We recently ran a Facebook Contest asking our audience who they thought was missing from Sports Business Journal’s “50 Most Influential People in Sports Business“. We received some great feedback and the people mentioned varied greatly from Mark Cuban (Owner – Dallas Mavericks) to Bruton Smith (CEO – Nascar).
The annual list put together by SBJ includes a wide variety of executives that have affected the sports industry in North America over the past 12 months.
We wanted to know who you thought was missing from this list? And, of course, our criteria was not restricted to North America, billionaire owners and league commissioners. So, as a result, there are a couple of mentions below that you may have never heard of, but each have had an impact in the world of sports.
So, without further adieu, here’s a summary of the contest entries we received (and a few that we threw into the mix):
Influential Sports Business Professionals In 2012
Owner/CEO – Nascar
O. Bruton Smith, 85, the Company’s founder and majority stockholder, has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SMI since its organization in 1994.
Since 1975, Mr. Smith has served as the Chief Executive Officer and a board member of Charlotte Motor Speedway, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMI, and its predecessor entities (“CMS”), which he originally founded in 1959.
Mr. Smith has been in the motorsports business since the sport’s beginnings in the 1940s and has been a leader in motorsports innovation throughout its history.
Founder – Train ’em Up Academy
In 2006, Coach Bobby Hosea founded Train ‘Em Up Academy, Inc. (TEUA), a 501 (C) 3 Not-for-Profit Corporation to help attract the financial support needed to spread his tackling safety and performance curriculum throughout the country. In June of 2011, a scientific research study proved that the “Hosea-Method” lowers helmet first impact by 43% (100% of the CROWN) while performing a FORM tackle.
Coach Bobby Hosea’s unique system teaches players and coaches, how to readily identify and avoid the physical mechanisms, tackling techniques, terminology and drills that lead to CROWN first impact while a defender is in the act of tackling a ball carrier.
Owner – Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He is the owner of the National Basketball Association‘s Dallas Mavericks. He is also a “shark” investor on the television series Shark Tank.
In 2011, Cuban wrote an e-book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, in which he chronicles his life experiences in business and sports.
Owner – Miami Heat
In 17 years as managing general partner of the Miami HEAT, Micky Arison has guided the franchise to unprecedented heights, including bringing South Florida a pair of NBA championships.
As the leader of the most successful cruise operation in the world, the 63-year-old Arison and his family have always been involved with the team. Although his father, Ted, brought the NBA franchise to South Florida in 1988, it has only been since Micky took control in 1995 that the HEAT has evolved into one of the NBA’s top organizations.
Chairman & Managing Director – Blue Equity
Jonathan S. Blue is Chairman and Managing Director of Blue Equity, LLC. Blue Equity is a private equity firm with a diverse and innovative portfolio of lower middle market segment business enterprises with concentrations in media, publishing, financial services, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, and sports & entertainment. In his role as Chairman, Blue oversees the management of the current holdings in the company.
Blue formed BEST (Blue Entertainment Sports Television) in 2005 and was successful in building one of the world’s leading sports and entertainment firms which was acquired by Lagardère Unlimited in mid-2010. Lagardère Unlimited is focused in the sports and entertainment sectors, representing prominent world renowned entertainers and top performing athletes and personalities. They manage and own major sporting events worldwide, maintain domestic and international television rights and provide sports marketing and consulting for top international brands in and to the sporting sector. Lagardère Unlimited has become one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in the world.
President – Sports Advancement
Bill spent fourteen seasons as a pro sports executive managing professional hockey teams throughout North America. His teams were consistently recognized as industry leaders for developing trendsetting marketing and operations strategies.
Most recently, Bill was a partner with Splash Management, a marketing strategy firm in Fort Worth, Texas where he still serves on the advisory board. Bill also serves in an advisory role with Sports Career Advancement a retained executive placement company focusing on the sports industry.
Editor-At-Large – SportsBusiness Journal
Since 2001, Terry Lefton, the pioneer of sports business reporting, has been the Editor-at-Large at Sports Business Daily & SportsBusiness Journal where he covers sports marketing, sponsorship and licensing. Owner of an expansive Rolodex and the confidante of hundreds of well-placed industry sources, Lefton is well-known for breaking hard-news stories.
Terry is a Founding Board member of the National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN) and now serves on the New York City Chapter Board, as well as the organization’s National Executive Board.
Sports Business Analyst – ESPN
Darren Rovell is a sports business analyst who re-joined ESPN in June of 2012. Previously, Darren was CNBC’s Sports Business Reporter where he was responsible for both analyzing and reporting on the sports business world on all of CNBC’s programming including “Squawk Box,” “Power Lunch” and “Street Signs.”
He’s a Northwestern grad, an Emmy winner, author, info junkie, active athlete and, if you’re not already following him on Twitter, he doles out more information on there in one day than most average Twitter users send out in a month (or six months for that matter)!
Founder – Leverage Agency
Ben Sturner is the founder and CEO of Leverage Agency, a premier brand, sports and entertainment company. Over the past five years, Ben has been responsible for securing over $30 million in sponsorship deals. Ben launched Leverage Agency from his New York City apartment, and, through his vision, Leverage has emerged as a leading agency for clients in the sports and branded entertainment industries.
In 2012, Ben founded and launched the Manhattan Sports Business Academy (MSBA), an 8-week summer sports business leadership program in New York City. The program is designed for students to get a jump start into the fast paced, high energy sports business world through internships, mentoring and networking.
CMO – NFL
Upon graduating with honors from Durham University, Mark embarked on an international business career that now spans more than 25 years with global companies and includes positions in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Canary Islands, Greece and the United States.
He joined the NFL in 2006, and became Chief Marketing Officer in 2009. As CMO of the NFL, Mark oversees all of the League’s marketing, as well as the NFL’s international activities. He is responsible for developing the NFL’s long-term fan development and brand strategy, and serves on the league’s Business Ventures senior management team.
President – Soccer United Marketing – Major League Soccer
Kathy Carter is President of Soccer United Marketing, a position which oversees the commercial and marketing aspects of the business for Major League Soccer’s commercial subsidiary.
Carter and her group are responsible for all sales and servicing for some of the premier soccer properties in the United States, including Major League Soccer, the Mexican National Team and famed Mexican club team Chivas de Guadalajara’s rights in the U.S., multiple CONCACAF properties and U.S. Soccer and all of its National Teams. Carter serves as the U.S. representative on FIFA’s Committee for Women’s Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
CEO – WorkInSports.com
John Mellor co-founded WorkInSports.com back in 2000 to provide a service to connect job seekers with sports employers – making it easier for people who want to work in sports to actually find work in sports.
For the last 12 years his team has been building the largest and most comprehensive job board in the sports industry. They’ve connected with thousands of sports employers and created powerful systems to ensure they have the latest sports jobs.
WorkInSports.com is the #1 job board and employment resource in the sports industry featuring hard-to-find sports jobs and internships nationwide. Resources include resume posting, career tips, job and internship postings, rss feeds, career spotlights from sports industry executives, and a directory of sports industry contacts.
CEO – Bleacher Report
Brian Grey is CEO of Bleacher Report, overseeing the strategic direction and day-to-day operation of the Company. He joined Bleacher Report from successful leadership positions as SVP/GM of Fox Sports Interactive and prior to that GM of Yahoo! Sports.
Brian’s experience spans the sports and digital media worlds, including previous stops with Nike, Major League Baseball, Netscape and then startup Shutterfly, Inc. He’s also the ultimate optimist despite years of heartbreak as an Oakland Raiders, Portland Trailblazer and Oregon State Beaver football fan.
Co-Founder – Sports Legacy Institute
Chris Nowinski is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to solve the sports concussion crisis. He also serves as a Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (BU CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine.
Mr. Nowinski also serves on the National Football League Players Association Mackey/White TBI Research Committee and on the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America.
Director of Social Media – San Francisco Giants
A Sports and Entertainment Marketing professional who specializes in Social and Digital Media, Bryan Srabian has over 17 years experience working in professional sports. He currently works as the Director of Social Media for the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.
Bryan is responsible for overseeing the Social Media platform for the San Francisco Giants including Twitter and Facebook, exploring new technologies, working with Major League Baseball Advanced Media with the SFGiants.com website, and integrating the Giants Marketing and Communications plan with comprehensive Social Media Plan.
Bryan is widely regarded as one of the most innovative social media directors in the sports. His focus on “fan engagement” has made the San Francisco Giants one of the most social sports teams in the world.
Sr. Director, Interactive Media – Boston Celtics
Peter is in his seventh season with the Boston Celtics as the team’s Senior Director of Interactive Media where he manages the team’s interactive and social media marketing and strategy. As a thought leader in the digital marketing and social media space, he’s guided the Boston Celtics to become one of the biggest professional sports brands in social media, with almost 6.8 million Facebook fans and 730,000 Twitter followers.
In his time at the Celtics, he’s conceptualized and developed some best-of-breed and first-of-their-kind digital projects. From Celtics 3-Point Play, the NBA’s first Facebook application geared at gleaning valuable fan data, to Celtics GameTime Live, the league’s first live stats and game-blogging application, He’s pushed the Celtics to innovate ahead of the curve, while establishing several best practices for the sports and entertainment industry.
President – UFC
Dana White, president and part-owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has been the public face and driving force behind the UFC’s incredible turnaround from unsanctioned blood-sport to billion-dollar global brand.
White doesn’t hold back any punches. On The Ultimate Fighter reality television show telecasts and at news conferences, he often says what he thinks and does so without worrying about his language. This kind of thing has endeared him to some and caused others to dislike him. What’s more, he’s been known to verbally attack moves by other MMA organizations and their fighters, likely in an attempt to maintain the UFC’s status as top dog in the MMA world.
Regardless, no one can argue that his take no prisoners management style has been a major reason why the organization has grown and dominated the MMA landscape to date.
Amy Jo Martin
Founder – Digital Royalty
Amy Jo founded Digital Royalty (http://www.thedigitalroyalty.com/) three years ago to help companies, celebrities, professional sports leagues, teams and athletes build, measure and monetize their digital universe.
Amy Jo herself has nearly 1.3 million Twitter followers (@AmyJoMartin) and she travels the world to speak about the latest trends in social media, how to monetize various social platforms, and how to successfully build a personal brand by utilizing social media.
Digital Royalty’s clients include: Shaquille O’Neal, FOX Sports, The X-Factor, Chicago White Sox, UFC and Dana White, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Los Angeles Kings, Jabbawockeeez, Doubletree by Hilton, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos.com and author of theThe New York Times #1 Bestseller, Delivering Happiness, Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Owner – LA Dodgers
Former Lakers legend, Earvin Magic Johnson is now the face of the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group. He has vowed to bring change to a franchise that suffered a number of setbacks under the eight-year reign of former owner Frank McCourt.
Johnson’s reputation as a winner in sports and business lends a new air of credibility to the Dodgers, who saw attendance plummet below 3 million in McCourt’s final season when fans bashed his stewardship of the team.
While other investors put far more money into the winning group, Johnson’s name and smile are what lit up fans’ moods in the city where he remains the most enduring and beloved sports superstar.
Managing Director – Warsaw Sports Marketing Center – University of Oregon
Paul Swangard is the Woodard Family Foundation Sports Business Fellow and the Managing Director of the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Since 2001 Swangard has led the day-to-day operations of the internationally recognized center, teaches both at the undergraduate and graduate level and serves as one of the center’s primary industry analysts on sports business issues.
His comments on the industry have appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today along with appearances on ABC’s Nightline, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, CNBC’s Power Lunch and NBC’s Olympic Games coverage. In addition to numerous consulting projects with leading sports firms including EA Sports and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Swangard in frequent guest speaker and lecturer and has taught courses in both Europe and Asia.” Lundquist College of Business University of Oregon