All posts by Roy Burton

Recap: 2013 Beyond Sport Summit

As one of the most passionate, sports-crazed cities in the world, it was only fitting that Philadelphia served as the host city for the 2013 Beyond Sport Summit last week.

“You don’t have to be here long to realize that this city loves sports,” noted Michael Burke, Managing Director of Wealth and Investment Management for Barclays (one of Beyond Sport’s global partners). “Sports is part of the DNA of Philadelphia.”

The goal of Beyond Sport – which was founded in 2008 – is to highlight how athletic endeavors can be used to benefit the greater good. During the three-day event, hundreds of organizations from around the world were honored for their work in using sports as a catalyst for positive social change.

“We shouldn’t talk about sport as an opportunity [for social change],” said NBA Commissioner David Stern during a panel on the intersection of sports and politics. “We should talk about it as an obligation.”

Attendees spent the first two days of the Beyond Sport Summit visiting a variety of local organizations that are making a difference in the community via sport. On the final day of the conference, Jeffrey Lurie – whose Philadelphia Eagles were named Beyond Sport’s Team of the Year in 2011 – provided the opening remarks, and several others with ties to the city had a chance to offer their views, including Eagles’ co-owner Christina Weiss Lurie, Philadelphia 76ers’ CEO Scott O’Neil, and former Philadelphia mayor (and PA Governor) Ed Rendell.

“Sports has a unifying effect that nothing else in society has,” noted Rendell.

Each of the major local sports teams are ahead of the curve in terms of giving back to the community. The Eagles Youth Partnership provides free vision care and educational programming to more than 50,000 children in the Delaware Valley each year. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, recently announced their “Sixers Strong” initiative that will result in all Sixers’ employees investing a minimum of 76 hours of community service during the 2013-14 season.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation provides free equipment, ice time and coaching to more than 3,000 inner-city children, while the Phillies Phestival has raised more than $14.3 million for The ALS Association since its inception in 1984.

“The courage of one,” said Lurie, “can only change the world when it’s united with the courage of everyone else.”

How Now Brown, Wow!

Photos by Gennaro Dito and Joshua Pelta-Heller

Before the start of the season, even the most optimistic of all Philadelphia Phillies’ fans didn’t expect Domonic Brown to be THIS good.

Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made it abundantly clear back in spring training that the 2013 campaign was a make-or-break year for his 25-year-old left fielder.

Domonic Brown, during a pre-game interview at Citi Field
Domonic Brown, during a pre-game interview at Citi Field (photo by Gennaro Dito)

Armed with the assurance that he would have every opportunity to prove his mettle, Brown responded by posting first-half numbers that would be impressive full-season figures under most circumstances (.273, 23 HRs, 67 RBI).

Brown’s nomination to the National League All-Star team was one of the few feel-good stories in a Phillies’ season marred by injuries and overall disappointment. In 28 games during the month of May, Brown hit .303 with 12 HRs and 25 RBI while taking home National League Player of the Month honors:

Not a bad showing for a player who was hitting .206 back on April 23.

Phils' pitcher Cliff Lee gets ready to toss one for the National League at the 2013 All-Star Game
Phils’ pitcher Cliff Lee gets ready to toss one for the National League at the 2013 All-Star Game (photo by Joshua Pelta-Heller)

 

Last week, Brown took a trip up to New York to rub elbows with the rest of his fellow All-Stars, many of whom voted him into the game as a reserve outfielder. Brown was among 39 players who made their All-Star debut at Citi Field, and if his performance this year is any indication, it won’t be his last appearance in baseball’s mid-season classic.

 

Brown’s stint in the game itself wasn’t all that memorable: He entered the game in the top of the sixth inning in place of Carlos Gonzalez, and struck out in his only plate appearance. Teammate Cliff Lee (who was also named to the NL All-Star team) created the biggest stir on social media that evening thanks to his emotionless death glare during the pre-game introductions.

The contest will go down in the history books as a relatively non-descript 3-0 victory for the American League.  But for Domonic Brown, the memories of his time in Citi Field will surely last a lifetime.

Red Bull Midnight Run

On Saturday, July 13, Girard College was the site for the Philadelphia edition of Red Bull’s Midnight Run competition.

The goal of the summer-long tour is to find the best basketball players in each of nine cities across the United States: Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Houston, Indianapolis and Los Angeles.

The eight best players at each stop will be hand-selected to represent their city at the Red Bull Midnight Run Finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY this December. Interestingly enough, there’s no prize money on the line: The only thing that’s at stake is each city’s reputation.

Pride also happened to be a motivating factor last weekend at Girard College, and with Hot 107.9’s DJ Damage providing the soundtrack for the evening, the action was fast-paced – far more intense than your average summertime pick-up game.

The participants consisted of former area high school and college standouts, professionals who currently make a living playing overseas, and even a few streetball legends. The most notable player in the building was 6’5″ swingman Jarrett Kearse, who once starred at Simon Gratz and West Virgina before a stint on the AND1 mixtape tour.

With players boasting nicknames such as Amistad, Steroid, Thor and The Predator, there was definitely no shortage of personalities in the building. And although we’re still a few months away from finding out which city has the best ballers in America, it’s clear that the eight players selected to represent Philly in the finals will do the City of Brotherly Love proud.

Behind The Scenes: NFL Broadcast Boot Camp

It’s not every day that you get to see world-class athletes out of their natural element, but that’s exactly what two.one.five magazine had a chance to witness at last month’s NFL Broadcast Boot Camp.

The historic NFL Films complex in Mount Laurel, NJ served as the headquarters for the Broadcast Boot Camp – an initiative sponsored by the NFL to introduce both current and former players to the sports broadcast industry. Those accepted into the program go through a rigorous, three-day workshop that ultimately results in a demo reel that participants can use to shop themselves to prospective employers.

With the average NFL career lasting less than four years, it’s never too early for players to decide what they plan to do once they’re no longer on a 53-man roster. But for those who thought that they could walk right into a broadcasting gig with little or no experience, the Broadcast Boot Camp served as a wake-up call of sorts.

“Just because you can make a mean bowl of chili doesn’t mean that you can run a Mexican restaurant,” said Gerry Matalon, Senior Coordinating Producer at ESPN.

The Broadcast Boot Camp isn’t a walk in the park by any means, but the intensive schedule is a small price to pay for the chance to learn from instructors such as James Brown (CBS), Brian Baldinger (NFL Network), and former Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Dick Vermeil.

“Pay attention to people on the air,” said ESPN’s John Saunders, who served as one of the instructors in the Boot Camp’s Set Taping class. “Pay attention to what makes them good.”

In one session, the players sat with producers to learn how audio clips are spliced with B-roll footage to create compelling highlight packages. Less than an hour later, they were tasked with breaking down game film alongside two of the game’s most respected analysts: ESPN’s Ron Jaworski and Greg Cosell of NFL Films.

As current and former players, Boot Camp attendees have a distinct advantage over most people who choose a career in the sports broadcast industry. They were repeatedly advised to play up their NFL connections whenever possible, whether preparing for an in-studio show or merely trying to land a radio gig in their hometown.

“Personalize things,” suggested Jaworski, who had a stellar 16-year career in the NFL, most notably with the Philadelphia Eagles. “You’re a player: People want to hear what it’s like from your perspective.”

As with any skill, the importance of “getting your reps in” is vital to a successful career in broadcasting. Throughout the course of the Boot Camp, there were numerous references to the “10,000 Hour Rule” referenced in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers“, and participants were implored to get their experience wherever and whenever possible.

“Everyone wants to be on national TV,” said Howard Deneroff, Executive Producer of Dial Global Sports. “There’s no opportunity too small to work your way to that.”

Television wasn’t the only focus of the Broadcast Boot Camp: Not only did attendees learn the do’s and don’ts of radio, but each was given the opportunity to co-host a live segment on SiriusXM. Chip Kelly’s arrival in Philadelphia was the topic du jour, and there was no shortage of debate as to whether or not Kelly’s Oregon offense would translate well to the professional level.

In all, 24 current and former players participated in this year’s workshop: Among the attendees were former Eagles’ running back Ricky Watters and former St. Louis Rams’ wide receiver Torry Holt.

Each of the participants had varying degrees of broadcasting experience, but the skills they learned over the course of the Broadcast Boot Camp will give them a head start on the rest of their peers. Of the 128 players who have participated in the program since 2007, 48 of them have earned jobs in the broadcast industry.

While three days learning the in-and-outs of sports media clearly isn’t enough time to absorb every aspect of the business, it gave participants a taste of exactly how much work is involved preparing for life on the other side of the microphone.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said Green Bay Packers’ linebacker A.J. Hawk. “I am inspired to pursue a career in this field after learning more than I thought I would.

(Additional reporting on this story was done by Brandyn Muller Campbell.)