HIGHTOWER: The Sporting News 100
Time now for Hightower's "Wide, Wide, Wide, WILD World of Sports."Today's feature: America's sport's powerhouses. No, I don't mean such teams as the Yankees, the Cornhuskers, the Bulls, the Fighting Irish, the Cowboys . . . but, instead, such heavy corporate line-ups as Nike, Disney, Anheuser Busch, GM and Coca Cola.The Sporting News has just issued its 1996 edition of "the most powerful people in sports," counting both amateur and professional games. The top gamers turn-out not to be Michael Jordan, Danny Wuerffel, Mario Lemieux, Jerry Rice or Cal Ripkin, but such out-of-shape, non-starters as Dick Ebersol, Philip Knight, Michael Eisner and Philip Guarascio.Who the hell is Philip Guarascio? He's the VP of Advertising for General Motors, who throws ad dollars at everything from the Olympics to yachting events, and has a big hand in deciding what sports get covered. Eisner is the head of Disney's sports and media empire; Knight is top dog at Nike, whose little corporate swastika brands athletes in every sport everywhere; and Ebersol is "The Man" at NBC Sports, where he is in charge of coverage by the leading sports network on TV.These guys join Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, Bud Selig, Jerry Jones and other media, advertising and management executives who are the powerhouses of today's sportsworld. It is not until number 27 of The Sporting News 100 that an actual athlete makes the list, and then it's Michael Jordan, the megamillionaire who makes more money as a shill for corporate products than he does for playing basketball. Out of 100 sports powers, only four are players.It's not how you play the game that matters these days, but how you run the business of sports. It's just another step toward the total corporatization of our country's culture.Source:The Sporting News: December 30, 1996.