The following are my top 2013 business and legal stories having the greatest impact on the global sports business. I'm sure many would delete some of my choices and include others, but in teaching, research and practice, these are the events that, in no particular order, make the top of my list.
The Sale of IMG to William Morris: Much like the sale of the Dodgers last year size alone makes this transaction significant. The reported price of over $2.0 billion makes this a deal to keep an eye on. Like the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, critics are scrutinizing the wisdom of the purchase price. It will be interesting to watch how the new business progresses over the next couple of years, seeking the elusive sports and entertainment synergy that many have dreamed glowingly about.
The NHL Lockout Ends: This makes my list mainly because it was the final deal of the sports labor peace puzzle held over from 2012. Across all of the major sports leagues the interaction of management and labor continue to be a key factor in the success of their respective businesses.
The O'Bannon vs. NCAA Litigation: The case serves as the focal point for arguments in favor of increased compensation to NCAA athletes. The focus is on individual likeness and image rights but in the end, the NCAA version of amateurism is on the line. There will be much more on all of these issues to come this year.
NFL Concussion Cases: Although the major litigation is settled there is more to come from those not signing on to the deal, and actions brought at the college level and lower. Beyond the litigation, more importantly, research and further safety implementation continues.
NFL Hiring of African American Leaders:
Following years of progress the NFL franchises failed to hire a
single African American head coach or general manager. The league
announced a renewed focus to prevent a reoccurrence and there has
already been progress in the current hiring season.
Jason Collins of the NBA and Robbie Rogers of MLS Come Out : Collins the first of the big four sports leagues and Rogers, the first major active players to come out as openly gay. With gay rights being problematic in Russia a U.S. delegation led by Billie Jean King will keep the issue in the news at Sochi 2014.
Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports: Entertainment
mogul Jay Z made his entry into the athlete representation
business. He joined forces with CAA and moved quickly to sign top
level talent and is reported to be pursuing top NFL draft
Bullying: The Miami Dolphins incident has brought the concept of the workplace in sports to the forefront. Even the thought that bullying could happen to a 300 pound plus lineman caused most to reconsider the prevalence of bullying in their lives and workplace.
A-Rod's Suspension: The length, 211 games, is the bigger story than the violation alleged related violation. The story keeps the focus on performance enhancing drugs in 2014.
Japanese Baseball Player Posting: The posting rules have changed and the impact on movement will be interesting. This will be key to watch for its impact on flattening the global baseball labor market.
Brazil's Inequality Protests: The positive impact of hosting a global sporting event is no longer a given. The people of Brazil have begun to protest the financial inequities that they perceive related to the forthcoming World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Boston Marathon Bombing: Leading into an
Olympic and FIFA World Cup year the bombing at this event served as
an unneeded reminder of the type of terror that major sporting
events must guard against.
The Redskins Name Controversy: This is not a new story but it was reinvigorated in 2013. The Redskins name has been viewed by many for years to be racist. The tension rose this year with prominent journalists saying they would no longer use the name. The couching of the defense for the name by ownership emphasized their contemplated negative monetary impact if a name change occurred.
Sir Alex Ferguson Retires: The Manchester United manager from 1986 through the 2013 season won 49 major trophies in his coaching career that began in the Scottish First Division in 1974. The story there is one of transitioning long term leadership. In that regard Mack Brown departing the head football job at Texas is an important leadership transition as well.
Record Gareth Bale Transfer Fee: His transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid this season involved a record transfer fee of $123 million, per official reports from Real Madrid. This is a huge impact on the economy of the beautiful game.
Kevin-Prince Boateng Walks off the Pitch: While playing for AC Milan, Boateng walked off of the pitch because fans were making racist chants. As the racial focus in the U.S. is primarily on leadership positions, globally we are seeing an abundance of issues that remind Americans of incidents brought back to light in the movie "42."
Johnny Manziel and the NCAA: His encounter with the NCAA related to autographs and the pay he was initially alleged to have received for signing. He ended up being briefly suspended for Texas A&M's opening game. This was another incident highlighting the impact of the NCAA version of amateurism.
The Criminal Blotter: The respective murders allegedly committed by Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter and Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star, sparked focus on sports participants. As a result, they were two of the most searched athletes on the internet.
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