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Volume 24 No. 179

People and Pop Culture

PRESIDENT TRUMP has been selected as SBJ/SBD's Most Influential Person in Sports Business, and SBJ/SBD Executive Editor Abe Madkour writes when pressed to decide who had the "greatest influence -- positive or negative -- on the sports business this year, it came down to an individual outside of sports who had the business on its back foot since he arrived on the political scene" in '15. Trump "shook the NFL, the league office, owners, players and fans." His comments about players protesting had a "massive domino effect: Player protests increased; fans reacted angrily, feeling the game was becoming a political platform; owners were divided and on the defensive, torn between supporting players and a unified locker room and angry customers who wanted players and teams to stick to sports and stand for patriotism." Trump played to his base, and his base "took it out against the NFL." But it "reverberated across sports, magnifying the actions and responses from other leagues." And Trump’s influence "extended far beyond the national anthem." Nothing "drove more attention to -- and response from -- the sports industry than Trump" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/11 issue).

50 MOST-INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN SPORTS BUSINESS
RANK
EXEC
1
President Trump
2
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
3
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred
4
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
5
NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus
6
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones
7
ESPN President John Skipper
8
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft
9
WME-IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel/Patrick Whitesell
10
LA '28 Chair Casey Wasserman
11
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
12
CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus/President David Berson
13
Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards/
Nike President, Chair & CEO Mark Parker
14
IOC President Thomas Bach
15
AEG Chair Phil Anschutz
16
Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks
17
MLS Commissioner Don Garber
18
Turner Broadcasting President David Levy/
Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels
19
Fanatics Exec Chair Michael Rubin
20
CAA Sports co-Heads Michael Levine/Howard Nuchow
21
Warriors co-Owners Peter Guber/Joe Lacob
22
Learfield President & CEO Greg Brown
23
Cavaliers F LeBron James
24
Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder, Chair & CEO Ted Leonsis
25
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
26
NBPA Exec Dir Michele Roberts
27
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank
28
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France
29
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith
30
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany
31
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun/Chair Larry Probst
32
Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert
33
Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke/
Azoff MSG Entertainment Chair Irving Azoff
34
Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank
35
A-B InBev U.S. VP/Marketing Marcel Marcondes/
VP/Consumer Connections Joao Chueiri
36
Adidas North America President Mark King
37
Coca-Cola Chief Sustainability Officer Bea Perez
38
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
39
Twitter COO Anthony Noto
40
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi/VP/Consumer Engagement Adam Harter
41
Bruin Sports Capital Founder & CEO George Pyne
42
NBCU Chair of Ad Sales & Client Partnerships Linda Yaccarino
43
MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark
44
Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships Dan Reed
45
Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman
46
Amazon Head of Sports Jim DeLorenzo
47
Riot Games co-Heads Whalen Rozelle/Jarred Kennedy
48
Univision Deportes President Juan Carlos Rodriguez
49
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim
50
Free agent QB Colin Kaepernick

WEIGHING IN: Several outlets reacted to the SBJ/SBD list. In Chicago, Madeline Kenney wrote, "Trump still may not be TIME’s Person of the Year, but he did receive an award in sports" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/12). In New Zealand, Cheree Kinnear wrote under the header, "Shock As US President Donald Trump Is Named The Most Powerful Man In Sport" (NZHERALD.com, 12/12). FRONT OFFICE SPORTS wrote while a "somewhat controversial pick, there is truly no denying the impact Trump has had." Might this be the "end of the 'stick to sports' era as we know it?" (FRONT OFFICE SPORTS, 12/12 issue). ESPN.com's Jacob Wolf wrote under the header, "Esports Pepper SBJ's Influential People In Sports List" (ESPN.com, 12/12).

DIFFERENCE IN OPINION
: ESPN's Max Kellerman said that Trump is "not the most influential person in sports." Kellerman believes COLIN KAEPERNICK is because he "had more influence on Trump's politics in a way that he gave Trump an issue to divide and do his thing." Kellerman: "Trump fanned the flames for sure, and united the players. ... But Kaepernick started the whole thing." ESPN's Will Cain said Trump is the "most influential person in the world right now and in particular, he's the most influential person in sports. That's not necessarily a compliment." He added, "Trump divided locker rooms, divided players, divided ownership, influenced sponsors, influenced ratings." Cain: "It's not even close." ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the "most influential" is NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, because Trump "just became relevant in the world of sports with that rally in Alabama" where he called out NFL players for kneeling. Smith: "Everything you can point to that has permeated the world of sports over the last five, six, seven years, if not longer, and how it segued into societal things that affect us all, that has Roger Goodell in the middle of it." Kellerman said, "My point about Trump's influence is his moves in sports are actually aimed not at influencing sports, but at influencing politics." But Cain said, "You could argue that Donald Trump's attention and exacerbating these issues actually led to the NFL feeling the need to move on some of the protests" ("First Take," ESPN, 12/12). FS1's Colin Cowherd said of Trump at No. 1, "The word is 'influential,' it's not 'well-liked.' I think he's really influential." FS1's Jason Whitlock added, "He's influential, but the most influential in sports? Roger Goodell, ADAM SILVER, LEBRON JAMES" ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 12/12).

TWITTER REAX: Trump at No. 1 certainly raised eyebrows on Twitter. Other themes that emerged were a strong esports presence and F1 Chair CHASE CAREY not making the list. Fox Exec VP/Research & Strategy Mike Mulvihill: "Sports is mostly about TV, and in 2017 TV is mostly about Trump. Only logical choice no matter what you think of him." Glover Park Group Senior Associate Liz Beadle: "Trump at No. 1 doesn't bother me. Kap all the way down at No. 50... bothers me." Sports media/marketing consultant Joe Favorito: "Some debate about @realDonaldTrump being atop the @sbjsbd #50mostpowerful in #sportsbiz list; whats more noteworthy is 10 of 50 have #esports ties now & that list is growing." Fitness podcaster Samuel Keene: "The number of people on this list that are involved in esports is pretty damn impressive." Former Fox Sports exec Lou D'Ermilio: "@F1's Chase Carey should have made it." Goren Media Group Founder & CEO Ed Goren: "Any list that doesn’t include chase Carey has no credibility." Finsbury VP and former MLB PR exec Jeff Heckelman: "No women - and only two non-white men - in top 25. Sports industry still has a long way to go in terms of diversity at the top."

Panthers QB CAM NEWTON last night launched "Un1ted As 1," a program designed to help Charlotte middle-schoolers "embrace diversity and promote inclusiveness," according to Joseph Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Newton said that the program's idea came from his "first experience dealing extensively with non-blacks," when he was a freshman at Florida. Newton grew up in College Park, Ga., and he said, "Seventeen years of my life was devoted to an all-black, African-American community. So you put a person ... that has pretty much no coping skills with another race, you don’t even know what they eat. It’s weird how they talk ... what they listen to." Sixty students from three Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Charlotte were "chosen to attend a three-day pilot program over MLK weekend in January." Newton partnered on the program with Winters Group, a Charlotte-based consulting group that "helps businesses create inclusive work environments." Newton would "love for the program to grow beyond Charlotte someday," but for now he is "excited to promote unity at the local level." Newton: "I may not impact millions. But I just want to impact that one person that may impact millions" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/13).

Missouri G TERRENCE PHILLIPS and a friend have "started a nonprofit organization called 'Beyond The Ball'" and organized a toy drive. But per NCAA rules, the school cannot help the effort. Phillips "received approval from the NCAA and Mizzou's athletic compliance department in late November." They have "five collection boxes set up" around campus (K.C. STAR, 12/13).

HUDDLE UP: The Buccaneers' defensive linemen held their annual "D-Line Delivers Christmas" yesterday, giving each of the 125-plus children in attendance a new bicycle. All 75 families got a $150 Publix gift card, a $200 shopping spree at the Bucs' team store and a bus trip to Target, where they each had $300 to spend. The 13 players "combined to donate more than $65,000 to make the night possible for the sixth straight year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/13)....

NOTES: Celtics F MARCUS MORRIS and his twin, Wizards F MARKIEFF MORRIS, "paid about $6,000 to cover tabs at a Walmart" in their hometown of Philadelphia (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 12/13)....Red Wings coach JEFF BLASHILL and the entire team "made room-to-room visits" at Children's Hospital of Michigan yesterday, dropping off gifts and making "everyone's day just a bit brighter" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/13)....The Bruins on Monday “played Santa” by delivering presents to pediatric patients throughout Boston. The team “split up into squads to visit deserving kiddos at six different hospitals” (BOSTON HERALD, 12/13)....Steelers investor ROB CITRONE on Monday donated $2M to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to “establish the Starzl Network for Pediatric Transplantation” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/12).

IMG Original Content Senior VP LEN DELUCA will shift into a senior consultant role in January. DeLuca joined IMG in June '15 and has worked on a variety of projects. He will continue as an adjunct faculty member at both NYU's Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media & Business and Seton Hall's Stillman Business School Center for Sports Management (IMG).

LINE CHANGE: USA Hockey Senior Dir of Corporate Marketing LEE MEYER will retire in January after nearly 18 years at the governing body. He will be replaced by current USAH Dir of Events KEVIN COUTURE, and Meyer will stay around to advise on a part-time basis through May. Separately, USAH also tapped current Dir of Membership Development KEVIN ERLENBACH to become Assistant Exec Dir of Membership, replacing PAT KELLEHER, who was promoted to Exec Dir in April (Ben Fischer, Staff Writer).

EXECS: Colorado State AD JOE PARKER has "received a 5-year contract extension and $50,000 annual raise." Parker will "receive $400,000 a year under terms of the new deal, which runs through Dec. 31, 2022." Parker has been CSU AD since March '15 (COLORADOAN.com, 12/12)....National Finals Rodeo GM SHAWN DAVIS is "phasing out" of his role after 55 years with the organization. NFR announcer BOYD POLHAMUS has been named his successor (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 12/12).


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The wife of NHL Kings President LUC ROBITAILLE said that PRESIDENT TRUMP once "became 'aggressive' while propositioning her" in an MSG elevator. STACIA ROBITAILLE yesterday tweeted, "He was aggressive & told me I was coming home with him. I laughed, stating I was married to a Ranger. He guaranteed me my husband didn’t make as much money as him. #ThisIsOurPresident." In a follow-up tweet, Robitaille said, "I’m not a liberal lefty and I’m not looking for attention. Just felt bad keeping it to myself" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). She added that she "felt bad in the current climate that she hadn't spoken up" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/13).

NAMES: Former Vancouver Province columnist TONY GALLAGHER has been selected for induction into the B.C. Sports HOF as part of its class of '18 (THEPROVINCE.com, 12/12)....Mavericks F HARRISON BARNES on Monday “helped unveil a new sports court” at the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club in Dallas. Barnes had a “surprise-Santa Claus-inclusive unveiling” of the new refurbished basketball court (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/12)....New Texas AD CHRIS DEL CONTE “paid for a full-page ad” in yesterday’s Ft. Worth Star-Telegram sports section to “say goodbye to his TCU ‘Horned Frogs family’” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 12/12)....Google’s top searches in ’17 included “Super Bowl,” “MAYWEATHER vs MCGREGOR Fight” and “AARON HERNANDEZ” (POLITICO.com, 12/12)....GWEN STEFANI will play at Club Nomadic, a “temporary event venue being built at Mystic Lake Casino” in Prior Lake, Minn., on the eve of Super Bowl LII (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/11)....MLB VP/Government Relations JOSH ALKIN was among those that donated to the campaign for incoming U.S. Sen. DOUG JONES (D-Ala.). Jones last night defeated Republican challenger ROY MOORE (POLITICO.com, 12/12)....Fox' JOE BUCK and ESPN's MICHELLE BEISNER are expecting twin boys this spring (INSTAGRAM.com, 12/12).

IN MEMORY: Former Bengals Senior VP/Player Personnel PETE BROWN passed away yesterday at the age of 74. Brown, along with his late father PAUL and brother MIKE, co-founded the Bengals in the mid-'60s. Brown led the team's player personnel department for many decades and later founded strength training machines company Hammer Strength (Bengals).