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Volume 24 No. 158

People and Pop Culture

ESPN this morning announced that ESPN/ABC Sports President GEORGE BODENHEIMER has been named Exec Chair of the net, while Exec VP/Content JOHN SKIPPER has been named President, effective Jan. 1. Bodenheimer, who will relinquish his day-to-day operating responsibilities to Skipper, will continue to serve as ESPN BOD Chair. He will continue to report to Walt Disney President & CEO BOB IGER; Skipper will report to both Bodenheimer and Iger. Bodenheimer has served as President for 13 years, and he said in a statement, “I felt it was a good time to step away from the day to day management of ESPN and let others take the lead.” Skipper joined ESPN in ’97 and has held his current role since October ’05 (ESPN). THE WRAP's Tim Molloy notes Bodenheimer has been ESPN's "longest serving top executive since its 1979 launch and served over a period of dramatic growth" (, 11/22). In L.A., Meg James notes ESPN "cemented itself as a television juggernaut under Bodenheimer’s 13-year run as its president" (, 11/22). Newsday’s Neil Best wrote on his Twitter feed, “Most fans don't know or care who John Skipper is. But he now is among the handful of most powerful people in sports.” The N.Y. Times’ Richard Sandomir wrote, “Has been for quite a while. Been far more publicly outfront and upfront than Bodenheimer for years.” SI's Grant Wahl wrote, "Good news for soccer on US TV."

USA Table Tennis CEO MIKE CAVANAUGH has a busy upcoming holiday season. In addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family, he will be jetting off to Bahrain, Qatar and China, hitting all three before the new year. Cavanaugh took some time out of his schedule to explain his NGB’s latest initiatives to expand table tennis in the U.S., media partnerships he is looking to cultivate and what he wants to see accomplished while he is leading the organization.

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Table tennis blogger: SEAN O'NEILL
Vacation spot: New Zealand

Q: How did you become involved in table tennis?
Cavanaugh: I was employed by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the High Performance Manager and that was to keep the national team programs going on track, and then to assist in the establishment of a new national governing body. That process took about two years and then table tennis was going through a restructuring and I was asked to be an executive on loan to table tennis for 90 days. Long story short, we’re four years later.

Q: Is there another NGB that you look to emulate?
Cavanaugh: We’re a fairly close group, CEOs and [Exec Dirs] of NGBs, and there isn’t a person that’s in those positions that I can’t pick up the phone and give them a call and get an answer on an issue or a question or anything like that. I look at swimming as being a flagship NGB.

Q: What media partnership are you most interested in cultivating?
Cavanaugh: NBC has the rights to the Olympic trials, so we’re hoping to get some coverage in February at our U.S. Olympic trials. … We hope to have the U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC at least streaming, if not taking some of the video live from the U.S. Olympic trials. … The International Table Tennis Federation is investing in the continents. We will get our North American Olympic trials televised. I can’t tell you the channel yet or the producers as that’s still to be determined, but they’re funding that for us.

Q: What one goal do you most want to accomplish in your time as CEO?
Cavanaugh: We had an outside consultant come in and look at our business operation, and they said, “Really, you’re hitting on all the points that you could hit on.” By that, I mean, we have a ball sponsor, a table sponsor and an apparel sponsor. We have all of those folks and others take ads in our magazine, take ads in our website. … I would really like to see a corporate sponsor that would -- I don’t want to say like a sugar daddy -- but would come in and say, “What do we need to get this sport on television? What do we need to get it in the school systems?”

Q: What are you doing to generate athletes’ interest in the sport?
Cavanaugh: We’re trying to develop friendly in-take programs. Several of the leading clubs have after-school programs. They’re not just like babysitting. They’re serious and they get 42 kids together and they push them hard for strength and conditioning and give them the full range of activities that they need so that they see this as a viable sport and would take it over an additional sport.

Q: What are you doing to grow consumers’ interest in the sport?
Cavanaugh: The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association tells us that there are 19 million recreational players out there and we have 9,000 registered tournament players. So you see there’s a huge gap. … There’s this recreational market out there that’s selling a lot of table tennis equipment and that’s great because that’s good for the base of your pyramid. What we want to try to do is make those folks aware that there are other things beyond playing your mom and dad and sister in your house.

Q: What sports business story unrelated to table tennis are you currently most closely following?
Cavanaugh: JOE PATERNO.

Barclays Center named DMITRIY MATERANSKIY Dir of Int'l Partnership Sales. He will be based in Russia and will be charged with indentifying global alliances for the arena in Europe and Asia (Barclays Center).
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FORTUNE’s Ellen Florian profiled NFLPA Exec Dir DEMAURICE SMITH under the header, “DeMaurice Smith: The Best Advice I Ever Got.” Smith said, “My grandfather F.D. (FREDERICK DOUGLASS) SMITH was both a Baptist preacher and a sharecropper outside of Danville, Va. He taught me that having faith is the courage to take steps forward even when you don’t know how the story is going to end.” Smith added, “One of the toughest moments was during March, when we had just finished federal mediation unsuccessfully. The way our collective-bargaining agreement worked, if we didn't make a decision at that point to pursue other remedies, we would have been foreclosed from pursuing those remedies for a very long time. And it wasn't the end of the process. It was the beginning of another process for which you didn't know how the story would end. Nonetheless, I knew I had to have faith that the step we were taking was right" (FORTUNE, 11/21 issue).

LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE: In London, Chris Bascombe wrote EPL club Liverpool Managing Dir IAN AYRE is “being snubbed in an attempt to join the Football Association Council.” It was the “first time Ayre had faced the rest of the league after causing a stir with remarks about how the [US$2.2B] foreign TV revenue is distributed.” Ayre stood for election “as one of eight Premier League representatives at the FA” but “lost out in a ballot of the 20 top flight clubs” to Sunderland Chief Exec MARGARET BYRNE (, 11/20).

COURT VICTORY: In Indianapolis, Jeff Swiatek reported Pacers Owner HERBERT SIMON and his wife, BUI, “have won a second court victory this year against former household employees who sued them over unpaid wages and other claims.” A Superior Court jury in L.A. last Thursday “rejected former nanny MAYRA ACOSTA's claim that she was owed $14,000 for back wages” (, 11/18).

NOTES: New York photographer ARI MARCOPOULOS’s latest work, “TYSON CHANDLER,” is a 20-page fan tribute to the Mavericks center that “features none of his own photographs.” Artists “Xeroxed 150 copies, priced the zine at $10 to cover production costs and provided issues to six independent bookstores” in N.Y., L.A. and Germany. They have “since sold out” (, 11/19)….Lakers G KOBE BRYANT served as an honorary Chair for last Saturday’s United Way Homeless 5K Walk/Run in L.A. The event drew “a record of more than 5,000 participants who pledged to raise at least $100 each” (, 11/21)….The Patriots hosted a coat drive Saturday at Patriots Place that benefited Cradles to Crayons, which helps collect supplies for kids in need (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/22)….TNT analyst SHAQUILLE O’NEAL on Friday “helped spread holiday cheer” at the Dorchester Neighborhood Service Center in Boston. O’Neal read Head Start students a story and “highlighted the work of the Action for Boston Community Development” (, 11/18)....BROADCASTING & CABLE named Cablevision Chair CHARLES DOLAN, CBS and Viacom Chair SUMNER REDSTONE and Dodgers announcer  VIN SCULLY to its “8 Over 80” list (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 11/21 issue)….GQ named tennis player NOVAK DJOKOVIC and Bulls G DERRICK ROSE among its Men of the Year (GQ, 12/11 issue).