'Seven on Seven' Series with Clint Overby
As vice president of ESPN Events, you oversee some 30 different events owned and operated by the company, including 13 bowl games. How are these games administered differently from those operated and run by, for instance, committees and/or professional sports franchises? – From an output side – not all that different. We operate with the guiding principle that the games are about the quality experience for players, coaches, administrators and fans. From that standpoint we seek excellence in those areas and hope to replicate that effort in all of our locations. We have ambassadors in each of our communities that help us in shaping the experience and providing a quality opportunity for all involved.
Of the 13 ESPN owned-and-operated bowls, how do you coordinate them all into one single, unified group during bowl season?? – Coordination for us is making sure our games feel the same without stripping away the unique nature of each community. Our goal has always been that each game stands on its own and has its own personality. That being said, we take great care in making sure our Executive Directors learn from each other’s experiences and work to create opportunities and forums where we can share ideas and thoughts as to how best provide a quality experience for those who participate and attend our games.
Which people have been your mentors? Prior to ESPN, you worked for Host Communications & Jim Host. The whole experience at Host Communications was exceptional, to say the least. To be able to learn from the leadership there and to be around their extensions was a great growing experience as I got started. Personally, I consider all of my interactions as an opportunity to grow and gain perspective. There are so many great people in our industry and feel privileged anytime I have a chance to be around them. To that end, as a group, we interact with so many different view-points it creates a lot of great discussion points on how to manage, grow business and create value.
You have seen the progression of the syndication rights-holder to owned-and-operated events. Do you expect this to continue or will we see a different model in 5-10 years? A hallmark to our business, in general, has been the ability to adapt and embrace change in an effort to provide value. Ten years ago, our division was heavily involved in syndication; however, as the cable and television landscape changed we were able to modify our approach and serve the needs of our client base in other ways. Now, our events division serves as an extension of our college programming unit and has sought to provide opportunities on multiple levels to participants in all leagues. To our core business, believe that change is inevitable and want to make sure that our bowls along with the rest of the system is well positioned to offer value and opportunity to all who want to participate long term.
What is the single most challenging part of your job, given there are so many moving parts? – Scale and complexity are our most challenging aspect. Each game has its’ own “DNA”; so, trying to keep all of the games unique while trying to manage overall business “physics” remain at the core of how I spend most of my days. Managing individual demands can be challenging form time to time. We have a great group of Executive Directors who are passionate about their games and communities and their inputs are vital to our overall success.
Of all the different events you have worked on over the years, which might stand out as favorites? Tough question as each game/event is special in how it was developed. Any game that you can feel the energy is my “favorite”. That may move from year to year but overall each of our games, through the years, has had the special, electric moment that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s one of the reasons I got involved in this business. Specifically, any game we have a fly over, or special tribute stands out as that always appears to be a unifying element between the fans, players, administrators and those watching at home. It’s the emotional moments that draw you in that make sports and big events special.
What do you tell aspiring programmers and event coordination students about the business and how to get a proper toehold in it? When you get that first opportunity understand that the business has to come first. In today’s world so much is focused on the individual. However, at the end of the day, business is built on teamwork and understanding of your organizations mission and goals. When reviewing candidates I’m looking for those who are team oriented and are interested in gaining perspective over personal gain. Personal gain will come if, and only if, the organization you work for achieves its goals – and hopefully you are a part of that achievement.