Tamika Tremaglio came across as charismatic, affable, yet disciplined while impressing attendees of The State of the Industry conference held this month in New York City, SBJ’s first joint event with SportTechie. She was at ease and didn’t venture far from her playbook in discussing her first three months as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. While her predecessor Michele Roberts brought significant legal chops and a serious, steely approach, Tremaglio appears more accessible, being less rooted in litigation and more in business. It’s easy to see why she won over players during the interview process, with her intellect and focus on growing the business of basketball. She acknowledged that approach when she sat down with me in New York, saying she was intrigued by the opportunity to work with players. “As I thought about what they need next, it was more focused on the business. Michele did an exceptional job of really getting them to where they are now. But now it’s about growing this pie. … How do we build an equity forum for our players so that we’re creating generational wealth?” At the end of our conversation, I asked, at 51 years old and able to retire, why take such a role? She wanted to push herself and live by her motto. “Never be comfortable,” she said. “When you become comfortable, you’re not growing, and it’s important to always grow. That stretch that you feel is a good thing. That was part of the reason why I’m here.”
DAZN’s Joe Markowski sounded the alarm on sports piracy at State of the Industry, a long-simmering topic that doesn’t draw headlines because it’s not a new or even sexy topic. But Markowski always has informed views on media and consumer habits and stated that widespread global piracy is sucking billions of dollars — yes, billions — away from rights holders and distributors. “We’ve got to get a solution on piracy,” he said. “One hundred percent. That is not spoken about enough at conferences like this. I worry about that a lot. Go on Twitter tonight and whatever game’s on, you can find a [pirated] stream. There’s got to be a solution. We’ve got to have more open conversation. There’s got to be dialogue between rights holders, broadcasters, lobbyists, government in Washington, London, Brussels. It’s really hard. And it’s really easy for the consumer to do it.” La Liga’s Boris Gartner echoed that the widespread piracy is negatively affecting media revenue for rights holders. “When we’re sitting having conversations for media rights and distribution deals with partners, that comes up. ‘What’s the level of piracy on your specific product? What are you doing about it?’” Markowski countered: “Ultimately, the best protection is having the best quality experience on your platform. … If you can only experience a disrupted feed on an illegal platform versus a multi-engagement tool, the experience is going to outweigh the risk and challenge of getting it on an illegal platform. So, the best form of defense is attack, and attack with the quality of your product while you’ve also got the techies looking at solutions to technically protect you.” Markowski’s correct — this is a critically important topic that doesn’t get addressed enough, probably because any solution is incredibly complex and difficult.
Let’s end with a nod to longtime sports executive Len Komoroski, who is stepping away from his role as CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and Rock Entertainment after this season. Komoroski, who will remain in a consulting role to the organization where he has worked since 2003, had a great run as a successful brand builder of nearly two decades in Cleveland. His leadership in the massive $185 million renovation of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse has made that arena one of the best in the NBA and the Cavaliers have been up for Sports Team of the Year at the Sports Business Awards three times since 2009. He’s been a leader in local Cleveland issues as well as a key player on the national sports scene and leaves the organization in very good shape — a playoff team with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, a 37-year-old new CEO and one of his mentees, Nic Barlage, and a 39-year-old successful GM in Koby Altman. In addition, the executive tree of those who have worked for him over his nearly 40 years in the business is one of the strongest in sports. Every time I was with Komoroski, he spoke passionately about the ability of sports executives and organizations to inspire communities and bring people together to make a difference. He personified that passion with his actions.
Abraham Madkour can be reached at email@example.com.