. We were kids. No one over the age of 30 when we launched, everyone put their heart into it every day, and we laughed a lot together.
    ONCE YOU LEFT SBD, ANY MEMORY OF PEOPLE’S IMPRESSIONS OF SBD IN THE MARKETPLACE: The most common sentiment I heard was: “How did we ever get by without The Daily?”
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN YOU WEREN’T SURE SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE …: I do not remember ever thinking The Daily would not work, but that may simply be a function of how long it has been since we launched.
    YOU KNEW SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN …: Steve Bilafer was a guest on ABC’s “Nightline” within our first week of publishing. It seemed as though, all of a sudden, the business of sports in September 1994 was a topic of mainstream news and pop culture. MLB was about to cancel the rest of the season; the NHL had just signed its first broadcasting deal with Fox Sports and was about to go through its own work stoppage; Fox Sports, itself, was brand new; and there was a national conversation about the sports industry underway.
    OPEN MIC: It truly took a village to launch The Daily. Just some of the many people who can claim a hand in the publication’s successful launch include: Scott Becher, Gary Bettman, Bryan Harris, Steve Herz, Phil Hochberg, Peter Land, Bernadette Mansur, Arthur Pincus, Stewart Rog, Jim Small, David Stern, Craig Tartasky and Adam Weinberg — and others who will please forgive me if I did not mention them. All of these people were generous with their thoughts, feedback, encouragement and constructive criticism in the many months prior to our first issue and then well beyond September 1994 as we started to build momentum for those early years.
    Special mention goes to Gary Bettman, who, among other many other things, introduced me to David Stern (who encouraged me to launch The Daily in a way that only David can) and Arthur Pincus (who was a key player in Sports Inc. — the original sports industry publication — and gracious with his advice and encouragement). Bryan Harris was much more than our public relations adviser in those early days — he was a friend and mentor about the business of sports — as was Adam Weinberg from ProServ. If there was a kitchen cabinet for The Daily, this was it.

    This couldn’t have happened without Doug. The Daily wouldn’t have been what it became, what it is, had we not launched this with American Political Network. Being with Doug and being with APN was absolutely critical to our initial success.

    Pollack: The Daily was created as an executive briefing that covered the coverage. The intention was not to do a lot of original, or really any, reporting, but to sift through everything that was being written or being said each day about the business of sports and curate that for a business audience. And one hypothesis was that every major paper in the United States every day had at least one article in some section, whether it was business, sports, entertainment, lifestyle, that was related to the business of sports. And if we could just bring that together the way The Hotline was bringing together political news, that would be a great format.

    Chuck Todd (who was the second editorial hire): There was a simple mission statement that I remember, and I keep coming back to. “Our aim is to provide the business angles on major sports stories and provide the sports angles on major business stories.” We taped it up on the wall. That’s how we all made sure we were combing through the news in the right way.

    BUILDING BLOCKS
     
    Pollack: I moved to Washington, D.C., in January of 1994. I showed up to work at 282 N. Washington St. in Falls Church, Va., on Feb. 14, 1994, as the first full-time employee of Digital Sports Network. I spent the next few months refining the business plan, continuing to talk to people in the industry, prototyping and putting the team together.

    Bilafer: Early on, I would be working on The Hotline in the morning and coming down and doing prototypes for The Daily in the afternoon. Part of my deal with Doug was, if I was moving out of The Hotline, I’m taking Chuck [Todd] with me. We didn’t completely rob The Hotline. We pulled away in phases. Chuck and I had worked together for two years at that point, we knew how to put these publications together, so it was going to be a deal breaker for me if Doug didn’t give me Chuck.

    Bilafer: We built a good edit staff. Obviously Abe [Madkour] … came from the political world. We didn’t look for traditional journalists or reporters. They wouldn’t have been comfortable without a byline and wouldn’t have wanted to cover other people’s material. I knew we needed someone who was from outside of journalism and wasn’t trained because we weren’t doing traditional journalism.

    Pollack: We had office space — well I would say “office space” is a generous term. It looked like a fraternity house. It was an old Victorian house. It had two rooms, and a closet that happened to have some windows. My office was the closet. One room was editorial, one room was marketing. We were fortunate to have our own bathroom in that little suite …

    Bilafer: Fortunate? I wouldn’t say fortunate.

    Pollack, Abrutyn and Bilafer talk about the early mornings and long days during the start of SBD. Pollack: “There was this mood, and it was fun.”
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    Pollack: Actually, the bathroom doubled as our library, and some poor marketing soul had their desk right next to the bathroom door.

    David Abrutyn [hired in September 1994 as director of marketing]: It was an old house, and this whole company was working off of residential bathrooms.

    Abe Madkour [hired in August 1994 as staff writer]: Writers were on top of each other. You really had about a foot of desk space and an old black-and-white computer monitor.

    Pollack: But it was this magical environment. It was part fraternity house, part political campaign, full of 20-somethings in backwards baseball hats and flannel shirts, and there was a lot of great energy in that building.

    INSIDE THE BUSINESS PLAN

    Pollack: My business plan’s focus initially was The Daily. That had to be the flagship. But we thought there would be an opportunity to do vertical publications by sport, a weekly injury and trade report, a stadium publication, women’s sports publication and one on the fitness industry. We thought there would be opportunity to do TV shows, a sports advertising film festival, conferences and database services. That plan, written in 1993, was a pretty broad vision.

    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    DAVID ABRUTYN

    Director of marketing / associate publisher

    CURRENT JOB:Senior Vice President, Global Managing Director, IMG Consulting
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Rye Brook, N.Y.
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBD: 24
    JOB AT SBD:Director of marketing/associate publisher
    HOW LONG AT SBD: 1994-97
    LEFT SBD TO GO:To the NHL.
    FONDEST MEMORY AT SBD:Aside from the people and relationships formed along the way, if I have to pick one, it would be the rental van drive with Jeffrey Pollack from Virginia to New York City for the first Sports Summit we were a part of in January of 1995. Until then, we had mostly been faceless people making hundreds of calls a day trying to sell the publication and its vision. This was our industry debut in the city that drives the sports and media business. We needed to show the industry who we were and what the publication was. It was essential that we showed people that if we were going to write about the business and sell the publication we could relate to them and their businesses. If we could make it there — we could make it anywhere. Twenty years later and with a weekly publication and Global edition, I think it’s safe to say we did.
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN YOU WEREN’T SURE SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : We would get angry calls from people on two-week free trials whose fax machines were jammed with 14 pages of something they didn’t know who ordered or who it was supposed to be delivered to.
    YOU KNEW SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN …: A few weeks after I came to SBD — and having talked with Jeffrey, Abe, Bilafer and Chuck and understood just how valuable a resource The Hotline and its sister publications were to politicians — then I knew it was just a matter of time before SBD would become the same. Then it was when I heard people say, “Did you see The Daily?”
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES: We told people when hiring them that if they wanted to have great careers in sports there was no better place to start one than The Daily. It really is amazing when you look at the things people who have walked through those doors at SBD have accomplished in business and in life. Among many, I remember Mark Feinsand helping me set up the Norwalk office when he joined us after college and telling me one day he might like to write about the New York Yankees (see current job for dream fulfilled).
    Jeffrey was a stickler for making sure we did things right. I will never forget getting letters and marketing materials I was working on back from him with his blue felt pen comments written ALL over them. In watching how he helped edit the publication, I realized I was getting off easy compared to the editorial team. It helped me realize I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and he gave me a foundation of business practices that have contributed immeasurably to my career.    
    I was always blown away by the dedication and commitment that the editorial team had to put in every day to produce the publication. There was no way I was not going to do all I could to help make sure the work that was put in by those people, starting at 5 a.m. and ending after the late “SportsCenter” some nights, was not being ignored. We all did all we could to make sure the business didn’t fail.

    Pollack: The inspiration for calling it The Daily came from Northwestern University, where I went to school. The student newspaper was called The Daily Northwestern. So when we had the SportsBusiness Daily, there was a tip to NU to abbreviate it as The Daily.

    Abrutyn: The Daily drove everything. If you were going to be the voice for the industry, you had to be able to have a team of people that could speak — and think — critically about it and speak about it with intelligence, because it was the foundation piece for a business that was going to evolve way beyond The Daily. Once The Daily was successful, it was the set up piece for everything else that came after.

    THE ‘PERFECT STORM’

    Pollack: We decided to launch on Sept. 12 [1994]. That was a hard date. We prototyped for months before that and when we were prototyping, we wanted to limit the publication to 14 pages. One reason was to keep the fax costs down, but also to impose editorial discipline. With some of the early prototypes, the question of whether there would be enough news was answered, as we were running up to 20 pages or more. It was an effort to keep it to 14. So we filled out the edit staff, and launched that September with a full staff — edit, sales and marketing — of nine.

    Pollack: At launch, the cost for one year was $600 to receive The Daily by modem, $600 by email and $1,000 by fax. We did a $400 surcharge for fax. There were half-year prices. The nonprofit rate was not much less. The renewal rate after one year was $950 by modem or email and $1,350 by fax. So we offered a two-year discount at $2,600.

    Todd: When we launched, we hit the perfect storm of business and sports stories. Obviously, the labor strike in baseball, but you also had what Fox was doing to every TV and media market in the country. This massive reorganization of TV affiliates that the networks are still dealing with to this day. Fox was just getting involved in the NFL and NHL.

    Madkour was 25 was he started at SBD. He has relocated with it from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut to Charlotte.
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    Bilafer: The timing couldn’t have been better. We hit a wave of stories, and they were the type of stories we were going to cover well because they were being covered in the local press.

    Todd: But they were covered fairly poorly in the local press. You had some markets where they put the business reporter on it and it would be well-done, but in some places they would put the sports reporter on it, and, no offense to sports reporters, but they just never covered it that way. They missed some of the business angles.

    Pollack: There weren’t really people focused on the sports business beat. There were sports writers who had to go cover these business issues that they really didn’t want to cover and they did it reluctantly.

    Bilafer: Beat writers hated covering it. That’s where our editorial model really fit.

    We were able to look across the markets every day, and were able to find out, “OK, which writers get it? Which men or women are really covering this story the right way?” And then we were able to highlight that coverage and lift that up and better inform our readership. We were looking at the whole picture and we’re serving this highly intelligent, highly professional readership with, “This is what you need to know today. This is what you need to be reading. Forget about these 10 people because they’re just pumping out nothing, but this guy is out ahead of it or this is an interesting angle,” and we were able to pull these things out for the readers. We were able to synthesize the news and give people, in one bite, “Here is what you need to know today on this big story or here is what we’re seeing across markets.”

    Pollack: The timing was so perfect, and we had nothing to do with it. But within a week of our first issue, Steve was on “Nightline” talking about the baseball labor strife. And that may have been the first time “Nightline” had ever dedicated an episode to the business of sports.

    Pollack: The political communications influence on The Daily can’t be stressed enough. You had this executive audience that we believed needed to know how the news was playing. It was about covering the coverage. It was about looking at how stories were spinning, for lack of a better term, and the theory was to package that up and put it in this must-read format that was delivered daily. Tell them what’s happening in the industry as it’s reported by others and that would be highly valued. Readers quickly viewed it as indispensable. It was really about bringing to sports this political perspective of needing to know how the news was playing.

    WE KNOW WHAT WE DON’T KNOW AND EARLY-DAY JITTERS

    Bilafer: The stress of the early days was not being steeped in the industry, and the editorial staff that had no one who had been out there covering these issues.

    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    CHUCK TODD

    Network coordinator

    CURRENT JOB: NBC News Political Director/Chief White House Correspondent.
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Arlington, Va.
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBD: 22
    HOW LONG AT SBD: 2 years
    STORY THAT STOOD OUT: We did a survey of every school’s shoe relationship that was in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It was the first time SBD was mentioned on “SportsCenter” that I could remember.
    LEFT SBD TO GO: Chase a relationship in Boulder, Colo., and that didn’t work out.
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN YOU WEREN’T SURE SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : The only time I wasn’t sure is when too many sports teams were trying to use tickets to buy our product, rather than actual cash.
    YOU KNEW SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : Nobody was doing this. It was totally unique and there was just so much money in the industry that $1,000 for a daily business tip sheet seemed like a smart investment. 
    ONCE I LEFT SBD, MY IMPRESSIONS OF IT IN THE MARKETPLACE WERE: It became bigger and more relevant. It was ahead of its time and was perfectly situated when the sports industry started consuming information on the daily news cycle, then hourly news cycle.
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES: Nothing like Fridays at SBD. Everyone wore hats, there was a distinct alcohol sweat in the newsroom, as the Thursday night before was more than a distant memory. Seemingly from bar to work … When you are in your 20s, you can pull that off.

    Todd: Can you imagine if people in the industry knew how little experience the people that were putting together the product had? All we had were smart fans.

    Madkour: We did know sports. The first edit staff understood the ownership groups when it came to team sports. And Steve and Chuck understood the media space well.

    Abrutyn: But you guys knew all you had to do was make the product. And you knew you could make the product.

    Bilafer: We had to make it in a way that it was going to be indispensable, which meant that there couldn’t be a day that someone picked it up and said, “There’s nothing in here. This is crap.”

    Bilafer: One of the things about these publications is that you’re covering your subscribers. So there is a different relationship with the readership, in that there is a lot of instant feedback. We would hear from people. We would reach out into the industry, and so it was an organic thing in the beginning, and there was an advisory group still advising us. The key is we didn’t come in this figuring, “We’re going to tell you guys what’s important.” We’re going to listen to the readership and we’re going to change and adapt because we want to make this product indispensable. The readers are going to tell us what they need. What they don’t like, we took out.

    Pollack: We came into this with no real prior experience in the sports industry. I’d never run a business before. I knew nothing about publishing and hadn’t really worked in the sports industry. But it was about taking an abstraction and bringing it to life, but doing it in an environment that had already successfully launched these publications that essentially did the same thing, which was cover the coverage.

    Abrutyn: You treated the launch of the publication and the ensuing months as a campaign. You were at industry conferences and going and meeting with sports industry executives from day one. There was the real coming out party in January [1994] at the annual Sports Summit with Craig Tartasky in New York.
    It wasn’t like you waited a year before talking to people. You got out, got on the phones and on the street almost right after the launch of the product.

    Todd: I remember every day fearing the struggle was selling subscriptions. I remember hearing the stories — every team, the first thing they said was, “We can’t pay you, but we have tickets.” I remember the hardest part was getting a team to write a check because that’s never how they thought they had to operate. For them, their currency was tickets.

    NEWSGATHERING IN THE EARLY-MORNING RAIN

    SBD occupied three small rooms on the first floor behind the front porch of this old Victorian house in Falls Church, Va., when it launched in 1994.
    Photo by: KARL EISENHOWER
    Bilafer: For our newsgathering network, we used the infrastructure that was at The Hotline. In terms of an editorial day, the staff would come in at 5 a.m. You had to physically pick up newspapers. Abe was a warrior. He had to go into a very questionable neighborhood in D.C. to a warehouse at 4:30 a.m., where he physically picked up hard copies of newspapers, all East Coast — New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Richmond. We’d pick up the papers at 4:30 in the morning and be in the office at 5. You’re clipping papers, and the editor was in at 6 to start to go through the clips and budget out what the stories were. We’d have another staff writer
    From 1996 to 1998, it occupied the top floor of an open loft space in South Norwalk, Conn.
    Photo by: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
    jump on the VCRs to go through business news shows from the night before.

    Todd: We’d record “Nightly Business Report,” “Lou Dobbs Show,” “Moneyline,” because we wanted all the business shows that were on television at the time. We did “SportsCenter,” of course. We always had “Nightline” going. We did the late-night shows and we had “Entertainment Tonight.”

    Bilafer: We would crash through the VCR to find if there was any sports business covered on TV. We would write until 10 a.m., while editing on the fly.

    Abrutyn: By 11 or 11:15 there was the excitement around putting it to bed and getting it out. By 11:30 on most days, the writers were at lunch.

    Bilafer: We wanted the readership to be conditioned to be waiting for it. The goal was, and this wasn’t going to happen immediately, but you wanted this in their hands so that they could talk about it at lunch. You didn’t want it to fall too late in the day when it wasn’t relevant. So you needed to get it out sometime before noon. That was critical.

    SBD relocated to Charlotte in October 1998, where it is currently based at 120 West Morehead Street, just on the edge of Uptown.
    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF
    Madkour: We later added a night shift, where the person came in at 2 p.m. and would stay until around 1:30 a.m. and would do all the afternoon and evening writing.

    Todd: There were certain publications we needed to monitor. There was Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald, and a few others that were pretty impressive.

    Madkour: There were some people we absolutely needed to see and some where we increased their awareness. We needed Peter Gammons’ notes column every Sunday, along with Will McDonough out of the Globe. We’d actually call up people in the Boston area and beg them to fax us those columns on Sundays. We made a talented business reporter at the Portland Oregonian, Jeff Manning, a household name on the East Coast because he was so good at covering Nike. Some reporters started to fax us their stories once they began reading us. I remember Terry Lefton faxing us his stories from BrandWeek because he wanted to get the stories in The Daily. He would fax them Sunday night so we would have them for Monday.

    CHALLENGES OF A STARTUP

    Pollack: The challenges of owning The Daily were like any other small business. You’re just trying to do what you can and make it happen. David Abrutyn’s marketing effort was brilliant. Just give the publication away and it was all about the free trial and getting it into the hands of people and letting the content sell itself, and it worked.

    Abrutyn: In 1994, it was hard to find out what was happening in other places around the country. So when baseball went out on strike, we provided the service for free to baseball teams because for their business executives it was their way of finding out what was happening every single day of the labor dispute. And we did that same thing with the NHL during the lockout.




    Pollack: We didn’t advertise. There was no advertising budget. The marketing effort consisted of calling people, asking and convincing them to take a free trial, word of mouth, and going out to key sports industry events and networking and getting the word of mouth out that way. We never advertised The Daily.

    Pollack: Our goal was to hit 1,500 subscribers by 1998.

    Abrutyn: In August 1995, the publication was less than a year old. We had estimated the universe to be 8,600 potential organizations. We had 3,000 trials and we had 353 subscribers in less than a year, and that’s a 10 percent conversion rate. Here is the amazing statistic: The sales period was eight to 10 weeks. So you gave them a free two-week trial and then you would extend it eight to 10 weeks, having them consistently reading it, and then you got buyers. So the sales effort became an exercise of how many people’s hands can you get it into. And that’s when we went from just me calling to hiring two more people, because it was a numbers game.

    Pollack: Once people bought, from the beginning, the renewal rate was 94 to 95 percent. The leagues signing up early was obviously very important. Paul Brooks will tell you when he was at NASCAR that he was one of the first subscribers. David Stern and the NBA believed in it from the beginning, and, in fact, we did the NBA Daily for them for years. The NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL … they all bought it very early.
     
    Pollack: By February ’96, we had 575 subscribers. It took us that long to get to 575. In March of ’96, 35 percent took it by broadcast fax, 38 percent took it by email, 23 percent took it by bulletin board system, 4 percent actually got it by mail. And if you were a SportsTicker subscriber, you could elect to have it delivered as part of your SportsTicker subscription. And the fax transmission took eight to 10 minutes, on average, and it initiated about 11:45 a.m. ET every morning.
     
    Abrutyn: Pretty quickly, the phrase, “Did you see The Daily today?” started to bounce its way around the industry. At a certain point, the phone did start to ring — “Hey, I was just with so and so and they said I need to get a free trial.” At a certain point when you’re out there enough and you’re visible enough and you’re getting it to people, its reputation starts to get established as a must-read.

    FUN IN THE MORNING, FUN IN THE EVENING

    Todd: We weren’t always sober when the day began, and that felt like a fairly regular occasion. You certainly had your five or six hours of sleep, but it’s one of those if you had gotten pulled over that morning, you might have been in trouble.

    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    STEVE BILAFER

    Founding Editor-in-Chief

    CURRENT JOB: Self-employed consultant who advises private sector and nonprofit clients on strategic communications and government and media relations. I also serve as a principal in an angel investment group that focuses on small-business turnarounds.
    CURRENT RESIDENCE: Dedham, Mass.
    AGE WHEN JOINED SBD: 27
    JOB AT SBD: Editor-in-Chief
    HOW LONG AT SBD: 2.5 years
    LEFT SBD TO GO: I went north with SBD from our suburban D.C./Virginia roots to assist in the relocation under new ownership in Norwalk, Conn. Once the staff and publication processes were set up, I continued on home to the Boston area, where my wife and I were both born and raised — and also to my professional roots in government and politics.
    STORY THAT STOOD OUT: We started the publication in the midst of the 1994 MLB strike, and soon after launch we were hit with an NHL lockout. Dual work stoppages! A fledgling sports business publication’s dream come true. The other story I recall — not so fondly –— was our first Olympics, Atlanta in 1996. Not my best management moment. I had agreed to some staff vacation time in August, which coincided with other poorly timed personnel moves. In short, we were severely short-staffed and I was forced to write and edit much of our Olympics coverage myself. I actually wept tears of joy during closing ceremonies. That experience very well may have hastened my return to politics.
    FONDEST MEMORY AT SBD: The camaraderie and energy of a startup. The best times were the first year with the editorial staff in the pre-dawn hours while clipping (yes, with actual scissors) the East Coast newspapers (yes, actual newspapers) that one of the staff writers had retrieved from a distribution warehouse in the worst section of D.C. Punchy from lack of sleep and whatever evils had befallen us the night before, we still managed every morning to get the job done, create a good product and have too good a time while doing it. And, to this day, I take pride whenever I see or hear SBD stories cited by other media outlets.  
    THERE WERE DAYS WHEN YOU WEREN’T SURE SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE BECAUSE … : I had no idea what I was doing. By that, I don’t mean editing this kind of publication. That, I knew how to do from my days at The Hotline, which was the daily news source for the political/media world. I just had no idea going in what news was going to be of most interest to an industry as broad and diverse as sports. We managed to turn this initial lack of experience into a strength by interacting with our targeted readership, listening and learning what they wanted and needed to know every morning. This lack of preconceived editorial agenda helped build a strong two-way relationship between readership and publication that I believe continues today.
    YOU KNEW SBD WAS GOING TO BE VIABLE AND HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WHEN … : Jimmy Roberts, then at ESPN, called me out of the blue about a few months into publication and said, essentially, “Who are you guys, how do you do this every day … this thing is great!”
    OPEN MIC MEMORIES: Going to [the] doctor for the first time since college and finding that my blood pressure had spiked way too high for someone that young … Cheesesteaks at Al’s on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria (may have contributed to blood pressure) … Going to Bristol to meet with ESPN execs on their planned Web product, ESPN SportsZone … Producing an NBA Daily for the league on top of SBD during ’95 lockout.

    Pollack: How many times did you roll in without having gone to sleep the night before?

    Todd: Not often. It would only be Friday mornings, because it would be letting off some of that Thursday night pressure.

    Madkour: Steve had a great line on Thursday after we published. “Don’t pull anything.” You never wanted to pull anything on Thursday afternoon, just get to Friday.

    Todd: It was always just about getting to Friday. And, boy, that’s when we didn’t walk — writers ran — for the exit.

    Madkour: You would have been up at 4 a.m., and you were exhausted by the end of the week. I remember going home on Friday afternoon and I would sleep from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. because you wanted to rest before going out. I’d wake up from this “nap” and be so disoriented, thinking it was Monday morning again, saying, “What the hell? What day is it?” I’d be so knocked out. That’s what that job did to you.

    Bilafer: I woke up in my room one time and the clock said 6:30, and I panicked and called the office. I was supposed to be in at 5. I call up and [the office HR manager] Pat Miller is there and she answers. “Oh, my God, Pat, I’m so sorry. Tell everyone I’ll be right in. I’m leaving now,”I said. Then I paused, and asked, “Pat, what are you doing there at 6:30 in the morning?” She said, “Steve, it’s 6:30 at night.”

    Madkour: We’d eat at the weirdest times. Every writer put on 10 pounds immediately. It was the “SBD 10.”   Fast food at 6 a.m. would do that. There were stresses, too. One morning, Steve came in and asked where all the clips were regarding a certain story. None of us had clipped that story from the papers, and we had thrown all the discarded papers into our recycle bucket. Steve just walked over to the bucket, picked it up and dumped them all on the ground and said, “Clip them again.”  We clipped them again.

    Bilafer : (laughing) It took years of therapy and medication to get my temper down.

    WHO ARE YOU, I REALLY WANT TO KNOW

    Pollack: The thought was that sports didn’t have a way to talk to itself and didn’t have much of an identity as an industry. So from my communications consulting background, the thought was that there was this void in the communication infrastructure in the sports industry because there was no forum to exchange news and information and that was what we were really looking to fill.
     
    Abrutyn: The Daily really helped give the industry an identity. Look at some of the things you did on the editorial side. From making a guy like Jeff Manning in Portland a name that people in the business needed to know, to the executives you’ve recognized over the years from  Executive of the Year, to SBJ starting the Forty Under 40, which evolved to include Champions, which evolved to include Women Game Changers. The publication, over time, has done what industry publications should do. It covers the industry critically, which you do today, but it also recognizes and rewards people who are contributing meaningfully to the business that you are covering day in and day out. And none of that existed until The Daily came about. It just wasn’t there.

    SEPARATE WAYS

    Todd: I left The Daily because I chased a woman to Colorado.
     
    Pollack: I remember you coming in and telling me you were doing that.
     
    Bilafer: One of the things about that type of life and running it like a campaign is that you start to get tired. Campaigns end and this campaign didn’t end. By ’96, we were actually running pretty hot.
     
    Todd: But we were starting to run on fumes. Steve, you were running on fumes.

    WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Select SBD/SBJ Editorial Alumni
     
    Bilafer: I had been doing it at that pace for six years. I was thinking about leaving. I had applied to law school and had gotten into a couple law schools in Boston but my heart wasn’t in that. The regret, as I sit around this table, is that this team, we weren’t able, because of external business forces, to be able to push forward together.
     
    Todd: I would have loved to see what would have happened if we had stuck around for two or three or four more years.
     
    Bilafer: You’re in your 20s and you’re trying to figure out your career and making all sorts of crazy decisions on the fly and family and everything else. I feel very proud of my time there.
    I wish I had a longer term, but that was my decision. One thing I noticed while I was working in “the industry” was when we went to events, and we would be at a game, everyone had their back to the game and were talking business. And I wanted to watch the game. And that’s when I realized maybe I wasn’t cut out for this business.
     
    Todd: But this job at The Daily is the coolest thing on my résumé now. I can’t tell you how many times it serves as a conversation starter. “You did this?” And people automatically think, “Oh, you’re not as weird as I thought you might be.”
     
    Pollack: I decided to leave around March 1998. InterZine sold itself to Times Mirror and I just felt it was time to go. The campaign was over and the mission was accomplished. David Stern encouraged me to come spend some time with him, Russ [Granik] and Adam [Silver] at the NBA and put to use my political consulting skills and some of the lessons I had learned at The Daily. I wanted to experience the sports industry from a different vantage point and working at the NBA seemed like a unique opportunity to start to do so.
     
    ‘THERE WAS THIS MOOD, AND IT WAS FUN’

    Pollack: The relationship changed with American Political Network when it decided to sell itself to National Journal in March of ’96. That’s when we started looking for a new home, a new partner. National Journal didn’t have any interest in being in the sports industry. So we ended up selling to InterZine later that year, and they were one of the first companies to come out of the AOL Greenhouse project. They were ahead of their time, as well, producing websites about specific sports — iBike, iSki, iGolf. It was a very forward-thinking company. So we aligned with them and moved to South Norwalk, Conn., in late 1996. But not too long after that, we found out that InterZine needed to do a transaction and ended up selling to Times Mirror and they ended up selling it to American City [Business Journals, parent company of SportsBusiness Daily].
     
    Pollack: From September of ’94 going forward, I’d say we did a pretty good job day-to-day starting to convince the industry — letting the industry convince itself — that they really needed something like this.
     
    Abrutyn: It’s a legacy. I tell people all the time who ask me when they’re looking for jobs and they’re trying to work in sports, you want to point to something that you can be a part of. And for a small group of people who were involved at the outset or creation of something like The Daily, that’s special. You read the overview of what this was supposed to be and it’s as true today as it was 20 years ago.
     
    Bilafer: How many times do you have an opportunity to have a great idea and then be able and get the people around you who work together to bring it to fruition and have it work? This was a great idea and we were able to pull it off. There is this great line at the end of the movie “Say Anything” where John Cusack and Ione Skye are sitting in a plane and about to take off and she says, “You know, no one thinks this is going to work.” And he says, “Well, you just described every great success story.’”The more Jeffrey said, “Everyone’s telling us it’s not going to work,” the more we were determined to get it to them because we knew it was going to work.
     
    Pollack: It was an incredibly remarkable time. And it was a perfect storm. Everyone was really young. There was no one over the age of 30 when we launched The Daily. There was this incredible campaign mentality. There was this sort of no fail attitude, which frankly might have been more out of youthful naivete than anything else. There was a lot of skepticism in the industry, which made the challenge even more compelling, and it was just a remarkable group of people.

    Pollack: There was this mood, and it was fun. There was an incredible sense of possibility. Everyone was motivated for all the right reasons to do what they did. And there was just a great group of people to be with every day. I am honored and glad that I was a part of the effort, and I believe we made a modest contribution to an important industry. I wouldn’t have done anything differently and I am just proud to have worked with these folks.



    Print | Tags: Anniversary Special Issue
  • Potent quotables over the years




    1994

    “I don’t think that baseball will ever be, in our lifetimes, what it once was.”
    — Bob Costas to Tim Russert, during the MLB strike

    “He is a very successful automobile dealer. What makes him think he has the abilities to do what he is attempting to do here is beyond my comprehension.”
    — Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, during the MLB strike, on then-MLB acting Commissioner Bud Selig

    “He reminds me of me, but that’s no blessing.”
    — Bud Selig, on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

    “I am sure the French want the Louisiana Purchase back, too.”
    — Former Chicago Bulls player representative Steve Kerr, acknowledging the improbability that NBA owners would dump the salary cap

    “The owners are talking about replacement players. We think it’s a lot easier to have replacement owners. There’s only 26 of them, and they’re not very good at what they do.”
    — Hockey agent Rich Winter

    1995

    “Baseball has a great future because it can’t get any worse. It can only get better.”
    — Then-hopeful MLB owner Jerry Colangelo

    “I want to find out who this FICA guy is and how come he’s taking so much of my money.”
    — Former New York Rangers forward Nick Kypreos, prepping for the team’s White House Stanley Cup ceremony

    “I went home and told my wife Helen, who’s had four kids, ‘I’ve had a heckuva lot more trouble with labor than you.’”
    — Then-Atlanta Braves President Stan Kasten, on having to deal with labor issues in multiple sports

    “Somehow, they will try to blame me for this.”
    — Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, on the Cowboys circumventing the league and signing a sponsorship deal with Pepsi

    “Remember what happened to Gorbachev.”
    — Then-San Francisco 49ers President Carmen Policy, on Jerry Jones, another so-called “free market” reformer

    “Plugging products would just screw up a good day off.”
    — Then-Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, on why he generally eschews endorsements

    “Fifteen to 20 years ago, I was wandering around Arkansas, Bill Clinton was wandering around Arkansas. Who would have thought that one would go on to power and prestige and fame and the other one end up the president of the United States.”
    — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

    “But, Dad, you don’t know anything about soccer.”
    — Then-MLS Commissioner Doug Logan, on his son’s response when told of his father’s new job

    1996

    “Lord, what have we started?”
    — Keith Olbermann, after Texas Tech’s Darvin Ham smashed a backboard during a game and said, “Oh, man! I hope I get an ESPY”

    “The last time we had people from out of town running through Atlanta with a torch, it really didn’t go over all that well.”
    — Atlanta comic Tom Wilson, comparing the 1996 Olympic Games to Gen. Sherman’s campaign in the Civil War

    “We will double our money, and you can quote me on that.”
    — Raiders owner Al Davis, on the NFL’s new TV contract for the ’98 season. Davis was correct in his prediction as some of the deals more than doubled in value.

    “You bet your ass. Same deal.”
    — Nike Chair and CEO Phil Knight, on whether Tiger Woods has the same charisma and flair as Michael Jordan

    1997

    “All you guys at CNN/SI are doing a great job.”
    — “Arli$$’” actor Robert Wuhl, to ESPN’s Chris Myers at the ESPYs

    “Make me look good, OK?”
    — Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, to the Akron Beacon Journal’s David Adams at the end of an interview. Modell in 1995 announced that the Browns were relocating to Baltimore, and was reviled in Ohio.

    “Well, in hindsight, yes.”
    — Callaway Golf founder and Chair Ely Callaway, on whether he regretted not signing Tiger Woods to an endorsement deal

     “It’s more than a faux pas, I mean, he tried to kill the man.”
    — ABC’s Charles Gibson, to then-NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, after Hunter called Latrell Sprewell’s attack on P.J. Carlesimo a “faux pas”

    1998

    “I don’t like MTV. Our league is going MTV and that’s what’s wrong with it.”
    — Former Boston Celtics great and then-coach of the Indiana Pacers Larry Bird

    “Now he knows how we feel when we buy one of his fights on pay-per-view.”
    — NBC’s Jay Leno, after Don King was robbed in Mexico

    “I’ve got to be the only three-time MVP who has got to buy his own shoes.”
    — Then-San Francisco Giants LF Barry Bonds, on not having a shoe contract following a dispute with Nike

    “I was in Vietnam. And the big payroll doesn’t always win.”
    — Sandy Alderson, former Oakland A’s president and GM and then-MLB executive VP of baseball operations, on whether the A’s could compete against clubs with higher payrolls

    “I’d say there’s a chance the Raiders could come back to L.A. About the same chance of me getting pregnant.”
    — NFL attorney Frank Rothman, on the team’s desire to break its lease in Oakland and move back to L.A.

    “We’ll make money. This is a marketing machine.”
    — Then-ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein, on Disney’s five-year, $600 million TV deal with the NHL. ESPN did not make money on the deal, and ESPN would pay $60 million the following season for a reduced slate of games, down 44 percent from the previous deal’s average rights fee.

    1999

    “They’ll come back. This is basketball. Everybody loves basketball.”
    — Then-Boston Celtics G Kenny Anderson, on fan reaction to the NBA lockout

    “I think the game itself is a lot bigger than Michael Jordan.”
    — Michael Jordan, announcing his retirement. In 2001, Jordan returned to the NBA to play for the Washington Wizards for two seasons.

    “Let us hope they put a lot more thought into this union than the name.”
    — New York Post columnist Joel Sherman, on YankeeNets

    “I scored, my team won and I was really hot. What the heck. For the rest of my life I’ll probably be remembered as the chick who ripped her shirt off. That’s fine.”
    — Brandi Chastain, who is still remembered for the celebration of her 1999 World Cup-clinching penalty kick

    “It’s more important what you get than what you pay.”
    — Then-ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer, on ESPN paying $800 million for six years of MLB rights

    2000

    “Everybody wants to know what I’m on. What am I on? I’m on my bike six hours a day, busting my ass.”
    — Lance Armstrong, in a voice-over for a Nike TV spot, in which he responded to questions about using performance-enhancing drugs. In 2012, Armstrong was banned from competitive cycling for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

    “Here I am, rejected three times. The exercise of buying an NFL team is good for one’s humility. You find things wrong about you that you never knew existed.”
    — Charles Dolan, Cablevision founder and chairman and failed Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets bidder
     
    “His hair looks like a million bucks when he leaves here. We clean up his neck, his schnozz, his eyebrows, and he’s ready to go. That’s what I don’t understand. When he’s on TV, he looks awful.”
    — MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s longtime barber, Sal LoCoCo

    “I didn’t want a massive gaffe that Rudy Martzke would jump out of his couch in his undies and start pointing at the screen.”
    — Dennis Miller, on what he was worried about during his “Monday Night Football” debut. His stint on “MNF” lasted two seasons.

    “A meteor will splash into the middle of the Hudson before a stadium is built on the West Side of Manhattan.”
    — John Samerjan, New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority vice president of public affairs and communications, on plans being floated to build a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan for the Jets. Years later, there was no meteor landing in the Hudson and no stadium under construction on the West Side.

    2001

    “Despite this piece, we’d even consider talking to your parent company.”
    — NBA Commissioner David Stern, on the NBA’s next TV rights contract, during a contentious interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley. As it turned out, Ley’s interview did not prevent the league from partnering with ABC/ESPN.

    “We’ve been to 215 games. We’ve seen 41 wins. We’ve spent $80,000. Sorry if we’ve disappointed you. Ric and June.”
    — A sign held at a Vancouver Grizzlies game at GM Place by two fans days after the NBA gave the franchise approval to explore relocation. The team moved to Memphis for the ’01-02 season.

    “Great hype, wasn’t it?”
    — Then-NBC Sports Chair Dick Ebersol, to Don Imus, the day after it was announced the XFL would fold

    “We want to show that Utah is more than Karl Malone, beautiful mountains and some guy with five wives and 26 kids.”
    — NBC’s Bob Costas, at a rally in Salt Lake City, on the network’s plans for the 2002 Winter Olympics coverage

    2002

     “I would not be surprised if in the next couple of months, that you will be reading about other networks’ sports organizations, and losses beyond $1 billion. We couldn’t be the only ones.”
    — Then-Fox Sports President Ed Goren, on News Corp.’s $90 million write-down of its sports rights deals

    “That’s 3,780 Canadian.”
    — Then-ESPN analyst Peter Gammons, on announced attendance of 3,780 for a Colorado Rockies-Montreal Expos game, which was estimated by Karl Ravech at 2,000

    “If y’all hadn’t wasted all that money on the XFL, y’all would still have basketball.”
    — TNT’s Charles Barkley, on NBC airing its final NBA telecast after holding rights for 12 seasons

    “Trying to put a new dress on an old hooker is not the way I want to go dancing.”
    — Ravens owner Art Modell, on the NFL possibly returning to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

    2003

    “Will I be ‘allowed’ on the sidelines? Yes. It’s my sideline.”
    — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, when asked if hiring Bill Parcells would change his practice of watching games from the sidelines.

    “I’m pouring this into an NCAA-approved cup. If you have any NCAA-approved ice, I would appreciate that.”
    — Then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, after not being allowed to enter a press conference with a soda bottle that was not an NCAA sponsor

    “You shouldn’t believe what you read in USA Today, particularly if it’s in Rudy Martzke’s column.”
    — NBA Commissioner David Stern, on reports that NBA playoff ratings were down for the ’02-03 season. In fact, ABC’s first-year numbers were lower than NBC’s, but cable ratings were higher.

    “Our culture has everything to do with our success, but it is by no means only my doing. Nike is young and irreverent, and I am neither.”
    — Nike Chairman and CEO Phil Knight

    2004

    “It’s not that different marketing ‘Edge shaving gel’ than it is marketing Nike products.”
    — Former S.C. Johnson President and CEO William Perez, on succeeding Phil Knight as president and CEO of Nike. Perez resigned from Nike after fewer than 13 months on the job.

    “I went to college with him. I don’t remember him as being that curious and up to date on all the facts. But at this one, he really did know the facts.”
    — Then-NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol, on his meeting with President Bush to discuss Athens security issues

    “I didn’t realize that many people read the New York Times!”
    — IRL team owner Roger Penske, expressing surprise at the attention received by his first-person piece about unifying the IRL and Champ Car World Series

    “They were so unwatchable that the last game was the most viewed basketball game in the history of ESPN.”
    — NBA Commissioner David Stern, when told by Bob Costas that the games in the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons Eastern Conference Finals were unwatchable

    “As a broadcaster, I want to do a game; I don’t want to talk about steroids. I don’t care about BALCO.”
    — Fox MLB announcer Joe Buck

    “Get ESPN to cover it!”
    — Then-AFL Soul co-owner Jon Bon Jovi, when asked by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg what the AFL has to do next to market itself

    “I would have had Andy Williams.”
    — Then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet regarding the content of the Super Bowl halftime show

    “It’s a function of us getting our head out of our ass.”
    — Then-Toronto Blue Jays Senior VP/Communications Rob Godfrey, on the team lowering ticket prices amid plummeting attendance figures

    “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.”
    — FIFA President Sepp Blatter, on what female soccer players could do to increase the popularity of the game

    “If we don’t address it, you should kill us.”
    — Then-Big East Commissioner and BCS Coordinator Mike Tranghese, on the imperfections in the BCS system

    2005

    “Why aren’t people screaming at Tagliabue the way they scream at Selig?”
    — ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, on reports of steroid use in the NFL

    “They were horrified at the thought that someone might have — God forbid — a tailgate barbecue on the streets of their precious Manhattan.”
    — Then-Jets President Jay Cross, blaming The New York Times for the failure of the West Side stadium

    “When football does something, they are considered smart marketers.”
    — MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on criticism the league has received for having the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage for the World Series

    “ESPN, in the last few years, didn’t do a good job for hockey, and quite frankly, I’m glad they are gone.”
    — Flyers Chairman Ed Snider, on ESPN opting out of its TV rights deal with the NHL

    “The last time I checked, OLN was a hunting, fishing and camping network with some cycling and boats thrown in.”
    — Mark Shapiro, then-ESPN executive VP of programming and production, on Comcast’s interest in recasting OLN as a national competitor to ESPN

    “It’s crazy that we’d fire Bob and want to hire his right-hand man. It’s like firing the Lone Ranger and hiring Tonto.”
    — Then-Coyotes RW Brett Hull, wondering why more players didn’t want to look outside the union before hiring Ted Saskin to replace Bob Goodenow as executive director of the NHLPA

     “I think the good ol’ boy’s getting alienated a little bit.”
    — NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace, on whether the sport’s fan base was changing

    “We may not be providing content for NBC or ABC in 10 years; we might be providing content for Google and Yahoo.”
    — Former IMG Vice Chairman Bob Kain, on the company considering a push into new media

    2006

    “The entertainment this year is going to be Aretha Franklin, Aaron Neville, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones — which would be a huge lineup if this was 1978.”
    — NBC’s Jay Leno, on Super Bowl XL

     “Not that I recommend watching during work hours, but I understand that people do.”
    — Then-CBS News and CBS Sports President Sean McManus, on software for live online streaming of NCAA tournament games including a “boss button” that allows viewers to hide the games while at work

     “Do you think I survived 40 years in this job by saying no to that answer?”
    — Joe Browne, then-NFL executive VP of communications and public affairs, when asked by radio host Chris Russo if he thought Roger Goodell was a good choice as NFL Commissioner

    “By the time everybody’s put their spin on it, we’ll be led to believe 8 billion people watch football every week.”
    — ESPN/ABC Sports Executive Producer Mike Pearl, on the battle between NBC’s “SNF” and ESPN’s “MNF”

    2007

    “This is CEO pay. I think it is one of the worst things we have ever done.”
    — University of Alabama Trustee Emeritus Garry Neil Drummond, on football coach Nick Saban’s eight-year, $32 million guaranteed contract with the university

    “I happen to be low key, down to earth and a regular person, but that’s not the image, I think, that has been bestowed upon me which sometimes I, and my family, find amusing.”
    — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, when asked what one thing people would be surprised to know about him

    “Jan. 11, 2007, will forever be known as the day that Major League Soccer truly arrived on the world stage.”
    — SI’s Grant Wahl, on the Los Angeles Galaxy signing David Beckham
     
    “I wouldn’t have invested a damn dime if I thought it would be this kind of struggle.”
    — Charlotte Bobcats investor Felix Sabates

    “David Stern is the NBA. … There’s a lot of things he’s just amazing at, he’s great at, and then there’s certain areas where I think he sucks.
    … I’m sure he feels the same way about me.”

    — Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

    “If I was commissioner? Would I be there? That’s my duty. ”
    — Then-Giants LF Barry Bonds, when asked if he would attend the breaking of the all-time home-run record if he was MLB commissioner
     
    “One more scandal, and Americans could actually start watching soccer.”
    — NBC’s Jay Leno, on the controversies surrounding pro sports
     
    “Anyone who thinks we’re in a real partnership here, well, I don’t know what they’ve been smoking.”
    — Then-prospective NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly, on the players’ relationship with the NHL. Kelly was hired by the NHLPA in late October 2007 and fired in August 2009.

    “You would not rename the White House and you would not rename Grant’s Tomb or the Grand Canyon. We will not rename Yankee Stadium.”
    — Yankees COO Lonn Trost, on not selling naming rights to the new Yankee Stadium.

    “Let’s be frank, this is not the No. 1 issue for the American people.”  
    — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports

    “My bad.”
    — Then-play-by-play announcer for NFL Network Bryant Gumbel, after calling a field goal “good” when it missed short

    2008

    “For too many, the NFL experience means going to a 12-hour party and getting trashed.”  
    — HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, on the increased amount of drinking among fans at NFL games

    “Trying to beat traffic, I guess.”
    — Giants QB Eli Manning, to “Late Show” host David Letterman, on Patriots coach Bill Belichick leaving the field early during Super Bowl XLII

    “I don’t believe them. I don’t think anybody does.”  
    — NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., on the league’s new strategy to let drivers “loosen up” and show their personalities

    “We’re having a great year, so ESPN decided that what you should do if you’re a magazine is you write an article going into All-Star [weekend] about how terrible things are. Maybe it’s because [the game] was on TNT.”  
    — NBA Commissioner David Stern, after being asked why he thinks the league continues to have an image issue

    “I didn’t understand the game the way I do now. I didn’t understand the agents, the contractual relationship with the salary cap, the importance of the age of players. Now it’s easy for me, second nature.”  
    — Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, on his early years on the job

    “The sports agent business has become so corrupt — I would not encourage anyone to try to become an agent right now.”
    — NBA agent David Falk

    “We don’t need money that badly.”  
    — Then-Fox Sports President Ed Goren, on the net not pursuing a deal for prime-time MMA content. Three years later, Fox and UFC agreed to a seven-year multimedia right deal worth more than $90 million a year.

    “Every third tournament, I’ll say something I shouldn’t have said.”  
    — NBC’s Johnny Miller, on his recent comments about PGA Tour member Rocco Mediate during the final round of the U.S. Open

    “That’s just not part of my day, it’s not part of my night, and I’ll be honest with you, watching ‘The Bachelorette’ is.”
    — Fox’s Joe Buck, on not watching much baseball outside of his broadcast duties

    “It’s a little smoggy here, but I’m not coughing up a lung or anything like that.”
    — U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, on reports of the smog and haze in Beijing

    “The players had better wake up, grow up and grow closer. The wolves are beginning to stir, and Gene Upshaw, the benevolent shepherd, is gone.”  
    — New York Times columnist William Rhoden, on the future of the NFLPA after the death of Gene Upshaw

    “I would say, of the 30 owners, 20-25 don’t know what’s going on. And, even worse, don’t seem to care.”  
    — Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, on his fellow NBA team owners

    “It makes things a lot more complicated.”  
    — Golfer Tiger Woods, on why he is not more politically outspoken

    “Scott Boras said everything’s fine. He came down from Mars last week and, I guess, he’ll go back up and work on his stats.”  
    — Then-Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom, at an AP Sports Editors West Regional meeting, on Boras claiming the economy will have little impact on free agent signings

    “You’re too nice. Maybe if you were an arrogant ass, you’d get more attention.”
    — Chandra Johnson, wife of NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, on why he flies under the public’s radar compared to other drivers

    “Had we known what we know now, would we have bid for the Olympics? Almost certainly not.”  
    — London Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, on the LOCOG budget tripling amid the financial crisis

    2009

    “I finally said, ‘The heck with it.’ I want to do something to help.”
    — Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, on the team’s decision to feature Ford, GM and Chrysler logos in Comerica Park for free during the 2009 season

    “We made a huge mistake with hockey — we need to get back on ESPN with the NHL.”
    — Then-AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke, speaking to then-ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer during the opening of the net’s L.A. Live production facility

    “The NCAA has exploited its ex-players and student athletes, and it’s about time everyone sees that.”  
    — Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, on his motive for filing a lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of his likeness

    “I imagine the bidding will be high. And in spite of all the propaganda and everything — I don’t want to call anybody a liar — but no one’s ever made any money out of them.”  
    — News Corp. Chair and CEO Rupert Murdoch, saying that Fox is unlikely to bid on the ’14 and ’16 Olympics

    “They don’t need to have any more congressional reforms. Just get real leaders. You’ve either got people who were hired by search firms or people who don’t care enough to make it their full-time jobs.”  
    — Then-NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol, on the USOC

    “We started to tamper with something we shouldn’t have, and I’ll put my hand up and say ‘guilty.’”  
    — Then-Fox Sports Chairman and CEO David Hill, on the reason behind creating standard starting times for NASCAR Sprint Cup races

    “The New York Times are great people, but they own the Boston Red Sox. They haven’t been too happy with our new stadium all year. They really don’t like the fact that it’s been so successful. They’ve been writing a lot of negative stuff.”
    — Yankees President Randy Levine, on a New York Times article detailing cracks in the concrete at the new Yankee Stadium

    “I don’t think she brings anything, that’s my opinion. If she could show me she can drive a race car, then I’ll be a believer.”
    — Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-owner Felix Sabates, on Danica Patrick running races in NASCAR

    “The rumor that I keep a flask at my desk is not true.”
    — PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, commenting on an “SNL” skit in which he was portrayed as drinking in the office due to the Tiger Woods situation

    “I don’t think I’m some grand savior.”  
    — LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan

    2010

    “Spare us the lies about taking ’roids for health reasons. We’re all grownups. You took stuff for the same reason most of us break or bend rules: You thought you could get away with it, and you did. You did because Commissioner Bud, being Bud, was of course asleep at the switch when you suddenly grew Shrek-like necks and bloated biceps. But even Bud is selling absolution these days. … There may be no crying in baseball, but there is forgiveness.”  
    — HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, addressing Mark McGwire’s apology in an open letter to former MLB players who have admitted to taking PEDs

    “Maybe we didn’t have him say the right things at the time. So it’s at least partially our fault.”  
    — Then-General Motors Vice Chair Bob Lutz, saying the company’s endorsement relationship with Tiger Woods did not result in more sales

    “I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.”  
    — Tiger Woods

    “It’s a little cold, but that’s why they invented mittens. That’s why they invented hand warmers. The experience would be so amazing.”  
    — NFL Giants Treasurer Jonathan Tisch, on the team’s joint venture with the Jets to land the 2014 Super Bowl at New Meadowlands (now MetLife) Stadium

    “If I knew then what I do now, I never would have done it. I got paid, but it  isn’t a good feeling.”  
    — Reebok founder Paul Fireman, on selling the shoe and apparel company to Adidas in 2006

    “He didn’t know baseball. Why does he need to know about hockey? He knows negotiations.”  
    — Then-Toronoto Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston, on Donald Fehr’s possible appointment as NHLPA executive director

    “Anyone who expects to get into an all-out war with ESPN is, in my mind, likely a fool.”
    — Then-NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol, on whether there will be a sports network to rival ESPN

    “It takes a little bit of time and then you realize, ‘I made a mistake, a big mistake, and several mistakes.’”  
    — Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, on his tenure with the team

    “This very valuable asset has been swindled away from me in an epic swindle. I’m very angry about it.”  
    — Former EPL club Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks, on the team being sold to New England Sports Ventures for less than he was seeking

    2011

    “As he crossed the Rubicon, according to the historian Suetonius, Caesar uttered the famous phrase ‘This is for all the Tostitos.’”  
    — The National Post’s Bruce Arthur, in a tweet regarding Brent Musburger’s comment prior to Auburn’s BCS Championship-winning field goal

    “I don’t know.”
    — Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, when asked who is in charge of the team and to whom he reports to during the team’s bankruptcy

    “In the history of network TV sports, only his mentor, Roone Arledge, could match Ebersol’s impact and legacy.”
    — NBC’s Bob Costas, on Dick Ebersol, two days after Ebersol resigned as chairman of NBC Sports & Olympics

    “I had two problems. I had a partner that went bananas, and the second problem is that the economy kicked us in the balls.”
    — Former Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner Oren Koules, on his tenure with the club from 2008-10

    “When we have disagreements, we just think about the money and we feel better.”
    — Then-Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby, on the Pac-12 pooling and sharing media rights among all member schools

    “You’re fighting a bully, man. David Stern’s a bully. You can’t really go up against him, man.”
    — Nets guard Deron Williams, on the NBA commissioner vetoing the trade that would send then-Hornets guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers

    2012

    “Don’t follow me anymore. Twitter is a stupid thing.”
    — Former Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, when he quit Twitter

    “We need them to not just see themselves as people who aggregate media rights. That’s not their job.”
    — NCAA President Mark Emmert, saying conferences have a “greater responsibility” in their role and support of college athletics

    “Things are bad. It’s like dictators, you know. You know, in America, we really don’t believe in them.”
    — Then-Bears cornerback D.J. Moore, on the growing divide between NFL players and Commissioner Roger Goodell

    “People talk about how we should treat this like sports. You know, we’re getting an 18 rating some nights. Do you know what rating we would get if this was not under the banner of the Olympics? We’d be lucky to get a 1 rating for some of these sports.”
    — Former NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol, on the broadcast decisions NBC has made regarding live programming versus tape delay at the Olympics

    “He revolutionized pro football without ever suiting up.”
    — CBS News’ Scott Pelley, on late NFL Films President Steve Sabol

    2013

    “The Pro Bowl takes a lot of grief. A lot of fans say, ‘It’s a piece of crap, we don’t want to watch it, who cares?’ Look at the ratings. You think the NBA All-Star Game would take this rating? The NHL, MLB?”
    — NBC’s Al Michaels, on one reason the NFL continues to play its all-star game

    “I feel we’re going to look back 25 years from now when there are no more ‘Redskins’ … and say, ‘What the hell were we doing naming a team the Redskins!?’”
    — ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, on the controversy surrounding the Redskins’ name

    “It’s time for the NFL to get serious and decide what they want to do. It doesn’t do any good to sit on the sidelines all the time. Clearly a deal can get done. And by the way, this isn’t a terribly complicated deal to get done.”
    — AEG Chairman Phil Anschutz, on trying to get an NFL team to play in Farmers Field

    “Professionally he should have been the model for every television play-by-play person. He was living proof that less could be more.”
    — Dallas Cowboys radio play-by-play voice Brad Sham, on the late Pat Summerall

    “We’re supposed to be good examples for kids, for fans. It’d be one thing if we didn’t have a policy. We’ve had a very tough policy for a long time. If that many guys are still cheating, it’s just very disappointing.”
    — Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, on the ongoing PED problem in MLB

    “Hold out for what? How many of them have time to hold out? That clock is ticking on these guys lives.”
    — Retired NFLer D’Marco Farr, on why the former players agreed to a settlement in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL

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  • They said what?!?



    The awkward exchange between Harry Smith and Floyd Landis
    CBS “Early Show” anchor Harry Smith in June 2007 interviewed cyclist Floyd Landis and had an apparent Freudian slip as the pair discussed Landis’ hip surgery. Smith said, “No pain, because you had testosterone shots while you were on the [Tour de France] last year.” Landis, laughing, replied, “No, I had no testosterone shots, to be clear.” Smith: “I mean, not testosterone. I’m sorry. Cortisone.” Landis: “Cortisone shots, yes.” Smith [under his breath]: “Oh, my God.”

    Michael Jordan shows no mercy

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Michael Jordan let it all go as a player, and that attitude carried over to his Basketball Hall of Fame speech in September 2009. He sarcastically thanked those who had doubted him at various times in his career and denounced the media. Many commentators felt Jordan lacked class with the speech, while others defended it as merely emblematic of the competitive drive that took Jordan to the pinnacle of the game.

    Steve Levy’s Disc-ue
    One of the most classic miscues in “SportsCenter” history happened in 1995. ESPN’s Steve Levy talked about an injury grievance concerning the Patriots and former cornerback Maurice Hurst, who had been playing with a “bulging dick … disc” in his neck. Levy immediately began cracking up while trying to deliver voice-over during NFL highlights, barely getting out, “My apologies. I’m not laughing at the injured.” In the background, a beside-himself Keith Olbermann could be heard saying, “Thank goodness we don’t have video of that.” Years later, Levy told SBD, “To this day someone comes up to me and wants to talk about that. I would think that’s the ultimate blooper … [although] at the time, it wasn’t funny. I really thought I was going to get fired or suspended.”

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    David Hill: No more talk of dead people!

    As Fox Sports prepared to begin broadcasting MLB games in 1996, David Hill talked about how he wanted to change the tone of baseball broadcasts. He said, “I’m sick of dead guys. Whenever I turn on baseball, all I hear about is dead guys. If I hear a name, I’m gonna ask, ‘Is he dead?’ And if he is, you’re fired. You’re all fired.”

    Artie Lange goes rogue on Joe Buck’s first show
    Announcer Joe Buck debuted his new eponymous show on HBO in June 2009, which was set to revolve around the intersection of athletics and entertainment. Brash comedian Artie Lange was booked as a guest for the first episode, alongside actors Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis. Lange would essentially hijack the show, unleashing a profanity- and homophobic-laced diatribe about Buck, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and singer Jessica Simpson, and closing off by saying, “Sorry to ruin your … great show.”

    Steve Lyons looks bad in looking for his wallet
    Fox fired MLB analyst Steve Lyons in October 2006 after he made offensive comments about speaking Spanish while on air with guest analyst Lou Piniella. During an on-air interaction, there was a discussion about A’s shortstop Marco Scutaro, and Piniella said something in Spanish, to which Lyons replied, “Lou’s habla-ing some Español there, and I’m still looking for my wallet.” Lyons later said he was making a joke that had nothing to do with race.

    Photo by: AP IMAGES
    Bryant Gumbel calls out Gene Upshaw’s relationship with NFL

    HBO’s Bryant Gumbel was panned by many for his verbal shots at NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw in 2006 during his closing segment of “Real Sports.” Bryant said that outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue should show his successor, Roger Goodell, “where he keeps Gene Upshaw’s leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted.”

    Costas Gets Air Time With Jerry Sandusky
    With Jerry Sandusky firmly embroiled in the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal by November 2011, NBC’s Bob Costas was set to interview his attorney for a segment on “Rock Center.” Then, 15 minutes before the interview, the attorney suggested Costas instead speak over the phone with Sandusky himself. Costas smoothly grilled Sandusky and was lauded afterward for his no-nonsense, rigorous questions.

    Buzz Bissinger vs. Will Leitch
    During an April 2008 panel segment on HBO’s “Costas Now,” author Buzz Bissinger went on a rant against the proliferation of blogs. His primary target was fellow panelist and then-Deadspin editor Will Leitch. Bissinger said to Leitch on stage, “I feel very strongly about this. I really think you’re full of shit because I think blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they’re dedicated to journalistic dishonesty, they’re dedicated to speed.” Bissinger said later he regretted his actions.

    Rush Limbaugh dishes on Donovan McNabb
    ESPN signed the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh in 2003 to inject some life and star appeal, but in October, he resigned from “Sunday NFL Countdown” amid a firestorm of criticism after making race-tinged, controversial statements about then Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh insinuated that McNabb was overrated by the media because he is black. As Joe Browne, former NFL executive vice president of communications and public affairs, said at the time, “ESPN knew what they were getting when they hired Rush Limbaugh.”

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  • Where are they now?



     NEIL AUSTRIAN
    Austrian was a top NFL executive and one of the true heavy hitters at the league, serving as president and COO from 1991 to 1999. Austrian recently resigned as chairman and co-CEO of Office Depot, a position he was named to in May 2011. He is a director of DirecTV and is on the advisory board of MidOcean Partners, a private investment firm.

     DAVID BAKER

    David Baker
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Baker was AFL commissioner during what could be considered the league’s salad days, from 1996 until 2008. Charming and affable despite his imposing 6-foot-9 frame, he now lives in Orange County, Calif., and is managing partner of Union Village, a proposed $1.5 billion integrated health care facility project for Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. He also attends about 10 Atlanta Falcons games a year to watch his son, offensive tackle Sam Baker. He’s just as often heard boasting about his other son, Ben, who is now a senior manager of broadcasting for NASCAR in Charlotte, after spending five years at ESPN.

    TANK BLACK
    This sports agent was the talk of the agency business when he represented five first-round NFL draft picks in 1999. Just three years later, he was convicted of stealing at least $12 million from several of his athlete clients. He served nearly eight years in prison before being released in 2008. He wrote a book, “Tanked,” that was published in 2009. Black is now back in prison in Edgefield, S.C., after a federal court judge sentenced him to six months for violating the terms of his supervised release. He is scheduled to be released in March.

    CAROLYN BIVENS
    Carolyn Bivens
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    The former associate publisher of USA Today was an outsider to sports when she was named LPGA Tour commissioner in 2005. During her four-year stint, she struggled with many industry relationships, including with tournaments, sponsors, players and TV networks. She left the LPGA in 2009 and now lives in Newport Beach, Calif., doing “all the things I hoped to do,” including volunteering at the UC Irvine infusion chemotherapy center.

    NORM BLAKE
    In the early 2000s, the U.S. Olympic Committee had trouble landing a CEO who fit in with the culture of the Olympics and the various national governing bodies. Blake, a corporate turnaround specialist, served a tumultuous nine-month stint, from February to October 2000, during which he cut staff and implemented a money-for-medals plan to ramp up accountability. Blake now serves on the board of directors of Owens Corning and on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.

    PAT CROCE
    Croce left basketball behind and now runs six bars and a pirate museum.
    Photo by: AP IMAGES
    Croce, a longtime physical therapist, was a breath of fresh air in pro sports, leading the Philadelphia 76ers with a man-of-the-people persona. He served as 76ers president from 1996 to 2001, a stint that included a run to the NBA Finals. Croce is now the owner of the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, which displays his private collection of pirate artifacts, and of six bars in the Key West area. Croce also serves as chairman of Medkita, a physical therapy business consulting company that he founded in Villanova, Pa., in 2011.

    MIKE GARRETT
    The former Heisman Trophy-winning running back was athletic director at Southern California from 1993 until 2010, when he was fired after the NCAA hit the school with stiff penalties. Garrett was hired in 2012 as athletic director of Langston University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Oklahoma.

    WILLIAM “BOOTS” DEL BIAGGIO
    Del Biaggio is serving an 8-year prison sentence.
    Photo: COURTESY OF SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL
    The Silicon Valley venture capitalist put together a group to buy the Nashville Predators in 2007, but he used falsified documents to make the purchase and was convicted of securities fraud in 2009. Del Biaggio is now serving an eight-year prison sentence in Lompoc, Calif., and is scheduled to be released in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website.

    BOB GOODENOW
    The former NHLPA leader was known for his toughness and resolve, as he oversaw a players’ strike and two lockouts during his tenure as executive director from 1991 to 2005. Goodenow, who was a private person even when he was a public figure, is now happily retired, friends say. He spends time between his two homes in Michigan and one in Florida.

    PETER JOHNSON AND STEPHANIE TOLLESON
    The married couple were longtime executives at IMG, wielding strong influence under founder Mark McCormark. But both departed shortly after IMG was acquired by Ted Forstmann. The couple remain in Cleveland. Johnson is vice chairman and chief operating officer of Stack Media, a multiplatform company that focuses on athlete training, nutrition and marketing. Tolleson is the assistant head of the School for Advancement at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio.

    GEORGE GILLETT
    George Gillett
    Photo by: AP IMAGES
    The charming Gillett, a longtime ski company executive, was seen as a new style of owner when he bought the Montreal Canadiens in 2001. He later bought a NASCAR team, Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and partnered with former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks to buy Liverpool Football Club. But the credit crunch that sparked a recession forced him to sell his sports interests between 2009 and 2010. Gillett continues to serve as CEO of Booth Creek, a business management company he formed in 1996 that specializes in ski resort operations.
     
    ANN KIRSCHNER
    Kirschner was one of the NFL’s earliest voices stressing opportunities in the emerging digital landscape when she served as NFL Interactive vice president from 1995 to 1999. She helped launch NFL.com and NFL Sunday Ticket. She is now university dean of Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York, and just published her second book, “Lady at the OK Corral,” a biography of Wyatt Earp’s common law wife, Josephine Earp.
     
    RUDY MARTZKE
    MARTZKE
    The well-read, influential “Sports on TV” columnist for USA Today was one of the most important voices in sports business from 1982 until 2005. Martzke continues to do some consulting for sports entities, but is mostly retired. “My wife, Mouse, and I have lived in an active adult retirement community near Kissimmee, Fla.,” Martzke wrote in an email. “I golf a few days a week, travel to some sports events, visit our two sons in California and occasionally sail on cruises out of Florida ports.”

    SARA LEVINSON
    Levinson was president of NFL Properties from 1994 to 2000, a time that saw a new breed of owners present major challenges to the league’s sponsorship sales model. She now serves on the board of directors of two Fortune 500 companies, Harley-Davidson and Macy’s Inc. Levinson is a board member and co-founder of Kandu, a startup company at the intersection of kids and technology that primarily targets middle school kids. In an email, Levinson wrote, “Kandu is launching in early 2014 and gives kids powerful tools to design, build and share their own apps and software without needing to learn code.”
     
    SUSAN O’MALLEY
    O’MALLEY
    For years, O’Malley was among the highest-ranking women executives in sports, serving as president of Abe Pollin’s Washington Sports & Entertainment from 1986-2007. While seen as a media friendly, motivating and hard-charging young executive, her stewardship never brought much success to the organization. Since leaving sports, O’Malley has taught at several universities.

      HUGHES NORTON
    The former IMG senior vice president is best remembered as Tiger Woods’ first agent. He negotiated a reported $100 million worth of deals for the golfer from when Woods turned pro in 1996 until he dropped Norton in 1998. Norton is now happily retired, living in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, where he plays a lot of golf at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. He has two daughters and recently became a first-time grandfather.

    LLOYD WARD
    Lloyd Ward
    Photo by: AP IMAGES
    Shortly after the end of Norm Blake’s tenure at the USOC (see “Norm Blake” entry), former Maytag Corp. CEO Lloyd Ward was brought in to run the organization. But Ward’s tenure lasted only a little longer than his predecessor’s, as he resigned after only 16 months amid controversy over his management style and concerns about potential violations of the USOC’s ethics code. Ward is now the chairman and CEO of CleanTech Solutions Worldwide, an environmental recycling company, and is on the board of directors of Belo Corp., which owns television stations across the U.S.

    MARTHA BURK
    From 2000 to 2005, Burk served as chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and led efforts to open the Augusta National Golf Club to women. In 2002, she launched a protest of the private club for excluding women from membership. Years later, in 2012, Augusta admitted Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as its first women members. Burk now serves as director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the NCWO.

    DAVID D’ALESSANDRO
    The former John Hancock CEO now owns two Italian restaurants in Boston.
    Photo by: STUART GARFIELD
    The former John Hancock CEO was frank and outspoken about sports marketing and was a key figure in pushing the International Olympic Committee to reform after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. He stepped down in 2004 and now owns two Italian restaurants, called Toscano, in Boston and is CEO of DFD Enterprises. He has worked on behalf of SeaWorld Entertainment as board chairman and also works for the Blackstone Group.

    DEAN BONHAM
    Bonham, whose Bonham Group was involved in naming rights and consulting, was one of the most often quoted executives when it came to the sports business. His firm closed in 2009 after 21 years and he moved overseas. He is now CEO of Bonham/Wills & Associates, a sports and entertainment marketing firm with bases in Paris and Nicosia, Cyprus.

    WILLIAM PEREZ
    Perez was a nontraditional choice when he was tabbed to leave packaged goods company S.C. Johnson to replace Phil Knight as Nike president and CEO in December 2004. As one observer wrote, “How do you replace a legend? A legend who is still around.” It turned out to be difficult. Perez lasted only 13 months before resigning in January 2006, citing philosophical differences with Knight. Perez is now a senior adviser at global investment banking firm Greenhill & Co. and serves on the board of directors of several corporations, including  Whirlpool Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.

    MARLA MESSING
    Marla Messing
    Photo by: AP IMAGES
    Messing was behind the push to land the 1994 men’s World Cup and then led the three-year effort to stage the women’s championship as president and CEO of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She oversaw one of the most successful women’s sports events ever held, with massive attendance and worldwide television viewership. Messing, an attorney, is now vice chairwoman of the Brentwood School, an independent school that her three daughters attend in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood. “I love the sports industry,” Messing said. “When my children graduate from high school, I would love to go back to work.”

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