Scotland’s Other Vote For Inclusion

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A historic vote occurred in Scotland yesterday. More than 85% of eligible citizens voted in the Scottish Referendum for independence. As the final votes were tallied, more than two million votes, approximately 55%, were casted in favor of Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. The Scottish had voted for inclusion; they voted to stay connected with the other members of the United Kingdom.

The vote on independence was not the only historic vote for inclusion in Scotland yesterday. The 2,400 members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club were asked to vote on Thursday as to whether women should be allowed to become members. About three quarters of the members participated in the ballot and of those who voted, 85% voted for inclusion.

18th Green and Clubhouse.jpg
18th Green and Clubhouse” by paul birrell – From Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The R&A Club is based at the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland. Previously, women were allowed to play at the course, but they were not allowed to become members. The R&A Club sets the rules for the game of golf everywhere in the world except the United States and Mexico. While women were allowed at St. Andrews, they were not permitted in the clubhouse nor had a significant influence on any of the rulemaking.

The LPGA approved of the R&A’s decision releasing a statement saying “the LPGA is happy to hear that the members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews have voted to include female members. This decision is certainly a step in the right direction and one that better captures the current diversity and inclusiveness of our great game.”

In 2012, the Augusta National Club, which hosts the Masters, admitted two women members, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore, for the first time in the 80-year history of the club.

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Updates To Our Website

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The Sports Business Exchange logoWhen we started The Sports Business Exchange in 2009, we set out to give a voice to young professionals working in the sports industry. Over time, we’ve adjusted our focus, created a journal, broadened our audience to all sports business professions, eliminated the journal, added and subtracted features on the site, hosted plenty of networking events, and most importantly, welcomed thousands of new readers to the website. Without our readers, the website would not be where it is today. Thank you.

Very quietly a few months ago we updated the design off the website. We did this with little fanfare in case there were errors or parts of the new website that didn’t work correctly. No one who works or writes for The Sports Business Exchange has a background in web design and to be completely honest, we’re still making minor tweaks all the time.

All of that being said, we thought it was important to take the opportunity to formally acknowledge the new website and review some of the major features. As I mentioned earlier, we continue to tinker with the site as we make changes based on new ideas (podcast anyone?) but I thought it was important to highlight some of the features that are currently on our website.

KAEO Startups: Our longest running and most successful series examines sports startups. KAEO stands for “Keep An Eye On” and is a common phrase used on message boards to discuss high school recruits. Among the many startups we’ve featured, several have expanded considerably since they were on our site into well-known companies within the industry including numberFire, Chat Sports, and LockerDome. Our latest KAEO Startup featured company will be post in the next few weeks.

Visualizations: Infographics have plowed through social media over the last two years because of their readability and shareability. However, we have found visualizations to be a lot more compelling and enlightening. They’re also more fun and interactive. All of our visualizations are stored under the “Visualizations” tab on the upper right corner of the website. After you find a visualization that you like, click around the graphic to learn more.

Good Sports: Good Sports is our newest feature on the website and I am excited to launch it. In this section, we’ll be looking at the better side of sports where sports positively impacts society and communities. We’ll also tackle more serious social issues in this section as well. We’re excited to have Danielle Pourbaix on board as one of our key contributors for this section and throughout the website.

Around the Blog: The original blog that launched the website isn’t going anywhere. You’ll see a lot more guest posts and featured contributing writers as we plan on expanding our sports business coverage even further. If you’re interested in writing about a particular topic or just sharing your thoughts, please email us.

As mentioned above, we hope you’ll share your thoughts on the new website. Feel free to leave a note in the comments section below or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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For Women’s World Cup, The Turf Debate Heats Up

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This is a guest post by Michael Tarantino, CSFM, Director of Maintenance and Operations at Poway Unified School District and Sports Turf Managers Association board member.

Photo credit: Roberto Gurgel / Sod Solutions
Credit: Roberto Gurgel / Sod Solutions

Just a few months ago, the world turned its attention to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. The backdrop to this July 13 match was a beautifully maintained and manicured Celebration Bermuda grass field at one of soccer’s most historic stadiums, Estadio do Maracanã.

Flash back to July 2007, FIFA officially chose Brazil to host the 2014 event and soon finalized 12 host cities across the country with all venues to feature natural grass.

One would expect FIFA to create the same “playing field” for the Women’s 2015 World Cup in Canada. However, in early 2013, soccer’s global governing body announced the tournament would be the first senior World Cup – men’s or women’s – to be held entirely on artificial turf.

As seen in recent media coverage, there has been considerable backlash to this decision. More than 50 international female players from 12 countries have stepped forward, taking to social media and backing a petition with more than 4,000 signatures to express disproval of using a “second-class surface.”

The debate over natural versus artificial turf is turning vehement. Players are threating lawsuits if forced to play on synthetic turf, citing gender discrimination. Every World Cup and Champions League Final has been played on a natural grass field. So why does FIFA feel the need to change the surface for women?

In a New York Times article, former professional player Alecko Eskandarian commented on how playing on artificial turf changes the game. He noted “the ball bounces different on artificial stuff, the passes run a lot faster, it’s more difficult to cut and change direction, and it generally makes your body a bit more sore than if you were to play on grass.”.

John Herdman, Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team Head Coach, has been vocal about the wear-and-tear synthetic turf causes on his players’ bodies. “Turf burn” and “turf toe” – injuries unique to artificial fields – can sideline a player or hinder the ability to perform at the highest level. The potential for injury imperils the competitive balance for the World Cup.

With FIFA still not responding to the players concerns, is there really anything that can be done?

Phil McQuade, Director of Turf for Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and a long-time member of the Sports Turf Manager Association (STMA) member suggests FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association look at laying turf over the synthetic fields. This was tested earlier this summer in front of more than 109,000 fans for a match at Michigan Stadium between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

McQuade recommends overlaying the current synthetic fields with thick cut, big roll natural grass. Once the venue is finished with play, the sod could be donated to a local school or park.

The natural grass versus artificial turf debate is ongoing and with the outcome still looming the only real known, is come next summer the world will watch as the best players come together to play for the championship for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.


About Michael Tarantino

Michael Tarantino is a Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) and Director of Maintenance and Operations at Poway Unified School District in Poway, Calif. The Poway School District consists of 40 sites covering 100 square miles and an enrollment of 35,500 students.

STMA logoCurrently, he is a STMA board member. In 2009, Michael received the Dick Ericson Founders Award for his service to the STMA and leadership at the national level to advance the sports turf industry.

Michael holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management with a minor in Human Resources. He is a licensed landscape contractor in the state of California.

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Lessons Learned From Market Basket

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The protests at Market Basket captured the attention of all of New England. In this guest post, Glenn Mangurian shares his thoughts on what can be learned from Market Basket and applied to the sports world.
Over the summer we read and watched the sport of family rivalry with the feuding Demoulases of Market Basket. The story is classic – good vs. evil. Good guy “Arthur T.” is wronged by bad guy “Arthur S.”. The workers revolt and take to the streets (in this case the parking lots). Faced with no workers, no customers and potential financial ruin Arthur S. steps aside. Arthur T. returns riding a white horse (in this case a white Mercedes) to the roar of the workers. Good triumphs over evil and everyone lives happily ever after. Fade to black. Frank Capra would have bid for the screen rights. Wait a minute. As the movie credits roll, we see Arthur S. on a yacht sipping piña coladasand reading a bank statement with a $1.5 billion balance. Fade to Arthur T. in the boardroom with the Blackstone Group reading a similar bank statement with a balance due of $1.5 billion. Fade to black again with the scrolling words – “to be continued …”. A good story usually has a sequel.

As business school professors construct the lessons of market basket, let me provide a few of my own and the parallels to the sports world.


You don’t need a union to be unified.

Market basket is a non-union enterprise. The workers unified around their beloved boss not for personal gain. They were actually for Arthur T. management. That’s right. Workers put their jobs on the line for management. Can you imagine players doing this?

It’s the trust, stupid.

It takes years to build trust but only a moment to lose it. Trust is the currency of social capital. Arthur T. was “rich” with trust. Arthur S. seemed lacking. Have Boston sports owners created trust?


Employee loyalty generates customer loyalty and customer loyalty is great business.

The new conventional wisdom is that you can’t expect customers to be treated right if employees don’t experience the same from management. How do the owners of Boston sport team treat their onfield and off field employees? How does that influence fan loyalty?

Business within families can be very difficult.

There are winners and losers. The Market Basket family schism reminds me of the struggle between Mark and Roger Berkowitz over the control of Legal Seafood. Under Roger’s leadership Legal continues to thrive. How will the succession within Kraft family playout?


Well, as we know the story ain’t over. We’ll have to see how it plays out. Arthur T. wins authority with a lot of debt. One thing is for certain. Arthur S. did just fine financially in this saga. I can’t wait to see the sequel – Market Basket 2: Blackstone vs. Mr. (Arthur) T.


Glenn Mangurian is a respected business leader and writer, most recently serving as Senior Vice President of CSC Index, a global consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With a 35-year track record as a consultant, coach and inspirational speaker, his motivational presentations draw from his quest to overcome the limitations of his paralysis. Mangurian can be reached via email at Visit for more information.


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Visualization: Premier League Summer Spending

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Andy Kriebel of VizWiz analyzes the money spent on transfers during the summer leading up to the Premier League season. Premier League clubs spent a record £835m during the 2014 summer transfer window. Manchester United led the way, spending a record £150m.

Click on any of the grey box stories to reveal a new visualization.

Big spending is nothing new for clubs in the Premier League. Back in January, Deloitte Sports Business Group released their 17th annual key findings among the top 20 club spenders.

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