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Volume 23 No. 13
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Game Changers: Stories to watch

We asked this year’s Game Changers: What sports business story are you watching in the next 12 months?

Naz Aletaha: Blending of sports, entertainment and technology that will fuel esports’ evolution.

Megan Hughes Allison: The development of the NFL’s partnership with Roc Nation/Jay-Z and the “Inspire Change” initiative. How this story evolves will be critical in the discussion around sports’ role in addressing social issues.

Michelle Andres: The NFL/NFLPA working to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement.

Molly Arbogast: 1) evolution of sports betting and its impact on the game; 2) how esports continues to develop as a sponsorable platform on a local/regional/national level.

Christine Burke: How the Tokyo 2020 Olympics come together, particularly how technology is leveraged in the organization of the event, and how sustainability considerations come to life.

Shelly Cayette: Evolution of college sports and the ability to pay athletes while competing in college.

Kim Damron: Explosion of esports and what it means for ticketing and facilities.

Kim Davis: Growth of women’s sports across a number of leagues. We are at a tipping point and I’m really keen on watching how that is going to evolve, whether that’s our sport of hockey or  soccer or basketball.

Jill Driban: Gambling, not necessarily with the leagues/teams, but in the media space. Networks creating gambling shows, podcasts being launched. It’s an interesting time. I also want to see how it plays out on an endorsement side, especially with casinos, sports books, betting apps, etc.

Wendy Fallen: Impact of legalized sports wagering on college sports.

Julie Giese: Ours (ISM Raceway). With the NASCAR championship headed to Phoenix next year, I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

Melissa Heiter: Change that legalized gambling will have on sports in the U.S., particularly how that relates to the in-venue experience.

Krista Hiner: Implementation of region-based teams in franchise-style esports leagues, and how the impact of that model compares to region-based teams in traditional sports.

Terri Carmichael Jackson: Impact the women of soccer, hockey and basketball will have on the larger discussions of equity and equality.

Michele Kajiwara: Anything about the four teams that play in our building!

Meredith Kinsman: Stories, regulations and innovations around protecting consumers’ privacy online, as well as changes to social media platforms both in terms of consumer-facing functionality and changes in data access to marketers.  

Thayer Lavielle: How athlete-owned media companies will continue to grow and evolve over the next year. 

Melanie LeGrande: Sports betting legislation and its implications, from the economics to our corporate responsibility connected to involvement.

Michelle McGoldrick: I am paying close attention to what happens around CBD regulation. It’s a category that has significant spending power and many players that want a first-mover advantage. 

Lucinda McRoberts: Various legislative efforts impacting the Olympic Movement, including equal pay and governance reforms.

Jamie Morningstar: Evolution of ticketing technology has been very interesting over the last few years, and I anticipate it is going to continue to evolve.   

Sianneh Mulbah: How organizations champion D, E & I initiatives into their everyday culture and how they inspire their communities to take action. Another is mental health. Work affects mental health. 

Pamela Murrin: Next America’s Cup challenge.

Laura Neal: How our domestic media negotiations shake out over the next few months — with interest and competition from incumbents and new entrants. 

Gloria Nevarez: Media rights and how the market will play out for distribution of live sporting events (e.g. OTT, traditional media rights deals, new technologies and platforms).

Moira O’Connor: USWNT fight for equal pay. It will be interesting to see how that turns out in the next year and what precedent it sets going forward for women’s professional athletes.

Nicolina O’Rorke: Impending sale of the regional sports networks formerly known as Fox RSNs to Sinclair, and the current carriage dispute with Dish.

Djenaba Parker: Sports betting developments, including laws and policy interpretations at the state and federal level.

Ana Shapiro Queenan: Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But I am also closely following Caster Semenya and her ongoing legal battles that will continue to help define how international sport defines gender.

Caroline Rebello: The media industry as a whole, and collective bargaining across the NHL, MLB and NFL. Both have the power to materially alter sports economics.

Tracie Rodburg: Legalization of sports betting and how that will impact every team, league and fans. The other is our new partnership with Roc Nation, which should be a unique blend of sports and entertainment marketing. 

Carla Rosenberg: Legal sports betting in the U.S.

Tara Gutkowski Schwartz: Changing landscape of content and how it’s delivered and consumed. I think the next year, especially with the launch of Disney+, will be interesting for the industry and how it affects the current sports media landscape. 

Carrie Skillman: Sports gambling trends and how state legislation will shape the gaming category moving forward.

Maureen Smith: Future of USA Gymnastics. My husband and my brother were both Division I collegiate gymnasts so I am passionate about this sport, both men’s and women’s. Victims need to be supported and all athletes deserve to be protected. I want to see the new leadership at USA Gymnastics succeed at rebuilding the organization.

Amy Sprangers: To see more women in the C-Suite!

Neda Tabatabaie: Women’s sports and the developments both with USWNT and what will happen in the world of professional women’s hockey. In my own line of work, I’ll be working on bringing together more of the X and O data (experience and operations).  

Tina Thornton: Ever-changing consumer habits around watching live sports, particularly the balance between traditional distribution and direct-to-consumer alongside social media. Digital innovation will continue to influence the new ways fans will watch a game.

Alisha Valavanis: United States women’s national soccer team.

Whitney Wagoner: Continuing development of legalized sports betting.