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A Publication of WTVP

Sports is big business. According to Plunkett Research, a leading provider of sports market research, the industry generates about $414 billion each year in the U.S. alone. “The sports industry today is much more than the competition of athletes,” notes the website for Bradley University’s highly successful Sports Communication program. “It is a major economic and global cultural phenomenon.”

Indeed, from public relations and sports medicine to product endorsements and company sponsorships, the reach of sports extends far beyond the playing field.

Given the importance of branding in the business world, I was intrigued to learn the story behind Nike’s Swoosh logo, one of the most famous in the world. Created in 1971 by a graphic design student working for $2 an hour, it cost Nike co-founder Phil Knight—the 60th richest person in the world, according to the latest Forbes list—the tidy sum of $35. “I don’t love it,” Knight is said to have told the student, “but I think it will grow on me.”

While I’m not an enthusiast for any particular sport—much less an athlete by any stretch—I do enjoy the experience. I’ve been to Cubs, Cards, Sox and Bulls games; NASCAR races and the Indy 500; Big 10 college football games; and a number of PGA tour events. I was at the Robertson Memorial Fieldhouse on December 21, 1981, for the longest game in college basketball history, when Bradley lost to the University of Cincinnati in seven overtimes.

As much as the game itself, I like to people-watch, and I often find myself checking out the company logos on the outfield walls and scoreboards, on the banners behind the starting line, or on uniforms, cars, shoes, visors…just about anywhere they can be placed. Sports event sponsorships offer a key means for companies to stand out from the competition and build relationships with their clients. To be sure, sports can bring us together in ways that few other things can.

A beautiful summer day often beckons us to get out and “do business” on the golf course. “Think of it as a six-hour sales call,” says Bill Storer, president of Business Golf Strategies and a consultant on the rules of business golf. Golf can also be an ideal forum for mixing business and charity. On any given day, there may be numerous golf outings in the area to benefit local not-for-profit groups.

Sometimes, a charitable event is so successful that it quickly multiplies in attendees, sponsors and locations. In just three years, Central Illinois’ Tee It Up For the Troops has grown to become one of the area’s signature events. This year, on August 29th, it will be held on three area courses: Mt. Hawley Country Club, WeaverRidge Golf Club and the Country Club of Peoria. It’s a great way to spend a day in the sun, mingle with business colleagues, and most importantly, help out our local veterans groups.

In this issue, we examine the local intersection of sports and business—a perfect way to kick off your summer. iBi

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