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The Most Innovative Companies in Sports

You have seen our Fast Company 50. But what are the companies within specific categories doing creative and ground-breaking work? Who is leading an industry into the future? Here we present the top ten firms in Sports.

The Most Innovative Companies in Sports
  1. New England Sports Ventures: Like a five-tool talent, the Boston Red Sox are a multiple threat, making money on deals in Nascar, bull riding, golf, and, oh yeah, baseball.
  2. Nike: Channeling its notoriously competitive culture into designing products with a smaller environmental footprint, the Beaverton, Oregon, behemoth is winning the race to make toxin-free and made-to-be-recycled shoes.
  3. Andrews Sports Medicine: Another banner year for superstar sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The Yankees signed former patients C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for a cool $245 million.
  4. ESPN: As penetration of high-def TVs approaches 25% of all U.S. households, ESPN has added three more HD channels. Total number of HD sports events last year: 1,100.
  5. Speedo: In winning eight gold medals, Michael Phelps did for the LZR Racer what MJ did for Air Jordans. The LZR racked up 48 of the 52 swimming records set in 2008.
  6. HOK Sport: The premier architectural team in sports unveiled the first LEED-certified stadium in the majors, for the Washington Nationals. On deck this spring: the Yankees’ and Mets’ new stadiums.
  7. NHL.com: The challenger brand of sports leagues is becoming quite the creative digital-media company. Free from other leagues’ restrictions on video, NHL.com shows exclusive off-the-ice footage as well as every goal scored.
  8. AEG: It owns teams and arenas around the world, but its biggest move is the recent partnership with the NBA to build a dozen arenas in China, which will globalize the league like never before.
  9. Levy Restaurants: This Chicago restaurant company caters the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, tennis’s U.S. Open, and every venue from Wrigley to Lambeau.
  10. Ultimate Fighting Championship: Higher ratings than Monday Night Football, sponsorship by Bud Light, and pay-per-view streaming over Yahoo — UFC continues to take mixed martial arts mainstream.

 

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About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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