Sports business, sports career, hustle, camaraderie

Hustle and Camaraderie: How to Sustain a Career in Sports

by sandy zinn - CEO at Zinn Sports Group LLC
April 15, 2021

One of the questions you hear most about working in the sports industry is,

‘how did you get started?’

I don’t think how you got started means much compared to this all-important question – how do you last?

Opportunity was less apparent in the 1990s, when I got my first taste of the

sports industry at WRSU, Rutgers University's campus radio station. I was an

accounting major with no knowledge of journalism or sports media.

It was a natural shift for me. At the time, 'Mike & the Mad Dog' were a few

years into their historic partnership at sports radio WFAN. They spurred

many people into the industry, young and old.

Still, college radio doesn't pay the bills for students once they graduate.

I completed my degree in journalism, mailed my sophomoric demo cassettes,

and waited.

The connections you make along the way also help buttress your career.

The call for my booming yet bad radio voice never came. I had to pivot and

show a little hustle.

I applied for a job at SportsTicker, answering phones and taking scores

for $7 an hour at ESPN's 24-hour wire service. I lived an hour from the office

and worked nights. In the mornings, I delivered food for a deli. I knew I had to


To this day, that job at ‘Ticker’ is the best I've ever had. The most fun. The most hustle.

The best camaraderie.

It dawned on me a few years into my stint that developing a career in sports would take some of the same qualities you need to be an athlete – hustle and teamwork.

I hustled quite a bit at Ticker. Aggravated with my role in data entry, I

forced my way into an editorial position. Then I took over the golf beat. Then I

stepped up and ran our Olympics coverage. All thanks greatly to hustle.

But even as a writer, it takes a team - editors, researchers, fact-checkers.

You very rarely operate independently from a team of professionals. The

camaraderie is as essential as it is irreplaceable.

Your co-workers often become family members. We had company hockey games, softball games and parties, along with plenty of post-shift get-togethers. When you work until 5 am with a crew of people, you're going to develop teamwork – and camaraderie.

The connections you make along the way also help buttress your career.

I did a professional 180 when ESPN moved SportsTicker to its Bristol,

Connecticut campus in 2004.

A great friend who had trained me on our pitch-level baseball scoring

system as a young part-time employee hired me to help build the minor

league stats department at MLB Advanced Media.

He was very familiar with my ability and drive, and he knew I was perfect for the job. It wasn't a handout. We had worked together, played softball together. He knew the fit was right.

It was another foot in the door and another opportunity to hustle. Along the way, over the next 15 years, I was able to run the day-to-day operations of all ball- and player-tracking technologies in baseball.

Ramping up fledgling technologies takes a lot of camaraderie and hustle.

Doing so over 12 seasons for Major League Baseball helped set me up

for my third career - entrepreneurship.

Going solo is a little scary. There's no team, at least not at first. But the relationships I built

over a career of 25-plus years helped give me the confidence I could succeed.

Now I have to hustle.

Sandy is an award-winning sports industry executive with extensive experience overseeing ball- and player-tracking technologies, data quality and analytics, and broadcast interfaces. A long-time recruiter and project manager, Sandy is a well-traveled, dynamic and motivated person with a passion for all sports, innovation and collaboration. Sandy started his own company, Zinn Sports Group, LLC, in February 2020, piggybacking off 25 years of running high-profile programs and building relationships at Major League Baseball and ESPN. His primary areas of focus are business development, strategy and operations.