Second Annual Business of Sports Conf.
On Friday morning, businessmen wearing black suits and broad grins ate raspberry pastries and talked about the world. The second annual Business of Sports Conference took place at the Irvine Hyatt and was hosted by the Paul Merage School of Business in an attempt to bridge the gap between business students and the sports industry.
On the day’s schedule were a series of talks on the converging point between the sports community and the businessmen who market them. Distinguished speakers worked with legendary athletes as basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Among the day’s subjects was the question of how, as 2005 Merage graduate Marc Isenberg put it, to ‘sustain profitable, socially responsible business growth over time’.
The focal point of the event was a talk held by Andy Hill, the former president of CBS Productions. Hill discussed the primary virtues held by the sports-business community, as modeled by the highly successful former UCLA coach John Wooden.
Wooden is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, and led UCLA to three consecutive NCAA championships. Overall, Wooden won 10 national championships in 12 years and, at one point, reeled off 88 straight games, 44 of which Hill was on the team for. In an ESPN poll, Wooden was voted the greatest coach of the 20th century and was also honored with the Medal of Honor by President Bush, ‘the highest civilian honor that anyone can get,’ Hill said.
‘I’m one of 13 men in the history of the NCAA who have ever been on three straight championship teams. Not surprisingly, the one thing that the 13 of us have in common is that we all played for John Wooden,’ Hill said. Wooden’s central ideology consisted of the ‘Pyramid of Success,’ a series of 15 attributes important for success.
‘He really represents the best of what our American society is all about,’ Hill said. ‘[It’s] about hard work and innovation and creativity and team work.’
Hill discussed his own experience as a producer working with such high names as Chuck Norris. Norris, as an aside, would remind Hill every time he met him that he could kill Hill with his bare hands.
‘Being in the entertainment industry as I was, obviously, I have known people who were rich, people who were famous, people who were powerful,’ Hill said. ‘One thing I can tell you is if you think money, power and fame is the road to happiness, you should spend some time with billionaires and movie stars.’
Hill cited Wooden as a man who, in contrast, developed a sense of inner peace even while in the midst of his highly successful career.
Wooden would never remind his players how important it would be to win a game; instead, he would win his matches by focusing on the present moment rather than worrying about eventual success.
Hill also cited examples of Wooden’s mastery of the coaching technique. When a player became tired, for example, Wooden would tell him that his defender was tired, and that the player should push harder to take advantage of this.
Conference Chair and MBA student Gary Rosenfield stated that planning the event, while not easy, was not hard either. Event participants such as Leonard Armato desired to ‘share their personal experiences.’
Tickets to the event were $45 for students, $70 for University-affiliated members and $100 for outsiders. Proceeds were directed to the Merage Business School’s student association.