Coming Friday: Who has the most influence on sports? Starts with an M …

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Give up? Surely, not the gasbags on parade. But it ain’t that far away.

It’s the media, to a great extent. Not so much the Jay Mariotti Empire. And it probably will in the coming years stay media-centric as the economy tries to recorrect itself.

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The latest list of the 50 Most Influencial People in Sports Business issued again by the Sports Business Journal — with ESPN/ABC sports chief George Bodenheimer back in the No. 1 spot for the third time in four years — is cause to reflect on how those calling the shots at the media giants haven’t lost their juice in these trying financial times.

In fact, they may even be gaining more influence as people who used to be able to afford going out to the stadiums and arenas suddenly are staying at home, buying flat-screen TVs and demanding more from their broadcast coverage.

David Carter, the executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute and chief of the consultant Sports Business Group (his link here) gives us his take on the list, which he uses for debate in his own classroom setting.

“We spend a lot of time discussing the elements of these power lists and there seems to be two kinds of entries: Those people who will always be there because of their name, regardless of their work, and the positions of jobs, regarless of who occupies them. Whoever is the commissioner of XYZ League will always be in the Top 10, but there are other folks, like the top marketing people at Coca-Cola or General Motors, who seem to be there as well. It’s a reasonably static list if you look at who’s producing and consuming sports. The TV people will be there always.”

Carter also makes clear that lists like these — Sporting News has been doing its 100 Most Powerful People in Sports since 1990 — are done mostly to create buzz.

“It’s more for fun and to debate rather than being accurate,” Carter said. “Who really runs ABC/ESPN? Wouldn’t it be Robert Iger, the head of Disney? Rupert Murdoch runs all of Fox. It’s all semantics. Don’t read too much into it.”

Unless you own a media corporation.

==A link to the blog posting earlier this week on the SBJ’s list (linked here)
==The actual SJB list (linked here)
==The list also appeared in Wednesday’s copy of Sporting News online (linked here). The Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily and Sporting News Today are owned by American City Business Journals.

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