I've always believed that the best way for people to get to know one another is through sports. For some reason, competition allows a person's true character come to the surface, and teammates have a connection form between them.
At ESPN, this idea holds very true. The playing field is level, as your boss is no longer an editor, but your point guard, your shortstop. Something about sports, I just can't really explain, bridges that gap. Last weekend, there was a company softball tournament in Farmington, Conn. I manned third base, while another intern played left. The Insider soccer editor played short to my left, while a deputy editor made some quality plays at first. The interdepartmental tournament gave the magazine a chance to pull everyone together for an entire weekend, to get away from the office and share together what we all love, to live out what we talk and write about all week. We went 4-4 over Saturday and Sunday, finishing fourth out of eight teams. We grilled out in-between games, and had enough laughs to roll all the way into the office on Monday.
The softball tournament wasn't the first sporting event I've experienced at ESPN. Every Monday, a group of editors from the staff plays pick-up basketball on the campus court, a two-hour battle that usually wears out even me. This Tuesday, we are celebrating the Magazine's one-year anniversary from the move in Bristol by having a dodgeball game in the gymnasium following work. How many places do you get to take a shot like this at your bosses and co-workers? There are already thirty-something people who have signed up to play, just showing the type of environment that the ESPN office creates. If any other interns have the chance to play in some kind of game with your co-workers, I highly recommend it. It helps them to get to really know you, and even gain a little respect for you if you carry yourself well, show good sportsmanship, and demonstrate some sports-intelligence.
I should probably stop gushing about he employee involvement in sports, and share a little about what I have been doing in the office lately. Things have really begun to pick up, as the Body Issue has been published and produced record numbers. As we just closed the Fantasy Issue, I am proud to say that I created and helped to design the sidebar on the college football page. I am working with the college football editor in preparing the season preview, which has proved to be a much more daunting task than I could have ever imagined. I am so excited to have an article about the NL Rookie of the Year to be published later this week on Insider, the ESPN.com affiliate with the Magazine.
I have learned the importance of taking criticism or tough breaks and roll with them, as they often turn into something better. I was originally given an entire page in the Fantasy Issue after pitching an idea about quarterback competitions at Notre Dame, but the page was cut after I had it mostly done. Irritated at first, it actually gave me the opportunity to work closer with the college football editor to adapt my information into a usable sidebar. After working with him on that, I gained some of his trust, and he now gives me projects on a daily basis to help prepare for the massive college football preview coming up.
It is incredible that there are only three weeks left, as the time has flown by. I have met so many people who I hope to stay in contact with, and think I may have found the place I would like to advance my career. Besides, how many places can you eat lunch and watch Larry Fitzgerald run routes right outside the window?
-- Chase Howell, ESPN The Magazine