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Volume 26 No. 109

People and Pop Culture

The ongoing issues of social justice and the seedier side of college recruiting were once again major themes in Episode 8 of HBO’s “BALLERS” last night. The episode opens with NCAA officials visiting the high school QB prospect who Spencer Strasmore, played by DWAYNE JOHNSON, is trying to guide toward USC as part of an effort to help secure a lucrative media-rights deal. Strasmore then visits the NCAA HQ in Indianapolis, which devolves into a very contentious meeting, with Strasmore telling the NCAA execs his relationship with the recruit is as a “family friend.” Strasmore states that he offers the student advice so he is “not exploited and f**ked over by a bunch of rich, white guys who don’t give a s**t about him.” Strasmore: “This is a corrupt organization that has been rotting from the inside out for decades.” The NCAA then decided to rule the prospect ineligible, putting the deal with USC in jeopardy.

ON BENDED KNEE: Fictional Rams GM Charles Greane, played by OMAR BENSON MILLER, had just signed his friend, Ricky Jerrett, played by JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON, as a WR in free agency, but things got complicated after last episode, when Jerrett posted a questionable tweet about race relations. Greane is forced to ask the Rams team president, played by KEVIN DURAND, for more time. The team president said, “In this climate, we can’t afford anymore distractions. We’ve already got that goddamn kneeling nightmare that never goes away.” Greane talks with Jerrett about the tweets and his outspoken stance and is eventually swayed by Jerrett’s impassioned ideals. Greane goes back to the team president and tells him the team is not going to cut him, but instead “back him and his right to speak up for his beliefs.” Greane: “There’s a tide happening in this country, sir, and we can either ride on top of it or get swept up under it.” Greane also proposed setting up a “team-sponsored fund that fights social inequality and injustice" in L.A., with Jerrett as the “face” of it.


  • Members of the skateboarding group ILLEGAL CIVILIZATION made another cameo in Episode 8, making an extreme video of crashes, injuries and ultimately cool skateboarding stunts, along with “Nike SB” logo as they look to pitch Nike execs. Ravens LB TERRELL SUGGS, who has made a few cameos on the show in past seasons, also appeared in the video.

Think450 President JORDAN SCHLACHTER is leaving the organization. Prior to the creation of Think450, the NBPA's internal marketing rights group, Schlachter also served as the union's CMO for three years. He has been with Think450 since its inception in July of '17 and has contributed to its early successes. Among the accomplishments during his tenure, Schlachter helped develop the Players Voice Awards, which are voted on by the players, and negotiated a global deal with Dentsu to deliver a broad range of business opportunities to players (THE DAILY).

MARKETING MAVEN: ESPN promoted LAURA GENTILE to Senior VP/Marketing, where she will report to ESPN President JIMMY PITARO. A 15-year vet with ESPN, Gentile will be based in N.Y. A member of SBJ/SBD’s "Forty Under 40" Class of ’12, Gentile had been Senior VP/Business Operations & Content Strategy. She also oversees espnW and Women’s Initiatives at ESPN. She replaces WANDA YOUNG, who took on a new role as Senior VP/Client Solutions, reporting to Disney-ABC TV Group Ad Sales President RITA FERRO (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

EXECS: The Fiesta Bowl named Suns Senior Dir of Business Development JOHN TORRIS VP/Business Development (Fiesta Bowl)....The NTRA BOD elected Keeneland Association CEO BILL THOMASON Chair (NTRA)....L.A.-based sponsorship consulting firm Innovative Partnerships Group promoted Exec Assistant ELENA HAIMSON to Chief of Staff (THE DAILY)....The Lakers named former NBAer KURT RAMBIS Senior Basketball Adviser. He will report to President of Basketball Operations MAGIC JOHNSON (, 9/28).

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CRISTIANO RONALDO was "accused of raping a woman in Las Vegas" in '09, and then "paying her $375,000 to keep it secret, according to a civil complaint filed in Nevada district court" last week. KATHRYN MAYORGA said in the complaint that the "alleged assault nine years ago continues to cause her severe distress and that she was coerced into signing a nondisclosure agreement at the time." The complaint "seeks damages and penalties in excess of $200,000." News of the suit was "first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/1).

THE INTERNGiants S MICHAEL THOMAS is "no longer kneeling" during the anthem in protest of racial inequality. Thomas spent three weeks during the offseason as an intern for U.S. Rep SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-Texas), "learning how to take activism and turn it into law." Thomas also was named to the NFLPA Exec Committee. He said, "I'm doing everything I can in my power, while I have a platform and a voice, to try to make change" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29).

CAPITAL GAINS: ISP Sports Founder BEN SUTTON's Teall Capital Partners has closed its fund, raising more than $68M in committed capital. Teall, formed in fall '17 by Sutton, had most of the initial investment commitments in place by the end of last year. While it received significant interest from institutional investors, the fund kept its focus on specific individuals and family investments. To date, Teall's investment portfolio includes Dyehard Fan Supply, Riddle & Bloom, Sunshine Beverages and Tailgate Guys (Teall Capital Partners).

TOO MUCH CELEBRATING: Brewers Owner MARK ATTANASIO tore his Achilles' tendon on Sept. 1, and found it is "not easy to celebrate" with the injury as the Brewers clinched a playoff berth Wednesday night. Attanasio had "strict orders from the doctor for complete non-weight bearing on his left leg, which he ignored in the excitement of the moment while watching on TV" in L.A. Attanasio said, "I jumped off the couch and landed on my feet, which the doctor wasn't too happy about. He said, 'Don't do that again.' I said, 'Well, if we do that again, I'm doing it again'" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/29). 

NAMES: SERENA WILLIAMS "shared a topless video of herself singing the DIVINYLS' 'I Touch Myself,' as part of a project to raise awareness for breast cancer" (, 9/30)....PRESIDENT TRUMP in a video filmed during his visit with the U.N. “gushes” about retiring Mets 3B DAVID WRIGHT, “calling him a winner multiple times.” The video was sent out by Wright’s agency, ACES (, 10/1)....AP sports columnist TIM DAHLBERG was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper HOF on Saturday (, 9/28)....The Univ. of North Texas "unveiled a statue" of Pro Football HOFer JOE GREENE outside Apogee Stadium on Saturday (DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE, 9/30)....A proposal to change the name of Dartmouth’s Forest Hills Parkway in Halifax -- Penguins C SIDNEY CROSBY’s hometown -- to Sidney Crosby Parkway will not move forward because Crosby does “not meet the criteria for commemorative naming because he has not yet retired” (AP, 9/29)....Singer ALESSIA CARA will perform the Grey Cup halftime show at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Nov. 25 (, 9/29).

IN MEMORY: Int’l Boxing HOFer DON CHARGIN died Friday at the age of 90 in San Luis Obispo, Calif., after a "brief battle with lung and brain cancer." Besides running his own promotional company, Chargin “served as a senior adviser to OSCAR DE LA HOYA and his staff for most of the past 16 years.” He promoted his first event at 23 in ’51 and “went on to promote more than 3,000 fights” (, 9/29). Chargin “earned the nickname ‘War a Week’ for his propensity to make evenly matched slugfests.” His late wife, LORRAINE, is also a HOFer. Among his proteges are Golden Boy Promotions President ERIC GOMEZ and Top Rank VP BRUCE TRAMPLER (, 9/28).

Data and analytics are driving decision-making in sports business in greater numbers as executives in leadership positions rely more heavily on their chief information officers and the data analysts in their organizations. We look at how the data pipeline works in sports organizations and how the message of data is communicated to the C-suite.

Publishing Date: October 22

Ad Close: October 8

Materials Due: October 10

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