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Volume 24 No. 112
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Living Legends: SBJ Champions Class Talk What's Ahead, Share Their Biggest Influences

Four members of the SportsBusiness Journal '17 class of Champions: Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business, received their awards during a luncheon Thursday at the CAA World Congress of Sports. Later that day, they shared some of their stories, opinions and experiences. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion:

* Nike’s George Raveling, on the next step for basketball globally: “Three-on-three basketball I’m certain will become an Olympic sport. It exposes unique talents. The game is so fast that size is not a factor. In 15 years … there will be a college national championship. The Ice Cube and Iverson thing is good and bad. People don’t take it seriously because of the celebrity part of it. FIBA has invested millions in it and it’s coming.”

* The Dodgers’ Janet Marie Smith, on behavior changes at ballparks: “There are not 56,000 people that want to sit through nine innings with a scorecard in their lap anymore. We’ll have a sellout at Dodger Stadium and it seems like half of them are on the concourse. We’re watching the game in our pocket, but we’re social animals, so I hope the thought of going to the ballpark will not leave our psyche.” Goren Media Group Founder & CEO Ed Goren, a former Fox Sports exec, chimed in: “It’s nice your fans can roam around. One of the worst things in baseball for TV is you get the centerfield camera and you see the empty seats behind home plate because those people are feeding themselves."

* Smith, on what she is most proud of: “After Camden Yards opened in Baltimore, cities across American woke up and realized that sports is good for urban revitalization. This was after the era in the ‘60s and ‘70s when sports were used for urban renewal and wiped out neighborhoods and it was cast in doubt if there was any synergy. Camden Yards spawned a whole generation of teams … wanting to move into their city and be a part of the urban revitalization. It’s been good for America and for sports.”

* Goren, on his biggest influence: “My father. He was a sportswriter and PR director for the Rangers when hockey was hockey, with six teams, real men -- no helmets, no goalie masks. Men!”

* Levy Restaurants Founder & Chair Larry Levy, on his biggest influence: “My mother set the culture of our company and I admired her and looked up to her. The other is (Starbucks founder) Howard Schultz. We started at the same time. He allowed me to invest in his company, thank god. We talked about leaders and how, as CEO, your every move is watched by everybody.”

* Raveling, on his biggest influence: “I had a collage of them. It was Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin and Malcolm X. They embodied something that’s lacking domestically and probably globally. They viewed themselves as servant leaders and what’s lacking today is courageous leadership. They were willing to put their lives on the line everyday for things they believed in. They were visionaries.”