Forum: Join us for our full calendar of events to close out 2021

We’re hitting the road and can’t wait to see you. Like many of you, SBJ has had limited travel, but I’ll join my colleagues in presenting 11 industry events over 12 weeks. It starts this week at our Thought Leaders retreat in Truckee, Calif., where we will have more than 140 people discussing industry trends over panels, activities and networking. Yes, I relish any discussion on the sports business, but to me, the biggest reward to bringing back our in-person events is just being together. I’ve missed seeing so many of you, catching up, sharing stories, sharing laughs, meeting new people and introducing longtime friends to new friends and potential business partners. It’s the highlight of working in sports — the relationships.

It’s these relationships, developed over the years at so many SBJ conferences, that got me through the last 19 months, through text messages and Zoom calls, and it’s the same relationships that will energize me as we bring the industry back together. I’m asked daily about the status of our events — and, put simply, they’re on. Our focus is successfully executing each of our events in the same exceptional manner that SBJ is known for. My colleagues have spent countless hours working to provide a smart and safe environment for all attendees. We have consulted with leaders in the event and health space to develop the proper setting and aligned with the prevailing trends in the in-person event industry. For each of our events, attendees will be required to be fully vaccinated, and all appropriate safety protocols will be in place in accordance with CDC, state and local guidelines. It’s important for the industry to gather again, to learn, to do business and most importantly, reconnect. If you’re uncomfortable or unable to attend our events, you can still join us through the virtual platform that will be in place for each of our conferences.

I am particularly looking forward to the CAA World Congress of Sports in New York, Oct. 12-13. There are many factors coming together that will make the week really special:

 It’s the first major in-person gathering of leaders of the sports industry since COVID. 

 It’s the 20th annual World Congress, and we’re bringing it back to New York, where we held our first event in 2002. 

 The agenda is strong — we have seven league commissioners, plus team owners, media executives and first-mover entrepreneurs in sports.

 Best of all, you’ll see people you haven’t seen in well over a year — and get the chance to reconnect and discuss business.

I hope you’ll join me in making the World Congress truly a celebration of the sports business — its resiliency, its value, its leadership. Do business where the industry will be. Visit our events page online for the latest agenda and details on registration.

We’ll be back in New York the following week for Game Changers, and there will be six other events in November and December. We are committed to providing a safe environment that rekindles the energy of being together and building relationships. We hope you’ll join us as we embark on this exciting time. If there is anything I can do to get you out to an event, please let me know.

Cleveland Controversy!

Boy did we touch a nerve — in a fun way — with our cover story last week (Sept. 13 issue) that called New Canaan, Conn., the “epicenter of sports business.” The story idea started innocently enough with top sports executives chatting at a recent sports event. We thought it would be a good end-of-summer light read about the lives of industry professionals. And it was. But not everyone agreed with the premise. Here’s some reader feedback:

• You should know that many of us in Westport felt your story on New Canaan was under-researched!! Lots of us here in Westport!

• Come on, you missed this. It’s Westport!

• Westport, Conn., is clearly the “epicenter” for sports. Obviously, even dismissing my own enormous, outsized Westport-inspired impact on the industry, you got, among many others, from Westport: Jimmy Pitaro, Mark Shapiro, Kenny Gersh, Ben Sturner, Sal LaRocca, John Brody, Marc Lasry, Rick Cordella, Rob Simmelkjaer, Kelly Laferriere, and on and on! Not to mention the on-air talent of Mike Greenberg, Jeremy Schaap, Chris McKendry, Jay Williams.

• You all really forgot Darien! Pretty funny subject matter!

• Love the controversy you have created in CT. Not to take away from New Canaan, Darien or Westport, but you should ask your own Terry Lefton about his hometown of Greenwich … HA!

• New Canaan is a follower. It was only a thing because of David Letterman.

• A shoutout to Montclair. Much more of a starter home community so lots of sales guys there.

• Suggestion: Do a New Jersey version, because Montclair has a slew of sports media types.

And a final, more reasoned response:

• I really enjoyed the piece on New Canaan. It’s the exact story that ties together big-time sports media executives into something they all have in common — families and being normal people. A great read, super interesting, something light and fun to read. Really well done.

Abraham Madkour can be reached at

SBJ I Factor: Miheer Walavalkar

Today’s episode features Miheer Walavalkar, co-founder and CEO of LiveLike, talking with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about growing up in India, his non-traditional path into the sports industry, building a company based on the communal sports experience, and his friendship with legendary NBA Commissioner David Stern. Walavalkar was a member of SBJ’s Forty Under 40 class of 2018.

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: November 16, 2021

Meet the Mets new GM, Endeavor beat the Street in Q3 and Guaranteed Rate expands its sports sponsorship portfolio.

SBJ Spotlight: November 10, 2021

This episode looks at the hottest news in the industry, including how sports deal are helping crypto enter the mainstream; the NFL’s social push and the buy-in from players; why so many networks are bidding for next Premier League rights deal; and Angel City FC’s hot start on the business front.

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