By Alfredo Bustamante, 1L
On April 22, 2014, the Center for Sports Law & Policy (CSLP) at Thomas Jefferson School of Law hosted a Sports Law panel that brought speakers from a variety of different careers in the sports industry. With over 60 fellows, students, and attorneys in attendance, the program aimed to provide guests with unique perspectives from professionals in the sports industry, to give advice as to what kinds of jobs are available, and how to get those jobs.
Moderated by TJSL Professor Jack Green, the panel included the following: Sierra S. Brandis, Associate General Counsel at TaylorMade Golf, Marty P. Hochman, Associate General Counsel at Callaway Golf, Professor Randy M. Grossman, ‘94, Attorney at Law Offices of Randy M. Grossman, APLC (MLBPA Certified Agent), Kim Nakamaru, Associate at McGuireWoods, and Abrina Wheatfall, ‘12, Assistant Athletics Director-Student Athlete Development and Compliance, University of California, San Diego.
Professor Green asked the panel about a variety of topics, including women working in sports, what it is like to work in sports in general, challenges women face, and what the panelists thought of the future of professional and collegiate athletics. Panelists provided guests with their own personal experiences in the sports industry, and also gave advice on how to get a start in the world of sports.
When the panelists were asked, “What is it like working in the sports industry?” it was evident by the panel’s responses that they each enjoyed what they do. “It’s extremely exciting because you actually get to see your product being used or see your athlete playing on television,” said Sierra Brandis. Marty Hochman responded by saying “I feel very fortunate, not only to be working in sports law, but to also be living in southern California and working in sports law.” It was easy to see that each panelist had a passion for what they do, which is important when trying to become successful.
Recently, a case brought by Northwestern university has captured the attention of the sports world because of the potential effect it will have on college athletics. In particular, a decision in favor of unionizing will make student-athletes “employees” of their universities. Abrina Wheatfall weighed in on the topic by saying “I find (the Northwestern case) very interesting. When you have student athletes that are making that much money for a university, you really have to question whether they should still be considered ‘amateurs’.”
As the panel continued, guests were able to learn what a day in the life of various sports professionals was like. Based upon the answers from the panelists, it is clear that working in sports law is far from a “typical” or “routine” type of job. “It really changes every day because you do not know what is going to happen” said Professor Grossman. “The great thing about it is I am not sitting in an office staring at four walls every day.”
When the panelists were asked what a young professional should do in order to get a job in the sports industry, the panel unanimously agreed on this response: “You have to know somebody.” Sometimes, you also have to be ready to “put your best foot forward” on a moment’s notice as well. One panelist stated: “I verbally gave my resume on the spot while in the parking lot at a baseball game after meeting someone through somebody else.” The panelist later received an interview for that company and then a job. The panelist also added that you must be qualified as well; it is not just about who you know.
After responding to questions asked by various members of the audience, the panel concluded with some final advice for the many sports law enthusiasts. Of that advice, things such as passion and seizing opportunities seemed to be at the top of the list. It is important that the applicant has a passion for sports. Even if they do not know much about a particular sport, it is important to show that they are willing to learn and are passionate about working for the company they are applying. Also, the importance of internships (in particular sports-based internships) is significant when trying to secure a job in a popular job market. The more experience in sports that a person has, the better. Overall, a terrific event that provided insight to the sports industry.