Back to 2021 and the moments, memories and stories that stood out.

I certainly remember the PGA Championship in Kiawah, SC in late May. It was the first real industry event I attended after closing and it was awesome. It started with a private sports business networking event Thursday night, followed by a round of golf with industry leaders on the course on Friday. The reception cabins were teeming with people, energy and excitement. It really felt like the sport was back at that time.

I am often surprised by which columns get the most comments from readers. This year was a March column offering my take on “Al Davis vs. The NFL”, an ESPN Films and NFL Films production. Many readers have been struck by the disturbing description of the relationship between the late Raiders owner and the late NFL commissioner. No one who lived through this era found the film exact and was intrigued by the treatment of the subject. … An April column on the MLB commissioner’s decision Rob manfred moving the All-Star Game over due to an election law in Georgia sparked a strong, but divided reaction as readers weighed in on the possible long-term implications of the move. … In July, I spoke with Sean bratches, which was the originator of the hit Formula 1 series “Drive to Survive” on Netflix. This has resulted in a wave of responses from executives in the sports industry who are either dedicated followers or envious of how it has sparked a massive increase in interest in the sport. … Also in July, “The Hard Love of Larry Lucchino” looked at the tremendous influence this master of baseball had on a generation of sports leaders. … One of my favorite trips was my inaugural visit to the Professional Football Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in August, where I wrote about Paul Tagliabue entering Canton. Many who crossed paths with Tagliabue (and there were many in the industry) were delighted to see its legacy and impact properly recognized.

So many speakers stood out in our 11-in-12-week series, too many to name. But here are some personal highlights: There was a 30-minute one-on-one with Fanatics. Michel rubin, as we scrambled through its ambitious growth plans for the company, its history of making deals in sports and breaking glass along the way. … There was the relatable CMO Chipotle Chris Brandt, which expressed the brand value and mission of Chipotle simply and clearly. … There was the infectious energy of the CEO of Oak View Group Tim leiweke, who had a ballroom in New York City applauding his forceful call to tackle global warming with significant sustainability efforts in sports, saying: this back. In 10 years, we will not be able to say: “We made a mistake, are going to fix it”. We can’t fix the Earth in 10 years if we don’t do it today. … There was the former Secretary of Defense Robert gates offering clear-sighted and ambitious leadership from the NCAA Constitution Committee, capturing the room with the opening line of: “A priority from the start is, ‘How do we change the structure of the NCAA so that we move away from the idea that one size fits all? ‘ You speak of a difficult task, but by all accounts Gates has lived up to it. … The husband / wife combo of Chris and Angie Long, which owns the Kansas City Current of the NWSL, and offers the kind of promise and substance needed by the NWSL and women’s sport in general. … Finally, it was sad to see the human cost of doing business in college sport and healthy relationships perhaps irreparably damaged. I couldn’t help but feel the pain in Commissioner Big 12’s eyes and voice Bob bowlsby as he spoke about the events affecting his conference this year and felt that was not how he wanted his long run in varsity sports to end.

There were a lot of quotes that stood out for me in 21, but I’ll end the year with this one from the CEO of Nike John donahoein the Wall Street Journal interview, where he talked about training his brain. He said, “Your brain becomes more negative over time because negative experiences stay in our brain. So you can counter that by being more aware of the things that you enjoy, the good things in your life. And so I’m just thinking, what am I grateful for in the wider sense of my life? What am I grateful for yesterday? What am I looking forward to that I will enjoy in the day ahead? It’s a good exercise. And good point of view.

This is our last issue of the year, so on behalf of everyone at SBJ, thank you for your continued support and we wish you a very safe and happy holiday and a healthy New Year. Hope to see you in ’22.

Abraham Madkour can be contacted at [email protected]