Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Professors Don't Tell You in School: The 7 Deadly Sins of Sports (& Media) Internships

In the minds of many, I have your dream job.  For almost two full decades (GULP), I have worked in professional sports for the Rockets & Cowboys AND covered every sport imaginable in Houston, Guam, Knoxville and, currently, in my hometown Dallas.  It's fun, exhilarating and unpredictable.

It's also nothing close to what you think it is.

I have shed some light on a day in my TV life in covering the Rangers 2013 season opener and offered tips to ensure a successful internship in my series, How to Win Your Internship and Parlay it Into a Successful Career. 

What about the Seven Deadly Sins of a Sports Internship?  Brian Clapp offers hilarious advice on succeeding in a sports internship in a blog post of the same title for the website WorkinSports.com.

Here are a few of my favorites "sins" along with my two cents:

Sin #6: Lust  
Remember this: there is no cheering in the press box.  Ever.  You will look like a total amateur.

So many interns and out-of-industry professionals think all we do for a living is drink at games, cheer for local teams and chest bump players after wins.  Hardly.  There is NO cheering at a game.  None, nada, zero, zilch.  It's unprofessional and, again, you will look like an amateur if you do it.

Example: when the Mavericks won their first NBA title in 2011, something I dreamed about as a 13-year old Dallas teen, I couldn't cheer, pop champagne in the club with Cubes or chest-bump anyone.  It was just another "day at the office".  You must be a pro at all times.  Full disclosure: at the parade I did cry when it finally all sank in.

Oh, and if you're in a press conference setting: turn off your phone. You don't want it ringing when a head coach is talking.

Sin #2: Sloth 
This is spot on.  Working in sports is not for the faint of heart, friends.  If you have a late-night, triple overtime or extra-inning game that ends at 12:30am, there is no sleeping in the next morning.  You still have to be up for that 8:30am meeting.

One DFW sports team actually takes attendance and notes what times its employees arrive during the week.  You cannot be lazy and work in sports.  Caffeine is your new best friend.

Sin #4: Gluttony 
This makes me giggle.  This is also something else they don't tell you in school.  If you work in sports, sports journalism or the media in general, you will spend much of your extra curricular time in a drinking establishment.  You don't have to drink, mind you.  In fact, if you are an under-age intern, you shouldn't (do as I say, not as I did).  BUT, the truth is, that a fair amount of work and cultivating of sources takes place in watering holes.  This comes with the territory.  You will learn more off the job,in a casual setting when colleagues' guards are down.

Remember: be a pro!  Don't get silly, overserved or out of control.  Perhaps this is another case of do as I say not as I do, did.

The Takeaway: 
This is a great post that is worth your time if you're interested in exploring a career in sports or sports media.
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