Arrived on our list of the most influential people in 2021

A bit of our thinking as we build our annual list of the most influential people in the sport industry …

We have 50 “slots” and 78 individuals that we have classified into seven categories. From these, we selected the person who we believe had the biggest and most profound impact on the business, the CEO of Fanatics. Michel rubin, as well as the most influential executive in other specific categories. Anyone who makes this list obviously has a big voice in the current and future state of the industry.

Rubin was not unanimous in our editorial staff. He received the most support and was mentioned the most often, but the range of opinions on his efforts varies. Few people have done more in the past 14 months to reinvent traditional ways of doing business and aggressively challenge the status quo. Many have classified him as a disruptor (and he is), but he’s also a connector. He connects so many different groups to create even more powerful platforms and allows leagues to be a part of the growth which is so unique in his approach to business. And it all relies on the power of the company’s in-depth sports fan database. He says Fanatics aims to help the fan do more things, more efficiently, and if he succeeds in creating a one-stop e-commerce site for the fan to buy tickets, merchandise, place a bet, to buy an NFT or a collector’s item, and even watch the highlights, it would dramatically redefine the customer experience.

But there are areas that made us think. There is some concern about having so much commerce run by one company. Some league executives are worried about the leverage it would have if he controlled so many key revenue sources. Although he has big sports betting ambitions, he was denied a license in New York and the jury is still out on several of his larger plans and a possible IPO. Although he has recruited a smart and talented management team, he needs more diverse voices around him. But the bottom line is that leaders in all sports are watching his every move very closely, speculating on his next move, and few are betting against an executive with such a work ethic, such vision, and a successful track record.

The debate over who had the most influence among team owners focused on three groups. First there was the owner of the Cowboys Jerry jones, for obvious reasons as the industry analyzes each of its investments. Meanwhile, the Fenway Sports Group Jean Henri, Tom werner and Mike Gordon took a capital injection from RedBird Capital to strike a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and made investments with James lebron and SpringHill Co., and said they have not finished making acquisitions. But it was Robert kraftthe $ 110 billion role in securing media deals with the NFL and the league’s efforts to sell a stake in its media division, as well as its broad reach in media and entertainment circles, which have earned the first nod.

Other thoughts: NFL commissioner Roger goodell has had one of the best 12-20 month streaks of any commissioner in sports history – with massive media deals, a long-term collective agreement, a successful return to play and a winning machine. silver. … Dana White relentlessly builds the UFC into a world power while improving its profile, aided by its relationship with Endeavor. … Commissioner of the WNBA Cathy Engelbert brought strong CEO and financial skills to the league and his leadership is widely respected. … Rob manfredWill’s influence will be put to the test during a difficult CBA negotiation, especially when faced with another qualified and tireless litigator as MLBPA lawyer. Bruce meyer, who wants to win. Manfred won’t find the negotiating approach more accommodating of the end Michael weiner in these negotiations, and Manfred’s influence and impact will be tested. … Three weeks ago, the CEO of the WTA Steve simon would not have been seriously considered for this list. But he has been the sports industry’s most surprisingly vocal critic of China, putting his sport (and his work) at risk. It is too early to assess the sphere of his influence, but Simon’s position and strength of conviction, for good or bad, has already created ripples in all sports.

There are always tough decisions, especially the final cups that didn’t make the 50. The final and toughest omissions were the president of MLSE Larry Tanenbaum, who is intimately involved in politics and decisions around three leagues: NBA, NHL and MLS. MLSE never gets enough credit in the sports industry given its impressive organization and wide influence, and Tanenbaum is a trusted confidante of three league commissioners. that of Formula 1 Stefano Domenicali and John malone were also debated, and although Malone touches a number of areas of the sports industry, we have always felt that their influence was not yet deep enough in the North American market, despite having one of the hottest sports in the world right now. Finally, Tom bradyThe cultural influence of extends on and off the field and its public profile and importance continues to grow.

Abraham Madkour can be contacted at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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