BusinessWeek's Sports Power 100: Let's Debate!

Congratulations to ESPN The Magazine and BusinessWeek for putting together an awesome sports business issue. It's a must-read if you like the business of sports. Their Power 100is of course meant to be debated, so I'm going to make a couple comments here.

Phil Knight
Phil Knight

*At No. 8, Phil Knight is absurdly high. Anyone who knows about Nike's business in the last year and half knows that Knight is hardly in the office anymore and just occasionally involves himself in decisions. If you're putting him here because of his $100 million donation to Oregon, he should be noted as a "booster" instead of the "chairman of Nike." But then you have to put Boone Pickens on the list. Not a single booster is on this list and never is when "The Sporting News" list comes out. When you guys do it next year, make sure you don't leave out this category. So we'll put Knight at at least No. 38 and we'll swap him with current Nike president and CEO Mark Parker, who has the power nowadays at the swoosh.

*While we're talking about Knight, the omission of Under Armour's Kevin Plank is one of the big misses from this list. This is the biggest new challenger Nike has had since Reebok. Plank not only deserves a spot on this list. He deserves to be in the top 40.

*At No. 27, Gary Bettman is way too high. I have a feeling the folks at ESPN and BusinessWeek felt it was only right to include Bettman in the top 30 since all the other major sports commissioners were in the top five. But the fact is that Bettman is not more powerful than PGA commissioner Tim Finchem (No. 34) or John Skipper (No. 35, EVP, content, ESPN). We'll say Bettman should slide down at least 10 spots.

*At No. 35, Lance Armstrong is way too low. Sure, he never really popularized cycling and the sport is in shambles, but he has used sports to become the most powerful charitable athlete ever. I think Armstrong should be in the top 20.

*At No. 81, John Madden is in the right spot. But he's somehow the only media member on this list. This despite the fact that there are 13 media executives on this list. They are the enablers, but they have to enable someone, don't they?

I already mentioned that I was disappointed that Kevin Plank was missing. Here are some other misses:

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum--NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not the most powerful man in sports. The Shiekh of Dubai is. Want evidence? He's essentially turning all of Dubai into a sports haven. He has spent over $1 billion on racehorses. Dubai will be the home of the first Tiger Woods golf course, Roger Federer now lives there and they're building a $3.5 billion, 50-million-square foot Dubai Sports City. Read this awesome article from's Jim Caple. Finish it and then tell me that the Shiekh of Dubai is not the most powerful man in sports.

Wes Wesley--This guy is the power broker behind the NBA's biggest stars. He might be the most influential guy in sports that nobody knows, which is why he's an easy miss despite an in-depth GQ article on him earlier this year. Wesley, believe-it-or-not, deserves to be somewhere in between Nos. 55-60 on this list.

Dana White--Mixed martial arts has gone mainstream and White is the president of the biggest brand in the sport, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). I'd put White at around No. 80 at the very least.

Ronaldinho--Although the list says its "the most influential people in the world of sports," you get the sense that David Beckham only gets on the radar screen because he came to America. If this is the world list, other soccer players have to be on this list as does a cricket or rugby player. Just asking for a sprinkling of international stars so that this issue can be sold internationally.

Steve Shore and Barry Prevor--BusinessWeek mentions that they should perhaps be on the list. You think? If you haven't heard of Steve & Barry's you soon will. Everyone in the merchandising business is scared of these low-cost wizards and every mall wants a Steve & Barry's to be its anchor store. These guys are definite top 50 material.

BusinessWeek has their forum to write in omissions to their list, but I might as well do my part as well. E-mail me at if you thought there were any major raning issues or omissions.

Questions? Comments?