- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

The International Sports Summit, a meeting of sports business executives, will be marking its 25th anniversary when it convenes next month in New York.

To celebrate the anniversary, the summit will recognize the 50 most influential sports councils, athletes and venues that have shaped the business of sports for the past 25 years.

This sounds like something that could rival the ESPYs for riveting relevance.

The list is broken down into categories sports commissions, league executives, owners, non-league executives, sports management, venues, media executives and athlete endorsers and each list already has candidates to choose from.

Based on those candidates, you would have thought Washington wasn't even on the map the past 25 years. According to the summit, Washington was about just as relevant in the business of sports over as Scranton.

Consider the candidates for the top five sports commissions in the country: Colorado Springs Sports Corporation; Indiana Sports Corporation; Los Angeles Sports Council; Maryland Stadium Authority; Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation; New York City Sports Commission; Philadelphia Sports Congress; San Antonio Sports Foundation; San Diego International Sports Council, and the San Jose Sports Authority.

The San Jose Sports Authority! And no D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission? If baseball comes back to the District, I think it will be safe to say that the D.C. commission makes the list for the next 25 years.

Then there is the list to select from for the top five owners: Jerry Reinsdorf, George Steinbrenner, Ted Turner, Gavin and Joe Maloof (Sacramento Kings), Lamar Hunt, Tom Hicks, Al Davis and Mark Cuban. Oh, yes, there is one more owner Phil Anschutz. If you are grasping for straws for Washington, this is it, since he pretty much owns Major League Soccer, and D.C. United is part of his empire.

No Abe Pollin. No Ted Leonsis. And no Dan Snyder. Again, I suspect that when they make the list for the next 25 years, both Leonsis and Snyder will appear, providing they can both find success on the ice and the field to go along with their marketing accomplishments.

Not that anyone should be offended by not being included on these lists. For example, on the list of candidates for the most influential non-league executives is Anita DeFrantz, the Los Angeles-based International Olympic Committee former vice president and hack. Anita Bryant was a more influential sports figure than Anita DeFrantz.

Vince McMahon is also on the list, which cannot be accurate, because as Vince himself has testified, professional wrestling is not a sport. It is entertainment. They might as well have put Michael Jackson on this list if they include Vince McMahon unless, of course, they are counting the influence that the XFL had on sports. We wouldn't have had "He Hate Me" without Vince.

It's too bad Vince doesn't live in Washington. At least we could lay claim to him.

The University of Maryland's Comcast Center is a candidate for top venues in the last 25 years. So is Camden Yards. But Camden Yards is in Baltimore. This is Washington. We need to draw that line across I-95 more than ever now.

But as far as living, breathing influential people, we are beholden to an import Michael Jordan, obviously on the list of most influential athletic endorsers. Unless you even want to acknowledge the existence of the sports management alias agent list. We've got some representation there in Donald Dell and David Falk.

That is the legacy of the business of sports in Washington for the past 25 years, according to the International Sports Summit. Let's see Scranton top that.

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