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Entertainment and Sports Equals Art

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I will start today’s thoughts off with a line from one of my all-time favorite television shows from the 90s, NBC’s hit, Saved By The Bell… What is art? Are we art? Is art, art? Lisa Turtle does raise an excellent point, despite not being herself, trying to impress the over-pompous and very studious Brian to make sure he takes her to the school dance. [Sidebar: I'm a big fan of the series and enjoy watching them. You can, too - they are available to watch on Netflix]. She does raise a good point, and interestingly enough, each industry we happen to be a part of is a form of expression and art, in a way. The sports and entertainment industry, to me, is just that…art. An unique form of expression that you can share with the world. It is one of the few industries that allows you the ability to create different types of art, even if you are not an artist yourself.

The collaboration between a production staff to create entertainment products stimulates the mind and body. This is what also makes it extremely competitive. Some people call it “High risk, low reward.” I call it “high risk, high value”. Yes, the theories are true, starting out in either sports or entertainment, you will find it is a lot more challenging than you think. The grunt work becomes tireless, you often hit walls you cannot break through, and even if you aren’t looking to be the next Meryl Streep, you are still hoping the next big break will happen when you least expect it.

Success in this industry, like any other industry, is dependent on the quality you bring to the table. I am not talking about tweeting your favorite celebrity, hoping you will hear a response. It is possible to earn your way up the ladder to reach your ultimate goals.

via NBC’s Smash

Who doesn’t want to find something they love to do and be able to share that with others? For some, it’s electrical engineering, orthopedic surgery, or pastry chefs who makes exquisite desserts. Each job involves some sort of art feature, so what sets apart sports and entertainment from the rest of the industries?

The ability of trial and error. It is a unique brand all of its own, very distinct in a category that targets peoples emotions. The quote “Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try” comes to mind…Thanks, George & Ira Gershwin.

Lets go back for a moment. Despite the fact that 90% of what you see on the surface of any production is created and nurtured by hundreds or thousands of people you never and probably won’t hear of, it is critical that you learn to appreciate them.

ESPN production truck

Growing up and performing in musical theater, the “techies” were the most integral part of the show. They gave us a sound, a voice, costumes, lighting, make up, and thanks to the directors, producers, and stage managers, a script and blocking to follow.

2012 NBA Finals

This isn’t an industry of necessity where people NEED to watch Adam Sandler’s latest movie, or watch Emily from The Bachelorette take 43 minutes to give four different guys boutonniere roses, or the NEED to watch LeBron and Durant battle it out for World NBA Domination. But, how do sports and entertainment often cross over you ask? Think about it. What is CBS Sports? What is ESPN? Who is NBC? Who is Warner Brothers? Film, media, broadcasting, fashion, music, radio, television, and theater. It also includes levels of marketing, research, writing, editing, public relations, advertising, photography, promotions and monitoring levels of success (lawyers, financial analysts, agents, even social media strategists). Maybe you’re in the entertainment business and don’t even realize it! The list doesn’t stop there, though, it just keeps evolving and changing.

For me, I cannot really imagine myself in any other industry. Growing up around sports my entire life and having a strong appreciation for theater and film made me who I am today.

It was an outlet for me to learn how to express myself and has afforded me the chance to take my emotions and channel it into producing viable results.It is all about the product value chain. What efforts are we making to get to the next level of accomplishment?

Regardless of what is happening in the economy these days, from a macro-economic stand point, people are more likely to spend money on things that make them happy, despite its higher cost levels. What is important is why we love what we do.

serious NCAA domination

My friend Jenna says it best, “it’s the human element of sports and entertainment that is the reason why we love it so much. It is the connection with other fans, players and people who enjoy the same things we do that connect us as human beings.”

How, during a season, whether its 10 episodes or a 31-game regular season,

(Note – College basketball: 27 regular season games and up to 4 games if in an in-season tournament – Source: NCAA 2010-2011 Division I Manual, Section 17.3.5 Number of Contests) you can experience the full range of human emotions.It is the drive that makes us get up every day and do whatever it is that we do and sometimes, prove others completely wrong.

Don Draper had a pretty great speech during one of the last episodes of Mad Men this past season. Dramatic and insightful, he mentions there is always a need for change, business is business, but ultimately, you will need to accept the fact that satisfaction is temporary, and you need those in the industry to bring you to that optimum level of achievement:

Don: “I want to talk about your business. Looking at what you’re doing you’re in desperate need of change. This is about your business. I’m sure they [current agency] are very happy with you, but you don’t owe them anything. All they have to do is keep running the same work. You’re on the back burner over there; subsidizing all the creative work they’ve been doing..paying for new business lunches, and as soon as you walk away from that place, it will fold up like a tent.

Company A: We’re at 50% market share in almost everything we make.

Don: Because you have a big line of diverse, and charismatic products and you keep make more. Zip tape, styrofoam, Rovana… and why do you keep doing that? Because even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary. You get hungry even though you’ve just eaten… (I blame the Food Network and Pinterest)

They reply: “We’re happy with our agency..”

Don: “Are you…You’re happy with 50%? You’re on top and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful, for now. But what is happiness? Its a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything I want 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it, you want all of it, and I won’t stop until I get all of it. Thank you for your time.

This floored me, talk about a good pitch. He couldn’t be more right. Yes, we do what we love to do, but it also means sacrifice…Long hours, often little reward (at first). But it will happen and sometimes you need to just roll with the punches to get what you want. You can either embrace it, not settle for the bare minimum, or, using the tools that are often right in front of you, get yourself to that 100%. Surround yourself with others that share the same mindset as you do, appreciate your hard work, and understand and accept the sacrifices you have made to get to your 100%. I had to go back and listen to it several times to let it sink in.

There is a reason people are hired and challenged daily to accomplish tasks and goals. People are hired in this industry because our emotions change so often that those in our craft try hard everyday to satisfy those changes. Whether it is in journalism, social media, marketing, promotions or public relations or another field, always be asking questions. Find your niche. Find your 100%.

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2 Comments

  1. Nice post, Pam. I agree that it’s critical to find your 100% or you’ll never be happy. As someone struggling to crack the shell of the sports marketing world, I love what I do and am stunned by how many teams, organizations, and venues have settled for less than 100%. I know my breakthrough will come, and I appreciate you reminding me of the Don Draper speech.

  2. Greg Rowe says:

    Well said.
    Sports, or any profession, can be seen as an expression of ones gifts. If that expression has been fully invested, even artistic. Sports maybe more so. There us no mistaking the difference between a half hearted swing of the bat and swinging fully committed, or swinging for the fence. Many individual pursuits will expose individual effort, singing, sports, musician, writing.
    It is really nice seeing someone swing for the fence in a profession they are obviously passionate about.
    Congrats, I will enjoy reading your column.
    Incidently, my daughter, like you, is a sports fiend. She has become an NHL fan, a Pitt Penguin. She is writing her senior thesis on the American Sports Culture. As a father seeing a successful young lady in a sports field is promising.
    Cheers

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