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About this issue.

There has always been a direct correlation between business and sports: the marriage of individual effort with teamwork and the emphasis on long-range planning and strategy. And, to use a timeworn aphorism, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Since the inception of BLACK ENTERPRISE, we have tracked this trend. Over the past three decades, we have served as one of the leading business publications to chronicle the rise of the athlete as entrepreneur. Since the 1960s, the gridiron, baseball field, basketball court, and boxing ring have spawned legions of entrepreneurs who sought to compete in the business arena. In fact, the late Jackie Robinson, who was responsible for breaking the color line in America's favorite pastime, and Jim Brown, the groundbreaking football star, were considered ahead of their time when they became vocal proponents of black entrepreneurship and economic development.

Not only did many athletes prove to be tenacious competitors in the business world but also winners when it came to market share, revenue creation, and business profitability. If you reviewed the 30-year history of the BE 100s, you'd find all-star former athletes as well as legendary CEOs. For instance, former All-Pro Green Bay Packers Defensive End Willie Davis built a diversified beer distribution and radio broadcasting conglomerate that was named the 1983 BE Company of the Year. Two-time All-Pro Detroit Lions Running Back Mel Farr's standout performance in the automotive industry earned him honors as the 1992 BE Auto Dealer of the Year--and, at one point, head of the nation's largest black-owned business. NBA Hall of Famer David Bing transformed the Bing Group into the nation's largest African American steel company and the organization gained recognition as the 1998 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 Company of the Year. If you take a look at the BE 100s roster today, you'll find other superstars, including home run king Hank Aaron and gridiron greats Gale Sayers and John Stallworth.

Our Business Editor, Alan Hughes, a former sportswriter, thought it was time for us to revisit this subject and spotlight the next generation of players. "I wanted to take a look at those athletes who were preparing for life after football and basketball right now," says Hughes, a lifelong sports fan who holds season tickets to watch his beloved New York Giants during the football season. "For many players, their careers are over in their 30s and, if they're lucky, by 40. I wanted to know how they secure their financial future as well as apply their skills to develop thriving businesses."

What Hughes found was a motley crew of innovators, including wide receiver Cris Carter, who holds virtually every receiving record for the Minnesota Vikings. Together with brother John, he built a security and construction-management firm. Their ultimate play: ownership of an NFL franchise.

If Carter Bros. L.L.C. proves successful, the owners will follow in the footsteps of BET founder and serial entrepreneur Robert L. Johnson. In this issue, Hughes also provides a detailed account of how the billionaire mogul snared the NBA'S Charlotte expansion team.

For years, sports fans have lamented the woeful tales of heroes gone broke--the most dramatic being that of Joe Louis, the legendary Brown Bomber who died penniless after lifting the spirits and aspirations of African Americans during the Jim Crow Era. As our report illustrates, today's crop of athletes view their true legacy not as being players, but owners.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Previous Article:The ultimate goal. (Publisher's Page).
Next Article:Show business. (Letters).

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