Jim Hill addresses student athletes at the Business Sports Summit
Photo by William N. Byers Jr.
Student-athletes from Dorsey, Crenshaw and L.B. Jordan attend summit where mentors emphasized non-playing sports careers.
By Michael Brown,
Sentinel Sports Writer
Less than 1 percent of high school football, baseball and basketball athletes will ever play on a professional level.
Those sobering statistics, contained in a study released by the NCAA in December 2010, served as one of the reasons more than 250 students from Dorsey, Crenshaw and L.B. Jordan were invited to the Business of Sports Summit held at Club Nokia Feb. 16.
The Summit, organized by Entertainment & Sports Plus (ESP), a Long Beach based sports and entertainment management agency, exposed the crowd of mostly student-athletes to professionals from several different fields related to sports such as management, photography, marketing and broadcasting.
“We held this event last year in Miami at the Super Bowl and we tend to hold them around big events in cities where we have clients,” said Everett Glenn, ESP chief executive officer. “One of our goals is to lead by example.”
Glenn, a former athlete who gained a law degree and has been involved in sports for more than 20 years, later added that a goal of the Summit was to show young people careers behind the camera.
With 710 ESPN Radio’s energetic LaFern Cusack serving as the event’s host, students were introduced to a panel of mentors who gave brief introductions and words of inspiration.
One of the standout mentors was former Inglewood High School star and NBA player Jason Hart. Hart delivered a message that seemed to resonate with the young audience when he encouraged them to “be cool to nerds” and to “close your mouth and open your ears” more.
The mentors then participated in several rounds of “speed mentoring” by moving around the venue’s tables and speaking with students for 30-minute intervals.
Crenshaw football player Jeremiah Cration found the mentoring sessions to be helpful.
“I learned a lot from a man-to-man standpoint,” he said. “Getting my education and having a good Plan B were some of the most important things I learned from the mentors. They said things in a way that we could understand.”
After the mentoring sessions ended, the Summit’s keynote speaker, CBS 2 Sports Director Jim Hill was scheduled to speak, but was delayed due to a prior commitment.
During the idle time, with a room full of antsy teenagers and an elaborate DJ console set-up, former NFL defensive back Jason David grabbed the microphone and urged the students to show him the latest dances.
The result: an impromptu dance contest erupted between students from the three high schools, eliciting hand claps and laughter from the crowd once David attempted to mimic the dance moves of the students.
Afterward, Hill arrived and stepped to the podium for a speech that covered everything from his education to his NFL career and transition to becoming a sportscaster.
“Don’t ever let anyone out work you, that’s the secret,” Hill said. He later added, “I work 16 to 18 hours a day. If your co-worker starts at 8 a.m., start at 7 a.m. If they go home at 8 p.m., go home at 9 p.m.”
Hill’s story and success is the embodiment of what the Summit’s stated purpose was. After Hill completed eight seasons in the NFL, he became a sportscaster at Los Angeles’ CBS 2.
“Jim played at the highest level, but he leveraged it into a career in broadcasting,” Glenn said. “Because he was able to use sports as a vehicle, he’s been successful in a different arena. Most of these young athletes will not go on to pro careers, so they need to think of different paths.”
Glenn’s assertions ring true based on an NCAA 2010 study which showed that only 0.03 percent of high school basketball players makes the NBA. Football players fare better, but by a bit at 0.08 percent.
Hill didn’t make any reference to the numbers, but his message spoke to the issue.
Hill said, “It’s not all about standing in front of a camera. The real power is behind the camera. I used to talk with Magic (Johnson) when he played and he would say, ‘I want to be a businessman.’”
He continued, “People would laugh at him when he said that, but those who used to laugh at Magic, now want to work for him.”
Hill not only delivered a speech, but took questions from the audience. Many of the students asked Hill to donate to their athletic programs, but others asked for career advice.
Jordan student George Ramirez asked Hill, “How can I be a broadcaster?”
Hill replied: “Here‘s how I can tell if you‘re serious. Give me a quick answer–do you want a job or a career?” Ramirez said he wanted a career and Hill gave the student contact information for a possible internship.
After discussing challenges he faced while growing up in San Antonio, Hill punctuated his speech by saying “If I hadn’t played football, I would be dead.”
Crenshaw football head coach Robert Garrett brought 60 players to the Summit. Garrett talked about the event’s message and what he hoped his players took away from it.
“Everything discussed today was of value and importance,” he said. “If every player can remember one thing from this event and apply it to life, everybody wins.”
When asked why ESP organized the Summit, Glenn said, “No agency in the business is concerned about the well-being of minorities like we are. Even if we just touch one of these kids, it will be a success.”
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