Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast.
No surprise to say I grew up a fanatical sports fan. I have always loved game action. I remember vividly sneaking out of bed to watch Boston Celtics games when they were on the road, hoping my mother wouldn’t catch me. Homme games were on cable TV and we didn’t have it, only the road games.
Sundays were jammed with NFL football, if my parents scheduled something that conflicted with games I wanted to watch, I was a pain in the ass. I vividly remember my mom getting us tickets to the ice capades, but in conflicted with a Cowboys – Redskins game, I was a pain the entire time, and got a massive lecture for being unappreciative of all she does for my brother and I.
I deserved it, but I was, and still am addicted.
I remember in high school watching late night west coast college basketball games, hoping to uncover some unknown but talented player that I could brag about knowing. Cedric Caballos is a perfect example, I saw him play a game for Cal State Fullerton, and then definitely name dropped him in conversations with fellow high schoolers to act as if I was some amateur scout, with more knowledge then they had.
What a dork.
My grandmother every year got me a subscription to Sports Illustrated and I read it cover to cover. Then I ripped off the cover and put it on my bedroom wall. All the iconic covers of the 80s and 90s were unceremoniously stapled to my walls, reminding me of those moments spent rifling through their pages.
But... I could never get into the business side of sports.
My mom would try to push me toward sports business shows or to read sports business content. Sadly, I admit, it bored me. Deals and TV revenue and sponsorships and marketing campaigns – not as exciting as Michael Jordan, John Elway, Wayne Gretzky, and Barry Bonds.
Alas, as I have aged, rapidly some would say, my focus has shifted and now those same deals and decisions that bored me, represent the game happening for all of us.
Sports business is the game we can all play, a language we can all speak, and forms the decisions that make everything possible.
In June 2020, Sportico was formed with the mission of empowering readers with the context and insights needed to understand an evolving sports ecosystem – where teams are incubators and innovation labs, franchise values are soaring, players’ unions are accelerators and athletes will not stick to sports.
Good write up there - - they did it, not me.
Today's guest Emily Caron is one of the highly accomplished sports business reporters on the team at Sportico – Emily joined the sportico team at their launch after working for such high-profile brands as espnW and Sports Illustrated and she’s here today to share her journey AND insights into some of the biggest sports business focused stories in 2021!
1: There are many important sports business topics to cover and I’m excited to jump into them with you, but let’s dig into your sports career journey first.
From digging into your background and career, it seems clear you had a vision for your future self as a sports reporter from early on...why? What led you down this path?
2: While at University of Virginia, you completed an internship with espnW – that’s a coveted opportunity, how did you get the chance to intern for the worldwide leader and what was this experience like?
3: Most interns don’t write feature stories or find their way on to the set of Outside the Lines - you did both.
I just went back and read your story on Penn State kicker Joey Juluis who struggled with binge eating and depression, and it’s wonderful. I was hooked at once.
What drew you to the story and how did you pitch it and make it your own? I’ve been in hundreds of creative meetings and younger staff members would pitch ideas that others would take – how did you get to keep it?
4: You write the piece, labored over every one of the 2500 words I imagine, and then you are asked to jump on OTL and talk about it?! I’ve known 20-year vets who struggled getting on camera, how did you channel such confidence as a college junior on an internship?
5: Has this become a career theme for you - being confident and assertive? Or would you label yourself differently?
6: After graduating you jumped to Sports Illustrated as a writer covering news and college sports -- I’ve been surprised over my career how different similar organization operate. Was there a substantial difference in the way ESPN and Sports Illustrated approached sports reporting?
7: Sportico was formed in June of 2020, and you joined the team at that time. What makes Sportico different, and what has it been like working more of a startup media company?
8: Let’s jump into some important sports business topics now and into the future.
One of the biggest sports stories of the year so far, in my opinion, was in regards to the discrepancies between how the women were provided for vs. the men during their respective NCAA tournaments.
The story itself was broken by Stanford University Sports Performance Coach Ali Kershner on Instagram, and then followed up by Oregon player Sedona Prince on TikTok.
It went viral, which is meaningful. It forced some change and transparency, which is great.
But I can’t help but think, is it harder and harder to be a journalist now because everyone has a tool to amplify their own message?
9: How important is it then to develop your sources and really work on connections to give you an edge?
10: As a young reporter, how do you do it? How do you build important connected, relationships that can help you get the insiders story?
11: You are prolific, I went back through your Sportico bylines and there is a ton of content – how do you stay creative and always coming up with new and exciting topics to cover and stories to unearth?
12: Being on more of a new beat, do you miss the personal storytelling like the feature on Jullius?
13: With all the challenges facing journalism nowadays – access, social media, attention span – how do you see the future of sports journalism playing out? How does reporting and storytelling remain relevant and important to the changing audience?
14: As a reporter, you cover the facts and are not usually able to get into your opinions, but I’d love your thoughts on Names, Image, and Likeness legislation. Why is this such an important story, and how do you think this plays out in college sports?
15: You and your co-worker Scott Soshnick broke an important story recently with Lucy Rushton being named DC United GM -- on a personal side what does that feel like being the first to market with an exclusive story?
Follow: Is it a bit of a disconnect to share a story like this featuring a woman earning a powerful, decision-making role in sports – but at the same time having to cover the NCAA tourney discrepancy? We keep thinking we’re making progress with gender equity, but are we?
16: Let's finish with this -- For all the young women in sports coming up in the industry, whether in reporting, operations, marketing, or some other discipline – what advice would you give them to succeed and thrive?