• Sheila Johnson's Game Changers Keynote: Where women stand in hiring, careers

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    Johnson: Title IX's champions knew that if word got out, it would be a lot harder to get support.

    When lawmakers enacted Title IX into law in 1972, most people did not consider the effect it would have on athletics. “This was done on purpose,” said Sheila Johnson, owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, during a keynote address at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York. “It was done by design. The bill’s champions knew that if word got out about how it would impact sports so dramatically, it would be a lot harder to get congressional support.”

    Johnson, who is also CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, said it was not until the new law was implemented that the country realized its significance for women and girls. “For some people, this was great news,” Johnson said. “But for others, mostly people with Y chromosomes, it was reason to worry.” After discussing the fears that schools and universities had at the time over giving equal funding to women’s athletics, Johnson added, “But, guess what? Today, four decades later, civilization still stands, and men’s sports are still doing just fine.”

    Despite the changes in the last 40 years, Johnson added, “We’ve come a long way, but it’s also true that we haven’t moved as far or as fast as we would like.” Johnson said that one of the biggest challenges is making sure that women’s sports have adequate resources. After buying the Washington Mystics and stepping foot in the locker room for the first time, Johnson said she was disappointed with its poor condition and the message that it sent. “It said women are not valued or taken serious,” she said. “You’re going to have to work just as hard for half as much. That basic disparity is true for the team outside the locker room, too, especially when it comes to corporate sponsorships. I have to work twice as hard to get the sponsorship and I have to work even harder to keep it.”

    Johnson discussed the “vicious cycle” of corporate sponsors’ demands for a larger fan base while struggling to draw an audience with limited sponsorship funding, a problem she says is found all across the WNBA.

    “We need more people to rally behind this league if we want it to flourish and grow,” she said. “We’ve seen countless women athletes’ dreams deferred and destroyed because even though they’re willing to invest their lives in the sport, society is not willing to invest in them.”

    Johnson called on the audience to channel their ideas “into a PR campaign for women’s sports unlike anything the world has ever seen.”

    “Let’s get the world talking about women’s sports,” she said. “Let’s make sure everyone understands why it should have a place on the agenda and why it should be a priority. Let’s make this different. Let’s expand the conversation.”

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, Champion, Champions, Ally, CES, Washington Mystics, Ping, Ugg, Audi, WNBA, NBA, AIG
  • Panel: Mentoring and Developing the Next Generation of Industry Leaders

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    Mentorship, sponsorship and career development were the central theme discussed by five leaders in sports, who all agreed that mentorship can take on many forms and sizes.


    Developing the Next Generation

    Moderator Sam Ryan, MLB Network
    Kathy Behrens, NBA
    Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, USOC
    Kathryn Olson, Women's Sports Foundation
    Donna Orender, Orender Unlimited
    Molly Solomon, Golf Channel

    “It’s not necessarily, ‘Oh, would you be my mentor?’” said NBA Executive Vice President Kathy Behrens. "I think mentoring is very important, but you need people in your life who are close to you, who you trust and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. It doesn’t need to be people who you work for, but it could be just people in your world who know you well and speak to truth to you.” Golf Channel Senior Vice President Molly Solomon said she’s had both mentors and sponsors during her career, noting that longtime journalist Christine Brennan was a mentor while former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol was a sponsor.  “Mentor is more about words. Sponsors are more about action. Christine Brennan is so fearless and we’ve had such a longtime relationship since I first met her. Dick Ebersol just kept pushing me into new opportunities, and thank God he believed in me more than I believed in myself, or else I wouldn’t be here.” USOC Chief of Organizational Excellence Benita Fitzgerald Mosley also named Ebersol as well as former USOC Chairman Harvey Schiller as mentors, saying that Schiller encouraged her growth within the USOC world. “They put ideas and thoughts in my head that I probably never would have had,” she said. 

     Orender Unlimited CEO Donna Orender said women need to help each other more and support each other. “Mentoring is across all generations,” she said. “Giving back is incredibly important that we all need to do. But, as executives, we need to have the time to mentor each other. We need to change from this whole idea of turning on each other, but turn toward each other. For all of us to really care about each other enough to help each other is critical.”


    Career advice:
    Behrens: “More people are thinking about sports as a career. They think they have to get that first job in sports right after school. The truth is, there is no straight path. Other experiences could prepare you better than that first initial job in sports. You can build on your career regardless of where you are doing it.  It doesn’t always have to be, ‘Oh, now I’m working in sports, so I’m good.’”

    Mosley: “You have to be present to win. Listening and taking advantage of your opportunities.”

    Orender: “We have to be willing to take the leap and believe in yourself. The whole idea of having encouragement and listening to your voice and make a leap and believing in yourself is vital.”

    Solomon suggested people become “uncomfortable” as there is a penchant for finding comfort: “I’m starting to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable I am, the more grateful I am after getting through a tough situation. So, I’m becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable.”

    Women’s Sports Foundation’s Kathryn Olson: “Sit and learn from people different from yourself. Make an effort to spend time with people who are different. [People you don’t know well or don’t work for] can give you different and very honest advice.”

    On what's next for women in sports:
    Behrens: “What’s next is success [for women]. I think we are poised for a new wave of women leaders.  It’s a good time to be a woman.”

    Orender: “I agree. It’s a good time to be us.”

    Olson said she would like to see more men attend the Game Changers conference next year: “If we’re talking to ourselves, we’re not getting anywhere. We have to engage men in the conversation.”

    Solomon: “I think it’s really important to see women in power. It’s all about seeing people in power. I think that is going to change for the next generation, because if they can see it, they can do it.”

    On leadership:
    Behrens: “You can be a leader who treats people with respect. It’s possible for everyone to be responsible for how you treat people. Don’t be a jerk is a pretty good way to go to work in the morning.”

    Solomon: “I can’t be someone other than myself. I’m choosing to be nice and relentlessly pleasant – that’s who I am.” She recalled her initial experience at Golf Channel and meeting some new colleagues.  “I sat down and I barked at them, and I said to myself, 'Who is this person?’ I told myself, ‘I need to be myself.’  You have to believe in yourself because the people who put you in the job believe in you.”

    Solomon: “Women are grinders. We stay late and we want to get the job done, so we probably don’t network as well as we should. We need to get out more and walk the office floor and get to other events, but so often we’re just trying to get our check list done.”

    Quote of the day:
    Behrens drew a big laugh when asked how to balance young children and her work life: “You have no choice. They are there when you get home. There is no great advice. You just do it.”

    Tags: NTRA, Ping, ING, GE, MLB, MLB Network, NBA, USOC, Golf, Golf Channel, CES, NBC, Ally
  • One-on-One: Irina Pavlova on fan experience, jersey ads and doing business in the U.S.

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    Pavlova: "You have to go with what your customers want."

    Fan experience, interactivity and advertising on jerseys were among the topics covered by Onexim Sports & Entertainment President Irina Pavlova during a wide-ranging one-on-one interview at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York City.

    Pavlova said she would like to see jersey patch advertising become a regular sponsorship feature in the NBA. “I personally think we’re missing out on the huge revenue stream on the jersey patch advertising,” said Pavlova, whose Onexim Sports & Entertainment holds a 45 percent interest in the Barclays Center. “I’m hopeful that that is something that will come up in the near future for a new discussion. The problem is, there are 30 teams in the league, everyone has a different financial situation, market, different willingness to spend and it’s just hard to get everyone to agree on the same thing.”

    Pavlova says she pays close attention to what fans focus on during Brooklyn Nets home games. “I try to pay attention to what all the fans are doing and how they perceive our game-day experience and entertainment,” Pavlova said. “(Dallas Mavericks Owner) Mark Cuban has a different perspective. He thinks fans should be focused on the game and not texting. I think you have to go with what your customers want. I see our customers wanting to share pictures and videos with their friends and check in and let everyone know where they are. If they have to hit that send button 15 times because Wi-Fi isn’t working at Mark Cuban’s arena, I don’t think we’re providing the full experience.”

    Pavlova, who was Google’s first employee in Russia before joining Onexim, talked about the differences in doing business in Russia and the United States. “I think the U.S. business culture is a lot more structured (than Moscow),” she said. “It probably has to do with having over 100 people in the same office every day, trying to do their jobs. I find that I am the translator between Brooklyn and Moscow in terms of how things are done and how the league works.”

    Regarding diversity in the workplace, Pavlova said, “Women bring a very different perspective to the table, especially people coming in from different industries. I think hiring the right people and keeping an open mind takes care of diversity for itself.” She also commented on the tendency for assertive women to be branded as abrasive and said that there often needs to be a delicate balance between the two. “I found, personally, that if I’m nice, it’s often mistaken for weakness, and people try to walk all over me and take advantage of me being nice,” Pavlov said. “When you become a little more firm, you are branded bossy. I probably am branded bossy more than I am branded nice. But that’s the price of getting things done sometimes.”


    On the Ray Rice scandal: “I think that we all know the right thing to say, but the big question is, Do we have the guts to actually do the right thing? I would like to think that we would do the right thing. There’s no place for something like that in sports. There’s no place for that in society. There should be no tolerance for that. I fully support the decision to suspend him indefinitely.”

    On new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “David Stern was commissioner for 30 years and there was a certain way of doing business and certain entrenched relationships that went along with that. I think Adam brought a freshness to the league. It’s a lot more engaging for the owners, and I think they’re a lot more open for discussion.”

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, NBA, Ally, Barclays, ATT, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Videos
  • TV Timeout: Call To Action

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    Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, on the criticism being heaped on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "All this discussion around Roger Goodell, you can't blame Roger Goodell for this messy conduct. But at the same time he's the leader of the league and he's got to act" ("Opening Bell," Fox Business, 9/15). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said the NFL "didn’t want to be at the head of a domestic abuse conversation and now it finds itself at the head of a parenting conversation” ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 9/15). National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill said the hiring of women to help address the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal is an "effort by Mr. Goodell to shift this issue off the front pages so that he can get back to business as usual. It is too late for business as usual" ("Nightly News," NBC, 9/15).

    FEELING MINNESOTA: ESPN's Michael Smith said of the Vikings playing RB Adrian Peterson next weekend, "I wonder how much this decision had to with their performance against the Patriots" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 9/15). ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said of the Vikings reinstating Peterson, "What has changed about your star running back between Friday and today, other than that you got smacked around by the New England Patriots" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/15). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "I don’t think that every sin … in the NFL or any other sports league for that matter is solved by sitting somebody forever" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/15).  ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of Vikings GM Rick Spielman’s statement, “That was one of the worst jobs I’ve seen in my entire life by a significant organization … and to have that guy standing up there as ill-equipped to answer questions as he was, was an embarrassment to the entire National Football League” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/16). ESPN’s Skip Bayless said of Vikings reinstating Peterson, “There's no way the National Football League can allow Adrian Peterson to step onto the football field this Sunday. It's just such a bad look in light of this second allegation that just came to light” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 9/16). CBSSN's Jim Rome said of charges of child abuse against Peterson, “That’s not discipline to your child, that’s just beating him and switching him. Call it what you want, but the police call this a felony" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 9/15). 

    THE FIRST OF MANY? ESPN's Darren Rovell said of Radisson suspending its sponsorship with the Vikings, “It's really the first sign where there's a power move in the business world to go alongside with what's been happening” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/15). CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said there is a “clear problem inside the NFL and it would not surprise me if sponsors decided" to terminate their deals with the league” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/16).

  • Panel: Role of athletics in shaping young adults is more challenging in changing environment

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    The role of colleges in shaping young adults was a driving theme at a panel discussion on women’s collegiate sports at today’s Game Changers Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.

    The Intercollegiate Challenge

    Val Ackerman, Big East Conference
    Anucha Browne, NCAA
    Rosalyn Durant, ESPN
    Chris Plonsky, University of Texas

    “We’re working with other people’s children,” said Chris Plonsky, women’s athletic director and senior associate athletic director for men’s and women’s athletics external services at the University of Texas. “We put a lot of emphasis on … life-learning lessons with our student-athlete population, particularly with our freshmen. The college setting is our bastion to change and to make people better to go out and be productive and be good citizens.”

    Considering the continuing storylines of domestic violence and the NFL, Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman noted how the subject spans beyond sports, adding that several conferences have been asked to help promote a forthcoming White House initiative addressing campus sexual violence.

    “We have to get to the students, because they are the actors here,” she said. “It’s not just sports. It could be in a fraternity house. It could be at some place other than involving an athlete, but when it happens to athletes, the attention gets blown out.”

    Added Anucha Browne, NCAA vice president of women's basketball championships: “It’s much larger than [the NFL]. It is a deep societal issue that has no color lines, no social boundaries. It is global when you think about the treatment of women around the world.”

    The subject of exposure for women’s sports was also discussed, considering scheduling among other touch points. Ackerman praised women’s hockey but noted the conflict of the Women’s Frozen Four with the start of the college basketball tournaments, and how that hurts the visibility of that event.

    That led to talk about the Final Four and the women’s event relative to the men’s event. Ackerman drew applause when suggesting that the two events should be in the same city, playing on alternate nights, instead of being on the same weekend in different sites as they are now. She said a consolidation would prevent sponsor and media resources from being divided, and she pointed to the WTA having events in conjunction with the ATP as an example of where pairings can work.

    “I think women’s sports do need to think big, think broadly,” she said. “The things that have worked for many years may not be the things that will work going forward.”

    The panel, titled “The Intercollegiate Challenge: Examining the Growth Prospects of Women’s Collegiate Sports,” was moderated by Emmy Award-winner Andrea Kremer, chief correspondent for NFL Network and correspondent for HBO Sports.


    On the development of the Big Five conferences:
    Rosalyn Durant, ESPN vice president of college sports programming: “However this plays out, our desire is to continue to show more women’s sports, not less women’s sports.”

    On the importance of women in leadership in college sports:
    Browne: “A lot of this speaks to strong male leadership that is willing to hire women who are strong minded or forward-thinking or who are outspoken. It’s also that much more important for women to surround each other with support.

    On getting more women to watch women’s sports:
    Browne: We’ve got to engage women, and challenge women, to consume women’s sports. We can’t rely on our corporate sponsors to do this for us. These are businesses.”

    On the role of women’s sports in today’s shifting college landscape:
    Plonsky, referencing the No. 2-ranked Texas women’s volleyball team: “Those young women believe what they’re doing is every bit as difficult, rewarding and significant as their male counterparts.”

    On the potential changes facing all college sports:
    Plonsky: “If sports are professionalized at the college level, I don’t want to see the day where our [Olympic sport athletes] don’t have a place to train and get an education at the same time.”

    On the continuing effects of Title IX:
    Ackerman: “In the college space, we’re starting to see how the participation and the business sides are coming together.”

    The panel, titled “The Intercollegiate Challenge: Examining the Growth Prospects of Women’s Collegiate Sports,” was moderated by Emmy Award-winner Andrea Kremer, chief correspondent for NFL Network and correspondent for HBO Sports.

    Tags: GE, Colleges, Ping, ING, Game Changers, Marriott, Big East, NCAA, CAA, ESPN, CES, Citi, NFL, ATT
  • Sports leaders focus on diversifying, challenges of digital media

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    The opportunity to present their sports and stories to a digital, millennial age while also focusing on business diversification was a prevalent theme from leaders of women’s sports during a panel at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York. WTA CEO Stacey Allaster led the charge by repeatedly imploring leagues and properties to rethink how they tell their stories and present their game. She said the WTA Tour was on a “journey of sport-entertainment,” combining the sensibilities of those two industries. “As we tell our players, you are athletes, but you are entertainers.,” she said. “We need to do more for fans. We must provide unique experiences to fans and sponsors that fans can’t buy, for us to be able to win.”

    State of Women's Sports Properties

    Moderator Chris McKendry, ESPN
    Stacey Allaster, WTA
    Swin Cash, 3-time WNBA champion
    Kathy Milthorpe, LPGA
    Bonnie Rothenstein, SAP
    Laurel Richie, WNBA

    Allaster stressed that it all comes down to content – from producing more live matches to having players interact and communicate more with fans. “Players need to do more with fans, pre- and post- match,” Alaster said. “As I’ve told many of our players, I know you’re upset when you lose, but we have tennis balls here and young people who are here who are expecting you to sign them. So dig deep and give those fans something.” She also stressed changes to the Tour that will see players and fans interacting on practice courts, allowing fans to get on the courts after a practice, while also doing more story-telling through digital and mobile. “It’s going to be a combination of more content, live, on court, off court, digital, data, social and mobile first,” she said.  “That’s the engine we’re now building to drive our revenues.”

    BUILDING BRANDS: WNBA player Swin Cash noted how players are far more cognizant of their brand than ever before, and are using that to build interest in sports. “Each player is a brand, each to themselves,” she said.  “A lot of us are thinking, ‘How am I growing my brand with the league?' It’s no longer separate. It is more working together with the league, to not only grow the league, but to grow the player’s brand. And we can’t just stay domestic, we have to grow globally.”

    At times during the panel, Cash also expressed frustration with the media’s coverage of women’s sports. “We have to start holding accountable the people who are telling our story,” she said “We have this multitude of personalities, but if the public is not told the story, all you hear about is basketball. We, as players, and a league, have to do better talking to media. But the media needs to start telling better stories, better messages.” WNBA President Laurel Richie agreed,  “Our players are very accessible before the game, after the game and in the community, and that makes a huge difference for us. Fans want to talk to our players, so they have been very generous giving fans a peak into their lives beyond the court, and that’s what makes them interesting. It humanizes our players and gives young girls many touch points to dream big.”

    LPGA CFO Kathy Milthorpe noted the opportunities, as well as the challenges, of telling stories through digital media. “It’s not easy,” she admitted, “because as soon as you think of something, you probably are already out of date and need to try something new. So we are focused on social media, to connect fans to the players’ personalities and to their lives off the course. We are doing a lot on the tournament side for social media hangouts, to connect with people who are not at the course. Social media is interesting because it’s a blank piece of paper and you can do it with limited resources.”

    SOCIAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: Cash acknowledged that she’s in contract talks with a potential sponsor, and “they want to know how many Twitters followers I have and Facebook friends, and how I’m using Instragram. That’s where it’s at with players these days. As I tell players: You are the CEO of ‘me.’ That’s how businesses are looking at you as players. Now we can sit at the table with our organization and it’s not just about the game, but about corporate level, a community level, and those are the game changers.”  

    Cash touted a program she did with American Express that featured a two-minute video about her life off the court. “It showed where I’m over-packing my bag and figuring out how to put 70 pounds into a 50-pound bag,” she said. “Personal things like that, and that feedback on social media was amazing and people wanted to know about life off the court. As we move forward, we’re starting to drive these stories that fans can’t see on national television, but we can show on our own platforms and channels.” 

    Richie concurred: “The great part about that is, the cost of that effort is very minimal. I think back to my advertising days, and to think what we used to spend on a commercial is crazy to me now. Because now you’re able to effectively, affordably produce great content, leverage the players and their great stories and get this out quickly, and that form of production works on so many levels for us. It really shows what’s beautiful about the game.”

    DRIVE TO DIVERSIFY: As the panel concluded, Allaster made a strong call to the audience and the industry. “Revenue is the oxygen which drives our business,” she said, “so we’ve worked on diversifying our revenue.” She noted the WTA’s new sponsorship deal with SAP, and said “they are helping us transfer the WTA to a true sport-entertainment enterprise using big data and engaging the fan.” She stressed how critical it is that businesses look at diversifying revenue streams, and pointed to the WTA Tour’s new event in Singapore, which will be held for the first time next month, as an example. “Thirty five percent of our net operating revenue now comes from one source – Singapore,” she said. “You have to transform. We need sponsors, yes. We need television, yes. Those need to grow and they are growing. But the reality is, to grow, we need new diverse revenue streams, and that’s where new events come in. We are thinking ahead, asking, Wouldn’t it be great to have another major asset that we could own?”

    Allaster added, with a call to growing attention to and exposure of women’s sports: “We need leadership. We need companies like SAP to say we’ll invest in our sport. We need media leadership, like ESPN, that won’t just talk about it, but will do something. That’s what we need. We need people to dedicate themselves day in and day out. It’s time for people to invest time, energy and money to women’s sports.”

    Tags: GE, ING, Game Changers, WTA, CES, ESPN, WNBA, NBA, Champion, LPGA, UPS, Ally
  • Faces in the Crowd at 2014 Game Changers

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    Here are photos of some of the Game Changers attendees during the morning networking break:

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ATT, ING
  • Hot-button issues set stage during opening Game Changers panel

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    The storylines of domestic violence in the NFL led the discussion during the opening panel of today’s Game Changers Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. “It is the most controversial story we’ve ever seen in U.S. sports, potentially the biggest story in U.S. sports,” said panel moderator Christine Brennan, columnist/commentator for USA Today/ABC News, PBS and NPR.

    The Executive POV

    Christine Brennan, USA Today/ABC News
    Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys
    Kathy Carter, Soccer United Marketing
    Janet Marie Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Mary Wittenberg, NY Road Runners

    “It is an incredibly serious issue for us; it is an incredible societal issue,” said Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Dallas Cowboys, noting that 45 percent of the league’s fans are female. “Our job, as the most visible entity in sports … is to take the visibility we have and do something about it. … It’s what we do from here with this issue that will actually determine really what our league is all about and the influence our league has.”

    The panel was titled “The Executive POV: Examining the Intersection of Women and Sports.” In addition to Anderson, panelists were Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing; Janet Marie Smith, senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers/Dodger Stadium; and Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners.

    Carter: “We in sports have a responsibility, an obligation, but more importantly an opportunity to use sport as an agent of positive change and to be the conduit for conversation.”
    Smith: “This takes an issue that’s been in the closet for decades and puts it [in the public eye]. Let’s talk about this. Let’s empower our women.”
    Wittenberg: “Make this the opportunity. If you’re the commissioner, you’re saying ‘Let’s get through this so we can be a huge force in … hopefully changing the state of domestic violence today.’ The NFL has a platform to do it.”

    Among other topics covered during the panel:

    On the influence of Title IX:
    Carter: “The sheer volume of women that are a part of the conversation, whether it’s in sports, politics or in business is it’s totality.”
    Wittenberg: “Women are finding their voice as athletes. Participatory sports are helping women who can identify as athletes later in life.”

    On marketing to women:
    Anderson: “Women are the gatekeepers to the family. They’re the ones making the buying decisions [and] are deciding what sports their child will play. As we progress as a society, unfortunately, fewer times are we gathering around the table to eat dinner. But we are gathering around to watch sports, and it is a unifying element and women are leading the charge there.”
    Carter, anticipating sponsor activation for next year’s Women’s World Cup on the heels of this year’s World Cup: “It’s more about a family environment than just watching the game. What better way for a father to communicate with a daughter than through sports?”

    On fans, including women, wearing Rice jerseys at last Thursday’s Ravens game:
    Brennan: “It’s troubling. It’s kind of mindboggling, isn’t it?”
    Smith, noting those fans didn’t take part in the Ravens’ proactive effort to offer a jersey exchange program: “I don’t know what you do about individual stupidity.”

    On the best way for young people to break into the industry
    Carter: “Don’t be afraid to use any avenue, contact or relationship that you have. … Once you get in, it’s all on you.”
    Wittenberg, encouraging diverse experiences: “Moving every few years … gets you the experience that these leagues and businesses want.”
    Anderson: “Start early. High school internships — anything you can do to get your foot in the door is significant.”
    Smith, considering sports-management programs vs. nontraditional backgrounds: “There’s something one brings to the sport when you have other expertise.”

    Tags: NFL, ING, GE, Game Changers, Marriott, Ally, ABC, PBS, Dallas Cowboys, Soccer, Los Angeles Dodgers, SEC, New York Road Runners
  • TV Timeout: Shielded From Criticism

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    ESPN The Magazine’s Don Van Natta Jr., on Roger Goodell: “He says, ‘You've got to protect the shield.’  Everything he does is to protect the shield. The question is whether his behavior in this particular investigation has actually tarnished the shield” (“OTL,” ESPN2, 9/14). HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, on Goodell’s job security: “There's no evidence to suggest that his job is on the line. His fate is controlled by billionaires who care most about him making them money. Not whether he lied or not, not how he bungled this or not” (“Meet the Press,” NBC, 9/14). ESPN’s Adam Schefter: “The public at-large is squarely against Roger Goodell. The public has lost faith in him, his credibility has taken a hit then and they don't believe that he's fit to serve in that role as many polls indicate” (“SportsCenter,” 9/14). Fox’ Mike Pereira, on Goodell's future: “I think it depends really (on) what did he see. If he saw it, he lied, he's gone. That pretty simple” (“Fox NFL Kickoff,” FS1, 9/14).  ESPN’s Cris Carter: “Goodell, a husband, the son of a senator and has got two twin daughters. If he looked at that tape and gave Ray Rice two games, that’s a crime in itself” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/14). Fox’ Pam Oliver, on the NFL: “I am shocked really, not just at the video, but the league's response to it. The commissioner makes very few missteps, but on this, he has made tons of missteps” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/14).

    PRESSURE RISING: N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica said, “They have to throw out whatever rules of conduct they have and whatever series of penalties they have in this sport and they've got to start all over again” (“The Sports Reporters, ESPN2, 9/14). U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said of the NFL, “This Ray Rice incident could really be a turning point because this exception where we have a video -- mostly this crime occurs behind closed doors surrounded by stigma, shame, secrecy -- which could be a real opportunity that we need to seize from Congress and from the NFL to do more” (“This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” ABC, 9/14). ESPN’s Suzy Kolber: “Think of the NFL muscle and what the NFL was able to do with changing the way it's played physically. … How about if we change the mentality? Go back to as kids, little boys need to learn how to treat women and that’s where it has to start and the NFL has the power to do that. Instead of growing better players, let’s grow better people" (“NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/14). Wayne King, Senior Advisor to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), said, “I can't imagine why government intervention always needs to be on the forefront. This should be handled in the private sector the same way as it is in the public sector and that's what we as people should demand" ("Flashpoint," WCNBC-NBC, 9/14).  MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski asked of NFL sponsors, "Where are they on this because we're sitting here condemning the NFL, rightfully so, for their stupidity, bone headedness and stone deafness? … But these sponsors are in the same boat" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 9/15).

    FINDING BLAME: NBC’s Bob Costas, on the Panthers deactivating DE Greg Hardy: “It's hard to believe that all of a sudden they had some sort of moral epiphany. Obviously, they finally bent to overwhelming public pressure because there was no defending what they were doing" (“FNIA,” NBC, 9/14).  NFL Network’s Michael Silver: “People are starting to understand that this is a massive branding issue that we have as a community. … If you go back to the early days of Roger Goodell's commissionership, when he basically said, ‘I'm going to protect the shield, whether due process applies or not.’ I think now the entire league is in a siege mentality when it comes to that and I'm proud of the Carolina Panthers for recognizing the new reality” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 9/14). FS1’s Mike Hill said of the Vikings deactivating RB Adrian Peterson, “I know he’s their best player, but it's just a football game. I think maybe the NFL and teams around the league should look into doing that when it comes to their players” (“America’s Pregame,” FS1, 9/14). ESPN’s Mike Ditka: “We can go around and we can spin this stuff any way you want to spin it, but it's nobody's fault but the individual's fault” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 9/15).

  • Jenn Sterger: 'NFL Needs Education And Counseling'

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    Jenn Sterger, who cooperated with an NFL investigation into whether former quarterback Brett Favre sent her unwanted, sexually explicit texts while she was a New York Jets employee, said the NFL needs to change its procedures for investigating alleged misconduct against women.

    Sterger, pictued here during a 2011 interview, said last week she did not meet with a single woman during the NFL's investigation of Brett Favre in 2010.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    “I think the NFL needs education and counseling when it comes to these kinds of situations,” Sterger said last week in a phone interview. “They don’t know how to deal with women or domestic issues. They don’t know how to deal with women in the workplace.”

    The NFL today sent a memo to league and club officials announcing it had retained three women as advisers to help the league develop policies and practices on domestic violence and related issues.

    Sterger agreed to a brief interview last week on the subject of how the NFL conducts investigations, in the wake of controversy surrounding the Ray Rice case.

    She said that when the NFL was investigating allegations that Favre behaved inappropriately in 2010, they asked her and her attorney to produce multiple text messages, including those that did not involve Favre, and that she complied with the request.

    “They demanded I turn over all of my personal texts,” Sterger said. “Every text message I ever sent during 2008, they got ahold of. They demanded it from me. They wanted my entire life.”

    Told of Sterger’s comments, Greg Aiello, NFL senior vice president of communications, did not comment, but emailed SportsBusiness Journal the Dec. 29, 2010, NFL news release that announced the results of the Favre-Sterger investigation.

    The NFL launched that investigation in 2010, after Deadspin.com published photos and voicemails allegedly from Favre to Sterger when they were both employees of the Jets in 2008. The NFL investigation was to determine whether Favre had violated league policies regarding conduct in the workplace.

    The NFL found that Favre “was not candid” during the investigation and fined him $50,000 for “his failure to cooperate with the investigation in a forthcoming manner,” but found there was no violation of league policy.

    Sterger said that during 2010 she and her attorney met with many NFL investigators and attorneys, all men.

    “I did not speak to a single woman during the entire investigation,” she said.

    “The fact I had to sit there and have extremely invasive and personal conversations with these older men, who could have been my grandfather, was violating in itself,” Sterger said. “There was not a single female for me there.”

    Additionally, Sterger said she and her attorney met directly with Goodell, who was accompanied by several attorneys. “I felt outnumbered. And I just felt he was just going to do what was best for business.”

    Sterger took several weeks after the launch of the NFL’s investigation before agreeing to cooperate with it.

    “In the NFL’s actual investigation of Brett Favre’s inappropriate behavior towards me, I was treated like I was the guilty party from day one,” Sterger said. “And that is why I took so long to meet with the investigators. Because they treated me like I did something wrong.”

    Tags: On The Ground
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