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JMSM hosts third annual Halftime conference

by Jeffrey Muntu March 29, 2016
JMSM hosts third annual Halftime conference

Chris Schultz and Kate Beirness were just a few of this year’s guests

There were plenty of reasons to attend the third annual JMSM Halftime Conference, which focused on the NBA and the NFL. On March 26, the John Molson Sports Marketing Committee was able to put up a relatively diverse and dynamic panel of speakers that notably featured longtime TSN broadcasters, Chris Schultz and Kate Beirness. The other two invitees were Tim Zenner, director of ticketing and fan engagement for the Detroit Lions and Ram Padmanabhan, vice president of financial and general counsel for the Chicago Bulls.

Kate Beirness (right) was one of the speakers during JMSM’s third annual Halftime Conference. Photo by William Fox.

Kate Beirness (right) was one of the speakers during JMSM’s third annual Halftime Conference. Photo by William Fox.

Chris Schultz was the first speaker to address the audience. Schultz started the conference by explaining how hard it was for him to earn an athletic scholarship. Schultz described how he had to tour the United States and walk in to all the big universities, asking for a chance to join their ranks.

The main point of his speech was that just like in football, you have to come prepared in order to perform in broadcasting. He stressed the importance of paying attention to the little things because, as Schultz described, “that is what bosses notice.” The former CFL’er stressed that broadcasting is a matter of performing optimally every single time you get in front of the teleprompter. Pointing at his colleague Kate Beirness, he marveled at the extreme attention she puts into watching highlights, doing research and taking notes before every Sportscentre broadcast.

Schultz and Beirness jabbed at each other jokingly throughout the evening. “Schultzy,” as Beirness calls him, reminded us how he had no idea what to do after his football career and really had to rely on what he learned in pro-sports to make it in the broadcasting industry. Basically, preparation, discipline and accountability were the recurrent themes of his speech.

Up next was TSN’s very own Sportscentre host Kate Beirness, who had plenty of advice and anecdotes to give the crowd.

Beirness expressed her concerns about the recent layoffs in the sports broadcasting industries, specifically acknowledging her ex-colleague James Cybulski who had been laid off by the recent cuts. She said she never takes her job for granted and that it is her’s to lose every day. She also said you would probably have to work for free at some point in time in an earlier part of your career in order to get recognized. On a more positive note, Beirness told the crowd that the relationships she has with her colleagues is probably the most enjoyable aspect of her job.

“People say that I am the female version of [TSN broadcaster Darren Dutchyshen],” Beirness said. “I have learned so much from him.”

The later part of the conference was held by Zenner and Padmanabhan. One of the important takeaways from their talk was that sports teams are first and foremost, ran as a business.

Padmanabhan finished the conference by giving his perspective on what his role is with the Chicago Bulls and the relationship teams have with the league. He credited the NBA for being, “very progressive and thoughtful in the way they market their product and the way they work with teams.”

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