The Washington Times - December 15, 2008, 11:53AM

Sports Business Journal has released its annual list of the 50 most influential people in sports. Go ahead and click on the link to see the list with some nice explanations about why each person was selected. It’s a good list, and I tend to favor SBJ’s over Forbes’ “Power 100” ranking even though it’s a lot of the same people.

ESPN head George Bodenheimer is No. 1, and it’s hard to argue with that, given that ESPN will one day control the universe and our souls. (We kid. Sort of. Though we’ve written about it before for sure.) ESPN has proven recently that they have the ability to outbid pretty much anyone for a sports property, and has no qualms about moving a top event from free TV to cable. (See the BCS and British Open deals.)

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I’m a little surprised to see NBA commish David Stern ahead of the NFL’s Roger Goodell, but SBJ rightly gives a lot of credit to Stern for his expansion of the NBA globally.

The addition of Comcast’s David Cohen to the list is a great choice, though I’m not sure he belongs as high as #10. Cohen is essentially the man who gets involved in all of the disputes between Comcast and the regional sports networks. Given the company’s past disputes with MASN and the long-simmering disagreement with the NFL Network, I’m suprised he wasn’t on this list before.

A hat tip to SBJ for recognizing Nike President Charlie Denson, although they could have also gone with Mark Parker, the company’s CEO. Other publications insist on putting chairman Phil Knight on their lists even though his day-to-day involvement has declined since his retirement as president in 2004.

Nice to see Adidas Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer at #15, right under Denson.

I do have one big quibble with SBJ, and that’s the failure to list a single athlete. I understand SBJ is a publication geared toward sports executives, but the failure to include either Tiger Woods or LeBron James seems iike an oversight.