At the Top of Their Game
The sports industry is a thriving, global business—and our alumni are at the top of the game. Expanding fan bases internationally, diversifying the sports enterprise, integrating digital media strategy—these Tuckies are leading innovative charges across the industry.
BY MEGAN MICHELSON
July 16, 2018
Here’s the thing you need to know about people who work in sports: They love their jobs. Sure, sports are a business like any other—there’s strategy and analysis; sales and marketing; finance and accounting—but it’s a business of the heart.
“People who work in sports understand it’s a career of passion. They do it because they love it,” says Leslie Andrews T’90, who spent a decade with ESPN before launching her own golf company.
For many Tuck alumni, working in the sports industry wasn’t the obvious path. While their peers got recruited in financial services or consulting, they took alternate routes. Many worked in other industries before finding their way to offices at the ballpark or the basketball stadium. “It took me a while to get on the right path,” says Andrews. “But that Tuck skillset is universal, and there are a lot of Tuck graduates who work in sports.”
People who work in sports understand it’s a career of passion. They do it because they love it.
According to a recent employment report, just three percent of Tuck graduates work in the sports, media, and entertainment fields, but of those who do, they’re a vehement bunch. And a growing number of alumni find their way into sports years after leaving Tuck.
“The Tuck community is particularly athletic, outdoorsy, and passionate, and when those things come together, you end up with people who compete in marathons or watch the Giants or the Patriots,” says Russell Wolff D'89, T’94, an executive vice president at ESPN. “It helps a lot in this business to be an actual sports fan.”
That competitive, team-player predisposition of Tuck students certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to business, either. “I was having a discussion with my son and he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go into business. I asked him, ‘Do you know what business really is? Business is competition for adults,’” says Peter Grieve T’84, managing partner of a group that invests in pro soccer teams. “It’s just like sports. You compete with others, you keep score—only your accounting is how you keep score. Revenues minus your expenses equals your profits.”
Grieve says when you work in sports, the game becomes a big part of your life and your work. “If you like soccer, you can watch matches as part of your job,” he says. “At this point in my life, sports are so much a part of me.”
Business is competition for adults. It’s just like sports. You compete with others, you keep score—only your accounting is how you keep score. Revenues minus your expenses equals your profits.
Those who work in sports seem to have a high capacity for risk and a strong sense of appreciation for their work. “The sports jobs generally aren’t going to pay the same as consulting or other big jobs out of business school,” says Kurt Zwald T’12, senior manager of business development for the Boston Red Sox. “But for me, I’ve always been more focused on how much I’m enjoying the work I do and how energized I feel when I come into the office.”
More and more, the sports industry is looking to the business world for help. “Something I’ve heard students worry about is: ‘I don’t have sports experience, so how can I get a job in sports?’” Zwald says. “Flip that around. Say, ‘Look at all this experience I have working for these great companies. Here’s how I can help you do a better job.’ The sports industry is looking for that outside experience.”
Read the stories of seven Tuck alumni who are driving success and pioneering changes in the business of sports by clicking on the photos below.
*This article originally appeared in print in the summer 2018 issue of Tuck Today magazine.