#16: A Handshake That Changed The World
In 1960 Arnold Palmer shook hands with attorney Mark McCormack and the world of sports changed forever.
That’s how the story goes, anyway, but of course there’s more to it. McCormack had spent years trying to work out how to put money in golfers’ pockets. His ideas on representing athletes led him to sign deals with a number of the day’s greats, including Gene Littler, Bob Toski, Palmer and others. But around 1959, facing a complex pile of opportunities, Palmer decided he wanted a change. As he wrote in A Golfer’s Life, “I told Mark bluntly that I wanted him to manage those opportunities. Moreover I wanted his help exclusively.” McCormack thought it over, ultimately agreed, and the two shook hands, laying the foundation for both Arnold Palmer Enterprises and IMG and forever changing the way athletes are represented and compensated. As the BBC put it, Arnold Palmer "is one of the few people you can truly say changed the world of sports business."