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Archive for the 'SIM Speaker Series' Category


Oct 02 2012

SIM Speaker Series: Deb Fiddelke

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Starting in 2008, the city of Chicago began its bid for the 2016 summer Olympics.  That same year Deb Fiddelke, a former member of the Bush White House staff, decided to change her career from politics the field of sports when she was hired for the International and Government Relations efforts for Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.  Since the inception of the modern Olympics, only three U.S. cities have hosted the summer games and Chicago was the most obvious choice for a return to the United States.  Deb Fiddelke spoke to the SIM class last Thursday about the many factors that contribute to a successful bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the preparation required to create a strong technical and thematic presentation to the committee.

According to Deb, in order to create a successful bid first you need to have the right city to handle the massive amount of construction, infrastructure, and space needed to host the games.  She stated the team was prepared to build 90% of the venues within 15 minutes of each other and utilize the spectacular Lake Michigan as a backdrop.  The sheer size of the city of Chicago would also be able to handle the amount of infrastructure and space needed.  They even planned to convert an abandoned hospital into space to house the athletes.   Secondly she said you need the commitment of city leaders, the public and federal leaders.  The Mayor of Chicago at the time, Richard M. Daley, was fully integrated in the bidding process and was committed to the efforts from the beginning.  Deb stated that the Olympics were Mayor Daley’s “baby” and that he wanted this to be his legacy.  The public of Chicago was much harder to convince though.  Much of the public feared the use of public funds but the bid team assured that no tax payer money would be used and that the bidding process would be fully funded by private entities.  Many of the citizens of Chicago were also assured that the city would see an increase of jobs and an economic boost from the games.  As far as the support of federal leaders is concerned, in 2008 Barack Obama was elected president and as a Chicago native, President Obama and the first lady were involved in the bid process until the very end.  The bid committee also received letters of support from 5 federal cabinet secretaries twice, once when the process started under Bush and again after Obama was elected.

According to Deb, $50 million dollars was privately funded just to complete the bid process.  The team had the support from the city of Chicago, backing from the Federal government, and a plan to build temporary and reusable venues, so why was Chicago the first city eliminated from the Olympic vote?  Well according to Deb, the city of Chicago had no chance from the beginning.  “We thought it was Rio vs. Chicago in the finals, but in hindsight, Chicago was never going to get the Olympics”.  It was clear that the IOC wanted to give the Olympics to a continent that had never hosted the games before.  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the most likely choice, and it allowed the IOC to scratch South America off its list.  The 2016 Olympic bid was not unlike a political campaign with strong undertones of corruption, lobbying, and handshake deals.  An unresolved TV rights deal and disputes over revenue sharing between the IOC and the USOC were also negative factors for Chicago.

In the end, the entire process was daunting and exhausting according to Deb, but she would drop everything and join another Olympic bid team in a heartbeat.  It is clear that the Chicago 2016 team was fully prepared for another successful Olympic games in America, but what the team was not prepared for was the politics of the IOC, the predetermined minds of IOC members and the necessary lobbying of leaders of the International Sports Federations.  Deb Fiddelke believes that the U.S. could be in contention for the 2028 or 2032 summer games but it is hard to determine when the IOC seems to dismiss the merits of the bidding process. Besides, the IOC stated to the Chicago 2016 team after they were eliminated, “You had the best plan, it just wasn’t your turn”.


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Sep 19 2012

Speaker Series Kicks Off with Bruce Bundrant

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This year, the students of Georgetown’s graduate Sports Industry Management program will have the unique treat of being visited by industry professionals on a regular basis to hear them speak about their work and career, and best of all, answer questions and provide priceless insight into developing a career in the sports industry. Check back frequently for updates on the Global Sports Business Speaker Series.

September 13, 2012 – Bruce Bundrant, Head of Commercial Partnerships at Liverpool Football Club

The Fall 2012 Global Sports Business Speaker Series began Thursday, September 13, with a visit from Bruce Bundrant, a 15-year sports veteran in international business, primarily in soccer (he actually referred to the sport as ‘football’, which immediately endeared him to me and the few other international students in the room).

Bundrant began the talks with a brief overview of his career in the sports industry, which started with an internship at DC United whilst he was gaining his Masters in Sports Management at West Virginia. When I asked about how he had managed to get this start in the industry, Bundrant referred to a combination of perseverance and luck, as Major League Soccer was no more than a couple years old, and during his time as an intern the club hosted the championship game and won the MLS Cup. This exposure acted as a springboard for Bundrant’s career, which saw him work for the European Marketing Firm Sport 5, GMR Marketing, and finally Liverpool FC.

Throughout his career Bundrant has held varying roles in sales, sponsorship and buying, emphasizing how important it is to get experience in all angles in order to “stay ahead of the game” and be successful in this extremely competitive industry. As an example, Bundrant credited his experience at GMR as a buyer to his success at Liverpool where he worked in sales, as he was able to see what both parties would be looking for in a deal.

The talks concluded with several questions regarding Major League Soccer and the Premier League. Bundrant noted the value that Premier League teams are now placing in eastern markets, rather than the west, given the enormous fan base in Asia and the crowded market in America.

Next week’s speaker will be Deb Fiddelke, Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Bid Committee, Vice President, Edelman.

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Dec 02 2011

Ted Leonsis Addresses GU SIM

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By: Erin McHale

Ted Leonsis speaking to SIM students

Georgetown SIM students recently had the honor of listening to Mr. Leonsis speak about his accomplishments and his own personal leadership style. He talked mostly of his responsibilities as the owner of a sports franchise, and his philosophy of having a double bottom line business. This involves not only improving financially, but also having a positive impact on people and society along the way. As a multiple-franchise owner, Mr. Leonsis sits down and evaluates his three “income statements” every year.  These statements include defining the product accomplishment, what will make the business successful, and finally, how the business will change the world.

During his speech, Mr. Leonsis told a story about his childhood experience at a Jets versus Colts game with his father. Years later, as he was running on his treadmill, a replay of the game came on television, commemorating the first time the two teams were meeting again since the game that Mr. Leonsis attended as a child. The replay of the game brought him to tears. Mr. Leonsis explained that the sports industry is much more important than most people know, asking “what kind of business makes grown men cry 45 years later?” Sport seems to be the only answer that adequately fits this question.

As an owner, Mr. Leonsis has gone above and beyond his call of duty. Whether it be changing the straws in the Axela Club because a fan brought to his attention they were substandard, or going from sitting next to the President of the United States during a game to cleaning the women’s bathroom five minutes later, Mr. Leonsis has shown what he considers to be one of the most important characteristics anyone can have: empathy.

In a final question taken from a concept discussed in Mr. Leonsis’ book, The Business of Happiness, a SIM student asked if Mr. Leonsis would rather be needed or loved. Mr. Leonsis responded by saying that “the greatest franchises are both needed and loved. You should either be both, or be very clear which side of the fence you are on.” As for Mr. Leonsis himself, he said he would rather be loved. Through his many charities and endeavors, I think it is safe to say that Mr. Leonsis has already accomplished this goal. If you haven’t read his book, I recommend that you put it on your Christmas list.

Having the opportunity to hear Mr. Leonsis speak was an honor to all Georgetown SIM students. We look forward to hearing from him in the future, and wish him the best in all of his current and future endeavors.

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Nov 10 2011

Man on a Mission: Sonny Vaccaro Addresses SIM Students

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By Stephanos Stroop

Horatio Alger defined the American Ideal of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps.  Sonny Vaccaro lived this ideal and then some. 

Georgetown SIM students had the privilege of hearing from the former executive of Nike then Reebok then Adidas expound on his path to success then his crusade to fix the monster he created.  Known by some as the Godfather of Grassroots Basketball, Vaccaro came from humble beginnings in Trafford, PA.  After making it to college on a basketball scholarship and graduating, he took his first leap of faith by starting the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic.  This event lasted over forty years.

 The opportunity to work with Nike represented the next monumental moment of his career.  Nike dominated the marketplace as a running and track shoe; however, they desired to get into basketball.  At this point, Vaccaro’s Dapper Dan Roundball Classic was an established event.  To help Nike reach the basketball market, Vaccaro followed his belief that “kids sell products.”  Therefore, he targeted college programs and offered coaches a deal of free shoes as well as paying the coaches.  This was unheard of at the time but in one year they went from a handful of teams wearing Nike shoes to over eighty schools having their basketball player’s feet covered in Nike. 

 Mr. Vaccaro acknowledged he would not be where he is today without Nike.  As his career progressed he was involved in such big deals as signing Michael Jordan, being part of the “It’s gotta be the shoes” campaign, and the first all-school deal with the University of Miami.  All of these events culminated in professionalism of amateur sports.

 This point of the lecture represents a fundamental shift in the perspective of the talk.  He went from businessman to crusader.  For Mr. Vaccaro, “it is how you frame the picture.”  He believes there to be a huge disconnect between the schools, the players, and those governing.  He also believes the athlete has the right to be compensated as well as to be a student. 

 He went on to go into more detail concerning the irony of the title “student-athlete.”  The phrase “student-athlete” was coined in order for schools to avoid paying workman’s compensation for athletes injured while representing their respective school.  According to Mr. Vaccaro, the title should be “student earner.”  Ninety percent of revenue generated in NCAA sports comes from football and basketball.  However, students are not able to capitalize on their market value.  The irony behind the whole Cam Newton saga is that the school made more money off his jersey than what his father was asking for him during the recruiting process. 

 This background history plus Sonny seeing multiple players over the years taken advantage of led to his help in the Ed O’Bannon case. Ed O’Bannon is a former UCLA basketball player who won the John Wooden Award as well as a National Title.  He is suing the NCAA over the revenue generated from his likeness.  Other athletes have joined the case as co-plaintiffs.  Mr. Vaccaro is an unpaid consultant in this case providing unprecedented insight for the plaintiffs.  He believes this case will go to court and that they will win shocking the entire system now in place.

From listening to him speak, he may have been all over the place but what shined through was his passion for what he was doing and that he cared about the kids.  It was a wonderful treat being able to listen to Mr. Vaccaro speak.  We all look forward to seeing where his current endeavor takes him. 

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