We’ve all had to become better business people as the sporting goods industry matures to the point that we now experience the same market forces that have affected other fast-growing industries over the last two decades. We can no longer simply deal in terms of sell-through, margins, color, and fit, and must instead get just as comfortable with the impact of mergers, acquisitions, free cash flows, and market capitalization.

The Top 5 stories of the year contain elements of the forces that have taken this industry from one that was characterized as fragmented just two years ago to one that is now on the back side of a major consolidation on both the retail and vendor sides of the table. True, the consolidation is clearly not complete at this stage, but the blockbuster deals of the last two years will be harder to find down the road. Be sure to take a glance at our look ahead on page 6 as we assess the opportunities down the road…