Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Sports Executive

Sports Marketing Class, Wednesday, 6:45pm.

Ah, the guest speaker. The graduate school version of flipping on "Good Will Hunting" in lieu of teaching a high school calculus class. A time to wedge your Blackberry between your legs to find something, anything, anyone to distract you from the awkwardness that is an industry executive promoting their trade with a smugness in a suit. They've seen it all- from the slopes of Nagano to the Super Bowl flash seen around the world. They were there, behind the scenes, in the war room, in on those billion dollar transactions for the rights to rule the airwaves.

Except the reality is that sometimes the people in charge aren't particularly good at their jobs. Tonight our class was treated to the VP of Communications at CBS Sports (not pictured, that's just some old guy). He is the gatekeeper to granting interviews of CBS talent and the first responder when something goes awry on air (don't click on that. okay do it). But for tonight's intimate night with a mighty exec, we were treated to a man without a vision and without a clue.

There was an awkwardness in the air from the start. Mr. Comm stood and introduced himself to a class of 16 with a nervousness reserved for an awkward group presentation among randomly selected classmates. Awkward is an awkward word. Awkward aardvark Aeropostale. Anyway, for two hours Mr. Comm umm'd and uhh'd his way through his ESPN bashing and "Big Bang Theory" hyping, leaving us wondering how a VP of communications could be such a poor communicator. I looked over at the southern girl who raved about 'Friday Night Lights' before class and even her "aww shucks"iness turned her southern hospitality into the more familiar and comforting northern hostility. Breaking them Confederates down one disappointing Yankee speaker at a time.

He was everything you wouldn't expect out of television's "most watched network" and rights holder of the NFL, NCAA Tournament, and Masters. Dismissive of the internet's potential, while at the same time touting the Big Dance's online platform. Confused over what a Nielsen rating represented, as he couldn't figure out if one rating point equaled 12,000, 120 million or 120,000 viewers (it represents 1.1 million viewers). There was no charm, no insight. Just a man in a suit bumbling through his notes and his words like Clemens testimony to Congress.

The presentation was comforting and horrifying at the same time. Comforting, because Mr. Comm showed that literally anyone can rise to such a prominent position. Horrifying, because my industry appears to run by a collection of out-of-touch dolts. The juxtaposition of a man in such an enviable position exposed by the inability to provide insight one couldn't find in a WSJ article reinforced my belief that qualification is often measured in years, not qualities.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add to Technorati Favorites