After spending the morning listening to the breathtaking speaking of Bill Walton, it seemed as though it would be difficult for anything else that the students witnessed today to compare to spending over an hour with one of the greatest legends in the history of basketball, both collegiate and professional. However, through the generosity of the executives of FOX Sports, Tuesday afternoon offered an incredible experience for the group to be submerged into a completely different division of sports. With the advantage of being students from Syracuse University, this unique opportunity built upon the already remarkable journey that the students have been exposed to in only the first few days of the trip.
The meeting with FOX began with the gracious hospitality of Jack Simmons, the Senior Vice President of Production, who gave a behind the scenes tour of the production process for all FOX Sports telecasts. Mr. Simmons was compassionate, kind, and enthusiastic, which in turn defined the experience that was FOX Sports.
Following the tour, the students sat down for lunch at the legendary FOX Commissary. Outside the commentary, there was a celebrity spotting of Cam from “Modern Family”, whom the group will be meeting with on Thursday.
FOX Sports offered a variety of excellent speakers for the group. Ed Goren, the Vice Chairman of FOX Sports Media Group and Syracuse alum, lectured about the structure of NFL television and the way that FOX separates itself from other sports networks. Mr. Goren also posed a challenge to the students to come up with a marketing campaign to get baseball fans to continue to tune in for the World Series. Mr. Goren has been able to separate himself from others in the television and entertainment industry through his ability to challenge the status quo. Although he began his career at CBS, his transition to FOX allowed gave him the freedom to experiment and become a great visionary for sports television. As one of the most distinguished alums of the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Mr. Goren sees the value that Syracuse student have to offer the industry, and his time was an incredible gift for everyone that was able to hear him speak.
Eric Shanks, the Co-President and COO of FOX Sports Media Group, gave up a lunch meeting to speak for a few minutes about how FOX Sports came to be. Mr. Shanks has cemented himself as one of the most accomplished individuals in his industry. He is a six-time Emmy Award winner and one of Sports Business Journals “40 under 40” Hall of Fame members. He offered advice about using social media concisely and effectively, creating brand loyalty, and using influencers to continue to build a brand. Although the time with Mr. Shanks was limited, it was very generous of him to meet with the group as a whole.
Larry Jones, the COO of FOX, works on negotiations for television rights and acquisitions. He explained the challenges of being an agent and the changing landscape of college athletics, especially college football. He offered the group a unique perspective on the world of agency, referring to agents as “babysitters” and stressing the integrity that is required to succeed in that field. His honesty was refreshing, and gave great insight into an often over-glamorized aspect of sports.
The last speaker from FOX was a man by the name of John Entz, who created the MLB Network. He explained how the MLB Network has grown from a small program to a major baseball industry. Mr. Entz was also named one of Sports Business Journal’s “40 under 40” Hall of Fame members, adding to the already incredible list of speakers we were able to hear from FOX.
After a great day at FOX, the group traveled to Burbank to watch a taping of the CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls”. The taping lasted almost 6 hours, which was an exciting but tiring way to spend the evening. Even though the seventeen and a half hour day was exhausting, it was well worth it for the students to experience Bill Walton, the highest executives in FOX Sports, and the taping of a major television comedy.
Personally, this trip defines why I chose Syracuse University for my college education. The dedication of this program to not only exposing students to a variety of different opportunities in the sports industry, but to develop the character of students to become the most competitive and successful students of our generation is unsurpassed by any other university. I am looking forward to the opportunities that will follow the rest of this week, and I know that this trip will be one that I will never forget.