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ESPN Goes to Columbia

Posted by Marshall Rader on September 11, 2008

When this all began I wasn’t sure what I was really getting myself into.  All I knew was that I wanted to cover sports as much as possible, despite constantly hearing from teachers, adults, and advisers about how competitive a field sports journalism is.  I’m not going to lie; I often question whether I really want to pursue a career in journalism, mostly because of how difficult the path to ESPN will be.  Despite all the doubts and uncertainty, it’s days and events like these that help me realize that this is where I belong.

Just the atmosphere alone should be enough to convince any sports fan to try to become a professional sports journalist.  The first person I recognized was John Anderson, a popular anchor for ESPN’s SportsCenter.  For a moment I just stopped and watched him go about his business, until it hit me that I could actually approach him and introduce myself.  I didn’t exactly have anything to say, but I figured that at the very least I needed to shake the man’s hand.

The actual event began with John Walsh, the senior vice president and executive director of ESPN, introducing the Moderator for the day, John Anderson.  Anderson introduced the panel of seven, who would be discussing how technology is changing sports and sports journalism as we know it.  The seven panel members included Phil Bradley, Myles Brand, Jamie Butcher, Sonja Steptoe, Wright Thompson, T.J. Quinn, and Mike Alden.  It’s worth noting that Michael Kim, Matt Winer, and Norm Stewart were also in attendance, although they did not participate in the discussion.

For the next three hours the panel discussed a wide variety of topics relating to technology, and how it may affect the future of sports.  A particularly interesting topic arose when Myles Brand essentially said that ESPN has been ruining college sports by treating the athletes as professionals rather than students.  T.J. Quinn, employed by ESPN, quickly challenged that viewpoint, and from that point on it seemed to be ESPN versus Brand and Alden, the two employed by the NCAA.

As the discussion winded down, Anderson opened up the floor to questions, and I immediately took advantage.  As shown in the video below, I asked Dr. Brand a question regarding fan interaction with collegiate athletes, particularly recruits, through networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.  He gave me a pretty political response in my opinion, but since he’s a brother in my fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, I decided not to push him too hard.

Overall it was a very cool experience to get up close to several public figures who I can relate to.  After the discussion had concluded the panel members mingled with whoever was interested in talking to them, and were all very friendly.  I walked out of the auditorium with a smile on my face – something not too common after sitting through 3 hours in a lecture hall for me.

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