Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Words of Wisdom from Phillies College Media Night

By Ellen J. Staurowsky, Professor, Drexel Sport Management

Recently the SMTSU Sports Complex introduced a new segment focusing on professional development advice from mentors and advisors.   The purpose of the segment is to “bring insight to anyone . . . looking for a little 'boost' if they are down or courage to keep on moving”. 

Drexel Sport Management majors had an opportunity to get more of the same when they attended the Phillies College Media Night at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, April 14, 2014.  As part of the program, those who often serve as the public voices of the Phillies as an organization, including Rob Brooks (Manager, Broadcasting), Bonnie Clark (Vice President, Communications), Gregg Murphy (Broadcaster), Scott Palmer (Director, Public Affairs) and Chris Wheeler (former color commentator, Ambassador) took a few moments to reflect on their own careers and offer a few words of wisdom to the next generation. 

Collectively, they painted a picture of charmed careers, working for a franchise whose leadership they admired and in an industry that is energizing and fun.  At the same time, they also spoke to the demands of workplace.  This dichotomy came through in Gregg Murphy’s characterization of the business as “awesome” while at the same time challenging because “jobs in sport are hard to get and tough to keep”.  Scott Palmer echoed those sentiments, observing that as great of a life as working in sport can be, people in the business are well aware that there will be “bumps in the road”.

All of the panelists shared a uniform lament that media culture had shifted in the age of social media from an emphasis on accuracy to pressure for immediacy.  They urged the young professionals in the session to step back and examine the effects of putting out unconfirmed information that had the potential to damage professional careers and individual reputations, to resist the impulse, as Bonnie Clark put it “to be first rather than right”.  Arguing for restraint, Murphy noted “once you put it out there, you own it”.

When asked about the best advice the panelists ever received, courage in the face of doubt and uncertainty and proceeding with confidence were common threads.  Rob Brooks credited Philadelphia broadcast pioneer Tobias Poole with instilling in Brooks the fortitude to “forget about obstacles and make it happen”.   In turn, Clark reminisced about the enduring influence of her mother who simply reminded her daughter at every turn to internalize the expression “Yes I can”.  After winning the World Series in 2008, Clark’s mother called and affectionately left the message “Yes you did”. 

Similarly, Murphy observed that “Others will tell you you can’t do something.  Don’t listen to them.  Proceed with the idea that you can be great.”  Describing one of his first breaks in the industry, Chris Wheeler recalled being approached about serving as the public address announcer during spring training, a job he had never done before.  When asked, his response was “Sure.  I can do it.  Let them tell you you can’t do it.  Do your best.”  Describing the influence that legendary Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, had on him, Wheeler reminded students to simply “be yourself”.

In a fitting conclusion, Scott Palmer recommended that it is important to “find a way to be inspired, to be in spirit” and that when you are able to do that, “you are working but you are not realizing it” because “everything will come easy”.  

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