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New Business Magazine Shows the Changes in Sports

December 20, 1987|MIKE WEIL | United Press International

NEW YORK — Sports have become such a big industry in this country there is a new magazine that reports soley on the business of play.

Fans searching for batting averages, player profiles and trade rumors should look elsewhere. The only statistics in Sportsinc., The Sports Business Weekly, analyze the bottom linescore -- calculated in dollars and cents.

One figure in the magazine, which released its first issue Nov. 18 in New York, may be more remarkable than Mark McGwire's 49 homers as a rookie or Ben Johnson's 9.83 second 100-meter dash. Sportsinc. reports the "gross national sports product," including everything from ticket and jogging-suit sales to stadium construction, totaled $47.2 billion in 1986 or more than one percent of the U.S. gross national product.

For publisher Steven Isenberg, that figure translates into an untapped market.

"The readers we want are those who earn their living in the business, those who work for corporations that provide goods and services for the business and those who work for corporations that sponsor sports events," he says.

That includes more than the agents, team owners and union leaders who are, more often than not, blasted by the rest of the sports press. The first issue has articles on subjects ranging from broadcast rights to construction trends and new sporting equipment. Scoreboard manufacturers, concessionaires and television networks -- looking for sponsors instead of viewers -- bought advertisements in the first issue.

And while their stories and ads target people in the industry, the editors and publishers expect some interest from the general public. Like it or not, fans are effected when players strike, team owners threaten to move unless cities build luxury skyboxes and networks cancel broadcasts because of poor ratings.

Craig Reiss, the magazine's editor, says the decisions made by the industry's executives affect the general public in ways they probably don't even realize.

"If there is more bowling than surfing on TV," he says, "there will be less people playing water sports and more people going to bowling alleys."

While that may mean success for the magazine, it's a pretty scary thought.

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