Who are the most powerful sports people in New York? If you believe the money losing owner of the New York Daily News Mort Zuckerman’s writer, a radio talk show host, Mike Francesa, is more power than the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver and the owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon. A Daily News sports columnist who works for ESPN, Mike Lupica is more powerful than his boss at ESPN, John Skipper.
Of course this is just a list made up because someone thought it would be a good idea to list the 50 top sports powers in New York and by certain extension the United States and the world because so many sports organizations, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer are in New York and the International Olympic Committee has permanent observer status at the United Nations which Zuckerman knows overlooks the East River on Manhattan’s east side in the 40s are headquartered in New York.
The most glaring omission from Mort’s spectacular 50 is one Keith Rupert Murdoch. Like Murdoch or not, he is among the top people in sports period globally. His media money goes to Major League Baseball, the National Football League, NASCAR, he will have the World Cup and many other soccer tournaments on his media properties. But Murdoch is not listed in Zuckerman’s Top 50 despite the fact the Murdoch’s headquarters are on Sixth Avenue between 47th and 48th Street and until recently that property was protected by the New York City Police Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Oh, Mort, Rupert is a part owner of Madison Square Garden, maybe you didn’t know that when your writer turned in his work and had Garden Chairman James Dolan as New York’s top sports power.
Murdoch’s FOX also owns a chunk of the YES Network, home of Yankees and Nets cablecasts.
Also missing from the list was Comcast CEO Brian Roberts although that maybe a mere technicality because Roberts’s company is in Philadelphia and NBC Sports is pretty much now a Stamford, Connecticut based business. But Metro North has a stop right by NBC Sports in Stamford, a quick train ride from Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan. Roberts’s Comcast also owns a piece of SNY, a regional network that is the home to a show featuring Mort’s sportswriters.
Roberts’s chairman of his sports division Mark Lazerus is 20th on the list, far below Francesa and just one step ahead of Lupica who is listed at 21 and Skipper from ESPN at 22. Right then and there you have to wonder about this list when Skipper is below a carnival barker like Lupica.
Neither Francesa nor Lupica have done a thing except give opinions.
Apparently in the Daily News’s world, three New York City area pro teams do not exist, the New York Islanders, the New Jersey Devils and the New York New Jersey Red Bulls. The Islanders franchise will relocate to Brooklyn from Nassau County, the Daily News recognizes the New Jersey-based Giants and Jets but not the New Jersey based Devils and Red Bulls.
The Big Ten is now part of the New York City area landscape as Rutgers University is part of the conference.
By the way Phil Jackson is more important than Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Yeah, the Daily News produced a steady stream of damaging Alex Rodriguez stories and Selig led the charge to get Rodriguez suspended. Jackson was able to keep Carmelo Anthony, lost Steve Kerr and probably would not be in New York without the musical group Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff. Azoff is not on the Daily News’s list.
Also not on the Mort Super 50 are CBS and Turner Sports executives. That’s journalism malfeasance because who do you think funds the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament? The last time anyone looked, CBS had New York headquarters. Donald Trump is on the list as a golf course owner, the Mets Public Relations Director Jay Horowitz is number 50. But no Sumner Redstone at CBS or Leslie Moonvees at CBS (CBS gets tax breaks in New York along with NBC for having late night talk shows with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon, so CBS must have some importance somewhere and wait CBS owns WFAN where Francesa works.). Suyzn Waldman is on the list, a baseball play by play announcer of sorts but Bob Costas isn’t, nor is Jim Nantz although Phil Simms and Boomer Esasion are part of the Fabulous 50.
The Voice of the Yankees, John Sterling is not on the list either. Odd because Sterling’s home run calls and Mr. Ed sounding “The Yankees win” are both applauded and ridiculed. Mike Breen, the Voice of the NBA on ESPN and Marv Albert are also missing.
Maybe putting a radio talk show host and a columnist along with announcers isn’t a good idea after all their popularity or distain is opinion not fact based. Commissioners like Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, Adam Silver, David Stern, Gary Bettman and Don Garber have records of accomplishment or failure. A talk show host and a columnist can develop amnesia if something they said or wrote was untrue.
Leaving off Rupert Murdoch is an unpardonable journalistic sin. But remember Mort’s Daily News is in a tabloid battle with Murdoch’s New York Post for tabloid supremacy. Murdoch needs to be at the top of this list. By the way, Mort, Don Fehr is now based in Toronto, not New York as the Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association. Also missing from this list are a slew of politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who will not lift the Madison Square Garden property tax exemption, the politicians who want Madison Square Garden shut down in 10 years, Michael Bloomberg who is no longer mayor but did the deals that helped get new baseball parks for the Yankees and Mets in the Bronx and Queens, Sheldon Silver, the lower Manhattan sate assemblyman, who crushed New York’s chances of landing the 2012 Summer Olympics and the New York Jets by blocking the construction of a Manhattan west side stadium in 2005. Also missing is Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray who blocked Islanders’ owner Charles Wang’s arena-village proposal in Uniondale which eventually led to Wang relocating his franchise to Brooklyn.
Another media person missing, Mel Karamazin, the former CEO of Sirius/XM radio. Karmazin was a New York fixture for decades and his influence is far flung. At Sirius/XM he got the broadcast rights to virtually every major league sports team in North American.
Mort, your list doesn’t make much sense. When a talk show host is more powerful than sports commissioners, sports owners, it becomes bogus.
Evan Weiner can be reached at [email protected]. His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365489 ) and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/americas-passion-how-coal/id595575002?mt=11 ), From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196?mt=11 ) and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/business-and-politics-of-sports-evan-weiner/1101715508?ean=2940044505094) and reissue of the 2010 e-book The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/business-politics-sports-selection/id771331977?mt=11 ) are available from e-book distributors globally. 2014 e-book, sports business 2010-14(https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/393652 ). The e-books are available from e-book distributors globally