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Volume 20 No. 42
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Our thinking on SBAs; Forty Under 40 at 14

A couple of points as you debate the merits of the 74 nominees for the sixth annual Sports Business Awards, who will be honored in New York City on May 22. First, the process. The selections were made by members of the SBJ/SBD editorial staff who met over a six-week period to study and research various companies and executives while debating who stood out and why. It’s an unenviable task. What’s next? Final winners in 13 of the 15 categories will be decided by a panel of sports industry executives who will deliberate in early May in New York.

And what about the NHL? Like last year with the NBA, we didn’t nominate the NHL in either the League or Team of the Year categories considering the 113-day lockout that affected the 2012-13 season. Yes, the NHL has returned strong, but we couldn’t overlook the fact that the NHL lost more than five months of its season because of labor turmoil. That was how we handled the NBA. We understand the outcome of the lockout may put the NHL in a better position going forward; just look at the NBA, which has a presence in both categories. Next year, after an uninterrupted schedule, we wouldn’t be surprised if the NHL did too.

> A NEW CLASS: After 14 years, rolling out a new class of Forty Under 40 winners never gets old. To hear how much this means to the recipients and the feedback we get is gratifying, especially after the task of selecting 40 individuals from more than 500 nominations. Overall, you’re seeing more first-time winners and fewer repeats as the years progress. Editorially, the standards are very high to win more than once, especially in back-to-back years, and one element of the program that has evolved over the years is to have more new names and fewer repeat honorees. A special thanks to Assistant Managing Editor Mark Mensheha, who oversaw the process and presentation, and introduced new features this year, such as hearing from previous recipients. This year’s class will be celebrated at a black-tie dinner that is one of our most enjoyable events all year. The ceremony will be held Thursday, April 4, at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. Interested in attending? If so, reach out for more information.

> OUTSIDE OF SPORTS …: I’ve been following the decline of NBC’s “Today” show. It’s a story that has so many angles — loss of market share; questions over news judgment and placement; workplace morale; and big, strong personalities. I have watched the show religiously at our Charlotte offices for years — I won’t say I’m a “fan” of morning TV, but find it provides a glimpse of mainstream news and what’s trending. And like him or not, I believe Matt Lauer is one of the top TV hosts and personalities around. So I’ve been watching the backlash he’s received on the departure of Ann Curry, the chemistry with new co-host Savannah Guthrie and the tone of a show now looking up at the competition for the first time in years. How this show recaptures its audience will be fascinating to follow. Read Howard Kurtz’s look at the state of “Today” on The Daily Beast, which includes what role longtime NBC Olympics producer Jim Bell had in the recent moves. … I love food and worked in restaurants growing up and in college. I’m a total JV cook but have long been a fan of The Food Network for its expertise, its celebration of great, fun food and its smart personalities (Bobby Flay is about as good as they come). But the network has taken its eye off the ball and lost its direction. Enough of “Worst Cooks in America,” “Restaurant Stakeout,” and “Mystery Diners.” If I want the “Worst Cooks in America,” I’d go to most of the restaurants down my street. Maybe these are rating with viewers, but here’s one longtime watcher who’s turned off by these programming decisions.

Abraham D. Madkour can reached at

Editor's Note: This story has been edited since its original publication.