The second annual Cornell ILR Sports Leadership Summit in New York City will bring together 15 sports industry professionals to discuss the opportunities and future of the industry. The speakers, most of them Cornell alumni, range from league commissioners, journalists, network executives and other leaders in the field.
Cornellians have had a long history of leadership in sports, as the current commissioner of the National Hockey League and ESPN’s president are both Cornell alumni.
Many courses in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations allow students to explore components of careers in sports, such as negotiations, ethics, labor economics, labor law, sports statistics and conflict resolution. Several ILR courses are directly related to sports, including ILROB 3760: Sport Psychology and ILRLR 4030: Economics of Collective Bargaining in Sports.
The ILR School is also home to the ILR Sports Business Society, a student club that aims to provide members with access to the world of sports. The club hosts guest speakers and special events and runs a radio show, magazine and blog.
According to the Summit’s website, it will celebrate trailblazers and leaders in sports, who will discuss the opportunities and challenges surrounding athletes, owners, managers, leagues, sponsors and networks and what they predict to see in the future of sports.
The speakers will also discuss their experience in the sports industry, in relation to topics taught in the ILR school curriculum.
Alexander Colvin, interim dean of the ILR School and the Martin F. Scheinman Professor of conflict resolution, told the University that “many ILR School and Cornell alumni are industry influencers who have a wide-ranging impact on sports” and that “their leadership sets the pace for an industry that is at the heart of the American cultural experience.”
Thomas Heiden J.D. ’71, one of the panelists, is a partner at Latham & Watkins and the global chair of the firm’s product liability, mass torts and consumer class actions practice. He said that the summit offers a “collection of perspectives” in a “broad and rapidly changing sports industry.”
“Sports business is full of tensions and enormous sums of money,” Heiden said. “There are tensions between ameteur and pro athletes, legal challenges over things like whether college athletes should be paid, who gets what share of the sums of money available and issues over health, safety and injury, such as concussions.”
Heiden also noted that there are other stakeholders’ interests to consider in the sports business, including “electronic game developers, clothes and merchandise manufacturers and vendors and other interested parties.”
Heiden, who will be speaking about “High Stakes Betting Litigation in the Business of Sports,” said that sports betting is already a big industry, with more than $15 billion spent on betting for the Superbowl and for NCAA basketball, alone. 97 percent of that betting was illegal.
“Now states can make that betting legal,” Heiden said. “When that happens, leagues, franchise and players are going to want to find a way to get some of that money. States are also going to want some of that money. And sports bettors are going to want more information and discourse on what they are betting on.”
Marc Cornstein ’92, Head of Sports M&A for Financo, will be moderating the panel that Heiden is speaking on.
Cornstein said he is “looking forward to discussing this very timely issue and to seeing some of the other wonderful speakers that are scheduled to participate.”
“It will also be great to catch up with some old friends that I don’t get to see very often,” said Cornstein.
Gary Bettman ’74, commissioner of the National Hockey League and Michael Levine ‘93, co-head of CAA Sports, will also hold a fireside chat titled “Innovation Leadership, and Deal-Making in Sports.”
James Pitaro ’91, ESPN president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, will discuss disruptive trends in sports media through his fireside chat titled “Leading Through Change.”
The summit also includes several networking sessions and receptions, which will allow Cornell alumni and students the unique opportunity to discuss their career interests with sports leaders and to learn more about the different career tracks in the sports industry.