Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 160
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

President Trump Tops SBJ/SBD's List Of 50 Most Influential People In Sports Business

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."