Master of Science in Sport Management Online

Forbes SportsMoney Index Released

Fans love sports. Whether fans are at home watching on TV, tailgating outside the stadium or watching the game from a luxury suite, they find their thrills in cheering their favorite teams on to victory. However, sports are more than a source of entertainment. The world of sports is also a world of business, where the bottom line is just as important as—or perhaps even more important than — what happens on the field.

For years, Forbes has reported on the money involved in sports. It has recently taken its analysis of sports money to a higher level with its SportsMoney Index. What is the index, and what insights does it reveal? If you are interested in sports, and especially if you are pursuing an online master’s in sport management, you may wish to familiarize yourself with this new and insightful listing from Forbes.

How the Index Works

As Forbes has explained, “We’ve ranked 430 athletes, agencies, brands and teams, accounting for both their financial power as well as their influential relationships with others in the sports world. To create the SMI, we’ve combined all of Forbes‘ SportsMoney annual valuations lists (sports teams, brands, athletes, agencies) and proprietary financial data into a single ranking that reflects their monetary success and how their values affect one another. This is the first time that a cross-category ranking of sports business influence has ever been compiled.”

Before the index made its debut, Forbes compiled separate lists that touched on different categories within the sports world. One list provided details on the most valuable sports teams, while another set out the names of the highest-earning athletes. There were also lists for the most valuable sports agencies and the most valuable brands in sports.

The SportsMoney Index combines all of these lists and shines a spotlight on the connections that make the top earners so successful. For example, the Dallas Cowboys is the most valuable team in sports. However, that isn’t solely because of a large fan base or impressive ticket sales. Partnerships with other businesses, including Pepsi and Bank of America, are huge contributors to the team’s success.

The combined power of each entity’s connections and monetary value determines where each team, brand, athlete or agency ultimately falls on the SportsMoney Index.

Navigating the SportsMoney Index

Visitors to the SportsMoney Index page will find the names and photos of the sports entities along with their respective rankings on the index. Tap on or click one of the icons to learn more details. The index includes each entity’s value, revenue and parent company ad spending. It also lists the number of SportsMoney Index connections that the entity has.

Each listing includes a short paragraph that sheds more light on the entity’s success. For example, Pepsi is ranked third in the SportsMoney Index. Part of the reason may be that in recent years it has sponsored Super Bowl halftime shows. Lady Gaga’s performance at the 2017 Super Bowl attracted even more viewers than the game itself.

Anyone who is looking for information about a specific category within the index, such as sports teams or agencies, can use the filters at the top of the SportsMoney Index page to narrow down the list. Some of the filters allow users to restrict the results even further. The “Athletes” category can be filtered by athletes’ gender or location, the “Teams” category can be filtered according to sport, and the “Brands” category can be narrowed according to industry.

Insights From the SportsMoney Index

Providing a “bottom line” note on the index, Forbes explained, “If the world of sports business is a massive web connecting all of the major players, then the SMI is a ranking of the ones that would leave the biggest holes in that web if they were torn out.”

The index may be able to help businesspeople within the world of sports analyze decisions dealing with where to invest and whom to connect with. Brands may seek to advertise with the highest-ranking teams or try to form partnerships with the most prestigious and valuable athletes. As decision makers cause alliances to shift, changes may occur in the index rankings; Forbes will update the index regularly as changes dictate.

As of this writing, some of the top-ranked entities in sports include the following:


  • Barcelona (#2 on the index overall)
  • Real Madrid (#4 overall)
  • New York Yankees (#7 overall)


  • LeBron James (#5 overall)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (#6 overall)
  • Lionel Messi (#15 overall)


  • Nike (#1 overall)
  • Pepsi (#3 overall)
  • Budweiser (#10 overall)


  • Creative Artists Agency (#8 overall)
  • Excel Sports Management (#31 overall)
  • Wasserman Media Group (#61 overall)

Teams seem to be the dominating category type in highest-ranking spots in the index. Sports teams currently occupy 10 of the top 20 spots; there are soccer teams, basketball teams, football teams and baseball teams. There are only four individual athletes in the top 20.

Understanding Money in Sports Can Help Aspiring Sport Managers

“So many want a career in sports but haven’t discovered exactly what makes them tick,” said a co-founder of the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, quoted in a Forbes article. Indeed, a career in the world of sport management may be difficult for people who lack an understanding of the driving monetary forces behind the games that thrill fans across the world.

Keeping an eye on the Forbes SportsMoney Index as well as on other listings and news may give an edge to anyone who wants to break into an exciting career in sports, whether they want to work in sport marketing, collegiate athletic administration or any number of other jobs.