CAMBRIDGE – Every March the entire sports business and analytics world descends upon one of two places in Boston, either the burgeoning Seaport district and its massive convention center or, as was the case this year, the Back Bay neighborhood of Copley and the Hynes Convention Center as the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics – a.k.a. Dork-a-Polooza – enlightens and entertains the front office types, and analytics gurus, all seeking an edge.
This year, there was a welcomed variation.
Just prior to #SSAC2019, a group of MBA candidates gathered at the Harvard Business School to discuss issues related to the sports business world in a seminar run by Rick Horrow, esteemed sports business leader who recently published “The Sports Business Handbook,” insights from 100+ leaders who shaped 50 years of the industry.
Readers are treated to a forward by Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski who wrote of the leadership and friendship built with USA Basketball’s senior team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo, he of Phoenix Suns and NBA Board of Governors fame. Coach K’s message is of culture-setting and clear goals, all “under the principles of humility, hard work, trust and the understanding that we were playing for something bigger than ourselves.”
That foundation was established for USA Basketball in 2005, after setbacks on the world stage in 2002 and 2004. It did not come without adversity, as USA Basketball took a slight step backwards with a bronze medal finish at the 2006 Worlds, but then paved the way for USA Basketball to return to the top of the podium of world basketball and win the last five major international competitions, including three Olympics (2008-2012-2016) and two worlds (2010-2014), a consecutive streak never seen before.
All the while, the basic principles remained intact as Colangelo later wrote of the efforts in Horrow’s new book, a chapter entitled, “Working Towards Consensus.”
Similarly, as the book unfolds, Horrow introduces an incredible list of industry titans, all sharing their thoughts, insights, anecdotes and specialities in a guided tour of recommendations for entry-level sports industry candidates, hitting on everything from “Launching a Career in Sports,” with insights from baseball exec Larry Lucchino (Essential Lessons), ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas (Keep Your Head Down and Keep Working), sports PR and communications exec Joe Favorito (The Value of Showing Up) and onward.
From Commissioner-level (NHL’s Gary Bettman, the MLS’ Don Garber and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue) to the greatest golfer in history Jack Nicklaus to industry titans such as former Anheiser-Busch marketing and sponsorship maven Tony Pontero or the NFL’s great coach Don Shula, never before has such a lofty list of sporting icons provided readers with concrete advice and insight into the sports business industry.
From Strategy to Organizational Philosophy to Operations to Deal Making, it’s all there. From the important revenue-generating side of the biz, such as Licensing to Sponsorship Sales, or from the all important aspects of “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” in the workplace to community-building and “Making a Difference,” each pillar of the sports management foundation is discussed in an easy-read, chapter and sub-chapter format that will be a must for every Sports Management program at the undergrad and masters level.
Two Boston-area sports business leaders and CEOs, Jessica Gelman of the Kraft Analytics Group and Angela Ruggerio of the Sports Innovation Lab and a co-founder of Boston VC Sports, wrote on the impact of tech and analytics on the sports industry, noting the constant change has led to an evolution of sports.
The book was published by Human Kinetics, edited by Rick Horrow of Horrow Sports Ventures, assisted by well-know sports businessman and educator Rick Burton, MS from Syracuse University and Myles Schrage, a former editor for Human Kinetics and author.
— Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief