We often hear about the young high school phenom who is chasing stardom on the basketball court or the baseball diamond. Some of them will be on site Thursday night at Barclays Center for the NBA Draft; others maybe be playing in the Women’s World Cup in France now, or coming up at Wimbledon or just starting out in their Minor League Baseball careers in Brooklyn for the Cyclones or Staten Island for the Yankees this week.
However, there are some other phenoms in sports I met this Wednesday at Yankee Stadium; future stars in sports business, if they don’t make it to the NBA or the NFL or MLB. They were a class learning about all facets of sports beyond the field during a two week program put on by “The School of the New York Times.”
The students, as young as 14 and as old as 17, have come to New York from as far away as Korea, China, Austin, Texas, L.A. and San Francisco to get a first hand sampling of all things about sports, in a class led by longtime professional Joe Favorito.
The students have visited with the Nets PR team and have gone to Major League Soccer’s offices; have heard about the history of the NBA from veteran business guy Terry Lyons, and learned about Barstool Sports from CEO Erika Nardini and Bleacher Report’s “House of Highlights” from young Omar Raja. They visited the USGA in New Jersey and came to the Stadium Wednesday to listen and learn about the business of the Yankees from myself and longtime Yankees magazine editor Al Santasiere.
Their questions were insightful; they were great listeners and respectful fans of the game and its traditions. One of the kids asked about the true influence of how the new Yankee Stadium was architecturally put together. I told him about Yankee COO Lonn Trost. The young man asked me, “How did Mr. Trost start with the Yankees?” I told him that Lonn started as a teen vendor selling hot chocolate at Yankee Stadium in 1963. The kids laughed and then I told them that I was serious, this is the classic example of the “American Dream.” Giving it all you have through education and true desire. Lonn Trost and team President Randy Levine were New York kids and when you sit and have a conversation with them you understand why they hold the roles they do. For that reason, Lonn, Randy, Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family lead the biggest brand in sports, maybe in all business.
I always enjoy talking to young people, and when you can marry two iconic brands like the Yankees and The New York Times you have something special. I hope that these kids are the future of our business as much as the Gleyber Torres’ and R.J. Barrett’s are going to be on the field and diamond.
If they are, we are in for a lot of great times ahead. The pleasure was mine.