30 years in the job - that's a lot of time by any standard, 30 years in one of the most powerful positions in world sports - that's unprecedented.
Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL hockey league, does not intend to settle for the record he has already set and is currently opening his fourth decade as the most influential person in the history of the industry, and perhaps in the history of sports in general.
The Jewish Batman had a good teacher in the form of another Jew - David Stern, the legendary commissioner of the NBA.
30 years ago he left Stern's assistant position in the basketball league and set out on his own in hockey.
The opening figures were not optimal.
Hockey has an inherent problem with the television medium (the puck is too small, and when it "flies" at a speed of 100 km/h and more, the viewers at home have a hard time following it), and on top of that, the game was completely foreign in large parts of the US, certainly in the southern states.
Even so, Bateman's incredible success eclipses even Stern's list of successes.
One figure is enough to illustrate his achievement: during his time, the revenue of the NHL jumped from 400 million dollars a year to 5.3 billion dollars in the last season!
Persistence pays off
Batman's path on the ice was not a bed of roses.
Three times he was forced to shut down the league in order to cool down the excessive salary demands of the players, and once, after an entire season was canceled "due to" his stubbornness, he paid a price for it in the loss of his popularity among the game's passionate fans.
Fulfilled all his dreams, photo: USA TODAY Sport
He received waves of venomous criticism whenever he signed broadcasting contracts with unknown networks, but he did not give up, bringing hockey to rest and to the estate with the huge contract with ESPN and Turner.
Above all, hockey penetrated the southern United States, attracting crowds of thousands and ceasing to be the pastime of snowy regions only. As a result, the NHL grew from 24 teams to 32, and at the same time most teams improved their balance sheets considerably.
Bettman never Refusing to think big, and outside the box. Who before him imagined that hockey would conquer Las Vegas? The ice and the desert city seemed like a complete contradiction, but Batman's vision prevailed: hockey took root in the stronghold of gambling and big money, and the "Vegas Golden Knights" quickly became a permanent candidate for winning In the Stanley Cup, the NHL's top title.
Batman's creativity did not end with expanding the geographic dimension of the league.
He dreamed of breaking through the time dimension, and fulfilled this dream as well.
The idea sounded crazy at first: to get out of the confines of the closed halls and return to the hockey of the past, which was played outside, only with the investment and intensity of today.
Despite the initial skepticism of many, it caught on.
The "Winter Classic" venture creamed the skin and tendons - the games were held in football stadiums, the number of spectators broke records up to more than 100,000 people per game - an impossible figure for indoor hockey, public relations improved thanks to the romance of returning to the roots, and the profits increased wonderfully.
Be sure that this is what is expected in the future as well.
Nothing will stop Gary Bettman, the man and the legend.
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