Connect with us

Corporate

Insider Access: ESPN’s Adrienne Lawrence

Front Office Sports

Published

on

This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

Adrienne Lawrence has been crushing it since joining ESPN. Photo via Adrienne Lawrence

By: Alexis Robinson, @_alexismarie24

Alright, so I have my next lady killing it in the sports world and it’s a good one! Adrienne Lawrence is a licensed attorney and a journalist/anchor at ESPN, sports’ biggest media entity.

First I had to find out from her own words, who is Adrienne Lawrence?

“I usually say I’m a sports anchor and attorney. While I’m anchoring now and no longer practicing law, my legal background is still such a defining part of me; I can’t leave it out. I’m also ambitious! I graduated high school at 16, earned my bachelors at 19, masters at 21, and completed law school by 24.”

Moving forward, I asked what was scarier; the courtroom or the ESPN stage the first time?

“The courtroom felt like second nature. As a litigator, you’re on the attack and must think quickly on your feet. It’s a complete rush. Anchoring has similar elements — aside from the attack part. But I’d say anchoring is by far scarier. I was in the legal field for 12 years, so I gradually grew into that space. Sports anchoring, however, is still new to me and the learning curve is steep. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by some of the best in the business and feel insanely blessed to learn from them.”

As mentioned earlier, Lawrence is now an ESPN anchor, so I wanted to find out what some of her favorite content for the channel has been.

“Since joining ESPN in August 2015, I’ve been a part of some amazing work. From conducting interviews for ESPN.com to providing the latest news updates on ESPNEWS, I’ve truly valued it all. Most recently, I was invited to fill-in for Toni Collins on SportsCenter Coast-to-Coast. It’s been an enriching experience learning from David Lloyd, Cari Champion and the incredible producers and team behind the scenes.”

I also asked her what the ‘defining moment’ in her professional career has been thus far.

“So far, my defining moment has been joining ESPN. I never envisioned going straight from a law firm to ‘The Worldwide Leader in Sports’ with very little on-air experience. The ESPN Fellowship made that possible. Everything else has been icing on the cake!”

Adrienne and Kevin holding it down at ESPN. Photo via Adrienne Lawrence

Lastly, I asked Adrienne for some advice for young girls looking to break into her male-dominated field and she replied, “Young women looking to break in should be willing to volunteer their time and hustle hard. I had several full time jobs including stints at car dealerships, and even the U.S. Attorney’s Office. While in Los Angeles, I was practicing law, going to grad school at USC Annenberg and volunteering my time on sports shows for a small digital outlet. I had also clerked for the Chief Judge, practiced law for Hollywood A Listers, and even taught law and criminal justice before joining ESPN. It was exhausting and time consuming. I lost friends, a boyfriend and my mind, at times. But that year of grinding miraculously put me in a position to land at ESPN.”

You can find Adrienne on all her social networks @AdrienneESPN.

Academia

College Football Playoff Foundation Goes the Extra Yard for Teachers

Teachers were celebrated and recognized during the weekend of the 2018 CFP National Championship.

Adam White

Published

on

The EYFT bus was just one of the many activations aimed at raising money for teachers. (Photo via the CFP)

Amongst the fanfare of the College Football Playoff National Championship, the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation throws its own party centered around supporting teachers and education through its Extra Yard for Teachers platform.

The Experience

Teachers had the opportunity to be on the field during the National Anthem (Photo via the CFP)

Over the course of the weekend leading up to the national championship game, teachers found themselves invited to immerse in activities hosted by the CFP Foundation that ranged from a 5K run to an all-day “teachers only” lounge that allowed them to kick back, relax and learn some new skills.

Outside of celebrating the teaching profession through various events, the CFP Foundation also partners with the National Teacher of the Year Program, run by the Council of Chief School Officers, to host an elite group of teachers during championship weekend through the Teacher of the Year Championship Experience presented by Dr Pepper. This group is comprised of the State Teacher of the Year from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the territories.

“Recognizing teachers for their commitment to their students is something that needs to happen every day,” said CFP Foundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky. “We are honored to be able to recognize the very best in the profession on one of the biggest stages in sports. It sends a powerful message.”

“One of the lasting and most profound gifts of the Teacher of the Year Championship Experience is the opportunity to show students that teachers, the teaching profession, and life-long learning are worthy of the spotlight at our most celebrated national events,” said James Harris, the 2017 Alaska State Teacher of the Year. “By sharing this experience with me, my students have new reasons to view their teachers and their own learning journeys as heroic.”

At each CFP and CFP Foundation event throughout the weekend, moments were created to recognize the State Teachers of the Year and honor the teaching profession.

The Activations

Kirk Herbstreit helping raise $500,000. (Photo via Karl L. Moore)

To bring the Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT) mission to life, the CFP Foundation hosts the EYFT Lounge, EYFT Summit, Extra Yard 5K, Taste of the Championship and partners with ESPN on the EYFT Bus activation within CFP’s Playoff Fan Central.

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 6, the CFP Foundation hosted the teacher-centric EYFT Summit and EYFT Lounge at the Georgia World Congress Center. The EYFT Lounge drew in more than 1,500 visitors by offering over 50 activities for teachers and their families. These activities included lesson planning workshops, massages and giveaways courtesy of DonorsChoose.org and School Specialty. In the afternoon, the EYFT Summit was attended by more than 800 educators for a series of gripping, wide-ranging presentations and performances focused on the teaching profession.

On Sunday, Jan. 7, the CFP Foundation put on two public-facing events in order to continue to elevate the teaching profession to the hoards of college football fans that had invaded the city. Although the temperatures in Atlanta were in the teens Sunday morning, a record 1,565 participants walked and ran the Extra Yard 5K, and the overall male and female race winners each won two tickets to the national championship game. That evening, the Taste of the Championship brought over 25 chefs to the Georgia Aquarium for a night of sampling gourmet food and drink. Both events recognized the State Teachers of the Year in unique ways, and proceeds from the events benefit EYFT.

Fans were also able to get in on the action at the CFP Foundation and ESPN joint EYFT Bus activation inside Playoff Fan Central starting on Saturday, Jan. 6, and continuing until just hours before the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 8. An interactive carnival style game, the bus’s windows went up and down as fans attempted to throw footballs through the windows. Each football that was successfully thrown into the bus /equaled $1 towards Atlanta Public Schools (APS). In all, over $10,000 was raised for APS teachers and students.

“All of the CFP Foundation’s energy is focused on leveraging college football to benefit teachers,” said Banowsky. “During championship week, we have multiple events that not only compliment the game, but also are a big win for teachers.”

Game day, Monday, Jan. 8, was chalked full of great moments. Smithfield Foods Foundation donated $500,000 to the CFP Foundation as part of the Eckrich Million Dollar Challenge after ESPN analyst – and former college quarterback – Kirk Herbstreit, threw a football through the target 20 yards away on his third attempt. The culmination of championship weekend took place at the 2018 CFP National Championship in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the State Teachers of the Year were honored on-field prior to kickoff in front of 77,430 attendees.

“It was incredible to be recognized in that way,” said Jennifer Wise of South Carolina. “The game was unbelievable and standing on the field for the national anthem is an experience I will forever cherish.”

The Impact

It was a weekend full of smiles. (Photo via Karl L. Moore)

The CFP Foundation was able to make a significant impact on teachers, students and schools in the Atlanta area, especially through the partnership with the Atlanta Football Host Committee who poured $1 million worth of resources into support education in the city through Extra Yard for Teachers.

While championship weekend encompasses many different events and activities, it all comes back to celebrating teachers and the work they have done. For Kate McCann, the 2017 Vermont State Teacher of the Year, the experience was like nothing else she has ever been a part of.

“In Vermont, there is a lot less fanfare around the naming of the Teacher of the Year. There are no invitations to serve on state committees, no big check, no car to drive, not many speaking engagements, no celebration or gala at the Governor’s Mansion, no TV interviews, and no throwing out the first pitch at a professional sports game. So for me, this felt like ’the moment‘, the point in time where the magnitude of our accomplishments was realized. All weekend it felt as though it was one big celebration in our honor. And when we walked out onto the field, even for the practice the day before, it felt just unbelievable. The focus was on us, for what we do for students, parents, and our community, and for what we do for our profession.”

When championship weekend was all said and done, the hours spent on every project and every last second change were worth every smile, thank you and moment the teachers got to experience as part of 2018 CFP National Championship Weekend.

“Our work expands every year,” said Banowsky. “In Atlanta, we had amazing support from so many partners, and our focus was transforming the system through early literacy. We expect to build on that success in the Bay Area where we will focus much of our work on helping teachers expand opportunities in science and math.”

The 2019 CFP National Championship will take place in Santa Clara, CA on Monday, January 7, 2019.

*The College Football Playoff is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports

Continue Reading

Baseball

It’s All Fun and Games (‘Till Somebody Brings Up the Money….)

John Collins

Published

on

A look at some of the new pace of play rules for Major League Baseball in 2018. (Image via MLB.com)

Swing and a Miss

Ah, the sweet, sonorous snap of the leather; crack of the bat…and Commissioner Rob Manfred continuing to make waves this offseason with yet another announcement as MLB Spring Training officially gets underway. Just before players took the field last week in Florida and Arizona to play their first games of the preseason, Manfred took to the podium to address the state of the game (again, in what’s felt like the never-ending offseason of strife).

There was a brief discussion about the growing trend of “tanking” or rebuilding teams and the stagnant free agent market, but the biggest news of the day was a Rules update. After an ironically protracted wait, the Commissioner finally revealed the Pace of Play changes he’s been hinting at all winter.

 Aimed at addressing declining fan interest in the game, the league has decided to institute a limit on the number of mound visits a game, as well as a few other nominal changes designed to speed the game up.

Pitcher Changes (Credit: Mlb.com)

For a full breakdown, see the press release from MLB below; but suffice it to say that in terms of generating support, and appeasing fans and the players, the league definitely struck out looking; initiating even more frustration and discord with the game.

 

The Fine Print (Credit: Mlb.com)

Coincidentally, AdAge published the findings of a study done by Horizon Media on the cause of the highly-publicized ratings decline and fan frustration with the National Football League during the 2017 season that could contain worthwhile lessons for their sister league (MLB) facing a similar issue. While everybody has a pet theory (politics, patriotism, oversaturation, etc.) Horizon Media Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Hall said that there were two key findings about what is really driving football fans away.

The study found that, “the real reason for decreased engagement is that the NFL has lost some of its heart and connection to its fanbase…who feel the sport has become too much of a business, is less fan-friendly and, in a sense, is losing its ‘heart.’” Fans are tuning out and losing interest in football games because they see the sport operating as more of a business-becoming overly commercialized at the expense of the essence of the game-and entirely unresponsive to their wants and needs. NFL fans have grown sick of bad player behavior on and off the field, and have not seen the players or league do much about it.

Major League Baseball may be well served by looking at these findings and applying them to its own efforts at addressing the declining fan interest in baseball and the game.

As to the first issue of the sport “losing some of its heart,” baseball is treading into some dangerous territory this offseason. Not only has there been an increased emphasis on contracts, free agency, and the economic issues underlying the game, but Commissioner Manfred is pursuing rules changes and going down a path that could fundamentally alter the game. Sean Newell of Vice Sports is right on the money (no pun intended) when he suggests that Manfred and others, “acknowledge that the business and culture of baseball are the problem here-not the game itself.”

Instead of striving to ameliorate the relaxed pace of the game, Manfred and the league should provide options and examples of fans embracing the leisurely aura unique to the only sport not bound by a clock or stopwatch. Fans like Jason Foster of Sporting News actually believe all the emphasis on updates to fix the pace of play, “miss a key point that’s a big part of baseball’s beauty and popularity as a spectator sport: Baseball games are great for multitasking.”

To him and many others, the fact that “baseball doesn’t require exclusivity,” is one of the sports’ biggest advantages. “Don’t like the downtime during games? Then do other things while you watch-like baseball fans have always done. This isn’t a crisis. This is just baseball.” Many of the players, managers, and fans seem to agree. With the pace of play rules changes, Manfred is at risk of doing more harm than good by tinkering with things that are an inherent part of the game. As the National Football League saw, that’s a surefire way to drive fans away.

Beyond that, if Manfred and the league are going to make changes, they should be real updates and meaningful improvements instead of these gilded, half-hearted attempts at placating fans and business partners by showing progress for progress’ sake. If you look at the new Pace of Play proposal, not only are there caveats galore (limit of 6 mound visits…except/unless umpire says ok), but there are no tangible penalties or ramifications. It makes it seem like the actual sport is taking a back seat to the strategic and business needs of MLB.

In fact, respected baseball columnist Joe Posnanski notes that, “the rules are already in place. If everyone would believe in them, enforce them, and generally abide them…the pace of play ‘problem’ would mostly go away.” Focusing on preserving the existing game instead of fixating on the optics of evolving and being innovative would be much more effective at reigning fans’ interest back in than surface, commercially motivated changes that may actually prove to be off-putting and counterproductive instead.

You Can Hear the Cheers (Photo via Mlb.com)

The second point of the Horizon Media study on the NFL (fan frustration over player behavior and a league they see as unresponsive to their wants and needs) is applicable to baseball as well; albeit in a bit of a different way. While many of the NFL’s problems are off the field and have to do with enabling legal or behavioral issues, MLB’s problem is almost the opposite; discouraging any kind of unique behavior from the players. Fans see the league’s fixation on norms and traditions eliminating any potential for excitement and enthusiasm in the game.

Today’s fans want fun and entertainment, yet Major League Baseball has this dogmatic belief in “playing the game the right way,” and indoctrinates players to be bland and boring. Yet look at what draws interest: the World Baseball Classic where players were free to express themselves and look like they were actually enjoying the game; bat-flips displaying passion; stadiums and teams that don’t take themselves too seriously. While it’s certainly not prudent for the sport to turn into a festival or sideshow, the league would come across as much more responsive and fan-friendly by encouraging fun from the players on the field.    

By looking at the Horizon Media study on the NFL ratings slide and applying its lessons, Manfred and Major League Baseball have a clear opportunity to hit an absolute home-run, keeping fans interested and engaged in the sport billed as our National Pastime.  

Continue Reading

Business

Paul Pierce’s Retirement Game Is Second Priciest This Decade, After Kobe’s

The current prices make it the second-most expensive ticket around the NBA this season and the most expensive game at TD Garden since the 2010 NBA finals.

TicketiQ Insights

Published

on

The Celtics are set to retire Paul Pierce’s jersey. (Photo via the SportsQuotient)

*This post is part of the brand new FOS Insights program. TicketIQ is a proud launch partner of the program. 

When you think back on the Boston Celtics of the first decade of the 2000s, there is no way to separate the team from Paul Pierce, who spent 15 years with the team. As the tenth overall pick in the 1998 draft, Pierce was an immediate starter and laid the foundation for the Celtics’ 2008 championship – the first one the franchise had won in more than 20 years.

There’s plenty of interest in attending Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony, which will take place after today’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden. According to TicketIQ.com, the current average asking price on the secondary market is $1,092, making it the second-most expensive ticket around the NBA this season and the most expensive game at TD Garden since the 2010 NBA finals.

At an $1,477 average price, Kobe Bryant’s double jersey retirement game at Staples Center on December 18th is the only game higher than Sunday’s this season. Apart from these two retirement games, the highest-priced ticket for the season was for the Golden State Warriors-Cavaliers game on Christmas Day, which cost an average of $818.

Paul Pierce Retirement TicketsFor Celtics fans trying to put it into context, it’s a 609% premium compared to the East-leading Celtics season average secondary price of $154. It’s also over 300% higher than the last Cavaliers visit to TD Garden in January.

While these prices are astronomical, they could return if the Celtics continue their dominance and make it back to the NBA finals for the first time since Paul Pierce retired. As the Celtics franchise leader in 3-point field goals, steals, and free throws, Pierce left some very big shoes to fill. At 39-16, the 2018 version of the team seems very comfortable amidst championship expectations, and if the Celtics can continue their dominance run in the east, ticket prices for the NBA finals could be amongst the highest in recent years.

Some more stats and backstory surrounding the game are available on The TicketIQ blog.

Continue Reading

Trending