In sports, we are constantly preoccupied with wins and championships, but rarely do we think of actual power. Well, Sports Illustrated settled that for us by ranking the 50 most powerful people in sports, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell topping the list.
Many fans and players have had their issues with Goodell for turning the NFL into the "No Fun League" due to his strict adherence to league protocol. He's also highly criticized for what some see as over-the-top punishment for hard hits and suspensions levied during New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
Still, it can't be denied that the man is pretty darn powerful, and none of your negative feelings will change that. Here is how SI sees its No. 1 pick:
As de facto CEO of the King of All Sports Leagues -- more than $9 billion in annual revenue; furnisher of many (O.K., most) of the highest-rated TV programs -- the NFL commissioner wields considerable influence by dint of job title alone.
With recent speculation that Goodell might fine Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard for assaulting a police officer while attending Nebraska, the report also makes a valid point that Goodell has wide-reaching influence that extends beyond the gridiron.
If we are talking about a polarizing commish, though, you have to include David Stern—a man who would have been my No. 1 pick. I mean, if you can negate a trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers, changing the entire landscape of the league, and still moonwalk around as if everything is hunky-dory, you are pretty powerful.
Here is what SI thinks of its No. 2:
The longest-tenured commissioner in pro U.S. sports will retire next Feb. 1 -- 30 years to the day after he took the job. But the 70-year-old is no lion in winter, as the Spurs were reminded when Stern fined them $250,000 for resting their top four players for a nationally televised game against the champion Heat in November.
Since 1983, the NBA's revenue has grown from $140 million to an estimated record of $5 billion for 2012-13 with the widest global imprint among the four major North American pro leagues.
While Stern's time has come to an end, he will leave the league in the hands of deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who came in at No. 18 on this same list.
The list's top five is as follows:
- Roger Goodell—NFL commissioner
- David Stern—NBA commissioner
- Philip Anschutz—AEG owner
- John Skipper—ESPN president
- Bud Selig—MLB commissioner
The entire list is a fantastic romp through the many thrones of power that rarely get discussed.
Now, if you are looking to argue who is more powerful than President Barack Obama and Michael Jordan, at least on a sports scale, look no further than Ed O'Bannon, who wins the trivia question of the day.
The 40-year-old, who had a stint in the NBA after starring for the UCLA Bruins in their championship run, is suing the NCAA. His lawsuit takes on the "whole structure of amateurism" and could possibly reach the Supreme Court and change all of college sports.
So, for the moment, his sports power is good enough to get him the 43rd spot on this top 50—one ahead of Barack Obama (44) and seven ahead of Michael Jordan (50).
Anyway, we now have a list of the 50 most powerful people in sports, sorted in an order that is sure to spark plenty of controversy.
Let the debates begin en masse.