• Forty Under 40 Class Of 2014: Where They’re From

    SportsBusiness Journal this week has profiled the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’ve presented here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, in our final entry, we share a little more about who they are — and where they’ve come from.

    Where they’re from

    This year’s Forty Under 40 class members come from 21 of the 50 states, and two of the 40 were born overseas. Among those U.S. states represented, New York can lay claim to the most members of this year’s Forty Under 40 class, with five.

    The full rundown:
    5: New York
    4: California, Massachusetts
    3: Pennsylvania
    2: Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas
    1: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia

    Where they went to school

    A total of 31 schools are represented by the 40 executives when we asked them where they received their undergraduate degrees, but The Victors in this category in terms of being able to boast the most Forty Under 40 class members is … :

    5: University of Michigan

    Also with multiple graduates:

    3: Stanford University
    2: Harvard University, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania

    Previous posts:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    How do you strike a work-life balance?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • NFL TV Timeout: Title Aspirations

    The new NFL calendar year is into its third day, which means free agency is in full swing. With the league salary cap having increased by more than $10M, more teams than expected have found themselves in position to spend money on players. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said, “This is, to me, one of the most fun weeks of the year. It’s a great time. Everybody thinks they are winning the Super Bowl this week. Everybody is happy about getting more money. There aren’t too many people that are disappointed” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 3/12).                                                                                                                                     

    THE AIR UP THERE: Winning the AFC championship last season was not enough for the Broncos, who have gone out and made some of the biggest moves of free agency. S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion wondered how the Broncos "have all that money to spend.” She added, “They already have a loaded roster, it's crazy. But Denver has definitely made the biggest splash” ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12). FS1’s Mike Garafolo, on the Broncos free-agent spending spree: “Once you go to Denver and you sit down in front of John Elway, you’ve seen it over the last couple of days, you see how it happens, that will close the deal” ("Fox Football Daily," FS1, 3/12). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the Broncos "are lapping the field in free agency" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/12). ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said, “The panic button is mashed in New England” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/12).

    NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL: The Patriots did not wait long to respond to the loss of CB Aqib Talib to the Bronocs. NFL Network's Albert Breer said of the contract between the Patriots and CB Darrelle Revis,"On the Patriots side, they displayed 14 years of fiscal responsibility and long-term stability. Where they give on this deal is the term. I'm sure they'd like to get Darrelle Revis signed for a longer term than this, create some stability with that situation” ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 3/12). ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said, “In a league where the system is absolutely set up for the player to have no leverage, no advantage, every single possible advantage goes for the teams and away from the players in almost all negotiation and contracts, Darrelle Revis has figured out a way to game the system. Darrelle Revis is now entering his eighth year and he will have made over $80 million dollars in his career. … For a non-quarterback, that is unheard of” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/13).

    BAY AREA BICKERING? CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto, on the relationship between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke: "I think that's kind of irrelevant at this point only because … the big fight that Harbaugh has is about a contract, Baalke is only an ancillary issue in his mind. That's really on the back burner now that they're talking about football again." San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami added, “There's going to be tension with these two guys, they're alpha males. They head butt all the time but they both want to win. So they're not going to try to screw each other in the process of putting together a team. They're not that dumb. If they win a super bowl, they're both going to get rewarded for it" ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12).

  • TV Timeout: Two's A Crowd

    Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, on the possibility of the Lakers countering the Knicks' offer for Phil Jackson to return to L.A.: “You look at the kind of job that Phil Jackson wants to have and it is exactly the job that Jim Buss already has” (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 3/12).

    ON THE EDGE OF THE SEAT: CSN Senior Exec Producer of Live Events David Koppett, on MLB’s instant replay: "Because it's so new and because there so much scrutiny on it, this is something that fans are really going to be hanging on to see how these challenges turn out" ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12).

    : Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said of Dodger Stadium renovations, "The most important thing we're doing is keeping the look, keeping that familiar quality that fans have loved here more than any other city for the last 50 years" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 3/12).

  • Forty Under 40 Honorees Discuss How To Balance Work, Home

    SportsBusiness Journal this week profiles the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’re presenting here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, we present their answers to the following question:

    How do you strike a work-life balance?

    Renie Anderson: Not easily. It is about what you are willing to sacrifice. I run to the train quickly, I have a good support system, and I say “No” to a lot of things I used to say “Yes” to.

    Nate Appleman: I make the most out of the time I have at home. I also do everything I can to arrange my travel schedule around the various family activities. As a kid, I grew up in an environment where my parents made it to every game/event I had. I appreciate that even more now, and even though I can’t have perfect attendance as a father and husband, I do everything I can to be there.

    Bess Barnes: I have an amazing husband who does more than his fair share.

    Jessica Berman: With the amazing support of my husband, parents, in-laws, nanny; it takes a village!

    Amy Brooks: I certainly haven’t figured it all out, but try to have dinner with and put my kids to bed as much as possible, and never (or rarely) miss a really important event in their lives.

    Jeremy Carey: I’m always actively looking for ways to do the things I want with my family and friends regardless of how busy life gets. Even more importantly, I make time for the things they want to do with me.

    Ethan Casson: I look for small amounts of “uninterrupted” time to do things outside of work (movies, dinner with friends, working out).

    Kelly Cheeseman: I make sure to prioritize time that I have available, to spend time with my wife and plan activities where we can be together. It seems simple, but I think many couples forget the simple things. Also, in the last few years, I have focused, to the best of my ability, to avoid spending time on the computer at home working.

    Justin Connolly: Sacrificing sleep.

    Eric Conrad: The time that I’m with my wife and kids, I’m fully vested in that time. It’s tough with travel, but you have to prioritize. For me, it’s work and family.

    Rick Cordella: I really don’t. It’s probably the most difficult thing to achieve and something I do a poor job of.

    Jim DeLorenzo: I have a very understanding and supportive wife who hopefully reads this so I get some points.

    Dave Finocchio: Marrying the coolest girl around helped a lot. Good friends and Tuesday night bowling league also additive.

    Jessica Gelman: Teamwork. I am fortunate to be a part of two great teams, both personally and professionally. I am very blessed to have an all-star wife at home and an all-star team at work.

    Jonathan Gibson: I probably don’t, to be honest. It seems cliché to say, but I have never had a job where it felt like work. I love what I do, so it is hard to turn it off. Jessica (my wife) is a great influence on me in many ways and does a good job of trying to make me check out from work when I am home in the evenings or on the weekends.

    Alison Giordano: It’s a constant challenge.

    David Greenspan: Forego sleep.

    Kirsten Hunt: I rely on Outlook for everything, including “me” time, because when that reminder pops up, I can’t ignore it.

    Tucker Kain: Consciously taking time to spend with family and friends, all while doing my best to avoid checking my emails and phone messages.

    Joe Karlgaard: I integrate. My family life is part of my work, and my work life is part of my family.

    Ed Kiernan: Even in New York City, I try to make it home most nights for dinner with my family. I get to the gym more often than I don’t, and weekends are for hanging with my sons (especially carting my oldest to sporting event after sporting after sporting event). And I never travel just to travel.

    Chris Klein: I like to work out and spend time with my family.

    Josh Kroenke: Time management is the key to any good personal/professional balance.

    Damani Leech: My wife forces me to have it.

    Andrew Lustgarten: Having great bosses at the NBA who respect and let me get my work done and see my family.

    Rod Moskowitz: It’s bad enough that I have to hear from my mom and dad on a weekly basis asking when I’m going to get married. Trust me: I’m working on it.

    Ahmad Nassar: Prioritization and relying on technology to get out of the office but still be on top of things.

    Will Pleasants: Technology helps, but you learn to respect everyone and give them all the time they need and deserve.

    Brian Schulz: My job is very physical besides being mental in terms of thinking on the go and substituting different things that you thought were going to happen but you have to call an audible for. So, I like to work out; I swim. I do a lot of thinking when I swim. I try to stay in shape that way and I think that’s how I do the whole work-life balance. It keeps me centered.

    Donte Scott: Wake up early (assuming I go to sleep), get involved with the kids’ sports, and try to keep my laptop off until we’ve gotten the kids off to bed for the night.

    Emmanuel Seuge: I wake up early in the morning when everyone sleeps and I try not to work when I come back from the office at night.

    John Shea: Having a good wife is the key.

    Jared Smith: We’ve found a lot more balance since moving to L.A. I struggle with it as much as anybody, but we try.

    Henry Stafford: Bring energy to everything you do. Whether it is at work or at home or taking care of oneself.

    Josh Swartz: Very delicately, particularly with a spouse who has an amazing career.

    Lowell Taub: I include my family in my work life whenever practical (Knicks games, Eagles games, Olympics, Dew Tour, etc.) and try to spend as much time with my family as I can — and be present while I am doing it.

    Igor Ulis: This is a tough one. I try to stick to a routine with my kids. There are weekly activities (swim team, skiing, etc.) to make sure we spend quality time and bond. My wife and I try to sneak in weekend getaways every so often to help keep things in perspective.

    Araceli Villegas: A rock-solid support system and investing as much quality time at work as I do quality time at home.

    Pete Vlastelica: I love being outdoors. Conveniently, when I am enjoying nature, it’s almost impossible to work.

    Chris Wujcik: Get as involved as possible with my kids’ activities.

    Coming tomorrow:
    Where they’re from, and where they want to school: We tell you which state and which undergraduate school can lay claim to having the most members of this year’s Forty Under 40 class.

    Previous posts:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Are You Experienced?

    PGA of America President Ted Bishop, on the task force that will explore creative growth of game procedures: “We need to redefine what the golf experience is. … We want to explore some really innovative alternative methods of playing the sport … a way to introduce a different segment of society into the game” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/12).

    MORE THAN STEAKS: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, on the significance of the College World Series to Omaha: “It's huge. We spent $140 million on the stadium just to take care of the College World Series and that is one of the reasons I bought a quarter of the Triple-A franchise 20 some years ago, to help ensure it stays in Omaha. … Omaha would be a different city without the College World Series” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/12).

    WHEELING & DEALING: FS1’s Mike Garafolo, on NFL free-agency: “How’s that CBA look to you by the way? It looks pretty good right now” (“Fox Football Daily,” FS1, 3/11).

  • Advice To Students From Forty Under 40 Class of 2014

    SportsBusiness Journal this week profiles the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’re presenting here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, we present their answers to the following question:

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    Renie Anderson: Everyone’s a sports fan, so the key is to specialize in a core competency; then you can take that skill set and apply it to sports. I could do my job anywhere, but I’m lucky enough to get to do it at the National Football League.

    Nate Appleman: This industry loves hard workers. Maybe that isn’t much different from other sectors, but I know if you come to the table with a solid work ethic you will be successful.

    Bess Barnes: Be the kind of person that people want to help.

    Jessica Berman: Be diligent yet respectful of people’s time; always put your best foot forward.

    Amy Brooks: Be intellectually curious, sell like a champ, and learn how to model in Microsoft Excel.

    Jeremy Carey: Loving sports is not the same as understanding the business of sports.

    Ethan Casson: You must be passionate, you must be willing to work hard, and you must be respectful of everyone along the way.

    Kelly Cheeseman: Don’t pigeon-hole yourself in your early career. This business can take you many directions. To grow a career, you have to be open to many avenues. Get in, work hard, be patient and be a team player. You will grow.

    Justin Connolly: Just get your foot in the door.

    Eric Conrad: You might not be the smartest person in the room, and you won’t be the most experienced, but you can be the most prepared.

    Rick Cordella: Just find a way in and don’t worry about the initial job, title or pay.

    Jim DeLorenzo: Keep working hard. There are no handouts in the sports industry.

    Dave Finocchio: Make yourself an honest-to-God expert about something related to the industry (other than league, team and player news). Lots of people want these jobs; you have to really want it to get in the door.

    Jessica Gelman: Identify teams and leagues undergoing significant change (e.g., new stadium), then figure out how you can add value and have impact. That, and attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference.

    Jonathan Gibson: It ties to a quote I once heard and is really relevant to any industry: “You live up (or down) to your expectations.” Expect greatness.

    Alison Giordano: Don’t get set on a single path; there are different ways to get to your goal.

    David Greenspan: Students often stress that they are big sports fans, but that’s not a résumé enhancer. Like all other law practices, we’re looking for great minds and great communicators and great people. It just so happens that many of our clients make their living in the business of sports.

    Kirsten Hunt: Network. Opportunities don’t just happen; they are attached to people. Don’t look for opportunities; look for people.

    Tucker Kain: Focus on what portion of the sports business you are really passionate about. Caring about sports is not enough. Learn the business, understand what goes into it, and work on developing skills that are most relevant to that area.

    Joe Karlgaard: Lots of people go to conferences to walk the floor; find a different and more personal way to make connections, even if that happens on your own dime.

    Ed Kiernan: You can never start looking for an internship early enough. Get your foot in the door, network like crazy, and work your butt off. Also, be willing to relocate wherever the opportunity presents itself — nationwide.

    Chris Klein: Find something that you are passionate about, make sure to work hard, don’t cut corners, and remain true to yourself.

    Josh Kroenke: The industry is highly competitive on and off the playing field. No matter what your first opportunity is in the industry, attack it with everything you’ve got and good things will happen. Also, don’t be afraid of what you don’t know.

    Damani Leech: Read, work hard and don’t presume to know which part of the industry in which you can find happiness.

    Andrew Lustgarten: Learn a skill set and not just “sports.” Analysis, sales and marketing are always valuable. Once you have that skill, apply it to sports.

    Rod Moskowitz: Start at a very young age. That helped me find success, as it takes time to build a network and reputation.

    Ahmad Nassar: Focus on developing a strong skill set, whether that comes in sports or not. Know that your first job is unlikely to be your dream job, and that’s OK. Just don’t let the detour become your road.

    Will Pleasants: Get exposure to as many different sides of the industry as possible. At that age, you usually don’t know what you don’t know; you need to find that out.

    Brian Schulz: Keep an open mind. Opportunity has an interesting way of rearing its head, so if you can, keep your mind open to different possibilities. You might think you want to enter this industry in a certain manner by taking steps that you have predetermined in your head, but open yourself to the fact that it may not happen that way, that it may happen a different way. Don’t be so closed to those moments when they come up; recognize them.

    Donte Scott: Work hard, learn unique skills and stay positive.

    Emmanuel Seuge: It’s one of the most dynamic industries to join now. The sports business as a whole is going to embrace the change happening in our lives — social, digital, and new ways to consume content — in the future. There’s a ton of innovation coming. It’s a great industry to join now, but you have to remember the history of it.

    John Shea: Get as big a name company on your résumé as you can and start in an area you have a passion for.

    Jared Smith: In this business, you’ve got to be willing to take an opportunity when it comes and jump on it. There are 10 people willing to do every job there is. You’ve got to be able to jump in and be willing to try. Find a way in, and you’ll find a way to get into the lane you want to get into if you’re skilled and qualified and trained.

    Henry Stafford: Figure out what you really love to do, and find a job in that space. You need to love what you do to be great.

    Josh Swartz: Network like crazy.

    Lowell Taub: The people around you will take note if you work hard and work smart. They will also take note if you don’t.

    Igor Ulis: It’s no secret that this industry is tough to get into. The way in is to prove you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and to be vocal about that. We are big on promoting from within and have had very smart, highly educated people start at entry level jobs and work their way up. It gives us a chance to see them in action and has worked really well.

    Araceli Villegas: Hard work, dedication.

    Pete Vlastelica: Do something on your own initiative that’s designed to get the industry’s attention. Start a blog, a meet up, or a company. Understand that it’s always better to show than to tell.

    Chris Wujcik: Enjoy what you are doing, where you are doing it, and the people you are doing it with.

    Coming tomorrow:

    Forty Under 40 members answer the question, How do you strike a work-life balance?

    Previous post:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Feel Like Dancing

    Fox’ Erin Andrews said of being "DWTS" co-host this season, “It’s kind of like the Michael Strahan thing. … Entertainment during the day and then talks football with the boys. So it’s the best of both worlds” (“Late Show,” CBS, 3/10).

    COAST-TO-COAST: ESPN's Bomani Jones said of Basketball HOFer Phil Jackson joining the Knicks front office, "The only way this works for Phil Jackson is if this is his plan to show Jim Buss that he should have hired (him) when he had the chance. If that's what he's trying to do, then I halfway understand it. But that's not going to work either because you work for Jim Dolan" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 3/10).

    ALL FOR ONE: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said of the possible unionization of college athletes, “It will get resolved in two, or three, or four years and we will have to deal with whatever the results are. But I think we’ll continue to provide what we do. I think it works for a lot of people” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/11).

  • Forty Under 40 Honorees: Advice To Your Younger Self

    SportsBusiness Journal this week profiles the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’re presenting here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, we present their answers to the following question:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    Renie Anderson: Probably to wear more sunblock!

    Nate Appleman: Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Jump in and give it your best, and you’ll realize your fears weren’t really all that intimidating or difficult to overcome.

    Bess Barnes: Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Dan Margulis told me that five years ago, and it would have been good to know 10 years ago.

    Jessica Berman: If you work hard, your career will be there. There is no rush.

    Amy Brooks: As the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short. Live in and enjoy the moment.

    Jeremy Carey: Nothing. I had a lot of fun making all those mistakes and I’m pretty happy about what I learned from them and where they got me.

    Ethan Casson: Don’t get caught up in the things you can’t control; rather, focus your efforts on the things you can control and look for ways to influence change for the better.

    Kelly Cheeseman: Seasons come and go, but your career in sports is your whole life. Relax and have fun.

    Justin Connolly: Travel more before you have kids.

    Eric Conrad: Go for your MBA at 25; it’s easier than when you have three kids. And buy Apple stock.

    Rick Cordella: Stay with it. The hard work is worth it.

    Jim DeLorenzo: Nothing. That would take all the fun out of the journey.

    Dave Finocchio: Trust your gut and act on it.

    Jessica Gelman: Don’t settle, follow your passion, and buy Google stock — lots of it.

    Jonathan Gibson: Take time to make important decisions. Your first reaction isn’t always the best reaction.

    Alison Giordano: Take in every moment.

    David Greenspan: Keep your eyes not just on the ball, but down the road.

    Kirsten Hunt: Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.

    Tucker Kain: In addition to being results-driven, focus time and energy on relationship-building. Understanding who people are and what they care about is an incredibly important tool in business and life.

    Joe Karlgaard: Slow down and enjoy the moment. This all is going to happen really fast.

    Ed Kiernan: Everything you experience (good and bad) leads you to become the person you are, so why try to go back and change anything?

    Chris Klein: Not to get consumed with the present challenges. Always have an eye for the bigger picture.

    Josh Kroenke: Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, because there are paths to success and failure at every turn.

    Damani Leech: Stretch, before and after workouts.

    Andrew Lustgarten: Something my father said to me: Find something you love and do it, as you will do it well.

    Rod Moskowitz: You are there to advise your client, not tell them they must do something.

    Ahmad Nassar: Don’t eat that!

    Will Pleasants: Take chances and be curious.

    Brian Schulz: No job is too small. Sometimes you think you’re supposed to have a bigger job, but if you just do what you’re given really, really well, rewards will come.

    Donte Scott: You can’t always wait on all of the empirical evidence. Trust your instincts, and take calculated risks more often.

    Emmanuel Seuge: Be patient and believe in yourself.

    John Shea: Follow your passion, work hard, maintain balance in your life, and enjoy the people you meet along the way.

    Jared Smith: I don’t know that I’d have given myself all that much different advice than what I followed. I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time and mobile enough to take the next opportunity when it was presented to me. So I would look back and just tell myself to stay out of my own way, which is what I was able to do.

    Henry Stafford: Listen more, talk less. Also, hire people who are smarter than you.

    Josh Swartz: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Lowell Taub: In addition to my clients, the brands/buyers are also my partners in the deal-making process.

    Igor Ulis: Opportunities will always come up, but it’s important to be able to say “No” to those that will take your focus away from your goal.

    Araceli Villegas: Just go for it.

    Pete Vlastelica: Don’t rule anything out.

    Chris Wujcik: Buy stock in Apple and Starbucks.

    Coming tomorrow:

    Forty Under 40 members answer the question, What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Getting Their Phil?

    As speculation continues to build surrounding the Knicks possibly hiring Basketball HOFer Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations, national media has chimed in with their views on the matter.

    ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said, “It’s Phil Jackson’s job to lose. If he wants it, he’ll have it. If he doesn’t, then he’ll move on with his life and the New York Knicks will remain the cesspool that they are until they get somebody reputable to represent their franchise” (“SportsCenter, ESPN, 3/8).

    The N.Y. Times’ William Rhoden said, “It doesn’t matter what you do, your legacy is going to be destroyed. That is what we do in New York. We love to do this” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/9).

    ESPN’s Bill Simmons: “This seems like a money grab. … Just remember, he’s the same guy who released the same book twice. He had a book a couple of years ago and then he wrote another one that was basically the same book over again. Phil Jackson likes money. If (Knicks Owner) James Dolan is going to cut him a big check, he’s going to take it” (“NBA Countdown,” ABC, 3/9).

    QUEEN’S FEAST: Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said of the CIAA tournament staying in the city another six years, "It keeps us viable as a city that can host large events. We were good with the DNC. We've been really good with the CIAA” ("Flashpoint," WCNC-NBC, 3/9).

    NOT SHORT-SELLING: Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said of sleeved jerseys, “They're selling and for obvious reasons. They're selling because you can actually wear them around and wear them to school. I think it's a great product but there are better ways to market them than the regular season" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/10).

    BY THE TAIL: NBC’s Johnny Miller, on Tiger Woods: “He’s given us a lot of insight to his life that he never would do when he was younger.  He wouldn’t give you a thing” (“WGC-Cadillac Championship,” NBC, 3/9).

  • PGA Tour Players Give Travelers Exec Warm Welcome

    Andy Bessette, chief administrative office for Travelers and the lead negotiator on the company’s new 10-year title sponsorship deal with the PGA Tour, told me he was blown away this week by how much appreciation players have showed for the company’s commitment to the June tournament in Hartford.

    Bessette, Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube, and Malcolm Turner from Wasserman Media Group visited Doral on Wednesday to recruit players and check out the new Blue course. Wasserman works with Travelers on its golf strategy.

    Henrik Stenson, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, was especially gracious, Bessette said.

    “Nothing feels better as a sponsor than to have someone show their appreciation,” Bessette said. “Most of the guys on the PGA Tour really get it and that’s one of the reasons we are so committed. A few don’t, but most of them do.”

    It’s a common practice for tournament directors like Grube to visit the driving range at other PGA Tour events to recruit players. It’s not all that common to see a high-ranking executive from the title sponsor walking the range as well.

    Bessette has a whole slew of responsibilities at Travelers, from internal investigations and corporate real estate to aviation and sports sponsorships. He estimates that the Travelers Championship now occupies about 15 percent of his job.

    “Our motto is that every year has to be better than the last,” he said.

    Tags: PGA Tour, Travelers, Ford Motor Co., Champion, Champions, Media, Wasserman Media Group, Golf, On The Ground
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