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People and Pop Culture

Time 100 again highlights star athletes, sports innovators

TIME magazine today released its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People of '22, and a number of athletes made the list, with fellow sports figures authoring the writeups on each athlete's contribution to the culture. Below are some excerpts from their profiles:

  • Soccer players ALEX MORGANMEGAN RAPINOE and BECKY SAUERBRUNN: Women's sports icon BILLIE JEAN KING writes, "More than 50 years after the Original Nine of women’s pro tennis signed symbolic $1 contracts and changed sports history forever, the battle for pay equity in sports continues -- and the baton has been passed." When the USWNT were "not paid equally to the men’s team, they vowed to drag soccer to the right side of history."
  • Tennis player PENG SHUAI: Activist LU PIN notes, "With one lengthy post on Chinese social media site Weibo, tennis star Peng Shuai set off a chain reaction of events that profoundly changed global sports." China's treatment of her "provided the final justification for the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics and led to the Women’s Tennis Association canceling its events in China."
  • Tennis player RAFAEL NADAL: Buccaneers QB TOM BRADY writes Nadal possesses an "unrivaled charisma." Brady: "I admire athletes who push themselves to the limit, and I’m absolutely inspired every time Rafa takes the court."
  • U.S. figure skater NATHAN CHEN: Former figure skater MICHELLE KWAN writes Chen "has proved his relentless commitment" to the sport. Kwan was "moved to hear he looked to me as a role model as a Chinese American skater." It "won’t be long before we hear athletes say they looked up to Nathan Chen."
  • WNBA Chicago Sky F CANDACE PARKER: Former NBAer DWYANE WADE calls her a "force to be reckoned with." Wade: "She’s a champion (and six-time WNBA All-Star) who has built a legacy by revolutionizing her game. As a fellow athlete and a fellow parent, I admire what she’s accomplished."
  • Chinese skier EILEEN GU: U.S. skier GUS KENWORTHY writes, "It’s hard for athletes -- particularly Olympic athletes -- to transcend their sport. Eileen Gu is an exception to that rule." She has "proven herself to be one of the greatest female freeskiers of all time, amassed an online follower count in the millions, and inspired a new generation of girls."

OTHERS OF NOTE: Warner Bros. Discovery President & CEO DAVID ZASLAV makes the list in the wake of the blockbuster media merger he helped orchestrate. Magnolia co-Founders CHIP & JOANNA GAINES write, "The titan next door. The dealmaker. The CEO’s CEO. ... There’s something about the feeling David imparts when he believes in you, that has the ability to change circumstances. To change the outcome. To change you and the world for the better. And now, as he takes on the role of CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, that opportunity becomes even greater." In addition, LEBRON JAMES pens the writeup on QUINTA BRUNSON, a writer, producer, actor, comedian and "game changer in network television."

IN GOOD COMPANY: For the second year in a row, TIME highlights 100 influential companies, with the NFL making the list. Editor Jeffery Kluger writes, "It’s not easy to get two-thirds of the U.S. population to do the same thing at the same time. But that happened on Feb. 13, when 208 million Americans tuned in to Super Bowl LVI." The country’s "most valuable sports league" attracted 18.2 million fans to stadiums in '21; its games represented 75 of the 100 most watched U.S. broadcasts -- and the league just signed a new $113B TV contract. The list also includes DISNEY, mainly for lifting COVID restrictions at its theme parks, along with digital media heavy-hitters NETFLIX and SPOTIFY (TIME, 6/6 issue).

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SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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