Monthly Archives: December 2023

If You Want To Make A Film About Sport and Its Values, Maybe Call George Clooney

The storytelling George Clooney has done in front of the camera and behind the camera is legendary and too much to list. However one thing should be noted for these readers, the guy loves the storytelling of sports, and that’s why the Christmas Day release of The Boys In The Boat should give a sport that has always been viewed as a bit elitist…rowing…quite a lift.

For those who don’t know, the film follows the story of Daniel James Brown’s bestseller about the road to the 1936 Olympics and how a group of college athletes from the University of Washington shocked the world…and host Nazi Germany…by winning gold in the eight man boat that summer in Berlin. That is the Olympics of Louis Zamperini and Jesse Owens and Mack Robinson and how the USOC kept many Jewish athletes out of the games in deference to the games racist hosts…but it is also one of great triumph at a time when the world was heading down a very dangerous path toward World War II, and the UW rowers were a key part of that mix. There have been many books written about the 1936 Olympics and its heroes, and this film is the latest in a series…”Unbroken” being another…that brings the world today back to that time so well.

But back to Clooney and the value of sports storytelling. The native Ohioan has always seen sports as such a key theme in his work, and as a release from the day to day. In addition to starring in the vintage football film “Leatherheads,” Clooney talked this week about his allegiance to Kentucky basketball (his son is a soph in Lexington), his love of pickup basketball as a release, and the unrequited joy he has for the Olympics in three different stories. Then there are the ties to the Huskies through the film (the film has a big fan in the undefeated UW football team, whose coach loves Daniel James Brown’s book and will have his squad see the movie on December 22nd as part of their prep for their BCS semi-final matchup with the University of Texas, talk about inspiration) as well, all of which lent itself so well to the authenticity of “The Boys In The Boat.”  

So what does “Boys In The Boat,” do for anyone looking for a dose of inspiration this holiday season? Lots. It goes into the mix with those films that aspire, through sport, to teach us life lessons. Think the aforementioned “Unbreakable,” or “Hoosiers,” or “Rudy.” It brings us historic storytelling way beyond a race on a river…think “Chariots of Fire.” It gives us periodic storytelling…think “Seabiscuit.” It ties us to the Olympic ideals in a year when we are heading into Paris 2024 as well, all done because of Clooney’s understanding of the values of sport, both as a fan and as a baller, and in the way the actors (Callum Murray, Joel Edgerton, Jack Mulhern, Luke Slattery and the rest) brought us into attention to detail in their prep and execution of the sport.

“Eight as one,” is the mantra and it applies to success on the screen, on the river, in life, today as much as ever.

“The Boys In The Boat” succeeds on every level for the genre it takes on and for the audience it is trying to reach. There will be clips that will make it into locker rooms and stadia and arenas around the world that will inspire and enthrall athletes far and wide.

It is a well done team effort, led by a director who gets sports.

28th WISE Women Of The Year Awards Luncheon To Honor Four Women At Annual Event

Women in Sports and Events (WISE), the foremost career and leadership development organization for women in the business of sports, will host its 28th WISE Women of the Year Awards Luncheon at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on March 19, 2024 honoring four recipients of the WISE Women of the Year award. 

The 2024 recipients are: Ayala Deutsch, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, National Basketball Association; Kate Johnson, Director and Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Google; Michele Kajiwara, Senior Vice President, Premium and Events Business, Arena & Peacock Theater; and Renee Chube Washington, Chief Operating Officer, USA Track & Field.   WISE members across North America had the opportunity to nominate women for their accomplishments and significant contributions to the business of sports, and the honorees were selected by the organization’s National Board.

“WISE is thrilled to honor four women who personify what it means to be a leader in our industry,”

said Kathleen Francis, National Board chair and president of WISE. “Ayala Deutsch, Kate Johnson, Michele Kajiwara, and Renee Chube Washington are not only paving the way, but they are also making a way for other women. We look forward to celebrating each of the honorees at our annual luncheon and the great work they do.”

The 2024 WISE Women of the Year honorees:

Ayala Deutsch, EVP and Deputy General Counsel, NBA

Ayala Deutsch is responsible for managing commercial legal affairs and intellectual property matters for the NBA and its affiliated leagues, including the global acquisition, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. She joined the NBA in 1998 and was named to her current position in January 2016, after serving as senior vice president and deputy general counsel and senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel.  A former associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York, Deutsch previously served on the Trademark Public Advisory Committee of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, was an adjunct professor of sports law at Cardozo School of Law and president of the International Trademark Association. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University School of Law where she received her J.D. in 1989.

Kate Johnson, Director and Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Google 

Kate Johnson is responsible for developing and executing Google’s strategic approach to sports and entertainment marketing partnerships across its many business verticals. Prior to joining Google, she served as vice president of global partnership marketing at Visa, where she oversaw the company’s global partnership portfolio, including its partnerships with the IOC, FIFA, the NFL, and other verticals. Johnson began her career in sports marketing at IMG’s Global Consulting Group, where she worked in New York, Vancouver and London, building and executing sponsorship marketing platforms for a variety of clients. Recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Sport by Adweek in both 2022 and 2017, Johnson is also a recipient of the 2017 Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award and the 2017 Leaders Under 40 Award. She serves as an IOC Commission Member for Marketing and Digital Media and is a former professional rower and Olympic medalist. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Johnson is an advisor to the Women’s Sports Foundation, Gatorade Women’s Board, the University of Michigan Sports Management Program, and the Youth Sports Alliance.

Michele Kajiwara, SVP, Premium and Events Business, Arena & Peacock Theater

Michele Kajiwara oversees over 2,400 premier seats and more than 150 private and event suites at Peacock Theater and Arena — home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Both venues are owned and operated by AEG, the largest sports and entertainment company in the world.  She leads a team of premium executives in all areas of sales, service, analytics, database marketing, hospitality and event management, and serves as an executive leader of several AEG employee network groups including AEG’s Women’s Leadership Council, AEG Global Partnerships Inclusion Council, and AEG’s Asian and Pacific Islander employee network group. Kajiwara joined AEG in 2003 and began her career in entertainment with New Regency Productions and then moved to New York to join Chelsea Piers. She holds a BA from the University of Southern California and has served on the board for the Association of Luxury Suite Directors for more than 10 years, including four as president. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including being named to Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers and Variety’s Dealmakers Impact Report. 

Renee Chube Washington, Chief Operating Officer, USA Track & Field

Renee Chube Washington joined USATF in June 2012 and as COO manages the organization’s record $40 million budget and 68-person national staff, as well as working with the CEO to develop and implement corporate strategy and direction. Washington has broad cross-enterprise oversight of all departments. Since being appointed COO, USATF has awarded six U.S. Olympic Team Trials, secured the World Athletics Indoor and Outdoor Championships on U.S. soil for the first time, participated in three Olympic Games and ten World Championships. Prior to USATF, Washington’s career spanned various corporate and government roles including time with Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, CICOA (a private, nonprofit agency advocate for the aged), as a staff attorney in the State of Indiana office of the Attorney General, and in several roles in the U.S. Department of Labor. She was named a 2017 Sports Business Journal Game Changer and a Cynopsis Top Women in Sports in 2019. A graduate of Georgetown University Law and Spelman College, Washington and has dedicated time to various causes including the Junior League of Indianapolis, Wishard Memorial Hospital, the Girl Scouts, American Cancer Society Guild, and numerous educational, cultural and political causes. 

In conjunction with the 28th Annual WISE Awards Luncheon, the WISE/R Symposium will take place on March 18th, the day prior to the luncheon, in New York City.  The WISE/R Symposium is the sports industry’s leading personal and professional development event for women. Built by women, for women, it is the first event of its kind to focus exclusively on the unique hurdles that women encounter in the business of sports.  Additional information about the 28, 2024 Annual WISE Awards Luncheon and the WISE/R Symposium can be found at

RealResponse Partners with a Global Leader providing comprehensive Anti-Doping Programs to Help Protect Athletes and Fair Sport

The International Testing Agency (ITA), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, selected RealResponse’s versatile technology platform to augment and expand the channels it uses to collect suspicious doping information securely and anonymously through REVEAL, its anti-doping reporting tool. With ITA’s focus on delivering comprehensive anti-doping programs and its obligations to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) International Standard for Testing and Investigations, implementing RealResponse’s secure, two-way anonymous platform to obtain anti-doping intelligence helps it achieve its stated mission.

The ITA’s new Proactive Reporting Policy – outlining how potential anti-doping rule violations are reported to and processed by the ITA – reinforces for athletes and athlete support personnel that they have the ability and confidence to come forward because of anonymous and confidential anti-doping reporting methods enabled by RealResponse.

ITA’s Nicholas Raudenski, Head of Intelligence & Investigations, comments, “The ITA’s core mission is to protect athletes and encourage a safe space for proactive reporting. Providing them with the best options to report any suspicions they could have in a confidential or anonymous manner supports this mission. RealResponse’s platform has the ability to reduce reporting barriers by providing multiple communications channels, including text and WhatsApp. And, the fact that we are able to engage in two-way, anonymous dialogue with a person reporting a doping concern supports efficient investigations and our clean sport mission in general.”

Through its secure and confidential reporting channels, RealResponse technology will play a crucial role in protecting athletes who disclose doping information and will help ITA achieve the objectives laid out in its new reporting policy.

“With the Paris Summer Olympics on the horizon, and as our first global client, the International Testing Agency recognizes the value of ensuring that all voices are heard when it comes to preventing doping in sport,” said David Chadwick, Founder and CEO of Real Response. “Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of all athletes and the integrity of competition around the world. By rolling out RealResponse to its stakeholders, the ITA is taking a major step to opening up communications channels that did not exist before and at a critical juncture.”