Friday, March 5, 2010

Jemele Hill: A Pioneer in Sports Journalism

Hey all,

My name is Christopher Kaiser and I was born and raised in “beautiful” Buffalo, New York- home to some of the best beaches on the American side of Lake Erie. I did my undergraduate work at SUNY-Geneseo (Go Knights!!!!) and graduated this past spring with a degree in Management. I came to UCF due to the reputation of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program, the family atmosphere that is cultivated, and the distinguished faculty that guide the program. Thus far the program has more than exceeded my expectations and I look forward to all that lays ahead for our class in the upcoming year.

One of the many incredible aspects of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program is the weekly speaker series. Every Friday, a prominent figure from the sports industry comes to campus and speaks to our class. Following the speaker, we generally have a reception in the TIDES office where we can casually speak with the distinguished guest one-on-one. This past Friday ESPN columnist and TV personality Jemele Hill visited the UCF campus to speak to our class. Now I don’t how many of you killed two hours of your day as an undergraduate watching ESPN’s First Take, but I know I did! So, having someone that I watched on TV almost every day in college, two feet in front of me, was almost surreal.

Ms. Hill began her speech by telling us about her upbringing in a low-income household in urban Detroit. Although she was very modest when speaking about this period of her life, it was clear that her drive and work ethic were cultivated by the adversity that she faced at this time. She then went on to discuss her career path and how she got to where she was now at ESPN. An astounding fact that she revealed was that a study conducted by our own Dr. Lapchick several years before, had shown that she was the only African-American women working as a sports columnnist in the United States. I found this shocking and it allowed me to really understand the type of pioneer she was in sports journalism. This part of the speech was pretty standard as far as our speakers go, however the fact that she only spoke “at us” for 30 minutes and opened the room up to questions for an hour and a half was not. It a truly incredible opportunity to have 90 minutes to “pick the brain” of someone who is so prominent and influential in the sports entertainment industry. As a class, we bombarded her with questions for this whole time period on issues ranging from matters of diversity in sports to “What’s the deal with Skip Bayless?” Ms. Hill answered every question with enthusiasm and genuine interest. This question and answer session was arguably the most intriguing class-wide interaction of the speaker series thus far. After the official meeting was over, Ms.Hill came to the TIDES office for a small reception for over an hour. During this time, she graciously talked with a number of students in a one-on-one setting.

Reflecting on the overall experience of having Jemele Hill as a speaker, I almost could not get past the excitement of meeting a famous television personality and the entertaining, humorous way in which she spoke to us. However, when thinking about it a little more, it was clear that there was a deeper message that could be taken from Ms. Hill; that was one of modesty and humility. The down-to-earth manner in which Jemele Hill carried herself when interacting with us blew me away. For all she had accomplished and overcome in her career, she showed us the upmost respect and did not once discuss her own accomplishments. This made me examine the fact that I can act in an arrogant manner or get cocky about something as insignificant as doing well on a test in one of my classes. While a celebrity talent like Ms.Hill doesn’t say word about something as significant as breaking down gender and racial barriers in sports journalism. Going forward, I will now make a greater effort to let my actions and hard work speak for themselves, rather than gloating to and looking down on others. Whether Jemele Hill knows it or not, by simply being herself she not only gave us a better understanding of sports media, but also helped shape me into a better person.

It can be seen in my reflections above that the doors that are opened to you by the DeVos program can have profound impacts on you both personally and professionally. To quote the famous blog writer Jesse Gardner, “I am a very lucky individual to have been chosen to be a part of the DeVos family and I continue to look forward to all the opportunities and experiences that are still yet to come.” I could not agree with statement more and I consider my choice to come to UCF as one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Also, I had some fun with my fellow classmate Jessie’s blog post in the beginning, so I thought why not at the end as well. Now, she may get upset with me, but the beauty of the DeVos program is that we see each other so much and have built such close relationships, that I am confident we will be able to work through this minor bump in the road.

Have a Great Day!!


1 comment:

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